|SOURCE: Matt Sullivan, Getty Images|
The finish was Green’s first of the season, his first since last year’s Homestead finale, two races ago, and came in his 422nd series start. It also marked Toyota’s 250th last-place finish across NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Following a one-race stint for Rick Ware Racing in the Daytona opener, Green again returned to TriStar Motorsports to run the team’s “start-and-park” #10. Also joining the Mark Smith-owned team in a third car was J.J. Yeley, who after losing his ride with JGL Racing in XFINITY and BK Racing in Cup made his 2016 debut at Atlanta with a sparkling 19th-place finish in an identical unsponsored #14 Toyota.
While the Sprint Cup field remained at 39 from the posting of the preliminary entry list through the race itself, the first list for the XFINITY race grew from 37 at the start to 41 by Thursday with the late additions of Rick Ware Racing’s #15 and #25, the Jimmy Means Racing #52, and Obaika Racing’s #97. Following Friday’s withdrawal of Rod Sieg’s second entry, the #93 to be driven by Scott Lagasse, Jr., Green and the 40 remaining entrants were guaranteed starting spots in the race.
Green didn’t participate in Friday’s first practice session, was the lone holdout in the second, and was slowest overall after a four-lap shakedown run in Happy Hour. Regardless, he qualified the white #10 on speed in 31st position with a single lap of 175.083 mph.
Starting 40th on Saturday was Chris Cockrum, who did not complete a qualifying lap in the #25 Advanced Communications Group Chevrolet fielded by Rick Ware and was kept in the back for unapproved adjustments. Well after Green pulled the #10 behind the wall after Lap 1, securing the last-place finish, Cockrum continued to struggle, spinning on Lap 16 after a flat tire. Still, he managed to finish 29th at race’s end - the best finish among the four late entries added on Thursday.
Finishing 39th on Saturday was David Starr, Green’s other TriStar teammate, after his #44 Zachry Toyota lost an engine down the backstretch on Lap 9. Todd Peck came home 38th in his second career XFINITY Series start and third for Truck Series owner B.J. McLeod after the #99 Bateries Plus Bulbs Ford also left with engine woes. 37th went to Morgan Shepherd, who joins Green as the only two drivers to finish inside the Bottom Five in the first two races. Rounding out the group was Carl Long, out with handling woes in his unsponsored #40 Toyota, but in the show with Motorsports Business Management teammate / owner Derek White in the #13 after both were blanked in Daytona qualifying.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #10 in an XFINITY Series race since May 2, 2015 at Talladega, when Charles Lewandoski’s turn in the unsponsored TriStar machine during the Winn-Dixie 300 at Talladega ended after 3 laps with transmission issues.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #10 in an XFINITY Series race at Atlanta since August 30, 2014, when Green’s #10 Heroes Behind the Camo SupportMilitary.org Toyota had a vibration 3 laps into the Great Clips 300 to benefit Feed The Children.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #10-Jeff Green / 1 lap / electrical
39) #44-David Starr / 7 laps / engine
38) #99-Todd Peck / 15 laps / engine
37) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 25 laps / overheating
36) #40-Carl Long / 29 laps / handling
2016 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green, Ryan Preece (1)
2016 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) JD Motorsports, TriStar Motorsports (1)
2016 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (1)