BRISTOL, Tenn. – An on-track incident on lap 322 caused damage to the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet and relegated Dave Blaney to a 26th-place finish. The Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team raced in the top-20 for most of the day before the contact cut an oil line and ended Blaney’s night early at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet took the green flag of the IRWIN Tools Night Race from the 25th starting spot. By the first caution on lap 11, Blaney was in 28th place and radioed that the Chevrolet was really loose and needed to turn better in the center of the corner. Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton elected to stay out during the caution period. Blaney restarted 28th and fell back to the 30th spot by lap 50. He told the SealWrap crew that the Chevrolet needed to turn better and was tight when he got back on the throttle.
A lap 83, debris caution allowed the team to make their first pit stop. The SealWrap crew changed four tires and made an air pressure and trackbar adjustment. The No. 36 Chevrolet restarted in 27th place on lap 90. The adjustments helped the free condition, and Blaney drove into the 25th spot before a two-car incident in turn four brought out the yellow flag on lap 123. Pemberton called for a four-tire pit stop and trackbar adjustment.
When the field went back to green-flag racing on lap 130, Blaney restarted 22nd. He drove into the top-20 but radioed that the car was sliding the front end when he got back on the throttle. The No. 34 spun in turn four on lap 149 and brought out the caution with the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet in the 19th position. Pemberton told Blaney to stay out, and he restarted in the ninth position. He fell back to the 12th position when a three-car incident in turn four brought out the caution on lap 192.
Blaney pit for four tires and a wedge adjustment but got a speeding penalty entering pit road. He restarted at the tail end of the field in 27th place on lap 200. He held the position for the next 25 laps when the yellow flag flew again. He told the crew the car was sliding on both ends of the track. Despite the handling issue, the team elected to stay out, as track position was extremely important.
The No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet restarted in 14th place on lap 231. Blaney drove up to the 12th spot on the restart and raced in the top-15 before the next caution on lap 272. He told the SealWrap crew that the Chevrolet was not bad. He continued that he wanted to help the front of the car but did not want to hurt the back. Pemberton called Blaney down pit road for a four tire pit stop and air pressure adjustment.
The field restarted on lap 277 with the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet in the 18th position. By lap 310, Blaney radioed that the car started out better but tightened up severely. He fell back to the 20th position by lap 319.
On lap 323, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart made contact. Unable to avoid the incident, the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet received major damage to the front, right of the car. Blaney pit for two tires and the crew got to work to fix the damage. He pit again and the team continued to work on the damage. On lap 329, the field restarted with Blaney in the 25th position.
Another two-car incident on the frontstretch on lap 332 brought out the caution. The team pit three times during the caution period and continued to fix the damage on the Chevrolet. Blaney restared in the 24th position. He radioed that the No. 36 was really tight and would need an adjustment on the next stop. By lap 345, the left, front tire began to smoke and brought out the caution on lap 347.
Blaney pulled the car behind the wall, and the team went to work on a cut oil line. With the problem fixed, the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet returned to the track on lap 358. When the lap 415 caution was called for a single-car incident, the team took the wave around as Blaney said the car was getting better. The team pit during the next caution on lap 424 for four tires and no adjustments. Although the car was getting better, the car began to leak power steering fluid. With only nine laps to go, the team did not have enough time to fix the problem and finished in 26th place.
The No. 36 team is holding onto 35th place in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points. The team is 19 points outside of the 34th spot and locked into the top-35 by 102 points. Blaney is 33rd in NSCS Driver Points. He is 64 points behind Landon Cassill and two points ahead of teammate David Reutimann.
“I really enjoyed the race,” explained Blaney. “The track was a lot faster than the old Bristol was. Our car was getting better, and we had a few good runs there. Unfortunately, we got caught up in that incident, and the damage ended our day early.”
Blaney will return to the No. 36 Chevrolet for Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Labor Day weekend event Sunday, September 2.