Glass half full at BDR
Both drive for a team that has no major manufacturer backing it and has seen few days on top in this sport. One driver that could have changed that, Jeff Gordon, got away.
That the atmosphere at Bill Davis Racing in High Point, N.C., is thick with optimism and devotion these days is a marvel in itself.
That veteran driver Dave Blaney has found a home in this environment, one seemingly non-conducive to breeding success, and managed to help get his rookie teammate out of the gates to a fast start while piloting his unsponsored Dodge to top 15s in each of the two races he's run this year is equally wondrous.
And that the rookie teammate, Scott Wimmer, has shown the potential to take BDR to the heights owner Bill Davis once imagined Jeff Gordon would do is flat out phenomenal.
"It's an interesting collection of circumstances," Davis said earlier this year. "We weren't sure how it would play out, but so far it's been great."
Davis, whose team races Dodges but receives no backing from the manufacturer, knows that his operation is a hard draw for young racers. It wasn't exactly so when he had Jeff Gordon in his Busch Series stable, but Gordon jumped ship for the money and possibilities Hendrick Motorsports offered.
Without a marquee veteran -- Ward Burton has shown this team its greatest successes with a Daytona 500 and Southern 500 victory -- it is difficult to attract talent in this sport.
But Wimmer said he was confident about joining BDR after speaking to Bill and his wife, Gail. After many meetings with Blaney, particularly some while receiving guidance at the racetrack, Wimmer was certain that this would be a successful venture.
"I'm so lucky to have the backing of (sponsor) CAT and Bill Davis Racing and everybody involved," said Wimmer, who posted a third-place finish in the Daytona 500 this season. "They've made the transition into (the Nextel Cup Series) a lot easier for me."
Though Wimmer hasn't revisited the top 10 since his Daytona run, he's still second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. Wimmer said he's excited about the race coming up at Darlington, though he'd feel a little more at ease if he had Blaney down there with him.
"When you have close to the same setups and close to the same cars, then you can really compare information," Wimmer said. "It makes a huge difference when you have a teammate to talk to about what your car is doing and how the changes to the setup have affected it.
"And Dave's been great for that. He's helped me so much in just the (two races) we've been in together."
In fact, Wimmer credits Blaney, in part, for his successful Daytona outing.
"He was pushing me the whole way," Wimmer said. "I can't thank him enough."
The fact that Blaney doesn't have sponsorship in place to run a full schedule is a shame because he might be the most underrated talent on the Cup circuit. In the past, racing in mediocre equipment at best, he's managed to compete at a high level.
Now, in just two races with a major Cup team -- albeit with limited sponsorship -- Blaney has been a big surprise. In the 500, he finished 11th. In last weekend's race at Atlanta, he finished 15th.
"We need to find him sponsorship, because that team is ready to compete," Wimmer said, "and I'd definitely like to have Dave as a teammate at every race."
With just four races down in the 2004 campaign, Davis is a contender for a Cup championship for the first time -- a rookie championship. And with a couple of head-strong drivers, who knows what's in store down the line.
"We've been working hard (for years) to find success and we're now making progress," Davis said. "It's exciting."
Rupen Fofaria is a freelance writer living in Chicago and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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