Blaney Got Early Birthday Present

Dave Blaney

“It’s been a big year for Tommy Baldwin Racing," Blaney says. (Photo: Getty Images)

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This is not the easiest time for a single-car or small operation to get noticed at NASCAR’s highest level. But the best way to get noticed is turn in a strong finish.

When Dave Blaney crossed the finish line in Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, he certainly got noticed. By finishing third, he picked up the first career top-5 finish for Tommy Baldwin’s young team, and grabbed the upstart team’s second-biggest payday of the season. All in all, not a bad way to celebrate your birthday one day early.

Blaney spent part of his birthday with Marty Hough and Woody Cain on MRN Motorsports Monday Built by The Home Depot and said he liked having the same drafting partner for the whole race – Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski.

“I think (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) and Brad just wanted to have somebody totally committed to them for the whole day,” Blaney explained. “For us, it was a great option to have Brad and that whole team to be able to run with. We just stuck with each other every lap. Brad did all the pushing and if he needed to cool his engine off, we split off, cooled off and got right back at it.”

Keselowski even coached his partner at times.

“Brad was good about preaching patience and not getting excited and doing things too soon,” Blaney says. “That was good for me and good for the whole process. When we had to get aggressive (in the final laps) it worked out.”

Blaney is certainly pleased with the Talladega finish but thinks his team needs to get credit for being able to grow and develop in difficult economic times while flying under most people’s radar.

“It’s been a big year for Tommy Baldwin Racing, not necessarily on the racetrack where we’ve had a few good races but on the sponsor side of things,” Blaney relates. “We went to the Daytona 500 with nothing and picked up Golden Corral at the last minute. That turned into some more races and then that turned into a bunch more. We’ve had All Sport on the car and Big Red for a lot of races and Axcell Construction for quite a few. Now, Luke and Associates has come on board to sponsor Geoff Bodine’s car a little.

“It’s been big in that regard. It’s let us race more and more (instead of having to start and park), get more people, get better equipment. It’s just a slow growth thing, but without all that support, we couldn’t do it. It’s been fun to be part of it and I think it will keep growing.

“It’s hard to see many teams growing at this point (because of) the way the economy is going and for the size (Tommy Baldwin) started but he’s making a lot of progress.”

From the flat-out, 200 mile-per-hour pace of Talladega, Blaney and TBR turn their attention to racing at a much slower pace and from racing on the biggest superspeedway in NASCAR to competing on it’s smallest oval – and a place where the ability to work traffic is equally, if not more, critical.

“(Martinsville) is not one of my favorites, to be honest,” Blaney says. “It’s way too small of a racetrack for 43 (Sprint) Cup Series cars in my opinion, but the main thing is that it puts on a show. “

Blaney finished 30th at Martinsville Speedway in the spring and looks to improve on that result in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500. While Martinsville and Talladega are vastly different in size, there will be little difference in his approach.

“It’s the same thing (as Talladega),” Blaney said “You’ve got to have patience all day and take care of your race car – don’t be knocking the fenders off and burning the brakes off. It’s a pretty big challenge to stay out there and run good all day long and be around to finish strong.”

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