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.


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.


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).