Blaney 33Rd In Coca Cola 600

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At about the point in the race where Dave Blaney and his #93 BP/Amoco Ultimate/Siemens team thought they might salvage some satisfaction from a difficult weekend, a familiar gremlin doomed Blaney to a 33rd-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.

The debut weekend for Blaney's special BP car design--the first of four races during the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season--began with a flourish as the second-year driver posted repeated top-10 practice runs prior to qualifying in the car in which the 1995 World of Outlaws champion had challenged fvor his first NASCAR victory earlier in the spring at both Atlanta and Texas.

But on the second lap of his mock qualifying run during the final 15 minutes of practice, Blaney's car slid high and into the Turn 1 wall, destroying the team's primary car and forcing Crew Chief Doug Randolph to turn to a back-up car, which was completely new prior its debut during The Winston weekend.

With no laps on the hastily-prepared back-up and only a practice motor available for his qualifying run, Blaney posted the 37th-place qualifying time and was forced to take his third provisional start of the season, the final spot in the field just ahead of John Andretti and the #43 Petty Enterprises Dodge which went home for the first time since mid-summer, 1994.

The back-up car, which was painted in the familiar black-and-white paint scheme debuted for the 2001 season, was then re-decalled during the off-day for Winston Cup cars on Friday. BDR General Manager Mike Brown and employees of The Decal Source spent over four hours coverting the car to the BP design using a total nylon car-wrap, which enveloped the Dodge from nose to spoiler and created an exact replica of the wrecked primary car without the first brush stroke taking place.

Blaney's difficlut weekend would continue, however, well before Saturday's slow Winston Cup practice sessions. During the two nights of World of Outlaws competition run in conjunction with NASCAR activities at LMS at adjacent The Dirt Track, the #10 MBNA/U.S. Print Mopar sprint car team owned by Blaney and driven by younger brother Dale was fast but unlucky, flipping over while leading Friday night's feature when a tire came off its rim and falling out of the A Main on Saturday with a failed fuel pump.

And when Friday afternoon rains washed out qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Series race at LMS, the car Blaney was scheduled to drive--owned by DIRT Modified owner and close friend Brian Goewey--was one of four cars that failed to make the 43-car field for Saturday's CarQuest 300 at LMS. Goewey, in his first NASCAR event as an owner, had no owners points and was not allowed a provisional starting spot. The team will attempt to make it's debut with Blaney behind the wheel this weekend at Dover Downs.

In the Winston Cup race at LMS, Blany's luck appeared to finally have turned, as he moved from his 43rd-place starting position into the top-20 by the 200-mile mark in NASCAR's longest race. Then, as the race approached the two-thirds mark with Blaney one-lap down to the leaders in 19th, he radioed to Randolph that he felt a tire going down. His subsequent green-flag stop put him two more laps down to the leaders and after only one lap back on the track, a caution flag fell--the fourth time in nine career Winston Cup and Busch Series starts at Charlotte in which the exact same set of circumstances has befallen Blaney.

Blaney finished 33rd, dropping five spots at the finish as his car faded on its final set of tires, but never lost another lap on the track to the lead pack. Jeff Burton--a pre-season championship favorite--broke out of year-long slump for a decisive win ahead of rookie Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, who successfully completed his difficult double-duty after finishing sixth earlier in the day in the Indianapolis 500 in a Chip Ganassi-owned car. Blaney's BDR teammate Ward Burton led for much of the middle of the race but faded to ninth at the finish to remain 19th in the WC point standings, only 149 points behind 10th-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Blaney dropped one position in the WC point standings (to 29th) entering this weekend's races at Dover, and trails 25th-place Mike Skinner by 62 points and two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte in 23rd by 131 points. Scott Wimmer, Blaney and Burton's BDR Busch Series teammate, started the CarQuest 300 on points (14th) and ran in the top-20 until a hard crash with 100 miles to go finished his day. He finished 35th behind race-winner Jeff Green and runner-up Matt Kenseth and ranks 15th in the Busch points, 92 points behind three-time champion Randy Lajoie in ninth.

Qualifying at Dover Downs for both the Busch Series (12:10p) and Winston Cup (1:30p) Series cars is scheduled for Friday, June 1, just prior to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at 4:30 p.m. The 200-lap Busch race is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 at 1 p.m.with the 400-lap Winston Cup event on Dover's one-mile oval scheduled for Sunday, Jujne 3 at 1 p.m. Both races will be broadcast on radio by Motor Racing Network and will be televised by the Fox Networks (FOX, FX, Fox Sports Net).

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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