Thursday, July 28, 2016

6/16/91: James Hylton’s Chevrolet (or Buick?) “Hyltonmobile” first out at Pocono

SOURCE: Bryan Hallman
On June 16, 1991, James Hylton picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup career in the Champion Spark Plug 500 at the Pocono Raceway when his #48 Hylton Racing Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after he completed 14 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Hylton’s 588th series start, was his first since September 3, 1989, when his #49 Buick also lost an engine after 13 laps of the Heinz Southern 500 at Darlington.

At the time of the race, Hylton was 55 years old with 25 Cup seasons under his belt.  He’d made his series debut on July 8, 1964 driving as Ned Jarrett’s teammate, running a 1964 Ford to a 19th-place finish in the 20-car race on the Old Dominion Speedway, a third-mile dirt bullring in Mansassas, Virginia.  Driving the #48 he would run as an owner-driver two years later, Hylton rejoined the series in 1966 and stunned competitors with one of the best-ever seasons by a rookie.  In 41 starts, he racked up 20 Top Fives and 32 Top Tens, enough to finish 2nd behind David Pearson, who won 15 races that year.

Hylton’s own first victory came on March 1, 1970, during a 500-lapper at the old Richmond Fairgrounds.  In a three-hour race slowed by one caution, Hylton bested 2nd-place Richard Petty by more than 15 seconds.  He’d win again in 1972, his Mercury edging Ramo Stott’s Junie Donlavey entry by one carlength in the Talladega 500.  He finished 3rd in points both seasons, and from 1966 through 1977 ranked worse than 7th only twice.

From 1978 onward, Hylton began to scale back, running just one more full season in 1980.  From 1983 onward, he ran more than four races a year only once, preferring instead to have other drivers take the wheel.  During this period, fifteen different drivers took the controls of Hylton’s #48 and #49 cars, including Greg Sacks, Morgan Shepherd, and Lennie Pond.

Hylton was among just 37 drivers who showed up to attempt the 500-miler in June 1991, so everyone was guaranteed a starting spot in the race.  It would be his first start of the season and his first at the track since 1982.  There was only one problem: no one was sure what make of car Hylton brought.  Both the entry list and the official race results indicate the #48 was a Chevrolet.  But officials at the track said it looked like a Buick.  “Just call it a Hyltonmobile,” said the driver to Winston Cup Scene.  “NASCAR doesn’t even know what type of a car it is.  They’re trying to determine by the chassis, but the chassis is so old that they don’t know, either.  This is part of my whole plan.”  Despite the confusion, the “Hyltonmobile” passed inspection and would roll off 35th.

Starting 37th that Sunday was Randy LaJoie, who was making his first Cup start of the season.  His ride was the #13 Golden Annie Buick fielded by current Camping World Truck Series owner Jim Rosenblum.  On Lap 4, 24th-place starter Rick Mast’s #1 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile checked up in Turn 1 behind the slowing #42 Mello Yello Pontiac of relief driver Bobby Hillin, Jr., causing Joe Ruttman’s #75 Dinner Bell / Food Lion Oldsmobile to bump Mast into a spin.  Mast managed to keep going, but a caution wasn’t thrown and he filed-in at the back.  Hylton took the spot from Mast after the engine let go.  The first caution didn’t come for another five laps after the #48 retired, and only because a large white chicken had wandered onto the track in Turn 1.

Finishing 36th that afternoon was Bill Elliott, at the time a four-time winner at Pocono, who dropped a valve on his #9 Coors Light Ford.  That same season, it would be announced that Elliott would leave Melling Racing and drive Junior Johnson’s #11 Budweiser Ford in 1992.  35th went to Bobby Hamilton, at the time locked in a battle with Ted Musgrave for Rookie of the Year, who spun and crashed his #68 Country Time Oldsmobile coming into the Tunnel Turn.  Hamilton’s Olds was fielded by TriStar Motorsports, which is still active in the XFINITY Series.  Coming home 34th was J.D. McDuffie in the #70 Run-A-Bout Pontiac.  It was not only the first time McDuffie’s burgundy-and-black paint scheme made the field for a Cup race, but the first time the car ran after it was purchased by Marty Burke, McDuffie’s tire changer and sponsor.  Three fans named Tim, Patty, and Cliff paid $1,000 to have their names placed behind the rear tires.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Brett Bodine, who was on his fifth DNF of the season in the final year Buick fielded entries in Winston Cup.

Hylton made thirteen more Cup starts and finished last five more times.  His final last-place finish came on February 28, 1993, when his #48 Rumple Furniture Pontiac broke the oil pan after 24 laps of the GM Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham.  As of this writing, the number has never finished last in a Cup points race since - including all of Jimmie Johnson’s 527 career starts.

Hylton made his 602nd and final start in a Cup points race one month later at Darlington on March 28, where he came home 34th with handling problems.  But he was not at all done with racing.  The next year, still in a #48 Pontiac, he came back to attempt the inaugural Brickyard 400.  In 2006, at age 71, he returned to the XFINITY Series for the first time in more than two decades, finishing last the night Paul Menard won at Milwaukee.  He made two more starts in the series for JD Motorsports, and on May 6, 2011 at Darlington at age 76 years, 8 months, and 10 days became the oldest driver to finish last in NASCAR’s top three divisions.  He also made his lone Truck Series start at Pocono in 2011, finishing next-to-last in Norm Benning’s second truck.

Hylton made a dramatic return to Cup in 2007, when the 72-year-old eyed his first Daytona 500 start since 1983.  Hylton had acquired an old Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet previously driven by Jeff Burton, the #58 ironically sponsored by “Retirement Living TV,” and joined the biggest 500 entry list in recent memory.  In his first run at a Daytona qualifier since 1995, Hylton found himself right where he needed to be, but lost the transmission in the final laps.  Hylton returned for another run at the 500 in 2009, but when the car couldn’t complete a lap in practice, the team was forced to withdraw.

In between his NASCAR starts and attempts, Hylton remained active in ARCA, where his best finish was a 14th driving for Wayne Peterson at Pocono in 1997.  Hytlon ran between one and nine ARCA races a year every season through 2005, then ran 16 races and finished 18th in the 2006 standings.  Back in his #48, Hylton ran full-time in the series through 2013, earning a number of surprising runs, including a 15th at Talladega in 2009.  Finally, on October 4, 2013, Hylton retired from racing.  Running a throwback Belmont’s Garage theme for the Kansas Lottery 98.9 at the Kansas Speedway, Hylton finished 18th.  At 78 years, 1 month, and 8 days, Hylton tied his career-best 11th in the ARCA standings.

Hylton remains active in racing as an ARCA car owner.  As of this writing, fellow owner-driver Brad Smith has made eight starts for him with a season-best 14th last month at Winchester.

*This marked the first, and so far, only last-place finish for the #48 in a Cup Series race at Pocono.

37) #48-James Hylton / 14 laps / engine
36) #9-Bill Elliott / 44 laps / valve
35) #68-Bobby Hamilton / 47 laps / crash
34) #70-J.D. McDuffie / 49 laps / handling
33) #26-Brett Bodine / 57 laps / oil pan

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CUP: Open Team Roundup - Indianapolis

SOURCE: @inthepitsmedia

#98 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Cole Whitt
Started 35th, Finished 29th

The fierce Indianapolis heat left all four Open teams at the back of the pack, but for the fourth time in five races, Cole Whitt and his #98 were best in class (the fifth being his one-race replacement by part-time teammate Ryan Ellis last week at Loudon).  Next week, he returns to Pocono, looking to improve on his 30th-place finish driving Premium’s #55 in June.

#93 BK Racing
Driver: Ryan Ellis
Started 36th, Finished 32nd

Last weekend, Ryan Ellis not only made his Indianapolis debut both in XFINITY competition for Obaika Racing and in Cup for BK Racing, but in so doing stirred a long-held family dream.  During the weekend, Ellis was contacted by his grandmother, who said her husband had tried for years to race at the Brickyard before he passed away.  Both races, the younger Ellis locked himself in on speed and finished under power.  Though he ran out of fuel in Sunday’s chaotic finish, Ellis also earned his best Cup finish to date, improving on his pair of 37th-place runs earlier this year.

Ellis and the #93 BK Racing team are not expected to compete next Sunday at Pocono, but the team could potentially return with either him or Sonoma driver Dylan Lupton the following week at Watkins Glen.

#55 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Reed Sorenson
Started 39th, Finished 33rd

Two laps behind Whitt and one behind Ellis came Reed Sorenson and his black #55, a team that has bounced back from three-consecutive DNFs with its fifth-straight finish under power.  Next week, Sorenson returns to Pocono where he finished 28th in June, his second-best finish of the year behind a 27th at Kentucky.

#21 Wood Brothers Racing
Driver: Ryan Blaney
Started 17th, Finished 36th

Late-race misfortune bit Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers once more as they anchored the Open teams for the second time in three weeks.  This time, the culprit was a wreck with just seven laps to go.  Running the high line through Turns 1 and 2 as the field scattered, the spinning Ryan Newman slid right into his path, ending what had been a respectable run in the Top 15.  With low attrition at the bottom of the field, Blaney dropped behind Patrick Carpentier into 36th at the end of regulation.  Blaney looks to rebound next week at “The Tricky Triangle,” where he finished 10th in June.


#30 The Motorsports Group
Driver: Josh Wise
Team Stats: 16 Starts, 4 DNQs

Near the end of Happy Hour on Friday, Josh Wise reported that his #30 struggled with fuel pickup.  Unfortunately, the problem only grew worse during qualifying.  During his three timed laps, the car starved itself of fuel so badly that he ran no better than 170.658mph, nearly two seconds slower than the next-fastest Open car of Reed Sorenson.  Sent home early, Wise also looks for a comeback at Pocono, where he finished 27th in June - like Sorenson, his second-best finish of the year behind Kentucky (24th).


#26 BK Racing
#35 Front Row Motorsports
#40 Hillman Racing
#59 Leavine Family / Circle Sport Racing

None of the other part-time Open teams attempted the race in Indianapolis.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

CUP: Matt DiBendetto runs fewest laps of the Brickyard 400 since 2006

SOURCE: Brian Lawdermilk, Getty Images North America
Matt DiBenedetto picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career in Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Wounded Coalition 400 at The Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #83 ScienceLogic Toyota lost the engine after 4 of 170 laps.

The finish, which came in DiBenedetto’s 53rd series start, was his fourth of the season and first since Pocono, six races ago.

DiBenedetto came into Indianapolis 36th in points, having crashed out of two of his five starts since the last-place run at Pocono.  Indianapolis would be another challenge for the second-year driver, who finished 32nd in his track debut last year.  This time, his #83 Toyota had a new look as IT management company ScienceLogic, sponsor of part-time teammate Ryan Ellis in the #93, would also be sponsoring DiBenedetto.  The Californian ran 35th and 32nd in Friday’s practice sessions, then put his Toyota 30th on the grid with a speed of 182.083mph.  Ryan Ellis also made the race, sending last week’s last-placer Josh Wise home after a fuel pickup issue on the #30 Chevrolet.  Following a 38th-place “start-and-park” effort for TriStar Motorsports in the XFINITY Series race, everything was set for Sunday’s race.

Starting 40th in the Brickyard 400 was Patrick Carpentier, back in Go FAS Racing’s #32 Can-Am Ford for the first time since Sonoma.  Carpentier held the spot through the early laps, staying within one second of the car in front of him, and was still there when the first caution fell on Lap 4.  At that moment, DiBenedetto was running 33rd in front of Casey Mears.  As the two headed down the front straightaway, DiBenedetto’s car erupted in white smoke, then pulled to the outside in Turn 1.  “It blew up,” said the driver, and the #83 stopped short of pit entrance.  By Lap 17, he was the first retiree.

39th on Sunday was Greg Biffle, whose streak of three-straight top-ten finishes ended with a blown tire in Turn 2, destroying his #16 Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford.  38th went to A.J. Allmendinger, whose #47 Kroger / Kingsford Chevrolet was running 11th when he made an unscheduled green flag stop, his overheating power plant spitting water.  37th ended up David Ragan’s when his #23 Brandeis Machinery Toyota ended a long green-flag run with a cut tire and a nose into the outside wall.  Rounding out the group was Ryan Blaney, his #21 Quick Lane / Motorcraft Ford destroyed following a hard crash with eight laps remaining in regulation.  Blaney slipped behind Carpentier for 36th on Lap 160 as the race went ten laps into overtime.

*This was the first last-place finish for DiBenedetto and the #83 in a Cup Series race at Indianapolis.
*The four laps DiBenedetto completed are the fewest by a Brickyard 400 starter since August 6, 2006, when Elliott Sadler’s #38 Snickers Ford ran three circuits before an early crash with Joe Nemechek.

40) #83-Matt DiBenedetto / 4 laps / engine
39) #16-Greg Biffle / 53 laps / crash
38) #47-A.J. Allmendinger / 71 laps / overheating
37) #23-David Ragan / 117 laps / crash
36) #21-Ryan Blaney / 152 laps / crash

1st) BK Racing, Premium Motorsports (4)
2nd) The Motorsports Group (3)
3rd) Richard Childress Racing (2)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (3)


XFINITY: Todd Peck scores first XFINITY last-place finish for #15 since 2010

SOURCE: Brian Lawdermilk, Getty Images North America
Todd Peck picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #15 Keen Portable Buildings / MOMO Ford lost the engine without completing any of the 63 laps.  The finish came in Peck’s 10th series start.

Peck is a second-generation competitor in NASCAR.  His father Dr. Michael Peck not only fielded the Chevrolets that Todd raced in 14 of his Camping World Truck Series starts, but also entered a car for Todd’s uncle Tom Peck in 1995, finishing 24th at Charlotte.  Tom made 171 Busch Series (now XFINITY) starts from 1984 through 1995, finishing a career-best 3rd at Martinsville on October 28, 1990 behind veterans Steve Grissom and Tommy Houston.  The #96 Thomas Oldsmobile that Tom raced that year is one of the most prolific 1:64-scale diecasts made by Racing Champions.

Todd Peck has been racing since he was 14, moving up from go-karts to the Allison Legacy Series, USAR Pro Cup (now X-1R Pro Cup Series) in 2002, and K&N Pro Series East in 2007.  His first start in NASCAR’s top three divisions came on July 16, 2011 at Iowa, where he finished 31st in his father’s #96 National Arthritis Foundation Chevrolet.  The cause of treatment the illness runs close to Todd’s heart.  He’s suffered a rare condition of juvenile Arthritis for much of his life, and looks to increase awareness through his racing.  Peck’s best Truck Series finish came in one such truck at Phoenix on November 9, 2012, an 18th in a Bobby Dotter-owned Chevrolet co-sponsored by pain reliever Stopain Cold.

Peck made his XFINITY Series debut at Loudon on July 18, 2015, where he finished 30th for car owner Rick Ware.  The two would meet up again this season.  Peck originally signed with owner-driver B.J. McLeod to drive as his teammate in a #99 Ford sponsored by Batteries Plus Bulbs and X-Treme pH Sports Water.  Peck made his first attempt at Atlanta, finishing 38th, but failed to make the next two races.  When Rick Ware’s driver Ryan Ellis wrecked in qualifying at Phoenix and did not have a backup car, Ware worked out a deal with McLeod and Peck, who had failed to qualify in the same session.  The deal put Peck into his second race of the season while keeping Ware’s #15 in the field.  McLeod has remained the listed owner of Peck’s #15 in the four races he’s run in the number since.  Peck’s best finishes of the year have come in the #15: a pair of 30th-place runs at sister tracks Fontana and Michigan.

As part of the arrangement between the two teams, Ware has also run his own #15 entries in place of McLeod and Peck, most notably the Chevrolet that Ryan Ellis finished 15th with at Daytona earlier this month.  Peck also drove for Ware at Kentucky, one of many behind the wheel of Ware’s #25, and finished 34th.  McLeod and Peck also worked out a similar arrangement with King Autosport at Richmond, where McLeod’s black Ford was renumbered again to King’s #90 with Peck still driving in place of Mario Gosselin.

For Indianapolis, Peck was back in McLeod’s car with Ware’s #15 on the sides.  This time, the car Peck drove appeared to be the blue-and-white Ford that McLeod drove at Daytona when the engine let go after 1 lap.  The car was renumbered from McLeod’s #78 to the #15, the yellow door numbers barely readable against the white paint.  The car also carried both Rick Ware’s sponsor Keen Portable Buildings and McLeod sponsor MOMO.  McLeod, meanwhile, would continue to run the black-and-green #78 he’s driven in nearly all his other starts in 2016.

Peck was the slowest car in Friday’s opening practice and second-slowest in Happy Hour, besting the Rick Ware-owned #25 of Stanton Barrett that had issues on his only attempted lap.  Peck improved to 38th in qualifying, besting Mike Harmon, Mario Gosselin, and the second Obaika Racing entry, the #77 VroomBrands Chevrolet of T.J. Bell, who failed to qualify.  Withdrawing from the event were Dexter Bean in King Autosport’s own team car, #92, and Travis Kvapil, who was going to try and put McLeod’s #99 Batteries Plus Bulbs Ford into its first race since Atlanta.

Peck started 19th in Heat Race #2 and pulled out after 15 of 20 laps with engine trouble, leaving him the only retiree of the event.  The engine problems likely stayed with the #15 for the main event as Peck did not complete a lap of it.  39th went to Timmy Hill, whose #40 / Icard Merrill Dodge from the Carl Long stables left with a vibration.  Both bested current LASTCAR XFINITY leader Matt DiBenedetto, whose #10 stayed on track until Lap 13. Morgan Shepherd’s #89 Racing With Jesus / Malamphy Electric Chevrolet came home 37th with all-time last-place leader Jeff Green rounding out the Bottom Five in his TriStar #14.

For more on Todd Peck and his family, check out their team’s website at this link.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #15 in an XFINITY Series race since April 25, 2010, when Michael Annett’s Pilot Travel Centers Toyota was involved in a multi-car accident after 20 lap of the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega.  The number had never before finished last in an XFINITY race at Indianapolis.

40) #15-Todd Peck / 0 laps / engine
39) #40-Timmy Hill / 9 laps / vibration
38) #10-Matt DiBenedetto / 13 laps / brakes
37) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 17 laps / handling
36) #14-Jeff Green / 31 laps / rear gear

1st) TriStar Motorsports (11)
2nd) RSS Racing (3)
3rd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Inc. (2)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing, JD Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (11)
2nd) Chevrolet (5)
3rd) Ford (2)


Thursday, July 21, 2016

8/6/94: Jimmy Spencer first to crash out of inaugural Brickyard 400

On August 6, 1994, Jimmy Spencer picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the inaugural Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #27 McDonald’s Ford was involved in a single-car crash after 9 of 160 laps.

The finish, which came in Spencer’s 133rd series start, was his first of the season and first in Cup since October 7, 1990, when his #57 Heinz Pontiac crashed after 97 laps of the Mello Yello 500 at Charlotte.

“Mr. Excitement,” the two-time NASCAR Modified champion from Pennsylvania, moved to the NASCAR Busch Series full-time in 1988, bringing with him car owner Frank Cicci.  Spencer’s aggressive driving paid big dividends on the series’ many short tracks.  During the ‘88 season, his best finishes were a pair of 3rds at Nashville and Orange County Speedways, and the next year he took the checkers at Hickory, Myrtle Beach, and again at Orange County.  Winston Cup came calling in 1989 when Buddy Baker and Danny Schiff released Greg Sacks from their #88 Crisco Pontiac, and again Spencer’s best finish came on a bullring - an 8th in the night race at Bristol.  Though he ran only a partial season, Spencer ranked fourth in the Rookie of the Year battle, trailing Dick Trickle, Hut Stricklin, and Larry Pearson.

Spencer’s ride for 1990 was with Rod Osterlund, the same man who fielded Dale Earnhardt’s first championship-winning ride in 1980.  The cherry-red #57 Heinz Pontiac began the year strong with four-straight finishes inside the Top 15, but the rest of the year was a struggle.  After the fall race at Charlotte, where an early crash left Spencer with his first last-place finish, Spencer was out of the ride, replaced for the final three rounds by longtime Winston West competitor Jim Bown.

For 1991, Spencer landed with Travis Carter as driver of the #98 Banquet Frozen Foods Chevrolet.  Again, he finished well at Bristol, coming home 8th in the spring and 15th in the fall, and nearly scored his first victory in the spring race at North Wilkesboro.  In a race slowed by 17 cautions, Spencer led 70 laps that day with the nose of his red car caved-in before surrendering the lead to race winner Darrell Waltrip with 52 to go.  However, once again the team began to struggle with Spencer failing to qualify for four of the first 14 races in 1992.  So once again, Spencer was released after Charlotte, this time the Coca-Cola 600.

Late in the 1992 season, Spencer found his way to Bobby Allison Motorsports, which was looking to kick-start its program after the release of Spencer’s rookie competitor Hut Stricklin.  In a four-race stint from October to November of ‘92, Spencer finished 4th, 11th, 5th, and 4th.  Impressed, Allison signed Spencer for the 1993 season with sponsor Meineke Mufflers.  That year, Spencer enjoyed his best Cup season to that point, racking up five Top Fives, ten Top Tens, and a 12th-place showing in points.  But once again, Spencer wasn’t re-signed for 1994, and would once again replace Hut Stricklin - this time for another veteran car owner, Junior Johnson.

Spencer came into the inaugural Brickyard 400 as the hottest driver on the circuit.  After a turbulent spring in which he was penalized for aggressive driving at North Wilkesboro following a run-in with Ken Schrader, Spencer revealed his restrictor-plate prowess in ‘94, racking up his first two victories in July.  The first came in a side-by-side photo-finish with Ernie Irvan during the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.  The other came three weeks later at Talladega, where this time he held off both Irvan and teammate Bill Elliott.  Though just 22nd in points heading to Indy, Spencer was one of the favorites to take the historic victory.

Spencer’s ride was among a record-setting 87 entries for the Brickyard.  The 1994 season had already seen a sizeable influx of new fully-funded teams and drivers - so many that by August, Petty Enterprises’ #43 had already been sent home six times.  A.J. Foyt came out of retirement, joined by open-wheel “ringers” Danny Sullivan, Gary Bettenhausen, Stan Fox, Davy Jones, and Geoff Brabham.  Veteran owner-drivers H.B. Bailey and James Hylton were there along with 56-year-old “Chargin’” Charlie Glotzbach and Norm Benning in the only Oldsmobile.  Jerry Hill, father of current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timmy Hill, was there in his #56 Bell Motor Company Chevrolet.  So were ARCA veterans Bobby Gerhart, Bob Schacht, and Bob Brevak.  Ironically, NASCAR had been concerned that not enough drivers would come to qualify, so the Brickyard was also made a “companion event” with the Winston West Series.  Fifteen West Coast drivers - including Ron Hornaday, Jr. and David Gilliland’s father Butch - showed up to battle for the one guaranteed spot for the fastest of their group - Mike Chase secured that 43rd and final spot in his #58 Tyson Foods Chevrolet.  Spencer, meanwhile, only managed 34th.

Chase remained in the 43rd spot at the start and was still running there on Lap 4 when the first caution came for debris in Turn 1.  Heading into that corner, 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan, who started 33rd in his #99 Corporate Car Chevrolet, lost the passenger side window, which was then struck by Harry Gant and Mike Chase.  Sullivan fell to last as the crew tried to duct tape a replacement window onto the side of the car, losing a lap to race leader Jeff Gordon as the race restarted on Lap 6.  Four circuits later, the caution flew once more.

As Spencer tried to claw his way through the pack, Spencer appeared to lose the right-front tire entering Turn 3.  He locked the brakes as the car went straight, but couldn’t slow down fast enough.  The right-front of the car took the brunt of the hit.  Spencer got out of the car, but injured his ribs in the accident.  Spencer became the first retiree of the event, joining Arthur Greiner, the first driver to trail the Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

The rest of the Bottom Five was also filled with accidents.  Mike Chase’s day ended on Lap 95 when he tangled with Dave Marcis in Turn 2, leaving them 42nd and 41st, respectively.  40th and 39th went to the most controversial wreck of the day.  Geoffrey Bodine, who won his first race of the season at Pocono weeks earlier, had one of the best cars in the early going, his #7 Exide Batteries Ford leading the field for 24 laps.  But on Lap 101, when brother Brett Bodine caught him into Turn 4 after a restart, the two made contact, sending Geoffrey into a spin.  Though Geoffrey spun in front of the entire field, somehow everyone avoided contact except Dale Jarrett, whose #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was also done for the day.

Spencer never won another Cup race, but Indianapolis remained one of his best tracks.  He won the pole in 2001, having reunited with car owner Travis Carter, and came from 32nd to finish 8th in 2003.  2003 also marked Spencer’s most recent victory in NASCAR’s top three divisions - a win from the pole in a Truck Series race at Loudon.  His 478th and most recent Cup Series start came at his home track in Pocono on July 23, 2006.  He finished 36th that day in one of the first NASCAR starts for Furniture Row Racing.  This start was Spencer’s most recent, but not “last.”  Although Spencer remains a prolific NASCAR broadcaster, he has yet to officially retire.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #27 in a Cup Series race since September 2, 1990, when Rusty Wallace’s Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac lost the engine after 14 laps of the Heinz Southern 500 at Darlington.

43) #27-Jimmy Spencer / 9 laps / crash
42) #58-Mike Chase / 91 laps / crash
41) #71-Dave Marcis / 92 laps / crash
40) #18-Dale Jarrett / 99 laps / crash
39) #7-Geoffrey Bodine / 99 laps / crash / led 24 laps

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

TRUCKS: Frustrating Eldora night doesn’t defeat Jordan Anderson, Bolen Motorsports

SOURCE: FS1, @HurricaneBarca
Jordan Anderson picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Wednesday’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby 150 at the Eldora Speedway when his #66 FK Rod Ends / Columbia, SC Chevrolet fell out with a blown engine after 5 of 150 laps.  The finish came in Anderson’s 28th series start.

Anderson and the team he drives for, Bolen Motorsports, are cut from the same cloth: scrappy underdogs determined to make names for themselves in NASCAR.  The 25-year-old Anderson has been racing since he was eight, working from go-karts to late models, the K&N Pro Series East and the CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series.  He made his Truck Series debut driving for MAKE Motorsports at Phoenix in 2014, where he finished 24th.  He began working with longtime independent Mike Harmon in 2015, where he got Harmon’s #74 into 17 Truck races and the XFINITY night race at Bristol.  He continued to put up impressive finishes with little sponsorship or resources, earning a season-best 13th at Michigan.

This year, Anderson is making his first full-season run for Bolen Motorsports.  Team owner Jeff Bolen has been looking for a way to get into NASCAR for most of his life ever since he watched Bill Elliott win the 1985 Winston Million when he was six.  After a brief career running late models and Legends cars, Bolen looked into team ownership - first in late models, then in the Truck Series.  He decided on the latter, and met Anderson. The two found they had a great deal in common - both raced in Legends cars, were college-educated, and had experience in public relations.  It was a natural fit for Bolen to put Anderson in his #66.

Anderson and Bolen’s first season together has been a learning experience for both.  In addition to his driving duties, Anderson has helped with the team’s PR and fabricating.  The tourism board of Columbia, South Carolina has continued to offer limited sponsorship, continuing a relation with Anderson, a South Carolina native, that began at Harmon’s team. Other partners included JAB Construction, DoodyCalls, and Rusty’s Off-Road Products.  The team’s Eldora truck featured a hood logo for FK Rod Ends, which Anderson has used on his race cars since 2009.  The nose also featured a small decal honoring the life of NASCAR on Reddit moderator Amy Branch (/u/Beezwacks), who passed away unexpectedly last week.

Coming into Eldora, Anderson sat 22nd in points, coming off three-straight Top 20 finishes including a career-best 11th at Gateway in June.  It would be Anderson’s first run in the 150-lapper at Eldora - Harmon put dirt tracker Stew Hayward in the #74 last July, who finished last after the engine let go on his RAM.

In Tuesday’s opening practice session, Anderson ran 33rd-fastest of the 38 entrants, but made hard contact with the wall, tearing up the left-rear of his truck.  Without a backup, Anderson and the crew went to work immediately, the driver hammering out dents on the sheetmetal as the Bolen team pieced it back together.  The crew finished in time to get the #66 back out in Happy Hour, where they ran 34th of 36.  This would not be the only time Eldora tested driver and crew.

Race day came Wednesday and with it a full slate of events.  First came qualifying, where Anderson continued to show improvement, putting up the 26th-best time at a speed of 80.852mph.  The run would put him 6th on the grid for the 8-truck Heat Race #1 that afternoon.  In the race, Anderson was the first to find trouble, slipping in Turn 4 and backing into the outside wall.  With no caution thrown, Anderson fought at the back of the pack, battling with the #49 XBOMB Energy / OH! Lottery Chevrolet of Wayne Edwards.  The two traded bumps and bangs all the way through the final lap, when Anderson slipped, lost control, and nosed into the outside wall across the stripe.  Now, the team had just minutes to get their truck ready for the 15-lap Last Chance Qualifier.

During the remaining four Heat Races and the following late model event, Anderson and the Bolen team put their truck together once more.  The hood, buckled upward, was straightened and held down with large black strips of tape.  But little could be done to the nose, pulled over the right-front tire, or the rear clip, crushed against the back tires.  Fortunately, the rear spoiler remained vertical, the truck was still rolling, and sure enough, Anderson lined up 6th for the Last Chance Qualifier.  He could run just four laps, but still outpaced Travis Kvapil, his #50 Chevrolet battered in his own Heat Race tangle with Rico Abreu, and Caleb Roark, who didn’t start the night’s races in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10.  And thanks to a provisional for the team’s full-season run, Anderson would be in the main, starting 31st.

Six drivers missed the race, including Donnie Levister, who withdrew his #62 Property Pro’s Toyota before qualifying, and Roark, who never turned a lap in either race.  Chris Fontaine, making a rare non-plate start in his #78 Glenden Enterprises Toyota, put together an impressive run in Heat Race #4, battling to the finish with Tyler Young for the final transfer spot before he was edged at the stripe.  Korbin Forrister in the Petty-painted #43 and teammate Sean Corr in the #82 also took turns at the front with Corr battling for the lead before a spin in Heat Race #5.  Also sent home was Norm Benning, unable to repeat his 2013 LCQ heroics after Cody Coughlin shoved his #6 into the wall.

When night fell and the engines fired, Anderson once again rolled out on track in his battered truck.  But when the green flag fell, he didn’t drop to the last spot.  Jennifer Jo Cobb had raced her #1 Westside Vapor / #IVapeIVote Chevrolet into the 30th spot.  On Lap 5 of Heat Race #5, she’d smacked the outside wall in Turn 1 and pulled into the garage, come back out to finish 8th in the Last Chance Qualifier, and also relied on Owner Points to make the race.  But something was still wrong with Cobb’s truck, and she missed the start of the race.  She was five laps down when Anderson pulled into the garage on Lap 6, his truck no longer able to continue.  Cobb finally made it back out on Lap 21 during the first yellow, dropping Anderson to last on Lap 27.  Cobb finished 26th.

31st on Wednesday went to dirt tracker Justin Shipley of Georgia, whose turn in Tracy Wallace’s #80 Georgia Arms / Rogers Mechanical Ford ended when the truck overheated, spraying water as he pulled into the pits.  30th went to Caleb Holman, who earned his first pole position in qualifying driving Charlie Henderson’s #75 Food County USA / Lopez Wealth Management Chevrolet, but was involved in a multi-truck accident in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 38.  29th-place Spencer Gallagher, 2nd in Heat Race #4 to J.R. Heffner, was also involved in the Holman accident, busting a radiator on his #23 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet.  He returned to the track without the front clip, finishing 43 laps down.  Rounding out the group was Canadian late model ace Stewart Friesen, whose Truck Series debut ended when his #16 Halmar International Chevrolet trailed smoke after running as high as 5th.

32) #66-Jordan Anderson / 5 laps / engine
31) #80-Justin Shipley / 11 laps / overheating
30) #75-Caleb Holman / 37 laps / crash
29) #23-Spencer Gallagher / 107 laps / running
28) #16-Stewart Friesen / 111 laps / crash

*This was the first last-place run for the #66 in Trucks since October 22, 2011, when J.J. Yeley’s Turn One Racing Chevrolet broke the transmission after 1 lap of the Coca-Cola 250 Powered by Fred’s at the Talladega Superspeedway.
*It was also the first last-place run for the #66 in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions on a dirt track since July 21, 1964, when Frank Tanner’s 1963 Ford fell out with a loss of oil pressure after 2 laps of the Pennsylvania 200 at the Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, Pennsylvania.
*This was Chevrolet’s 325th last-place finish in Truck Series competition.

1st) Kyle Busch Motorsports, Tommy Joe Martins (2)
2nd) AWS Racing, Bolen Motorsports, Brandonbilt Motorsports, GMS Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Jim Rosenblum Motorsports / FDNY Racing, MAKE Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Toyota (3)


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CUP: Open Team Roundup - Loudon

SOURCE: @CoolnovelBro

#21 Wood Brothers Racing
Driver: Ryan Blaney
Started 14th, Finished 11th

Ryan Blaney was once again best in class, and seemed headed for his seventh top-ten finish of 2016.  He started 14th and was knocking on the door of 10th by Lap 176.  But after pitting under green on Lap 185, Blaney was too fast entering pit road, and the pass-through penalty forced him to do it all over again.  This time, he was helped by the late-race miscues of the leaders, bringing him back to the same spot he was running at the moment of the penalty.

Next Sunday at Indianapolis, Blaney will sport a special blue-and-white paint scheme for his second Cup start at the track.  Not only did he finish a strong 12th in last year’s 400-miler, but he came within one slip of besting Kyle Busch in the XFINTY Series race.

#55 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Reed Sorenson
Started 36th, Finished 35th

Much like Charlotte in May, Sunday’s race in Loudon was marked by long stretches of green-flag racing and low attrition, a disastrous combination for the remaining Open teams.  Sorenson’s white-and-purple Vydox Plus finished a distant second in class, six laps behind and on the same circuit as the damaged Chase Elliott.  Still, Sorenson finished ahead of five other drivers, including three Chartered entries: the #32 of Go FAS Racing, the #44 of Richard Petty Motorsports, and Leavine Family Racing’s #95.

Sorenson has more Cup starts at Indianapolis than any of his fellow Open team drivers with six.  He is the 2007 polesitter of the Brickyard 400, and that day his fleet Chip Ganassi-prepared #41 Target / FujiFilm Dodge came home 5th.  He also started 9th and finished 13th for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009.

#98 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Ryan Ellis
Started 40th, Finished 37th

Ryan Ellis made his first start for Premium Motorsports in place of Cole Whitt in the #98.  The effort attracted sponsorship from performance auto part machinists as well as Vermont’s veteran-owned 14th Star Brewing Company.  Though Ellis struggled to find speed, trailing the first two practice sessions and starting shotgun on the field, he also came home with the car intact with his third Cup start in the books.

Next week at Indianapolis, Ellis will return to BK Racing in the Open #93 ScienceLogic Toyota, where he will try and make his first-ever start at the track.  One of the cars he’ll have to beat in qualifying will be Cole Whitt, who will return to the #98.  Whitt’s best finish in two Indy starts was a 32nd in 2014, when he drove for BK Racing.

#30 The Motorsports Group
Driver: Josh Wise
Started 39th, Finished 40th

Josh Wise finished last in Sunday’s race after an early crash.  For more, read Sunday’s feature.

This weekend, Wise looks to make his first Indianapolis start since 2014, when he finished a track-best 29th for Phil Parsons Racing in the #98 Curb Records / Lee Brice “I Don’t Dance” Chevrolet.




#26 BK Racing
#35 Front Row Motorsports
#40 Hillman Racing
#59 Leavine Family / Circle Sport Racing
#93 BK Racing

None of the other part-time Open teams attempted the race in Loudon.