There is a certain buzz when Dave Blaney pulls into the Sprint Car pit area at Williams Grove or some other speedway around the country.
It’s a flashback to the past for fans.
See, Blaney was one of the big guns in the sport. When he towed into the track with the World of Outlaws, he was one of the main guys the local drivers had to beat to sit in Victory Lane and bank that first-place check..
Blaney was a star. That stardom led to opportunity and a trip south in the late 90s to embark on a career in NASCAR.
It’s been a full-time gig. Blaney has been in NASCAR 16 seasons, but he hasn’t forgotten his first love. His passion. He returned to Sprint Car racing on a part-time basis in 2012 and continues to dabble in the sport as his NASCAR schedule permits.
Some speculate Blaney will, at some point, make a return to dirt on a full-time basis. The Ohio native won’t commit to such talk, but he won’t rule it out.
“I don’t really have any concrete plans,” Blaney said. “I’ve got some really good help this year in Global and Mohawk, Bill Davis, Mike Heffner and Lelands, and that gives me the ability to go racing.
“I’m going to race as much as I can and see how it goes. Would I like to [return], yeah, most days. But we’ll see.
“It’s easy to look at it and say, ‘yeah, that is what I’m going to do.’ But I don’t know. I have fun doing it, have fun building and working on them. We’ll see how the future plays out.”
Blaney isn’t the same driver he was before he left for the bright lights of NASCAR. But he is still pretty good.
The fact that he is 51 years old means little. When he shows up, he contends. Blaney still has the chops to win.
A year ago, Blaney captured the Port Royal Speedway opener. In July, he invaded Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speed Week and notched a holiday victory at super smooth Hagerstown Speedway.
“These cars are so fast, and the guys that live in them every day are going to be faster,” Blaney said. “You’re better at what to do with the race car, how to work on them and everything when you are in them every day.
“We struggle with that, me driving and knowing what to do. Running part time, it’s a struggle to get to that point, but we are getting there. We’ll find it.”
In the meantime, Blaney still has commitments on the stock car front.
Blaney, a respected test driver and racer in the NASCAR community, has a deal with a smaller Sprint Cup team that is trying to get its operation off the ground. He also wants to be around for family support.
Ryan Blaney, Dave’s son, is one of NASCAR’s fast risers. The third generation driver already owns a pair of Camping World Truck Series wins and a Nationwide triumph and is in the Team Penske camp.
“I’ve been racing with him since he was 9,” Blaney said. “This is a big stage he is on. He has a good team, but it’s a high pressure thing.
“I feel it, and I’m sure he feels it 10 times more. I just want to be there for him. It’s an awesome that he has this opportunity, and he is making the most of it.”
Continued Blaney, “I still like being around my son [Ryan] and doing all I can to support him. That is the first thing I have to take care of, but I love doing this. I just have to do it part time as an old guy.”
Blaney has a tentative schedule that includes 20 to 25 races this season. That could balloon depending on his NASCAR slate and how well his Sprint Car team performs in the upcoming scheduled dates.
“We’ll see,” said Blaney, who didn’t rule out competing in the Knoxville Nationals. “We hope to race the [Cup car] every week, but I can still do plenty of Sprint Car races around it.
“I could probably do 30 or 40 if I really wanted to. We are going to run as much as we can. The better we do, the better we will run.”