The finish was Truex’s first of the 2012 season and his first in a Cup Series race since this same event in 2008, 145 races ago. In that race, the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil, Truex’s #1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet fell out with overheating problems after he completed 27 of the race’s 313 laps.
Truex qualified second for Sunday’s race at an average speed of 138.217 mph. He was just narrowly edged for the pole by 0.103 of a second by Kyle Busch, the final driver out to qualify. Busch, Truex, and third and fourth-place starters Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne all broke the old track record, which is now set at Busch’s 138.766 mph.
In Sunday’s race, however, Truex’s Toyota felt down on power and began to lose track position almost immediately after the start. For the first ten laps, Truex gradually fell back through the field, eventually falling to 43rd along with Humphrey-Smith Racing’s #91 Plinker Tactical / Value Place Chevrolet, driven this week by Jason Leffler.
At that point, Truex pulled behind the wall for repairs at almost the same time as Leffler. When the Michael Waltrip Racing crew discovered the engine problem was terminal, Truex’s race was over. Although the ESPN broadcast indicated that Leffler had finished last, NASCAR’s unofficial results after the race credited Truex with the 43rd spot.
|Jim Bray, 1974|
SOURCE: Historical Stock Car Racing Forum
*Truex is the first outside-polesitter to finish last in a Cup Series points race since 2007, when Denny Hamlin’s FedEx Kinko’s Chevrolet finished 61 laps down in the 2007 Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Truex is only the 32nd outside-polesitter to finish last in a Cup Series race.
*Truex’s is the first Toyota to finish last in a Cup race at Phoenix since 2011, when Joe Nemechek’s #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota fell out with electrical problems 22 laps into the Subway Fresh Fit 500. It’s also the first time a Toyota finished last in the fall race.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #56-Martin Truex, Jr. / 10 laps / engine
42) #91-Jason Leffler / 10 laps / brakes
41) #19-Mike Bliss / 15 laps / crash
40) #44-David Reutimann / 28 laps / vibration
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 30 laps / brakes
SORENSON v. McDOWELL - TWO DRIVERS, ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Meanwhile, the 2012 LASTCAR Sprint Cup Championship will go to Homestead. Last week, Reed Sorenson was originally listed as driver of the #91, but Jason Leffler took over driving duties and came home 42nd, denying Sorenson a lock on the most bottom-five finishes in 2012. Michael McDowell, tied with Sorenson for the LASTCAR lead, qualified for the race, but was also unable to tie Sorenson in bottom-five finishes. McDowell came home 38th, missing 39th to Joe Nemechek by only six laps.
Because of this, Sorenson still leads McDowell in bottom-five finishes and still holds the tiebreaker by just one Bottom Five: 14-13. Therefore, the three very unusual clinch scenarios for Homestead are the following:
(1) McDowell or Sorenson can claim the championship with a 43rd next Sunday as that would render the tiebreaker irrelevant.
(2) Sorenson can also claim the title if he finishes in the Bottom Five, but McDowell does not. This would secure Sorenson the tiebreaker with a score of 15-13. Sorenson would not have to finish last at Homestead for this to happen.
(3) McDowell can also claim the title if he finishes in the Bottom Five, but Sorenson does not. This would tie both drivers with fourteen bottom-fives and McDowell would lead the tiebreaker in bottom-ten finishes, which he currently leads 24-15.
(4) However, if neither driver finishes in the bottom five at Homestead (that is, if McDowell does not qualify or finishes 38th or better), Sorenson will claim the title - regardless of if he starts the race or not.
(5) Sorenson can claim the title if neither he nor McDowell qualifies for the race because the Bottom Five tiebreaker of 14-13 would still control.
Therefore, as of this writing, the 2012 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship could be determined by circumstance, depending on (1) whether or not either driver will qualify, and, (2) if they qualify, whether one or both of them will finish last or in the Bottom Five.
UPDATE: Reed Sorenson has been confirmed as driver of the #79 Go Green Racing Ford, so both he and McDowell will have a chance to qualify for Sunday's race, weather permitting.
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell, Reed Sorenson (5)
2nd) Josh Wise (4)
3rd) Scott Riggs, Scott Speed (3)
4th) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley (2)
5th) Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires, Dave Blaney, Landon Cassill, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Martin Truex, Jr., Brian Vickers (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #98-Phil Parsons Racing (5)
2nd) #26-Front Row Motorsports, #91-Humphrey-Smith Racing (4)
3rd) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports (3)
4th) #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #79-Go Green Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (2)
5th) #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #56-Michael Waltrip Racing, #74-Turn One Racing, #83-BK Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (16)
2nd) Toyota (11)
3rd) Chevrolet (8)