By admin | August 21, 2009
By Richard Allen
Dave Blaney is a quality race car driver. He has won numerous races in several racing series’. However, this season he has served as little more than a qualifying driver who has started 20 of the 23 races contested so far this season on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series while having had little intention of finishing those races.
In those twenty starts, Blaney and his #66 Prism Motorsports team have only made the distance once. That was in Charlotte when sponsorship from Aaron’s came on board and supplied tires and other essentials for running a full race.
Aside from the time in Charlotte, the most laps Blaney has completed in any race has been 82 in Atlanta. In most races the #66 has not run anywhere near the length of a full pit cycle, thus only using one set of tires before going to the garage and the hauler.
In qualifying for the Sharpie 500 in Bristol, Blaney turned a lap that landed him in the 4th starting spot. That qualifying run could play a major role in determining the winner of the Sharpie 500.
Pit stalls are chosen in order of qualifying. Blaney’s team will get to choose fourth. There are four pit stalls at Bristol that are better than the others so any team that chooses in the top-4 holds a distinct advantage.
The two stalls at the very opening of each pit road section are good because they offer an easy entrance. The two pit stalls at the exit of each of the pit road sections are good because they offer an easy out.
Should Blaney’s crew choose one of those four stalls, and thus, prevent one of the more competitive teams from choosing the spot, it could make a difference in the race. This is especially true due to the fact that so many races in NASCAR today are won in the pits.
It could be that if the #66 teams does intend to ‘start and park’ they may choose one of the less desirable spots on pit road so as not to interfere. However, should sponsorship suddenly become available because of the good qualifying run, the team may take one of the quality spaces despite the fact that the car would not suddenly be competitive over the course of an entire race after completing so few laps this season.
While Dave Blaney’s qualifying run was a pleasant surprise and proved he is a capable driver, it could actually play a role in who wins this race whether car #66 actually plans to run the whole distance or not.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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