Cutting It Fine
Meet the Driver
Hometown: Hartford, Ohio
Blaney, whose first full season on the Winston Cup circuit came in 2000, is quickly establishing himself as one of the series’ rising stars. Driving the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford, he has become a consistent top-10 finisher.
Blaney won rookie of the year honors in the All-Star Sprint circuit in 1983 and later moved up to USAC and World of Outlaws competition.
A fan of the Washington Redskins, Blaney owns a short track in Pennsylvania and a World of Outlaws team of which his brother, Dale, is the driver.
The job of a NASCAR transporter driver is hardly an easy one, but sometimes the weather can make the job even rougher. The Rockingham 200 earlier this year was delayed from Saturday until Monday due to rain, and that created a logistical nightmare for the men who expected to be back at their home camp that day. After all, the next race was scheduled for Saturday.
Gary Clem is the transporter driver for Elliot Sadler’s No. 38 team, and he found himself with a short turnaround time since the next race was in Las Vegas – 2,300 miles away.
“Normally, we’d like to have left the shop in Mooresville, N.C., at around noon Monday,” Clem said. “But, I didn’t get back from Rockingham until late afternoon Monday. The guys loaded and unloaded the truck while I slept and I was able to get on the road at 8 o’clock Tuesday morning.”
Under normal circumstances, such a trip would take 36 hours. The team’s check-in at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was Thursday morning, which means Clem had 54 hours to make the journey.
Clem would’ve preferred to have a little more wiggle room.
“We can certainly make it, but I like to have a little more time built in,” he said. “If you have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and run into some bad weather, things can get a little tight.”
Clem made the journey just fine, but he spent the long trip worried about things out of his control.
“The most direct way is straight out Interstate 40,” he said. “But if there’s bad weather, you have to drop down to Interstate 20. When that happens, you lose four or five hours. You spend a lot of time watching the Weather Channel.”
Is This ‘Flash’Gordon’s Year?
When a sport has a preseason poll, you know it has officially arrived. And in the first-ever preseason poll for NASCAR Winston Cup racing, Jeff Gordon was the favorite to claim his fifth series title when this 2003 season comes to a close.
The prediction is hardly a stretch.
With 61 wins to his credit, Gordon is seventh on the all-time victory list and stands alone among active drivers. He could walk away from the sport today, and his status as a legend would be secure.