Mike Harmon picked up the 11th last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s Royal Purple 300 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California (Fontana) when his #74 Riverwalk Café Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 3 of the race’s 150 laps. He now ties Morgan Shepherd for the fifth-most last-place finishes in the Nationwide Series.
Harmon brought his own Chevrolet to Fontana and qualified it 39th for Saturday’s race at a speed of 159.391 mph. Not only was it the 53-year-old driver’s first start of the season, but also his first as an owner since 2009. In the race itself, Harmon pulled behind the wall three laps in, following Faith Motorsports’ Brett Rowe on the same lap.
*Harmon had not finished last in a Nationwide Series race since 2009, when his #07 PMC Life Chevrolet fell out with brake problems 6 laps into the 2009 U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa. Harmon is best known for his horrifying wreck during practice for the 2002 Food City 250 at Bristol when his #44 Race-Ready Communications Chevrolet struck an unsecured crossover gate at the exit of turn two. Harmon survived the wreck unscathed and owner Gregg Mixon acquired a backup car from Larry Gunselman. Harmon fell out of that Bristol race after two laps, picking up the third last-place finish of his Nationwide Series career.
*The #74 had not finished last in a Nationwide Series race since 2004, when Tony Raines’ Outdoor Channel Chevrolet fell out in a three-car crash after the opening lap of the 2004 O’Reilly 300 at Texas. The number had never before finished last in a Nationwide race at Fontana.
*A Nationwide Series driver had not finished last at in a race at Fontana due to vibration problems since 2009, when Derrike Cope’s #41 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet fell out three laps into the 2009 Stater Brothers 300 at Fontana. Jennifer Jo Cobb, who nearly finished last under some controversy at Bristol last week, drove Ware’s #41 to a 38th-place finish in this year’s race.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #74-Mike Harmon / 3 laps / vibration
42) #55-Brett Rowe / 3 laps / handling
41) #68-Carl Long / 12 laps / steering
40) #03-Alex Kennedy / 21 laps / rear end
39) #97-Joe Nemechek / 31 laps / brakes
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Kelly Bires and Justin Marks were not entered into Saturday’s race, nor did owner Ed Rensi enter the #25 in which Bires finished last with two times this season. Kevin Conway finished 22nd driving owner Joe Nemechek’s #87 he last raced at Las Vegas.
1st) Kelly Bires (2)
2nd) Kevin Conway, Mike Harmon, Justin Marks (1)
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #25-Ed Rensi (2)
2nd) #27-Baker Curb Racing, #74-Mike Harmon, #87-NEMCO Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (3)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)