Monday, November 17, 2014

TRUCKS: Caleb Roark Snatches Away 2014 LASTCAR Truck Series Title With Series’ Final 36th-Place Finish

SOURCE: CIA Stock Photo
Caleb Roark picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #0 Grimes Irrigation / Best Western Mesa Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after he completed 5 of the race’s 134 laps.

The finish was Roark’s third of the 2014 season and his first since Mosport, eight races ago.  Though tied with Justin Jennings for the most last-place finishes, it is Roark - not Jennings as I originally reported last week - who is officially the 2014 LASTCAR Truck Series Champion.  Roark and Jennings left Phoenix tied with 9 bottom-five finishes each, so a last-place finish by Roark at Homestead and a finish by Jennings outside the bottom-five would secure Roark the title.  That is exactly what happened on Friday - Roark trailed the field while Jennings came home 22nd, ten spots outside the Bottom Five.

Roark also holds the distinction of being the final Truck Series driver to finish 36th in a race.  Starting next year, the series’ starting fields will be reduced to 32.

Following his withdrawal from last week’s race at Phoenix, Roark was back at the track at Homestead, driving what reports indicate was owner Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 truck from Phoenix with the number “1” decals peeled off.  He was one of 34 trucks on the preliminary entry list, a field extended to 36 by race weekend.  Roark did not practice in the opening session on Thursday and was the only driver to not turn a lap in Happy Hour, but still outpaced Norm Benning and Scott Stenzel to score the 34th starting spot at an average speed of 152.044 mph.

In the race itself, it appeared that Benning would score his first last-place finish of the season when he pulled his flat red unsponsored #6 Chevrolet lost a lap by Lap 3 with possible mechanical issues.  However, he returned to the track during the first caution of the night on Lap 6 when John Wes Townley crashed his #05 Zaxby’s Toyota in Turn 2.  Townley fell just short of a last-place finish, however, for in the chaos, Roark had pulled his #0 off the track for good, snagging away the championship-clinching 36th-place run.  Benning just passed Townley for 34th before he, too, left the race.

Rounding out the Bottom Five were Scott Stenzel, whose #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Chevrolet had electrical issues after 11 laps, and Roark’s team owner Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #10 Oohrah! Hydration Drink Chevrolet after clutch issues 58 laps into the race.

*This is the second last-place finish in three Homestead Truck Series races for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 team.  On November 16, 2012, Blake Koch lost the transmission on his #0 Ford after 3 laps of the Ford EcoBoost 200.

36) #0-Caleb Roark / 5 laps / vibration
35) #05-John Wes Townley / 6 laps / crash
34) #6-Norm Benning / 7 laps / rear gear
33) #36-Scott Stenzel / 11 laps / electrical
32) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 58 laps / clutch

1st) Justin Jennings, Caleb Roark - 2014 CHAMPION (3)
2nd) Ryan Ellis, Mike Harmon, Blake Koch, Charles Lewandoski, Caleb Roark (2)
3rd) Mike Affarano, T.J. Bell, Bryan Dauzat, Alex Guenette, Ted Minor, Tommy Regan, Scott Stenzel, Jason White (1)

1st) #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb (5)
2nd) #36-Mike Mittler, #63-Mike Mittler / Randy Young (3)
3rd) #74-Mike Harmon (2)
4th) #28-FDNY Racing, #35-Win-Tron Racing, #42-Randy Young, #45-Regan Motorsports, #50-MAKE Motorsports, #57-Norm Benning, #74-Mario Gosselin, #93-RSS Racing, #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) RAM (2)
3rd) Toyota (1)

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