Sunday, October 26, 2014

CUP: For The First Time Since 1951, #93 Finishes Last In Cup Race At Martinsville

SOURCE: Mark Agee
Clay Rogers picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #93 Burger King Toyota fell out with overheating issues after he completed 25 of the race’s 500 laps.

The finish was Rogers’ second of the 2014 season and his first since his series debut at New Hampshire, five races ago.  Rogers is now tied with Timmy Hill and Clint Bowyer for 3rd in the 2014 LASTCAR standings.  Season leaders Mike Bliss and Dave Blaney - with four and three last-place finishes, respectively - did not compete in Sunday’s race.  Mathematically, all 25 drivers who have scored at least one last-place finish this season are still in contention for the title.

Sunday was the first appearance for the #93 BK Racing team since Rogers’ debut at Loudon, a race where 43 cars showed up to make the 43-car field.  The preliminary entry list showed all four BK Racing cars, but did not list drivers for both the #93 and #83 until later in the week: J.J. Yeley in the #83 on Thursday and Rogers in the #93 on Friday.

Rogers was 42nd-fastest in the opening practice session, qualified 38th at an average speed of 96.770 mph, and was the only driver to not participate in Happy Hour on Saturday.

At the start of Sunday’s race, Mike Wallace rolled off 43rd in the #66 Testoril Toyota in his fourth start of the year for Identity Ventures Racing.  After the opening lap, Wallace passed the #32 Corvetteparts.com Ford driven this week by Kyle Fowler, who was making his Cup debut after fifteen Nationwide Series starts.  Alex Bowman, last week’s last-placer at Talladega, brought out the first caution when he spun on Lap 3, but only remained 43rd until the restart, when Fowler took it back.  Timmy Hill, back in the #44 since his last-place run at Dover, took 43rd on Lap 9, but only held it until Lap 11, when J.J. Yeley crunched the nose of his #83 and went behind the wall.  While the crew removed the hood of Yeley’s Toyota, Rogers pulled off the track on Lap 25, followed five laps later by Hill, whose car was smoking under the hood in the infield on Lap 37.  Yeley returned to the track on Lap 39, and in short order dropped Rogers and Hill to the final two spots in the field.

Finishing 41st Sunday was Travis Kvapil, who following a sterling 6th-place run at Talladega spun on Lap 11 and was among the first to be lapped before a mid-race engine failure took him out of the running.  In 40th was a frustrated Kasey Kahne, who after three on-track tangles with Brian Vickers was taken out in a five-car accident on Lap 438 triggered by the slowing Ford of Brad Keselowski.  Yeley rounded out the Bottom Five in 39th, 64 laps down, but still under power.

It was the fifth-straight last-place finish for the #93 team after its 41st-place debut in Kentucky’s 42-car field in June.  The team now leads the 2014 LASTCAR Owner’s standings, having broken a tie with the #37 Tommy Baldwin Racing team, which did not compete on Sunday.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
Donald Thomas' 1950 Plymouth at New Mobile Speedway, 1951
SOURCE: Getty Images, RacingOne
*This is the first last-place finish for the #93 at Martinsville since May 6, 1951 - the fourth-ever race run at the half-mile track.  The finish was earned by Donald Thomas, younger brother of two-time series champion Herb Thomas.  In that day’s 200-lapper, Thomas’ 1950 Plymouth was involved in a five-car accident on Lap 11 involving Jim Paschal, Fireball Roberts, Jim Fiebelkorn, and Ewell Weddle.  The next year, Thomas won his only career race in Herb’s Fabulous Hudson Hornet at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta.  At age 20 years, 4 months, and 5 days, Thomas was the youngest driver to win a Cup race until 2005, when Kyle Busch took his first victory at Fontana at age 20 years, 4 months, and 2 days.  Thomas also claimed the 1953 LASTCAR Championship with three last-place finishes and prevailing in a bottom-five tiebreaker with Dick Rathmann 6-4.  For more profiles on LASTCAR champions, check out my year-by-year chronicle at this link.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #93-Clay Rogers / 25 laps / overheating
42) #44-Timmy Hill / 30 laps / brakes
41) #33-Travis Kvapil / 280 laps / engine
40) #5-Kasey Kahne / 403 laps / crash
39) #83-J.J. Yeley / 436 laps / running

LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Mike Bliss (4)
2nd) Dave Blaney (3)
3rd) Clint Bowyer, Timmy Hill, Clay Rogers (2)
4th) A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, 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)

LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #93-BK Racing (5)
2nd) #37-Tommy Baldwin Racing (4)
3rd) #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #77-Randy Humphrey Racing (2)
4th) #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #23-BK 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, #44-Team XTREME Racing, #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)

LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (14)
2nd) Chevrolet (12)
3rd) Ford (7)