|SOURCE: Brock Beard|
The finish was Blaney’s first of the 2012 season and his first in a Cup Series race since Atlanta last September, 43 races ago. Blaney is now in sole possession of the fourth-most last-place finishes in Cup Series history, breaking a tie with owner-driver G.C. Spencer. Blaney also now has thirty finishes across NASCAR’s top three divisions, breaking a tie for fifth all-time with Jeff Fuller.
One year after turning in several sterling performances for Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR), Blaney has endured a largely thankless 2012. With TBR running a second car this season to keep Danica Patrick’s part-time #10 inside the Top 35 in Owner Points, Blaney was once again stripped of his Owner Points and forced to start from scratch. Despite this, Blaney extended the #36 team’s streak of making four consecutive Daytona 500s by virtue of a high finish in the Gatorade Duels. This year, Blaney finished 15th after leading when the race nearly ended early due to Juan Pablo Montoya’s freak crash with a jet dryer in turn three.
Since then, Blaney has finished no better than 22nd, and for many of those races has parked early to help the team collect funds. The team has run much of the second half of the season without primary sponsorship except for the restrictor-plate races where returning sponsor Golden Corral returned with its now-famous Top 10 Kids Eat Free campaign. Last month at Dover, Blaney also traded rides with J.J. Yeley, whose MaxQ Motorsports #37 team shares a technical alliance with TBR. Last Sunday, Blaney’s Golden Corral Chevrolet was in the lead draft in the final corner at Talladega, but became one of the eight drivers who were unable to reach the finish line because of the tremendous pileup that ensued.
At Charlotte, Blaney again raced a flat white Chevrolet into the field, securing the 42nd starting spot at an average speed of 186.823 mph. The #36 has yet to miss a race so far in 2012, thanks in no small part to Blaney’s efforts that have lifted the team back into 35th in Owner Points.
In the race itself, early incidents shuffled to 43rd both Matt Kenseth, involved in a Lap 12 spin, and David Ragan, damaged in an altercation on the ensuing restart. However, it was Blaney who was the first to pull behind the wall, followed five laps later by Yeley in the TBR-partnered #37. Reed Sorenson in the #91 Humphrey-Smith Motorsports-owned entry obtained sponsorship from Aquaria USA, but was forced to change engines before the race. The #91 then pulled out early as well, coming home 41st.
With five races remaining, the battle for the 2012 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship remained a dead heat. Josh Wise was among the four drivers who did not qualify for the race, while Michael McDowell obtained full funding from K-LOVE for the second straight race and came home 31st.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #36 in a Cup Series race since 2010, when J.J. Yeley’s Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet fell out with ignition problems after 73 laps of this same event, the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte. That spring, in the Coca-Cola 600, was Dave Blaney’s most recent last-place finish in a Cup Series race at Charlotte, which came after his #66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota lost the transmission after 25 laps.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #36-Dave Blaney / 25 laps / transmission
42) #37-J.J. Yeley / 30 laps / brakes
41) #91-Reed Sorenson / 32 laps / vibration
40) #95-Scott Speed / 50 laps / vibration
39) #19-Mike Bliss / 53 laps / rear gear
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell, Josh Wise (4)
2nd) Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Scott Speed (3)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires, Dave Blaney, Landon Cassill, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brian Vickers (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #26-Front Row Motorsports, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (4)
2nd) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports (3)
3rd) #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #79-Go Green Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing, #91-Humphrey-Smith Racing (2)
4th) #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #74-Turn One Racing, #83-BK Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (15)
2nd) Toyota (9)
3rd) Chevrolet (7)