Saturday, June 25, 2022

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

PHOTO: @KyleWeatherman

by Brock Beard
LASTCAR.info 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.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*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 CheapTickets.com 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.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
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

2022 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
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)

2022 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)

2022 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


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
LASTCAR.info 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 chevyliners.com 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.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*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.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
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

2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
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)

2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (3)

2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, June 23, 2022

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

PHOTO: @forthepeople

by Brock Beard
LASTCAR.info 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

ENTRY LIST
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.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-AM Racing
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.

DRIVER CHANGE: #46-G2G Racing
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.

CUP INVADERS: None

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

ENTRY LIST
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.

RETURNING: #28-RSS Racing
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.

DRIVER CHANGE: #38-RSS Racing
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.

DRIVER CHANGE: #91-DGM Racing
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

ENTRY LIST
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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

ARCA: Pompa’s engine failure leads to DNS and first last-place finish in ARCA’s main series

Pompa on pit road at Dover earlier this season.
SCREENSHOT: FloRacing

by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Ed Pompa finished last for the 1st time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Zinsser Smart Coat 200 at Berlin Raceway when his #11 Cen Pe Co / Double H Ranch Ford failed to start the event.

The finish came in Pompa’s 73rd career start.

While Pompa had successfully avoided last-place in his national ARCA career, he was featured in a LASTCAR.info article earlier this season when he finished last at Dover in the ARCA Menards Series East. Pompa, who made his ARCA Menards Series debut in 2006, has run the majority of his career for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing, usually running a handful of races per season for the Fast Track team. Saturday’s race would be his first at Berlin since 2016, when he finished 9th in a field of 25 entries. However, according to the team’s Facebook page, Pompa lost an engine during his qualifying run, forcing him to withdraw from the race and leaving him credited with a “reason out” of “did not start” and a last-place finish. Of the cars that were able to set a qualifying time, Brad Smith was the slowest, clocking in at 21.567 seconds in his #48 Copraya.com Chevrolet.

As they did at Dover, Fast Track entered four cars, all of which fell out in the first quarter of the race. Series newcomer Dallas Frueh was the lone non-Fast Track driver in the Bottom Five, retiring after three laps with an electrical issue. D.L. Wilson and Tim Monroe were the next to fall out, suffering from brake issues after nine and fourteen laps respectively. Zachary Tinkle completed the Bottom Five as the Fast Track car that went the furthest, completing 38 laps before a transmission failure ended his night.

Other notable finishes included Rita Thomason in 12th, who became only the second openly LGBTQ woman to compete in a NASCAR-sanctioned race after Lella Lombardi, who finished 31st in the 1977 Firecracker 400. Thomason, a Patrol Sargeant whose previous racing experience comes from Miata road racing, completed 41 laps before spinning out and retiring with a fuel pump issue. Despite recording a DNF, Brad Smith also generated some positive attention on social media by picking up just his second top-ten finish in his 392nd career start. Smith, whose first top-ten came with a ninth-place run at Winchester in 2020, inherited tenth-place after Amber Balcaen was involved in an accident on lap 66. Smith would eventually retire with handling issues after completing 136 laps.

Up front, ARCA East points leader Sammy Smith scored his first win in the main ARCA Menards Series, inheriting the lead from Daniel Dye with just six laps to go after Dye’s car fell off the pace with an electrical issue. Dye, who led all but eight of the race’s 200 laps, had to settle for seventh as his car stopped entirely with two laps to go. Dye’s misfortune promoted ARCA veteran Tom Hessert III to second place in his first ARCA start since 2018, while two-time reigning ARCA West champion Jesse Love completed the top-three.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
17) #11-Ed Pompa / 0 laps / did not start
16) #27-Dallas Frueh / 3 laps / electrical
15) #01-D.L. Wilson / 9 laps / brakes
14) #12-Tim Monroe / 14 laps / brakes
13) #10-Zachary Tinkle / 38 laps / transmission

2022 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet, Ford (3)
2nd) Toyota (1)

2022 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (3)
2nd) Richmond Racing (2)
3rd) CCM Racing, Jones Racing (1)

2022 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP


Monday, June 20, 2022

FEATURE: A chronology of what happened to G2G Racing and drivers McCullough and Filippi at Sonoma

PHOTO: Brock Beard

by Brock Beard
LASTCAR.info Editor-In-Chief

In this article, a follow-up to my regular weekly feature last Saturday, I wanted to provide an accurate and detailed account of the events surrounding the G2G Racing team at the Sonoma Raceway. I would like to thank Travis McCullough, Mason Filippi, Stefan Parsons, and G2G Racing team manager and crew chief Tim Silva for their interviews. Included also are my own observations while working trackside that weekend.

I. TRAVIS MCCULLOUGH

Travis McCullough lives and works less than a two hours’ drive east of the Sonoma Raceway. His race shop in Lodi is just a few miles south of his Galt, California home. From there, he’s fielded entries in NASCAR Pro Late Models, the NASCAR Southwest Tour, ARCA, and more recently the SRL touring series between the open-wheel Modifieds and Pro Late Models. He’s occasionally competed on the East Coast and on ovals, but has more often raced closer to home, preferring the excitement of the road courses where he got his start. 

Through it all, McCullough’s goal has been to make it into NASCAR national competition – and he’s become even more determined due to his father’s health issues. “We've worked our entire lives of just racing, in hopes to get into a Truck or a XFINITY car,” said McCullough. “Being in Cup is no longer an option. It would have been until they did this new change (to the NextGen car). So now we're just looking at getting into something that's around NASCAR.”

To take a step toward this goal, McCullough reached out to his friend in NASCAR – Brett Bodine. “Brett Bodine and I have known each other for quite some time,” said McCullough. “He's my guy I've always talked to - and which most drivers have to technically new to the series. So, I called him and I said, ‘Hey, I want to do this deal. What do you think?’ And he goes, ‘Here's the thing - you want to do Sonoma, you want to do some of these other tracks, that's fine. The only thing I'm not clearing you for is in the Chase. When we're in the Playoffs, I'm not going to clear you unless you have at least a race under your belt.’ And I said, ‘That's not going to be a problem. We should have no issue. We're going to Sonoma on June 11. I think we'll be fine.’ He says, ‘No problem. I'm gonna clear you. You're all good.’ I have the e-mails to show it. This has nothing to do with (being) pulled out of the truck due to experience.”

With Bodine’s support, McCullough looked up different teams. Looking to run the Truck Series race in Sonoma, he soon landed on G2G Racing.

II. G2G RACING

According to Tim Silva, crew chief and team manager for G2G (“Glory 2 God”) Racing, Tim Viens and Billy Shear bought out Ray Ciccarelli’s two-truck operation CMI Motorsports at the end of last year. At the time, CMI had an inventory of Toyotas, Fords, and Chevrolets. The reincorporated G2G effort chose to sell everything other than their Toyotas, including some that were purchased by Viens from Kyle Busch Motorsports. The transition has not been entirely smooth. Among the team’s Toyotas was the one Andrew Gordon ran in this year’s Bristol Dirt Race which, due to an oversight, had not yet been properly transferred from CMI to G2G. This required a last-minute number change, awarding Ciccarelli owner points to a team he no longer owns. Gordon finished 32nd that night. 

When including Gordon’s run at Bristol, the G2G team has qualified at least one of its trucks in each of the season’s first 11 races heading into Sonoma. In fact, at Atlanta, they managed to get both trucks into the show with Matt Jaskol taking a team-best 19th ahead of Brennan Poole in 28th. But Jaskol left the team just days later, taking with him his sponsorship from AutoParts4Less.com. Johnny Sauter, who gave the team its first start in the Daytona opener, has likewise not run for the team since electrical issues left him a disappointing 34th. Such mechanical gremlins have plagued the team more often than not, including at Darlington, where Brennan Poole made multiple trips to the garage area for a truck that constantly lost power. Poole earned the team’s best finish since Jaskol’s departure when he took 23rd at Texas. But the team entered Sonoma after back-to-back DNFs at Charlotte and Gateway, both due to mechanical failures in the first half of the race.

“And so we're trying to build our fleet,” said Silva. “As a small team, we're trying to get our chassis is up to date, where they are. Most of our trucks that we have are KBM trucks. So, it just takes a lot of money to do it. And that's what we do is sell rides to drivers. And we, the owners wound up putting the money back into the team to build our inventory up to be competitive. With the inventory that we have, the owners that we have, the employees that we have here at G2G, we could be a Top 15 truck every week. But the problem of it is, is the owners are funding this out of their pockets as of right now. If we could get somebody to come on board with a driver with some money or a sponsor step up and put it all over the truck, we could be a Top 15 truck every week with the inventory that we have.”

Sometime between the end of February and early March 2022, McCullough entered into a contract to drive for G2G at Sonoma. “I did all this (deal with G2G) myself,” he said. “I have a problem with allowing people to do my work for me. I work 20 or 22 hours a day, have my own family, have my own companies - I work a lot, so I can also do this. Like right now, I'm talking to you and working here with my earpiece and everything. So I tend to go out on my own. I do have people I talk to. But I've actually never been to a Truck (Series) race.” McCullough also said, as of Monday, June 13, he’s yet to meet Tim Viens in person and has only corresponded with him by phone.

As announced by the team on June 7, McCullough would run G2G’s #47 Toyota at Sonoma. California Tank Pneumatics (CTP), the primary sponsor of his own cars, is McCullough’s business which he operates with his father, brother, mother, and uncle. CTP builds systems for the transportation of food, cement, and other goods from ships to trains, trucks, and plants. Among the company’s business partners are longtime customers California Rock and Ready Mix and one of the country's largest transporters of sugar and molasses, Vernon Transportation. Vernon’s logo would be on the hood of the #47. “We didn't actually get all the stickers on the truck due to timeframe there with (the team) running behind,” said McCullough of the truck he was scheduled to run. “But we have a lot of sponsors that were part of this deal besides ourselves.”

McCullough would also have a teammate. Just one week prior, Mason Filippi made his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at the Portland International Raceway in a one-off for DGM Racing. Prior to that, Filippi had already made a name for himself in sports car racing, particularly in the Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, which host races of similar lengths to those in NASCAR. Despite sporadic heavy rainfall on a track the series had never competed, Filippi finished under power in 25th, three laps down. Filippi’s #91 was sponsored by OpenFender.com, which would follow him to Sonoma as backer of the #46 Toyota. Like McCullough, Filippi would run a Toyota with the pre-2022 nose.

III. THE HAULER IS LATE, THE 47 ISN’T READY

Friday, June 10 at Sonoma had a reduced schedule of just two afternoon practice sessions – one each for the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series West. By lunchtime, the teams that had arrived were unloading. At the far end of the paddock, however, both Travis McCullough and Mason Filippi stood with helmet bags in hand – McCullough with nine hand-picked members of his own crew – waiting for the G2G Racing hauler to arrive.

“The hauler was late by almost roughly three hours,” said McCullough. “So immediately, when 12:30 P.M. came when the hauler was supposed to be there. . .it did not show up. We sent out another text to (Tim Viens) at 12:30, just verifying the hauler. We never heard any more. Then one o'clock, 1:30, no hauler. We were getting ready to start loading up our stuff. We're getting ready to leave, because that's when we figured at that point, something happened there was a scam here. Mason (Filippi) and I were standing there like this, ‘I guess we're going home. We don't have trucks.’ And we were both lost. And then the hauler showed up. . .an hour and 10 minutes before practice.”

Silva addressed the delay. “On the way here – it’s such a long trip for especially small teams and everything – our tractor-trailer broke down three or four times on the way here,” he said. “So it put us behind the eight ball a little bit. But after we got here, we had the trucks unloaded and getting ready to go through the inspection, went through the inspection getting ready to go on the racetrack for practice.” Silva was one of just four crew members the G2G team brought to the track. While the other three set to work on Filippi’s #46, the fourth – Ryan Bell, a crew chief for Mike Harmon Racing – would join McCullough’s nine crewmates on the #47. “Most of these guys are great, but I only met one of them,” said McCullough. “And that was Ryan Bell, and he wasn’t even a part of the team. He was just called in as an outside gentleman that come help for the weekend. And he was probably the best guy I talked to on that team.”

McCullough’s truck was unloaded first, followed by Filippi’s. Right away, McCullough noticed something was wrong. “We're missing side skirting,” he said. “All the electronics were still parked inside the truck. We lifted it up (on jack stands), took to both tires and wheels off of it, realized that majority of electronics were not even hooked up on the engine, lines were loose on power steering. We had oil leaking out all over the place because the lines are leaking and elevations up and down in the balancing and stuff. And we got to work on it. No brake duct hoses to the brakes, which is as you know, as I do on road courses – huge, mandatory. Well, we had one line feeding from the front to the brake duct - one individual, not even a three pack. So I'm like, we're probably not going to make but about 15 laps in this thing. And we're going to have this in either toasted or we’ll burn the brakes out of it.”

“So I was like, ‘We’ll look into that. Let's just get the truck on for practice.’ And then I'll go over to the race guys, because I know Front Row Motorsports with my one of my real good friends works with them. So I said, ‘We’ll go get everything we need from them. We'll get it slammed into this thing to at least keep the brakes cool. I don't care about anything else. We've got to keep brakes underneath it over this weekend.’ And so I went to work with all my guys and that's when we noticed a rat's nest of just parts missing, bolts missing, bolts not tight. We were missing parts on the truck. Jumped in it, hit the brake pedal, it went right to the floor. There was no fluid in anything.”

“And we put in an hour and 10 minutes into it, which was just five minutes shy of basically practice time, when we realized there was no lead. There was no setup, springs. NASCAR was starting to get a little a little perturbed over things that we're seeing. ILMOR was there trying to figure out what was going on because the engine didn't match to what they had originally had in it. So that had to be worked. After we said ‘We're done,’ and that was it. There's no way this truck’s going to track and even Ryan Bell stated that this is not going to happen today. I said, ‘No problem. It is what it is. We're going back to our motorcoach up on top of the hill. We're gonna go revisit the situation at hand and then I'll come back and see you guys.’”

By rule, NASCAR prohibits a rookie driver from making their first laps in qualifying or the race, so McCullough missing practice put an end to his weekend. “When practice started. . .I walked through the garage - the Cup garage - and we were just watching practice I had to go kind of get away. I wouldn't say vent, but get away. . .I was a little wound up solid by seeing what was delivered to the track and realizing that we probably - chances are we're not gonna get on the track over the weekend. It was a lot of effort and a lot of time - a lot of money put into this to literally have nothing in the end. . .It was just a complete waste of a trip for them. And I don't understand.”

McCullough did say the #47 presented for inspection some time on Friday. It didn’t go well. “So at some point, they continued working on it when time permitted. And by that night, they actually had the truck able to roll - not fire - but roll by hand. The team had to push it in line to get it to tech and it made it two minutes. By the time they jumped on the truck, and NASCAR tech, and they told basically in lack of words, they basically told me to ‘Get this effing thing out of the lineup. It's not even anywhere near close.’ We didn't even get through the first line item and you failed. And I immediately was like, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ And the airbox was not correct up on the carburetion side for the throttle body. I mean, there was just loads of it. So they took it back. And I believe at that point, after we seen that, we just we went back up to the motorhome. We watched, they just covered the trucks. And that was it for the night.” Unable to clear inspection for any other driver to qualify it on Saturday, the #47 team withdrew, locking the remaining 36 entrants into the race.

“I feel sorry for Travis in this situation,” said Bell in a statement G2G published on June 17. “It is very unfortunate, as I was looking forward to working with him at Sonoma.” 

“I like being thrown in the corner,” said McCullough. “I like the odds stacked against me because I always prove it wrong. That's me. So, if you give me something set up and it's perfect, (saying), ‘you're gonna go out there and win, no problem. I think we got you handled,’ I'll probably mess it up. You say, ‘hey, there's a potential chance that setup’s not right. You're gonna have to really wheel the heck out of this car to get into victory lane.’ I'll win it every time. I like that. I like the odds stacked against me. This was too many odds stacked against me. This deal was not good from the start once we were at the track.”

The truck wasn’t McCullough’s only issue that weekend.

IV. THE DRUG TESTS ARE LATE

Some time after he entered into the deal with G2G, McCullough had undergone a drug test in anticipation of his race at Sonoma. This was on top of his regular tests for competing in the SRL and other local series. However, NASCAR refused to honor this test because it wasn’t through NASCAR's vendor, Drug Free Sports (DFS). With that, McCullough completed still another drug test through DFS, and understood that he’d have the results before opening practice on Friday. But on Friday morning, he’d yet to receive these results, and was thus not cleared to participate in practice even if his truck had been ready to run.

According to Silva, it was this reason that forced G2G to withdraw the #47. “NASCAR has some rules,” he said. “The rules as far as driving, you have to be through drug testing and impact testing and everything. And Travis' drug tests never came back in time for him to get on to the racetrack. So we were hoping that we would get it back sometime late yesterday afternoon, so we can at least get them in to qualify today. NASCAR still hasn't got the drug test back. So at that time, I had no choice but to withdraw the 47. I kind of hate it. We were looking forward to Travis. This is Travis' home track and we felt like Travis would do a great job for us. . . It's nobody's fault. It ain't Travis's fault. It's not NASCAR’s fault. It's the outside source that does our results. And based on the information they get, and they try to get it back as quick as they can. In this case, it just didn't happen in time. Being a Friday race, most places closed down Friday afternoon and being on the West Coast, we're out here at two o'clock and back home, they're closed. So it kind of put us in a bind and we hate it. We hope we can do something with Travis down the road at another road course. But NASCAR has his rules, and we have to follow the rules.”

Silva also said the tight turnaround time for drug testing peculiarly affects small teams since they often change drivers from one week to the next. “The thing of it is that a lot of people think that the small teams, we try to cut our deals as far along as possible. Being in small teams, we don't have the same drivers that come every week. So we're kind of in a crunch and being in a crunch and cutting deals at the last moment with drivers that specialize in road courses, ovals or something like that - we're at the mercy of the drug enforcement that NASCAR uses. So it's their rules, we got to follow them. We hate it. We were really looking forward to Travis driving. . . We would love to get drivers a lot sooner and get the NASCAR protocol done a lot faster. But sometimes it just don't happen. You got drivers that work on sponsors, and they want to do the deal and they commit to the deal but they gotta wait until their money comes in to do the deal. And sometimes dealing with companies and stuff, it takes them a little bit longer to get the money to commit to drive our trucks for small teams and stuff like that. . . . Your bigger teams, they sign the driver with money and they're locked in for the whole year. So it makes it tough when you're changing driver to driver.”

A representative of DFS ultimately got back to McCullough the Monday after the race to explain the situation. “And they received my drug test on Monday, the week of the race, which would be (June 6), and that something took place in the calibration. . .and / or someone failed in the grouping of tests that went through. And when that happens, they have to resend all of them back through to verify it wasn't an issue with a machine calibration.” This second run of McCullough’s test proved critical as it moved the completion date past Friday. “We're just waiting on some lab technician in Missouri to release information and they're just looking at the clock hit five o'clock and they're going home - not realizing out here on the West Coast.”

While the delay in McCullough receiving his test results was not an indication of the result itself, it upset him when some on social media misunderstood what was happening. He even tweeted his results when they came back on Monday. “We hire ex-cons here my facilities,” he said. “We give them another start. We work with them. I've never tried a drug in my entire life. I'm like one of the very few that can actually do even through my younger years. I mean not even marijuana or anything. Compared to a lot of people that we know. And then I work with these guys to stay clean. . . there's so much to life than to be high. It makes no sense to do that. So, I never liked anything to ruin my life and then to see this come out and people mislead it as typical on social media. And that that really that brought me down harder than the truck not being ready.”

“I like NASCAR. I like following them. I like the rules. The rules program is very black-and-white. There is no in between or possible way of change over the weekend. We have seen that in the local series and actually large traveling series like I'm part of some rules do get changed. I call it like ‘writing on the water,’ which is a little irritating. NASCAR, they straight came out and told me, ‘Look, here's the deal. You don't have a drug test. I'm sorry. I'd love to put you out on the track. You are offering me everything else. We see that you are clean. Rules are rules. We can't allow this.’ And like I told him, I shook his hand, I said, ‘Thank you. All I'm asking - I figured I was going home. We thought we’d just have a discussion with you, and you're telling me that the rules are the rules and you're not going to make it change even if my drug test came in on Saturday morning.’ So I liked that. I like rules. I'm big on rules. And granted, it was gonna hurt me. All in all in the weekend, it was probably better I never gotten that truck, which never would have been ready anyways. Clearly, we didn't even see it make any laps of qualifying on Saturday with Stefan which was a little disheartening because we had our own sponsors on the truck and they couldn't even get on the track.”

McCullough wasn’t the only driver awaiting test results. On Monday, June 6, the same day DFS received McCullough’s sample, Colin Garrett was in Michigan when he was called about the opportunity to drive for On Point Motorsports. He’d take the place of Tate Fogleman in the #30 11/11 Veteran Project / Un Broken Toyota. The next day, Garrett performed NASCAR’s required drug test through DFS, and was told he’d get the results in enough time to be cleared to practice that Friday. But when the day came, Garrett, too, was prohibited from practicing on Friday as he had not yet received the results of his drug test. Ultimately, he had to watch from pit road as Josh Bilicki climbed into his truck for Saturday qualifying. “It's not (NASCAR’s) fault,” he said after leaving the grid. “They're not the ones doing it. We're all working together trying to come up with solution. So, it's kind of crazy and a little unacceptable. . .it is what it is.”

After the Sonoma weekend, both McCullough’s and Garrett’s tests came back negative.

V. MASON FILIPPI LEAVES, STEFAN PARSONS ARRIVES

Among the people looking under the hood of the truculent #47 was Stefan Parsons, who wasn’t entered in any of the weekend’s races. Parsons was instead brought to the track as a spotter for all three events, including Todd Bodine’s team in the Truck Series race and Michael McDowell’s in Cup. But before he’d even left the airport, Parsons got a phone call from G2G. “I landed and I got the call,” he said. “They said that Travis (McCullough) was having some trouble - I think his drug tests hadn’t been processed yet, and they might need somebody to drive that truck. So I said ‘sure.’ We lined somebody up to spot for Todd and I ended up being able to drive. . .”

When I first arrived at the G2G Racing hauler at 2:14 P.M. on Friday, Parsons was already looking over the #47, his MotorsportGames.com uniform from the XFINITY Series laying across the rear deck. By Saturday, a Camping World Truck Series patch covered Parsons' XFINITY logo, though the adhesive started to come loose. The truck was parked to the right of the G2G hauler next to the toolboxes. The wheels were still on and the hood open. Nearby, two NASCAR officials were standing at the rear of the truck, one of them holding open the flap at the rear decklid. During practice at 3:20 P.M., the #47 was on jack stands with all four wheels removed, the hood still open, and no one working on it. McCullough’s helmet bag was sitting next to the truck, and several tools were spread about the rear deck, including shop towels, two shocks, and the airbox. After practice at 4:04 P.M., the hood was closed.

“Stefan is a diehard racer,” said Tim Silva. “So, no matter what - whether he's racing, or whether he's at home - he'll find a way to get to the racetrack if it’s to come out here and help spot for another team. But he always brings his stuff because you never know that somebody might get sick, somebody might get hurt, or you never can tell the situation what happened. So, Stefan is one of those drivers - and the garage is full of them - that if you ever run short, there's always somebody in the garage that you could go get that has their helmets and fire suits and everything. So. if a situation pops up, thank God Stefan was in the garage. Somebody brought him down on the spot for him in the ARCA (West) race, and he was available to help us out. And that's just what these racecar drivers do. They want to get in a seat as much as they can no matter if they're running a full season or not. And they want to get experience no matter if it's the Truck Series, XFINITY Series, or Cup Series. And it's just not about themselves, but it's about the experience that they could get to help themselves grow. So, Stefan and a bunch of other drivers show up in the garage, and they're there. And a lot of the drivers that are here will actually go to teams and let you know that “hey, man, if anything happens, I'm here.” NASCAR is a close-knit family, so we know that if we run into a situation who we could call and who would help you out. And because of that Stefan stepped up and wanted to drive to get to experience more into trucks. So we've gave them the opportunity.”

“I was a little confused with Stefan, and why he was there,” said McCullough. “Great driver comes from a long history of racing background. So with Stefan being there, that was the problem. I didn't know why he was there. So I guess, the owner of G2G, already called him Friday morning, way before the hauler even got there. . .So (G2G) already had a backup plan to this. So why I wasn't involved in it is beyond me when it was our money. So there's a lot that's going into this.”

After being told of McCullough’s issue before he arrived at the track, Parsons was surprised he'd be replacing Mason Filippi instead. Silva said that, by the time Parsons arrived Friday afternoon, the #47 had already been withdrawn, and Filippi had stepped away from the #46. When asked why Filippi had left, Parsons said, “I honestly don’t have any idea.” Interestingly, the G2G team also had a second relief driver on hand by Saturday – Keith McGee, who previously drove for CMI before his current part-time efforts with Reaume Brothers Racing.

According to Silva, Filippi was unsatisfied with his own performance. “Filippi was doing a good job yesterday, and he just felt like that he just wanted to perform a little bit better,” he said. “And he just needs a little bit more experience in the Truck Series. He drove the XFINITY car, and he did a good job on it. But the Truck Series and the XFINITY cars are completely different. The Trucks don't have any downforce, they don't brake as easy as the XFINITY (cars). In the Truck Series, it's more momentum into the corners. You’ve gotta back up the corners a lot to get into the corner to get your momentum off. In the Cup Series and XFINITY Series, they’ve got more horsepower that you could drive it in deep and in the center of the corner, they have more horsepower when they get off the corner a lot better. In our series, if we do that, we lose momentum and it takes such longer time to get your momentum up. So Filippi – I hope we can do something with him. He just needs a little bit more experience in the Truck Series. And he’s just gotta get used to them.”

Silva continued, saying Filippi’s struggles showed the need for NASCAR to increase the amount of practice time. “The way the schedules are where they turn around and they crunch everything in one day, and when you got rookies and they're trying to get into a series that they're not familiar with that do a great job and another series. . .it's just a complete(ly) different beast. So, I wish we could get a little bit more practice or they would give us an area where we could test when we got a rookie driver, so they could get familiar with it. But here again, NASCAR is doing what they can to save the small teams money. And we appreciate what they do. But we just wish that we could get a little bit more experienced with rookie drivers to help the small teams out as well as the driver itself.”

When I asked Filippi about this on Thursday, he said the issue was the truck, and not his inexperience. After multiple repairs on his own truck, including a new center section end housing, Filippi was slowest in the opening practice. His best of 16 laps was a mere 1 minute, 26.901 seconds (82.439mph), which was 5.861 seconds off the pole and 1.329 off the next-slowest entry of Spencer Boyd. “The truck was not prepared to race competitive so we chose not to drive the 46,” said Filippi. 

VI. LAST PLACE IN THE RACE

In the lead-up to Saturday’s race, Parsons was still helping the G2G team on both the #46 and #47 entries – the latter, according to Silva, to prepare it for a future race. At 9:38 A.M., two crew members were still working under the hood of the #47. By 9:50 A.M., what appeared to be the alternator was now sitting on the truck’s rear deck. Six minutes later, just before qualifying, another NASCAR official stood by as a crew member continued to work under the hood. I interviewed Silva after qualifying concluded. At 3:52 P.M., about an hour before the start of the Door Dash 250, the #47 was alone once more, its hood down, a shock propped under the right-front wheel.

At 12:38 P.M., McCullough made his first tweet from the track, stating DFS “lost or had some issue with receiving my Drug screening from lab in time,” and that “47 Truck was not ready either.” Ten minutes later, his second tweet was more critical of the team’s preparedness. “I also like everyone to know, 47 Truck wasn’t even ready for the track. Clearly it never made a lap at Sonoma or passed tech. Even if my drug screening cleared on time, no laps could have been made in a pile of bolts. Learning the hard way.”

In the June 17th statement from G2G, Ryan Bell refuted McCullough’s tweets. “Travis has stated to multiple new sources that the truck was not prepared for the race. We, the team, were ready to practice, qualify, and race [emphasis added].”

According to McCullough, the only HANS devices G2G had on hand were expired, so he lent Parsons his instead. “So I'm like, ‘well, just take my brand-new HANS device, just go do what you got to do. I'm doing this strictly for you, Stefan, because you come from a long big-name history of racers. And I love that about you.’”

With McCullough’s HANS and Filippi’s truck, Parsons managed to qualify 35th on the grid for the Door Dash 250, outpacing Spencer Boyd’s #12 Grofully Chevrolet by nearly a full tenth of a second. However, at 12:27 P.M., at least one G2G crew member was still working under the hood of the #46 in the impound lot, meaning they would incur a tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments. Parsons’ truck fired at the command, but immediately had to make an unscheduled stop. “We were just working on our throttle a little bit, working on our airbox, trying to get that right. But I don't think that had anything to do with what happened,” said Parsons, referring to the issue that would later take him out of the race.

Parsons left pit road moments before the leaders exited Turn 11 to take the green flag, leaving him nearly 12 seconds behind 35th place. Nearby, a leaderboard at the track still showed the #46 being driven by Mason Filippi, whose name was on the rear glass. On Lap 4, Parsons was told he was catching the trucks in front, saying “they’ll come back to you.” The next time by, the #46 locked the right-front through Turn 11. On the seventh go-round, Parsons was told he was faster than the five trucks ahead of him, and was told to turn on the radiator fan. But by Lap 9, Parsons had fallen 21 seconds back of 35th place and worse, now smelled smoke in the cockpit. Believing the issue to be the rear gear, the team told Parsons to pull into the garage the next time by. The message had hardly been relayed when the #46 began trailing smoke in Turn 2. Anticipating a caution, Carson Hocevar pitted to allow his driver swap with Daniel Suarez. But the yellow didn’t fall, and at 5:07 P.M., Parsons pulled behind the wall at the Turn 11 entrance.

When the G2G crew lifted the hood, there was oil splattered against the inside of the hood and even more in the engine compartment itself. As the crew began to spray the compartment with engine cleaner, I spoke with Parsons. “I’m not 100% sure,” said Parsons when asked what happened. “I think a line got up against the power steering and cut a hole in it. So unfortunate, but appreciative to G2G and Tim Viens and everybody for giving me an opportunity. . . You hate that this we had this result but anytime you can get an opportunity to get laps, especially a cool place like here at Sonoma, is a good opportunity.”

“That’s one thing I like about Stefan,” said McCullough. “He wasn't going to say anything. That's being classy and smart and letting the other person tell the story. The story kind of told itself over the weekend after having two trucks show up, and both drivers not be in the field, and one truck being down, and watching the kind of show that happened behind in the garage area was just - for us, we're embarrassed. We're embarrassed that we're part of it.”

In his June 17 statement, Tim Viens stated, “Tim Silva, crew chief of the No. 46 truck, invited the primary and associate sponsors to pit road for the race, in which (they) accepted and had an amazing experience. . .I instructed Silva to get their contact information and we would place them on our trucks at a later date at no additional cost.” 

As of this writing, Viens has not responded to my request for an interview.

VII. AFTERMATH

Travis McCullough corresponded with me at the track, and I was able to interview him the Monday after the race. At the time, he was still figuring out what to do next.

“We all had our discussions this morning (Monday) with it because I will be actually writing them all their money back for this deal,” said McCullough. “We couldn't hold up our end because of what happened there. So, we will we'll give them all their money back, which is not an issue because I'll just turn around and write it right back once I'm back in the seat again. But we do this to keep everybody honest. We're an honest group. We've been family owned and ran company for over 35 years, so it will remain that way. And we're very honest people because of it. So I just feel bad for them. I mean, these poor guys put a lot of time and effort and all their guys flew out and got him tickets to this deal. And we couldn't supply him with anything on the track.”

“But my thing is here is because this is a top tier NASCAR division - we were really shocked to find out that there's teams out here like this, causing this kind of issues. . . So I'm trying to protect people coming into the sport at this point. For the simple fact that if you are new to the series, like we are - we were new. . . And what we've seen from this team - this is not a professional team, by no means. I mean, they need to be staying at home in Charlotte running street stocks at their local track. And that's on the side if they can even keep up with that. I was really shocked that NASCAR has allowed this team to even participate or even putting NASCAR on the side of their hauler with what happened.”

“And this is bad. This is not what NASCAR needs. NASCAR and I have already talked about it. And there's a few of the bigger guys in NASCAR that I have to contact. And we've had our discussion today about this. And this is not what they need. This is not good publicity for NASCAR. Not in these series. If we're in a lower local home track series, this kind of stuff happens.”

At the same time, another door had opened at Sonoma as he reunited with an old friend on the grid.

“Josh Reaume. . .contacted me to drive one of their trucks after this weekend. And he was trying to figure out what was going on. And I actually know somebody very close to that team. And we actually just re-met over the weekend after probably 13, 14 years of not seeing each other. And he was crew. chiefing the 43 of Brad Perez’ truck (Greg Rayl). He's actually from here, Roseville, the Altamont Raceway back in the day. And then he moved back east with them. So I've known him since I was a kid. He either helped me with racing years ago or we raced against each other whenever he decided to go in and play around or something. And then he had that little four cylinder modified rental deal he did, and then back in the early years of 2000, I actually had the YouRaceIt.com Racing School at the Altamont Raceway and stuff. That was me. that's how I met with him back years ago.”

“A lot of these guys reached out to me when this happened, and they see and what they’d seen who I was with, and they immediately were like ‘just watch out,’ and I feel. . .guys are about three hours a little late on that one because we just found out the hard way (laughs).”