The finish was Blaney’s third of the 2014 season and his first since June at Pocono, ten races ago (LINK). Blaney, the 2009 LASTCAR Champion, remains the only driver to finish last more than once this season, and in so doing extends his lead to two finishes over the field with twelve races to go.
Following Blaney’s most recent last-place run, the #77 Ford fielded by Randy Humphrey Racing suspended operations to reorganize, and planned to return to the series at Indianapolis. However, when the #77's hiatus continued past Indy, Blaney reunited with Tommy Baldwin, for whom Blaney qualified in three consecutive Daytona 500s. Blaney drove the #37, a third team Baldwin debuted at Indianapolis with Bobby Labonte, and finished 26th at Pocono, then 33rd at Michigan. In between those races, Humphrey’s team returned at Watkins Glen with Nelson Piquet, Jr. behind the wheel.
Blaney and the #37 returned at Bristol, where 43 drivers showed up for as many spots. In Friday’s opening practice, he turned in the 30th-fastest time, skipped Happy Hour, and put up the 35th-fastest time in qualifying with a speed of 127.081 mph.
In the race itself, Blaney fell to the back and around Lap 10, was the first driver to lose a lap. He was then unseated by Brett Moffitt, back in the #66 Identity Ventures Racing entry that was originally slated to be driven by Joe Nemechek. Moffitt lost four laps due to an unscheduled stop after making contact with Aric Almirola. By Lap 36, however, Blaney had gone to the garage area, done for the night. Moffitt, who damaged the front valence of his Toyota after rear-ending J.J. Yeley, lost the engine forty laps later and ended up 42nd.
Finishing 41st was Almirola, whose STP Ford was involved in a hard crash on Lap 126 when a spinning Brian Vickers turned him into the inside wall. The next wreck on Lap 162 filled out the Bottom Five when a spinning Denny Hamlin slid directly into the path of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., ripping off the driver’s side sheet metal of Earnhardt’s #88. Earnhardt returned to the track on Lap 284, 106 laps in arrears, with duct-tape numbers on the driver’s door. He only completed one lap before pulling out once more, ending his night.
*This is Blaney’s first last-place finish in a Cup race at Bristol since August 22, 2009, when his #66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota started 4th, scraped the wall early, then fell out after 8 laps of the Sharpie 500. Blaney swept both last-place finishes that season on his way to the LASTCAR title.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #37 in a Cup race at Bristol since August 28, 2004, when Kevin Lepage and his Carter’s Royal Dispos-All Dodge fell out with a vibration after he completed 11 laps.
*This is the first time a Cup driver finished last at Bristol due to overheating issues since March 25, 2001, when Joe Nemechek’s #33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet fell out after 108 laps of the Food City 500.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Dave Blaney / 37 laps / overheating
42) #66-Brett Moffitt / 78 laps / engine
41) #43-Aric Almirola / 123 laps / crash
40) #11-Denny Hamlin / 160 laps / crash / led 28 laps
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 176 laps / crash
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Mike Bliss, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Timmy Hill, Travis Kvapil, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex, Brian Vickers, Cole Whitt (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #77-Randy Humphrey Racing, #93-BK Racing (2)
2nd) #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #26-BK Racing, #32-Go FAS Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #37-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #38-Front Row Motorsports, #40-Hillman Racing, #42-Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, #43-Richard Petty Motorsports, #47-JTG-Daugherty Racing, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #66-Michael Waltrip Racing / Identity Ventures Racing, #78-Furniture Row Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-Identity Ventures Racing, #88-Hendrick Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (9)
2nd) Chevrolet (8)
3rd) Ford (7)