The finish was Gaughan’s first of 2012 and his first in Cup since Phoenix in the fall of 2010, when he also fell out after the opening lap while driving for TRG Motorsports.
Despite resulting in owner Richard Childress’ first 43rd-place run since Jeff Burton lost his engine at Talladega in the fall of 2007, the #33 team lost five points to its competitors in the Top 35 battle and remains 35th, now just five points to the good. The team is thus locked into next week’s race at Martinsville, where Hermie Sadler will once again race at his home track.
Behind Gaughan, three Cup Series last-placers in 2012 remain outside the Top 35 - Josh Wise in the #26, Michael McDowell in the #98, and J.J. Yeley in the #49 - all within 27 points of the #33.
Joe Nemechek, still tied for 2nd in the all-time LASTCAR standings, suffered his first DNQ since Phoenix in the fall of 2010. Nemechek now looks towards making the show next Sunday at Martinsville, where he’s the race’s defending last-place finisher. His #87 currently stands 43rd in Owner Points, 40 points away from a guaranteed starting spot.
*The #33's most recent last-place finish in a Cup race was in 2001, when Joe Nemechek’s #33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet suffered an overheating problem after 108 laps of the Food City 500 at Bristol. The number had never before finished last in a Cup race at Fontana.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #33-Brendan Gaughan / 1 lap / engine
42) #74-Reed Sorenson / 6 laps / vibration
41) #23-Scott Riggs / 17 laps / vibration
40) #19-Mike Bliss / 18 laps / transmission
39) #30-David Stremme / 36 laps / rear gear
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Brendan Gaughan, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #26-Front Row Motorsports, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (3)
2nd) Chevrolet, Toyota (1)