Saturday, April 11, 2015

XFINITY: Mike Harmon Stops Green’s Streak In First Last-Place Run Since 2012

SOURCE: FOX Sports 1
Mike Harmon picked up the 14th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #74 Absolute Machines Dodge lost the engine after 2 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish was Harmon’s first of the 2015 season and his first in the series since June 16, 2012, when Harmon’s #74 West Virginia Miners Baseball Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 1 lap of the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan.

In the 93 races since that Michigan finish, Harmon has made just 38 starts, choosing instead to have other journeyman drivers run his black Chevrolets and Dodges.  In 2013, Harmon’s team made all but five races using the employ of Kevin Lepage, Juan Carlos Blum, Danny Efland, Kevin O’Connell, and Carl Long.  Harmon finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona race that year, and returned in 2014 to run 14 of the team’s 26 starts.  The team’s best finish of 2014 went to dirt tracker Bobby Reuse, who came home 24th at Mid-Ohio while brother Roger trailed in Harmon’s second car, #77.

Coming into Texas, Harmon had qualified for and started all 5 XFINITY Series races with a season-best 24th that again came at Daytona.  However, with 3 DNFs coming into Texas, Harmon was ranked just 25th in points.

Harmon was one of 39 drivers on the preliminary entry list for Texas, but on April 3, Viva Motorsports added a late entry with Brandon Gdovic in the team’s #55 Chevrolet, securing a full field of 40.  In the opening practice, Harmon timed in 37th of the 38 who took time (behind Derek White in the former #13 Braille Battery / Grafoid Dodge, now renumbered #40), then ran the slowest of the 40 in Happy Hour.  In qualifying, he secured the final starting spot as the only driver to not complete a qualifying lap.

In the final pace laps before the race, Harmon and 39th-place starter White were joined by Jeff Green, who was set to equal his August 2011 record as NASCAR’s first four-time last-place finisher, and both Joey Gase and outside-polesitter Brad Keselowski, who all made unapproved adjustments prior to the race.  Harmon’s team had also been tinkering with the car after qualifying, though without further consequence.

Just two laps into the race, Harmon’s Dodge lost the engine in Turn 4, bringing out the first caution of the night.  With no one yet out of the event, Harmon secured the 40th spot, denying Green his four-peat.  White pulled out of the race three laps later, giving his #40 its third-straight next-to-last place finish.  Green exited three laps after White to finish 38th followed by Stanton Barrett in Rick Ware Racing’s #15 Lily Trucking / Ford.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Derrike Cope, who on Lap 79 lost the engine on his #70 Nature Nate’s Honey / Zilla Wraps Chevrolet.

*This is Harmon’s first XFINITY Series last-place finish at Texas since April 5, 2008, when his #84 James Otto / Muzik Mafia Chevrolet overheated after 13 laps of the O’Reilly 300.
*This is the first XFINITY Series last-place finish at Texas for the #74 since April 3, 2004, when Tony Raines’ Outdoor Channel Chevrolet was involved in a three-car accident after 1 lap of the O’Reilly 300.
*This is the first XFINITY Series last-place finish by a Dodge at Texas since November 6, 2010, when Dennis Setzer’s #92 K-Automotive Motorsports Dodge fell out with a vibration after 3 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

40) #74-Mike Harmon / 2 laps / engine
39) #40-Derek White / 7 laps / transmission
38) #10-Jeff Green / 10 laps / vibration
37) #15-Stanton Barrett / 11 laps / engine
36) #70-Derrike Cope / 79 laps / engine

1st) Jeff Green (3)
2nd) Dexter Bean, Mike Harmon, Morgan Shepherd (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (3)
2nd) #74-Mike Harmon Racing, #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures, #92-King Autosport (1)

1st) Toyota (3)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)
3rd) Dodge (1)

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