Tuesday, July 16, 2019

ARCA: Alex Clubb and Wayne Peterson Racing give Dodge an ever-more-rare last-place finish

Tim Richmond driving the
Wayne Peterson Racing Dodge earlier this year.
PHOTO: @Arcafan06
By William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor,
ARCA Menards Series

Alex Clubb finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday night’s Menards 250 presented by MatrixCare at Elko Speedway when his #0 GreatRailing.com Dodge retired with brake problems after 14 of 250 laps. The finish came in his 10th series start.

One of the more interesting men one will find on the ARCA Menards Series circuit, Alex Clubb leads a busy life. He is the owner of A. Clubb Lawn Care in his hometown of Morris, Illinois, and turned an interest in politics following the 2016 election cycle toward winning a seat on the city council. On top of this, Clubb is a racer like many one will find at their local short tracks on weekends – he funds his racing through his business, and it is him, his father and a cousin that run the operation. Clubb was also, for a time, a local short tracker, shining at Grundy County Speedway. He made his ARCA debut in 2015 for the now-defunct Carter 2 Motorsports, running three events in the back half of the season. After the demise of that team, Clubb returned to the series at DuQuoin in 2017 and then Springfield, DuQuoin and Salem in 2018 with his own equipment. Tentative plans for 2019 included both Salem races, Toledo, Madison and the two dirt tracks. While the first two of those happened, engine problems sidelined the team for Madison, though they still made the trek up to serve as the pit crew for fellow independent Eric Caudell. Clubb teamed up with Wayne Peterson Racing for this week’s race at Elko, driving a Dodge. Dodge sightings, like a year ago in the XFINITY Series, are becoming rarer and rarer, with the old-style bodies only eligible for use at tracks three-quarters of a mile and under and not eligible at all next year.

Twenty teams made the trek to Minnesota for Saturday night’s race. Wayne Peterson Racing entered two cars, with a familiar driver behind the wheel of one and a familiar face in a different way behind the wheel of the other. Team development driver Tim Richmond was behind the wheel of a Ford, and Clubb piloted the team’s trademark short track Dodge. That wasn’t the only Dodge in the field, however - Eric Caudell also busted out an old Dodge as the number of races that teams are eligible to use Dodge chassis winds down. Mike Basham continued to make the rounds of established ARCA teams this year, driving Andy Hillenburg’s #11 entry while Richard Doheny continued his run in the #1 car this year. Dale Shearer returned to Kimmel Raing’s #69 car, and Hailie Deegan continued her partial schedule in Venturini Motorsport’s #55 car. Win-Tron Racing entered for the first time this year with a driver not racing for points in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Howie DiSavino III, a teenage late model racer from Chesterfield, Virginia, signed on to test at Hickory and drive at Elko for the team.

In practice, Christian Eckes ran 51 laps and led the charts with a lap of 14.524 seconds. On the opposite side of the spectrum was Richmond, who ran only four laps in practice and clocked in last out of the 20 cars with a lap of 16.998 seconds. In qualifying, it was much of the same story, with Eckes on top of the board and Richmond, who did not complete a lap, on bottom.

Richmond started shotgun on the field and stayed there until Lap 15, when Clubb went behind the wall. Clubb, meanwhile, had advanced from his starting position of 15th up to 14th, passing Eric Caudell. Brad Smith went behind the wall after 33 laps, and Doheny retired after 39 laps as a result of crash damage, although no caution was ever thrown regarding an incident he was in. Mike Basham and Tim Richmond completed the Bottom Five, both also citing mechanical reasons.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
20) #0-Alex Clubb / 14 laps / brakes
19) #48-Brad Smith / 33 laps / suspension
18) #1-Richard Doheny / 39 laps / crash
17) #11-Mike Basham / 57 laps / overheating
16) #06-Tim Richmond / 100 laps / overheating

2019 LASTCAR ARCA MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (6)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Chevrolet (2)
4th) Dodge (1)

2019 LASTCAR ARCA OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Brad Smith Motorsports, Fast Track Racing, Kimmel Racing, Venturini Motorsports, Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
2nd) KBR Development, Mullins Racing, Our Motorsports (1)

2019 LASTCAR ARCA DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday, July 14, 2019

CUP: B.J. McLeod sets new laps completed record for a Kentucky last-place finisher

PHOTO: NBC Sports
B.J. McLeod picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at the Kentucky Speedway when his #52 Jacob Companies Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 110 of 269 laps.

The finish, which came in McLeod’s 33rd series start, was his second of the season and first since Dover, eight races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 28th for the #52, the 37th from electrical issues, and the 766th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 54th for the #52, the 124th from electrical woes, and the 1,671st for Chevrolet.

With the finish, McLeod jumps to third in the 2019 LASTCAR Cup Series rankings, joining a tight battle for second overall between Cody Ware and Kyle Larson. McLeod trails Ware on a bottom-five tiebreaker, 9-5. Michael McDowell remains the leader as the only three-time last-place finisher this season.

McLeod has remained busy between all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, both as a car owner of a three-car XFINITY team (two of them involved in Jairo Avila, Jr.’s short night on Friday), and as a driver. He’s been behind the wheel of Beaver Motorsports’ #1 in the Truck Series, finishing 30th at Chicagoland, and other than a one-off for his XFINITY effort has run all but one of this year’s XFINITY races with JD Motorsports. His best finish of the year in the second-tier series came at Pocono, where he ran 17th.

Between Dover and Saturday’s race, McLeod had also made three more Cup starts at Charlotte, Chicagoland, and Daytona, all for Rick Ware Racing. It was at Charlotte that McLeod debuted Ware’s new third “open” team, the #53 Chevrolet, one of three that paint scheme designer and military veteran David Marrero designed for the team to resemble famous aircraft. Both of McLeod’s best finishes on the Cup side have so far come at Daytona, where he ran 19th after a pit road incident in the Daytona 500, then 28th in last week’s shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400.

At Kentucky, McLeod would drive Rick Ware’s #52 team on the Cup side, sharing sponsorship from Jacob Companies with teammate Bayley Currey in the #51 Ford. He would also run the XFINITY race for JD Motorsports, but for the first time this season in the #4 previously campaigned by Ross Chastain before he declared for Truck Series points (and then nearly finished last at Daytona with Landon Cassill before A.J. Allmendinger's disqualification).

On the XFINITY side, McLeod ran 19th and 27th in practice, then finished a solid 20th with sponsorship from Ken Houston Electric. In Cup, McLeod ranked 34th in opening practice and was one of three drivers who didn’t turn a lap in Happy Hour. He originally qualified 35th for the main event with the second-slowest time of 174.396mph (30.964 seconds), besting only Daytona winners Spire Motorsports, who saw Quin Houff return to drive. The #77 carried a white-and-blue paint scheme for the race with sponsorship from Go-Parts.com, and a Race Winner sticker on the roof rail commemorating Justin Haley’s win the week before. McLeod then moved to 34th for race day after both Houff and the #6 Acorns Ford of Ryan Newman failed pre-race inspection, disallowing their times. McLeod’s speed then became the slowest official lap of record. With only 36 Chartered entries in the field, all entrants qualified for the race.

When the race started, the penalized Newman and Houff started in the final row. Newman, running the low lane, moved ahead of Houff into Turn 1, then drove past McLeod in short order. By Turn 3 of the first lap, Houff was closing on McLeod and attempted a pass to the inside. McLeod held him off, but they were side by side again coming to complete Lap 2. McLeod held him off once again, and this time pulled away by open track. On the 19th go-round, polesitter Daniel Suarez caught and passed Houff, putting him one lap down. Houff then caught and passed McLeod by Lap 28, dropping the #52 back to last.

At the time of Houff’s pass on McLeod, word came during the broadcast that Brad Keselowski’s #2 Miller Lite Ford had a possible broken valve spring. With all 36 cars still running, this raised the possibility of Keselowski taking his first last-place finish in his 360th start, one week after narrowly averting it in Daytona. While Keselowski never contended for the win, he did manage to finish just one lap down in 20th.

Meanwhile, McLeod had again passed Houff, who dropped three laps down by the first caution on Lap 48 for debris from Chase Elliott’s #9 Mountain Dew DEWnited States Chevrolet. On the Lap 60 restart from a second caution for Corey LaJoie’s spin in the #32 Keen Parts / CorvetteParts.net Ford, McLeod and Houff were again side-by-side for position, each of them two laps back. The two pitted together on Lap 67 with McLeod beating Houff off pit road to put the #77 back to last. Houff passed McLeod on Lap 71, and McLeod said the #77 chased him into the wall to get by. On the next round of pit stops, Houff this time beat McLeod off pit road as the #52 had a long stop.

On Lap 102, Bayley Currey, McLeod’s teammate in the #51, took over last for the first time as he fell three laps down. By Lap 116, however, McLeod was the first car in the garage area, steering his Chevrolet into his stall. The driver reported the car dropped a valve or a valve spring, and said when he shut it off it sounded like the car “had a dead cylinder.” Not wanting to blow the engine, he shut off the car and pulled behind the wall. On Lap 126, well and truly in last, McLeod said the issue was only in the top of the engine and not the bottom. McLeod said “Thanks for the effort, you had me a good car here,” and on Lap 130, his car was unavailable on RaceView. NBC indicated McLeod was out around this time.

McLeod was the only driver to fail to finish Saturday’s race. Finishing 35th was Austin Dillon, who finished third in Stage 2 only to lose high gear in his #3 AAA “We Know Cars and Drivers” Chevrolet and lose 31 laps by the checkered flag. Houff ended up 35th, nine laps down to race winner Kurt Busch. Rounding out the group were McLeod’s teammate Currey and Landon Cassill in the #00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, who both spun into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 63. Both continued on to finish seven and six laps down, respectively.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first Cup Series last-place finish for both McLeod and the #52 at Kentucky.
*The 110 laps turned by McLeod are the most by a Cup Series last-placer at Kentucky, besting Alex Bowman’s record of 108 just last year.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #52-B.J. McLeod / 110 laps / electrical
35) #3-Austin Dillon / 238 laps / running
34) #77-Quin Houff / 260 laps / running
33) #51-Bayley Currey / 262 laps / running
32) #00-Landon Cassill / 263 laps / running

2019 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Rick Ware Racing (6)
2nd) Front Row Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing (2)
4th) Germain Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Richard Childress Racing, Spire Motorsports (1)

2019 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (2)

2019 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

XFINITY: Jairo Avila, Jr. scores first last-place finish, underfunded drivers play “cat and mouse” for position in Kentucky

PHOTO: NBC Sports
Jairo “JA” Avila, Jr. picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s Alsco 300 at the Kentucky Speedway when his #99 Art General Contractors Chevrolet crashed hard after 3 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Avila’s fourth series start. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #99, the 325th from a crash, and the 529th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 34th for the #99, the 1,185th from a crash, and the 1,670th for Chevrolet.

Born in Los Angeles, the 24-year-old Avila is midway through his second part-time season in the XFINITY Series. He made his stock car debut five years ago, when he ran a limited schedule in the K&N Pro Series West. He finished 7th in his debut at the quarter-mile State Line Speedway in Idaho, his first of four Top Tens in just five races. The next year in 2015, he finished 16th in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Pocono, then a year after ran 23rd in his first K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna. Two seasons later, Avila joined B.J. McLeod’s XFINITY Series team, skipping the Truck Series altogether. The jump paid off with a 20th in his debut at Bristol, then an 18th in Kansas.

This year, McLeod has expanded his team to three full-time entries, bringing his partial #99 Chevrolet up to join the existing full-season efforts with the #5 (formerly #8 before a number swap deal with JR Motorsports) and the flagship #78. While the other two teams would see the same driver run each race – Matt Mills in the #5 and Vinnie Miller in the #78 – the #99 would swap hands all season. Coming into Kentucky, the car had been driven by D.J. Kennington, Tommy Joe Martins, Cody Ware, Todd Peck, Ryan Ellis, Stefan Parsons, Avila, and McLeod. Just last week, Parsons earned the team’s season-best finish with a 12th-place run in Daytona, following Mills and Miller across the finish line in a 10th-11th-12th team finish.

Avila, who handed the #99 its only DNQ of the year in Charlotte, would return to the #99 at Kentucky. His only previous start this year came in Las Vegas, where he finished a respectable 25th, eight laps down. Art General Contractors, his sponsor since late last season, would rejoin the effort with logos on the hood and lower quarter-panels. Avila’s name, shortened to “JA JUNIOR,” was on the roof rails.

Avila began the Kentucky weekend as one of four drivers who didn’t turn a lap in opening practice, then turned 20 circuits in Happy Hour to rank 31st of the 32 who took time, besting only owner-driver Mike Harmon. He then qualified 32nd on Friday, putting in a speed of 168.972mph (31.958 seconds). With exactly 38 drivers entered for as many spots, no drivers were sent home.

Originally, Racing-reference.info showed Camden Murphy with the 38th starting spot based on the rank in Owner Points of Rick Ware Racing’s #17 Chevrolet, which didn’t qualify at Texas, withdrew at Iowa and wasn’t entered in last Friday’s race at Daytona. By race day, the spot belonged to previous 37th-place starter John Jackson, returning to Carl Long’s #13 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota. Murphy had been moved up to 34th.

This wasn’t the only change in the rear of the field. All-time last-place leader Jeff Green, making his final XFINITY start of the season before upcoming rotator cuff surgery, was entered in RSS Racing’s #93 Chevrolet with sponsorship from InsuranceWorld.com. By opening practice, Green had swapped rides with teammate Josh Bilicki, putting Green in RSS’ unsponsored #38. Green out-qualified 25th-place Bilicki with the 21st-best time.

Prior to the start, both Matt Mills and John Jackson came down pit road for unscheduled stops. Out on the track, Jeff Green and his crew talked over who they thought would draw the first caution. “I’m gonna go with 42,” said Green, referring to Chad Finchum. He then said, “Those fast cats up front could be the first caution.”

On the break, Jackson retained the last spot with Murphy and Shepherd in front of him. Jackson remained last at the end of the first lap, 8.571 seconds back, and was 10.878 seconds back after three. “Some of these cats up here pretty sketchy looking,” said Green’s spotter after Matt Mills raced Green hard, forcing him to let him by. Moments later, Avila clobbered the wall, then came down pit road with heavy damage. The right side was flattened, and the rear panel dangled behind the Chevrolet like a flag, clearly out of the race. “99 killed it,” said Green’s spotter. “I mean, he tried to knock the wall down.” The one available replay into Turn 3 showed Avila banged doors with another car, likely teammate Vinnie Miller in the #78 JW Transport Chevrolet. The contact sent Avila skating up the track, where he smashed the outside wall nearly flush with the passenger side. The wreck made Avila the first car one lap down and abruptly ended his night, also handing him his first Bottom Five of 2019.

Under the Avila caution, Green was asked if teammate Josh Bilicki’s car was smoking, but said it wasn’t. He also remarked his own car “drives so good,” unfortunate since prior to the start the team reminded him they would only run ten laps. It then became clear Green’s team was counting on more accidents to gain as many spots as possible, deciding to go another five after the restart. After 19 laps, the team said “Go ahead and bring it to us whenever you’re ready.” Green broke out of line, signaling to Morgan Shepherd’s #89 Visone RV Chevrolet to avoid a collision. As Green came down, Timmy Hill was two laps down in the #66 in 37th, where he’d finish after early electrical issues. “We’ll run a couple more here,” the crew said, sending Green back on the track to beat Hill. At that moment, Landon Cassill also slowed in the Johnny Davis-prepared #15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet, losing two laps and falling to 35th. Green pitted a second time, but again returned to action laps down when Cassill entered the garage. Cassill then returned to the track laps down himself, and ultimately climbed out of the Bottom Five to finish 26th, the last car under power. Finally, after 29 laps, Green pulled into the garage area, done for the day with a 36th-place finish. “I mean, I'm running 80, 90%, we're running so fast. Wish I could race it,” said Green. “We'll work on it for next year," said the crew. Green’s last transmission was a simple “Thank you.”

After Green’s exit, Josh Bilicki and other underfunded drivers continued their spirited battle of “cat and mouse,” each trying to outwit the other to gain the most spots. On Lap 56, Bilicki’s spotter updated his driver that Austin Cindric “may be done” after the #22 Mazak Ford backed into the wall in Turn 4. Trying to pass Cindric caused Bilicki to stay out longer than the team had planned, a risk since the crew didn’t have a fuel canister ready in the pits. As Cindric returned to competition, Bilicki stretched his fuel under caution, the team watching as Morgan Shepherd pulled his #89 into the garage, another spot gained. Shepherd ended up 34th, separated from 36th-place Green after Ray Black, Jr. burned the clutch on his #07 Isokern Fireplaces & Chimneys / Scuba Life Chevrolet.

The battle then turned to last-place starter John Jackson, who the Bilicki spotter said was “waiting on us” to pull into the garage. When Bilicki pitted, the crew managed to hustle up fuel and was told to “have a look as if something’s wrong.” This drew Jackson’s #13 to pit road along with Camden Murphy’s #17, but the ruse failed as both Jackson and Murphy returned to the track. The crew first told Bilicki to climb out, but then changed their minds once more when Ronnie Bassett, Jr.’s #90 Bassett Gutters & More Chevrolet slowed from what seemed to be a mechanical issue. Bilicki stayed in the car, even when it was reported Bassett had only cut a tire. Murphy’s #17 then turned down pit road with the hood up, then pulled behind the wall. Bilicki returned to the track, advised by NASCAR to use the same gate he entered, looking to gain the four laps needed to pass the #17. This he accomplished, dropping Murphy to 33rd. After 78 laps, Bilicki was called to the garage once more, and the crew said “I think we’re done done now,” then “Thanks guys, see you in Loudon.” Bilicki ended up 32nd with 71 laps complete. Not to be outdone, Jackson kept the #13 on track until three to go in the stage, besting Bilicki for 31st by 11 laps.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first XFINITY Series last-place finish for the #99 since October 6, 2018, when Stephen Leicht’s B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 13 laps of the Bar Harbor 200 at Dover. The number had never before trailed an XFINITY race at Kentucky.
*As of this writing, only twice has the last-place finisher of an XFINITY race at Kentucky completed more than 6 laps – September 23, 2017, when Jeff Green turned 16 laps, and the disqualification of Tim Sauter for unapproved rollbars after he turned 166 laps on June 16, 2001.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
38) #99-Jairo Avila, Jr. / 3 laps / crash
37) #66-Timmy Hill / 18 laps / electrical
36) #38-Jeff Green / 25 laps / ignition
35) #07-Ray Black, Jr. / 39 laps / clutch
34) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 55 laps / overheating

2019 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Motorsports Business Management (5)
2nd) RSS Racing (4)
3rd) DGM Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

2019 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (7)

2019 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

TRUCKS: Kentucky sees two drivers of the NEMCO #87 finish first and last

PHOTO: FS1
Joe Nemechek picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career in Thursday’s Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at the Kentucky Speedway when his #87 D.A.B. Constructors Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 17 of 150 laps.

The finish, which came in Nemechek’s 65th series start, was his series-leading third of 2019, breaking a tie with Gus Dean for the LASTCAR Championship lead. It was his first since Charlotte, five races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 10th for the #87, the 33rd from a vibration, and the 376th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #87, the 212nd from a vibration, and the 1,669th for Chevrolet.

The finish extended Nemechek's lead in the 2019 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship over Gus Dean and has put him in position for a title defense with ten races to go.

Nemechek’s last-place finish gained added significance on Thursday because of who took the checkered flag. Since his most recent last-place run in Charlotte, Nemechek had split time in the underfunded #87 with Tyler Ankrum, who saw a sponsorship deal fall through despite a season-best third-place finish in Texas for DGR-Crosley. Ankrum would drive the #87 at both Iowa, where he was the first truck out but averted a last-place finish after Ross Chastain’s disqualification, and at Gateway, where he ran 30th. Thanks to continued support from sponsor Railblaza, Ankrum reunited with DGR-Crosley at Chicagoland, where he finished 13th while Nemechek ran 28th. Ankrum then pulled off the victory on Thursday in just his 12th series start, leading 40 laps including the final two after race leader Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel.

Nemechek’s truck also showed speed in Kentucky, ranking 19th of 34 trucks in opening practice, 20th of 34 in Happy Hour, and qualified 18th with a speed of 177.369mph (30.445 seconds). The two trucks that missed the show belonged to owner-drivers Ray Ciccarelli, returning to action in his #49 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet and Norm Benning in the #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet. Ciccarelli was faster than three of the five drivers locked in on Owner Points. Jennifer Jo Cobb was originally listed as a DNQ until NASCAR revised the results. Cobb’s #10 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet started 31st.

Starting 32nd and last was Stewart Friesen, whose weekend took an early step backward after NASCAR confiscated his primary #52 Halmar International Chevrolet for being “unacceptable.” Bob Pockrass reported attention steered toward part of the floorboard of the truck’s passenger side which was too high. Friesen’s backup truck could only muster a speed of 164.479mph (32.831 seconds), slowest in the session. The Halmar team recovered in a big way, charging to Friesen’s sixth runner-up finish in the series and second in a row in this race.

Friesen incurred a redundant tail-end penalty at the start for his backup truck, but would not start in the final spot. Coming to the green, both Nemechek and teammate Camden Murphy in the #8 NEMCO Chevrolet dropped to the rear with Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 passing Murphy to the inside just seconds before green. Both Murphy and Green ran side by side as the field drew away from them in the first corner. With 30 to go in Stage 1, both NEMCO trucks had worked their way past Cobb, who that time by became the first to lose a lap. A trip to pit road ended up costing her another six circuits, putting her seven down with 20 to go, while Murphy and Nemechek ran 25th and 26th. Cobb went on to run at a reduced speed and ultimately passed Nemechek, who pulled behind the wall under green.

The 31st spot went to Austin Hill, whose #16 Toyota Tsusho Toyota pulled down pit road with seven to go in Stage 1 with a blown engine, ending his night. Both Jordan Anderson in the #3 Bommarito.com / Knight Fire Protection Chevrolet and Spencer Boyd in the #20 Record Rack Chevrolet were collected in a Turn 1 tangle with Natalie Decker, leaving them 29th and 30th. For Anderson, it was his first Bottom Five of 2019. Murphy’s night in the #8 left him 28th after engine trouble under the ensuing caution.

In addition to Tyler Ankrum, several other underdogs enjoyed strong finishes in Kentucky.

Last week, Dylan Lupton returned to the Truck Series for the first time in three years and finished a strong 10th with a new third team from the DGR-Crosley effort. This week, driving the team’s #15, Lupton improved once more with his first series top-five finish, coming home 5th. This was Lupton’s first Top Five in a combined 43 starts across NASCAR’s top three series.

Austin Wayne Self came home 6th on Thursday in the #22 AM Technical Solutions / Go Texan Chevrolet, the second-best finish of his career behind a runner-up performance in the 2017 season opener at Daytona.

Spencer Davis reunited with the Rette Jones Racing team this week and promptly gave the team its first top-ten finish in just its sixth series start, coming home 8th in the #11 All Pro / Tower Sealants Toyota. It was one spot short of Davis’ own best finish in the series, when he ran 7th for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the 2018 Daytona opener.

Jeb Burton made his first Truck Series start of the season in Niece Motorsports’ #44 Alsco / State Water Heaters Chevrolet and finished 9th, his first top-ten finish in the series since 2014 at Texas.

Just outside the Top Ten in 11th came Tyler Hill, who picked up the best series finish for the start-up Hill Motorsports team. Tyler, who made just his third series start in a split campaign with brother Timmy Hill, overcame minor damage to the rear bumper of his #56 Southern Freight Services Chevrolet from an incident in opening practice.

Codie Rohrbaugh’s 14th-place finish was a big turnaround for his CR7 Motorsports team, which has either crashed or failed to qualify in all his previous 2019 attempts. Rohrbaugh’s #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet took the checkered flag as the first truck one lap down.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Nemechek’s last-place finish ended a streak of three consecutive first-time last-place finishers in the Truck Series.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #87 in a Truck Series race at Kentucky.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #87-Joe Nemechek / 17 laps / vibration
31) #16-Austin Hill / 28 laps / engine
30) #3-Jordan Anderson / 41 laps / crash
29) #20-Spencer Boyd / 41 laps / crash
28) #8-Camden Murphy / 43 laps / crash

2019 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) NEMCO Motorsports (3)
2nd) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
2nd) Copp Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, ThorSport Racing (1)

2019 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)

2019 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

Thursday, July 11, 2019

PREVIEW: As Jeff Green prepares for his final XFINITY start of 2019, Kentucky sees several drivers and teams return to action

Jeff Green at Darlington, 2017
PHOTO: Brock Beard

Thursday, July 11, 2019
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Tyler Matthews

ENTRY LIST
There are 34 entries for 32 spots in Thursday’s return of the Truck Series, meaning two will miss the show.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb has not entered her second truck this week following Joey Gase’s 31st-place finish two weeks ago in Chicagoland. Gase will only run this Friday’s XFINITY race for Motorsports Business Management, looking to shake off a DNQ in Daytona.

MISSING: #1-Beaver Motorsports
B.J. McLeod is also not entered in Thursday’s race following his 30th-place finish in Chicagoland as team owner Mark Beaver has not filed an entry. McLeod will instead run double-duty in the XFINITY and Cup Series for JD Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing, respectively.

MISSING: #5-DGR-Crosley
DRIVER CHANGE: #15-DGR-Crosley
Following his strong 10th-place finish at Chicagoland, Dylan Lupton has been moved from David Gilliland’s #5, which isn’t entered this week, to the #15, taking the place of 9th-place finisher Anthony Alfredo. Lupton’s only previous start at Kentucky in NASCAR’s top three series was an XFINITY race in 2015, where he finished 31st for the Townley family effort.

RETURNING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh and the Grant County Mulch entry look to turn things around in 2019, a year that has seen them crash out of all three of their starts and fail to qualify at Daytona and Martinsville. The team last ran at Texas in June, where one of those wrecks left him 30th.

RETURNING: #11-Rette Jones Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Two weeks after finishing 27th with Al Niece, Spencer Davis will reunite with Mark Rette’s #11 team for the first time since Martinsville, where he finished a season-best 20th. Taking Davis’ place in the Niece #44 is a returning Jeb Burton, who carries sponsorship from State Water Heaters and XFINITY race sponsor Alsco. Burton seeks his first Truck Series start of the year – his most recent came last fall at Homestead, where he ran 18th for All Out Motorsports.

MISSING: #25-Ted Minor Racing
Ted Minor is not entered following his team’s withdrawal in Chicagoland.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Brennan Poole is back in the Truck Series for the first time since an 11th-place finish at Iowa, his third consecutive finish of 11th or better. The team had been entered in Gateway, but withdrew, and did not enter Chicagoland.

MISSING: #32-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Team owner Josh Reaume scales back from three trucks to two this week, but retains drivers Mason Massey and Josh Bilicki, who move to the #33 and #34, respectively. Whitetail Smokeless Tobacco joins Bilicki as sponsor of the #34. Bumped out is Jesse Iwuji, 22nd in Chicagoland, who made his broadcasting debut with NBC Sports last week in Daytona.

RETURNING: #42-Chad Finley, Inc.
Chad Finley is back in the Truck Series for the first time since Iowa, where he finished 28th after rear end trouble on his #42 Chevrolet. He returns on Thursday with sponsorship from Auto Value Certified Service Centers and Strutm.

RETURNING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Welcome back Ray Ciccarelli, whose #49 team hasn’t run since Stefan Parsons ran a UNC Charlotte tribute during All-Star Weekend two months ago. Ciccarelli hasn’t driven since Dover in early May, where he ran 24th, and has never started a Truck Series race in Kentucky.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill swaps in for brother Timmy this week in the #56 Southern Freight Services Chevrolet. It will be Tyler’s first series start since Iowa, where he ran 26th.

RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Clay Greenfield is another owner-driver returning to action this week, having not run in the series since a 12th-place finish in the season opener in Daytona. Rackley Roofing, his sponsor in Florida, returns to back his #68 Chevrolet.

CUP INVADERS: None.

Friday, July 12, 2019
XFINITY Race 17 of 33
Alsco 300 at Kentucky
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

ENTRY LIST
There are exactly 38 entries for as many spots in the XFINITY Series race, so all drivers will qualify.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #15-JD Motorsports
B.J. McLeod and Landon Cassill swap rides this week with McLeod moving to the #4 Ken Houston Electric Chevrolet and Cassill in the yet-unsponsored #15.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Ryan Truex eyes his second XFINITY Series start of the season and first since his runner-up finish in Phoenix to Kyle Busch. He takes the controls of JR Motorsports’ #8 Chevrolet, which Creed steered to a 34th-place finish in Daytona following multiple crashes.

MISSING: #10-Kaulig Racing
MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Kaulig Racing does not bring either of its part-time teams to Kentucky, leaving both A.J. Allmendinger and Ross Chastain out of Friday’s race. Chastain will instead focus on the Truck Series, where he continues his bid for a top-twenty points position in Al Niece’s #45 Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
No driver was listed for Carl Long’s #13 on the preliminary list following Joe Nemechek’s 36th-place finish in Daytona. Taking Nemechek’s place this week is a returning John Jackson, whose most recent of six starts this year was a 31st-place showing at Pocono.

RETURNING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware brings his XFINITY car back to the track for the first time since Chicagoland, where Josh Bilicki was swapped in for Bayley Currey. As with the #13, no driver was originally listed, but Camden Murphy was added by Wednesday, setting the stage for a double-duty weekend with the Truck Series. Murphy’s only start with this team came in Pocono, where he ran 32nd.

MISSING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
RCR has not entered the #21 this week following Joe Graf, Jr.’s 23rd-place finish in Daytona.

MISSING: #25-ACG Motorsports
Chris Cockrum and the Jeff Spraker-owned ACG Motorsports team are also not among the entrants after they finished 19th in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #38-RSS Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #93-RSS Racing
Jeff Green makes his final start of the season prior to surgery, and does so at his home track. Green moves from the #38 back to the #93, allowing for a returning Josh Bilicki in the #38. With seventeen races to go, Green remains the 2019 LASTCAR XFINITY Series leader on a bottom-five tiebreaker of 13-9 over Bilicki.

MISSING: #61-Hattori Racing Eneterprises
HRE continues to focus on the Truck Series this weekend following a disappointing DNQ for Austin Hill in Daytona.

MISSING: #81-XCI Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt is also not entered following the XCI Racing team’s unexpected withdrawal in Daytona.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Rejoining the circuit is Morgan Shepherd, who took the Daytona weekend off after finishing 35th in Iowa and failing to qualify in Chicagoland. In 17 series starts at Kentucky, Shepherd’s best finish was 25th in 2009.

DRIVER CHANGE: #90-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin has brought back one of the Bassett boys this week as Ronnie Bassett, Jr. seeks his eighth XFINITY start of the season and first since a 30th-place showing in Chicagoland. Bassett and his sponsorship from Bassett Gutters and more take the place of Caesar Bacarella, who spun early at Daytona and ultimately finished 29th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jairo Avila, Jr. steps in for Stefan Parsons following a sterling 12th-place finish in his series debut. Avila carries sponsorship from Art General Contractors, as he had in his only series start this year at Las Vegas, finishing 25th. Avila failed to qualify for his last attempt in Charlotte.

CUP INVADERS: #15-Landon Cassill

Saturday, July 13, 2019
CUP Race 19 of 36
Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Kentucky
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Alex Bowman

ENTRY LIST
Only the 36 Chartered entries are competing in Saturday’s main event, down four cars from last Sunday in Daytona. This ties Phoenix, Martinsville, and Michigan for the shortest fields in 2019, and is the fourteenth short field in nineteen races this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
MISSING: #27-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Justin Haley will not be running Saturday’s Cup race following his upset victory in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, and will instead focus on Friday’s XFINITY race with Kaulig Racing. Taking Haley’s place in the #77 is Quin Houff, who last week drove Premium Motorsports’ #15 to a 37th-place finish. Ross Chastain returns to the Premium #15, moving over from the team’s #27, which isn’t entered this week. Chastain finished 30th at Daytona.

DRIVER SWAP: #51-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
B.J. McLeod moves from Rick Ware’s #51 to the #52, making way for Bayley Currey in the #51. Currey’s eighth and most recent Cup start came in Chicagoland, where he ran 32nd. Not entered for the Ware team this week is J.J. Yeley, who ran a strong 12th last week in the #52.

MISSING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware also scales back from three cars to two, not entering the part-time #53 that Joey Gase drove to a 27th-place finish in Daytona.

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Mark Beard’s team remains focused on superspeedway racing, and has thus not entered Brendan Gaughan in Saturday’s race following a 19th-place finish in Daytona.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman will also not be running Saturday after a 31st-place finish following the late crash in Daytona.

LASTCAR STAT OF THE WEEK
Today in LASTCAR history (July 11, 1998): Tony Stewart picked up the first last-place finish of his XFINITY Series career in the Myrtle Beach 250 at Myrtle Beach after his #44 Shell Oil / Small Soldiers Pontiac, fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, crashed in the fourth corner after 67 laps. The day would prove equally unlucky for Stewart the following year at New Hampshire when, as a rookie in the Cup Series, he ran out of fuel while leading with just two laps to go, handing the victory to Jeff Burton.