Dave Blaney drove the No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) entry to the 35th-place starting spot in the AdvoCare 500. Rain postponed the event until Tuesday morning. Blaney developed kidney stones on Monday night and swapped rides with Mike Skinner for the race. Skinner drove from the rear of the field to the 27th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Blaney drove the No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral Chevrolet to the 29th-fastest time in first practice and 36th-quickest in final practice. He qualified the No. 36 in the 35th with a lap of 30.556 seconds. Rain showers postponed the AdvoCare 500 until Tuesday morning. Late Monday night, Blaney experienced pain. After going to the emergency room, doctors concluded that he had kidney stones. Unsure if Blaney could drive the entirety of the race, the TBR team swapped drivers with the No. 60. Mike Skinner got behind the wheel of the No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral machine, while Blaney piloted the No. 60 Big Red entry.
Skinner took the green flag from the back of the field due to the swap and drove up to the 35th position by the first yellow on lap 13 for the No. 47 spinning on the frontstretch. During the caution period, Skinner radioed that the No. 36 was extremely loose, especially on the gas. The TBR team made a four-tire pit stop and adjustments.
The Collective Soul/Golden Corral car restarted in the 37th position on lap 17. Skinner drove into the 33rd position when the competition caution was called on lap 32. Skinner explained that the car was loose in the center and off the corner. The TBR team made another four-tire pit stop, made a wedge and trackbar adjustment and added fuel.
Skinner restarted 31st on lap 35 and fell to 37th by lap 53. He told the crew that the No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral machine did not have any forward bite and was loose everywhere. By lap 61, he told the crew that the right rear felt like it was going down. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez elected to call his driver down pit road on lap 62 for a four-tire stop and adjustments. Skinner returned to the track and, by lap 76, ran in the 36th position, two laps down. He commented that the car was now tighter in the center of the corner than it was before but snapping loose off the corner.
A lap 94 caution for an incident with the No. 47 on the backstretch allowed the TBR team to pit for more adjustments and four tires. The Collective Soul/Golden Corral machine restarted in lap 99 from the 31st position, one lap down but fell to 32nd by the fourth caution on lap 130. He radioed that the car was better at the beginning of the run but became loose in and really loose off the corner. The TBR crew made another four-tire pit stop and made adjustments, including cutting off the rear bar.
The No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral car restarted 32nd, one lap down, on lap 135 and worked his way up to 30th in the next run. Skinner commented that the drive of the car was better and that he just needed help turning in the corner. The No. 34 spun on the frontstretch and brought out the caution on lap 177. The team pit once again for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.
Skinner restarted 30th, three laps down, on lap 186. A red flag was shown on lap 202 for rain. When the field went back to yellow, the TBR team got the Lucky Dog and restarted 29th, two laps down. Weather brought out another caution on lap 222. The Collective Soul/Golden Corral machine received the Lucky Dog once again and restarted 29th, one lap down. The team continued to make four-tire pit stops and adjustments to help the tight in the center, loose in and off the corner condition.
An incident with the No. 33 and No. 42 brought out the eighth caution on lap 243. Skinner radioed that the car was bouncing on the left front. Lopez called the No. 36 down pit road for four tires and a wedge adjustment. The field restarted on lap 248 and three laps later another yellow flag waved for an incident with the No. 5 and No. 78. Skinner told the crew that the last set of tires was really bad and felt like they had 20 laps on them. Lopez elected to pit on lap 251 and put on four sticker tires.
The field restarted on lap 255 with the Collective Soul/Golden Corral machine in the 23rd position. Green flag pit stops began and Lopez waited to call Skinner down pit road until he led a lap. The No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral car led two laps on 286 and 287, and then the team elected to pit for four tires. Still struggling with a loose racecar and finding grip on the track, Skinner fell to 27th, two laps down, during the last green flag run. When the checkered flag dropped on lap 325, Jeff Gordon collected his 85th career-win, and Skinner crossed the start/finish line in the 27th position, two laps down.
The 27th finish allowed the TBR team to hold onto the 33rd position in the NSCS Owner Point Standings. The No. 36 is five points behind the No. 13 in 32nd, seven points ahead of the No. 32 in 34th, and 62 points inside the top-35. Despite a 43rd-place finish, Blaney held onto the 32nd position in NSCS Driver Points. He is 36 points behind Casey Mears in 31st and three points ahead of Andy Lally in 33rd.
“Tommy and I are good friends, have been friends for a long time,” commented Skinner. “I hate that Dave was having kidney stone problems. I know that it has got to be a horrid pain for anyone to go through. It may me feel awfully good that Tommy called me and asked me to sit in for him. I knew the agenda going in. We needed to keep the fenders on and get the best finish we could. We didn’t get the run that I wanted to get. With no practice and no laps in the car, it was like we were driving blindfolded. I think Tommy, Philippe and the whole team did a great job working on the car today, and hopefully, we had a good showing for Golden Corral and Collective Soul as well.”
Blaney will get treated this week for his kidney stones and return to the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway for the Wonderful Pistachio 400 on Saturday, September 10th.
Tommy Baldwin Racing PR