Sunday, June 26, 2022

CUP: Bump from LaJoie leaves Alex Bowman with first last-place finish since 2018

PHOTO: @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Alex Bowman picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #48 Ally Music City Chevrolet was eliminated under the "Damaged Vehicle Policy" (DVP) after 49 of 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Bowman’s 242nd series start, was his first of the season and first since July 14, 2018 at Kentucky, 142 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 4th under the DVP, the 23rd for the #48, and the 827th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 7th by DVP, the 31st for the #48, and the 1,846th for Chevrolet.

In the time since he was last featured on this site, Bowman has gone from an overperforming underdog to a surprising winner. In so doing, he’s continued the winning legacies of two different Hendrick Motorsports entries following the retirements of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. It was with Junior’s #88 that he scored his first Cup win at the Chicagoland Speedway in 2019, besting Kyle Larson in a heated battle during the final moments, then won the following spring at Fontana in dominant fashion, leading more than half the laps. In the #48, Bowman has since made the #48 entry his own. He won five times last year – including late-race battles at Richmond and Martinsville at the cost of Denny Hamlin, who referred to him as a “hack.” This became the first win Bowman would commemorate with a special t-shirt, followed by his upset victory just this year at Las Vegas.  

For the second-straight year, Ally Bank was the title sponsor of the Nashville race, so Bowman would run a special paint scheme for the event. After Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s “Neon Lights” scheme won a fan contest in 2021, Junior showed three hilariously awful schemes in his “Unexpected Allies” series before the final “Music City” version was revealed in the June 13 finale. The purple car ran 15th-fastest in opening practice, then narrowly missed the final round of qualifying with a 12th-fastest lap of 159.520mph (30.015 seconds). Rain cancelled the final round regardless, handing Denny Hamlin the pole.

Starting 36th and last was Kyle Busch, whose #18 Pedigree Toyota broke loose on its qualifying lap and backed into the Turn 3 wall with the left-rear bumper. Their timed lap cancelled, the Joe Gibbs Racing crew elected to repair the primary car, and the resulting unapproved adjustments would incur him a redundant tail-end penalty. No other driver would join him in the back of the pack, so Busch took the green flag in the final row.

During the opening laps, the last-place spot fell to Josh Bilicki in the #77 Ziegler Auto Group Chevrolet, who was within sight of B.J. McLeod in the #78 Motorsport Games XBOX Ford as both fell two laps down to the leaders. Storm clouds that threatened to delay the start continued to move in, but not until after Bilicki’s #77 slowed down the backstretch on Lap 42, reporting a loss of fuel pressure. As Bilicki made it to pit road, the caution fell for debris, which also saved a struggling William Byron. Byron had just lost the 10th spot to Kevin Harvick when his #24 Valvoline Chevrolet reported a possible flat tire. This issue appeared to be resolved when the half-hour red flag for a lightning hold finally ended, and Bilicki restarted his onboard computer to get the fuel pressure back to 70 pounds. 

The race restarted on Lap 47, and moments later, Byron – now running 7th – pulled into the high lane, his car noticeably off the pace. “It’s really bad,” the driver reported, indicating an issue with the steering. As the crew told him to pull into the garage, trouble broke out in Turn 4. Alex Bowman was in 24th when contact from Corey LaJoie’s #7 Schluter Systems Chevrolet sent him spinning driver’s side first into the outside wall. Bowman was frustrated with LaJoie, who said he thought Bowman had committed to a different lane. Regardless, Bowman managed to drive back to pit road for repairs – though not until after the right-front tire came apart, tearing off the fender.

On Lap 51, as Byron pulled into the garage for the steering issue, Bilicki had just managed to pass McLeod for the 35th spot. Bowman’s crew continued to attempt repairs until Lap 55, when the team ran out of time as the latest team trying to repair the NextGen car’s fragile toe links. “We’re out of time,” said the crew, which bolted the tires back onto the car and pushed it behind the wall, out of the race. On Lap 66, NASCAR’s garage official confirmed Bowman was out due to "accident," though later clarified in the results as DVP. Two laps later, Byron’s crew said they were between five and ten minutes from completing repairs to the steering. This was done on Lap 85, when Byron re-fired the engine and returned to the track the next time by. On Lap 88, Byron finally completed his 49th lap with a time of 1,717.25 seconds, or 2.794mph. With just a one-lap deficit to Bowman, he dropped the #48 to last on Lap 89, and reported the car’s handling had returned to normal.

On Lap 61, Chase Briscoe’s #14 Mahindra Tractors Ford broke loose racing under Ty Dillon’s #42 Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet for 19th, causing both cars to bounce off each other and the outside wall. Both managed to clear the “Crash Clock” with Briscoe doing son on Lap 68, but ten circuits later, the #14 suddenly shut off on the track, and pulled behind the wall on Lap 80. When a second red flag flew for lightning and, later, a rainstorm, Byron was within nine laps of passing Briscoe for 34th. But Briscoe also returned to action and ultimately held off Byron for 34th by seven laps. McLeod took 32nd, one spot ahead of Josh Bilicki, whose fuel pressure issues culminated in an engine failure that drew the race’s final caution with seven laps to go. Bilicki and Bowman were the only two drivers who failed to finish under power.

With 19 races to go, McLeod has pulled back ahead of Corey LaJoie for the lead in the 2022 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship on a bottom-fifteen tiebreaker of 12-9.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #48 in a Cup Series race since May 24, 2020, when Jimmie Johnson was disqualified from the Coca-Cola 600. Bowman is the first driver other than Johnson to finish last in the #48 in a Cup Series points race since February 28, 1993, when James Hylton had a busted oil pan on his #48 Rumple Furniture Pontiac after 24 laps around Rockingham.

36) #48-Alex Bowman / 49 laps / DVP
35) #24-William Byron / 262 laps / running
34) #14-Chase Briscoe / 269 laps / running
33) #77-Josh Bilicki / 285 laps / engine
32) #78-B.J. McLeod / 295 laps / running

1st) Live Fast Motorsports, Spire Motorsports (3)
2nd) Hendrick Motorsports, Trackhouse Racing (2)
3rd) 23XI Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (2)


ARCA: Dallas Frueh turns three laps at Elko

ALL PHOTOS: William Soquet

by William Soquet Staff Writer

Dallas Frueh finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Menards 250 at Elko Speedway when his #27 Circle Track Warehouse / Immigration Law Center Chevrolet retired with mechanical issues after three laps.

The finish came in Frueh’s second career start.

Frueh got his start in ARCA in a very unique way. Like many ARCA crew members, Frueh attends the University of Northwestern Ohio, but was not a part of the group that pits the cars for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing - at least, not at first. In fact, an old racing competitor was the gateway into ARCA. Former street stock driver Zachary Tinkle invited Frueh to come along to Tinkle’s ARCA debut with Wayne Peterson Racing. During that weekend, Frueh was introduced to Andy Hillenburg and started working on Hillenburg’s cars at some tracks. At Watkins Glen later that year, he was shuffled over to the Tim Richmond entry as a pit crew member. As it turns out, the Richmond shop is located only an hour from Frueh’s residence, and he began helping out at the shop more often. At the end of the 2021 season, team owner David Richmond approached Frueh about helping out the team with some "start-and-park" opportunities in 2022, which Frueh happily obliged. He made his debut at Berlin Raceway last week, and said that the plan for the race was to run two laps at Elko. The purpose of the start-and-park was twofold: to not make the damage suffered at Iowa any worse, and to not put any more wear on the Ilmor motor that was in the car.

The entry list featured 20 cars, a stout field for the Elko race. One of the two drivers making his debut in Saturday’s race was 17-year-old Colton Collins, driving for CCM Racing. Collins is a crew member for CCM, and just received the offer to drive the car last week. After a racing career that has taken him through the quarter midget, super truck and Legends car ranks, Collins took his first ARCA competition laps in practice at Elko. “It’s very abrasive. I was on the splitter on the first run, on the right front. Came in, made some adjustments, got off the splitter, it was a lot better,” Collins said after practice. He pegged the top-ten as a realistic goal for the race ahead of an additional appearance at Indianapolis Raceway Park later this year. The other driver making his debut in Saturday’s race was Venturini Motorsports driver Landon Pembelton, who was signed to the Toyota driver development pipeline after winning the Martinsville late model stock race last year. Tom Hessert returned to a track that he finished second at in 2012, and Willie Mullins also joined the field, as he annually does at Elko. Fast Track Racing filled their cars with Bryce Haugeberg from nearby North Dakota, Zachary Tinkle, and D.L. Wilson.

Alex Clubb's #03 on track Saturday

The Alex Clubb machine was the slowest car in practice, turning a fastest lap of 18.59 seconds. Brad Smith was the only car in the 16-second range, and eight cars wound up in the 15-second time bracket during qualifying. Smith said after qualifying that he was still debating whether to run the full race or not. Smith noted the need to save his only chassis throughout the course of the year, saying that the first race break may present a logical time to pull off the racetrack. 

Clubb was facing his own set of challenges this weekend. Team driver Josh White crashed the car at Charlotte and then defaulted on the crash clause, something that White claimed Clubb knew could happen, in a GoFundMe to raise the funds for the crash clause. Regardless, Clubb footed the bill for repairs, and that money came from the tire budget for the next few short track races. Additionally, the car blew a rear master cylinder in practice, leaving the race in doubt for the team. Clubb did not take a lap in qualifying, and neither did Amber Balcean. The 30 car was up on jackstands for the entirety of qualifying, and a crew member said later that it was due to issues with the oil line. 

However, those issues were resolved shortly after qualifying, as the car was pushed to the lineup before the autograph session. Clubb and crew, on the other hand, were looking for a replacement master cylinder. They tried one from a local late model racer that didn’t work, but eventually found one that did and got it installed, getting the car on the grid a mere handful of minutes before driver introductions. With that, all 20 cars were set to take the green. A Fast Track crew member said before the race that the plan was to have Haugeberg run the full race and have Tinkle and Wilson run "start-and-park" efforts.

Both Freuh and Smith dropped to the rear of the field at the start of the race. For the first lap, the two held side-by-side - Freuh on the inside and Smith on the outside - with Smith falling behind about a half-car length at the stripe. Freuh cleared Smith on Lap 2 and gapped him on Lap 3, running on the bumper of the Alex Clubb machine before pulling into the pit entrance on the backstretch during Lap 4. After the race, Freuh said that he was fine with how his race went and that he looked forward to tuning up his CRA street stock in the near future. He also is excited about the Watkins Glen race, where the Richmond Racing team will be have a new chassis with a legacy engine for "start-and-park" efforts, potentially leading to more laps completed. For the remainder of the race, Frueh sat in a lawn chair eating sandwiches and chatting with other crew members and drivers.

Fast Track teammates D.L. Wilson and Zachary Tinkle both retired while Amber Balcean was in the pits, her crew trying to repair nose and hood damage from an on-track run-in that happened before the first caution, but only got worse after the green flag dropped again. Balcean, a number of laps down, eventually made it back on track, but a nagging trail of smoke forced the 30 machine into the pits for a final time before the first stage break, ending a miserable race day for the team. Brad Smith rounded out the Bottom Five, having a couple extended stays on pit road but still making laps after the final race break before retiring from the race.

20) #27-Dallas Frueh / 3 laps / mechanical

19) #01-D.L. Wilson / 15 laps / mechanical

18) #10-Zachary Tinkle / 15 laps / mechanical

17) #30-Amber Balcean / 56 laps / damage

16) #48-Brad Smith / 116 laps / mechanical

1st) Chevrolet (4)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Richmond Racing (3)
2nd) CCM Racing, Jones Racing (1)


Saturday, June 25, 2022

XFINITY: Kyle Weatherman inherits last from returning Yeley on hot Nashville track

PHOTO: @KyleWeatherman

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Kyle Weatherman picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #34 eRacing Association Chevrolet fell out with power steering issues after 118 of 188 laps.

The finish, which came in Weatherman’s 72nd series start, was his first of the season and his first in a XFINITY Series race since September 26, 2020 at Las Vegas, 54 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ rankings, it was the 2nd from power steering issues, the 10th for the #34, and the 596th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 8th from power steering, the 52nd from the #34, and the 1,845th for Chevrolet.

Weatherman remains one of the most surprising underdogs in the XFINITY Series garage. The first driver to give Mike Harmon Racing a top-ten finish – an 8th at Kentucky in the summer of 2020 – Weatherman closed out the season with three more finishes inside the Top 20 in the last nine races of the year. Another seven top-twenty performances came in the 2021 season before he moved to DGM Racing in the #92 entry for the first part of 2022. There, he tied his career-best 8th at Atlanta and finished 16th in Fontana. But Mario Gosselin had to scale back the #92 team to a part-time effort, leaving Weatherman without a ride barely one-third of the way into the season.

This year has also seen the debut of Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, co-founded by NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and active U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander turned racer Jesse Iwuji. Entering his fifth season running part-time in NASCAR’s XFINITY and Truck Series, Iwuji has still struggled to find speed in the JIM team’s #34 Chevrolet. After finishes of 27th, 36th, and 34th in the first three races, Iwuji put Jesse Little in the car at Phoenix, where they failed to qualify. Iwuji returned to finish 27th at Atlanta, and himself failed to qualify at COTA, where Weatherman made his last start with DGM. This opened the door at Richmond, where Weatherman climbed into Iwuji’s car, qualified 29th, and finished 28th. The very next week in Martinsville, Weatherman took 16th, and at Darlington earned the team a new season-best 12th.

While still sharing the ride with Iwuji, Weatherman would take another turn at Nashville, where he face another challenge. His #34 was one of 41 entrants attempting the 38-car field. But immediately, the #34 car showed speed. He ranked 6th in opening practice despite running fewer laps than all but one driver ahead of him. He just about backed this up in qualifying, taking 16th on the grid with a lap of 154.104mph (31.070 seconds) – more than enough to make the show.

The first driver sent home after qualifying was Matt Mills, his #99 J.F. Electric Chevrolet the first car out to qualify. Coming off Turn 4, Mills’ car spun, backed into the outside wall, then drove though the grass, cancelling his attempt. Also sent home was Brennan Poole, who had handling issues on Mike Harmon Racing’s #47 Chevrolet, and Mason Massey, who returned to DGM Racing’s #91 LOS MAGOS Chevrolet.

Rolling off 38th and last was Patrick Emerling, whose unsponsored #35 Chevrolet secured the final spot based on Owner Points. He’d be joined at the rear by 37th-place Natalie Decker, whose #66 Nudie’s Honky Tonk Bar Toyota incurred an unapproved adjustments penalty following handling issues in qualifying, and 18th-place Tyler Reddick, whose team had to change engines on the #48 Big Machine Racing Lady A Chevrolet after Reddick missed a shift in practice. NASCAR instructed Reddick pull last in line on the outside with Decker trailing the inside line.

When the green flag dropped, Decker was just ahead of Reddick across the stripe – her 4.343 back of the lead to Reddick’s 4.585. By the end of the first lap, the spot fell to Kyle Seig, whose #38 Night Owl Ford was 8.095 back of the leader, and already 1.203 behind Decker. This changed an instant later as J.J. Yeley made an unscheduled stop in the #13 Coble Enterprises Toyota. Like Weatherman, Yeley turned heads in opening practice with a 5th-fastest lap, but managed just 33rd in time trials. While shifting between third and fourth gear on the opening lap, an electrical fault caused his gauges to “peg and reset” repeatedly. He made it to pit road, where the crew first looked to change the battery, then examined the alternator, and also considered whether the air conditioning system had caused a short. 

Yeley’s team ultimately put the old battery back in the car, but the gauges still fluctuated wildly, and on Lap 20, the team pushed the #13 behind the wall. Since Yeley’s car was pitted far behind the next garage entrance, he crossed the line in the process. After his first lap of 35.223 seconds, this created a second lap of just 621.77 seconds, equating to 7.718mph. The crew finally completed repairs on Lap 30, sending him back out onto the track. Yeley completed his 3rd lap on Lap 33 with a time of 390.022 seconds, or 12.304mph. He improved significantly the next time by with a 32.598 or 147.211mph, his best of the race so far. Unfortunately, the electrical issue put him 29 laps down.

Weatherman first entered last-place contention on Lap 37, when he fell off the pace and came to pit road. “Something broke – steering,” said the driver. The crew looked under the hood and discovered an issue with the power steering belt. A lap later, Dillon Bassett, who was finally able to give his family’s team its second series start, made an unscheduled stop of his own in the bright orange #77 Honest Amish / Jerry Hunt Chevrolet. First Bassett, then Weatherman returned to the track, both three laps down in 36th and 37th, respectively. Weatherman then dropped Bassett to 37th the next time by. Bassett stayed low to avoid the fast-closing leaders as Stage 1 ended with all 38 cars still running. Yeley lost another lap by this point, and was now 30 behind.

Despite the overwhelming heat, attrition remained low during Stage 2, though Yeley was nearly put in the wall when 5th-place runner Trevor Bayne came up into him off Turn 4. As the segment ended, Yeley was still 30 down with Bassett in 35th. Weatherman had already climbed past at least two other drivers – Decker’s #66 and the #36 Yoco Vodka Chevrolet of Alex Labbe – who each had malfunctioning cooling systems. Labbe had lost laps due to an issue with the right-front wheel that forced an unscheduled stop.

On Lap 95, Weatherman pulled behind the wall as the crew attempted to repair the power steering pump. He soon re-fired the engine and backed out onto pit road, only to be told that the crew couldn’t fix it. The crew then prepared to make their next pit stop in 10 laps for tires and fuel. Two minor incidents didn’t pull any other drivers into the Bottom Five, but during the laps in between, Weatherman continued to struggle without power steering. According to his tweet after the race, he also didn’t have air conditioning. Weatherman pulled behind the wall a second time on Lap 121, just moments before a multi-car accident brought out the next caution.

Heading through Turns 1 and 2, Jeb Burton’s #27 Hawkins Homes Chevrolet made contact with Sheldon Creed’s #2 Whelen Chevrolet, sending them both into the outside wall. Committed to the high lane was a closing Joe Graf, Jr., who hit the brakes on his #07 Bucked Up Energy Drink Ford. Graf nearly cleared Burton before he clipped the left-front of the #27, sliding his right-front into Creed’s stopped car. The contact spun Creed backwards against the outside wall with Graf stopped on the apron. Graf climbed from his car, done for the race, while Burton made it to pit road. A push truck got Creed off the outside wall, and though the #2 managed to re-fire, his damage was too much to continue. Burton dropped out on Lap 130, another two laps after Creed.

Because of the wreck, Graf was classified lowest of the three involved in the 36th spot, just ahead of Weatherman and Yeley. And while Weatherman’s radio remained silent, Yeley was able to run ahead of both Natalie Decker and Dillon Bassett during this time. On Lap 130, Yeley was within 21 laps of dropping Weatherman to last place. On the 147th circuit, NASCAR confirmed Weatherman was out of the race due to power steering issues. Just three laps later, Yeley finally passed the #34, putting Weatherman in last. Yeley climbed to 33rd by the checkered flag, pulling his car out of the Bottom Five. In so doing, he passed the wrecked Graf, Creed, and Burton, plus Josh Williams in the #78 Peg Leg Porker / Alloy Chevrolet. Williams was listed out due to electrical issues on Lap 151, though it was reportedly due to illness. The #78 team attempted to bring either Graf or Weatherman in as relief driver, but neither were available.

Jeffrey Earnhardt enjoyed one of his best runs in the #26 Forever Lawn Toyota for Sam Hunt Racing. Earlier in the race, he’d spun out of 11th while racing Sheldon Creed for the spot through Turns 3 and 4. Avoiding serious damage, Earnhardt ran the rest of the way and climbed to 7th at the checkered flag – his best performance since his career-best runner-up for Richard Childress Racing at Talladega.

Brett Moffitt likewise earned his first Top Ten since Talladega, securing the 10th spot in Our Motorsports’ #02 RED / Half Off Wholesale Chevrolet ahead of 11th-place Brandon Brown, whose #68 BrandonBilt Foundations Chevrolet now has four consecutive finishes of 17th or better. But right behind the two came Parker Retzlaff, who continued his impressive debut season with a 12th-place run in the #28 FUNKAWAY Ford. Retzlaff has finished 17th or better four times in just five career starts – all since this year’s fourth round in Phoenix.

*The only other XFINITY Series last-place finisher to fall out due to power steering issues was T.J. Bell, whose #50 Liberty Tire Recycling / Pinnacle Rubber Mulch Chevrolet fell out after 2 laps around Chicagoland during the Dollar General 300 on September 17, 2011.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #34 in a XFINITY Series race since July 8, 2006, when Kevin Lepage’s #34 Chevrolet had engine issues after 70 laps of the USG Durock 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway. Lepage drove for Frank Cicci, whose longtime team made just eight more series starts after that day.

38) #34-Kyle Weatherman / 118 laps / power steering
37) #07-Joe Graf, Jr. / 123 laps / crash
36) #2-Sheldon Creed / 124 laps / crash
35) #27-Jeb Burton / 126 laps / crash
34) #78-Josh Williams / 136 laps / electrical

1st) Alpha Prime Racing, JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing (2)
2nd) Big Machine Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, JR Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Richard Childress Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


Friday, June 24, 2022

TRUCKS: Another confusing series of events leave G2G Racing in last, this time with Chase Janes at Nashville

PHOTO: @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Chase Janes picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Rackley Roofing 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #46 Waste Connection Services Toyota fell out with rear gear issues after completing just 1 of the night’s 150 laps.

The finish came in Janes’ second series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #46, the 15th from rear gear trouble, and the 45th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 44th for the #46, the 49th from rear gear issues, and the 376th for Toyota.

A third-generation racer from Indiana, Janes transitioned from go-karts to late models, but a wrist injury on the opening lap of the 2019 season opener proved an early obstacle. In 2020, he returned with a vengeance, scoring six wins at the Hickory Motor Speedway, and catching the eye of Josh Reaume. This led to his Truck Series debut this past March at Martinsville, where a rained-out qualifying session secured him 27th on the grid in the Reaume Brothers’ flagship #33 Butler Built Chevrolet. He finished 25th, the second truck one lap down.

Janes arrived at Nashville as one of 42 entrants to attempt the 36-truck field, which tied this year’s Daytona opener for the most entrants in any one race all season. Unfortunately, he faced adversity early on. This time, his ride was with G2G Racing, which endured a disastrous weekend at Sonoma, then a disappointing mechanical issue that slowed dirt ringer Bryson Mitchell in Knoxville. Janes would run the #46 alongside Kaden Honeycutt, who made his own Truck Series debut at Martinsville with the G2G effort. Honeycutt would run the #47 with sponsorship from the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

In practice, where Janes ranked just 38th, his truck stopped on track with five minutes to go, drawing one of two red flags. This issue kept him from turning a lap in qualifying, which ordinarily would have resulted in a DNQ. Interestingly, Janes was bumped out of the field by his teammate, Kaden Honeycutt. Honeycutt had himself nearly missed qualifying when he tied Camden Murphy’s #30 ROWDY Energy Toyota, with whom he lost the tiebreaker on Owner Points.

But in post-race inspection, two trucks were either found to be too low or were too late in presenting for inspection, resulting in their times being disallowed. One was Max Gutierrez, whose relief role for Austin Wayne Self still secured him the 36th and final starting spot in AM Racing’s #22 Inspectra Thermal Solutions Chevrolet. The other was Trey Hutchens, whose #14 Quality Roof Seamers Chevrolet, who like Honeycutt surprised with a strong lap despite an early qualifying draw. With only two previous attempts this season, including a 29th-place run in Kansas, this bumped Hutchens out of the field, and brought back in the full-time #46 of Janes.

The only problem was Janes’ truck still wasn’t ready to race later that evening. According to Chris Knight, the G2G team had planned to withdraw Janes, which would have allowed the DNQ’d Bret Holmes back into the field in his next-ranked #32 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet. But according to Knight, NASCAR did not allow Holmes back into the race, saying it was too late as the field had already been set after Hutchens and Gutierrez’ disallowed times put Janes back on the grid. By just 19-thousandths of a second, Holmes ended up one of the six DNQs, joined by Justin S. Carroll, still seeking his series debut in the #90 Carroll’s Automotive Toyota, a late entering Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #10 W Nashville Chevrolet, Clay Greenfield in the returning #84 Toyota, Tate Fogleman, whose new #26 Dickies / Realtree / Camospace Chevrolet failed to complete its qualifying lap, and Hutchens’ #14.

With time ticking away, the G2G Racing team apparently continued to work on the #46 in the garage up to and through the command to start engines. The remaining 35 entrants rolled off the grid with Gutierrez bringing up the rear, to incur a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments on his #22. Not sent to the rear was 5th-place Derek Kraus, whose #19 HunterNation Chevrolet lost 10 points and his crew chief for unsecured ballast. There was more controversy in 22nd spot, where Tanner Gray was set to roll off in his #15 Ford Performance Ford. NASCAR caught his team refueling his truck before the green, which incurred him a one-lap penalty as the leaders took the green flag. 

That same instant may have moved Janes to last place. While reportedly having missed the start, NASCAR’s timing and scoring did show the #46 was 18.418 seconds behind the leader at the green flag, indicating he took the green on the track, 14.934 seconds back of Gutierrez before returning to the garage. A video of the start posted by the Nashville track stops before Janes crossed the stripe, the 35th-place Gutierrez last to enter the frame. Tanner Gray’s truck did not show an interval, but by the end of the first lap was already classified ahead of Janes.

Janes’ team radio remained silent until Lap 11, when team communications first indicated they were still working on the truck. One of the first exchanges was “How close are we?” followed by “They’re finishing up right now.” This was during the first caution flag of the night involving Jack Wood, the defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, who was turned into the outside wall by Matt Crafton entering Turn 3. Wood’s #24 Chevrolet was done for the night after only six completed laps, which meant Janes only needed to turn seven in order to climb out of last place.

A second caution fell on Lap 19, where Janes’ teammate Kaden Honeycutt reportedly made contact with Camden Murphy in the #30, sending Murphy’s truck backing into the Turn 1 wall similar to Wood’s wreck in Turn 4. The G2G crew asked if Honeycutt turned Murphy intentionally, answering “Nah, I think he was just trying a little too hard.” After driving back to pit road for repairs, Murphy pulled behind the wall on Lap 23, out of the race under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.” By Lap 30, when the team indicated Honeycutt had power steering issues, Janes was talking with his crew about where he should enter the track. After a tire pressure check, Janes’ truck finally fired on Lap 32, then re-entered the track the next time by, NASCAR reporting “46 is entering the race.” 

But the moment Janes picked up speed, he reported a loss of oil pressure. He cut to the apron down the backstretch, getting him a brief moment of screen time during FS1’s side-by-side commercial break as he slowed to a snail’s pace. NASCAR instructed Janes to pull behind the wall at Turn 3, but he came down pit road instead at a snail’s pace. The caution didn’t fall as Janes finally completed his first lap. NASCAR’s timing and scoring indicated a single lap of 1,579.334 seconds – 26 minutes, 29.334 seconds – for a single-lap average of only 3.051mph. “Same thing broke again,” said Janes as he was pushed behind the wall on Lap 39. “I feel it there in my feet.” That same time by, NASCAR confirmed both Jack Wood and Camden Murphy were out due to their earlier accidents. On Lap 41, Janes climbed from the truck. “It’s broken again,” he said before unhooking the radio. “I feel the drive shaft flying around. . .It just breaks.” Five laps later, the dejected team radioed “We’re done, Tony,” and NASCAR confirmed Janes out on Lap 74.

Unable to close the gap on Wood, Janes remained in last place with Wood 35th and Murphy 34th. The Bottom Five was completed following a grinding wreck in Turn 3 on Lap 127 where a four-wide battle for position sent Matt DiBenedetto’s #25 Rackley Roofing / WAR Shocks Chevrolet into Corey Heim’s #51 JBL Toyota and Grant Enfinger’s #23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet, putting Heim and Enfinger into the wall hard with DiBenedetto following shortly after. Heim and Enfinger were immediately eliminated with DiBenedetto managing to complete six more laps before he, too, fell out. Tanner Gray, who lost a lap at the start for his unauthorized fueling, ultimately bounced off the Turn 3 wall in a separate incident that didn’t draw the caution, leaving him 7 laps down in 30th.

Max Gutierrez, who rolled off in last place and later tangled with Hailie Deegan in a race for 11th, recovered with an impressive 8th-place finish. As with Janes, this was just the second career start for Gutierrez, who finished 26th in his series debut last month in Charlotte. It’s also tied for the fifth-best finish by the AM Racing team, and stands as the team’s best run with a driver other than Austin Wayne Self, just ahead of a 9th-place Daytona finish for J.J. Yeley.

Also impressive was Todd Bodine, who in his 799th and penultimate NASCAR start was in position to finish well inside the Top 10, even earning 9th-place points in Stage 2. But a spin into the infield grass began a downward trend that saw him lose two laps and finish 27th. Bodine makes his 800th and final start next month in Pocono.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #46 in a Truck Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway.
*Janes is the 8th consecutive first-time last-place finisher in the Truck Series, tying two streaks from the 1997 season for the second-most in series history. Another first-time last-place finisher next week in Mid-Ohio will tie the all-time record of nine, set in the opening nine races from 1995’s inaugural season.

36) #46-Chase Janes / 1 lap / rear gear
35) #24-Jack Wood / 6 laps / crash
34) #30-Camden Murphy / 20 laps / crash
33) #51-Corey Heim / 126 laps / crash
32) #23-Grant Enfinger / 126 laps / crash

1st) G2G Racing, Niece Motorsports (3)
2nd) David Gilliland Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) AM Racing, Front Row Motorsports, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (3)


Thursday, June 23, 2022

PREVIEW: Stacked Truck and XFINITY entry lists kick off hot Nashville weekend

PHOTO: @forthepeople

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Friday, June 24, 2022 (8:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 14 of 23
Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville Superspeedway
2021 Last-Place Finisher: William Byron

There are 41 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning five will fail to qualify, making Nashville’s entry list the largest for the Truck Series since 42 arrived in this year’s Daytona opener. UPDATE: As of Thursday afternoon, make that 42 with the return of Jennifer Jo Cobb.

MISSING: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Jordan Anderson’s team will focus exclusively on Myatt Snider’s XFINITY Series effort this week, and have not brought back the #3 with which Dylan Westbrook finished 17th in Knoxville.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Also not making the trip is Norm Benning, who was shut out of both his dirt track attempts in 2022. A tight condition in the first heat of the night left him out of the main event in Knoxville.

RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Welcome back Jennifer Jo Cobb, who we haven't seen since Daytona, where she failed to qualify, and hasn't raced since last fall at Martinsville, where she finished 36th. Cobb was not on the preliminary entey list but will now run her familiar #10 with W Nashville as sponsor.

RETURNING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens is back with his #14 Chevrolet for the first time since he withdrew from the field at Charlotte, seeking his first start since his 29th-place performance in Kansas. Following his 2021 crash in Charlotte, Hutchens made his return to the circuit in this race last year, finishing 33rd place, 4 laps down.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Defending race winner Ryan Preece takes over for last week’s winner Todd Gilliland, carrying Hunt Brothers Pizza as sponsor once more. This week, Preece will pull a double-header with the XFINITY Series and B.J. McLeod’s #5 team (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Randy Young did not have a driver listed to run the #20 this week after Thad Moffitt’s return in Knoxville yielded a 31st-place finish. By Wednesday, the team confirmed that Stefan Parsons – most recently the last-minute substitute at G2G Racing in Sonoma – will take the wheel of the Chevrolet. This would be the fifth different Truck Series team for which Parsons has driven in just seven series starts.

As brand-new father Austin Wayne Self prepares for his return to the Truck Series in Mid-Ohio, this week’s substitute will be Max Gutierrez, who made his Truck debut earlier this year in Charlotte driving AM Racing’s second entry, the #37, to a 26th-place finish. Gutierrez takes the place of Brett Moffitt, who took 32nd in Knoxville.

NEW TEAM: #26-Rackley-W.A.R.
DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
One year after entering a #27 entry for William Byron, which finished last, the Rackley effort again fields a second truck, this time the #26 for Tate Fogleman. Dickies, Realtree, and Camospace join Fogleman as sponsors. Absent from both Sonoma and Knoxville, Fogleman is again not in the #30, which this week goes to a returning Camden Murphy with ROWDY Energy as sponsor. Murphy hasn’t made a Truck Series start since last year’s COTA inaugural, where he ran 19th for Spencer Davis’ team. This would be Murphy’s first attempt at Nashville.

RETURNING: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes returns to action for only the fifth time this season, his first since Texas, where he ran 15th in his #32 Chevrolet. Golden Eagle Syrup is the listed sponsor for Holmes, whose season-best run remains his 8thplace showing at Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Both Reaume entries did not have drivers listed on the preliminary entry list. Driving the flagship #33 this week in place of Brayton Laster, who finished 27th, is a returning Chris Hacker. Hacker drives a vibrant blue-and-gold paint scheme for law firm Morgan & Morgan, and also will run a Toyota with the current nose. This would be “Hackerman’s” third start of the season and first since Texas, where he ran 31st with the same team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Teamed with Hacker is fourth-generation driver Nick Leitz, a 26-year-old late model racer from Chesapeake, Virginia, who seeks to make his NASCAR national series debut. Leitz takes the place of 30th-place Knoxville finisher Devon Rouse, and carries sponsorship from Precision Measurements, Inc. on his Chevrolet.

G2G Racing brings both its entries to the track for the first time since Sonoma. Running the #46, which enjoyed a solid run early at Knoxville before Bryson Mitchell had mechanical issues, is a returning Chase Janes. Janes made his series debut earlier this year at Martinsville, where he finished 25th in the Reaume Brothers’ #33. Waste Connection Services is the listed sponsor of Janes’ Toyota.

RETURNING: #47-G2G Racing
Running the second G2G truck this week is Kaden Honeycutt, who likewise made his series debut earlier this year at Martinsville, that time while in G2G’s primary #46. A crash midway through the race left him a distant 34th in the running order. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Corey Heim rejoins KBM for the first time since his second win of the season in Gateway, taking the place of 11th-place Knoxville finisher Buddy Kofoid.

MISSING: #53-Sparks Motorsports
Braden Mitchell is not entered after the new Sparks Motorsports effort failed to qualify in its first attempt at Knoxville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Todd Bodine’s 799th NASCAR start is set to unfold in Nashville, where he ran five times in XFINITY and nine times in Trucks, the latter yielding a win from the pole for Germain Racing in 2010. Bodine, who most recently finished 20th in Sonoma, takes the place of Jessica Friesen, whose Turn 3 flip and subsequent return to the race went completely unnoticed by the FS1 broadcast.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman rejoins the Truck Series garage for the first time since his 7th-place showing in Sonoma, eyeing his fourth consecutive top-ten finish in as many starts. Kligerman finished 17th in this race last year, but finished 10th and 5th in his two previous starts in 2011.

RETURNING: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Clay Greenfield and the Cook Racing Technologies team are back for the first time since the Daytona opener, looking to rebound from his DNQ in February. Greenfield made two Truck Series starts at Nashville in 2010 and 2011 with a best finish of 23rd in the former.

RETURNING: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Still seeking his Truck Series debut is Justin S. Carroll, who was rained out of the field at Martinsville, then fell short of timing into the race at Gateway. Carroll’s Automotive is the sponsor of his family-pre-are d #90 Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Jesse Little’s #02 Catchin’ Deers Chevrolet carries a familiar green-and-gold paint scheme, reminiscent of Jesse’s father Chad’s many Cup and XFINITY Series entries sponsored by John Deere. This would be Little’s first Truck Series start since Gateway, where he ran 20th, and takes place of 26th-place Knoxville finisher Kaz Grala.


Saturday, June 25, 2022 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 15 of 33
Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Stefan Parsons

After a two-week hiatus, the XFINITY Series is back in action with 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning three will be sent home after qualifying.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
The aforementioned Ryan Preece returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 5th-place showing in Charlotte, taking the place of 13th-place Portland finisher Scott Heckert. United Rentals is Preece’s sponsor.

DRIVER SWAP: #6-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Brennan Poole is back behind the wheel of Mike Harmon’s #47 Chevrolet for the first time since Charlotte, where brake problems left him 35th. He takes the place of Ryan Vargas, 23rd in Portland, who reunites with JD Motorsports’ #6 team, which ran 36th after a mid-race wreck with Gray Gaulding driving. Gaulding is not entered this week.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Coming into this weekend, Natalie Decker has been entered in four XFINITY Series races and qualified for just one – Martinsville, where multiple brake issues left her in 35th place. Her most recent attempt came at Dover, where she was entered in the MBM’s #13, then swapped out for Chad Finchum. This time, Decker is entered in MBM’s flagship #66, moving regular driver J.J. Yeley to the #13 in place of Matt Jaskol. Jaskol finished 18th in Portland behind Yeley, who finished a strong 8th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Trevor Bayne rejoins JGR for the first time since Charlotte, where he ran 9th, and brings his sponsor Devotion Nutrition. He takes the place of Connor Mosack, who finished 28th after a late-race wreck in Portland.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt is another driver rejoining the XFINITY Series for the first time since Charlotte. Earnhardt’s latest start saw him finish a season-worst 37th after an early crash. This week, he takes the place of 27th-place Portland finisher Parker Chase in Sam Hunt’s #26 Toyota.

Parker Retzlaff rejoins the XFINITY circuit for the first time since Dover, where he continued his impressive streak of three consecutive finishes of 17th or better in just four career starts. Unlike his previous runs, Retzlaff will this time have to qualify RSS Racing’s part-time third entry, the #28 FUNKAWAY Ford. This entry hasn’t attempted a race since Charlotte, and hasn’t qualified for one since Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Following a bizarre incident in Portland, where Jesse Iwuji spun Ty Gibbs out of the lead under caution, Kyle Weatherman is back behind the wheel of the #34 Chevrolet for the first time since Charlotte, where he ran 36th. All four of Weatherman’s previous starts for JIM saw him finish under power, including a 12th-place showing in Darlington.

Kyle Sieg seeks his ninth start of the year and first since Darlington, this time driving the #38 Night Owl Ford in place of Portland underdog Darren Dilley, who finished 37th. Kyle’s best finish of the year remains his 16th-place performance in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
The last time Ryan Ellis started a XFINITY Series race, he equaled his season-best 13th from Las Vegas with another in Charlotte. He again steers Alpha Prime’s #44 entry this week following Andy Lally’s 17th-place run in Portland, where he led three laps in the rain. Renascent Demolition is Ellis’ sponsor as he seeks his first Nashville start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
At Sonoma, Jade Buford remained hopeful that he would rejoin the Big Machine team later this season, knowing he’d helped his cause with a late bid for the win in Portland, where he led four laps and finished 14th. But it’s back to the Cup Series full-timers taking his place as Tyler Reddick, the Charlotte winner, runs the Big Machine Racing Lady A Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #77-Bassett Racing
Dillon Bassett will take his turn trying to get he and brother Ronnie, Jr.’s #77 team into its first XFINITY Series race since last year’s COTA event with Cup regular Austin Dillon. The team will again be sponsored by both Jerry Hunt and Honest Amish in what will be their sixth attempt of the season – Dillon with two DNQs to Ronnie’s three.

After Mason Filippi’s 25th-place run in Portland, Mason Massey regains his seat in the #91 LOS MAGOS Chevrolet for the first time since his 18th-place run in Texas, which was his third-best finish of the year.

RETURNING: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Matt Mills will drive his third different B.J. McLeod entry of 2022, following a pair of attempts in the part-time #55 with the rest in his familiar #5, driven this week by Ryan Preece (see above). Mills finished 25th in this race last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
David Starr rejoins the Bobby Dotter team for the first time since his home race in Texas, where he finished 21st, and the DNQ at Charlotte that followed. He steps in for “road ringer” Spencer Pumpelly, whose afternoon in the Portland rain yielded a 29th-place finish following a late wreck. UPDATE: On Friday, Starr elected to step aside this week due to illness. B.J. McLeod will run in his place, pulling double-duty with Cup.

CUP INVADERS: #48-Tyler Reddick

Sunday, June 26, 2022 (5:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 17 of 36
Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Elliott

Despite the stacked entry lists for both the Truck Series and XFINITY this week, the Cup Series presents only their 36 Chartered entries for the third race in a row, and the sixth time in the last seven races. The result is the 16th short field in 17 races this year, excluding only the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Pulling double-duty with the XFINITY Series is J.J. Yeley, who will make his seventh Cup start of the year and first since Kansas, where he ran 31st with this same RWR team. Yeley replaces “road ringer” Joey Hand, 20th in Sonoma, who will return in the following race at Road America.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod is back aboard his #78 for the first time since his 30th-place effort at Gateway, taking the place of Sonoma “road ringer” Scott Heckert, who ran 33rd. Motorsport Games XBOX is the listed sponsor of McLeod’s Ford.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 23, 1990): Dave Mader III scored the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Grand National Series career in the Firecracker 200 at the Volusia County Speedway when his #56 Speedway Motorsports Buick was involved in a crash with Rick Mast and Davey Johnson on the opening lap. This was only the sixth series start of Mader’s Busch Series career.