Monday, April 23, 2012

CUP: Riggs’ Last-Place Finish At Kansas The First For #23 Since 2002

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin'
Scott Riggs picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s STP 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet fell out with rear gear problems after 18 of the race’s 267 laps.

The finish was Riggs’ first of the 2012 season and his first in Cup Series competition in thirty-one races. That race was last June’s 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono, where his #81 Chevrolet fell out after 17 laps due to brake trouble.

Over the 2011-2012 offseason, Riggs landed a Cup Series ride with R3 Motorsports, a longtime Nationwide Series team that has recently made frequent attempts to enter NASCAR’s top racing division. The team’s DNQ streak continued through SpeedWeeks, when Robert Richardson was unable to race the #23 Toyota into the Daytona 500 field.

Then, as the team switched to Chevrolets and put Riggs behind the wheel, the R3 team qualified for six of the next seven races, missing only last month’s race at Las Vegas. Still, as R3 continues to pool its funds for its Nationwide Series program, Riggs has parked the #23 each week - twice he finished 41st and three times he came home 42nd. Sunday proved to be R3's first-ever last-place finish in Cup Series competition.

In qualifying, Riggs put the #23 into the 34th position at an average speed of 173.249 mph, ranking him fourth among the eleven "go-or-go-homers" who attempted to qualify. It was vindication for Riggs, who had missed the show for the Truck Series race the day before while driving Mike Harmon’s #74.

Riggs’ run in qualifying also bumped out of the field Jeff Green, still tied for the all-time LASTCAR lead. Last week, Green was tabbed as the driver for the #33 team that finished last at Fontana with Brendan Gaughan, but the car lacked speed in time trials. This Friday in the Nationwide Series race at Richmond, Green is expected to run the #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota in which he has scored the most recent three of his record-tying 35 NASCAR finishes.

Another 43rd on Friday will break his tie with Derrike Cope, putting a new leader on top for the first time since Cope beat the record of the late J.D. McDuffie by scoring his 33rd finish in the Nationwide race at Montreal on August 2, 2008.

*This was the first last-place finish in Cup for the #23 since 2002, when the number belonged to Bill Davis Racing and the Hills Bros. Dodge driven by Hut Stricklin. Stricklin’s car came home 43rd in the 2002 MBNA America 500 at Atlanta in the spring of that year, having lost an engine after 164 laps.
*This was Riggs’ first last-place finish in a Cup race at Kansas.
*For the third time in the last four Cup races at Kansas, the last-place finisher fell out with rear gear problems as the listed cause.

43) #23-Scott Riggs / 18 laps / rear gear
42) #19-Mike Bliss / 27 laps / brakes
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 47 laps / vibration
40) #98-Michael McDowell / 58 laps / overheating
39) #26-Josh Wise / 65 laps / rear gear

With eight different last-place finishers in the first eight races, 2012 is the most competitive LASTCAR season since 2008, which started with 17 different finishers. The last three seasons began with streaks of only four, two, and six, respectively.
1st) Brendan Gaughan, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Scott Speed, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) #23-R3 Motorsports, #26-Front Row Motorsports, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #74-Turn One Racing, #95-Leavine Family Racing, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (1)

1st) Ford (4)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Toyota (1)


UnderdogFan89 said...

I was thinking the exact same thing about the different last place finishers this season. And we haven't even had former LASTCAR champion Nemechek record a last place finish this season. We could easily go double digit races before a repeat winner.

Brock Beard said...

Very true, UF! Who's your pick for 43rd this Saturday?

UnderdogFan89 said...

It really depends on who qualifies, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the streak continues with Mike Bliss.

Brock Beard said...

That's a good pick; they've been close lately. Don't forget to catch the Nationwide race tonight as Jeff Green makes a bid for the all-time lead!