After Promising Start Team Amoco Finishes 22Nd At Darlington

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After a promising test session had yielded great hope for the weekend, Dave Blaney's Darlington experience was doomed by a Saturday morning fog that cancelled qualifying, relegated the Amoco Ultimate Team 93 to a 33rd-place starting spot (on points) and mired him in the back of the field for much of the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

While he ran top-ten lap times for much of the afternoon, Blaney fell a lap down early when leaders Jeff Gordon and Steve Park --running ahead of traffic-- reached the back of the field easily and began lapping cars before the one-third mark of the race.

Crew Chief Doug Randolph and the #93 Amoco/Siemens crew improved the car with each stop but Blaney still finished 22nd. BDR teammate Ward Burton--the defending champion of the spring race at Darlington--finished 12th on the lead-lap behind race-winner Dale Jarrett.

As has been the case for many years at NASCAR's oldest speedway, an abrasive track surface and odd configuration are brutal on tires, allowing forward passing for only the first 10-15 laps of each team's new-tire run. At the start of the 293-lap race, Blaney improved 5-7 positions at the start but soon became prey for Gordon and Park's unimpeded pace at the front of the field and went a lap down before Lap 100.

Blaney ran well enough throughout the remainder of the race to stay one-lap down to the leaders but the damage was done. Among Dodge's in the field, Blaney ranked fourth (of 10) behind only Sterling Marlin (5th) and John Andretti (6th) as well as BDR teammate Burton (12th) but the 22nd-place finish did not provide the points impetus needed to propel Blaney up the standings entering this weekend's race at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway.

Blaney and the #93 Amoco/Siemens team now ranks 30th in the Winston Cup point standings, 75 points behind 20th-place Bobby Labonte--the defending WC champion--and 166 points behind tenth-place Bill Elliott, who joins Marlin (fourth) as one of two Dodges in the top-ten entering Bristol. Teammate Burton now ranks 17th, 117 points ahead of Blaney.

In the Busch Series race at Darlington, Scott Wimmer started 25th and finished 12th in his first-ever start at the treacherous track, moving him up one spot in the Busch Series standings (12th) and only nine points out of the top-ten in his first full season in the #23 Jani-King/BDR Pontiac.

Qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series entries at Bristol is scheduled for Friday, March 23 at 3:30 p.m. immediately following Busch Series qualifying at 2 p.m. Both the Busch Series(3/24) and Winston Cup Series (3/25) races at BMS are scheduled for 1 p.m. EST.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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