Sunday, October 27, 2013

CUP: David Ragan’s Surprising Qualifying Run Ends With Disappointment In Martinsville

SOURCE: Action Sports Photography, motorsport.com
David Ragan picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #34 Taco Bell Ford fell out with an engine failure after he completed 109 of the race’s 500 laps.

The finish was Ragan’s first of 2013 and his first in a Cup race since the 2012 Daytona 500, when he was involved in a multi-car crash on the second lap of the race.

Competing in his second season for Front Row Motorsports, Ragan authored one of the most incredible upsets in NASCAR Cup Series history.  With darkness approaching in the rain-delayed Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, Ragan pulled off a last-lap pass on Carl Edwards to claim his second series victory.  Teammate David Gilliland pushed Ragan to the victory, and in the process matched his own career-best finish of 2nd at Sonoma in 2008.  In last week’s return to Talladega, Ragan and Gilliland finished nose-to-tail in 6th and 7th.

Unfortunately, much of 2013 has still been a struggle for Ragan, Gilliland, and their teammate Josh Wise.  In the thirty-two races before Martinsville, Ragan had finished 21st or worse in twenty-eight of them, including Bottom Fives at Phoenix (38th) and Darlington (39th).  He finished 30th at Martinsville in the spring.

After running 34th in the opening practice, Ragan stunned the field by qualifying 8th at an average speed of 98.815 mph, making him one of eighteen drivers to break Jimmie Johnson’s track record set in the spring.  It was Ragan’s best start at Martinsville since the spring of 2008, when he qualified 4th, and followed-up an equally-strong 7th starting spot last week at Talladega.  Despite this, Ragan timed in only 27th and 31st in Saturday’s final two practices.

At the start of Sunday’s race, Ragan slipped back to the 11th spot when the first caution fell on Lap 8.  The yellow flew when Jeff Burton spun in the fourth corner, causing the flat black #7 Chevrolet of Dave Blaney to rear-end the #93 Dr. Pepper Toyota of Travis Kvapil.  Blaney broke an oil cooler in the incident, and the fluid he leaked around the track forced twelve laps of caution.  Blaney remained in 43rd for much of the race as the crew effected repairs.

Ragan was running around mid-pack when he suddenly slowed on Lap 110 and pulled behind the wall with engine trouble.  At almost the exact same time, Blaney returned to the track.  While Ragan’s incident did not bring out the caution flag, another engine failure by upstart Kyle Larson in the #51 Target Chevrolet did, by which point Blaney was closing on Ragan for 42nd.  Near the halfway point, Blaney passed Ragan, dropping the #34 to the 43rd spot.

Behind Ragan and Larson in the Bottom Five was Tony Raines, last week’s Talladega last-placer, who lost the brakes on his unsponsored #33 Chevrolet.  Reed Sorenson returned to the track in the #95 Leavine Family Racing Ford, and though he lost several laps early, he continued past the halfway point before the rear gear locked-up in Turn 4 on Lap 285.  Blaney rounded out the Bottom Five.

For the second-straight race, Michael McDowell, still the leader in the 2013 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship, had sufficient funding to run the entire race.  Driving the #98 Pray For Your Pastor Ford, McDowell was plagued by persistent brake problems that left him laps down for much of the event.  But past the halfway point, he found himself as the first car off the lead lap.  With no one just one lap down, McDowell received the Lucky Dog in four of the race’s last six cautions, ultimately putting him back on the lead lap.  The brake problems worsened, however, causing his right-rear hub to ignite late in the race, and he finished two laps down - but still under power - in the 26th spot.  It’s McDowell’s best-career finish at Martinsville, matching the 26th-place finish in his Cup debut here in the spring of 2008.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was the first last-place finish for the #34 in a Cup Series race at Martinsville since October 22, 2006, when Kevin Lepage’s Oak Glove Co. Chevrolet broke a rear gear after 209 laps.  Lepage’s car was also owned by Front Row Motorsports, which at the time was competing in just its second season on the tour.
*This was the best starting spot by a last-place finisher of a Cup Series race at Martinsville since October 1, 2000, when Ward Burton’s #22 Caterpillar Pontiac started 4th, then lost the engine after 61 laps of the NAPA AutoCare 500.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #34-David Ragan / 109 laps / engine
42) #51-Kyle Larson / 160 laps / engine
41) #33-Tony Raines / 220 laps / brakes
40) #95-Reed Sorenson / 275 laps / rear gear
39) #7-Dave Blaney / 357 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, J.J. Yeley (2)
5th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Tony Raines, David Reutimann (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) #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #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, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #40-Hillman Racing, #47-JTG Daugherty Racing, #51-Phoenix Racing, #83-BK Racing (1)

LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (14)
2nd) Toyota (11)
3rd) Chevrolet (8)

TRUCKS: Jimmy Weller Gives Toyota First Truck Series Last-Place Finish at Martinsville Since 2008

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin'
Jimmy Weller picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Kroger 200 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #07 BYF.org Toyota fell out with a busted rear gear after he completed 6 of the race’s 200 laps.  The finish came in Weller’s fourth series start.

Looking to build on his twenty starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Weller, a 27-year-old driver from Ohio, has made the move to the Truck Series in 2013 on a part-time schedule.  His series debut came with Bobby Dotter’s team at Iowa, where he finished a season-best 24th in the #81 GrimeBoss / GunBroker Toyota.  Since then, Weller has made another four attempts behind the wheel of Ken Smith’s #07.  After missing the field at Eldora, he made his next two starts in the summer Iowa race and at Chicago, but failed to finish both races.

At Martinsville, Weller didn’t participate in the first practice session and was just 37th of the 38 entered trucks in final practice.  He qualified 34th at an average speed of 89.044 mph.  Weller was actually 36th-fastest of the 38 entrants, but was locked-in on Owner Points, bumping out 34th-fastest Spencer Gallagher in his family-prepared #21 Allegiant Air Chevrolet.  Joining Gallagher on the DNQ list was Jennifer Jo Cobb, slowest among the qualifiers.  It was her fourth DNQ of 2013 and her second in a row.

The first caution of the day came three laps into the race, when the #39 RSS Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Sieg spun on the entrance of Turn 1.  Clay Greenfield was also off the pace in his #68 ClutchDefense.com Dodge.  When the race restart on Lap 7, Weller pulled behind the wall, followed immediately by the #6 Jack Link’s Beef Jerky / Express Oil Change Chevrolet of Daniel Hemric.  Hemric, making his series debut, spent several laps behind the wall to replace a transmission, but returned to the race to finish 32nd.  Weller did not return to the race and held onto the last-place finish.

Finishing next-to-last on Saturday was Chris Jones in the RSS #93, five laps ahead of Weller.  With now three races to go, Jones remains two finishes behind Chris Lafferty for the 2013 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship.  Lafferty and the #0 Jennifer Jo Cobb-owned entry did not start Saturday’s race, and have not started a Truck Series race since Las Vegas.  However, Lafferty can still clinch the title without another start if Jones fails to finish last in two of these final three races.  In the event of a tiebreaker, Jones already has an insurmountable lead over Lafferty in Bottom Fives, 13-9.

The rest of the Bottom Five included 34th-place Bradley Riethmeyer, making his first Truck Series start since Gateway in 2008, and Bryan Silas, who was involved in a multi-truck accident in the closing stages.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was the first last-place finish for Toyota in a Truck Series race at Martinsville since 2008, when Sean Caisse and his #9 Germain.com / Lumber Liquidators Toyota crashed after 44 laps of the Kroger 200.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #07 in a Truck Series race since last year at Chicagoland, when Johnny Chapman’s Wear Your Gear / bobber.info Toyota fell out with a vibration after two laps of the American Ethanol 225.  The number had never before finished last in a Truck Series race at Martinsville.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #07-Jimmy Weller / 6 laps / rear gear
35) #93-Chris Jones / 11 laps / brakes
34) #84-Bradley Riethmeyer / 52 laps / clutch
33) #99-Bryan Silas / 137 laps / crash
32) #6-Daniel Hemric / 140 laps / running

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chris Lafferty (5)
2nd) Chris Jones (3)
3rd) Johnny Chapman (2)
4th) Jeff Babcock, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Ehrgott, Mike Harmon, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Mason Mingus, Scott Riggs, Scott Saunders, Jimmy Weller (1)

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb (6)
2nd) #93-RSS Racing (3)
3rd) #38-RSS Racing, #84-Chris Fontaine (2)
4th) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb, #29-Brad Keselowski, #35-Kevin Cywinski, #81-Bobby Dotter, #92-Ricky Benton, #07-Ken Smith (1)

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Dodge (3)
4th) Toyota (2)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CUP: Tony Raines Scores First Cup Last-Place Finish Since 2009

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Tony Raines picked up the 9th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his unsponsored #40 Hillman Racing Chevrolet fell out with an engine failure after he completed 2 of the race’s 188 laps.

The finish was Raines’ first of 2013 and his first in a Cup race since November 15, 2009, when his #37 Long John Silver’s / A&W Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems after six laps of the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix.

Raines, a Cup Series veteran with 177 series starts, was making his eighth start of 2013.  All eight have come while driving cars owned by Joe Falk.  Falk returned to the Cup Series as a part-time owner in 2011 following an eleven year absence.  Last year, Falk acquired the #33 team from Richard Childress Racing in the aftermath of Clint Bowyer’s offseason move to Michael Waltrip Racing.  Raines made two of his seven starts that season driving Falk’s #33 Chevrolets, finishing 34th at Texas and 38th at Talladega.  Raines shared his ride with Stephen Leicht, who was declared last year’s Rookie of the Year despite making just fifteen starts.

This year, Falk’s team has coordinated its efforts with RCR in order to get Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon a chance at the Cup Series before his first full season in 2014.  The result has been a continuous game of musical chairs between Dillon, Raines, Landon Cassill, Ron Fellows, and Brian Scott.  Much like Danica Patrick’s arrangement with Tommy Baldwin Racing last year, this has resulted in two different teams running the same car number with different crews, both sharing the same owner points.

Dillon has made four starts in the #33 this season, having qualified 8th for the Daytona 500 and finished 11th at Michigan in June.  Cassill, who’s run the #33 in twenty of his twenty-nine starts this year, scored a season-best 22nd at Talladega in the spring.  Ron Fellows ran the #33 at both road courses, finishing 22nd at Sonoma and 35th at Watkins Glen.

At Indianapolis, Falk debuted a second team, #40, and had Cassill drive that car to a 33rd-place finish while Dillon finished 26th in the #33.  The next week at Pocono, Tony Raines made his first start of the year in the #33 while Cassill ran the #40.  Raines moved over to the #40 at Dover and finished 40th, then came home a season-best 29th the next week at Kansas.  Last week at Charlotte, Cassill drove the #40 while Brian Scott made his Cup debut in the Childress-prepared #33.  Talladega would see Raines return to the track in the #40 with Cassill in the #33.  Dillon would be in the field as well, making his second start in the #14 in relief of the injured Tony Stewart.

Forty-four cars showed up to qualify for Sunday’s race.  Time trials were washed out by rain, so the field was set by practice speeds, and Sam Hornish, Jr.’s #12 SKF Ford was sent home based on attempts and owner points.  Raines secured the 41st starting spot while Cassill trailed the field in 43rd.  Raines was 42nd in the opening practice and 28th out of 29 cars in Happy Hour.

At the start of Sunday’s race, Raines remained near the rear of the field with Cassill and Joe Nemechek.  Just two laps into the race, Raines’ car trailed smoke off of Turn Two, bringing out the first caution of the day.  He pulled behind the wall, done for the afternoon.  Nemechek pulled out fifty-eight laps later with engine trouble.  Finishing 41st was Juan Pablo Montoya, taken out in a two-car crash in the tri-oval after Marcos Ambrose lost control to his outside.  Ambrose finished under power in 39th, passing David Reutimann, who came home 40th after a late engine failure.

Dillon ended the race prematurely with a rookie mistake when he lost control on the final lap while racing for 2nd, then slid into traffic.  He collided with Casey Mears, sending Dillon’s Chevrolet into the air.  Dillon and Mears were uninjured in the crash.

Barely avoiding involvement in Dillon’s wreck was Michael McDowell, still the leader in the 2013 LASTCAR Cup Series standings.  McDowell finished an impressive 15th on Sunday, but ran as high as 8th with fifty laps to go.  His #98 Ford carried last-minute sponsorship that afforded him the opportunity for the team to run its first full race since Indianapolis in July.  It’s McDowell’s best Cup finish since he came home 9th in the season-opening Daytona 500.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was the first last-place finish in Cup for the #40 since 2008, when Dario Franchitti’s Juicy Fruit Slim Pack Dodge lost the engine after 30 laps of the Lifelock 400 at Michigan.  It was the only last-place finish of Franchitti’s abbreviated rookie season in Cup.  The team folded less than a month later, ultimately leading to his return to the IndyCar Series the following season.  Franchitti is currently recuperating from injuries suffered in a violent IndyCar accident at Houston two weeks ago.
*Neither Raines nor the #40 had ever before finished last in a Cup race at Talladega.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #40-Tony Raines / 2 laps / engine
42) #87-Joe Nemechek / 60 laps / engine
41) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya / 78 laps / crash
40) #83-David Reutimann / 119 laps / engine
39) #9-Marcos Ambrose / 134 laps / running

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, J.J. Yeley (2)
5th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, Tony Raines, David Reutimann (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) #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #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, #40-Hillman 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 (8)

TRUCKS: Mason Mingus Finishes Last In NASCAR Debut

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Mason Mingus picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #35 811 Call Before You Dig Chevrolet fell out with an oil leak after he completed 5 of the race’s 94 laps.  The finish came in Mingus’ first series start, and his first in NASCAR.

Mingus becomes the fourth Truck Series driver to finish last in his series debut in 2013, joining Scott Saunders, Jeff Babcock, and Ricky Ehrgott.

Mingus, just eighteen years old, has made thirty-four starts in the ARCA Racing Series.  Though winless in that division, he was this year’s runner-up in points behind Frank Kimmel with an average finish of 7.5.

With the ARCA season wrapped up two weeks ago in Kansas, Mingus and owner Kevin Cywinski turned their attention to the Truck Series.  Cywinski himself made forty-six starts in the series from 1997 through 1999.  In his final season, he scored a pair of top-five finishes at Martinsville and Bristol while driving the #31 Auto Trim Design Ford for another part-time racer, Bob Brevak.  Mingus would make his Truck Series debut at Talladega, bringing with him ARCA sponsorship from the 811 safe digging campaign.

Mingus qualified an impressive 12th for the race at an average speed of 174.541 mph, making him the fastest of the thirteen “go-or-go-homers” who attempted to qualify.  It was a huge improvement from his 31st-fastest time in the final practice session.  Missing the race were Danny Efland, who finished last in the Nationwide Series at Dover, and Jennifer Jo Cobb in her #10 Dodge RAM.

At the start of the race, Mingus was still running with the leaders when he started leaking oil after only two laps.  The leak grew worse, bad enough for him to pull onto pit road during the opening green-flag run.  He pulled behind the wall after only five laps, done for the day.  His oil brought out the first yellow on Lap 9.

Twenty-two laps behind Mingus in 35th was Chris Jones, who stayed out to lead Lap 21 during a round of caution-flag pit stops, then parked his #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were three trucks involved in a pileup on Lap 67: the Ken Smith-owned #07 Advanced Communications Group Toyota of Chris Cockrum, the #82 Empire Racing Ford of fellow ARCA driver Sean Corr, and Brennan Newberry in the #24 Qore-24 Chevrolet.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This is the first last-place finish for the #35 in a Truck Series race at Talladega.  It’s also the first time the number finished last in this series since February 18, 2000 - the day of the inaugural Daytona 250 at Daytona.  Finishing last that day was David Starr, whose #35 Unified Office Network Chevrolet lost the engine after ten laps.  This race is much better known for the violent multi-truck accident that severely injured Geoffrey Bodine.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #35-Mason Mingus / 5 laps / oil leak
35) #93-Chris Jones / 27 laps / overheating / led 1 lap
34) #07-Chris Cockrum / 65 laps / crash
33) #82-Sean Corr / 65 laps / crash
32) #24-Brennan Newberry / 65 laps / crash

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chris Lafferty (5)
2nd) Chris Jones (3)
3rd) Johnny Chapman (2)
4th) Jeff Babcock, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Ehrgott, Mike Harmon, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Mason Mingus, Scott Riggs, Scott Saunders (1)

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb (6)
2nd) #93-RSS Racing (3)
3rd) #38-RSS Racing, #84-Chris Fontaine (2)
4th) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb, #29-Brad Keselowski, #35-Kevin Cywinski, #81-Bobby Dotter, #92-Ricky Benton (1)

LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Dodge (3)
4th) Toyota (1)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CUP: J.J. Yeley Gives Baldwin’s #36 Third Last-Place Finish In Charlotte’s 500-Miler

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
J.J. Yeley picked up the 11th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #36 United Mining Equipment Chevrolet was involved in a single-car crash after he completed 23 of the race’s 334 laps.

The finish was Yeley’s second of 2013 and his first since Michigan, eight race ago.  Coming into Charlotte, Yeley and the #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing team had finished under power in all seven races since Michigan, but have finished no better than 24th at Bristol.  Teammate Dave Blaney has fared little better in the #7, scoring his own best finish in that seven-race stretch at Bristol, where he came home 22nd.

At Charlotte, Yeley ran one of several pink cars to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Yeley timed in 42nd fastest in the opening practice, was slowest of the 41 cars in the second session, and improved to only 39th in Happy Hour.  However, with just 43 cars showing up to qualify for as many spots, Yeley’s lap of 185.893 mph was enough to secure him the 42nd starting spot for Saturday’s race.

At the start of the race, it first appeared that Michael McDowell would score his fourth last-place finish in the last seven races and take a two-finish lead over Mike Bliss in the 2013 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship.  McDowell pulled his #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford behind the wall around Lap 10.  However, radio communications indicated the crew was making some adjustments to the car’s handling.

Then, on Lap 26, Yeley’s #36 blew a right-front tire and smacked the outside wall in Turn 1, bringing out the first caution of the day.  Yeley was uninjured in the wreck and managed to drive the car back to pit road.  He pulled behind the wall and, soon after, was done for the night.

During the ensuing green-flag run, McDowell returned to the track, needing only ten to fifteen laps to pass Yeley for 42nd.  McDowell did this on Lap 57, then stayed out longer to pass the Mark Martin, who lost the engine on his #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet after eighty laps, and Josh Wise, who parked his #35 MDS Transport Ford around the same time as Martin.  McDowell finally climbed to 40th before he again pulled behind the wall.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Joe Nemechek, who left the race near the halfway mark.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the third time in four years that the #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing entry has finished last in this event.  Last year, Dave Blaney suffered transmission trouble after 25 laps. In 2010, Yeley himself fell out with ignition trouble after 73 laps.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #36-J.J. Yeley / 23 laps / crash
42) #14-Mark Martin / 80 laps / engine
41) #35-Josh Wise / 81 laps / brakes
40) #98-Michael McDowell / 83 laps / vibration
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 149 laps / electrical

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, J.J. Yeley (2)
5th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Reutimann (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) #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #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, #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 (7)

N’WIDE: Jeff Green Scores Fourteenth Last-Place Finish Of 2013

SOURCE: Jeff Wagoner
Jeff Green picked up the 52nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Friday’s Dollar General 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 2 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish was Green’s fourteenth of 2013, his second in a row, and his fourth in the last five races.  With three races to go, Green stands a chance of besting his single-season record by as many as five finishes.  A season total of seventeen last-place finishes would make Green the first driver ever to finish last in more than one-half a NASCAR season’s races.

Green did not run in the opening practice, but timed in 25th in Happy Hour.  He qualified 22nd for the race at an average speed of 177.649 mph, ranking him sixth among the sixteen “go-or-go-homers” who attempted to qualify.  Four drivers failed to complete a qualifying lap, including Elliott Sadler and Ken Butler III, who both crashed in their qualifying attempts.  Sadler and Butler III joined Green in the Bottom Five.  Sadler was involved in two more crashes during the race while Butler pulled behind the wall two laps after Green.

Filling out the Bottom Five were Blake Koch, Butler’s teammate at SR2 Motorsports, and Reed Sorenson.  Sorenson was making the first-ever Nationwide Series start for Leavine Family Racing, the part-time Cup Series team with three last-place finishes this year.  Sorenson’s Ford was destroyed in the three-car wreck that also took out Sadler and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brian Vickers.

This marked the first time since Talladega in May that not a single car from The Motorsports Group finished in the Bottom Five.  The lowest finisher from the team was T.J. Bell, who came home 28th in an unsponsored #40 Chevrolet.  His teammates Josh Wise in the #42 and J.J. Yeley in the #46 both failed to qualify, joining two-time last-placer Joey Gase in Jimmy Means’ #52, Dexter Stacey in his first attempt since Mid-Ohio, Dover last-placer Danny Efland, and former LASTCAR Nationwide Series record holder Derrike Cope in his #73.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was Green’s first last-place finish in the fall Charlotte race for the Nationwide Series since 2011, when his #44 TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after three laps.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #10-Jeff Green / 2 laps / vibration
39) #24-Ken Butler III / 4 laps / handling
38) #00-Blake Koch / 4 laps / electrical
37) #95-Reed Sorenson / 50 laps / crash
36) #11-Elliott Sadler / 64 laps / crash

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green (14)
2nd) Blake Koch (3)
3rd) Joey Gase (2)
4th) Tanner Berryhill, Danny Efland, Johanna Long, Eric McClure, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson, Jr., Morgan Shepherd, Dexter Stacey, Mike Wallace, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (14)
2nd) #00-SR2 Motorsports (3)
3rd) #52-Jimmy Means Racing (2)
4th) #14-TriStar Motorsports, #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #27-SR2 Motorsports, #42-The Motorsports Group, #46-The Motorsports Group, #50-Mark Beaver, #70-ML Motorsports, #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures, #92-KH Motorsports, #01-JD Motorsports (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (22)
2nd) Chevrolet (6)
3rd) Dodge, Ford (1)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

CUP: Danica Patrick The First Woman In Decades To Finish Last In A Sprint Cup Race

SOURCE: NASCAR Media
Danica Patrick picked up the 1st last-place finish of her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway when her #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet sparked a multi-car accident that prevented her from completing the first of the race’s 267 laps.  The finish occurred in Patrick’s 40th series start.

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.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*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
SOURCE: sfgate.com
LASTCAR EXTRA:

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.

N’WIDE: Jeff Green Sets New NASCAR Single-Season Last-Place Record

SOURCE: Jeff Wagoner
Jeff Green picked up the 51st last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway when his unponsored #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 4 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish was Green’s thirteenth of 2013, breaking NASCAR’s single-season last-place record of twelve that Green set last year.  It’s also his third last-place finish in the last four races and his first since Kentucky, two races ago.  Green has four more races to add to his new single-season record.  He already locked up his third consecutive LASTCAR championship at Chicagoland, four races ago.

Green ran 29th and 28th in the weekend’s two practice sessions.  He qualified 26th at an average speed of 178.124 mph, ranking him fifth among the twelve “go-or-go-homers” who attempted to make the field.  Missing the show were Chase Miller, Green’s co-driver of the #10, who this time was behind the wheel of the #15 Rick Ware Racing Ford, and the Jimmy Means-owned #52 of Fontana and Chicago last-placer Joey Gase.

Green pulled behind the wall at almost the same time teammate Hal Martin wrecked the #44 ORACLE Lighting Toyota.  Martin returned to the track only to fall out after he completed eighty laps, securing Green the record-breaking finish.

In the Bottom Five for the third consecutive race were The Motorsports Group teammates Josh Wise in the #42 and J.J. Yeley in the #46.  Green edged Wise for 40th by four laps.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were Blake Koch in the #00 SupportMilitary.org Toyota and Jeremy Clements, who lost the engine on his #51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This is Green’s first last-place finish in a Nationwide Series race at Kansas since 2010, when his unsponsored #36 Chevrolet, again fielded by TriStar Motorsports, fell out with suspension trouble after two laps of the Kansas Lottery 300.  To put things in perspective, that was Green’s 13th last-place finish in Nationwide Series competition.  His run on Saturday was number 51.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #10-Jeff Green / 4 laps / vibration
39) #42-Josh Wise / 8 laps / rear gear
38) #46-J.J. Yeley / 11 laps / vibration
37) #00-Blake Koch / 28 laps / overheating
36) #51-Jeremy Clements / 77 laps / engine

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green (13)
2nd) Blake Koch (3)
3rd) Joey Gase (2)
4th) Tanner Berryhill, Danny Efland, Johanna Long, Eric McClure, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson, Jr., Morgan Shepherd, Dexter Stacey, Mike Wallace, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (13)
2nd) #00-SR2 Motorsports (3)
3rd) #52-Jimmy Means Racing (2)
4th) #14-TriStar Motorsports, #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #27-SR2 Motorsports, #42-The Motorsports Group, #46-The Motorsports Group, #50-Mark Beaver, #70-ML Motorsports, #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures, #92-KH Motorsports, #01-JD Motorsports (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (21)
2nd) Chevrolet (6)
3rd) Dodge, Ford (1)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

INTERVIEW: Robert Taylor Shows Perseverance, Attention To Detail In Motorsports Artwork

What I’ve enjoyed most about covering racing’s smaller teams is the opportunity to get to know the people involved.  I’ve had the good fortune to talk with Joe Nemechek about the plight of owner-drivers, with Max Papis about what drives him to compete, and with Marty Burke about what it was like working with the late J.D. McDuffie.

Today, I have a drawing of the car McDuffie drove in his 653rd and final Cup Series start.  It was drawn by Robert Taylor, a motorsports artist and longtime race fan.  Though few photos of the McDuffie car exist, Taylor accounted for every detail, all the way down to the contingency decals.  It’s a meticulous approach that has come to define Taylor’s work.

“I know the STP sticker is that red oval with the white border with the blue corners around it and it says ‘The Racer’s Edge’ underneath it in 1974.  So there’s no reason for that sticker to be on Red Farmer’s car that was done in 1978,” he told me in our interview.  “That’s what they used to say about me, they said I was a detail freak, I would get carried away with it.  But it’s there, so put it there.”



Like his other drawings, Robert Taylor drew this picture of J.D. McDuffie's #70 Pontiac entirely by hand.
(click pictures for full size) 
It’s also a point of pride that Taylor does these drawings without the use of a computer.  Every detail - no matter how small - is done by hand.  Taylor does this both by preference and on principle, as a commentary on the state of modern-day racing.

“Even though racing’s a lifestyle now,” he said, “it’s more business, it’s more corporate, it’s more manufactured.  It’s not raw, it’s not by the grit of your teeth anymore.  And that’s why I like doing these drawings.  Because I’m not pumping out this picture on a computer image, scanning it and sketching it. . .It’s like ‘this is how I drew back then, and that’s how I draw now.’  It isn’t duplicated by computer, it isn’t phony, it is what it is. I put it there.  I didn’t tell a computer to put it there.  You can teach an artist how to use a computer, but you can’t teach a computer how to be an artist.”

Taylor lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario, a short drive from the New York border and two hours south of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, where the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced in August.  He became a racing fan at age six back in 1973.  At a time where NASCAR was still perceived as a regional sport on the other side of the border, the Red Cap Brewery brought two NASCAR show cars to his local mall: the #52 Chevrolet driven by Earl Ross, still the only Canadian to win in NASCAR’s top division, and the #92 Mercury of Larry Smith.  A vendor handed Taylor a sticker saying “Red Cap Racing.”

“And after I put that sticker on my red wagon,” said Taylor.  “I was hooked.”


Larry Smith (top) and Earl Ross (bottom).  The Ross drawing was signed by Junior Johnson.
Four years later, he was on a trip to Florida with his parents.  He still remembers where he was - sitting in the back seat of a 1977 LTD station wagon - when he heard a car like Ross and Smith’s at full song.

“And I remember hearing this one car just come crankin’ around the corner, all these metal bleachers and stands - I couldn’t see it, but I heard it.  And I’m like ‘Dad, what the hell is that?’ and my Mom got mad and said ‘What’re you swearin’ about?’ And I’m looking for what made that noise, looking for a car to pass us on the highway, and my Dad says ‘That’s Daytona Speedway.  That’s where those cars whip around there for hours and hours for no reason.’  And I’m like ‘Can we go?’  And he’s ‘No.’  And I was so, so mad.”

Taylor went to his first NASCAR race on August 22, 1982, the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan.  Bobby Allison won that day in his #88 Gatorade Buick, holding off Richard Petty by just two car lengths.  By then, Taylor was a full-fledged racing fan, looking for a way to get involved in motorsports.  He found work with a local racing paper, then later paid his admission to the track by drawing a car every week during the racing season.

Then came the opportunity to work with the subject of one of his first drawings - Canadian dirt track legend Pete Bicknell.

“I worked with Pete Bicknell, he’s a big time modified dirt guy up here, he builds his own race cars, he owns a racetrack up here now, a dirt track.  He’s probably where I got my start in everything.  I was just a teenage kid around the dirt track, you know a mudscraper, the kid who would sweep the shop.”

Pete Bicknell's dirt modified, one of Taylor's first drawings.
Taylor did the artwork for this Stroh's ad when he was only fifteen.
Taylor credits Bicknell both for the practical experience he gained as well as the enthusiasm with which he enjoys motorsports.  Bicknell’s car was one of the first he ever drew.

“When you’re with the guy and the guy wins?  There’s nothing like it.  I remember the first time I was with that race team with Pete Bicknell and he won the race.  It was amazing.  It was so amazing.  You just felt like you were something, you have life, you know?  That’s what drives me to do it.”

Taylor started airbrushing when he was twelve.  Armed with a kit attached to an old refrigerator compressor, he painted everything from clothing to murals.  At fifteen, his work got noticed by the Stroh’s Brewery.  “And here’s the kicker,” Taylor added.  “I’m a Canadian I live twenty minutes from Niagara Falls in the states and here I am working in an American track for an American beer company and I’m fifteen - how much better can life get?”


Examples of Robert Taylor's airbrush work at Pulp Comics (top) and Maxximum Motors (bottom).
Things did get better.  Taylor continued his work in airbrushing, branching out into painting nightclubs, project work with rock bands, and set painting at his local theater.  He continued drawing as well, and for five years his artwork paid admission to the races.

But, barely in his thirties, Taylor nearly lost it all when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

“Parkinson’s is a difficult disease to pinpoint because you have it or you don’t because there’s so many symptoms. . .For me it’s what I have is more muscular and nerves and spasms and stuff.  It’s not where my hands shake all the time.  I’ll get upper body twitches at times, my legs.”

Not only was Taylor unable to draw, but his first round of treatments only made his condition worse.

“I was 230 pounds, I went down to about 159 pounds.  In the meantime I was in the process of losing my house because I couldn’t get disability.  I was fighting with my doctors - they said it wasn’t Parkinson’s because I was too young and I had certain chemicals at acceptable levels, not to be written off.  My eyesight got really bad and I gave up on everything.”

But, with new treatments available in Canada, Taylor was able to get his life back.

“One day I just said I had enough, like what’s the worst thing that can happen to me in my life if I stop taking these things because I know they’re making a mess of me.  And sure enough in six months I was a new person. . .Since then, I’ve put my weight back on, right now I’m about 190 pounds.  My seizures and my (spasms) stopped.  I’m more calm.  I’m more relaxed.”


The World Touring Car Championship rides of Charles Kaki Ng (top) and James Thompson (bottom).
Ever since then, Taylor has tracked his progress through his ability to draw.  Though he still does airbrushing, he is currently compiling an extensive collection of drawings from multiple racing divisions.  He is also a quick study.  I commissioned him to do a pair of drawings for the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Sonoma, and though he hadn’t drawn such cars before, every detail was there, all the way down to the Chinese characters on Charles Kaki Ng’s BMW.  All the while, he has maintained a carpe diem attitude with his work.

“People are so happy to see me again and I’m actually doing something that, you know what, I might not be able to do tomorrow.  I might not be able to do this ten years from now.  But you know what?  While I can do it, I want to do it and I want to do it for people who appreciate it because there’s nothing worse in this world then getting taken for granted.  When you start taking something for granted people who would appreciate something that you don’t see will take it away from you and you’ve got nothing.  So you can never take nothing for granted every day.”


Michael Waltrip's 2011 NAPA Toyota (top) and 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix (bottom).
Taylor has also had the chance to share some of his artwork with drivers.  A few years ago, he did a drawing for Michael Waltrip.  Looking to stand out, he drew both Waltrip’s NAPA Toyota from the 2011 Daytona 500 as well as the car Waltrip raced as a rookie in 1986:

“I did the very first Cup car he ever drove, the red 23 Pontiac - it was before Bahari when he had the Hawaiian Punch sponsorship. . .So I pull this one out and say ‘Hey, you remember this one?’ and he said ‘Yeah, no big deal.’  And I’m like ‘That was your first car,’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, no biggie,’ so I don’t know if I ruined the mood by showing him that car.”


Davey Allison's 1989 Ford Thunderbird.  The photo is Taylor with Robert Yates, holding his drawing "like a big check."
One of Taylor’s most treasured experiences was a chance meeting with Robert Yates.  When he heard Yates was in his area, he did a drawing of the late Davey Allison’s #28 Texaco / Havoline Ford and brought it with him to the shop.

“So I get there and for whatever reason I show him this picture.  He just looked miserable it was like nine in the morning, and as soon as he’d seen the picture - I never met the guy in my life until then (but) he just cracked this huge smile it was like I gave him a bottle of Crown Royal.  He was just so happy to see it.  Nothing else mattered, we started to talk for like ten minutes.  And I didn’t think he was gonna give me the time of day, (but) here I am with Robert Yates, and I’m thinking this is the best thing I’m gonna get to other than getting a Davey Allison autograph because I loved the guy.”

“So when I had Robert sign it, there were all these photographers around and I’d never even thought of it, but all these people are taking our pictures for trade magazines and Robert’s like ‘Hold that picture up.’  So I’m like ‘Do I hold it up like a big check?’ And he started laughing like it was the funniest thing.  And that was it.  But it was the coolest thing, I’ll never forget the look he gave when I showed him the picture.”

Taylor's watercolor of Kevin Harvick's 2001 #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
Today, Taylor still draws and strives to get his art more exposure.  Having seen his work for myself, I can say it is absolutely deserving of it.  His technical proficiency and artistic skill, particularly in spite of his condition, are inspirational.  And his decision to stick with NASCAR while many other longtime fans have lost interest, is something to be acknowledged and rewarded.

“You know what I would really enjoy?” he told me.  “It would be really cool if I saw a phone number on my machine and I call it up and someone, say, Clint Bowyer or Kevin Harvick just called me up ‘cause they forgot my number and just go over to their house and airbrush whatever on their garage wall.  That would be the coolest thing to me in the world.”

Taylor can be reached by e-mail at hairball474747@gmail.com.

**More Art By Robert Taylor**
(click images for full size)

Cale Yarborough
Donnie Allison
Earl Ross (top) and Buddy Arrington (bottom)
Eddie Hill
Jason Leffler
J.D. McDuffie
Junior Johnson
Ken Schrader
Rusty Wallace
Ryan Newman
Brad Keselowski
Bobby Allison, 1988 (top) and 1983 (bottom)
Kyle Busch
Ron Fellows