Monday, February 23, 2009

Fuel Pump Falters, Nemechek 43rd In Fontana

Joe Nemechek picked up his 14th career last-place finish in Sunday's Auto Club 500 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California after his unsponsored #87 Toyota fell out with a fuel pump failure on lap 36 of the 250-lap event.

After coming just one spot shy of making the field for the Daytona 500 the previous week, Nemechek made the field for the Auto Club 500 with a qualifying speed of 177.998 mph. The run was just good enough for him to beat 5 other go-or-go-homers and secure the 43rd spot. In the early stages of the race, Nemechek gradually moved up into the 30s, but came down pit road under green on lap 36. His crew lifted the hood on his Toyota, then pushed it behind the wall. The fuel pump had failed, forcing the team to call it a day. It was the first time the last-place finisher was knocked out with a fuel pump problem since Joe Ruttman in the 1982 Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

The run was Nemechek’s third last-place finish at the Auto Club Speedway, his second-straight at the track, and his first since last fall's Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville. Half of Nemechek’s fourteen last-place finishes have all come in the last three seasons. Nemechek’s NEMCO operation had not finished last since Ron Fellows fell out early in the Global Crossing at the Glen in August of 2000. It had been just over a year since the #87 had previously finished last: Kenny Wallace did so driving as Nemechek’s teammate in last year’s Daytona 500.

43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 36 laps / fuel pump
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 50 laps / fuel pump
41) #82-Scott Speed / 172 laps / engine
40) #5-Mark Martin / 179 laps / engine
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 205 laps / engine

1st) Joey Logano, Joe Nemechek (1)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Logano 2-For-2, Finishes 43rd In Daytona 500 Debut

Joey Logano picked up his 1st career last-place finish in Sunday's 51st Annual Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway after his #20 Home Depot Toyota was involved in a single-car accident on lap 79 of the rain-shortened 152-lap race.

Logano had a difficult SpeedWeeks coming into the 500. He crashed out of the Budweiser Shootout the previous week and struggled with his car’s handling in practice. Despite this, Logano ran very well in Gatorade Duel Race 1 on Thursday, finishing 4th. The run gave him the 9th starting spot for the Daytona 500, but he struggled near the back of the pack as the race progressed. Hovering around 27th on lap 79, Logano entered the tri-oval behind fellow rookie Scott Speed. When Speed got loose, Logano turned left and crossed the nose of Greg Biffle on his inside. The contact sent Logano’s Toyota head-on into the inside wall just before the entrance of pit road. His car then slid back into the infield grass and came to a stop, bringing out the fourth caution of the race. Logano was uninjured.

With the finish, Logano became the first driver ever to finish last in both the Budweiser Shootout and the Daytona 500 in the same year. It was the first time the #20 had finished last in the Daytona 500 since 2007 and the first time the #20 had finished last at all since last year’s UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas. Both those finishes came with the car’s previous driver, Tony Stewart.

43) #20-Joey Logano / 79 laps / crash
42) #28-Travis Kvapil / 90 laps / running
41) #18-Kyle Busch / 123 laps / crash
40) #41-Jeremy Mayfield / 126 laps / running
39) #83-Brian Vickers / 134 laps / crash

1st) Joey Logano (1)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Logano Last In Budweiser Shootout Debut

Joey Logano finished last in Saturday's Budweiser Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway after his #20 Home Depot Toyota was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 4 of the first 25-lap segment.

The 18-year-old rookie struggled with his car’s handling in practice, then had to give up his 19th starting spot after missing the driver’s meeting. Logano missed the meeting as the ARCA race, in which he finished 2nd, was delayed by several wrecks. In the Shootout, Logano was still at the back of the pack when David Ragan broke loose in turn three on lap 4 and collected several cars. The wreck caused Scott Speed to spin down the track. Speed’s nose then clipped the right-rear of Logano’s Toyota, sending him hard into the turn four wall. Logano and the other drivers involved walked away unscathed from this first caution of the race.

Although this was Logano’s first last-place finish, it will not be in the rankings as it was not in a points race. Logano’s finish did mark the first time a #20 car had finished last in the Shootout since Jimmy Hensley finished a lap down in the 1990 event. Interestingly, while the #20's previous driver, Tony Stewart, has three Shootout wins, he’s also finished last in two Daytona 500s (2002 and 2007). Next week, Logano will become the youngest driver ever to compete in The Great American Race.

28) #20-Joey Logano / 3 laps / crash
27) #7-Robby Gordon / 3 laps / crash
26) #6-David Ragan / 3 laps / crash
25) #82-Scott Speed / 4 laps / crash
24) #31-Jeff Burton / 33 laps / crash