The Frontstretch: 2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Dave Blaney by S.D. Grady -- Wednesday December 19, 2012

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2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Dave Blaney

S.D. Grady · Wednesday December 19, 2012


2012 Ride: No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy (almost full-time), No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy (1 race), No. 37 Larry Gunselman Chevy (1 race)

Dave Blaney and the TBR No. 36

2012 Primary Sponsors: SealWrap (9 races), Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (4 races), Golden Corral (3 races), Florida Lottery (Homestead), TMone (1 race), Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With an Engine (1 race), (1 race), Accell Construction (1 race)

2012 Owner: Tommy Baldwin, Jr.

2012 Crew Chief: Ryan Pemberton, Tony Furr (1 race), Tommy Baldwin, Jr. (3 races)

Stats: 34 races, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 0 top 10s, 19 DNFs, 33rd in driver points.

Best Finish: 15th — Daytona 500
Average Finish: 31.8.

2012 Team Ranking: 1st out of 2. Blaney’s teammate, David Reutimann, didn’t even attempt all the races in the No. 10 Chevrolet so Blaney gets the nod in a tough situation for both.

High Point: Leading the Daytona 500 for a little over two hours. Blaney kept his No. 36 out during the Lap 157 yellow, caused by David Stremme’s expired engine, to garner a valuable point for leading. He, nor anybody else on the planet, expected Juan Pablo Montoya to then take out a jet dryer. For quite awhile, things looked pretty good for the TBR team as the fireball continued to burn and melt the track. It seemed inconceivable that the asphalt could be repaired. For a team that runs just in front of the S&P crowd, a stolen Daytona 500 seemed possible. And with the extended red flag, it gave the media plenty of time to discuss the race leader and his up and coming son, Ryan Blaney, who Dave has been basically touting in the garage area for the past two years.

Unfortunately for the No. 36, the race did ultimately go green and the 500 came to a conclusion that did not feature Dave Blaney at the front of the field. However, there’s little doubt in my mind that a couple extra hours with Dave’s name at the top of the leader board only helped his son build his budding career.

Low Point: Fall’s Talladega race. The pack is screaming out of Turn 3 coming to the checkers… and the usual happens. A ginormous wreck takes out a chunk of the field, including one Dave Blaney. There’s always a chance for the second-tier teams to make a good showing at the plate tracks. Unfortunately, there’s an equal opportunity to destroy yet another car in the typical carnage that ensues at these locations. Four plate races, four disappointments for the team in the form of zero top-10 finishes. It doesn’t get much more depressing than that.

Summary: Blaney’s season began with as much uncertainty as possible. TBR gave the 2011 No. 36 points to Danica Patrick’s No. 10 for 2012, guaranteeing the little lady a start for the Daytona 500. This left Blaney’s No. 36 with the 2011 No. 35’s points… and having to qualify for the first five races. Matched with sponsorship that was patchworked together over the entire season and a string of DNFs able to frustrate a saint, it was clear that even though TBR wishes to compete with the best of them, this team has much to accomplish before they can add “competitive” to their press releases.

Not really an S&P enterprise, the No. 36 makes every effort to stay on the track whenever possible; they parked in roughly a half-dozen events. But too often this 12-year veteran of the Cup series stumbles and ends up in the garage or at the very least, laps down.

Both Blaney and Baldwin are seen as the good guys in the garage, ones who have climbed the ladder the hard way to the top tier of the racing world and are respected by most in NASCAR. But even with the Stewart-Haas technical alliance, created to support the future of Miss Patrick, TBR proved they needed a little extra racing element – luck – to turn those extra pieces of info into long-term success.

Off Track News: For the past few years, Dave has made it no secret his real focus for racing lately has been to raise funds and awareness for his son, Ryan Blaney. 2012 certainly became the watershed year for Ryan, with a win in the Camping World Truck Series and garnering the valuable No. 22 ride in the Nationwide Series with Penske while Keselowski sewed up his championship run. Any father would be bursting with pride at this year’s accomplishments, and deservedly so.

2013 Outlook: Even more uncertainty shadows 2013 for Dave Blaney and the No. 36. While the team finished in the top 35, that achievement no longer holds the importance it did with qualifying changes eliminating the “locked in” positions for each 43-car field. With Patrick moving to Cup, the technical alliance with SHR should be reaching an end, particularly with the latter’s sponsorship difficulties.

Finances, also a problem for TBR are at the forefront once again for the No. 36. No sponsorship has been announced, or even a crew chief. But there are still two months before the engines fire for the Daytona 500, and in the racing world, that’s plenty of time for deals to be struck.

2011 Grade: C.
2012 Grade: C.

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