|SOURCE: NASCAR Media|
Patrick’s first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has fallen well short of the hype it received when she won the pole and finished 8th in the Daytona 500. She came into Kansas having finished 21st or worse in twenty-four of the season’s first twenty-nine races. All four of her DNFs earned in that stretch were due to crashes, and though she also wrecked across the line to finish 14th in the July race at Daytona, that was one of only eleven times she’s finished on the lead lap all year. She came into Kansas a distant 28th in points.
For Kansas, Patrick debuted a new look on her #10 Chevrolet, a pink-and-green scheme to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She started out 23rd in the opening practice, improved to 13th in the second, and stayed 16th in Happy Hour. She ended up qualifying 29th for the race itself at an average speed of 182.039 mph. 29th was where she ran on Thursday during a tire test at the Kansas track, where Goodyear was introducing a new tire.
When the green flag flew, Patrick was running in the high lane when she suddenly lost control entering Turn One, steering her Chevrolet into the path of David Reutimann in the Burger King #83 Toyota. In the exact same spot in this race last year, Patrick tangled with Landon Cassill, then the driver of the #83, taking herself out of the race. This time, both cars received significant damage with Patrick steering nearly head-on into the outside wall and forcing Kyle Busch to spin in order to avoid contact. Also damaged was the #30 of Cole Whitt, who briefly held the 43rd spot before he returned to the track, dropping Patrick to 43rd, her car too damaged to continue. No drivers were injured in the wreck.
Reutimann returned to the track more than 100 laps down and finished under power in 37th. Behind him, those joining Patrick in the Bottom Five all completed 103 or more laps. Reed Sorenson gave the #95 Leavine Family Racing team its eighth consecutive finish of 40th or worse by coming home 42nd. In 41st was Joe Nemechek, two spots away from breaking a tie with J.D. McDuffie for the most last-place finishes in Cup history. In 40th was Josh Wise, his sixth bottom-five finish in the eight races since Michael McDowell drove the #35 Ford at Watkins Glen. McDowell missed the Bottom Five by nine laps to Justin Allgaier, whose #51 Brandt Chevrolet crashed hard with Ryan Newman on Lap 137.
With six races to go, McDowell remains one finish ahead of Mike Bliss in the LASTCAR Cup Series Championship. Bliss and the #19 Humphrey-Smith Motorsports team were again missing from the Kansas entry list. At press time, team owner Randy Humphrey could not be reached for comment.
*Patrick is the first female driver to finish last in a Cup Series race since either 1950 or 1990. The reason for this ambiguity is because this writer acknowledges that two drivers hold claim to the record. In 1950, Louise Smith was involved in a wreck in her #94 1949 Ford on the opening lap of the season opener on the Daytona Beach-Roadcourse. In 1990, Terri O’Connell finished last in her only Cup start at Rockingham in 1990 when her #91 Crossroads City of Corinth Ford was flagged off the track after ten laps. At the time of the Rockingham finish, O’Connell was J.T. Hayes, a man who had sex reassignment surgery four years after the finish.
*Since 1949, four of the thirteen other women who have made at least one Cup start (besides Smith, O’Connell and Patrick) have come just one spot short of a last-place finish. The first was Ethel Mobley, who was edged by Fonty Flock at Langhorne in 1949. The next was Janet Guthrie, edged by D.K. Ulrich for the spot by seven laps during the 1977 Firecracker 400 at Daytona. In the July Daytona race in 1989, Patty Moise was edged by John McFadden based on scoring after both were involved in the same multi-car accident. Shawna Robinson finished next-to-last three times in 2002, but was edged by Bobby Hamilton at Las Vegas, Andy Hillenburg in the spring race at Darlington, and Ken Schrader at Fontana.
*This was Patrick’s first last-place finish in a Cup Series race, but she has one last-place run in the Nationwide Series which came last year at Watkins Glen.
*Patrick became the first driver to finish last for the first time in the Cup Series in thirty-nine races, dating back to September 23, 2012 when Kelly Bires trailed the field at New Hampshire. It ends the longest stretch since 1997, when no Cup driver scored their first last-place run until Buckshot Jones' #00 Aquafresh Pontiac crashed out of the season finale, the NAPA 500 at Atlanta.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #10 in a Cup Series race since 2008, when Patrick Carpentier's Valvoline Dodge was taken out in a multi-car accident during the Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond.
*This was the first time a number swept both NASCAR races on the same weekend since the spring of 2012, when the #74 finished last at Martinsville with Rick Crawford in Trucks and Reed Sorenson in Cup.
*Patrick is the first Cup Series driver to finish last in a Cup race at Kansas without completing a single lap since 2001, when rookie Casey Atwood scored his first last-place finish due to an opening-lap four-car crash that stopped his #19 Dodge / UAW Dodge in the inaugural Protection One 400.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #10-Danica Patrick / 0 laps / crash
42) #95-Reed Sorenson / 103 laps / vibration
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 107 laps / engine
40) #35-Josh Wise / 108 laps / vibration
39) #51-Justin Allgaier / 135 laps / crash
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell (6)
2nd) Mike Bliss (5)
3rd) Scott Riggs (4)
4th) Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek, Scott Speed (2)
5th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Reutimann, J.J. Yeley (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (6)
2nd) #44-Xxxtreme Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (3)
3rd) #87-NEMCO Motorsports (2)
4th) #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #10-Stewart-Haas Racing, #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #27-Richard Childress Racing, #31-Richard Childress Racing, #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #47-JTG Daugherty Racing, #51-Phoenix Racing, #83-BK Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (13)
2nd) Toyota (11)
3rd) Chevrolet (6)
|James Harvey Hylton|
On Friday at Kansas, 79-year-old James Harvey Hylton competed in his 171st and final ARCA Racing Series start, coming home 18th in the Kansas Lottery 98.9. Hylton has been racing stock cars since 1964, and for most of those years as an owner-driver in car #48. Hylton has two Cup Series victories: at Richmond in 1970 and Talladega in 1972. He also has nine last-place finishes in NASCAR’s top division - six fewer than Richard Petty. Hylton’s first didn’t happen until May 21, 1971, when his #48 1971 Ford pulled behind the wall after the first lap of a race at the New Asheville Speedway. Even then, it was not due to mechanical trouble - Hylton and several other independent drivers pulled out early to protest how little NASCAR paid the underfunded teams in purse and appearance money. Hylton’s final last-place run came on February 28, 1993, two races after Richard Petty retired, when Hylton’s #48 Rumple Furniture Pontiac fell out with a busted oil pan after 24 laps of the GM Goodwrench 500. That June, Trevor Boys drove Hylton’s car to a 35th-place finish at Pocono, making him the last Cup driver to run the #48 until Jimmie Johnson’s first Cup start at Charlotte on October 7, 2001.