Sunday, August 2, 2015

CUP: Kasey Kahne Scores First-Ever Cup Series Last-Place Finish

SOURCE: Jonathan Ferrey, NASCAR
Kasey Kahne picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Windows 10 400 at the Pocono Raceway when his #5 Aquafina Chevrolet was involved in a single-car accident that ended his race after 3 of 160 laps.  The finish came in Kahne’s 417th series start.

Coming into Pocono, Kahne sat 14th in points, fifth among winless drivers looking to secure a spot in the Chase.  His best finish of 2015 has been a pair of 4th-place runs at Phoenix and Dover, though he’d also picked up a pole at Michigan in June.  Though he’d led just 46 laps, Kahne had kept DNF’s to a minimum, failing to finish just one race - April’s crashfest at Bristol, where he came home 37th.  Still, Kahne looked to nail down a victory, something he’d done at least once in all but three of his twelve seasons on the tour.

However, Kahne has had a checkered past at Pocono.  He’d picked up two victories and two poles at the speedway, but had also crashed out three times.  The most notable crash came in 2010, when Kahne’s #9 Budweiser Ford was sent airborne into the trees along the Long Pond Straightaway, forcing the track to erect a catchfence along the wall.  Last year, the most recent of Kahne’s five 42nd-place finishes took place at Pocono when he crashed late, but Dave Blaney edged him for last by less than one full lap.  With no finishes better than 19th since his most recent top-ten at Sonoma, Kahne hoped Pocono would help him regain momentum.

Kahne debuted a radical new paint scheme at Pocono, running a bright white-and-blue scheme for Aquafina bottled water.  The new car was just 35th-fastest in Friday’s opening practice, but that afternoon he leapt to 16th on the starting grid - just four spots shy of a run at the pole - with an average speed of 176.263 mph.  The car continued to show speed on Saturday, running 12th in Saturday’s first session and 17th in Happy Hour.

During the first three laps of Sunday’s race, the 43rd spot was exchanged between Premium Motorsports teammates Timmy Hill and Reed Sorenson.  With the two-car team continuing to adjust following the departure of Josh Wise, the decision was made to swap the car numbers on Hill and Sorenson’s rides.  Hill would still drive the same black Ford he ran as a backup last week at Indianapolis, though now with the #62 in place of #98.  Sorenson’s white-and-blue Chevrolet would then carry the #98, marking the first time a Chevrolet carried the number since Sonoma in June.  Hill qualified in 43rd and held the spot on the first lap.  Sorenson took it on Lap 2 and was still running there when trouble broke out ahead of them both.

Turn 3 of the 2.5-mile triangular track proved particularly treacherous over the weekend.  Rookie driver Jeb Burton was forced to a backup car when his #26 MAXIM Toyota lost control and slammed right-front-first into the boilerplate pit wall.  Just 3 laps into Sunday’s race, Kahne, running mid-pack at the time, lost control in the same spot and hit the same wall in the same manner, this time hard enough to crack the boilerplate and embed some of the car’s decals in the wall.  The red flag came out for crews to weld the wall back together again while Kahne’s machine was towed behind the wall.  Kahne was apparently uninjured, but out of the race.

The rest of the Bottom Five featured a number of equally-surprising exits.

Current point leader Kevin Harvick was battling teammate Kurt Busch for the lead when his #4 Jimmy John’s / Budweiser Chevrolet lost the engine in Turn 3.  It was not only Harvick’s fourth 42nd-place finish in the series, but Kahne’s crash was all that separated Harvick from his own first last-place finish in 523 career Cup starts.  Harvick’s streak remains the longest among drivers without last-place finishes, besting Jimmie Johnson’s current mark of 492 and Brad Keselowski’s 218.

41st went to Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose #17 Ford EcoBoost Ford collided with a slowing Sam Hornish, Jr. entering Turn 1 on Lap 28, causing extensive damage to the nose of Stehouse’s machine.  Hornish himself was involved in a second accident on the Lap 66 restart when he struck the spinning Kurt Busch, forcing the Richard Petty Motorsports team to remove most of the front valence of Hornish’s #9 Medallion Bank Ford.

Hornish came home 39th on Sunday, one spot in front of an unfortunate Trevor Bayne, whose #6 AdvoCare Ford ran over a loose header and punctured his radiator, the overheating issue enough to halt his race after 91 circuits.  After three finishes inside the Top 15 during the month of June, Bayne has since come home no better than 32nd, including back-to-back 40th-place runs.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This is the first last-place finish by the #5 in a Cup Series race since April 26, 2009, when Mark Martin’s Carquest / Kellogg’s Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car crash after 6 laps of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.  It is, however, the first last-place finish by the #5 in a Cup race at Pocono.
*Kahne is the first Cup driver to score their inaugural last-place finish at Pocono since August 1, 2004, when P.J. Jones lost the brakes on his #50 Arnold Development Companies Dodge after 8 laps of the Pennsylvania 500.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #5-Kasey Kahne / 3 laps / crash
42) #4-Kevin Harvick / 20 laps / engine / led 3 laps
41) #17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 27 laps / crash
40) #6-Trevor Bayne / 91 laps / overheating
39) #9-Sam Hornish, Jr. / 123 laps / running

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) J.J. Yeley (2)
3rd) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Sam Hornish, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Josh Wise (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (3)
2nd) BK Racing, Go FAS Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports (2)
3rd) Front Row Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (3)

XFINITY: Jeff Green One Last-Place Finish Away From Record Streak

SOURCE: Kris Branch
Jeff Green picked up the 71st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at the Iowa Speedway when his unsponsored #19 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 3 of the race’s 260 laps.

The finish was Green’s 11th of the season and his fourth in a row.  The streak matches the all-time last-place record Green himself set in August 2011.  With another last-place finish next week at Watkins Glen, Green can become the first driver ever to finish last in five consecutive NASCAR races.  Saturday’s finish occurred in Green’s 406th series start.

At Iowa, Green did not participate in Friday’s opening practice session, but in Happy Hour was the 33rd-fastest of the 39 drivers.  He improved further to 32nd in qualifying with an average speed of 127.314 mph.

Starting 40th on Saturday night was 25-year-old Zach Bruenger, a short tracker from Illinois with three combined starts in the K&N Pro Series East and the X-1R Pro Cup Series.  Bruenger would be making his XFINITY Series debut that night driving owner Jimmy Means’ part-time second entry, the renumbered white #79.  Once again, the #79 was a last-minute addition, allowing a full field of 40 to take the green flag.

Bruenger held the 40th spot for the first three circuits until Green pulled off the track from the 30th position.  Once again, Green was the first driver to retire from the event, locking-up his fourth-straight last-place run.  Bruenger came home 38th, exiting after 20 laps with brake issues as the official cause.  In between Green and Breunger was the Braille Battery / Grafoid Dodge of 39th-place Josh Reaume, who gave Motorsports Business Management’s #40 team its ninth-straight finish of 37th or worse.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were the #89 Racing With Jesus / Barney’s Chevrolet of Morgan Shepherd, now with ten-straight runs of 36th or worse, and the #13 Chevrolet of John Jackson, the Scotsman making his first XFINITY Series start since Chicago in June.

Saturday’s race was also the 904th and final start across NASCAR’s top three divisions for popular veteran driver Kenny Wallace.  Wallace achieved his greatest successes in the XFINITY Series, racking up nine victories over 547 series starts, and was runner-up to Bobby Labonte in the 1991 XFINITY championship.  Though he finished last 12 times across NASCAR’s top three divisions, and in 1998 edged David Green for the year’s LASTCAR Cup title, just three of those 12 finishes came in the XFINITY Series.  In comparison, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, and Dale Earnhardt all trailed five XFINITY races each.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Jeff Green has now finished last in exactly half of the 12 XFINITY Series races run at Iowa since the track joined the circuit in 2009.
*This marks the first last-place finish for the #19 in an XFINITY Series race at Iowa.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #19-Jeff Green / 3 laps / vibration
39) #40-Josh Reaume / 19 laps / overheating
38) #79-Zach Bruenger / 20 laps / brakes
37) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 29 laps / brakes
36) #13-John Jackson / 34 laps / overheating

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green (11)
2nd) Dexter Bean (2)
3rd) C.J. Faison, Mike Harmon, Charles Lewandoski, Carl Long, Morgan Shepherd, Derek White (1)

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) TriStar Motorsports (12)
2nd) King Autosport, Motorsports Business Management (2)
3rd) JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures (1)

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (14)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge (2)

TRUCKS: Caleb Roark Remains 3-For-3 In Last-Place Finishes

SOURCE: SpeedwayMedia.com
Caleb Roark picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet fell out with suspension issues after he completed 3 of the race’s 69 laps.

The finish was Roark’s 3rd of the season and his first since his most recent start at Iowa, three races ago.  Roark has finished last in all three of his Truck Series starts in 2015.  Saturday’s finish once again lifts the defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion into a tie with Norm Benning for the most last-place runs in 2015.  Benning currently leads Roark for the title by a single bottom-five finish, 4-3.

Roark’s truck was the slowest in Friday’s only practice session, coming in 33rd with an average speed of 138.820 mph after a single lap.  However, in qualifying, he secured the 27th starting spot by improving to 153.124 mph, his #0 the fastest truck to not rely on Owner Points.  Missing the show as Tim Viens, who was set to begin a four-race stretch driving Mike Affarano’s #03 Racedaysponsor.com Chevrolet.

The 32nd starting spot on Saturday belonged to local ARCA driver Kyle Martel, who was making his first start of the season in the #50 Hanover Cold Storage / Finish Line Express Chevrolet.  Martel was originally slated to qualify a #59 Chevrolet fielded by his family’s team, but the truck was withdrawn, and Martel brought his sponsorship onto the #50 fielded by MAKE Motorsports.  Also withdrawn before practice was Norm Benning’s second truck, #57, which this week was to be driven by ARCA part-timer Steve Fox.

By Lap 4, Martel was passed for the spot by Roark, who followed into the garage area Justin Jennings in the #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Chevrolet.  Both Roark and Jennings were the first two retirees - Roark was credited with the last-place finish.

Moments later, trouble broke out in Turn 3 when a battle up front between point leader Matt Crafton and Cup Series regular Brad Keselowski resulted in a crash that destroyed both their trucks.  Extensive repairs to the right side of Crafton’s #88 Chi-Chi’s / Menards Toyota took until just 13 laps to go, and he climbed from 30th to just 28th at the checkered flag.  Keselowski’s #29 Cooper Standard Ford, the nose shoved in hard, was done for the afternoon, coming home seven laps behind 29th-place B.J. McLeod and his overheating #45 Tilted Kilt Chevrolet.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marks the first last-place finish for both Roark and the #0 in a Truck Series race at Pocono.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #0-Caleb Roark / 3 laps / suspension
31) #36-Justin Jennings / 3 laps / vibration
30) #29-Brad Keselowski / 5 laps / crash
29) #45-B.J. McLeod / 12 laps / overheating
28) #88-Matt Crafton / 13 laps / crash

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Norm Benning, Caleb Roark (3)
2nd) Adam Edwards, Joey Gattina, Stew Hayward, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Travis Kvapil, Justin Marks (1)

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (5)
2nd) Norm Benning Racing (4)
3rd) MAKE Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Win-Tron Racing (1)

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) RAM, Toyota (1)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

CUP: Alex Bowman Keeps Jeff Gordon From First Last-Place Finish Since 2008

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Alex Bowman picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #7 Marsh Supermarkets Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after he completed 78 of the race’s 164 laps.

The finish is Bowman’s third of the season, tying him with Landon Cassill for the most in 2015, and is his first since Kansas, nine races ago. While both Bowman and Cassill are tied with 5 bottom-five finishes each, Cassill leads the 2015 LASTCAR Driver’s Championship by a single bottom-ten finish over Bowman, 7-6.  The finish came in Bowman’s 55th series start.

Since his last-place run at Kansas, Bowman and the Tommy Baldwin Racing team have continued to struggle to find consistency, never finishing better than a 20th at Dover during that span.  At the same time, however, the team had not had a DNF since Kansas, including last week at Loudon, when the team managed to repair Bowman’s car after a right-front brake fire got out of control during pit stops, lifting them past J.J. Yeley for 43rd.  The team has also attracted a number of one-race sponsors, including Marsh Supermarkets, who would debut with the team at Indianapolis.

NASCAR’s second new aero package allowed for three practice sessions for the 46 teams in attendance to prepare their cars.  Bowman timed in 37th in the opening practice on Friday, 41st in the second session, and 38th in Happy Hour.  On Saturday’s qualifying session, he timed in 35th with an average speed of 180.325 mph, narrowly avoiding having to rely on Owner Points.  Missing the race were Josh Wise, who was slated to make a one-race run in Go FAS Racing’s #32 Brandise Machinery Ford, rookie Jeb Burton with his first DNQ since the Coca-Cola 600, and Reed Sorenson with his second DNQ in his three attempts for Premium Motorsports’ #62.

Starting 43rd on Sunday was Ryan Newman, the time disallowed on his #31 Grainger Chevrolet due to a missing passenger-side window.  When the green flag dropped, however, Newman was quickly passed by Timmy Hill, whose #98 Curb Record Ford had snapped an axle coming to the green.  Hill was eight seconds behind the field as he pulled behind the wall without completing a lap, and he was lapped immediately.  It was the latest of several frustrations for the Premium Motorsports / Phil Parsons Racing team.  On Friday, the #98 dropped a hunk of Tungsten ballast on the racetrack, then Hill nosed into the outside wall in Happy Hour, forcing the team to assemble a backup car overnight.  The car was ready for qualifying, and Hill timed it in 42nd - the slowest car in time trials, but most importantly, in the show - only to lose more than 40 laps on Sunday due to repairs.

On Lap 42, Hill returned to the track in 43rd and finally completed his first laps.  Ahead of him were only a handful of other lapped cars, including those of BK Racing teammates J.J. Yeley (#23) and Matt DiBenedetto (#83).  Then, on Lap 50, a wreck occurred that threatened to shake up the LASTCAR standings.  Jeff Gordon, his #24 3M Chevrolet running mid-pack in his final Brickyard 400 start, checked-up to avoid a spinning Clint Bowyer when Gordon lost control and hit the outside wall with the front and rear of his machine.  Gordon fell to 42nd by the restart, losing 7 laps to the leaders before finally pulling behind the wall around Lap 73.  With nearly half of the race over, it was unclear if Gordon would return to the track in time to finish under power.  If the repairs took too long, and if Hill remained in the race, Gordon would end up with his first last-place finish since April 6, 2008, when he crashed out of the Samsung / Radio Shack 500 at Texas.

Then, on Lap 77, Bowman’s lapped machine entered the battle when his #7 started smoking from the right side in a manner eerily similar to his pit road fire the week before.  This time, after changing tires and sending him back out, the smoke was clearly coming from the exhaust pipes, and he pulled into the garage area around Lap 81.  Bowman’s car was listed as “OFF” for most of the race, then by Lap 113 was finally listed as “OUT.”

By this point, Hill was still on the track, though nearly 50 laps down as he continued to try and keep pace with the leaders.  Gordon was still behind the wall, the Hendrick Motorsports crew working hard to get their driver back on track.  On Lap 118, Hill pushed Gordon back to 43rd, and it seemed as though he would remain there.  However, just 2 circuits later on Lap 120, Gordon returned to the track with a new front valence.  While hanging in the back with Hill for the several late-race restarts, Bowman’s retired car slipped lower in the standings, reaching 42nd on Lap 131 and 43rd on Lap 133, where it would remain for the duration.

Gordon and Hill remained 42nd and 41st at the finish with Yeley in 39th.  It was Gordon’s first next-to-last-place finish since August 17, 2008, when Marcos Ambrose edged him in the August race at Michigan.  Between them in 40th was Trevor Bayne, who lost a lap early, was involved in a peculiar shunting match with Aric Almirola in the late stages, then finally crashed off the nose of Michael McDowell in Turn 1, bringing out the final caution that forced the green-white-checkered finish.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This is the first last-place finish for the #7 in a Cup race at Indianapolis since 2011, when Robby Gordon’s #7 SPEED Energy Dodge lost the engine after 5 laps of the Brickyard 400.
*This is both Bowman’s and Tommy Baldwin Racing’s first last-place finish in a Cup race at Indianapolis.
*There has still yet to be a repeat last-place finisher in the 21 Cup races run at Indianapolis.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #7-Alex Bowman / 78 laps / engine
42) #24-Jeff Gordon / 110 laps / running
41) #98-Timmy Hill / 111 laps / running
40) #6-Trevor Bayne / 155 laps / crash
39) #23-J.J. Yeley / 160 laps / running

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) J.J. Yeley (2)
3rd) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Sam Hornish, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Josh Wise (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (3)
2nd) BK Racing, Go FAS Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports (2)
3rd) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (3)

XFINITY: Jeff Green Scores 75th NASCAR Last-Place Finish

SOURCE: Kris Branch
Jeff Green picked up the 70th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #19 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 2 of the race’s 100 laps.

The finish was Green’s tenth of the season and his third in a row.  He now has 75 last-place finishes across all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, nearly double that of second-ranked Joe Nemechek’s mark of 39.  If Green finishes last in at least six of the remaining fifteen races in 2015, he will beat his single-season NASCAR record of 15 last-place runs from 2013.

40 drivers arrived to time their way in to 40 spots in Saturday’s field, so this week Jimmy Means Racing did not enter their second team, #79.  As before, Green did not participate in the opening practice session on Friday, but turned in the 31st-fastest time in Happy Hour.  He secured the 35th starting spot for Saturday’s race with an average speed of 168.290 mph, ranking him second among the drivers ordered by Owner Points.

The 40th starting spot on Saturday belonged to Mike Harmon, who was piloting one of three Dodges in the field.  By Lap 3, however, Green had fallen to the back of the field and could be seen during the broadcast coming down pit road at the start of the lap.

Finishing 39th in the race was Josh Reaume, whose #40 Phoenix Air Dodge was prepared with assistance from Wayne Peterson’s ARCA Racing Series team.  Reaume nearly collided with leader Kyle Busch as he was lapped off Turn 2 and pulled off the track after 8 laps.  38th went to Morgan Shepherd, citing handling issues on his #89 Racing With Jesus / Malamphy Electric Inc. Chevrolet.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were Blake Koch and David Starr, two of Green’s teammates at TriStar, who tangled in Turn 1 and crashed on Lap 23.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was Green’s first last-place finish in the XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis since 2013, when his #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after 4 laps.  When combined with Blake Koch’s run in this event last year, TriStar has claimed the last three of the event’s four last-place finishes.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #19-Jeff Green / 2 laps / vibration
39) #40-Josh Reaume / 8 laps / electrical
38) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 18 laps / handling
37) #8-Blake Koch / 22 laps / crash
36) #44-David Starr / 22 laps / crash

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green (10)
2nd) Dexter Bean (2)
3rd) C.J. Faison, Mike Harmon, Charles Lewandoski, Carl Long, Morgan Shepherd, Derek White (1)

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) TriStar Motorsports (11)
2nd) King Autosport, Motorsports Business Management (2)
3rd) JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures (1)

2015 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (13)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge (2)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TRUCKS: Stew Hayward Exits While Bobby Pierce Earns A Career-Best For Mike Mittler’s Team

SOURCE: David Damboise, FOX Sports 1
Stew Hayward picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Wednesday night’s 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic at the Eldora Speedway when his #74 Hot Shot Express RAM fell out with engine trouble after he completed 78 of the race’s 154 laps.  The finish came in Hayward’s series debut.

Hayward, a dirt track veteran from Calgary who competed in the WISSOTA Alberta Late Models in 2009, was selected on Monday to be the dirt track “ringer” for Mike Harmon’s single-vehicle Truck Series team.  Harmon’s #74 had made every race this season other than two early-season rounds at Daytona and Martinsville.  The team’s best finish of the year was a 19th at Gateway with second-year driver Jordan Anderson, who’s shared Harmon’s Chevrolet with Tim Veins and Paige Decker.  For Eldora, however, Hayward would run the only RAM entered in the race, a truck with headlight decals from a Chevrolet Impala stock car.

Hayward’s RAM was one of two trucks that didn’t complete a lap in Wednesday’s opening practice, then put up the slowest time in Happy Hour after seven laps.  He then qualified 31st out of the 34 entries at an average sped of 79.097 mph, placing him last in the first 7-truck heat race later that night.  Hayward stayed on the lead lap in the 10-circuit sprint, but didn’t pass any other trucks, sending him to 7th in the 9-truck Last Chance Qualifier.  Hayward again finished in the 7th spot as the final truck on the lead lap, but successfully transferred into the 31st spot for the 150-lap main event.

Two other dirt track drivers missed the race.  The first was 17-year-old late model driver Madeline “Mad Maddie” Crane, whose #80 Air Tec / Atlanta Air Exchange Ford was too badly damaged to start the LCQ.  The other was Jake Griffin, selected as defending Eldora last-placer Mike Affarano’s ringer in the #03 Outdoor Power / PADD / East Wraps Chevrolet.  Griffin, just 16 years old, was 8th in both practice sessions, but slipped to 29th in qualifying and struggled to find speed after, winding up 4th in the LCQ - two spots from transferring.

The 32nd and final spot in the main event belonged to Wendell Chavous, whose unspnsored #94 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet pulled off the track after 3 laps of the LCQ, but was locked-into the field based on the team’s number of attempts.  Chavous’ first Truck start since Charlotte saw him trail until Lap 2, when Jennifer Jo Cobb took the spot in her #10 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet.  Chavous took the spot back on Lap 5 moments before the first of 13 cautions fell for a spin involving Korbin Forrister’s #08, who voluntarily decaled his unsponsored #08 Chevrlet with logos promoting Donald Trump’s candidacy for President.  Forrister held the spot on the restart and remained there until a wreck on Lap 15 involving six trucks dropped to last the #35 Performance Auto Chevrolet of Cody Erickson, who won the LCQ after failing to make the field in 2014.

Under the caution, both NASCAR’s online leaderboard and the ticker on FOX Sports 1 encountered an identical scoring error regarding the final few spots in the field.  It began with Erickson’s #35, whose damaged Chevrolet was shown as the first to be lapped under his caution.  As the laps continued, scoring indicated he ran 4 more laps before pulling out again on Lap 25, despite the truck being shown on the track.  On Lap 42, Chavous was shown in last, 1 lap down, with Erickson’s truck “tied” for 31st by being unscored after 18 circuits.  At the same time, Cole Custer’s #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet was 8 laps down in 27th along with 30th-place Cobb, but between them were lead-lap vehicles of Hayward and Forrister.

It wasn’t until the first competition caution on Lap 58 for the end of the first segment that scoring was corrected with the entire field back on the lead lap except Cobb, apparently because she spun not long before the caution on Lap 48.

On Lap 71, with the second segment under way, Custer again dropped into the Bottom Five when he made an unscheduled stop for a cut right-front tire.  The green-flag stop cost him multiple laps, dropping him to last behind Cobb as the only other driver off the lead lap.  Three circuits later, as Custer’s team continued to make repairs, Hayward pulled off the track with engine issues as the listed cause.  On the 84th circuit, Custer returned to competition 18 laps down, and as Hayward retired from the race, he slipped to last on Lap 97, where the truck remained the rest of the night.  Custer came home 29th while Cobb just missed the Bottom Five in 27th.

Between Hayward and Custer in the Bottom Five were Chad Boat in the #15 CorvetteParts.net / Pristine Auctions Chevrolet and the MAKE Motorsports #1 Altec / BurnieGrills.com Chevrolet of Travis Kvapil.  Kvapil, who used up the right side of his machine in his heat race and the LCQ, tangled with Boat on Lap 112, sending Boat hard into the outside wall with the driver’s side.  Boat was uninjured, but was out of the running in his Truck debut, and Kvapil followed a few laps later.  The final spot in the group went to Brad Keselowski, whose first foray into dirt racing took a detour when his #29 Cooper Standard Ford backing into the outside wall in Turn 2, but not bringing out a yellow.

On a night where Christopher Bell won in just his third series start for Kyle Busch Motorsports, the most impressive underdog story of the night belonged to Bobby Pierce.  Just 18 years old and last year’s flag-to-flag winner of the DIRTcar Fall Nationals at the Eldora track, Pierce combined the efforts of his dirt track team with that of Mike Mittler, the only Truck Series owner to compete in at least one race in each of the series’ seasons since 1995.  On Wednesday, Pierce drove an old Chevrolet from the Mittler stables to top-five runs in practice, the pole, and a heat race victory before coming home a close 2nd to Christopher Bell in the main event.  Pierce managed this despite the rear decklid cover coming loose on his #63 RPMServicesLLC.Global Chevrolet in the final 10 laps.

In his first-ever Truck Series start, Pierce gave the Mittler team its first-ever top-five finish in 213 combined starts.  The team’s previous best was an 8th by current Cup star Carl Edwards at Kansas on July 6, 2002.  Pierce’s pole was also the team’s first pole, improving on a 5th by Edwards at Lucas Oil Raceway on August 2, 2002.

L.D. Austin's #74 1957 Chevrolet at Daytona, 1959.
Austin became the first last-place finisher
of the Daytona Qualifying Races in this car.
SOURCE: Historical Stock Car Racing Forum
LASTCAR STATSTICS
*This is the first last-place finish by the #74 at a dirt track in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions since August 22, 1959, when L.D. Austin’s 1957 Chevrolet crashed after completing 16 of 200 laps at half-mile Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina.  It was Austin’s 3rd of 5 career last-place finishes in a career spanning 169 races from 1957 to 1962.  Buck Baker won the race that day over Cotton Owens and Ned Jarrett, the only three cars on the lead lap.
*This is the first last-place finish for a RAM in the Truck Series since last summer at Mosport, when Caleb Roark’s #0 JJC Racing RAM lost the clutch on the opening lap of the Chevrolet Silverado 250.
*This is the first last-place finish for both the #74 and the Mike Harmon Racing team in the Truck Series since last October at Talladega, when Harmon’s own #74 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet lost the engine on the opening lap of the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #74-Stew Hayward / 79 laps / engine
31) #15-Chad Boat / 110 laps / crash
30) #1-Travis Kvapil / 119 laps / crash
29) #00-Cole Custer / 136 laps / running
28) #29-Brad Keselowski / 144 laps / running

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Norm Benning (3)
2nd) Caleb Roark (2)
3rd) Adam Edwards, Joey Gattina, Stew Hayward, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Travis Kvapil, Justin Marks (1)

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Norm Benning Racing (4)
2nd) MAKE Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Win-Tron Racing (1)

2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) RAM, Toyota (1)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

CUP: Loudon Endurance Race Sees Yeley Swipe 43rd From Bowman’s Scorched Chevrolet

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
J.J. Yeley picked up the 15th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota fell out with rear gear issues after he completed 202 of the race’s 301 laps.

The finish was Yeley’s second of the 2015 season and his first since Texas, 12 races ago.  The finish occurred in Yeley’s 238th series start.

Just two races after the round at Texas, Yeley picked up a season-best 14th at Talladega, rebounding from a frustrating Daytona 500 where he came home 40th in a backup car after the primary was lost in a qualifying crash.  In the nine other races in that span, however, Yeley has finished no better than a 29th earned at Dover.  Meanwhile, in the XFINITY Series, where he runs for points driving the #28 Toyota for JGL Racing, Yeley stole the show last week in Kentucky by starting on pole for the Friday race by virtue of leading the weekend’s only practice session.  During Loudon’s XFINITY events, Yeley followed-up his Kentucky performance with the 6th-fastest time in Happy Hour and a 15th-place finish in the race, moving him from 15th to 14th in the series standings.

On the Cup side, Yeley’s #23 was just 40th-fastest in Friday’s opening practice and secured the 39th starting spot in qualifying with an average speed of 129.384 mph.  On Saturday, he remained 39th in the final two sessions.

On Sunday, the 43rd starting spot belonged to Timmy Hill, who was making his first Cup start since last November at Texas.  Hill was tabbed as the new driver of the #98 Residence Inn Ford when Josh Wise left the Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports team on Monday following Wise’s first last-place run since he joined the team in 2013.  By the end of the first lap, Hill was promptly passed by Canadian racer Derek White, who was making his Cup debut in Joe Falk’s #33 Braille Battery / Grafoid Chevrolet.  White, the owner of Motorsports Business Management which fields the #13 and #40 entries in the XFINITY Series, was off the pace all afternoon, frequently running high in the corners to make room for the leaders.  White was the first to lose a lap on Lap 16, went a second down on Lap 42, a third on Lap 60, and a fourth on Lap 77.  With the exception of a Lap 25 restart, where K&N East Series competitor Eddie MacDonald briefly held the spot in his #32 DraftDemons.com Ford for Go FAS Racing, White held 43rd from the start all the way to Lap 99.

White first lost 43rd to Alex Bowman, who was sent behind the wall after a frightening turn of events on Lap 98.  Running near the back of the field, Bowman’s unsponsored #7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet cut down a right-front tire under green and made an unscheduled stop for fresh right side rubber.  As he pulled away, the smoldering debris under the hood ignited, triggering a large fire that forced him to stop at the exit of pit road.  As the third caution ensued, Bowman escaped apparently unharmed while crews put out the flames.  The next time by on Lap 99, Bowman’s lapped machine promptly took the last spot from White, and as the #7 was towed behind the wall, it appeared he would stay there the rest of the afternoon.

Somehow, the Baldwin team managed to make repairs to Bowman’s machine and send him back onto the track 67 laps down on Lap 161, at which point all 43 cars were again still running around the track.  Soon after, however, the Toyotas of BK Racing began to struggle.  The first was current Rookie of the Year leader Jeb Burton, whose #26 Maxim Fantasy Sports Toyota went behind the wall with a broken gear around Lap 178.  By Lap 186, Burton had slipped beneath White for the 42nd spot and was about 50 circuits away from taking last from Bowman.  Burton closed within just 10 laps of passing Bowman for last when he returned to the track on Lap 192.

Moments later, around Lap 205, Yeley’s Toyota pulled into the garage with a broken hub seal.  With less than 100 laps remaining, the BK Racing team fought to get his car back on track, but time was not on their side.  Lapped early in the event, Yeley soon slipped to 41st and took 42nd from Burton on Lap 263.  Now with less than 40 laps remaining in the event, Yeley’s car became the first retiree from the event.  And on Lap 273, with just 28 laps remaining, Yeley took the last spot from Bowman.

Bowman remained 42nd with Burton 41st and the lapped Derek White finishing on the outside of the Bottom Five in 39th.  Completing the group was 40th-place Justin Allgaier, the Coca-Cola 600 last-placer, whose #51 Brandt Chevrolet smoked heavily in the final 100 laps from a loose oil coolant line.  Allgaier lost 17 laps by the finish and slowed coming off Turn 4 as Kyle Busch took the white flag.  Seconds later, Bowman cut down a third right-front tire and collided with the outside wall in Turn 2, ending the race under caution.  Still, as of this writing, both Bowman and Allgaier are listed as finishing under power, leaving Yeley as the only retiree.

A great story during the Loudon weekend revolved around Landon Cassill, whose #40 Interstate Moving Services / Precon Marine, Inc. Chevrolet showed speed all weekend.  Cassill was 21st-fastest in the opening session but leapt to 13th on the grid for Sunday, just one spot shy from a run at the pole.  After running 24th and 30th in Saturday’s practices, Cassill remained in the Top 20 for most of the race’s first half, battling Denny Hamlin in 15th at the one-third mark.  Although cautions and pit strategy shuffled him to a 30th-place run, it was another excellent showing by Hillman-Smith Motorsports, a team entering just its third year of existence.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Yeley is the first last-place finisher to be the only retiree from a Cup Series race since last September when Yeley himself parked BK Racing’s #93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota after 31 laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond.
*This marks the first last-place finish for the #23 in a Cup race at New Hampshire, but the second in a row at the track for BK Racing, whose #93 “start-and-park” entry also trailed last September’s race with rookie Clay Rogers.
*The 202 laps Yeley completed are the most by a Cup Series last-placer at New Hampshire since September 14, 2008, when Joe Nemechek’s #78 Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com Chevrolet ran 218 laps of the Sylvania 300 before falling out with crash damage.
*This marks Toyota’s 125th last-place finish in the Cup Series.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #23-J.J. Yeley / 202 laps / rear gear
42) #7-Alex Bowman / 230 laps / running
41) #26-Jeb Burton / 239 laps / running
40) #51-Justin Allgaier / 284 laps / running
39) #33-Derek White / 290 laps / running

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) Alex Bowman, J.J. Yeley (2)
3rd) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Sam Hornish, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Josh Wise (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports (3)
2nd) BK Racing, Go FAS Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (2)
3rd) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (3)