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Head2Head: Should NASCAR celebrate Blaney's near win?

April 19, 2011, ,

The impossible nearly became possible last Sunday at Talladega.

Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet, found himself out front with five laps to go in the Aaron's 499. Blaney, who is winless in his 14-year career and has just 27 top-10s in 369 starts, led 21 laps on the afternoon, the second-most, and was in position to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history. Unfortunately for Blaney, he was on the wrong end of a Kurt Busch push and finished 27th.

Should NASCAR celebrate Dave Blaney's near win at Talladega?


I'm not going to lie, in the final laps of the Aaron's 499, my wife and I were on our feet, rooting for Dave Blaney to win. I thought Trevor Bayne at Daytona was amazing, but that wouldn't hold a candle to a Blaney victory at 'Dega.

Just think of how awesome it would've been to see Blaney pull into Victory Lane, earning his first Cup victory in his 370th start -- a career that spans 14 years. Fluke win -- no way. Blaney earned his position up front just like the Hendrick and RCR cars.

And what a moment for Tommy Baldwin Racing as well. A team that will forever be considered "under-funded," yet each week shows up to the track and does all that it can for, at best, a top-25 finish.

I've never been a fan of the start-and-park teams, or teams like TBR that come into a race weekend knowing they have no chance at winning. Riding around to collect a paycheck -- that's not racing. If a team honestly doesn't think it has any hope whatsoever, why bother showing up?

But then there was Blaney at Talladega.

What we saw last Sunday was exactly why teams continue to show up even when hope is low -- because there's always that "one time."

There are 59 drivers who have one Cup Series victory; fifty-nine drivers who had that "one shining moment." Blaney would give almost anything to have his name added to that list, and that's what NASCAR is ultimately all about.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Listen, I really like and admire Dave Blaney. He's the Buckeye Bullet, after all, and everyone knows I'm partial to fellow Ohioans.

But let's not get too worked up about Blaney's admittedly great run in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega. While it was fun and admirable -- not to mention quite a shock -- to see Blaney running up front late in the event, this was much more simply a byproduct of crazy restrictor-plate racing than it was anything else. You also had the distinct feeling all along that it wasn't going to last until the end of the 188-lap event. And sure enough, with four laps to go and with Kurt Busch attempting to push from behind, Blaney's car got spun and ended up 27th when it seemed he was going to be able to contend not only for a top-10 finish but perhaps even for the win.

It was a nice story for part of one afternoon, but ended all too predictably and left the No. 36 Chevrolet team of under-funded but spunky Tommy Baldwin Racing sitting 37th in points heading into the next Cup event at Richmond. Unfortunately, last Sunday's race may end up being the highlight of a season likely to be filled with plenty more heartbreak down the road. Don't be lured into thinking it's anything more.

Furthermore, to suggest Blaney winning at Talladega might have been akin to Trevor Bayne winning the season-opening Daytona 500 is laughable. Bayne is a fresh face with a bright future full of seemingly endless possibilities. Blaney first drove in NASCAR's top national touring series in 1992, is almost as old as, well, me -- and in 370 Cup starts has posted precisely three top-five finishes.

Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Disappointing finish aside, it was an impressive run for the 48-year-old -- but it's not being talked about much. Should NASCAR celebrate what Blaney was able to accomplish at Talladega, or was it just a product of plate racing and nothing else? Bill Kimm and Joe Menzer have their thoughts. Read theirs and share your opinions in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll at the right.