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NASCAR Season Preview: Dave Blaney

Photo credit: Kim Phillips (CC)

#36 Accell Construction Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing

Born: October 24, 1962

Home: Hartford, Ohio

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: With a third place finish at Talladega in October, Blaney scored the fourth top five finish of his Sprint Cup career, as he helped Tommy Baldwin Racing to put its #36 car solidly in the top 35 in owners’ points for 2012. The team only start and parked once, in the second race of the season at Phoenix. Blaney finished 32nd in points, respectable given the quality of the team.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Blaney failed to qualify at Watkins Glen, ending his quest for his first full season since 2006. He also ran the Atlanta race for Germain Racing in a start and park ride after developing kidney stones, and was bounced from Baldwin’s primary car to its secondary #35 multiple times in order to guarantee starts for other drivers.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Blaney’s hard work putting Tommy Baldwin’s #36 car in the top 35 in owners’ points in 2011 will be put to good use in 2012. Unfortunately for Blaney and crew chief Phillipe Lopez, they won’t be the beneficiaries; thanks to an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick and David Reutimann will benefit from those points, while Blaney will use the owners’ points from last year’s #35 car, which attempted only six races in 2011.

That means that Blaney will be relied on to qualify for races on speed to start the season. While that wasn’t an issue in the last three races of 2011, when he drove the #35 car to allow Geoffrey Bodine and his sponsors guaranteed track time, he may have a hard time getting into the Daytona 500, at the very least. Blaney will be a consistent top 35 driver if he’s in the races, as he always has been, but there’s a good chance that he’ll miss at least one event for the sixth season in a row.

– Chris Leone

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