Dave Blaney qualified the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet in the 35th-position for the Bank of America 500. He battled an ill-handling racecar as the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team worked on the setup and improved the car’s handling. By lap 287, an engine problem brought the Golden Corral Chevrolet into the garage. The team worked on the car and sent Blaney back out to access if the problem was terminal. Still having issues, Blaney retired from the race on lap 304. The No. 36 finished in the 35th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Thursday, Blaney drove the 39th-fastest practice lap in first practice and then posted the 35th-quickest qualifying lap. The TBR team used the first of two practice sessions on Friday to test a few different setups in the car. Blaney posted the 33rd-fastest time in the first session. In final practice, the team went back to the initial setup with a few changes, and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet posted the 41st-fastest time.
Blaney took the green flag of the Bank of America 500 from the 35th position. The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet started off tight and fell a lap down by lap 31, still in the 35th spot. He worked up to 31st by lap 43. The TBR team made their first pit stop of the night under green flag conditions on lap 45. They changed four tires and made a trackbar adjustment to help the tight condition.
Once back on the track, Blaney was in the 34th position. He radioed that the car was pushing really bad and hitting the splitter. By lap 60, the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was still tight and lacked grip but was getting better. Debris on the racetrack brought out the first caution of the night on lap 78. The Golden Corral team changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment during the caution. Blaney restarted in 32nd-place, one lap down, on lap 82.
By lap 100, Blaney told the team that the car was still tight and struggling with grip on the exit of the corner. The Golden Corral team made another green-flag pit stop on lap 126 for four tires and a wedge adjustment.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet fell a second lap down on lap 130 with Blaney in the 33rd spot. By lap 146, the car was getting better, and lap times were improving. NASCAR Officials called the second debris caution on lap 148. The Golden Corral team elected to stay out to get a lap back since the car was handling better and only had 22 laps on the tires. Blaney restarted 31st and raced into the 28th position before another debris caution on lap 156. During the caution, the team pit for four tires and a wedge adjustment.
The TBR team restarted 28th, one lap down, on lap 156. Ten laps later, Blaney radioed that the car was not turning where it needed to and fell to the 30th position. He continued that the car still needed more grip. He held onto the position during the next run. On lap 200, the team made a green-flag, four-tire pit stop and air pressure adjustment.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet returned to the track in 32nd, two laps down and still had a tight condition. By lap 233, the car lost the handling and was extremely tight. On lap 239, the No. 21 stopped on the track which brought out the caution. The team pit for four tires and a trackbar adjustment. Blaney restarted 29th, two laps down, on lap 243. The car continued to get worse during the run and water began to spew from the overflow.
By lap 287, the car began to smoke. Blaney drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet into the garage, and the team worked to assess the problem. The team was unsure if the problem was just that the car needed water or if there was a bigger issue. Blaney returned to the track on lap 296. Eight laps later, the team concluded the problem was terminal. The Golden Corral team settled for a 35th-place finish.
The finish kept the No. 36 team in the 32nd position in NSCS Owner Points. The team is now two points ahead of the No. 32, 73 points behind the No. 34 and locked into the top-35 by 41 points. Blaney also held onto the 32nd spot in NSCS Driver Points. He is 26 points ahead of Andy Lally in 33rd and 24 points behind Casey Mears in 31st.
“It was a disappointing day,” explained Blaney. “The car started off really tight, and the team worked hard to get it handling better. One of the runs was pretty good. We had good lap times, and the car felt better. During the next run, it was back to being really tight after a small change. Then, we started spurting water, and the engine blew. We tried some new things in practice, and the team is working hard to build the mile and a half program. We’re making progress, which is promising. We’ll keep digging and hopefully get a top-10 for kids to eat free at Golden Corral before the year is out.”