Team Preview: Tommy Baldwin Racing

D.Blaney

Dave Blaney returns to Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2012, nearing his 400th career Cup Series start. (Photo: Getty Images)

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MotorRacingNetwork.com counts down to the start of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway with a series of team previews. Next up is a look at Tommy Baldwin Racing.

Tommy Baldwin Racing labored anonymously throughout the 2011 Sprint Cup Series, with Dave Blaney turning in a workmanlike effort that netted the organization a spot among the top 35 in owner points.

Anonymous will not be one of the adjectives used to describe the three-year-old organization once Speedweeks 2012 gets rolling later this month.

Can anyone say “Danica Patrick,” … “GoDaddy.com,” … “Stewart-Haas Racing?”

Tommy Baldwin Racing has entered into a collaborative partnership with SHR, whereby Baldwin’s team will field the No. 10 Chevrolet for all 10 of Patrick’s Sprint Cup Series races in 2012.  The alliance guarantees a starting spot for Patrick in the season-opening Daytona 500, thanks to Blaney’s efforts in 2011.  The owner points he earned for TBR have been transferred to Patrick’s No. 10.

“We’re proud of what we’ve established,” Baldwin said of his three-year-old team.  “The opportunity to partner with Stewart-Haas Racing and aid in the development of Danica Patrick is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in over the years.  Danica will have a great teammate in Dave Blaney, who has been instrumental in getting our race team to where it is today.  And with David Reutimann driving the No. 10 car in the races where Danica is not, the team will remain in a strong and competitive position throughout the year.”

TBR was formed in 2009 and has matured from a single-car team to one that in 2012 will field two Sprint Cup Series entries and a NASCAR Nationwide Series program for Blaney’s son Ryan.  Baldwin is a former crew chief and won the 2002 Daytona 500 with driver Ward Burton.

“This was best for all of us involved, and for Chevrolet,” Baldwin said of the partnership.  “It’s going to be a good deal for both programs.  It helped us fill some slots we needed filled on our side.  We would have loved a 36-race schedule but from the beginning of our talks, it was always going to be 26 races for David (Reutimann), and he’s on board with that.”

Reutimann, who left Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the 2011 season, will drive the No. 10 Chevrolet in the 26 points-paying races where Patrick is not competing.

“I talked with a bunch of different teams and in the end, Tommy’s program seemed to be structured the best for what I wanted to do,” said Reutimann, preparing for his sixth season in the Cup Series.  “Our backgrounds are similar, and our mentalities are close in terms of racing and the things we’re trying to accomplish.  I wanted to be part of something new and this is really a good fit for me.”

If funding can be secured for a third TBR entry, Reutimann would be able to pick up those 10 additional races and run a full schedule.

 “Tommy’s working on a bunch of different things right now that may help us run an entire season,” said Reutimann, who finished 28th in points last year with a best finish of second (to Kyle Busch) at Kentucky Speedway.

As for Blaney, he’ll now have to qualify for races on speed, not able to rely on the guaranteed spots that would have been available to him for the first five races by virtue of the team’s top-35 finish in owner points last year.

No worries there, according to Baldwin.

“We’ve been doing this stuff for three years, so I don’t think it’s any different,” he said.  “Dave’s comfortable with it and is used to that pressure.  His hard work has paid off and again, we’ve been discussing this so it’s nothing that he’s not known about.”

In 35 starts last season, Blaney had a best finish of third in the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway.  The veteran driver ran his first Cup Series race in 1992 and is three starts shy of 400 for his career.

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