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)