Sunday, June 8, 2014

CUP: Kahne Narrowly Avoids First Last-Place Finish; Blaney Repeats at Pocono

SOURCE: Chris Trotman, Getty Images
Dave Blaney picked up the 23rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at the Pocono Raceway when his #77 Amy R. Fochler Veterans Law Attorney Ford finished under power, 18 laps down, having completed 142 of 160 laps.

The finish is Blaney’s second of the 2014 season and his first since Darlington, six races ago.  Blaney is the first repeat last-place finisher this Cup season, ending the streak at thirteen consecutive races.  He takes the lead in the LASTCAR Cup Championship, a lead previously held by Ryan Truex over Joe Nemechek by a single bottom-fifteen finish.

For the first time this season, the Humphrey Racing #77 carried a paint job other than all-white or the white-and-blue colors of the Germain Racing team where Humphrey acquired some of his cars.  With continued sponsorship from Amy Fochler’s Charlotte law firm that joined the team during the Sprint Showdown, Blaney’s #77 now had a bright red-white-and-blue scheme representing Fochler’s work with veterans.  With 43 cars showing up for as many spots, Blaney was guaranteed a starting spot in the field.

In Friday’s opening practice, Blaney timed in 40th, but he ended up 43rd on the grid after he spun out during qualifying.  He returned to the track on Saturday to run 43rd in the second practice and 42nd in Happy Hour.

At the start of Sunday’s race, Blaney remained in 43rd and was the first to lose a lap.  For much of the early stages, he exchanged the spot with Timmy Hill, making his fourth start of the season and his first for NEMCO-JRR / Identity Ventures Racing in the #66 Land Castle Title Toyota, and Alex Kennedy, making his first start since last summer at Watkins Glen in the #33 Dream Factory Chevrolet for Circle Sport.

On Lap 73, the third caution of the day fell for what looked to be rubber debris from the back of the #44 All City Leasing & Warehousing Chevrolet of J.J. Yeley.  Yeley spent a couple laps behind the wall, but returned to the track for the restart, taking 43rd in the process.  On Lap 81, Blaney spun exiting the first corner and stalled his #77, bringing out the fourth caution.  Although Blaney dropped the window net and spent several laps behind the wall, he also returned to the track in 43rd, sixteen laps down.

Blaney had lost two more laps when the final caution flew with 18 laps to go.  Kyle Busch slid into Kasey Kahne exiting the first corner, triggering a grinding wreck between Kahne and Carl Edwards.  While Busch and Edwards made it to the garage area, Kahne did not, ending his day.  With Blaney 18 laps down at the time of Kahne’s accident, there was an outside chance that Kahne would score his first last-place finish in his 374th Cup start.  However, Kahne came just one lap short.  With both Blaney and Kahne completing 142 laps, Blaney retained the 43rd spot.

Kahne left Pocono with fifth 42nd-place finish, one lap ahead of Edwards.  All-Star Race last-place finisher Joey Logano slowed on the Lap 149 restart and lost the engine soon after, dropping him to 40th.  Kennedy rounded out the Bottom Five, four laps behind the leaders and one lap behind 38th-place Yeley.

*This is Blaney’s first last-place finish at Pocono since June 10, 2007, when Blaney’s #22 Caterpillar Toyota crashed after 55 laps of the rain-shortened Pocono 500.  It is the first last-place finish for the #77 in a Cup Series race at this track.
*It is the first last-place finish for a Ford at Pocono since August 7, 2011, when J.J. Yeley’s #55 Front Row Motorsports Ford overheated after 7 laps of the Good Sam RV Insurance 500.

43) #77-Dave Blaney / 142 laps / running
42) #5-Kasey Kahne / 142 laps / crash
41) #99-Carl Edwards / 143 laps / crash
40) #22-Joey Logano / 150 laps / engine
39) #33-Alex Kennedy / 156 / running

1st) Dave Blaney (2)
2nd) Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Timmy Hill, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex, Brian Vickers (1)

1st) #77-Randy Humphrey Racing (2)
2nd) #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #38-Front Row Motorsports, #43-Richard Petty Motorsports, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #66-Michael Waltrip Racing / NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #78-Furniture Row Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #88-Hendrick Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Ford, Toyota (5)
2nd) Chevrolet (4)

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