Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blaney Breaks Cope’s Season Record With Early Electrical Exit From Atlanta

Dave Blaney picked up the 12th last-place finish of his career in Sunday night’s Pep Boys Auto 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with electrical problems after completing 19 of the race’s 325 laps.

Despite running a strong 19th-fastest time in Friday’s first practice session, Blaney had to squeak his way into the field. As the last car to qualify, Blaney turned in a speed of 179.673 mph, good enough to secure the 37th starting spot and bump Regan Smith out of the field. In the race, Blaney remained in the back during the opening green-flag run. Still under green on lap 21, Blaney slowed on the backstretch and pulled behind the wall with electrical problems taking him out of the race. He was credited with completing 19 laps.

The race marked the second straight year that the #66 car had finished last in the fall Atlanta event: Scott Riggs, then driving for HAAS-CNC, finished 43rd in the 2008 running.

With this, his 7th last-place finish of 2009, Dave Blaney now owns the record for the most last-place finishes ever scored in a single NASCAR Sprint Cup season, breaking the three-year-old record set by Derrike Cope in 2006. In the process, Blaney has reached this mark in record time: Derrike Cope’s sixth last-place finish didn’t come until the 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega in October of that year.

Now, with eleven races remaining this season, Blaney can mathematically claim three more last-place finish records by season’s end:

[1] If Blaney gets two more in 2009, he will have fourteen last-place finishes in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, the most any driver has collected since 1998.

[2] With three more last-place finishes for the #66, Prism Motorsports can beat the single-season team record of nine set in 1992 by Means Racing (which consisted of drivers Jimmy Means [3 last-place finishes], Graham Taylor [2], and Johnny McFadden [4]).

[3] If Blaney gets six more, bringing his career total to eighteen, he will have amassed the second-most last-place finishes in the modern era of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which dates back to the start of the 1972 season. Derrike Cope’s modern era record of 26 will not be topped in 2009, but Blaney can come within three finishes of this record if he qualifies for (and finishes last in) the remaining 11 races to be run this year.

43) #66-Dave Blaney / 19 laps / electrical
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 25 laps / brakes
41) #09-Mike Bliss / 38 laps / electrical
40) #13-Max Papis / 100 laps / crash
39) #08-Terry Labonte / 148 laps / electrical

1st) Dave Blaney (7)
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)

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