A sixteen-year-old development driver for Braun Motorsports, Haley has moved from quarter midgets to a number of sporadic starts in NASCAR. In 2014, Haley competed in ARCA and both the West and East divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. This year, Haley has earned a combined nine top-five finishes across the three divisions and made the move to NASCAR’s top three divisions. His Truck Series debut came two months ago at Bristol, where he came home a solid 14th. Martinsville would be his next attempt.
A season-high 39 drivers were on Martinsville’s preliminary entry list - so many, in fact, that three withdrew in the lead-up to qualifying. On Friday, B.J. McLeod’s #45 Tilted Kilt Chevrolet was pulled along with MB Motorsports’ “start-and-park” #36 entry, which did not have a listed driver. The withdrawals followed the once-again late entries fielded by MAKE Motorsports, who this week put Camden Murphy in the #1 and Travis Kvapil in the #50.
Late model racer Brad Foy looked to make his NASCAR debut in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet. Foy entered the race while grieving from a devastating tragedy - his father Brian was murdered in May when burglars broke into his home. Foy turned in the 31st-fastest time in the opening practice session, outpacing Cobb’s locked-in truck that was 36th, but an engine failure forced the team to pull his entry.
Haley ran 22nd in the opening session and 20th in Happy Hour before he secured the 22nd starting spot with a speed of 94.200 mph.
The four drivers who missed the field were led by Norm Benning, who scored just his second DNQ of the year and his first since New Hampshire. Benning is still tied for the lead in the 2015 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship, but his four bottom-five finishes trail co-leaders Caleb Roark’s 7 and Tyler Tanner’s 6. Joining Benning were Brandon Brown, his fourth DNQ of his sophomore season, Chuck Buchanan, Jr., his fourth unsuccessful attempt to make his series debut, and K&N West Series driver Jimmy Weiler, the 42-year-old Sonoma, California driver missing the cut in his first series attempt.
Starting 32nd in Saturday’s race was Cobb, who ran an old Chevrolet body on her #10 Driven2Honor.org-sponsored entry. Cobb was among the first drivers to lose a lap, and by Lap 100 was joined by only two other lapped machines with drivers making their first series starts: Louisiana’s Brandon Hightower in MB Motorsports’ #08 St. Jude Children’s Hospital / Operation 2nd Chance Chevrolet and Wisconsin short tracker Paige Decker in Mike Harmon’s #74 Eagle River Derbytrack RAM, returning from a DNQ in the spring race. Decker and Hightower both spun in the early stages with Decker taking last from Cobb as the trio lost laps. The #74 was still trailing the field on Lap 120 when trouble broke out in Turn 1.
That time by, J.J. Haley was running on the lead lap in 26th when his brakes failed going into the first corner. His truck switched ends and backed hard into the outside wall, stopping the machine against the outside wall. Haley was uninjured, but his truck was too damaged to continue, and he became the first - and only - retiree from the event.
Cobb and Decker finished under power in the next two spots while Hightower climbed to 27th. 29th went to Spencer Gallagher, whose #23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet briefly entered the Top 5 on old tires only to be involved in his second-straight late-race accident with just six laps to go. Rounding out the Bottom Five was 17-year-old K&N Pro Series West rookie Dalton Sargeant, who brought out three cautions in the #5 Galt Toyota.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #32 in a Truck Series race since March 12, 2011, when Brad Sweet’s own turn in the Great Clips Chevrolet - then fielded by Turner Motorsports - crashed after 13 laps of the Too Tough To Tame 200 at Darlington. The number had never before finished last in a Truck Series race at Martinsville.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #32-J.J. Haley / 119 laps / crash
31) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 186 laps / running
30) #74-Paige Decker / 193 laps / running
29) #23-Spencer Gallagher / 196 laps / running
28) #5-Dalton Sargeant / 196 laps / running
2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Norm Benning, Caleb Roark, Tyler Tanner (3)
2nd) Justin Jennings, Jennifer Jo Cobb (2)
3rd) Adam Edwards, Joey Gattina, J.J. Haley, Stew Hayward, Travis Kvapil, Justin Marks, Robert Mitten (1)
2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (6)
2nd) MB Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing (4)
3rd) MAKE Motorsports (2)
4th) Braun Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, NDS Motorsports, Win-Tron Racing (1)
2015 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) RAM (2)
3rd) Toyota (1)