Monday, June 27, 2011
CUP: P.J. Jones Gets Dodge Its First Cup Last-Place Finish of 2011 at Infineon
For the third consecutive year, Jones was tabbed by Cup Series regular Robby Gordon to drive a second car for him at Sonoma. On Friday, Jones made it three-for-three when he timed in 35th at a speed of 91.223 mph, ranking him second behind only Joe Nemechek among the day’s “go-or-go-homers.” Missing the race was fellow road racer Tony Ave, driving Travis Kvapil’s #38 for Front Row Motorsports.
Before the start of Sunday’s race, Mike Skinner pulled out of his 37th starting spot and fell to the rear of the field, apparently set to give the #60 team its fourth last-place finish of 2011. However, Jones pulled out of the race after the first five green-flag laps, and Skinner followed five circuits after that.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. busted his radiator after an early tangle with Brian Vickers in Turn 11, ultimately ending his day with a 41st-place finish. Only Jones and Skinner’s early departure kept Earnhardt, Jr. from scoring his 7th last-place finish and his first since Phoenix in the fall of 2007.
Robby Gordon, Jones’ car owner, started 28th and finished 18th, the #7 team’s best run since Gordon came home 16th in the season-opening Daytona 500. Gordon successfully recovered from an incident in Turn 11 and ran the final laps on tires lent from fellow Dodge driver Brad Keselowski.
*The #77 had not finished last in a Cup race since 2008, when Sam Hornish, Jr.’s Mobil 1 Dodge was involved in a fiery crash with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Casey Mears 20 laps into the 2008 Auto Club 500 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.
*The #77 had never before finished last in a Cup, Nationwide, or Truck Series road race.
*This was P.J.’s second last-place finish at Infineon in the last three years. In his first run with Gordon in 2009, he fell out after two laps with power steering problems driving a #04 Menards / Jim Beam Toyota. That race was the scene of P.J.’s most recent last-place showing.
*It’s Dodge’s first last-place finish in the 2011 Cup season. Dodge had not finished last in a Cup race since last September’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire, where Michael McDowell’s #46 Cash America Dodge fell out with engine failure after 29 laps. Ford has yet to finish last in a Cup race this season.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #77-P.J. Jones / 5 laps / suspension
42) #60-Mike Skinner / 10 laps / ignition
41) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 45 laps / overheating
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 66 laps / transmission
39) #14-Tony Stewart / 88 laps / crash / led 3 laps
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell (5)
2nd) Joe Nemechek (3)
3rd) Mike Skinner, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Landon Cassill, Kevin Conway, P.J. Jones, Scott Riggs (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #66-HP Racing LLC (5)
2nd) #60-Germain Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports (3)
3rd) #46-Whitney Motorsports (2)
4th) #77-Robby Gordon Motorsports, #81-Whitney Motorsports, #97-NEMCO Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER’S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (12)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge (1)
CORRECTION: The original details about Joe Nemechek’s exit from the race have been omitted in light of conflicting scanner communications provided by a reader. My apologies for any confusion.