His 2010 season in NASCAR’s top series doesn’t look too promising.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Supposedly, the three most important words in the real estate world are location, location, location.
It would follow that the three most important words in NASCAR are money, money, money.
Lack of it continues to be the bane for Dave Blaney, who sputtered through the 2009 Sprint Cup season with an under-funded Prism Motorsports team.
For the past 11 months, the Hartford native started in 30 of the season’s 36 races and handled the start-and-park gimmick as best he could to earn $2,343,060.
Short of getting a federal bailout, is he ready for retirement?
At age 47, Blaney isn’t ready to put the brakes on his career, but he’s looking less like a NASCAR driver and more like a NASCAR dad everyday.
“In Sprint Cup, especially, there’s not going to be any really good opportunities down the road,” said Blaney. “I’m old enough where it’s just not going to happen. So, we’ll run what we can and see what happens. But Ryan’s got a future, possibly, in racing, so we’ll see if we can help him and see how it goes,” Blaney said of his son, who most recently ran stock cars in North Carolina this past summer and ran well.
Ryan Blaney turns 16 at the end of December and the likelihood of Dave grooming the son instead of pushing himself is real.
“At the moment, I’m trying to help Ryan get going more than I’m worried more about my stuff, honestly, so I’ll do what I can do to help him first, then worry about me. From what I’ve seen of Ryan so far in the past few years, I think the sky’s the limit, potential-wise.”
Although two months remain before the Sprint Cup’s 2010 season kicks off, Dave Blaney sees little movement in potential rides for himself.
“There’s not much there, not much going on,” Blaney said, chuckling after being asked about the new season. “I don’t have anything other than the same stuff I was doing in 2009 — the start and park thing.”
He rode for Prism Motorsports in 2009, but, although Prism still exists, it doesn’t have a budget for fulltime racing. He said there are some other opportunities, but nothing better.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys and everybody’s in the same boat: small teams are just trying to find enough money to raise, so you never know what they’re going to do.”
What’s been his best bite yet?
“I thought I was close to a 6-8 race schedule with one of those [Nationwide] teams, but that’s still up on the air as well,” Blaney said. “I’d run any of the series — trucks, Nationwide — whatever could be put together if it’s a pretty competitive team. It would all be fun to do, but there’s no sponsorship right now anywhere, so all the teams are struggling to stay alive.”
How about Tony Stewart’s team?
“It’s all money. It costs so much money to do this stuff that nobody can afford to do it without sponsorship. If I had some money and found some sponsorship, I’m sure I could put something together with him, but that’s a big ‘if.’ ”
Blaney elaborated on the lack of sponsorship opportunities.
“There’s going to be probably fewer fully sponsored teams this year than ever before. There’s going to be quite a few really low-budget teams that are going to go out and try to race as well as they can. As far as fully funded teams, there aren’t going to be that many of them. I could remember five years ago when there were 45-46 totally funded teams and now there’s probably 32-35 fully funded.”
Despite not finishing but a few races in 2009, Blaney was asked to describe whether the year could be considered successful.
“I don’t know what you’d call it. I guess you could say I kept myself in the sport in hopes of getting with a team that could race more. If that happens [in 2010], then 2009 was successful. I guess the only goal was to stay in the middle of it and hope for more opportunity.”
So staying in the picture in 2009 didn’t hurt?
“I didn’t think so. My other option was staying home and I didn’t think that was a better option. It wasn’t fun, not having enough resources to race and just trying to make the race and pulling in, but the other option wasn’t any better. If we did get some sponsorship [in 2009] we could race; we never really did, but, the other side of it is that I’m still in the cars and, if something happens to somebody, I’m staying there. I guess what it comes down to is that I wasn’t ready to not do it anymore.”
Does someone like Blaney have a role in hustling sponsorship?
“No,” he said. “In the majority of cases, the race teams or the marketing companies that work for the race teams do all that work. Maybe the driver knows somebody who knows somebody who can get them in the door of some company, and that happens a lot, too. It’s like any other sport in that there are more sponsorship opportunities for the guys who are most visible. It’s still that way here [in NASCAR] for those who run up front and win races.
There’s still a bunch of sponsors who would love to have Jimmie Johnson if Lowe’s went away.”
Blaney insists that he’ll be racing in some form in 2010, even if it’s a smorgasbord.
“I came from the World of Outlaws sprint car racing and there’s nothing saying I couldn’t go back to that side of it in the near future. So, anything is a possibility. It’s not as if I’d stop racing altogether if I stop running NASCAR. That’s not going to happen.”
That means short-track options such as dirt tracks, pavement tracks, stock cars, sprint cars.
“There’s lots of other stuff to do. Not saying I would or wouldn’t, but there is other stuff.”