Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blaney Becomes First Driver Since 1960 To Score Three Straight Last-Place Finishes When Brakes Fail at Richmond

Dave Blaney picked up the 13th last-place finish of his career in Saturday night’s Chevy Rock ‘n Roll 400 at the Richmond International Raceway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with brake problems after completing 36 of the race’s 400 laps.

On Friday, Blaney qualified 32nd with a speed of 124.372 mph. During Saturday’s race, Blaney was running in a tight pack of traffic, and while he stayed on the track when Scott Speed’s wreck brought out the first caution on lap 5, he dropped out under the ensuing green-flag run with brake problems after completing 36 laps.

With his third straight last-place finish, Blaney is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver ever to finish last in more than two consecutive races. He is also just the third driver to finish last in both races at Richmond: the other two were Tommy Gale in 1983 and Harry Gant in 1990. By increasing his career total to thirteen last-place finishes, Blaney is also tied with Todd Bodine and Derrike Cope for the most last-place finishes scored since 1998.

Blaney’s eighth last-place finish of 2009 has put Phil Parsons’ Prism Motorsports team just one finish away from tying Means Racing’s season record of nine last-place finishes scored in a single season.

Unlike Blaney, Prism Motorsports is not the first team to finish last in three consecutive races: that statistic goes to Geoffrey Bodine’s owner-driver operation, which pulled that feat in May of 1997. Back then, two straight engine failures forced Geoffrey’s #7 QVC Ford to finish last at the Infineon Raceway and at Talladega Superspeedway. When Geoffrey was injured before the next points race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, brother Todd Bodine was tabbed as the relief driver. Todd then finished last in the 600 after an early crash.

The #7 team’s streak ended the following week in the Miller 500 at Dover, but just barely. With all cars still on the track on lap 240, Geoffrey Bodine got in a wreck in turn three with Bobby Hillin and Dick Trickle. While all three cars retired from the race, Trickle finished 41st with 238 laps completed, Bodine got 42nd with 237, and Hillin, the last-place finisher, completed 234.

43) #66-Dave Blaney / 36 laps / brakes
42) #71-Mike Bliss / 38 laps / transmission
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 113 laps / engine
40) #78-Regan Smith / 174 laps / crash
39) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. / 325 laps / crash

1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

UPDATE: Blaney was actually the second Cup Series driver to score three consecutive last-place finishes, joining G.C. Spencer in 1960.

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