Sunday, November 8, 2015

TRUCKS: Caleb Roark Bids For Second-Straight LASTCAR Title After Close Texas Contest

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Caleb Roark picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at the Texas Motor Speedway when electrical issues prevented his #0 Chevrolet from completing any of the 147 laps.

The finish, which occurred, in Roark’s 23rd series start, was his first since Pocono, 9 races ago and breaks a three-way tie with Norm Benning and Tyler Tanner for the 2015 LASTCAR Truck Series lead.  With two races to go, Roark is now in position to claim his second-straight LASTCAR title.

Roark’s truck made it an even 32 for as many spots in Friday’s field, and he was guaranteed to make his first series start since last month’s 30th-place finish at Las Vegas.  With just one lap turned in Thursday’s opening practice, Roark was 29th-fastest overall, and in Happy Hour later that day, he failed to complete a lap at all.  One week after engine issues cancelled Brad Foy’s series debut in the truck, electrical issues now reared their ugly head, and the #0 was now having issues starting.  These issues persisted in qualifying, and when time expired on the five-minute clock, he was unable to put up a time and was set to roll off 31st.

With just one caution on the night, Friday’s race was the fastest in series history, and the last-place battle ended just as quickly - Roark’s electrical issues prevented him from completing a lap.  Roark managed to edge fellow LASTCAR contender Tyler Tanner, whose backup #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Chevrolet for MB Motorsports lost an engine in practice, and the team couldn’t get a functioning backup.

Both Roark and Tanner were six laps behind 30th-place Mike Harmon, who debuted a second unsponsored truck of his own, #49, which he drove in addition to Jordan Anderson’s 21st-place #74 Columbia, South Carolina / Knight Fire Protection Chevrolet.  MAKE Motorsports again had both trucks in the show, and this time former XFINITY Series driver Dexter Stacey pulled the team’s unsponsored #50 Chevrolet behind the wall after 11 laps.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Todd Peck, who was making his first series start since coming home next-to-last at Michigan in June.  Peck’s family-owned team, which ran the #40 earlier this season, on Friday became the third different program to run the #45 in the series in 2015.

*Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing’s #0 has swept both last-place runs at Texas in 2015 and has trailed in four of the last five Truck Series races held at the track.

32) #0-Caleb Roark / 0 laps / electrical
31) #36-Tyler Tanner / 0 laps / engine
30) #49-Mike Harmon / 6 laps / engine
29) #50-Dexter Stacey / 11 laps / electrical
28) #45-Todd Peck / 17 laps / suspension

With two races to go, four drivers remain in contention for the LASTCAR Truck Series Championship - joining Roark are Tyler Tanner, Norm Benning, and Justin Jennings.

Three-time last-placers Norm Benning and Tyler Tanner can only control their own destiny by finishing last at both Phoenix and Homestead, taking the lead outright.

Benning will be eliminated if he doesn’t finish last at Phoenix - he trails Roark in bottom-fives 8-4 and cannot rely on a tiebreaker.  Tanner can finish last in one race and prevail in a tiebreaker if Roark fails to finish in the Bottom Ten in both races - in that situation, Tanner would match Roark’s 8 Bottom Fives, but prevail by a single Bottom Ten, 9-8.  This will be challenging, however, as Roark’s “start-and-park” ride has not finished outside the Bottom Ten all season.

Two-time last-placer Jennings has a good chance of winning the title, but only if he sweeps the final two last-place finishes of the season.  Jennings currently has 9 bottom-five finishes and 13 in the Bottom Ten, meaning that if he ties Roark, Tanner, or Benning, he will win either tiebreaker no matter where those three drivers finish in both races.  It would be a surprising development after this site prematurely awarded Jennings the title after Phoenix in 2014.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Jo Cobb, who also has two last-place finishes and 11 Bottom Tens, has been eliminated from LASTCAR contention.  Cobb has just 3 Bottom Fives in 2015 and, even with a two-race sweep, cannot win the tiebreaker against Roark’s season total of 8.  Cobb’s two-truck team, however, has now clinched the 2015 LASTCAR Truck Series Owner’s title by three finishes over Mike Mittler and Norm Benning.

1st) Caleb Roark (4)
2nd) Norm Benning, Tyler Tanner (3)
3rd) Justin Jennings, Jennifer Jo Cobb (2)
4th) Adam Edwards, Joey Gattina, J.J. Haley, Stew Hayward, Travis Kvapil, Justin Marks, Robert Mitten (1)

1st) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (7)
2nd) MB Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing (4)
3rd) MAKE Motorsports (2)
4th) Braun Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, NDS Motorsports, Win-Tron Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) RAM (2)
3rd) Toyota (1)

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