Sunday, July 10, 2011

CUP: Skinner Is Inaugural Last-Place Finisher Of Kentucky Cup Race

Mike Skinner picked up the 12th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s inaugural Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway when his #60 Big Red Toyota fell out with electrical problems after completing 17 of the race’s 267 laps.

Kentucky, scene of NASCAR’s first new Sprint Cup venue since 2001, was also the home track of Big Red Soda, who sponsored three teams entered into the race. Skinner, the only Big Red car among the “go-or-go-homers,” was locked-in based on the #60's attempting all 18 races in 2011 after qualifying was cut short by rain. Joining Skinner in the Big Red contingent were Dave Blaney, whose #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet started 32nd, and Mike Bliss, who rolled out 42nd in the FAS Lane Racing Ford #32.

Blaney changed transmissions before Saturday’s race, sending him to the back of the field along with Denny Hamlin, who changed engines in Happy Hour. During the pace laps, the two were joined by Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell, who surrendered their starting spots in anticipation of an early exit. McDowell’s #66 was carrying an eye-catching new paint job, officially listed under sponsors “Standard Publishing” and “Relentless Hope.”

In the early laps, Scott Riggs, in Dusty Whitney’s unsponsored red #81, slipped from the 40th starting spot to 43rd, but it was Skinner, still on “start-and-park” duty, who exited the race first during the opening green-flag run. Riggs followed eleven laps later followed by McDowell, who pulled out right after getting the Lucky Dog during the first competition caution on Lap 31.

Fellow Big Red Soda drivers Blaney and Bliss finished 33rd and 34th, respectively, each three laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.

*The last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series added a new track to its schedule was in 2001, when Casey Atwood’s #19 Dodge / UAW-sponsored Dodge was involved in a crash during the opening lap of the inaugural Protection One 400 at Kansas. 

*Here are the last-place finishers of the ten most recent inaugural Cup races:
KANSAS - #19-Casey Atwood (crash on the opening lap) in 2001
CHICAGO - #96-Andy Houston (engine failure after 3 laps) in 2001
HOMESTEAD - #66-Darrell Waltrip (handling problems after 85 laps) in 1999
LAS VEGAS - #8-Hut Stricklin (electrical problems after 150 laps) in 1998
TEXAS - #17-Darrell Waltrip (crash on the opening lap) in 1997
FONTANA - #8-Hut Stricklin (crash after 28 laps) in 1997
INDIANAPOLIS - #27-Jimmy Spencer (crash after 9 laps) in 1994
LOUDON - #65-Jerry O’Neil (crash after 9 laps) in 1993
SONOMA - #29-Dale Jarrett (transmission problems after 8 laps) in 1989
PHOENIX - #15-Brett Bodine (engine problems after 13 laps) in 1988

43) #60-Mike Skinner / 17 laps / electrical
42) #81-Scott Riggs / 28 laps / brakes
41) #66-Michael McDowell / 32 laps / electrical
40) #46-J.J. Yeley / 35 laps / transmission / led 1 lap
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 37 laps / brakes

1st) Michael McDowell (5)
2nd) Joe Nemechek, Mike Skinner (3)
3rd) Kevin Conway, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Landon Cassill, P.J. Jones, Scott Riggs (1)

1st) #66-HP Racing LLC (5)
2nd) #60-Germain Racing (4)
3rd) #87-NEMCO Motorsports (3)
4th) #46-Whitney Motorsports, #97-NEMCO Motorsports (2)
5th) #81-Whitney Motorsports, #77-Robby Gordon Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (14)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge (1)

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