Saturday, March 6, 2021

XFINITY: Riley Herbst scores first series last-place finish for the #98 since 2001

SCREENSHOT: FS1

Riley Herbst picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #98 Monster Energy Ford was eliminated in a multi-car accident after 56 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Herbst’s 46th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #98, the 158th for Ford, and the 342nd from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 42nd for the #98, the 969th for Ford, and the 1,241st from an accident.

The 22-year-old third-generation racer whose family operates the Terrible Herbst franchise of gas stations in their native Nevada, Riley Herbst has traded the off-road racing of his father and grandfather for a career in stock car racing. Five years ago, he took seventh in the K&N Pro Series West standings. Four years ago, he took his lone ARCA Menards Series win at Pocono. Three years ago, he finished 6th in his first XFINITY Series race at Iowa and 8th in his first Truck Series race at Gateway. Then two years ago, he nearly pulled off the victory in the Truck Series race at Talladega, where he ultimately finished 3rd. 

Herbst’s rapid ascent is in no small part due to his affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing, who hired him to run full-time XFINITY in 2020 in the flagship #18 Toyota. In the season’s first 15 races, he finished a season-best 2nd at Fontana, where he came up just short of tracking down teammate Harrison Burton, who that day took his first series win. With his third JGR teammate Brandon Jones taking his own first win the following week in Phoenix, Herbst was on the search for his own. Yet while he matched the runner-up finish at Kentucky and made the Playoffs, he was eliminated at the Charlotte “Roval,” and remained winless at season’s end.

This year, Herbst signed with Stewart-Haas Racing, taking over the equally high-powered #98 Ford that Chase Briscoe drove to nine wins last year. Bringing his sponsorship from Monster Energy, Herbst began the year qualifying 4th for the opener at Daytona. With 15 laps to go in regulation, he tried to run the bottom to clear a developing multi-car wreck in Turn 3. But contact from Justin Allgaier steered him into the pileup, leaving him 26th. On the Daytona road course, he was running behind race leaders A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric, who wrecked each other battling for the Stage 1 win. Herbst pulled onto the grass to avoid them, only to rip the splitter from his car, leaving him 39th. A much-needed 11th-place run at Homestead carried him into his home track at Las Vegas.

With metric qualifying, this put him 12th on the grid. South Point Hotel & Casino, long a sponsor at Richard Childress Racing and the now-retired Brendan Gaughan, came on to sponsor Herbst’s run.

Starting 40th and last was Tyler Reddick, who would have finished runner-up in both Homestead races had his XFINITY car not failed post-race heights, resulting in a disqualification (LINK). Our Motorsports had since acquired the #23 team from the RSS Racing and Reaume Brothers Racing combination, taking the place of Our’s brand-new #03 team, which was again sent home. Reddick’s #23 Quartz Hill Records Chevrolet was joined at the back by two drivers with pre-race penalties: 30th-place Jeffrey Earnhardt for unapproved adjustments on the #0 KSDT CPA Chevrolet, and 15th-place Garrett Smithley, who at mid-week was swapped in for J.J. Yeley in Rick Ware Racing’s #17 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet.

Earnhardt was the last car across the stripe, but by the time teammate Colby Howard in the #15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet took over the spot at the end of Lap 1, another driver found trouble. Kyle Weatherman lined up 19th in Mike Harmon’s #47 PORAC Chevrolet, which put him in the middle of traffic when a right-rear tire went down in Turn 3. Weatherman saved the car, thanks in part to Tommy Joe Martins, who checked up behind him in his new-look #44 Discover Denton Texas Chevrolet. Weatherman dropped to last as he made it to pit road for a right-side tire change, only to cut another right-rear tire on Lap 6, forcing him to pit road again. Unsure if something was rubbing against his tire, Weatherman went behind the wall on Lap 10.

On Lap 16, just moments before Stefan Parsons’ #99 Dogecoin / Springrates Chevrolet spun in Turn 4 for the first caution of the day, Weatherman re-fired the engine and returned to the track a full 13 laps down. He then made still another stop under yellow to tighten the right-rear wheel. From there, the issue appeared fixed, and Weatherman was running comparable speeds to teammate Bayley Currey in the #74 Lerner & Rowe Chevrolet. “Dammit, this thing’s good,” said Weatherman on Lap 40, when Currey was running 17th.

On the 54th lap, Austin Cindric’s #22 Carquest Auto Parts Ford suddenly slowed with a flat tire, and nearly stopped on the track as he tried to make it to pit road. He missed the entrance, but made it to the apron without a caution. On Lap 57, with Cindric now a lap down, Ty Dillon spun his #54 Toyota Service Centers / Mobil 1 Toyota off Turn 2. Herbst, still on the lead lap and not far behind, came on the scene and collided with Dillon, destroying the right-front corner of Herbst’s car. While Dillon continued on, Herbst only made it to pit road before the team requested a wrecker. Once again, a wreck avoidance had knocked Herbst out of the race. He took last from Weatherman on Lap 69. Weatherman climbed to finish 33rd.

Finishing 39th was Matt Mills, whose #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet pulled behind the wall with electrical issues. Ryan Sieg took 38th after his #39 CMR Construction & Roofing Ford was leaking fluid for the first part of the race, then slipped out of the Top Ten on Lap 65 and destroyed the nose of his car when the splitter hit the grass. Sieg managed to complete eight more laps before the car overheated, putting him behind the wall. Though NASCAR reported him out under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy,” he was listed out due to a “crash.” Timmy Hill’s engine failure put the #66 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota in the 37th spot while Stefan Parsons, recovered from his early spin, suffered a fire on pit road that put him out after 137 laps. Parsons was uninjured.

Making only his second series start, Santino Ferrucci impressed with a strong 13th-place finish on the lead lap, even fending off Justin Allgaier, who pushed in his left-rear fender in the final laps. The result was already the third-best finish for Sam Hunt Racing, and their best-ever on a 1.5-mile oval.

One spot behind Allgaier in 15th was Tommy Joe Martins, whose new backing from Denton, Texas’ tourism board lifted him to his best finish of the season, and his best since his career-best 10th-place showing at Texas last fall.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Herbst is the fifth-straight driver to score their first XFINITY Series last-place finish, and the seventh in the last nine races.
*This marked the first last-place finish for a Ford in an XFINITY Series race since September 1, 2018, when Austin Cindric’s #60 Ford Hall of Fans Ford crashed after 2 laps of the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #98 in an XFINITY Series race in more than two decades. The last time it happened was February 17, 2001, when Elton Sawyer’s #98 Hot Tamales / Starter Ford lost the engine after 6 laps of the NAPA Auto Parts 300.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #98-Riley Herbst / 56 laps / crash
39) #5-Matt Mills / 72 laps / electrical
38) #39-Ryan Sieg / 73 laps / crash
37) #66-Timmy Hill / 100 laps / engine
36) #99-Stefan Parsons / 137 laps / fuel line

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
2nd) DGM Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (3)
2nd) Ford (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Friday, March 5, 2021

TRUCKS: Savage crash leaves Conor Daly last for the first time in his NASCAR career

PHOTO: @LVMotorSpeedway

Conor Daly picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Bucked Up 200 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #44 Fatheadz Eyewear / Elliott’s Custom Trailers Chevrolet was eliminated in a single-truck crash after 68 of 134 laps.

The finish came in Daly’s second series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 9th for the #44, the 165th from a crash, and the 402nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 63rd for the #44, the 1,240th from a crash, and the 1,766th for Chevrolet.

Daly’s path to NASCAR is a throwback of sorts, more closely resembling the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger in 2007 than many of today’s newcomers. The 2011 Indy Lights winner at Long Beach, the second-generation open-wheel star made his IndyCar debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, where he ran 22nd for A.J. Foyt.

Since then, Daly has faced challenges along the way. In 2015, he finished last in the 500 when an exhaust fire stopped his Schmidt Peterson entry during the pace laps. In 2018, his XFINITY Series debut at Road America was overshadowed by his sponsor’s controversial reaction to a remark made years earlier by his famous father, Formula One veteran Derek Daly. Suspension issues on his now-unsponsored Roush-Fenway entry left him 31st that day, ten laps short of the finish.

Daly returned to NASCAR last fall at this same Las Vegas track, when he jumped aboard Al Niece’s #42 Chevrolet to make his first-ever Truck Series start. He lined up 27th and finished a solid 18th, the first truck one lap down to winner Austin Hill.

Friday would see him return to the series at the same track and with the same team. This time, Daly would drive Niece’s #44 Chevrolet, an entry that had struggled during 2021’s opening two rounds at Daytona. On the oval, James Buescher crashed before he could take the green flag, leaving him in last place. Super late model racer Jett Noland’s series debut on the road course saw him in position for a solid finish, only to crash out two laps short of the eventual distance. With that, Daly secured 36th on the grid of 40. Fatheadz Eyewear, which backed his series debut, would return as sponsor, joined by Elliott’s Custom Trailers on the quarter-panels.

Rolling off 40th and last was Parker Kligerman, one of ten drivers for underfunded teams who threw together Camping World paint schemes just days before the race. The $15,000 bonuses offered by CEO Marcus Lemonis were a much-need boost to the likes of Kligerman’s team owner Charlie Henderson and owner-drivers such as Norm Benning, Jordan Anderson, and Tyler Hill. Hill’s team finished re-wrapping their Chevrolet just before five in the morning on race day.

Prior to the start, 15th-place Kris Wright dropped to the rear for unapproved adjustments on his #02 First National Bank Chevrolet. Also dropping back was 37th-place Jesse Iwuji – also running Camping World’s sponsorship on his #33 Chevrolet – who was last across the stripe when the field took the green flag. By the end of Lap 1, the spot fell to Norm Benning, whose own #6 Camping World Chevrolet was already struggling with a bad vibration, either from a loose wheel or broken shock.

On Lap 3, Benning was following Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Fastener Supply Chevrolet when trouble broke out ahead of them. Cory Roper spun his #04 CMN Hospitals / Carquest Ford to the apron of Turn 4. He re-fired the engine and spun the tires to rejoin the track, but lost control again, nearly colliding with Cobb and Benning as they squeezed by in the high lane. Roper lost a lap as the caution fell, taking last from Benning as he made it by. Roper returned to the track with cosmetic damage next to the passenger side door numbers and incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for pitting too soon.

For the next few laps, other drivers also struggled. On Lap 9, the throttle hung on Tyler Hill’s #56, forcing him to cut off the engine and restart it, but the issue persisted. The next time by, Carson Hocevar was also off the pace in his #42 Circle B Diecast Chevrolet as there was some discussion about if the right-rear tire was going down. By Lap 12, Hocevar’s crew told him the tires looked fine, but by then he was a lap down with Roper and in danger of taking over last place. Both drivers looked to earn the Lucky Dog, but the leaders soon caught Benning, Iwuji, and Cobb, and the two were soon a second lap down each.

Around Lap 18, Derek Kraus was running inside the Top Ten when his #19 Hunter Nation / South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota came in for an unscheduled pit stop. The crew looked under the hood, trying to diagnose a loss of oil pressure. On Lap 23, Kraus re-fired the engine and soon returned to the track seven laps down – last, but still on the track with the rest of the field. “Everything was normal except oil pressure,” said Kraus on the 30th circuit. “I hate this place. This place is never good to me.” The team then believed it was an electrical or gauge issue, and on Lap 36 the truck belched flames from the exhaust as the fuel pressure dropped to only three pounds. Kraus and team aimed to finish 35th or better, and began closing ground on the drivers in front of him. On Lap 67, they passed the lapped Benning, dropping the #6 back to last place. 

Then on Lap 69, disaster. Daly had climbed into the Top 20 and found himself in a tight pack of traffic headed into Turn 1. Running in the middle lane between teammate Ryan Truex in the #40 Jacob Companies Chevrolet and Chase Purdy in the #23 Bama Buggies Chevrolet, Daly’s truck broke loose. He tried to catch it, but overcorrected, and he veered nearly head-on into the outside wall. He slammed the fence with the right-front, and the truck erupted in flames as it bounced to a stop against the inside wall. “Shit, that was a hard hit,” said Daly as he climbed out without serious injury. Benning dropped Daly to last on Lap 80, by which point Daly had been checked and released from the care center. In his interview, he conceded that his inexperience with the trucks played a role in the wreck.

Another pileup on Lap 97 filled out much of the Bottom Five. David Gilliland’s aggressive start to the race ended when his #17 David Gilliland Racing Ford wrecked in Turn 1. Ryan Truex’s #40 stoved in the nose for a second-straight race, only to be eliminated under the Damaged Vehicle Policy seven laps later. Three circuits after him, defending ARCA Menards Series Champion Bret Holmes’ NASCAR debut ended for the same reason, his #32 Southern States Bank Chevrolet out after 106 laps. Cory Roper rounded out the group following his second accident on the night, hooked into the outside wall just short of the start / finish line.

Of the ten Camping World entries, two made it into the Top Ten, each earning another $10,000 bonus. Last-place starter Parker Kligerman took the 8th spot, one position behind Grant Enfinger in Codie Rohrbaugh’s #9 Chevrolet for CR7 Motorsports. For Kligerman, it was his first top-ten finish since last summer at Bristol, while Enfinger earned his first since his win last fall at Martinsville. Nearly joining them was Jordan Anderson, whose #3 was running 10th with 11 laps to go when he was body-slammed in traffic, spinning his truck into the path of Tyler Ankrum. Anderson finished 27th.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the second-straight last-place run for the #44 in a Truck race at Las Vegas, following the time Natalie Decker’s entry was pulled out before the start on September 25, 2020.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #44-Conor Daly / 68 laps / crash
39) #17-David Gilliland / 96 laps / crash
38) #40-Ryan Truex / 103 laps / dvp
37) #32-Bret Holmes / 106 laps / dvp
36) #04-Cory Roper / 111 laps / crash

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Niece Motorsports (2)
2nd) GMS Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (3)

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, March 4, 2021

PREVIEW: The Camping World Underdogs and Dogecoin take center stage at Las Vegas

PHOTO: @dawsoncram

Friday, March 5, 2021
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Silver State 200 at Las Vegas
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Bilicki

ENTRY LIST
There are exactly 40 drivers entered for as many spots in Friday’s return of the Truck Series. No less than 10 drivers in Friday’s field will carry logos of title sponsor Camping World, thanks to a challenge handed down Monday night by CEO Marcus Lemonis. Each team will receive $15,000 for wrapping their truck with the chance at additional bonuses based on where they finish. Another $10,000 will be paid for a Top Ten finish ($25,000 total), a Top Five will be worth another $10,000 ($35,000 total), and an additional $15,000 if they somehow beat Kyle Busch and win ($50,000 total). These are the challengers (thank you, Matt Weaver):

CAMPING WORLD UNDERDOGS
#2-Sheldon Creed
#3-Jordan Anderson
#6-Norm Benning
#9-Grant Enfinger
#24-Raphael Lessard
#33-Jesse Iwuji
#34-B.J. McLeod 
#41-Dawson Cram
#56-Tyler Hill
#75-Parker Kligerman

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Among the Camping World-sponsored rides this Friday is that of Jordan Anderson, who returns to his Chevrolet for the first time since his runner-up finish in the Daytona opener. Bobby Reuse ran the truck on the Daytona road course and had a difficult night, finishing 27th. In eight previous Las Vegas starts, Anderson’s best was a 14th in the fall of 2019.

NOT ENTERED: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
Not among the 40 entrants is NEMCO Motorsports, whose driver Camden Murphy finished a solid 13th in his first road course race since 2017.

DRIVER CHANGE: #9-CR7 Motorsports
While sharing his ride at ThorSport with Christian Eckes kept him out of the field at the Daytona road course, Grant Enfinger is back in Vegas, taking the place of Codie Rohrbaugh in his CR7 team. Like Anderson, Enfinger will be driving one of the Camping World entries, and along with defending series champion Sheldon Creed could be one of the favorites to take the top prize.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
David Gilliland also makes his return to the series for the first time since the opener, when he ran 14th in his #17 Ford. He takes the place of Riley Herbst, who ran well on the road course and finished in 5th.

NEW TEAM: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes, the defending ARCA Menards Series Champion, brings his family’s team to the Truck Series for the first time with Southern States Bank as sponsor. Holmes’ lone ARCA win came last year at Kentucky, one of fourteen top-five finishes in the twenty-race season. With exactly 40 entries on the list, Holmes will be assured his Truck Series debut.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Both Reaume entries have changed drivers and are also carrying Camping World logos. Taking the place of Jason White, who faced all sorts of mechanical issues on the road course and finished 38th, is a returning Jesse Iwuji. Iwuji, who failed to qualify for the Daytona oval this year, made his most recent series start on the Vegas track last fall, finishing 31st with the same team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Taking the place of Lawless Alan, 36th in his own series debut, is double-duty driver B.J. McLeod. This will be McLeod’s first Truck Series start since last fall at Martinsville, where he ran 22nd in the flagship #33. He will then run Sunday for his Live Fast Motorsports effort.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Back at Daytona, Jett Noland took home 29th after a late spin in his series debut. Conor Daly will this time take the wheel of Al Niece’s #44 Chevrolet, carrying sponsorship from Fatheadz Eyewear.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
MISSING: #83-CMI Motorsports
Both Ciccarelli trucks are not entered after they withdrew from the Daytona road course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch is back in the Truck Series for the first time since his win last summer in Texas. He takes the place of Parker Chase, who ran 23rd in his series debut on the Daytona road course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy and Tyler Hill’s team just missed out on the Camping World promotion, having loaded their unsponsored Chevrolet beforehand. Undaunted, Lemonis spread the word of Hill’s team on Wednesday to attract a sponsor. The black truck with red flames will this week be driven by Tyler Hill, who most recently ran last year’s finale at Phoenix, finishing 25th. He ran 17th in his lone Vegas start that same year. UPDATE: As of Thursday, Hill has joined the Camping World challenge and will run a blue-and-gold scheme in the race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman will make his first series start of the year after he failed to make the cut at Daytona, once again driving for Charlie Henderson, and this time as part of the Camping World challenge. He takes the place of Sam Mayer, whose turn with the team ended with a crash that left him 37th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Kris Wright is back with the Randy Young team for the first time since his 18th-place run in the opener, taking the place of 8th-place road course finisher Kaz Grala.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, March 6, 2021
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Landon Cassill

ENTRY LIST
There are 43 drivers entered for 40 spots, but due to a lack of practice and qualifying, this leaves the same three teams that have yet to start a race in 2021 on the outside looking in.

MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
After his Supra, originally slated to run Saturday, was damaged in last week's incident in Homestead, David Starr will run one of the team's Ford Mustangs instead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
Garrett Smithley takes the place of for J.J. Yeley, who climbed from 39th on the grid at Homestead to finish a strong 12th. Smithley brings with him sponsorship from Trophy Tractor, which backed his near-miss at the Daytona 500 this year for MBM, and will also back his run in Rick Ware’s #53 Cup car on Sunday. Both cars will carry a “Texas Strong” logo on the hood as the state recovers from last month’s sub-freezing temperatures.

TEAM UPDATE: #23-Our Motorsports (former RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing)
DID NOT QUALIFY: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
DID NOT QUALIFY: #77-Bassett Racing
DID NOT QUALIFY: #03-Our Motorsports
Jordan Anderson, Dillon Bassett (in place of brother Ronnie, Jr.), and Andy Lally are on the wrong side of the cut line for a fourth time, but their teams will still add to their season total of attempts, which could play a role if other part-time teams join later this year. UPDATE: In response to their DNQs, Our Motorsports has acquired the RSS / Reaume Brothers #23 entry, which Tyler Reddick drove under at Homestead. There is no word yet on if Natalie Decker will complete her partial season in the #23 this year.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #44-Martins Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins has a new paint scheme for his sponsor, the tourism board of Denton, Texas, with elements of the scheme designed by Ryan Pistana.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
SPONSOR UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Both of Mike Harmon’s Chevrolets carry new looks representing new sponsors for their cars. Kyle Weatherman runs a police car scheme for PORAC, the Peace Officers Research Association of California. Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys sponsors Bayley Currey on a new yellow paint scheme.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Dogecoin makes its return to NASCAR for the first time in in more than five years, and continues its relationship with the Parsons family. After backing Phil Parsons Racing and driver Josh Wise (most famously in their Fan Vote into the 2014 All-Star Race), the cryptocurrency will now back Stefan Parsons, joining Springrates as sponsor.

CUP INVADERS: #23-Tyler Reddick

Sunday, March 7, 2021
CUP Race 4 of 36
Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

ENTRY LIST
There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, the second-straight short field and second in four races this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
The only driver change on the Cup side is a returning Joey Gase, who’s back on this side of the garage for the first time since his 20th-place finish in the Daytona 500. In place of James Davison’s unsponsored white Chevrolet, which blew an engine in Homestead and finished 37th, Gase will run another colorful scheme for Nevada Donor Network.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (March 4, 2007): Brad Keselowski picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City when his #23 Oklahoma Centennial Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after just 1 lap. This was just the ninth series start for Keselowski, and more than four months before he made his first start with JR Motorsports at Chicagoland.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

CUP: Electrical gremlins leave Timmy Hill with one pound of fuel pressure at Homestead

PHOTO: @WookieAutomoTV

Timmy Hill picked up the 15th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #66 Motorsports Business Management Toyota fell out with electrical issues after 21 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 130th series start, was his first of the year and first since October 11, 2020 on the Charlotte “Roval,” seven races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 40th from electrical issues, the 62nd for the #66, and the 168th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 80th for the #66, the 130th for electrical issues, and the 351st for Toyota.

It’s already been a big year for Hill, who’s now a father after his wife Lucy gave birth to their first son, Hudson Grant Hill, on February 22nd. On the track, the defending LASTCAR Cup Series Champion has continued his efforts to compete in all three of NASCAR’s top series. Just last week on the Daytona road course, Hill drove his #56 Chevrolet to a 9th-place finish – already the fourth top-ten finish for the Hill Motorsports team. And with Carl Long’s team Motorsports Business Management, Hill bounced back from a DNQ in the Daytona 500 to run 20th in the XFINITY race, leading four laps in the process, then took 29th in Sunday’s Cup race.

Off the track, Hill’s wife Lucy gave birth to their first son, Hudson Grant Hill, on February 22nd.

Hill would run both Cup and XFINITY at Homestead, each time in one of MBM’s deep blue Toyotas. On the XFINITY side, where teammate David Starr’s flat tire cost him a 12th-place finish, Hill crossed the line in 17th, then took 16th after Tyler Reddick’s disqualification. This was Hill’s best-ever XFINITY finish at the Homestead track, improving on his 21st for Rick Ware Racing back in 2011.

For Sunday, Hill’s unsponsored #66 earned the 33rd spot on the grid.

Rolling off 40th was last week’s last-place finisher Quin Houff, whose StarCom Racing #00 Chevrolet picked up new sponsorship from 8 Ball Premium Chocolate Whiskey. He’d be joined at the rear by four drivers who incurred pre-race penalties. Unapproved adjustments were cited for 13th-place Alex Bowman in the #48 Ally Bank Chevrolet, 25th-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 Marwin Sports Apparel Chevrolet, and polesitter Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Toyota. James Davison also incurred a tail-end penalty after his unsponsored #15 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing failed inspection twice. Ultimately, by the time the field addressed the starter’s stand, Hill had dropped behind all of them to take over the 40th spot.

When the race started, Hill’s spotter reported a car ahead of him was against the outside wall. This was likely B.J. McLeod, whose #78 Traxion.gg / Motorsport Games Ford soon pulled down pit road, taking over last place as the leaders began Lap 2. The crew changed tires and looked under the hood, finding that the belt had come off the power steering pump. McLeod returned to the track, unable to keep the car in the high lane, and discussed with his crew whether the repair could be made on pit road or in the garage. By then, he was already two laps down and on the verge of going down a third.

By Lap 10, Hill had dropped to 37th, two laps down, after a green-flag stop of his own. Engine trouble appeared to be the issue, though like McLeod, the crew got him back on the track during the opening run. NASCAR’s competition caution fell on Lap 25, when McLeod dropped Hill to last place. The yellow allowed both drivers to come in for repairs. While McLeod originally planned to get repairs done on pit road, both he and Hill pulled behind the wall on Lap 26. On Lap 28, McLeod’s repair was done first, and he returned to pit road for tires and fuel.

As for Hill, the team hooked up the computer to the car and tried to diagnose what now appeared to be an electrical issue. On Lap 31, Hill fired the engine, but was told to shut it off again as the car reported no fuel pressure. By Lap 38, the team indicated no water pressure and no oil pressure, either. At one point, the car indicated just one pound of fuel pressure. On Lap 52, NASCAR’s garage official reported “66 out, electrical.”

Finishing 37th was James Davison, who after his tail-end penalty had just lost a lap when his engine blew down the backstretch. Corey LaJoie also suffered an engine failure after the halfway point, leaving him 36th. Last-place starter Quin Houff took 35th with B.J. McLeod rounding out the Bottom Five, both of them nine laps down.

Michael McDowell’s streak of top-ten finishes continued with a strong 6th-place finish on Sunday, putting him sixth in the series standings, just 29 out of the lead held by Denny Hamlin. Next week’s race in Las Vegas has historically been a challenge for McDowell, who has run well, only to suffer mechanical issues. He currently has three last-place finishes in the spring race, most recently in 2018

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Hill is the fourth different driver to finish last in a Cup race at Homestead driving the #66, joining Darrell Waltrip (1999), Mike Bliss (2010), and Michael McDowell (2011). Bliss was also the most recent driver to finish last in this race due to electrical issues when, on November 18, 2012, his #19 Plinker Tactical Toyota dropped out after 16 laps.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
38) #66-Timmy Hill / 21 laps / electrical
37) #15-James Davison / 61 laps / engine
36) #7-Corey LaJoie / 151 laps / engine
35) #00-Quin Houff / 258 laps / running
34) #78-B.J. McLeod / 258 laps / running

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (2)
2nd) Toyota (1)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Saturday, February 27, 2021

XFINITY: Runner-up finisher Tyler Reddick disqualified in series return; Starr’s 12th-place run undone by right-front tire

PHOTO: @NASCARRacingCo

Tyler Reddick picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his unsponsored #23 Chevrolet finished 2nd, but was classified last by disqualification after completing all 179 laps.

The finish came in Reddick’s 85th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #23, the 14th by disqualification, and the 564th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 41st by disqualification, the 67th for the #23, and the 1,765th for Chevrolet.

Harrison Burton picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #20 Hunt Brothers Pizza / Dex Imaging Toyota fell out with engine failure after 70 of 179 laps.

The finish, which came in Burton’s 45th series start, was his first of the season and first since October 5, 2019 at Dover, 40 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #20, the 145th for Toyota, and the 266th from engine trouble. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #20, the 351st for Toyota, and the 1,097th from an engine failure.

The last time Reddick started an XFINITY Series race at Homestead, he pulled into victory lane, having claimed his second consecutive series title. The last time Chris Our’s start-up team entered an XFINITY race there, they’d been sent to a backup car after Brett Moffitt crashed their unsponsored primary in Saturday’s first round of a double-header. The next day, Jairo Avila, Jr. started a car borrowed from B.J. McLeod, the #78 of McLeod’s team replaced by Our’s #02, and pulled out after just 15 laps. The very next race was Talladega, where Moffitt finished 5th – the team’s first-ever Top Five. Andy Lally matched that run two more times by season’s end.

This year, Our Motorsports looked to field two XFINITY Series entries, but timing was not on their side. With qualifying washed out, their second entry, the #03, was sent home, unable to be entered until qualifying returned in May. But the team still ran last week on the Daytona road course – again with the help of B.J. McLeod, who entered it in place of his #99 entry. A returning Andy Lally contended for a Top Five, but was bumped back late to 31st.

For Homestead, Our Motorsports was again without a primary sponsor, and entered two matching white Chevrolets with dual racing stripes across the hood, roof, and decklid. The black-striped #02 entry would go to Moffitt while Reddick’s bore red stripes and the #23. This was a collaboration with RSS Racing and Reaume Brothers Racing, whose team finished last on the Daytona road course with Natalie Decker. As with Lally’s run, this was an Our-prepared car, and the duo looked for a strong run on Saturday. Due to metric qualifying, Moffitt lined up 6th with Reddick back in 38th.

Rolling off 40th and last was David Starr in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Whataburger Toyota. With no drivers sent to the rear before the start, Starr was reminded to hold his line on the outside of the last row until he crossed the start / finish line. 

When the race started, Starr remained in last place, but by the end of Lap 1 had worked his way around Jade Buford in the #48 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. Buford, now 5.813 seconds back of the lead, held the spot until the fourth circuit, when Josh Williams made an unscheduled green-flag stop in the #92 Starbrite / Star Tron Chevrolet. Due to issues with his dash indicator, Williams sped off pit road in Sections 1-8, forcing him to serve a pass-through penalty. By the time he was back up to speed on Lap 8, he was not only the only driver off the lead lap, but three circuits down.

Unfortunately for Williams, the caution didn’t fall until after race leader Austin Cindric started to lap the tail end of the field, meaning he wouldn’t earn the Lucky Dog. The caution fell on Lap 26 for Stefan Parsons, whose #99 Springrates Toyota spun in Turn 4. Parsons had to complete another lap under yellow with at least one flat tire, causing some minor damage to the bodywork. He dropped to 39th under caution, and was two laps down. Also two down was Brandon Brown, whose engine stumbled due to a loose plugwire on his #68 Brandonbilt Foundations Chevrolet.

Next to enter the last-place battle was IndyCar star Santino Ferrucci, who made his NASCAR debut Saturday in Sam Hunt Racing’s #26 Stillhouse Whiskey Toyota. Ferrucci ran solidly in the early laps despite slight wall contact, maintaining a spot inside the Top 20. But an unscheduled stop forced him to pit road, and on Lap 50 he incurred a pass-through penalty for running over the air hose. He served the penalty just before NASCAR could stop scoring his car, and took over last on Lap 56.

On Lap 70, the caution was out again for Parsons, whose damaged car was leaking fluid on the track. At the time, Harrison Burton’s #20 Hunt Brothers Pizza / Dex Imaging Toyota was running in 7th, having competed for the lead for much of the race. But that time by, he was suddenly on the apron of the track with smoke trailing from the exhaust pipes. He stopped in Turn 2, and received a push from a service truck to the garage area. On Lap 74 – just one lap after Parsons took last from Ferrucci – Burton took last from Parsons. The next time by, someone on Burton’s channel said “We’re done, right?” The response came back quietly – “Yes, sir.” NASCAR confirmed Burton was out of the race with 74 laps to go, and unofficially took last place.

Meanwhile, Reddick was on the charge. From the early laps, his #23 managed to hold the high line, and he remained inside the Top 10 for much of the night. At first, it appeared the win would go to his teammate, as Brett Moffitt engaged in some tight racing with Noah Gragson for the lead. But after Gragson opened up a lead, Moffitt hit the wall one time too many, cutting down the right-rear tire and forcing him to pit road. This opened the door for Reddick, who had worked his way into the Top Five and led 8 laps. When Gragson wrecked out of the lead with 3 laps to go, Reddick restarted on the front row in overtime with Myatt Snider. On the second attempt, Snider cleared Reddick, who still managed to finish a strong 2nd - barely a carlength behind.

But in post-race inspection, Reddick’s car failed post-race heights, and he was classified in 40th spot, moving Burton up to 39th and bumping Bayley Currey out of the Bottom Five. Finishing 38th was Justin Allgaier, who crossed the nose of Riley Herbst’s Ford on Lap 99, destroying his #7 Brandt Chevrolet. Ty Dillon took 37th in the #54 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, which went behind the wall with a hole in the radiator. Colby Howard stayed out to lead Lap 84-86 and restarted there, but was reported to be leaking fluid. On Lap 111, his #15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet was on the apron with a fire coming from the rear gear. 

J.J. Yeley’s first NASCAR start of 2021 ended with a strong 12th-place finish for Rick Ware Racing, whose XFINITY Series program has continued to impress since it returned late last year. Yeley, who started 39th, ran as high as 11th in the #17 Work Pro Chevrolet and overcame a spin to earn the finish.

But of all the night’s underdogs, the strongest run and biggest heartbreak belonged to David Starr. The last-place qualifier had climbed all the way to 14th inside the final 30 laps. By 18 to go, he’d reached 13th, and was getting some screen time from the FS1 broadcast crew. He gained one more spot to 12th after Brett Moffitt’s flat tire, and was still running there as race leader Noah Gragson prepared to lap him. Starr appeared to move down a lane to give Gragson the high lane, but then a right-front tire began to come apart, putting him into the outside wall and immediately in Gragson’s path. The two collided, knocking Gragson out of the race and damaging Starr’s car. Starr made it back to pit road for right-side tires and fuel, and was still 15th on the grid for the second overtime finish, but plummeted to 21st by the checkered flag.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #23 in an XFINITY Series race at Homestead.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #23-Tyler Reddick / 179 laps / disqualified / led 8 laps
39) #20-Harrison Burton / 70 laps / engine / led 1 lap
38) #7-Justin Allgaier / 98 laps / crash
37) #54-Ty Dillon / 102 laps / radiator
36) #15-Colby Howard / 109 laps / rear gear / led 3 laps

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
2nd) DGM Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (3)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP