Sunday, September 28, 2014

TRUCKS: Replacement Driver Charles Lewandoski Last In Vegas

Charles Lewandoski picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Rhino Linings 350 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #35 Win-Tron Racing Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 5 of the race’s 146 laps.

The finish was Lewandoski’s second of the 2014 season and his first since Charlotte, thirteen races ago.  He is now tied with Ryan Ellis, Justin Jennings, and Caleb Roark for the most last-place finishes in the 2014 Truck Series season.  If the season ended today, Roark would win a close tiebreaker with 8 bottom-five finishes over Lewandoski’s 7, Jennings’ 6, and Ellis’ 4.  With five races to go, however, the 2014 LASTCAR Truck Series Driver’s title is still very much anyone’s to win.

Lewandoski’s ride for Win-Tron Racing, owned by series veteran Kevin Cywinski, had for all of this season been driven by 2013 ARCA Series runner-up Mason Mingus.  The full-season effort was to be Cywinski’s first as an owner - his last full season as a driver came driving for Bob Brevak in 1999.

Heading into Las Vegas, Mingus stood 11th in points, 85 points out of 10th, and 2nd to Ben Kennedy in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.  Mingus earned a career-best 10th-place finish at Kansas and just two early-season DNFs.  However, Mingus and his sponsorship from the 811 service moved to Billy Boat’s #15 team for Vegas, leaving Cywinski without a sponsor and driver.  It wasn’t until Thursday that Lewandoski was tabbed as Mingus’ replacement in a flat black Toyota.

Just 30 trucks showed up to run at Las Vegas, so both Lewandoski and Mingus would be guaranteed starting spots on Saturday.  Lewandoski did not participate in the opening session, then timed in 25th of the 28 drivers in Happy Hour.  He qualified 26th for the race, putting up a lap of 167.551 mph.

Curiously, it was during a caution for a spin by Mingus in Turn 4 that Lewandoski pulled the #35 behind the wall, following Roark to the garage.  Two laps later, Kansas last-placer Scott Stenzel pulled Mike Mittler’s #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Chevrolet out of the race, followed by B.J. McLeod’s #07 Chevrolet on the following circuit.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was McLeod’s teammate Jimmy Weller III, who started 11th but fell out with crash damage after 28 laps in the #08 Geneva-Liberty Steel /Engine Parts Plus Chevrolet.

*This was the first last-place finish for a Toyota in a Truck Series race since last fall’s season finale at Homestead, when J.J. Yeley’s #07 / Toyota broke a fuel pump after 2 laps of the Ford EcoBoost 200.  Toyota hadn’t finished last in a Truck race at Las Vegas since 2010, when Johanna Long’s #20 Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota lost the transmission on the first lap.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #35 in a Truck Series race since Mason Mingus’ series debut at Talladega last fall.

30) #35-Charles Lewandoski / 5 laps / vibration
29) #0-Caleb Roark / 5 laps / electrical
28) #36-Scott Stenzel / 7 laps / electrical
27) #07-B.J. McLeod / 8 laps / electrical
26) #08-Jimmy Weller III / 28 laps / crash

1st) Ryan Ellis, Justin Jennings, Charles Lewandoski, Caleb Roark (2)
2nd) Mike Affarano, Bryan Dauzat, Alex Guenette, Mike Harmon, Blake Koch, Ted Minor, Tommy Regan, Scott Stenzel, Jason White (1)

1st) #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb (4)
2nd) #36-Mike Mittler, #63-Mike Mittler / Randy Young (2)
3rd) #28-FDNY Racing, #35-Win-Tron Racing, #42-Randy Young, #45-Regan Motorsports, #57-Norm Benning, #74-Mario Gosselin, #74-Mike Harmon, #93-RSS Racing, #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) RAM (2)
3rd) Toyota (1)

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