JOLIET, Ill. – Dave Blaney started 42nd in the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) No. 36 Chevrolet for Sunday’s GEICO 400. The TBR team worked on the handling of the Chevrolet but a clutch problem and engine failure ended the team’s day early. The No. 36 Chevrolet finished in 33rd place.
Blaney took the green flag from the 42nd position and quickly worked up to the 30th spot by lap three. He radioed that the car was pretty good and just a little loose off turn two. He fell back to the 33rd position by lap 17. The No. 36 Chevrolet held onto the position but fell a lap down to the leader on lap 38 as the loose condition worsened.
Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin called Blaney down pit road on lap 47 for a green-flag pit stop. The TBR team changed four tires and made a trackbar adjustment. The No. 36 Chevrolet returned to the track in the 33rd position, one lap down. NASCAR Officials called a debris caution on lap 67, and Baldwin elected to stay out on the track and get the wave around.
The No. 36 Chevrolet restarted in the 28th position on lap 72 and drove into the 26th position by lap 76. On lap 88, Blaney told the crew that the Chevrolet was good on the bottom but tight in the middle. Baldwin called Blaney down pit road for the team’s second green-flag pit stop on lap 95. As Blaney pulled onto pit road, he ran out of fuel and coasted into the pit stall. The team made a four-tire pit stop and no adjustments.
On lap 102, NASCAR Officials called a second caution for debris with the No. 36 in the 33rd position, two laps down. The team stayed out and took the wave around once again. Blaney restarted in the 33rd position, one lap down, on lap 106. By lap 117, he told the crew that the Chevrolet was getting loose, mainly into turn one. Ten laps later, he said the car was tightening up in turns three and four.
Baldwin called Blaney down pit road for a green-flag pit stop on lap 141. The TBR team made a four-tire pit stop and a trackbar adjustment. As he went to drive out of the pit box, Blaney had a problem with the clutch. The team pushed the car so Blaney could get it into gear. He returned to the track in the 34th position, three laps down.
The No. 13 car had an accident in turn two and brought out the caution on lap 150. The TBR team once again took advantage of the wave around. The No. 36 Chevrolet restarted in the 30th spot, two laps down, on lap 158. Blaney was happy with the Chevrolet’s handling and held onto his position for the next run.
On lap 189, the No. 24 Chevrolet has an incident in turn one and brought out the caution. Blaney came down pit road for a four-tire pit stop and air pressure adjustment. The field restarted on lap 195 with the No. 36 Chevrolet in the 28th position, two laps down. By lap 201, the Chevrolet began to smoke. Baldwin told Blaney to pull into the garage, so the team could assess the issue.
The team worked to see where the leak was. At first, the team thought it was a clutch problem and sent Blaney back out. As he left the garage stall, the team saw smoking coming from the exhaust pipes and called him back in, as they did not want to hurt the engine. The No. 36 Chevrolet finished in 33rd place.
The No. 36 Chevrolet held onto the 35th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points. The team is 115 points ahead of the No. 21 in 36th place and 15 points ahead of the No. 32 in the 34th spot. Blaney also held onto the 33rd position in the NSCS Driver Points. He is 33 points ahead of teammate David Reutimann and 51 points behind A.J. Allmendinger.
“It was a disappointing day,” explained Blaney. “We had a pretty good handling racecar and the small adjustments we made helped improve the handling. First, we had a clutch problem that made us lose an additional lap and then the car started to smoke. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the race.”
TBR will head to the Northeast next weekend. Reutimann will pilot the No. 10 Chevrolet in the Sylvania 300.