Blickensderfer Looks to Repeat 2009

Drew Blickensderfer is looking to repeat history this weekend following his second Daytona 500 win as a crew chief.

Blickensderfer is seeking to win the first two races of the season for the second time in his career, this time with 2021 Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell. He is the last crew chief to be open the year perfect through race No. 2, a feat he accomplished in 2009 at Auto Club Speedway with Matt Kenseth.

"It didn’t go good the third race," Blickensderfer said when asked about winning two straight. "We blew up so there was a little bad karma there, but I’d like to see if that karma is still there when we unload on the third race because two in a row would be would be unbelievable."

Homestead-Miami Speedway was set to host the second race of the season in 2021, but got moved a week back when the Daytona International Speedway Road Course was added in place of the Auto Club weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunday will mark the second points-paying event at the 14 turn, 3.61-mile track.

The Daytona Road Course is the site of one of four top-10 finishes for McDowell in 2020. He achieved that finish from the 30th starting position. Based on his performance in the Daytona 500, McDowell will be in the front this time around, starting second on Sunday.

"We ran in the top five a lot of that race," Blickensderfer said. "I took tires at the end to try to steal a win because we weren’t as good as Chase (Elliott). Hopefully, we got our car a little better and he stayed fairly similar and we can run."

If McDowell can win two straight to open the season he would become sixth driver to do so, along with the fifth to get their first two career Cup wins in consecutive starts.

With a win under their belt, Blickensderfer can now possibly alter race strategies so McDowell can go after more playoff points.

"Wins matter and stage wins matter," Blickensderfer said. "So, finishing fifth isn’t as important as much as trying to steal a win, right? So, what can we do to try to do that and we don’t get many opportunities. We are very fortunate two of them come in a row."

Drew Blickensdefer Daytona 500
Drew Blickensderfer was presented the Cannonball Baker trophy on Monday at Daytona. (Photo: Brian Cleary)

On Monday at Daytona, Blickensderfer was awarded the Cannonball Baker trophy as the ‘500’ champion crew chief along with another ring.

"I’ve never worn my 2009 one," Blickensderfer said. "I got it out of the closet the other day to put it on before this week and I got this one and said I probably will put it on a shelf on display after a couple of days, but I might as well wear it for a few and show it off."

The only part of this week that threw a little snag in Blickensderfer’s celebration came from a sign that was placed in front of his home, congratulating him and the No. 34 team for winning Daytona.

"We have a pond in our front yard and we naturally don’t have a pond in our front yard," Blickensderfer said after being informed by a call in the middle of his interview with Steve Post on MRN’s Crew Call. "The stake of the sign punctured the sprinkler system. I guess we have a gully washer in my neighborhood because of my Daytona 500 victory sign. So, everybody’s safe. We just have a lot of water in the area."

As Blickensderfer returns to the Daytona garage as the first to take home a points-paying victory in 2021, he’s greatful for everyone that has reached out to him this week.

"To have Jimmie Johnson and Ward Burton text you and Dale Inman call you," Blickensderfer said. "To have that happen and not only call you, but put in words like you deserve this, you work hard.

"That’s one reason I’m smiling…It’s hard to win in Cup and there’s only a few guys doing it and they’re doing it a lot and it’s hard to win and to know that you’re still respected in the garage.

"It’s super special to have your peers reach out to you like that and know how special this win was for not only myself, but the team."