Saturday, July 11, 2015

CUP: Josh Wise Scores First Cup Series Last-Place Finish Since 2012

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Josh Wise picked up the 5th last-place finish of his LASTCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway when his #98 Big Red Ford was involved in a two-car accident that ended his run after 17 of the race’s 267 laps.

The finish was Wise’s first of the 2015 season and his first in a Cup Series race since October 7, 2012, when his #26 MDS Transport Ford overheated after 5 laps of the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega, 96 races ago.  It is also the first last-place finish for Phil Parsons Racing since November 17, 2013 when Michael McDowell lost the brakes 63 laps into the Ford 400 at Homestead, 54 races ago.

The 2013 season was McDowell’s fourth and last for Parsons, whose team’s frequent “start-and-park” efforts earned them four LASTCAR titles from 2009 through 2013.  For 2014, Parsons was finally ready to attempt full-race runs for a full season, and Wise was brought from Front Row Motorsports’ third team to replace McDowell, who was headed to Leavine Family Racing.  In their first race together, Wise finished a surprising 5th in the Budweiser Duel at Daytona, giving them 11th on the grid for the Daytona 500.  Although Wise DNQ’d for the next race at Phoenix, driver and team earned a number of respectable runs early in the season, including a 23rd at Bristol and a 21st at Darlington.

Wise and Parsons’ efforts soon attracted the attention of a Kickstarter program started by Reddit users and the group’s fledgling Dogecoin Digital Currency.  The pair funded Wise’s race at Talladega, where the #98 again improved on their season-best finish with a 20th-place run.  The next month at Charlotte, Wise’s growing number of supporters voted driver and team into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, where he came home 15th in a field of 22.  At season’s end, Wise finished 36th in points with just four DNFs.  And for the first time in its existence, Phil Parsons Racing did not finish last a single time all season.

This year, Wise and Parsons have continued to run full races, though the team has restructured behind the scenes.  The first switch was from 2014’s black Chevrolets to this year’s white Fords, and an ill-timed electrical issue in the Budweiser Duels that left the team last and out of the Daytona 500 field.  The team finished no better than 30th in the eight races that followed, though at Fontana celebrated business partner Mike Curb’s 200th start as a Cup Series owner.  At Talladega, the team began to be absorbed into Premium Motorsports, which currently fields the #62 Chevrolet.  The car changed sponsors that weekend and finished a season-best 10th.  The font of the car’s numbers changed next at Charlotte, and by Sonoma, when Dogecoin returned, both car and hauler carried Premium’s logos.  Officially, however, Mike Curb is still listed as the owner.

For Kentucky, Wise’s #98 was sponsored by the Big Red soda company, which in the past had run its logos on cars owned by Germain Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing.  Wise turned in the 39th-fastest time in Friday’s opening practice and 37th in Happy Hour.  Qualifying was canceled by rain, and the first practice speed put him 37th on the grid.  Unfortunately, this also meant three part-time teams missed the show.  For the second-straight week, Ryan Blaney’s #21 and Michael McDowell’s #95 headed home early, joined by Travis Kvapil, who was set to make both his and The Motorsports Group’s first Cup attempt since last month at Dover.

The 43rd starting spot in Saturday’s race went to Alex Kennedy, who made his 8th start of the season and first since Sonoma in a black unsponsored #33 Chevrolet for owner Joe Falk and Circle Sport.  Kennedy held the spot through the moment he became the first to lose a lap on Lap 17 when trouble broke out ahead of him in Turn 3.  As leader Brad Keselowski ran up on the trailing J.J. Yeley and Wise, both trying to stay on the lead lap, Yeley lost control of his #23 TraqGear / Coolshirt Toyota entering the corner, clipping Wise and causing the #98 to smack the outside wall.  The first caution fell for Wise’s smoking car as it headed down pit road and into the garage.  What first appeared to be only a broken track bar apparently proved much worse as he never returned to the track, snagging 43rd from Kennedy under the yellow and holding it the rest of the night.

42nd and 41st went to Yeley’s BK Racing teammates Matt DiBenedetto and Jeb Burton, both involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 144.  Entering Turn 1, Burton’s #26 Maxim Fantasy Sports Toyota was rear-ended by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.’s #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, sending Burton into a spin in front of DiBenedetto’s #83 Anest Iwata Toyota and Tony Stewart’s #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet.  DiBenedetto smacked the outside wall as the spinning Burton pinched him high.  All drivers involved returned to the track, but DiBenedetto slowed on the restart and retired with crash damage while Burton’s suspension failed thirty laps later.  Kennedy and Yeley rounded out the Bottom Five, both laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.

*Neither Wise nor the #98 had ever before finished last in a Cup Series race at Kentucky.
*Wise is the 10th different last-place finisher in the previous 10 Cup Series races.

43) #98-Josh Wise / 17 laps / crash
42) #83-Matt DiBenedetto / 145 laps / crash
41) #26-Jeb Burton / 175 laps / suspension
40) #33-Alex Kennedy / 247 laps / running
39) #23-J.J. Yeley / 260 laps / running

1st) Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) Alex Bowman (2)
3rd) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Sam Hornish, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports (3)
2nd) Go FAS Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (2)
3rd) BK Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (2)

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