Dave Blaney And Amoco Ultimate Team 93 Finish 9Th At Rockingham
January 1, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The finish for Blaney-who started 16th after failing to qualify for the spring Rockingham race in his rookie WC season-was his third top-ten finish in his past five starts, dating back to consecutive top-ten finishes last October at Phoenix and Miami. Blaney also saw a certain top-ten finish fade in the season-finale at Atlanta after being tapped from behind on the race's final restart while running fourth.
In the season-opening Daytona 500, Blaney finished 42nd after engine failure on lap 135 but ran in the top-15 in 64 laps of the 200-lap event and as high as third before the race's midpoint behind Bill Davis Racing teammate Ward Burton, the overall lap-leader (54) of NASCAR's premier event.
At Rockingham, Blaney quickly moved the #93 Amoco/Siemens Dodge into the top-ten by Lap 100 on Day 2 of the delayed race, which was stopped on lap 51 on Sunday when persistent showers continued into the late afternoon. Blaney-who finished third in the NASCAR Busch Series race at NCS in October, 1999-showed no signs of the struggles the team experienced in his rookie visit to the tricky one-mile-plus oval, staying in the top-ten throughout the 393-lap race. Teammate Burton faded to 16th at the finish after starting 11th behind pole-winner Jeff Gordon, who led the most laps in the race but relinquished the lead to eventual winner Steve Park over the last 55 laps.
Park's victory was the second straight for cars fielded by Dale Earnhardt, Inc., following Michael Waltrip's triumphant and tragic Daytona 500 victory. The popular win punctuated an emotional weekend for crews and drivers following the death of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt on the final lap of the Daytona 500. All cars featured commemorative stickers and most crew members wore hats emblazoned with imagery from Earnhardt's famous #3 program.
Defending Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte and Gordon trailed Park to the finish line ahead of Tony Stewart, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, current points leader Rusty Wallace and Sterling Marlin in the highest-finishing Dodge. Blaney and 1999 WC champion Dale Jarrett rounded out the top ten as only 13 cars finished on the lead lap behind race-winner Park. Fourty of the 43 started were running at the finish.
With the finish, Blaney recovered slightly in the Winston Cup point standings, ranking 31st, 136 points behind leader Wallace, 73 behind tenth-place Robert Pressley and 29 points behind 20th-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who finished last at NCS after crashing on the first lap on Sunday. Burton, Blaney's BDR teammate, ranks 26th, eight points ahead of Blaney entering this weekend's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.