Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CUP: Open Team Roundup - Coca-Cola 600


#21 Wood Brothers Racing
Driver: Ryan Blaney
Started 18th, Finished 20th
Honoring Signalman Seaman Cherone L. Gunn, U.S. Navy

Blaney was best in class once more among Sunday’s Open teams.  He began the weekend 2nd-fastest in the first round of qualifying, settling for 18th in qualifying, then ran 10th and 8th in the final two practice sessions.  He climbed up to 15th in the opening stages, but was then slammed with the Wood Brothers’ first pit road penalty of the year - a speeding violation - that dropped him to 34th.  Blaney made up the spots quickly, but when the tires wore out, he found it much harder to break the Top 10.  He eventually slipped to the 20th spot, at one point saved by a caution for Brian Scott’s spin that kept him on the lead lap.  With 3 laps to go, he slowed suddenly with an apparent flat tire, costing him three laps.

Next Sunday, Blaney vies for his first Cup start at Pocono, scene of his second Truck Series victory in 2013.  The Wood Brothers haven’t raced at “The Tricky Triangle” since August 3, 2008, when Bill Elliott came home 20th, but they do have a pair of wins - one with David Pearson in 1975 and another with Neil Bonnett in 1980.

#98 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Cole Whitt
Started 36th, Finished 35th
Honoring Cpl. Michael D. Anderson Jr., U.S. Marine Corps

The remaining Open teams once again found themselves racing each other for the final few spots and, like Atlanta in February, managed to complete nearly the entire distance.  Leading this group by three positions was Cole Whitt, who had new sponsorship from Carolina Skiff on his black #98 Chevrolet.  Other than a bump from Ryan Blaney as the two raced onto pit road, Whitt kept his car unscathed and finished nine laps down - the same circuit as the Chartered #95 Leavine Family Racing / Circle Sport entry of Michael McDowell.

Cole Whitt’s best finish in four previous Pocono starts was a 21st in the summer of 2014, driving the #26 Toyota of Scranton Toyota for BK Racing.  He also finished 15th in the 2011 Truck Series race there driving for series veteran Stacy Compton.  Owner Jay Robinson, however, has run no better than 36th at the track - twice - with Timmy Hill in 2014 and 2015.

#30 The Motorsports Group
Driver: Josh Wise
Started 37th, Finished 38th
Honoring Staff Sgt. Robert A. Massarelli, U.S. Army

38th belonged to Josh Wise, whose Curtis Key-owned entry finished the race 13 laps behind.  Like Whitt, Wise managed to put a Chartered entry behind him - five laps on Jeffrey Earnhardt’s #32 Can-Am Ford for Go FAS Racing.  He was also just one circuit from beating Chris Buescher’s battered #34 CSX - Play It Safe Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

Next Sunday will be The Motorsports Group’s first Cup appearance at Pocono, but driver Josh Wise has made 7 starts the with a best finish of 24th in the spring of 2014 driving for Phil Parsons, his last start at the track in a Chevrolet.

#55 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Reed Sorenson
Started 40th, Finished 40th
Honoring Pfc. Jason Hill Estopinal, U.S. Marine Corps

Reed Sorenson finished last in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.  For more details on his race, read Monday’s LASTCAR.info feature.  Sorenson’s best Pocono finish in 14 previous starts was a 20th for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009.




#26 BK Racing
#35 Front Row Motorsports
#40 Hillman Racing
#59 Leavine Family / Circle Sport Racing
#93 BK Racing

None of the part-time teams returned to attempt the Coca-Cola 600.

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