Dave Blaney drove the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) No. 36 Chevrolet to a 25th-place finish in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The No. 36 team utilized a day of testing and four practice sessions to dial in the Chevrolet. Blaney started in the 36th spot and drove into the top-25 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) 200-lap event.
Blaney took the green flag of the Quicken Loans 400 from the 36th position and quickly made his way toward the front of the field. By the first caution for a two-car incident in turn two on lap three, the No. 36 Chevrolet held the 26th position and restarted in 25th place. The Hartford, Ohio native drove into the 21st position by the second caution on lap 11 for oil on the track. He radioed that the car felt good but was already starting to tighten up.
The field restarted on lap 17 with the No. 36 Chevrolet in the 19th position. Blaney drove up to 17th place on lap 17. As the car began to tighten, he fell back to 21st when the competition caution fell on lap 27. Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton called for a two-tire pit stop and a trackbar adjustment. Blaney returned to the track and restarted in the 24th position on lap 31. The adjustment did not help the handling on the No. 36 Chevrolet, so when NASCAR called the second competition caution on lap 52, the No. 36 team made a four-tire pit stop with an air pressure and trackbar adjustment.
The No. 36 Chevrolet restarted in the 28th position on lap 56. On lap 65, Blaney radioed that the car’s handling was better, but he needed more grip. NASCAR Officials called a caution on lap 82 for debris with the No. 36 in the 27th position. Blaney stayed out, led lap 83 and collected a bonus point. On lap 84, the crew made another four-tire pit stop and air pressure and trackbar adjustments.
Blaney restarted in 26th place and drove up to the 24th position. He fell back to the 30th spot by the halfway point as he struggled with a loose condition. As the run continued, the handling on the No. 36 Chevrolet improved, and Blaney drove into the 28th position when green-flag pit stops began. Pemberton called his driver down pit road on lap 118 for a four-tire pit stop and adjustments. The No. 36 Chevrolet returned to the track in the 31st position, one lap down.
The No. 51 Chevrolet spun in turn two and brought out the caution on lap 121 with Blaney in the 29th spot. As they were behind the wave-around spot, the team elected to top off fuel during the caution period. The field restarted on lap 126 with Blaney in the 29th position, one lap down. A three-car accident on the backstretch brought out the seventh caution of the 200-lap event. The No. 36 held the 26th position and stayed out during the caution period.
One lap after the lap 133 restart, a two-car incident in turn two brought out the final caution of the day. Pemberton called Blaney down pit road, and the No. 36 crew made a four-tire pit stop. The No. 36 Chevrolet returned to the track in the 29th position, one lap down. Blaney drove into the 24th position as green-flag pit stops began on lap 171. Pemberton elected to pit for two tires on lap 177.
Blaney returned to the track in the 27th position, two laps down, on lap 178. He drove into the top-25 in the final 10 laps of the Quicken Loans 400 and finished in 25th place.
The No. 36 Chevrolet moved up to the 34th position in the NSCS Owners Points and locked into the top-35 by 55 points. The team is now four points behind the No. 10 TBR Chevrolet and three points ahead of the No. 32. Blaney is 33rd in the NSCS Drivers Points. He is two points behind Landon Cassill and 14 points ahead of teammate David Reutimann.
“We had a really good day,” explained Blaney. “We achieved our goal of a solid finish to help keep us in the top-35. The car was pretty good all day. We struggled a little with a tight condition and looking for some more grip, but all in all, it was a good day. The track was obviously fast when we got here on Thursday. The replacement tire definitely slowed down the pace and made it a bit more challenging to drive. We kept our nose clean, and the crew made some good adjustments to finish in the top-25.”