Sunday, July 27, 2014

CUP: The Only Crash Of Sunday’s 400 Leaves Trevor Bayne Last

Trevor Bayne picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford was involved in a single-car crash after he completed 96 of the race’s 160 laps.

The finish was Bayne’s first of the 2014 season and his first in a Cup race since the 2013 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, 46 races ago.

Indianapolis was a big weekend for Bayne.  Following his 9th-place finish in Saturday’s Nationwide race - his fourth-straight top-ten finish in the series - Roush-Fenway Racing confirmed that Carl Edwards would not return to the team in 2015.  The announcement upped the ante for Bayne.  As revealed two months ago, Bayne will finally compete in his first full Cup season next year, bringing back Roush’s iconic #6.

Sunday’s race would be Bayne’s eighth start of the 2014 in his fifth part-time Cup season driving for the Wood Brothers, the team with which he pulled the upset in the 2011 Daytona 500.  While he sits 6th in the current Nationwide Series standings, Bayne’s best Cup finish of the year remains a pair of 19th-place runs at Texas and Michigan.  Indianapolis had been one of his most challenging tracks, with finishes of 16th, 28th, and 30th in his previous three tracks.

Bayne looked for a turnaround at the Brickyard.  He turned in the 21st-fastest time in the opening practice, jumped to 12th-fastest in Happy Hour, then secured the 20th-fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 184.869 mph.  46 cars had shown up to qualify for Sunday’s race, the most entries since the 47 cars at Talladega in April - surprising since both Randy Humphrey’s #77 and Xxtreme Motorsports’ #44 have yet to return from their summer hiatus.

Just like the 2013 running, the opening laps of the 400-miler featured very low attrition and several changes for last place. Starting 43rd was 2000 winner Bobby Labonte, driving for his third different team in three starts, but by the green flag, Aric Almirola went to the back with teammate Marcos Ambrose due to a backup car and transmission changes, respectively.  The spot then changed hands between Travis Kvapil and Landon Cassill over the next two laps, but it was Alex Bowman who lost a lap first on Lap 5.

On Lap 37, 2011 winner Paul Menard dropped back to 43rd.  Four laps earlier, his #27 Chevrolet had slammed the wall after an assist from Juan Pablo Montoya, and after a pit stop, his right-rear tire cut down.  As Menard clawed his way back through the field, Kvapil dropped back to 43rd on Lap 46.

An array of different early-race pit strategies scrambled the entire field all the way to the back, dropping Reed Sorenson to last on Lap 53, Kvapil on Lap 54, and Bowman again on Lap 55.  On Lap 68, Danica Patrick broke an axle leaving pit road, bringing out the second caution of the day.  While Menard had just fallen to 43rd once again, Patrick retook it under the caution on Lap 70, and looked to be stuck there the rest of the afternoon.  The team finished its repairs 28 laps later, but just as she pulled back on track, the caution flew once again.

On Lap 98, Bayne cut down a right-rear tire in Turns 3 and 4, sending him into a four-wheel slide.  Although he managed to miss the outside wall, he couldn’t keep the car from slamming nose-first into the inside wall.  Uninjured in the wreck, Bayne managed to limp his car back to pit road, but he was done for the day.  He slipped to 42nd on the Lap 101 restart, then slipped beneath Patrick on Lap 124, the last change of the day.  Patrick remained in 42nd, pulling out of the race in the final laps with rear gear problems.  They were the day’s only two retirees.

Finishing 41st was Ryan Truex, whose #83 Burger King Toyota brought out the final caution of the day when he slowed on the backstretch with 20 laps to go.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were Bowman and Kvapil, both four laps down to race winner Jeff Gordon.

*This was Ford’s first last-place finish in the Cup race at Indianapolis since 2006, when Elliott Sadler’s Snickers Ford was taken out in a two-car crah with Joe Nemechek after 3 laps.
*This was the first last-place finish for both Bayne and the #21 in a Cup Series race at Indianapolis.
*All three of Bayne’s Cup last-place finishes have come in consecutive seasons.

43) #21-Trevor Bayne / 96 laps / crash
42) #10-Danica Patrick / 114 laps / rear gear
41) #83-Ryan Truex / 149 laps / running
40) #23-Alex Bowman / 156 laps / running
39) #32-Travis Kvapil / 156 laps / running

1st) Dave Blaney (2)
2nd) A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Mike Bliss, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Timmy Hill, Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex, Brian Vickers (1)

1st) #77-Randy Humphrey Racing (2)
2nd) #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #32-Go FAS Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #38-Front Row Motorsports, #40-Hillman Racing, #43-Richard Petty Motorsports, #47-JTG-Daugherty Racing, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #66-Michael Waltrip Racing / Identity Ventures Racing, #78-Furniture Row Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-Identity Ventures Racing, #88-Hendrick Motorsports, #93-BK Racing, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Ford, Toyota (7)
2nd) Chevrolet (6)

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