He once dreamed of racing open-wheel cars at the famous oval.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Brickyard 400 has always held a special meaning for Indiana-based Jasper Engines & amp; Transmissions.
Perhaps no NASCAR Winston Cup Series sponsor covets a win in the Brickyard 400 -- one of the sport's premier events -- more than Jasper Engines, which also serves as co-owner of Dave Blaney's No. 77 car.
"I believe they could say that the winner's share for the Brickyard 400 would be a sack of Indiana corn, and every real racer would still think this is one of the most important races on their schedule to work to win," said Blaney. "Most of the guys I'm racing around now in the Winston Cup Series grew up racing stock-cars and to them, winning Daytona was everything. That was THE race. And it's big for me now, too.
"But I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, where sprint-cars are king, and every kid dreams of racing and winning at Indianapolis. There was probably a point in my World of Outlaws career where I thought maybe I'd race here one day, but in open-wheel cars. If any driver tells you that racing at the Brickyard in any race is just another race, because it pays just as many points as Daytona, Texas or Martinsville, they're lying. It's a big deal for everyone of us every time we come here."
In 21st place
Blaney is ranked 21st in the Winston Cup Series standings, only 24 points behind 20th-place Jeff Green, 37 points behind 19th-place Bobby Labonte and 39 points behind 18th-place Elliott Sadler. In three career starts at Indianapolis, Blaney has a best-start of 20th for the 1999 race, when he was still a Busch Series regular and a best-finish of 23rd (August 2000).
"Almost any sponsor in our sport wants to win at Daytona or Indianapolis, because it's a victory that can carry you through a whole season in every way," he added.
In last year's Brickyard 400, Blaney started 24th and finished 40th, sidelined on lap 100 after a restart accident when cars bunched up off Turn 4 and he folded the front of his car.
Since his ninth-place finish at California in late April, Blaney has posted only three top-15 finishes, but has led five races, and run at the front of several other events, including Sears Point and Daytona, where he ran in the top 10 for more than two-thirds of each race before late trouble.
At Pocono last weekend, he led and ran in the top-12 throughout the race before a slow final pit stop mired him deep in the field; he finished 22nd.