Sunday, September 14, 2014

CUP: Bliss Ties Blaney, Ends McDowell’s Chicagoland Last-Place Streak At Three

Mike Bliss picked up the 17th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his #37 Accell Construction, Inc. Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after he completed 13 of the race’s 267 laps.

The finish was Bliss’ third of the 2014 season and his first since Atlanta, two races ago.  With nine races to go, Bliss and Dave Blaney are now tied for the most last-place finishes this season.  However, since no other driver has finished last more than once, the 2014 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship is still anyone’s to claim.

At Chicagoland, 43 cars showed up for as many spots, and when qualifying was rained-out, Bliss’ practice speed secured him the 40th starting spot.  Bliss remained 40th in Saturday’s opening practice, then along with Joe Nemechek in the #66 Royal Teak Toyota, did not turn a lap in Happy Hour.

On Sunday, Joey Gase, who trailed all three of the weekend’s practice sessions, made his Cup debut from the 43rd spot in Frank Stoddard’s #32 Zimmer Ford.  He was joined before the start by Kyle Larson, who after securing the 10th spot on the grid wrecked his backup car on Saturday, sending him to the back.  Larson rocketed through the field early, and Gase lost 43rd to Bliss by Lap 4.  Ten laps later, Bliss pulled behind the wall, securing the 43rd spot.

Finishing 42nd on Sunday was Ryan Truex, whose #83 Burger King Toyota slowed in Turn 3 during the Lap 181 caution for loosened styrofoam blocks in the Turn 4 wall.  He returned to the track on the Lap 186 restart only to pull out soon after with brake issues.  In 41st was a very frustrated Aric Almirola, who was running 6th in the middle stages.  Just after taking the lead during pit stops on Lap 299, Almirola lost the engine on his #43 Eckrich Ford, leaving him the lowest-finishing Chase driver.

In 40th was Michael Annett, who slipped beneath Joe Nemechek and Joey Gase near the middle part of the race when mechanical woes sent his #7 TMC / Allstate Chevrolet behind the wall on Lap 148.  Annett returned to the track thirty laps later to climb past Truex and Almirola, but couldn’t catch 39th-place Clint Bowyer, who brought out the next-to-last yellow after his #15 Peak Radiator Guarantee Toyota smacked the wall in Turn 2.

*This was Bliss’ first last-place finish in a Cup race at Chicagoland.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #37 in a Cup race at Chicagoland since July 11, 2004, when Chad Blount’s Carter’s Royal Dispos-All Dodge left the track with electrical issues after 3 laps of the Tropicana 400 Presented by Meijer.
*Bliss’ finish ends a streak of three-consecutive last-place finishes by Michael McDowell in this event - all three of which earned while driving for Phil Parsons.  On Sunday, McDowell ran the race for Leavine Family Racing in the #95 Thrivent Financial Ford and came home 32nd, five laps down.

43) #37-Mike Bliss / 13 laps / vibration
42) #83-Ryan Truex / 184 laps / brakes
41) #43-Aric Almirola / 230 laps / engine / led 2 laps
40) #7-Michael Annett / 233 laps / running
39) #15-Clint Bowyer / 244 laps / crash

1st) Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss (3)
2nd) A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Timmy Hill, Travis Kvapil, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex, Brian Vickers, Cole Whitt, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) #37-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #93-BK Racing (3)
2nd) #77-Randy Humphrey Racing (2)
3rd) #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #26-BK Racing, #32-Go FAS Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #38-Front Row Motorsports, #40-Hillman Racing, #42-Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, #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, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (10)
2nd) Ford (7)

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