Sunday, May 13, 2012

CUP: For The First Time Since 1965, The #26 Finishes Last at Darlington

Josh Wise picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career in Saturday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington when his #26 Morristown Drivers Service Ford fell out with a vibration after 19 of the race’s 368 laps.

The finish was Wise’s second of the 2012 season and his first since Bristol, seven races ago.

Wise qualified 30th at an average speed of 176.746 mph, ranking him a close second among the twelve "go-or-go-homers" who attempted to qualify. Wise was also fast in practice, clocking in the eighth-fastest time in Happy Hour.

On race day, Cole Whitt, making his second start in Turn One Racing’s #74, beat Wise to the garage area. However, Whitt returned to run at least ten more laps, moving him to 38th and Wise back to 43rd.

Finishing 41st and 42nd on Saturday were two teams making their first Cup starts of the season. The 42nd spot went to Archie St. Hilaire’s Go Green Racing, a Nationwide Series program who fielded a #79 Ford for Scott Speed. The team was unsuccessful in its first Cup attempt last month at Kansas, when Tim Andrews was driving. At Darlington, the #79, with logos to ailing seven-year-old Kyle St. Clair, sped to a 29th-place starting spot.

Scott Speed’s former ride from Martinsville, the #52 Crusader Staffing Toyota of Hamilton Means Racing, also made its debut with Mike Skinner behind the wheel. Skinner timed in 35th, securing part-owner Jimmy "Smut" Means his first Cup start in a points race since Gary Bradberry’s 12th-place start in the 1994 Hooters 500 at Atlanta.

*The last time the #26 finished last in a Cup race at Darlington was on September 6, 1965 when Junior Johnson’s 1965 Ford fell out ignition failure after one lap of the Southern 500. Johnson started on the pole and scored the 16th and final last-place finish of his driving career. This was also the race where Ned Jarrett won by a NASCAR record 14 laps over Buck Baker.
*The last time a Ford finished last in a Cup race at Darlington was in 2008, when Greg Biffle won the pole and led a LASTCAR-record 95 laps, only to suffer an engine failure after 234 laps of the Dodge Avenger 500.

43) #26-Josh Wise / 19 laps / vibration
42) #79-Scott Speed / 20 laps / overheating
41) #52-Mike Skinner / 20 laps / electrical
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 27 laps / power steering
39) #30-David Stremme / 32 laps / overheating

1st) Michael McDowell, Scott Speed, Josh Wise (2)
2nd) Brendan Gaughan, David Ragan, Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) #26-Front Row Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (2)
2nd) #23-R3 Motorsports, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #74-Turn One Racing (1)

1st) Ford (7)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Toyota (1)

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