HARTFORD - Dave Blaney's NASCAR Sprint Cup season has been tumultuous, so to speak.
The Hartford native, who drives for Prism Motorsports, has competed in 15 of the 18 Cup races.
He has a completion percentage of 16.9 percent, starts with an average of 32.2 and finishes with an average of 40.7. He's accumulated $1,161,200 in winnings heading into this weekend's race in Chicago.
"In my case, all you can do is stay in the car, stay at the racetrack and do all you can do," Blaney said prior to Tuesday's Lou Blaney Memorial Classic. "The first few weeks, it was a really hard thing to do. You kind of resign yourself to that's what it is."
Dave and brother Dale, an accomplished World of Outlaws racer, NASCAR racers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Jack Johnson, a legendary modified racer from New York, competed. Stewart and Johnson both captured feature races. No other results were available at press time.
Blaney finished only one race this season, the Coca-Cola 600. He took 29th, his highest finish of the year. In the other races, Blaney and his team dealt with "star and park" status, in which some drivers finish early to preserve their cars at the first sign of mechanical propblems, such as vibration or transmission, because they are unable to pit for repairs. It's a matter of economics.
"We have a tiny little team enough to qualify for the races and that's it," Blaney said. "You have to get a lot of money, get a lot of sponsorship to improve that team or go somewhere else if an opportunity comes up."
When Bill Davis sold off a majority of his team, Blaney was left without a team until Prism Motorsports picked him up prior to the Daytona 500.
"Hopefully, an opportunity comes along in either of the other series or in the Cup series or my team gathers a little sponsorship along the way and it starts building up," Blaney said. "It's hard thing, but at the moment, it was the best option."
He's hoping things turn around this season heading into 2010.
"I was hoping to have a good opportunity in the truck series, have some fun and win some races in that," Blaney said. "It didn't work out. We're just putting our time in now and hopefully something comes along."
Stewart was asked, "How much battle is there when it comes to their World of Outlaw teams, nine times out of 10 (Joey) Saldana (Kahne's driver) and (Donny) Schatz (Stewart's driver) seem to be up front. Come Sunday morning, is there a text message that's exchanged? Or, is there nightly bets how those turn out?"
"It's funny because that's two questions already trying to figure out rivalries and stuff," Stewart said. "We sit there and say, 'Hey, good job last night.' That's the way we look at it. We just hope it's one of our two teams in victory lane.
"I don't know. You guys want to make big rivalries out of nothing that doesn't even exist."
"Every story has a hero and a villain," retorted the media member who asked the initial question.
"Every story has a great writer and that's what we're losing," Stewart explained. "We're losing great writers so they have to come up with an angle. We're excited about this and I talk to Kasey about this all the time. We love giving back to short track racing. It's what we're passionate about. Whether it's been our World of Outlaw teams or our USAC (United States Auto Club) teams, we've always been supportive of each other and what we're doing."
It's about supporting tracks like Sharon Speedway.
"People who can't afford to go to NASCAR tracks are supporting their short tracks, which is good for the health for all of auto racing," Stewart said. "It starts at race tracks like this, and you never know where the next Kasey Kahne or Dave Blaney is going to come from. They might be here tonight and not know about it yet. Maybe somebody racing at the end of the night, this is somebody we've got to watch for. That's what short track racing is all about and that's what makes it so important for us to be here tonight."
The two-time Sprint Cup champion is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. This is the first season Stewart has been his own boss.
"Any time you make a change like we did, it's an unknown variable," he said. "It can go either really good or really bad. We've been really fortunate it's went really well for us.
"It hasn't been that much different other than I can be late to team meetings and I don't get yelled at like I used to last year."
He's happy about his spot, but will feel more secure if he's in this spot come the Sept. 12 race - Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Speedway. That is the last qualifying race before the top 12 in the points compete in the final 10 events of the season.
"It doesn't mean anything," Kahne said. "You just have to be there when you come down to Richmond. When you get through Richmond, that's when you want to be in the chase. The last couple of years, we've been right there. We fall out at the end and things happen. I'd like to be more comfortably in the chase, but there are a lot of good drivers and teams. We need to be competitive each week and get the most points we can. Hopefully, we're part of that chase at the end of the year."
It's been a good run so far, he said.
"The last seven, eight weeks we've been there in the top 10," Kahne said. "Whether we finish there is a different story. I feel we have a great team. Our car is doing awesome. We just keep working on that and figure out how to make the chase."