Sunday, June 8, 2014

TRUCKS: Ellis Trails Seventh-Shortest Field In Truck Series History

SOURCE: Twitter - @ryanellisracing
Ryan Ellis picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s WinStar World Casino 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #0 Grimes Irrigation & Construction Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after he completed 2 of the race’s 167 laps.  The finish came in Ellis’ 5th series start.

With the finish, Ellis joined Blake Koch as the only two drivers to finish last in both a Nationwide and Truck Series race in 2014.  Koch trailed both fields last weekend at Dover.  Ellis’ Nationwide finish came last month at Iowa.

Friday’s race at Texas had just 27 trucks in the starting lineup - the shortest Truck Series field since last fall’s 29-truck field at Las Vegas and the seventh-shortest field for a points race in series history.  The record remains 24, which occurred twice in 1995: at Saugus on April 15 (a race where two drivers failed to qualify) and at Louisville on June 3.  The season’s other small fields came at Flemington (25), Sonoma (26), Portland (26), and I-70 (26).

With the short field, Ellis was guaranteed a starting spot in his third drive of the season for Jennifer Jo Cobb.  Ellis had finished 28th for Cobb at Kansas and 34th last week at Dover, where he was edged by Blake Koch for the last-place finish.  His best finish of the season remains an 18th in the Daytona season opener, driving the #28 for longtime team owner Jim Rosenblum.

Ellis was one of three drivers who did not participate in the opening practice session, and he timed in 25th of 26 during Happy Hour.  In qualifying, he took the 27th and final starting spot with an average speed of 162.778 mph.

Jennings' and Lewandoski's trucks at Kansas (top),
Jennings' Texas truck (bottom)
SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
At the start of Friday’s race, Ellis pulled behind the wall after two laps, followed the next circuit by Justin Jennings.  Jennings, who all season had driven the #63 for owner Mike Mittler, was behind this time behind the wheel of the #42 Randco / Young’s Building Systems Chevrolet driven by Charles Lewandoski.  Just like at Daytona, where Lewandoski carried “60” numbers on the doors, the “42” decals were this time covered with tall “63” roof numbers from Mittler’s team.  B.J. McLeod, named the driver of Bobby Dotter’s #07 after the entry list was published, finished 25th, exiting ten laps after Jennings.

Rounding out the Bottom Five were two members of Red Horse Racing, including point leader Timothy Peters, who suffered at least two right-front tire problems before a crash took him out of the event.  At the moment Peters’ run ended, teammate German Quiroga lost an engine entering the first corner, bringing out the third caution of the night.

The short field also provided a number of surprising runs in the Top 5.  Runner-up Justin Lofton won the ole for Bob Newberry’s NTS Motorsports, then scored his best Truck Series finish since his lone win at Charlotte in 2012.  In his 11th series start, one week after his son’s career-best 6th-place finish, Cup Series veteran Joe Nemechek finished 3rd.  It was Joe’s best Truck Series finish since August 25, 1996, when he won the pole and finished 2nd to Ron Hornaday, Jr. in his series debut at Watkins Glen.  And 5th-place finisher John Wes Townley came just one spot short of besting his career-best 4th last month at Charlotte.

*This was the second consecutive last-place finish for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 in a Truck Series race at Texas.  Last fall, defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion Chris Lafferty lost the transmission after 4 laps.

27) #0-Ryan Ellis / 2 laps / vibration
26) #63-Justin Jennings / 3 laps / vibration
25) #07-B.J. McLeod / 13 laps / engine
24) #17-Timothy Peters / 51 laps / crash
23) #77-German Quiroga / 53 laps / engine

1st) Alex Guenette, Ryan Ellis, Blake Koch, Charles Lewandoski, Scott Stenzel, Jason White (1)

1st) #36-Mike Mittler (2)
2nd) #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb, #42-Randy Young, #74-Mario Gosselin, #93-RSS Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) RAM (1)


Jed Keselowski said...

Brock, what do you think can be done to help the Truck series? Limit Cup drivers to so many races? Bigger purses? Eliminating tire leasing so smaller teams can buy used tires?

Brock Beard said...

Limiting Cup drivers would be a huge first step. I know that's going to get a lot of criticism since this short field didn't have any Cup guys (other than Nemechek), but association isn't causation. In this race, we actually got to see how good Crafton is in his own right and several others contending for Top 5s. That's the way a lower division race should be - featuring the talent of the series regulars, not the party crashers.

Fixing the purse and tire issues would definitely help, too. Both of those are unfairly burdensome on the small teams, so they don't have a chance at closing the gap on the leaders.

I would also add more stand-alone Truck Series weekends to places that don't have Cup or Nationwide dates, including a greater emphasis on short tracks. The series was at its best when it embraced its rough-and-tumble nature. It's not supposed to be a downforce series like it is today. Hopefully the success of the Eldora event has opened NASCAR's eyes to that fact.

UnderdogFan89 said...

I agree pretty much completely with you, Brock, although if we want to be REALLY technical, Nemechek is taking Truck points, so he would be a truck driver......ok sorry I just caused myself to laugh. But it's pretty smart on his part, just look at his point position.

I know this might be unpopular too, but the fact that Trucks are run on a channel that many people do not get does not help their cause. I know that last year, my cable package decided to "upgrade" the feeds on some of the sports channels, which basically meant that the picture was marginally better but they could move it to a more expensive package; therefore, I no longer can see the Truck series, which crushes me.