Sunday, July 19, 2015

CUP: Loudon Endurance Race Sees Yeley Swipe 43rd From Bowman’s Scorched Chevrolet

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
J.J. Yeley picked up the 15th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota fell out with rear gear issues after he completed 202 of the race’s 301 laps.

The finish was Yeley’s second of the 2015 season and his first since Texas, 12 races ago.  The finish occurred in Yeley’s 238th series start.

Just two races after the round at Texas, Yeley picked up a season-best 14th at Talladega, rebounding from a frustrating Daytona 500 where he came home 40th in a backup car after the primary was lost in a qualifying crash.  In the nine other races in that span, however, Yeley has finished no better than a 29th earned at Dover.  Meanwhile, in the XFINITY Series, where he runs for points driving the #28 Toyota for JGL Racing, Yeley stole the show last week in Kentucky by starting on pole for the Friday race by virtue of leading the weekend’s only practice session.  During Loudon’s XFINITY events, Yeley followed-up his Kentucky performance with the 6th-fastest time in Happy Hour and a 15th-place finish in the race, moving him from 15th to 14th in the series standings.

On the Cup side, Yeley’s #23 was just 40th-fastest in Friday’s opening practice and secured the 39th starting spot in qualifying with an average speed of 129.384 mph.  On Saturday, he remained 39th in the final two sessions.

On Sunday, the 43rd starting spot belonged to Timmy Hill, who was making his first Cup start since last November at Texas.  Hill was tabbed as the new driver of the #98 Residence Inn Ford when Josh Wise left the Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports team on Monday following Wise’s first last-place run since he joined the team in 2013.  By the end of the first lap, Hill was promptly passed by Canadian racer Derek White, who was making his Cup debut in Joe Falk’s #33 Braille Battery / Grafoid Chevrolet.  White, the owner of Motorsports Business Management which fields the #13 and #40 entries in the XFINITY Series, was off the pace all afternoon, frequently running high in the corners to make room for the leaders.  White was the first to lose a lap on Lap 16, went a second down on Lap 42, a third on Lap 60, and a fourth on Lap 77.  With the exception of a Lap 25 restart, where K&N East Series competitor Eddie MacDonald briefly held the spot in his #32 Ford for Go FAS Racing, White held 43rd from the start all the way to Lap 99.

White first lost 43rd to Alex Bowman, who was sent behind the wall after a frightening turn of events on Lap 98.  Running near the back of the field, Bowman’s unsponsored #7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet cut down a right-front tire under green and made an unscheduled stop for fresh right side rubber.  As he pulled away, the smoldering debris under the hood ignited, triggering a large fire that forced him to stop at the exit of pit road.  As the third caution ensued, Bowman escaped apparently unharmed while crews put out the flames.  The next time by on Lap 99, Bowman’s lapped machine promptly took the last spot from White, and as the #7 was towed behind the wall, it appeared he would stay there the rest of the afternoon.

Somehow, the Baldwin team managed to make repairs to Bowman’s machine and send him back onto the track 67 laps down on Lap 161, at which point all 43 cars were again still running around the track.  Soon after, however, the Toyotas of BK Racing began to struggle.  The first was current Rookie of the Year leader Jeb Burton, whose #26 Maxim Fantasy Sports Toyota went behind the wall with a broken gear around Lap 178.  By Lap 186, Burton had slipped beneath White for the 42nd spot and was about 50 circuits away from taking last from Bowman.  Burton closed within just 10 laps of passing Bowman for last when he returned to the track on Lap 192.

Moments later, around Lap 205, Yeley’s Toyota pulled into the garage with a broken hub seal.  With less than 100 laps remaining, the BK Racing team fought to get his car back on track, but time was not on their side.  Lapped early in the event, Yeley soon slipped to 41st and took 42nd from Burton on Lap 263.  Now with less than 40 laps remaining in the event, Yeley’s car became the first retiree from the event.  And on Lap 273, with just 28 laps remaining, Yeley took the last spot from Bowman.

Bowman remained 42nd with Burton 41st and the lapped Derek White finishing on the outside of the Bottom Five in 39th.  Completing the group was 40th-place Justin Allgaier, the Coca-Cola 600 last-placer, whose #51 Brandt Chevrolet smoked heavily in the final 100 laps from a loose oil coolant line.  Allgaier lost 17 laps by the finish and slowed coming off Turn 4 as Kyle Busch took the white flag.  Seconds later, Bowman cut down a third right-front tire and collided with the outside wall in Turn 2, ending the race under caution.  Still, as of this writing, both Bowman and Allgaier are listed as finishing under power, leaving Yeley as the only retiree.

A great story during the Loudon weekend revolved around Landon Cassill, whose #40 Interstate Moving Services / Precon Marine, Inc. Chevrolet showed speed all weekend.  Cassill was 21st-fastest in the opening session but leapt to 13th on the grid for Sunday, just one spot shy from a run at the pole.  After running 24th and 30th in Saturday’s practices, Cassill remained in the Top 20 for most of the race’s first half, battling Denny Hamlin in 15th at the one-third mark.  Although cautions and pit strategy shuffled him to a 30th-place run, it was another excellent showing by Hillman-Smith Motorsports, a team entering just its third year of existence.

*Yeley is the first last-place finisher to be the only retiree from a Cup Series race since last September when Yeley himself parked BK Racing’s #93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota after 31 laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond.
*This marks the first last-place finish for the #23 in a Cup race at New Hampshire, but the second in a row at the track for BK Racing, whose #93 “start-and-park” entry also trailed last September’s race with rookie Clay Rogers.
*The 202 laps Yeley completed are the most by a Cup Series last-placer at New Hampshire since September 14, 2008, when Joe Nemechek’s #78 Furniture Row / Chevrolet ran 218 laps of the Sylvania 300 before falling out with crash damage.
*This marks Toyota’s 125th last-place finish in the Cup Series.

43) #23-J.J. Yeley / 202 laps / rear gear
42) #7-Alex Bowman / 230 laps / running
41) #26-Jeb Burton / 239 laps / running
40) #51-Justin Allgaier / 284 laps / running
39) #33-Derek White / 290 laps / running

1st) Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) Alex Bowman, J.J. Yeley (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 (1)

1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports (3)
2nd) BK Racing, Go FAS Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (2)
3rd) 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 (3)

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