The finish was Leffler’s first of the 2013 season and his first in a Cup race since last August at Michigan, twenty-seven races ago. It is also the fifth last-place finish of the season for Humphrey-Smith Motorsports’ #19, whose original driver Mike Bliss still holds a one-finish lead in the 2013 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship. Bliss was not in the car Sunday as he was competing in the Nationwide race at Iowa, where he finished a season-best 10th.
Qualifying was rained-out on Friday, but with just 43 cars showing up for as many spots, Leffler secured the 42nd starting spot. In the race itself, it first appeared that Kasey Kahne was headed to his first last-place finish in his 338th Cup start. Kahne suffered a vibration on the opening lap, ultimately sending him behind the wall. While Kahne was out, Leffler parked his #19, followed three laps later by Joe Nemechek in the #87. Kahne returned to the track 20 laps down, shuffling Leffler back to 43rd and Nemechek to 42nd. Kahne finished 36th.
Although Nemechek is only running for Nationwide points this year, he decided to run the Cup race instead after the Nationwide event at Iowa was rain-delayed to Sunday morning. Relief driver Kevin Lepage finished 19th. Phoenix and Dover last-placer Scott Riggs, who finished last during the most recent Cup race at Pocono, finished 41st in an eye-catching blue-and-white #44 Ford. Two-time and defending LASTCAR Cup Champion Michael McDowell was 9th-fastest in Happy Hour, but finished 40th after he parked his #98. J.J. Yeley rounded out the Bottom Five in Tommy Baldwin’s unsponsored #36.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #19 in a Cup race at Pocono since June 12, 1983, when current ARCA veteran Bobby Gerhart lost the engine on his #19 Gray Racing Buick after 44 laps of the Van Scoy Diamond Mines 500. It was Gerhart’s first of 24 Cup Series starts, and one of only two where he did not run in his own equipment. His most recent Cup start was at Talladega in 1992, where he finished 34th in his #85 Thomas Chevrolet.
*This was Leffler’s first-ever last-place finish in a Cup race at Pocono.
*The last three consecutive Cup Series last-place finishers listed transmission trouble as the reason. The last driver to finish last at this track due to transmission issues was Joe Nemechek during this same race in 2010.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #19-Jason Leffler / 8 laps / transmission
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 11 laps / engine
41) #44-Scott Riggs / 28 laps / vibration
40) #98-Michael McDowell / 33 laps / vibration
39) #36-J.J. Yeley / 39 laps / transmission
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Mike Bliss (4)
2nd) Michael McDowell (3)
3rd) Scott Riggs (2)
4th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jason Leffler, Joe Nemechek, Scott Speed (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #19-Humphrey-Smith Motorsports (5)
2nd) #98-Phil Parsons Racing (3)
3rd) #44-Xxxtreme Motorsports (2)
4th) #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (7)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Chevrolet (1)