For many fans, Dave Blaney will be remembered as a guy who never made it big in the major leagues of professional racing. His previous success in the World of Outlaws series, which includes a championship in 1995, is often overlooked.
While his NASCAR success has been modest, he has managed to stick around in some form for well over 10 years. In today's NASCAR, that is difficult to do. He has managed to win one race, in the Nationwide Series, and has been known as a dependable driver who keeps the car intact.
The past two seasons have been trying on Blaney. His ride with Bill Davis racing disappeared as the team became a casualty of the economy and inability to attract sponsors. Prior to that, he had an opportunity with Richard Childress Racing, certainly his best shot at breakthrough success, but was replaced for a younger, more marketable driver. This misfortune appeared to be the end of Dave Blaney's driving career.
Unable to find a steady ride, and well into his forties, Blaney accepted a deal with Prism Motorsports, an underfunded start up operation owned by former driver Phil Parsons. His experience, as well as reputation as a good qualifier for a team needing to make races on their qualifying speed made Blaney a great choice for the team.
Forced to qualify on time with a team that doesn't run enough laps to come anywhere close to the top 35 in owners points, Blaney has made the most of his limited resources. He is a regular qualifier on most weekends, but knows the prospect of running the entire race is minimal at best.
For any race car driver, knowing that you will park the car without even trying to compete is maybe the worst possible scenario. These guys don't drive for the money. Blaney has been around long enough to survive. He has other business interests, such as the racetrack he owns in Ohio, Sharon Speedway. The urge to go out and run with the best drivers in the world is what keeps these guys going on a weekly basis.
Dave Blaney proved that he is the ultimate team player. Most drivers would go insane having to start and park. Many of these teams have a different driver behind the wheel almost every race. But his impact is being felt through other forms of participation.
While knowing his weekend will be short, Blaney has also served as a mentor for Germain Racing driver Max Papis. Papis has given Blaney credit for helping to improve his understanding of various racetracks, as well as what to look for in the cars. Blaney proved to be a valuable asset to the team, and does so with very little recognition.
After failing to get his No. 66 Toyota into the field at Michigan, Blaney willingly stuck around and even hopped into the Germain No. 13 to help the team understand what the car was doing. The gesture was noticed by the TV reporters, who took the time to interview Blaney.
While Dave Blaney may never again compete for wins, his presence is surely being felt in the NASCAR garage. Who knows, maybe a lower series team or even a sponsor will take notice of his ability and attitude and help him continue to do what he obviously loves to do.
The sport of NASCAR is a better place with guys like him involved.