Saturday, May 10, 2014

CUP: Ryan and Martin Truex Are The First Brothers To Finish Last In The Same Cup Season Since 2006

Ryan Truex picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #83 Burger King Toyota was involved in a multi-car accident after he completed 57 of the race’s 267 laps.  The finish came in Truex’s 12th series start.

Eleven different drivers and teams have finished last this season, a record now longer than 2014's streak of consecutive different Cup Series winners and polesitters.

Truex, the 22-year-old younger brother of current Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex, Jr., made his K&N Pro Series East debut in 2008, then won the next two consecutive championships as a development driver for both Michael Waltrip and Rob Kaufmann.  In 2010, Truex made his Nationwide Series debut for Waltrip at Gateway, the first of 35 series starts.  He scored a career-best 2nd at Dover in 2012, winning the pole and leading 43 laps before being passed by his "Buschwhacking" Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano.  Truex also has four Truck Series starts to his credit, and earned a career-best 4th in this year’s Daytona opener while driving for Steve Turner.

Truex made his Cup debut last August at Bristol, where he timed in a surprising 18th driving the #51 James Finch-owned Chevrolet that was in the process of being transferred to current owner Harry Scott, Jr.  After two progressively better finishes at Richmond and Dover, Truex was tabbed to replace David Reutimann as driver of BK Racing’s #83 Toyotas for 2014.

BK would team Truex with fellow Nationwide Series racer Alex Bowman, and the two would become members of the largest Sprint Cup rookie class since 1994.  Despite failing to qualify for his first Daytona 500, Truex has qualified for every race since except Texas.  His best finish of the year remains a 30th at Martinsville, though he qualified 8th at Richmond when rain set the field based on practice speeds.

At Kansas, Truex timed in 36th in the opening practice, 34th in Happy Hour, then improved to 31st in qualifying with an average speed of 190.665 mph.

In Saturday’s race, Truex remained near the tail end of the pack, though 43rd originally belonged to last-place starter Joe Nemechek, who missed driver introductions.  Landon Cassill, fresh off a strong 11th-place showing at Talladega and a sponsor extension for his #40 Chevrolet, briefly held 43rd on Lap 6, then surrendered it to Josh Wise and the Phil Parsons Racing #98 on Lap 11.  Wise then became the first of many cars to lose a lap to leader Kevin Harvick.

Pit stops shook up the last-place battle, dropping Paul Menard, then Alex Bowman to the spot before the first caution for the night fell for Clint Bowyer’s spin on Lap 48.  Then, not long after the restart, David Ragan broke loose off the fourth corner - directly in front of Truex’s #83.  Unable to avoid a collision, the two cars hit, then bounced into Cassill’s #40, sending all three into the grass.  Cassill, running behind Truex and Ragan at the time of the accident, held 43rd until he returned to the track around Lap 150.  Truex, whose car was damaged much worse, never returned to the race, and fell to 43rd at that time.

Cassill made just six more laps before he pulled out of the race for good.  Finishing 41st was J.J. Yeley, whose brightly-colored #44 Phoenix Warehouse Chevrolet has lost engines in both its starts in 2014.  In 40th was Timmy Hill, making his first start since his own last-place run at Bristol in March, driving Circle Sport’s #33.  David Ragan narrowly averted a Bottom Five finish when he ran just a few laps more than Jamie McMurray, who scored his second DNF of the year with a hard, fiery crash while running 3rd on Lap 149.

*Ryan and his brother Martin, the Daytona 500 last-placer, are the first brothers to finish last in the same Cup Series season since 2006, when both Terry and Bobby Labonte and Elliott and Hermie Sadler all trailed at least one race each.
*This is the first last-place finish for both BK Racing and the #83 since last August at Watkins Glen, 26 races ago, when David Reutimann’s Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota lost the engine after he completed 4 laps of the Cheez-It 355.  Neither team nor number had ever finished last in a Cup race at Kansas.

43) #83-Ryan Truex / 57 laps / crash
42) #40-Landon Cassill / 63 laps / crash
41) #44-J.J. Yeley / 136 laps / engine
40) #33-Timmy Hill / 137 laps / engine
39) #1-Jamie McMurray / 149 laps / crash

1st) Aric Almirola, Dave Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Timmy Hill, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex (1)

1st) #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #43-Richard Petty Motorsports, #66-Michael Waltrip Racing / NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #77-Randy Humphrey Racing, #78-Furniture Row Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #88-Hendrick Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (4)
2nd) Ford (3)

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