Thursday, December 3, 2009

Last-Place Year In Review: 2009


With the Awards Banquet coming up tomorrow night in Las Vegas, here is a list of some significant last-place finisher statistics I have compiled from the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

((THE CHAMPIONSHIP))

Dave Blaney scored the most last-place finishes (8) of any other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver in 2009. All eight of Blaney’s finishes came while driving the #66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota owned by Phil Parsons. Blaney finished last at Texas, Daytona, Chicagoland, and Atlanta, and he swept both Bristol and Richmond races:
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (5)
3rd) Joe Nemechek (4)
4th) Mike Bliss (3)
5th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
6th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Michael McDowell, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace (1)


Blaney now has 13 last-place finishes in his career, good enough for 2nd in the "1998-present" rankings and 6th in the Modern Era rankings dating back to 1972. Blaney is now tied with Buck Baker, Henley Gray, Dick May, Joe Ruttman, and Rusty Wallace for the 7th-most last-place finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.

By taking the 2009 title, Blaney also claimed two significant records:
(1) Blaney’s eight finishes are the most last-place finishes ever acquired by a single driver in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The previous record (6) was set by Derrike Cope three years ago in 2006.
(2) Blaney is the first driver to finish last in more than two consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races. During the summer, Blaney finished last in three consecutive races: the Sharpie 500 at Bristol, the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta, and the Chevy Rock ‘n Roll 400 at Richmond.

Along with Blaney’s driver record, PRISM Motorsports also came just one finish short of tying Means Racing’s 1992 record of scoring 9 last-place finishes in the same season. The team also finished next-to-last in ten other points races in 2009, often missing a last-place finish by just a couple laps. While the #66 took an early lead in the last-place standings, Bob Jenkins’ #37 team put on a rally in the summer and fall, but fell short of beating the #66 in the owner’s standings:
1st) #66 - PRISM Motorsports (Phil Parsons) - 8
2nd) #37 - Front Row Motorsports (Bob Jenkins) - 6
3rd) #87 - NEMCO Motorsports (Joe Nemechek) - 4
4th) #36 - Tommy Baldwin Racing (Tommy Baldwin) - 3
#71 - TRG Motorsports (Kevin Buckler) - 3
#09 - Phoenix Racing (James Finch) - 3
5th) #64 - Gunselman Racing (Larry Gunselman) - 2
6th) #5 - Hendrick Motorsports (Rick Hendrick) - 1
#17 - Roush-Fenway Racing (Jack Roush) - 1
#20 - Joe Gibbs Racing (Joe Gibbs) - 1
#70 - TRG Motorsports (Kevin Buckler) - 1
#73 - H&S Motorsports (Barry Haefele) - 1
#96 - Hall of Fame Racing (Jeff Moorad) - 1
#04 - Robby Gordon Motorsports (Robby Gordon) - 1

Third in the driver’s standings, Joe Nemechek scored four last-place finishes in 2009 and has now acquired the most last-place finishes (14) since 43-car fields became standard in the 1998 Daytona 500. Ten of Nemechek’s fourteen last-place finishes have all come in the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup seasons.


((OTHER 2009 LAST-PLACE STATISTICS))

The best starting spot by a last-place finisher in 2009 was 4th by Dave Blaney at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol. A total of 5 last-place finishers started in the top 10. Seven last-place finishers started last.

The fewest laps completed by a last-place finisher in 2009 was 2 laps, set by both P.J. Jones at the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Infineon and Dave Blaney at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. No last-place finisher completed more than 79 laps (Joey Logano at the Daytona 500). Fourteen last-place finishers completed 10 laps or less.

Only 1 lap was led by a last-place finisher the entire season: David Gilliland led lap 33 of the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover. In that race, Gilliland also became the first driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup history to finish last with a “power steering” problem as the official reason.


None of the 36 last-place finishers in 2009 were running at the end of the race. The most common reasons a last-place car was listed as “out” in 2009 are as follows:
1st) crash - 7
2nd) brakes - 6
3rd) engine , overheating - 5
4th) electrical - 3
5th) fuel pump , power steering , vibration - 2
6th) parked , rear end , steering , transmission - 1


There were three first-time last-place finishers in 2009:
(1) Joey Logano (Daytona 500),
(2) David Gilliland (Southern 500 at Darlington, Autism Speaks 400 at Dover),
(3) Tony Ave (Heluva Good! at the Glen).
Logano also became the first driver to finish last in both the Budweiser Shootout and the Daytona 500 in the same year.

Four teams that finished last in 2009 also won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race the same year:
(1) Joe Gibbs’ #20 (Joey Logano last at Daytona 500, won Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire);
(2) Jack Roush’s #17 (Matt Kenseth finished last at the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas, won the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500 at Auto Club);
(3) James Finch’s #09 (Mike Bliss finished last at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s, and Pepsi 500 at Auto Club; Brad Keselowski won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega);
(4) Rick Hendrick’s #5 (Mark Martin finished last in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, won five races in 2009 at Phoenix, Darlington, Michigan, Chicago, and New Hampshire).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

McDowell Scores First 2009 Finish After Overheating at Homestead


Michael McDowell picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #36 Wave Energy Drink Toyota fell out with overheating problems after completing 35 of the race’s 267 laps.

McDowell was one of the biggest surprises in qualifying, securing the 18th spot at a speed of 171.434 mph. The run marked the best start for Tommy Baldwin Racing since the Daytona 500 with Scott Riggs. On race day, Marcos Ambrose led four laps, slipped to fourth, then fell to last when he had to make a pair of unscheduled stops for a cut tire, a dead battery, and a faulty carburetor. McDowell went behind the wall on lap 35 and Ambrose returned to the track on lap 42, moving McDowell to the 43rd spot.

It is McDowell’s first last-place finish of 2009; his only other finish came in the 2008 Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland while driving for Michael Waltrip Racing. It is the third last-place finish for Tommy Baldwin Racing; the other two finishes came with Patrick Carpentier at the Pocono 500 at Pocono and the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire.

2009 last-place champion Dave Blaney failed to qualify for the season-ending race, as did third-ranked Joe Nemechek. Neither second-ranked Tony Raines nor fourth-ranked Mike Bliss had a ride for Homestead. Travis Kvapil qualified Bob Jenkins’ #37 car 28th, but was unable to tie Phil Parsons’ #66 team for the most last-place finishes in 2009. After David Stremme spun James Finch’s #09 during qualifying and missed the show, the #37 team acquired the #09's Miccosukee Resort & Gaming sponsorship and was able to run the entire race for only the second time in 2009.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #36-Michael McDowell / 35 laps / overheating
42) #08-Terry Labonte / 88 laps / electrical
41) #19-Elliott Sadler / 116 laps / crash
40) #43-Reed Sorenson / 116 laps / crash
39) #7-Robby Gordon / 227 laps / running

2009 RANKINGS - FINAL
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (5)
3rd) Joe Nemechek (4)
4th) Mike Bliss (3)
5th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
6th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Michael McDowell, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raines’ Electrical Issue Gives Him 2nd In 2009 Rankings, Phoenix Sweep


Tony Raines picked up the 8th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems after completing 6 of the race’s 312 laps.

It was Raines’ first Sprint Cup start since his most recent last-place finish at the AAA 400 at Dover in September. In the six races since, the #37 team has spent more time off the track than on it: The team first failed to qualify with Kevin Hamlin at Kansas, then Raines DNQ’d at California, Travis Kvapil DNQ’d at Charlotte, then qualified at Martinsville and finished last; and finally Raines withdrew at Talladega, then DNQ’d once again at Texas, where the team switched from Dodge to Chevrolet.

On Friday, Raines just squeaked his way into the field with a speed of 132.091 mph, giving him the 43rd and final starting spot. He remained there during the early stages and fell out during the opening green-flag run just 6 laps in. It was Raines’ fifth last-place finish, breaking his tie with Joe Nemechek for 2nd in the 2009 rankings.

Tony Raines has become the first driver to finish last in two consecutive Phoenix races; his first last-place finish of 2009 came while driving Barry Haefele’s #73 Dodge in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 back in the spring. Raines also finished last at Phoenix in the fall of 2002.

It is the first time the #37 has finished last at Phoenix since an ailing Rick Carelli parked his Chesrown Chevrolet on the second lap of the 1992 Pyroil 500 in response to injuries he suffered in a companion race earlier that weekend.

The #37 team now has seven last-place finishes in 2009 (5 with Tony Raines, 1 each with Tony Ave and Travis Kvapil), second only to the Phil Parsons’ #66 team, which has scored all 8 of its finishes with Dave Blaney. Blaney, who went behind the wall 3 laps after Raines, finished 42nd on Sunday, marking the 10th time in 2009 he has come just one spot shy of finishing in last.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Tony Raines / 6 laps / electrical
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 9 laps / overheating
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 36 laps / brakes
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 47 laps / power steering
39) #71-Bobby Labonte / 169 laps / crash

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (5)
3rd) Joe Nemechek (4)
4th) Mike Bliss (3)
5th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
6th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Skinner’s Brakes Go Sour, Finishes Last at Texas


Mike Skinner picked up the 9th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Dickies 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #70 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet fell out with brake problems after completing 6 of the race’s 334 laps.

For only the second time in 2009, Kevin Buckler’s TRG Motorsports team attempted to get two cars into a NASCAR Sprint Cup field. The team brought two cars to Watkins Glen in August for the Heluva Good! at the Glen, but while Andy Lally made his NASCAR debut in the team’s flagship #71, David Gilliland was unable to get the #70 into the show. On Friday at Texas, Mike Skinner was in the #70 and, despite a lack of sponsorship, qualified an impressive 23rd at a speed of 188.844 mph. It was Skinner’s first Cup start since the Carfax 400 at Michigan back in August. Last-place leader Dave Blaney, 2nd-place Tony Raines, and 3rd-place Mike Bliss all failed to qualify while Joe Nemechek, tied with Raines for 2nd, made the field.

While point leader Jimmie Johnson crashed out just 3 laps into the race and held the 43rd spot for much of the race, Skinner, who fell out on lap 7, inherited last place soon after Johnson returned to the track on lap 115. Teammate Bobby Labonte finished 31st in car #71 while Nemechek finished 42nd. Johnson barely missed the bottom five and finished 38th.

With the exception of his early exit from the Gatorade Duels at Daytona back in February, the race was Skinner’s first last-place finish in more than three years. That finish came in the 2006 Bank of America 500 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway where his Bryan Mullet-owned #72 Dutch Quality Stone Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car wreck on lap 2. It is the first last-place finish for the #70 since Max Papis crashed out of the 2008 Centurion Boats at the Glen in his HAAS Automation Chevrolet. It is the first last-place finish for the #70 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

For much of NASCAR Sprint Cup history, the #70 was driven by the late J.D. McDuffie, one of the sport’s most prolific owner-drivers. All but four of McDuffie’s record 32 last-place finishes came while driving the #70. For more on McDuffie, click on the “Dedication” link on the right side of this page.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #70-Mike Skinner / 6 laps / brakes
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 13 laps / electrical
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 20 laps / overheating
40) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. / 88 laps / crash
39) #99-Carl Edwards / 174 laps / crash

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines, Joe Nemechek (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss (3)
4th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
5th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace (1)

Manufacturer Rankings (1949-present)

Last Update: November 19, 2017
(Standings current through most recent race weekend. Model names listed in official race results were used in place of manufacturer. Does not include non-points or exhibition races.)

CUP SERIES
(737) Chevrolet
(678) Ford
(261) Dodge
(191) Pontiac
(145) Toyota
(136) Oldsmobile
(109) Plymouth
(91) Buick
(63) Mercury
(36) Hudson
(30) Chrysler
(17) Studebaker
(7) Nash, T-Bird
(4) Rambler
(3) Lincoln
(2) Cadillac, MG, Packard
(1) Camaro, Corvette, Henry J, Jaguar, Kaiser, Matador, Sprite, Tucker
(6) Unknown

XFINITY SERIES
(494) Chevrolet
(162) Pontiac
(152) Ford
(117) Toyota
(68) Dodge
(63) Oldsmobile
(62) Buick
(22) Unknown

TRUCK SERIES
(343) Chevrolet
(103) Ford
(65) Dodge
(31) Toyota
(10) RAM

ALL THREE SERIES
(1574) Chevrolet
(933) Ford
(394) Dodge
(353) Pontiac
(293) Toyota
(199) Oldsmobile
(153) Buick
(109) Plymouth
(63) Mercury
(36) Hudson
(30) Chrysler
(17) Studebaker
(10) RAM
(7) Nash, T-Bird
(4) Rambler
(3) Lincoln
(2) Cadillac, MG, Packard
(1) Camaro, Corvette, Henry J, Jaguar, Kaiser, Matador, Sprite, Tucker
(28) Unknown

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nemechek Nabs 1998-Present Record With Early Crash At Talladega


Joe Nemechek picked up the 17th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s AMP Energy 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota was involved in the first caution of the race: a two-car accident on lap 5 of the 191-lap event.

Qualifying was rained-out on Saturday, so Nemechek secured the 39th starting spot for Sunday’s race. Although he came into the race without a sponsor, Nemechek gained sufficient funding from his fans and planned to run the entire race. Unfortunately, he was unable to defend his 14th-place finish from the spring race. While racing through turns one and two alongside Paul Menard on lap 5, Menard lost a left-rear tire and crossed Nemechek’s nose, slamming both cars into the outside wall. While the two avoided causing a massive multi-car wreck, both were done for the day.

It was Nemechek’s first last-place finish since the NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe’s two races ago. Nemechek has also broken the four-way tie for the most last-place finishes since 1998, beating Todd Bodine, 2009 last-place leader Dave Blaney, and overall leader Derrike Cope for that mark. Nemechek is also fourth on the all-time list and has tied Jimmy Means and Morgan Shepherd for the 2nd-most last-place finishes since 1972. He is tied with Tony Raines, who withdrew with the #37 team on Saturday, for 2nd in the 2009 rankings. However, both Nemechek and Raines are still four finishes behind leader Dave Blaney, who pulled behind the wall eight laps after Nemechek’s wreck on Sunday.

It is only the second time in NASCAR Sprint Cup history that the #87 has finished last at Talladega: Dick May’s Fast Lane Ltd. Oldsmobile lost oil pressure in the 1979 Talladega 500 without completing a single lap.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 4 laps / crash
42) #98-Paul Menard / 4 laps / crash
41) #66-Dave Blaney / 12 laps / vibration
40) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. / 44 laps / engine
39) #78-Regan Smith / 99 laps / engine

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines, Joe Nemechek (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss (3)
4th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
5th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kvapil Edges Cope When Brakes Go Kaput In Martinsville; Blaney Clinches 2009 Title


Travis Kvapil picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Dodge fell out with brake problems after completing 30 of the race’s 501 laps.

Sunday’s race was Kvapil’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup start in seven months. He’d been out of the series since he lost his #28 Yates Racing ride when, following March’s Food City 500 at Bristol, sponsorship woes forced the team to shut down. Coming into the Martinsville race, the #37 had also missed three straight races with three different drivers: Kevin Hamlin at Kansas, Tony Raines at Fontana, and Kvapil himself at Charlotte just last week. Kvapil qualified a solid 25th at Martinsville, however, at a speed of 95.381 mph. Despite hanging tough in the middle of the pack, he pulled behind the wall after 30 laps with brake problems.

It was Kvapil’s first last-place finish since his rookie season when his Penske-backed #77 Kodak Dodge lost an engine in the 2005 USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland. It is the first time the #37 has finished last at Martinsville since John Andretti’s Little Caesar’s Ford fell out with rear end problems in the 1996 Goody’s Headache Powder 500.

Kvapil finished last by completing just one fewer lap than 26-time last-place finisher Derrike Cope, who was making his first NASCAR Sprint Cup start in over three years. In that time, Cope amassed 15 DNQs, including two of the last three runnings of the Daytona 500, where Cope’s stunning first victory came in 1990. Four of these 15 DNQs came when rain washed out qualifying, including both of his last two attempts to qualify at Martinsville. On Friday, with rain again threatening to wash out qualifying and his self-owned #75 team positioned to be the one team “washed out” of the 44-car entry list for the 43-car field, Cope worked out a deal to replace Mike Wallace in Larry Gunselman’s #64 Toyota. Gunselman’s #64 was in position to pull the season sweep at Martinsville, having finished last with Todd Bodine in the spring race. Though the rain did not come, Cope still got the #64 into the show - 43rd at a speed of 93.539 mph.

Interestingly, Cope’s most recent Sprint Cup start was the 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega, where he finished last for the sixth time in 2006, setting the very single-season last-place record that Dave Blaney beat this year. Cope still has several records of his own: he leads all active drivers in last-place finishes, has the most finishes ever collected in the Modern Era (tracing back to 1972), and is just six last-place finishes away from the all-time lead held by the late J.D. McDuffie. However, in 2009, Dave Blaney, Todd Bodine, and Joe Nemechek have all tied Cope’s record of 13 last-place finishes since 1998.

Speaking of Dave Blaney, the Ohio driver has now successfully clinched the 2009 last-place driver’s championship. Blaney came into the race with a four-finish lead on Tony Raines and a five-finish lead on Mike Bliss and Joe Nemechek. Since neither Raines nor Bliss entered the Martinsville race and only five races remained, only Nemechek was mathematically in a position to tie Blaney’s eight last-place finishes in 2009. But to do this, Nemechek would have to follow up his last-place finish at Charlotte with five more in all five of the final races, starting with Martinsville. Unlike Charlotte, both Blaney and Nemechek qualified for Martinsville: Blaney snagged 39th at 94.689 mph and Nemechek was 28th at 95.304 mph, but both ended up 40th and 38th, respectively.

As I was informed by a reader, three teams also came into Sunday’s race in a three-way tie for the most different drivers finishing last in their cars: Bob Jenkins’ #37 (with drivers Tony Ave and Tony Raines), Kevin Buckler’s #71 (David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte), and Larry Gunselman’s #64 (Todd Bodine and Mike Wallace). While Gilliland still qualified the #71 at Martinsville, both the #37 and the #64 were driven by different drivers (Travis Kvapil and Derrike Cope, respectively), and thus both were in a position to break the tie. Kvapil’s finish has not only broken this tie, but has given the #37 team its fifth last-place finish of 2009. This means that if the #37 finishes last in each of the last four races, Bob Jenkins’ team will have earned more last-place finishes than Phil Parsons’ #66 team (for which Dave Blaney drives).

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Travis Kvapil / 30 laps / brakes
42) #64-Derrike Cope / 31 laps / brakes
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 36 laps / brakes
40) #66-Dave Blaney / 38 laps / overheating
39) #71-David Gilliland / 48 laps / brakes

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek (3)
4th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
5th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nemechek Joins Battle For The Most Last-Place Finishes Since 1998 When Car’s Rear End Fails at Lowe’s


Joe Nemechek picked up the 16th last-place finish of his career in Saturday’s NASCAR Banking 500 only at Bank of America at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota fell out with rear end problems after completing 26 laps.

The late Thursday night qualifying session for this 500-mile race was particularly tough for this year’s last-place contenders. Despite getting sponsorship from the Denny Hamlin Foundation, last-place leader Dave Blaney failed to qualify for only the second time in 2009, dating back to the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas back in March. Joining Blaney on the DNQ list were three teams with multiple last-place finishes in 2009: Michael McDowell in Tommy Baldwin’s #36 (2 last-place finishes), Sterling Marlin in James Finch’s #09 Dodge (3 last-place finishes), and Travis Kvapil in Bob Jenkins’ #37 Dodge (4 last-place finishes).

Nemechek, on the other hand, qualified 35th for the race at a speed of 187.780 mph. He remained on the track through the race’s first two cautions before his Toyota’s rear end failed 26 laps into the race.

The finish was Nemechek’s third last-place finish of 2009 and first in nearly three months, dating back to this year’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in July. 13 of Nemechek’s 16 career last-place finishes have come since the 1998 Daytona 500, tying him with Dave Blaney, Todd Bodine, and Derrike Cope for the most last-place finishes collected since that race. It is only the second time in NASCAR Sprint Cup history that the #87 finished last at Charlotte: Randy Baker’s unsponsored Baker Racing Chevrolet finished last after losing an engine in the 1986 Oakwood Homes 500, the fall Charlotte race of that year.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 26 laps / rear end
42) #11-Denny Hamlin / 192 laps / engine
41) #13-Max Papis / 286 laps / engine
40) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. / 298 laps / running
39) #99-Carl Edwards / 299 laps / engine

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek (3)
4th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
5th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bliss Blows Engine, Finishes Last In Fontana


Mike Bliss picked up the 5th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club speedway of Southern California when his #09 Miccosukee Dodge fell out with engine problems after completing 11 of the race’s 250 laps.

Bliss qualified 23rd for the race at a speed of 180.845 mph, but deliberately fell to the back of the field before the start of the race. As the race began, it appeared last place would go to David Gilliland, back in the #71 that finished last at Kansas last week. Gilliland had arranged to park his car on lap 6 and relieve Kyle Busch, who was suffering from the flu. However, as the race stayed under green, Gilliland stayed out until lap 14. By then, Mike Bliss had been behind the wall for three laps, giving him the 43rd finishing position. Gilliland drove Busch's Toyota to a 24th place finish.

It was the third last-place finish for both Bliss and owner James Finch in 2009 and their first since the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 in May. The #09 has one other last-place finish at the Auto Club Speedway: Joe Ruttman finished 43rd in the 2004 Auto Club 500 while also driving Finch’s Miccosukee Dodge.

Tony Raines, second in this season’s last-place rankings, failed to qualify for Sunday’s race. Raines did not lose any ground to last-place leader Dave Blaney, however, as Blaney’s #66 finished 41st after completing 22 laps.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #09-Mike Bliss / 11 laps / engine
42) #71-David Gilliland / 13 laps / overheating
41) #66-Dave Blaney / 22 laps / overheating
40) #36-Michael McDowell / 25 laps / overheating
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 29 laps / electrical

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss (3)
4th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek (2)
5th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Labonte Wrecks Early, Finishes Last at Kansas


Bobby Labonte picked up the 10th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #71 Mahindra Tractors / Adobe Road Winery Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car crash on lap 7 of the 267-lap race.

On Friday, Labonte qualified 26th for the race at a speed of 173.349 mph. Although the #71 team lacked sponsorship coming into the race, they gained sufficient sponsorship from Mahindra Tractors and Adobe Road Winery to run the entire race. The #71 gained similar last-minute sponsorship two weeks ago at New Hampshire where Labonte qualified 8th. On Sunday, Labonte was racing mid-pack when he was taken out in a multi-car wreck that brought out the second caution of the race on lap 7.

The wreck began when Paul Menard’s Ford lost control coming off turn two, causing him to slide up directly in front of David Ragan and Bobby Labonte, who were running nose-to-tail in the outside groove. Both had nowhere to go. As Ragan hit Menard, Labonte banged into the back of Ragan’s Ford, then was clipped by Michael Waltrip, who was forced up into the wreck by Reed Sorenson.

Labonte and Waltrip suffered the most damage in the incident and, for several laps, it appeared that Waltrip would finish last for the first time since last summer's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono. However, when Waltrip returned to the race 80 laps down, Labonte did not, and Labonte finished last. Labonte completed just 6 laps. Last-place leader Dave Blaney finished 40th. Tony Raines was denied a chance at three straight last-place finishes when Kevin Hamlin stepped into car #37 to make his first Sprint Cup attempt. Hamlin failed to qualify on Friday, but will again be in car #37 in next week’s Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.

The finish was Bobby Labonte’s second of 2009, and his first since his #96 DLP Ford fell out with engine problems at August’s Carfax 400 at Michigan. Labonte now sits 10th on the all-time last-place rankings. It is also the third last-place finish for owner Kevin Buckler for The Racer’s Group, the first for the #71 team since David Gilliland’s CompUSA Chevrolet fell out with power steering problems in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover back in May. It is also the first time the #71 has ever finished last in a Sprint Cup race at the Kansas Speedway.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #71-Bobby Labonte / 6 laps / crash
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 25 laps / rear end
41) #09-Mike Bliss / 26 laps / overheating
40) #66-Dave Blaney / 28 laps / engine
39) #17-Matt Kenseth / 134 laps / engine

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek (2)
4th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Raines Overheats For Second Straight Week, Finishes Last at Dover


Tony Raines picked up the 7th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s AAA 400 at the Dover International Speedway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Dodge fell out with overheating problems after completing 13 of the race’s 400 laps.

On Friday, Raines qualified 42nd at a speed of 151.547 mph, but was again forced to change engines and start 43rd as a result. During the opening green-flag laps, Raines pulled behind the wall on lap 13, 12 laps before NASCAR threw a competition caution on lap 25. Joey Logano, the Daytona 500 last-place finisher, was then involved in a vicious wreck on the lap 31 restart and finished 42nd. Last-place leader Dave Blaney failed to crack the bottom five; his transmission problem did not take him out of the race until he completed 74 laps, and he finished 37th.

The race marked the first time Tony Raines has ever finished last in consecutive races. It is also the first time a car #37 has ever finished last in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover. With eight races remaining, Raines still needs to finish last in at least five of them to score the most in 2009.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Tony Raines / 13 laps / overheating
42) #20-Joey Logano / 30 laps / crash
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 51 laps / overheating
40) #09-Mike Bliss / 54 laps / vibration
39) #71-David Gilliland / 60 laps / electrical

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (4)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek (2)
4th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raines Ruins Blaney’s Bid For Four Straight When Car Overheats At New Hampshire


Tony Raines picked up the 6th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Dodge fell out with overheating problems after completing 8 of the race's 300 laps.

Raines qualified 36th with a speed of 129.900 mph, but an engine change forced him to start Sunday’s race in the 43rd and final starting spot. During the opening green-flag run, he remained at the back, then pulled behind the wall on lap 8 with an overheating problem ending his day. 15 laps later, last-place leader Dave Blaney went behind the wall and finished 42nd, ending his streak of three consecutive last-place finishes.

It was the first last-place finish for Tony Raines since June’s Lifelock 400 at Michigan. The #37 team now has three last-place finishes in 2009, but only two of them came with Raines: road racer Tony Ave finished last in this car in last month’s Heluva Good! at the Glen. Raines’ third last-place finish came in owner Barry Haefele’s #73 back at April’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix.

The #37 has just one other last-place finish at New Hampshire: John Andretti finished last when he crashed his Michael Kranefuss-owned Kmart / Little Caesar’s Ford in the 1996 Jiffy Lube 300.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Tony Raines / 8 laps / overheating
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 23 laps / electrical
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 36 laps / brakes
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 41 laps / transmission
39) #64-Mike Wallace / 48 laps / brakes

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (3)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek (2)
4th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blaney Becomes First Driver To Score Three Straight Last-Place Finishes When Brakes Fail at Richmond


Dave Blaney picked up the 13th last-place finish of his career in Saturday night’s Chevy Rock ‘n Roll 400 at the Richmond International Raceway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with brake problems after completing 36 of the race’s 400 laps.

On Friday, Blaney qualified 32nd with a speed of 124.372 mph. During Saturday’s race, Blaney was running in a tight pack of traffic, and while he stayed on the track when Scott Speed’s wreck brought out the first caution on lap 5, he dropped out under the ensuing green-flag run with brake problems after completing 36 laps.

With his third straight last-place finish, Blaney is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver ever to finish last in more than two consecutive races. He is also just the third driver to finish last in both races at Richmond: the other two were Tommy Gale in 1983 and Harry Gant in 1990. By increasing his career total to thirteen last-place finishes, Blaney is also tied with Todd Bodine and Derrike Cope for the most last-place finishes scored since 1998.

Blaney’s eighth last-place finish of 2009 has put Phil Parsons’ Prism Motorsports team just one finish away from tying Means Racing’s season record of nine last-place finishes scored in a single season.

Unlike Blaney, Prism Motorsports is not the first team to finish last in three consecutive races: that statistic goes to Geoffrey Bodine’s owner-driver operation, which pulled that feat in May of 1997. Back then, two straight engine failures forced Geoffrey’s #7 QVC Ford to finish last at the Infineon Raceway and at Talladega Superspeedway. When Geoffrey was injured before the next points race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, brother Todd Bodine was tabbed as the relief driver. Todd then finished last in the 600 after an early crash.

The #7 team’s streak ended the following week in the Miller 500 at Dover, but just barely. With all cars still on the track on lap 240, Geoffrey Bodine got in a wreck in turn three with Bobby Hillin and Dick Trickle. While all three cars retired from the race, Trickle finished 41st with 238 laps completed, Bodine got 42nd with 237, and Hillin, the last-place finisher, completed 234.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 36 laps / brakes
42) #71-Mike Bliss / 38 laps / transmission
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 113 laps / engine
40) #78-Regan Smith / 174 laps / crash
39) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. / 325 laps / crash

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

UPDATE: Blaney was actually the second Cup Series driver to score three consecutive last-place finishes, joining G.C. Spencer in 1960.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blaney Breaks Cope’s Season Record With Early Electrical Exit From Atlanta


Dave Blaney picked up the 12th last-place finish of his career in Sunday night’s Pep Boys Auto 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with electrical problems after completing 19 of the race’s 325 laps.

Despite running a strong 19th-fastest time in Friday’s first practice session, Blaney had to squeak his way into the field. As the last car to qualify, Blaney turned in a speed of 179.673 mph, good enough to secure the 37th starting spot and bump Regan Smith out of the field. In the race, Blaney remained in the back during the opening green-flag run. Still under green on lap 21, Blaney slowed on the backstretch and pulled behind the wall with electrical problems taking him out of the race. He was credited with completing 19 laps.

The race marked the second straight year that the #66 car had finished last in the fall Atlanta event: Scott Riggs, then driving for HAAS-CNC, finished 43rd in the 2008 running.

With this, his 7th last-place finish of 2009, Dave Blaney now owns the record for the most last-place finishes ever scored in a single NASCAR Sprint Cup season, breaking the three-year-old record set by Derrike Cope in 2006. In the process, Blaney has reached this mark in record time: Derrike Cope’s sixth last-place finish didn’t come until the 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega in October of that year.

Now, with eleven races remaining this season, Blaney can mathematically claim three more last-place finish records by season’s end:

[1] If Blaney gets two more in 2009, he will have fourteen last-place finishes in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, the most any driver has collected since 1998.

[2] With three more last-place finishes for the #66, Prism Motorsports can beat the single-season team record of nine set in 1992 by Means Racing (which consisted of drivers Jimmy Means [3 last-place finishes], Graham Taylor [2], and Johnny McFadden [4]).

[3] If Blaney gets six more, bringing his career total to eighteen, he will have amassed the second-most last-place finishes in the modern era of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which dates back to the start of the 1972 season. Derrike Cope’s modern era record of 26 will not be topped in 2009, but Blaney can come within three finishes of this record if he qualifies for (and finishes last in) the remaining 11 races to be run this year.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 19 laps / electrical
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 25 laps / brakes
41) #09-Mike Bliss / 38 laps / electrical
40) #13-Max Papis / 100 laps / crash
39) #08-Terry Labonte / 148 laps / electrical

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (7)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blaney Ties Cope’s Season Record After Crashing Out At Bristol


Dave Blaney picked up the 11th last-place finish of his career in Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with crash damage after completing 8 of the race’s 500 laps.

Coming into Saturday’s race, Blaney and team appeared to have one of the fastest cars in the field. Blaney was 8th fastest in Friday’s first practice session, 16th fastest in Happy Hour, and qualified an impressive 4th at a speed of 123.970 mph. However, trouble found him early in Saturday’s race. While running 5th on lap 3, his Toyota pushed in turns one and two, then was bumped by Joey Logano on the backstretch, bouncing his car hard off the outside wall. Blaney stuggled to hold on, having also suffered damage to his left-front fender, then came to pit road just before Logano crashed to bring out the first caution on lap 11. By then, Blaney was behind the wall and out of the race.

By scoring his sixth last-place finish of 2009, Blaney has now tied the all-time record for most last-place finishes by a driver in a single NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, set by Derrike Cope in 2006. Blaney has also finished last in both Bristol races this season: he spun from 2nd early in the Food City 500 and parked it soon after. Two other drivers have accomplished this feat: Richard D. Brown finished last in both Bristol races in 1972 and Ronnie Thomas did the same in 1987.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 8 laps / crash
42) #37-Tony Raines / 27 laps / transmission
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 48 laps / wheel bearing
40) #08-Terry Labonte / 244 laps / rear end
39) #71-David Gilliland / 354 laps / crash

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (6)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Labonte Edges Blaney For Last When Engine Fails at Michigan


Bobby Labonte picked up the 9th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Carfax 400 at the Michigan International Speedway when his #96 DLP Ford fell out with engine problems after completing 18 of the race’s 200 laps.

The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Bobby Labonte’s inaugural season with Yates Racing’s cooperative with Hall of Fame Racing has been marred by several poor finishes. Aside from a strong fifth-place finish in last March’s Shelby 427 at Las Vegas, Labonte has finished in the top 15 just one other time, in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Coming into Michigan last week, Labonte was 27th in points. He qualified 33rd with a speed of 183.290 mph.

In the opening laps of Sunday’s race, Labonte’s Ford was off the pace, struggling with an engine miss that kept him in the back. When rain brought out the first caution on lap 7, Labonte came down pit road early for the crew to check his car. David Gilliland’s #71 went behind the wall that same lap, just before the red flag stopped the race for 19 minutes. When the race resumed, Labonte’s hood was up on pit road, his crew changing the spark plugs. The race restarted on lap 12 and, on lap 19, last-place leader Dave Blaney went behind the wall. Gilliland returned to the track, 9 laps down, by lap 26, and Labonte came back on the track on lap 30. Still running in last, Labonte had hardly completed 18 laps when he pulled behind the wall a second time with a blown engine. Though he tied Blaney’s 18 laps completed, Labonte remained the last-place finisher of the race.

The race marked Labonte’s first last-place finish since he drove the flagship #43 for Petty Enterprises in the 2007 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville. The #96 had not finished last since then-rookie Andy Houston crashed out Cal Wells’ McDonald’s Ford just one lap into the 2001 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. The Hall of Fame Racing team, which once owned the #96 team in its entirety, had never before finished last. For Yates Racing, their most recent last-place finish came with road racer Marc Goosens when his #90 CitiFinancial Ford wrecked in the 2006 AMD at the Glen at Watkins Glen.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #96-Bobby Labonte / 18 laps / engine
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 18 laps / overheating
41) #36-Mike Skinner / 33 laps / vibration
40) #71-David Gilliland / 39 laps / vibration
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 40 laps / electrical

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (5)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ave Gets 43rd When Transmission Fails at the Glen


Tony Ave picked up the 1st last-place finish of his career in Monday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen at Watkins Glen International when his #37 Long John Silver’s Dodge fell out with transmission problems after completing 8 of the race’s 90 laps.

One of the so-called “road ringers,” Ave had only made one previous Sprint Cup Series start, also at Watkins Glen, where he finished 31st in 2004 driving for Stan Hover. In Friday’s qualifying session, Ave squeezed his way into the show in thrilling fashion. Throughout his timed lap, Ave flirted with Joe Nemechek’s speed of 119.770 mph, running parts of the course both faster and slower than Nemechek. Off the final corner, Ave’s car was not quite fast enough, but a burst of straightaway speed allowed him to beat Nemechek’s time by one hundredth of a second at a speed of 119.787 mph. Nemechek, who lost valuable practice time after an engine failure, joined Brian Simo and David Gilliland as the three drivers to miss the show. Ave started 43rd. However, transmission problems in Monday’s race forced Ave behind the wall, beating 2009 leader Dave Blaney by three laps.

It was the second last-place finish for Front Row Motorsports’ #37 in 2009, the other coming with Tony Raines in June’s Lifelock 400 at Michigan. Ave is the first driver to finish last because of transmission failures this season, the sixth to have started last, and, along with David Gilliland and Joey Logano, is now the third driver to finish last for the first time in 2009. Neither Front Row Motorsports nor the #37 had ever finished last at Watkins Glen.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Tony Ave / 8 laps / transmission
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 11 laps / brakes
41) #04-P.J. Jones / 13 laps / overheating
40) #26-Jamie McMurray / 58 laps / engine
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 60 laps / running

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (5)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wallace Parked In Gunselman Team’s Return At Pocono


Mike Wallace picked up the 8th last-place finish of his career in Monday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway when his #64 Air Combat USA / Fred’s Hometown Discount Stores Toyota was parked after completing 13 of the race’s 200 laps.

The second of the Wallace brothers, Mike had failed to make five NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2009. The first came when Wallace narrowly missed making the Daytona 500 while driving Kevin Buckler’s #71. Wallace was replaced by David Gilliland the following week. Wallace did not make another Sprint Cup attempt until Todd Bodine left Larry Gunselman’s #64 team coming into June’s Autism Speaks 400 at Dover. At that point, Bodine and the Gunselman team had qualified for only three races in 2009, the most recent being the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, where Bodine finished last. Bodine’s departure forced Gunselman to withdraw from Dover while Mike Wallace was brought on to drive in the following week’s Pocono 500 at Pocono. Unfortunately, mother nature was not on Wallace’s side. Qualifying was rained-out not only at Pocono, but the team’s next two attempts at Loudon and Daytona, and Wallace failed to qualify for all three as a result. In between these three races came Michigan and Sonoma, and though qualifying was not rained out, the Gunselman team did not enter either event. Wallace and Gunselman’s absence continued when they were the fastest car not to make the race at Chicago, and the team withdrew again at Indianapolis.

When Wallace and Gunselman returned to Pocono for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, qualifying was rained-out once again, but this time only 43 cars were on the entry list. Wallace and Gunselman were on the list and they secured the 42nd starting spot. After skipping two races, failing to qualify five times, and withdrawing seven more times in the fourteen races since Martinsville, the Gunselman team was set to make its fourth Sprint Cup start of 2009. Early in Monday’s race, it appeared Tony Raines would secure his third last-place finish of 2009 when he went behind the wall on lap 13. That same lap, Wallace was forced behind the wall because Gunselman’s team did not have a pit crew. Raines returned to the track 21 laps down and, after completing four more laps, dropped Wallace to 43rd. Only then did Raines end his race, putting him 42nd.

It is Wallace’s first last-place finish since he drove for Morgan-McClure when the timing chain failed on his Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet in the 2005 UAW-GM Quality 500 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The #64 had never before finished last in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono. It is also only the second time in NASCAR Sprint Cup history that a car finished last because they were parked by NASCAR. The only other time was when Joe Ruttman, then driving for James Finch, also did not have a pit crew when he started the 2004 Subway 400, the last Sprint Cup race held at the old North Carolina (Rockingham) Speedway.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #64-Mike Wallace / 13 laps / parked
42) #37-Tony Raines / 17 laps / power steering
41) #71-David Gilliland / 24 laps / alternator
40) #66-Dave Blaney / 26 laps / overheating
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 30 laps / ignition

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (5)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Wallace (1)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nemechek’s Brakes Burn Out At Indy, Moves To Sixth On All-Time Rankings


Joe Nemechek picked up the 15th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota fell out with brake problems after completing 21 of 160 laps.

Nemechek qualified 30th on Saturday with a speed of 177.284 mph, locking him into the Allstate 400 field as the third-fastest car outside the top 35 in owner’s points. In the early stages of Sunday’s race, it appeared as though Elliott Sadler would score his sixth last-place finish as a mysterious leak on the first lap forced him behind the wall. On lap 21, Nemechek then fell out with brake problems in the ensuing green-flag run, followed two laps later by 2009 last-place leader Dave Blaney. Sadler returned to the track late in the event, but Nemechek did not, giving him the 43rd and final finishing position.

The finish was Nemechek’s second of 2009 and his first since February’s Auto Club 500 at the Auto Club Speedway. It is the third time in 2009 that the last-place finisher fell out with brake problems and was also the first time that Nemechek, NEMCO Motorsports, and car number 87 have ever finished last in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Nemechek now sits sixth on the all-time last-place finisher rankings and is just one finish away from tying Derrike Cope and Todd Bodine for the most last-place finishes since 1998.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 21 laps / brakes
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 23 laps / brakes
41) #36-Mike Skinner / 35 laps / transmission
40) #19-Elliott Sadler / 45 laps / running
39) #78-Regan Smith / 108 laps / running

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (5)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin (1)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blaney’s 5th Last-Place Finish Comes When Engine Expires Early at Chicago


Dave Blaney picked up the 10th last-place finish of his career in Saturday night’s Lifelock.com 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota lost the engine after 10 of the race’s 267 laps.

On Thursday, Blaney qualified a solid 18th with a speed of 180.723 mph, making him the third-fastest car outside the top 35 in owner’s points. However, despite running mid-pack in the early stages of Saturday’s race, Blaney pulled behind the wall under green on lap 10 with engine problems. David Gilliland nearly took the finish from Blaney when he suffered transmission problems, but he completed one more lap than Blaney before heading to the garage.

It is the first time Blaney has ever finished last in two consecutive points races. It is the third time a driver has finished last with an engine failure in 2009.

With the finish, Blaney now sits 11th on the all-time list and became just the eighth driver ever to score five or more last-place finishes in a single season. The other seven are Jimmy Pardue (1961), Jimmy Helms (1965), Wayne Gillette (1969), J.D. McDuffie (1969), Derrike Cope (2003, 2006), Todd Bodine (2004), and Joe Ruttman (2004). As mentioned last week, Derrike Cope is the only driver with more than five in a single season: six in 2006.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 10 laps / engine
42) #71-David Gilliland / 11 laps / transmission
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 30 laps / clutch
40) #09-Mike Bliss / 58 laps / electrical
39) #36-Mike Skinner / 60 laps / engine

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (5)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek (1)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blaney Extends 2009 Lead With Overheating Car at Daytona


Dave Blaney picked up the 9th last-place finish of his career in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota fell out with overheating problems on lap 2 of the 160-lap race.

Qualifying was rained-out for the second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup race, allowing Blaney to secure the 40th starting spot. The #64 team of Gunselman Motorsports and the #13 team of Germain Racing were also on the entry list for Daytona, but both attempted fewer races than Blaney in 2009 and wound up as the two teams that failed to qualify. Still, Blaney was unable to secure a sponsor for the Daytona event and, just two laps in, he pulled behind the wall with overheating problems.

It is the first time the #66 had finished last at Daytona since Harry Gant fell out with an engine failure after completing just one lap of the 1978 Daytona 500.

The finish was the fourth for Blaney, team, and the number 66 in 2009, and the first for each since Blaney’s crash early in May's Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 at the Richmond International Raceway. Blaney tied P.J. Jones in last month’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway for the fewest laps completed of any last-place finisher in 2009 and joined Mike Bliss in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta as the only two drivers to finish last because of overheating problems.

Blaney moved past Ricky Craven and Kyle Petty and now stands alone with the fourth-most last-place finishes since 1998. Blaney sits 12th-ranked on the all-time list. Only three times since 1972 has a single driver scored more than four last-place finishes in a single NASCAR Sprint Cup season. By scoring their fourth, both Blaney and Prism Motorsports might make history in 2009. With 18 races to go, Derrike Cope’s driver record of six last-place finishes in 2006 and Means Racing’s team record of nine finishes in 1992 may both fall at season’s end.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 2 laps / overheating
42) #36-Patrick Carpentier / 18 laps / engine
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 25 laps / transmission
40) #71-David Gilliland / 76 laps / accident
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 76 laps / accident

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (4)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek (1)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carpentier Crashes Out At New Hampshire


Patrick Carpentier picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Toyota was involved in a single-car wreck on lap 14 of the 273-lap race.

Carpentier, the defending polesitter of the New Hampshire event, was making his return to the #36 for the first time since his last-place finish in the Pocono 500 three weeks before. On Friday, a track bar problem prevented him from competing in most of the opening practice session. Still, when rain washed out qualifying, Carpentier secured the 41st starting spot. Carpentier was hanging tough in Sunday’s race when, on lap 14, his brakes locked entering turn three, bouncing him off the outside wall and bringing out the first caution of the race. Carpentier was uninjured and, while the contact was not too severe, the #36 did not return to the track.

Carpentier is the fourth driver to finish last in a 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup point race because of a crash, the last being Dave Blaney’s early wreck in the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond last month. With the second last-place finish for driver, number, and team in 2009, Carpentier now makes it a four-way tie for 2nd in the 2009 last-place standings behind overall leader Dave Blaney.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #36-Patrick Carpentier / 14 laps / crash
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 29 laps / overheating
41) #37-Tony Raines / 30 laps / electrical
40) #71-David Gilliland / 48 laps / electrical
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 67 laps / transmission

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek (1)

Monday, June 22, 2009

P.J. Loses Power Steering at Sonoma


P.J. Jones picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway when his #04 Jim Beam / Menard’s Toyota fell out with power steering problems after completing 2 of the race’s 113 laps.

Jones, a NASCAR Sprint Cup “road ringer” with 26 series starts coming into Sunday’s race, has worked closely with owner-driver Robby Gordon as a relief driver. Jones wasn’t tabbed as a “road ringer” for any of the other Sprint Cup teams coming into Sonoma, so Gordon fielded a second Toyota for Jones on Thursday. This made Jones a “post-entry,” that is, even if he qualified, Jones would not score any points in Sunday’s race because the entry was filed after the deadline had lapsed.

A wild qualifying session on Friday saw full-time rookie Scott Speed slide off course in Turn 10 and fellow road racer Brian Simo blow the engine during their qualifying laps. This made Jones’ lap of 91.425 mph good enough to beat five “go-or-go-home” drivers, including Speed and Simo, granting Jones the 37th starting spot. When the green flag waved on Sunday, Jones made an unscheduled stop right after completing the first lap. After some repairs, Jones returned to the track, only to slow in the Esses and go behind the wall, having lost his power steering. 2009 last-place finish leader Dave Blaney went behind the wall on the same lap, but the lap Jones lost put him one lap behind Blaney and, thus, became the last-place finisher.

It was the first last-place finish for Jones in almost five years, dating back to his first-ever last-place finish driving for Don Arnold in the 2004 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono. In terms of laps completed, Jones has completed the fewest laps of any driver in any points race this season, besting Todd Bodine’s three laps completed in this spring’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville. (That finish, however, is still the season record holder for fewest miles completed).

The race also marked the third time that the #04 has finished last in the 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at the Infineon Raceway. The previous two last-place finishes occurred with ageless veteran Hershel McGriff behind the wheel in the 1990 and 1993 runnings. Jones and McGriff share a few other historical coincidences as a result of Sunday’s race. The 1993 event was McGriff’s final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and, until now, that race was also the last time the #04 had qualified for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Sonoma. This same weekend when Jones got the #04 back into the show, McGriff attempted his return to NASCAR competition by trying to qualify for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, a NASCAR Camping World West Series race, also held at Infineon.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #04-P.J. Jones / 2 laps / power steering
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 3 laps / rear end
41) #02-Brandon Ash / 94 laps / crash
40) #43-Reed Sorenson / 99 laps / running
39) #12-David Stremme / 101 laps / overheating

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, David Gilliland, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, Patrick Carpentier, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek (1)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Raines Falls Out With Electrical Problems at Michigan


Tony Raines picked up the 5th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at the Michigan International Speedway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Dodge fell out with electrical problems after completing 17 of the race’s 200 laps.

Bob Jenkins’ Front Row Motorsports team has achieved modest success in 2009 with driver John Andretti keeping the team’s #34 in the top 35 in owner’s points. Journeyman Tony Raines has been the driver of Jenkins’ second car, the #37. On Friday, Raines qualified for his sixth race of 2009, his third behind the wheel of car #37, and started 41st with a speed of 184.535 mph. Andretti, in the other Jenkins car, qualified 10th to give the team its first top-10 start. On Sunday, Raines pulled behind the wall under green on lap 17 with electrical problems. Three other small teams pulled their cars behind the wall by lap 24.

The finish was Raines’ second last-place finish of the season, his first since the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix two months ago. It is the first last-place finish for owner Bob Jenkins in nearly a year, dating back to when Brian Simo’s #34 SoBe No Fear Ford fell out with transmission problems early in the 2008 Toyota / Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway.

It is also the first last-place finish for the #37 since Mike Skinner’s Patron Tequila / BoSPOKER.net Dodge fell out with a rear end failure in the 2005 Dickies 500 at Texas and the first time the last-place finisher has fallen out with electrical problems since Aric Almirola’s #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in the 2007 Subway 500 at Martinsville.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #37-Tony Raines / 17 laps / electrical
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 20 laps / electrical
41) #09-Sterling Marlin / 23 laps / electrical
40) #66-Dave Blaney / 23 laps / engine
39) #44-A.J. Allmendinger / 144 laps / running

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, David Gilliland, Tony Raines (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, Patrick Carpentier, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek (1)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Carpentier Calls It A Day After Vibration at Pocono


Patrick Carpentier picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway when his unsponsored #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Toyota fell out with a vibration problem after completing 32 of the race’s 200 laps.

The Tommy Baldwin Racing team was one of the surprising stories of SpeedWeeks 2009 at Daytona when driver Scott Riggs raced the start-up team’s #36 into the Daytona 500. However, four DNQ’s in the eleven races after, combined with a lack of sponsorship, led to Riggs leaving the team after the Coca-Cola 600. After Mike Skinner raced the car at Dover, Patrick Carpentier was tabbed to drive for Baldwin at Pocono.

One of last year’s Rookie of the Year candidates, Carpentier had not made a NASCAR Sprint Cup start since last fall’s Camping World RV 400 at Kansas. He was released from the team after failing to qualify for the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega the following week. Qualifying was rained out at Pocono on Friday, and since Baldwin’s team had attempted all the races, Carpentier secured the 40th starting spot. Unfortunately, on lap 32, Carpentier went behind the wall with a vibration.

The finish was Carpentier’s first last-place finish since he crashed out in the big lap 230 pileup during the Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond last May. It is the first last-place finish for Tommy Baldwin’s team and the first for #36 since Johnny Benson, Jr. lost the engine while driving Bill Davis Racing’s 360 OTC Toyota in the 2007 season finale, the Ford 400 at Homestead. Carpentier is the second last-place finisher to fall out with a vibration problem, the last being Mike Bliss in last month’s Coca-Cola 600.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #36-Patrick Carpentier / 32 laps / vibration
42) #71-David Gilliland / 34 laps / ignition
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 36 laps / vibration
40) #66-Dave Blaney / 37 laps / vibration
39) #09-Sterling Marlin / 56 laps / fuel pump

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, David Gilliland (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, Patrick Carpentier, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (1)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gilliland’s Power Steering Fails Early at Dover


David Gilliland picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 presented by Heluva Good! at the Dover International Speedway when his #71 CompUSA Chevrolet fell out with an engine failure after completing 38 of the race’s 400 laps.

Gilliland was the second-fastest go-or-go-homer in Friday’s qualifying session, good enough for 24th with a speed of 154.593 mph. On race day, Gilliland stayed out an extra lap during the first yellow flag, a competition caution on lap 30, allowing him to lead lap 33. Gilliland would eventually pit, then go behind the wall not long after the restart on lap 38. Gilliland became the first driver to finish last in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race due to a power steering failure.

The finish was the second last-place finish for both driver, team, and number in three NASCAR Sprint Cup points races, the previous being Gilliland’s early exit from the Southern 500 at Darlington three weeks ago. Gilliland also became the first last-place finisher to lead a lap since A.J. Allmendinger’s single start for Michael Waltrip Racing in last fall’s Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s. Gilliland is now tied with Mike Bliss for second in the 2009 last-place rankings, both drivers one finish behind leader Dave Blaney. Blaney and Bliss also fell out early at Dover and finished 39th and 40th, respectively.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #71-David Gilliland / 38 laps / power steering
42) #37-Tony Raines / 42 laps / accident
41) #36-Mike Skinner / 51 laps / engine
40) #09-Mike Bliss / 56 laps / electrical
39) #66-Dave Blaney / 66 laps / transmission

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, David Gilliland (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (1)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bliss Felled By Vibration In 600 at Lowe’s, Moves To 2nd In 2009 Rankings


Mike Bliss picked up the 4th last-place finish of his career in Monday’s rain-delayed and rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway when his #09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming and Resorts Dodge fell out with a vibration after completing 42 of the race’s 227 laps.

Bliss’ tumultuous weekend in Charlotte began on Thursday with a surprising 7th-fastest qualifying run for the 600 at a speed of 187.422 mph. The run was his second top-10 start in as many Cup races; he started 6th at Richmond three weeks earlier. In Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race, Bliss was the benefactor of a wild finish. A late-race caution during green-flag stops trapped leaders Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers a lap down, moving Bliss and Brendan Gaughan into the lead. Bliss took the lead from Gaughan just before the rains came, ultimately ending the race with 30 laps to go and giving Bliss his first Nationwide Series victory in five years.

Despite the victory and a determination to run the entire 600-miler the next day, Bliss fell back on Monday and went behind the wall under the third caution on lap 40, a scheduled competition caution, with a bad vibration. Bliss did not return to the race and was credited with completing 42 laps.

The finish was both Bliss and owner James Finch’s second last-place finish of 2009, the previous being the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta. For Bliss, it is also his second last-place finish at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the previous one being the fall race in 2000, then called the UAW-GM Quality 500. It is the first time a last-place finisher fell out with a vibration since Derrike Cope fell out of the 2006 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond en route to scoring a record six last-place finishes in a single year.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #09-Mike Bliss / 42 laps / vibration
42) #13-Max Papis / 219 laps / running
41) #29-Kevin Harvick / 224 laps / running
40) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 225 laps / running
39) #34-Tony Raines / 225 laps / running

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss (2)
3rd) Todd Bodine, David Gilliland, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (1)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Biffle Body-Slammed Out Of All-Star Race at Lowe’s


Greg Biffle finished last in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway when his #16 3M Ford was involved in a two-car crash on lap 71 of the 100-lap race.

Biffle scored the 11th starting spot in Friday’s qualifying session, having incurred a five-second penalty for a lugnut that was left loose during his pit stop. Biffle ran a quiet race through the first two 50 and 20-lap segments, but found trouble at the start of the third 20-lap segment. Just one lap into the segment, while running the high groove in turns one and two, Biffle had nowhere to go when Sam Hornish, Jr.’s Dodge broke loose under him, pinning Biffle into the outside wall. The car’s passenger-side sheetmetal was knocked flat as a result, and the right-front corner of his Ford was damaged the most severely. Biffle went behind the wall and did not return to the track.

The race is Biffle’s first last-place finish in the All-Star Race. He has four last-place finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup points races, most recently in last summer’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
21) #16-Greg Biffle / 71 laps / crash
20) #31-Jeff Burton / 85 laps / engine
19) #24-Jeff Gordon / 92 laps / crash
18) #39-Ryan Newman / 93 laps / crash
17) #09-Brad Keselowski / 100 laps / running

Long Finishes Last When Engine Fails Early In The Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s


Carl Long finished last in Saturday’s Sprint Showdown at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway when the engine failed on his #46 Romeo Guest Construction Dodge lost the engine after completing 3 of the race’s 40 laps.

In Friday’s practice, Long’s engine blew during a mock qualifying run, forcing him to switch engines before qualifying that afternoon. A mid-afternoon thunderstorm forced the cancellation of Sprint Showdown qualifying, but this ironically worked to Long’s benefit. Since the Showdown was not a points event, the starting lineup was determined by the random draw that set the qualifying order. Long was set to be the 2nd driver to qualify, so his #46 was awarded the outside-pole for the Sprint Showdown. However, Long’s engine change forced him to surrender the spot and start at the back of the largest Sprint Showdown field since 1996. A similar fate befell the polesitter, fellow owner-driver Kirk Shelmerdine, who was forced to the back after damaging his primary car in practice.

Long held his own in the early laps, but when the first caution fell on lap 2, his #46 was on the apron with smoke coming from the left-front fender. Though this appeared to be the result of making contact with another car in traffic, Long pulled behind the wall under yellow with a blown engine.

Ironically, despite the two failed engines, Long was then penalized 200 driver and owner points and was put on a 12-race suspension the following Wednesday when NASCAR ruled his race engine was too big.

The finish marked the first time both Long and the #46 have ever finished last in the Sprint Showdown. Long has three last-place finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup points races, most recently in the 2005 New England 300 at New Hampshire. It is also the second time the outside-polesitter of the Sprint Showdown has ever finished last: Todd Bodine did the same when an early crash took him out of the 2003 Winston Open.

Also of note, Dave Blaney, the current 2009 leader in last-place finishes, secured sponsorship for the Sprint Showdown, inherited the outside-pole from Long, and contended for the lead for much of the race before finishing 11th.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
35) #46-Carl Long / 3 laps / engine
34) #83-Brian Vickers / 11 laps / crash
33) #19-Elliott Sadler / 25 laps / crash
32) #27-Kirk Shelmerdine / 39 laps / running
31) #57-Norm Benning / 39 laps / running

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gilliland Gets First Last-Place Finish When Fuel Pump Fails at Darlington


David Gilliland picked up the 1st last-place finish of his career in Saturday’s Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway when his unsponsored #71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet lost the fuel pump after completing 27 of the race’s 367 laps. The finish came in Gilliland’s 97th career Sprint Cup start.

Gilliland and Kevin Buckler’s TRG (The Racer’s Group) Motorsports team were one of the many pleasant surprises at the opening of the 2009 season. TRG made its first NASCAR Sprint Cup attempt with Mike Wallace in the Daytona 500, but barely missed the show. David Gilliland took over driving duties at Fontana, and since then, the #71 has made every race and has been either in or near the top 35 in owner’s points. However, the team’s first two DNF’s came in consecutive races at Talladega and Richmond, and Gilliland and TRG looked for redemption at Darlington.

Gilliland was 3rd fastest in Friday’s first practice session for the Southern 500 and he was again the fastest of the go-or-go-homers in Happy Hour. The car struggled in qualifying, picking up the 30th starting spot with a speed of 175.441, but the #71 was still the third-fastest go-or-go-homer behind Max Papis and Regan Smith. In the race, Gilliland kept his nose clean through a pair of early cautions, but he pulled behind the wall under green with a busted fuel pump on lap 28. Gilliland did not return to the race.

It is the first last-place finish for Kevin Buckler and TRG and the first for the #71 since Jay Sauter, driving Dave Marcis’ RealTree Chevrolet, fell out after an early crash in the 2002 EA Sports 500 at Talladega.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #71-David Gilliland / 27 laps / fuel pump
42) #09-Sterling Marlin / 38 laps / transmission
41) #66-Dave Blaney / 56 laps / brakes
40) #55-Michael Waltrip / 73 laps / engine
39) #36-Scott Riggs / 101 laps / brakes

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Todd Bodine, David Gilliland, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (1)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blaney Backs Into Wall at Richmond, Extends 2009 Season Lead


Dave Blaney picked up the 8th last-place finish of his career in Saturday’s Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 at the Richmond International Raceway when his unsponsored #66 Prism Motorsports Toyota was involved in a single-car crash on lap 9 of the 400-lap race.

After missing the previous week’s race at Talladega due to a social obligation, Blaney returned to the Prism Motorsports team at Richmond. Blaney qualified a solid 26th in the 43-car field with a speed of 124.908 mph. Due to rainy weather in the Richmond area, the opening six laps of Saturday’s race were run under the caution flag. On lap 7, the field took the green flag and Blaney worked the high side to get through the field. Unfortunately, he entered turn three too high on lap 9 and spun out, backing his Toyota into the outside wall. Though Blaney was able to slow down enough so that the impact did little damage to the rear of his car, Blaney went behind the wall and did not return to the track.

The race was Blaney’s third last-place finish of the year and his first since last month’s Samsung 500 at Texas. No one else has had more than one this season. This was the first time the Phil Parsons-owned team has left the race with any damage to the car’s sheetmetal. The team’s previous two last-place finishes were because of steering and brake failures, respectively.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #66-Dave Blaney / 8 laps / crash
42) #36-Scott Riggs / 54 laps / electrical
41) #37-Tony Raines / 74 laps / brakes
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 90 laps / brakes
39) #71-David Gilliland / 92 laps / electrical

2009 RANKINGS
1st) Dave Blaney (3)
2nd) Mike Bliss, Todd Bodine, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines (1)