Sunday, July 17, 2016

CUP: Josh Wise edges Scott and McDowell in tight Loudon last-place battle

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Josh Wise picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #30 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 94 of 301 laps.

The finish, which occurred in Wise’s 144th series start, was his third of the season and first since Texas, twelve races ago, where he swept both the weekend’s 40th-place runs.

At Kentucky the previous Saturday, Wise finished 24th, the best performance in a Cup points race by The Motorsports Group.  Wise and TMG had missed all three restrictor-plate races in 2016, but failed to finish just four of the sixteen remaining races - significant progress for a program that made just two Cup starts last year.  Driver and team then rolled into New Hampshire, where car owner Curtis Key earned a track-best 16th-place run with Jimmy Foster during an XFINITY race on May 10, 1997.

Wise still fought for speed in practice and qualifying, trailing all cars in Happy Hour.  He qualified 39th for Sunday’s race, putting up a speed of 126.534mph.  On Sunday, he’d be joined by last-place starter Ryan Ellis, who this time took the controls of Cole Whitt’s #98 at Premium Motorsports.

On Sunday, Wise took the spot from Ellis by the end of Lap 1 and the two black Chevrolets began to lose touch with the pack.  By Lap 11, Wise was 1.028 seconds behind Ellis, who was 2.360 seconds behind 38th-place Michael Annett in the #46 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet.  Wise was also the first car to be lapped on the 18th circuit and the first to lose a second lap just before the competition caution after 35.

Wise was still last when 33rd-place starter Brian Scott was penalized for too many men over the wall during his first pit stop.  The pass-through penalty cost Scott two laps, dropping his #44 Shaw’s Ford to last by the restart.  The Richard Petty Motorsports crew noticed Scott’s Ford was leaking fluid, and Scott complained of brake issues, so the #44 pulled behind the wall around Lap 41.  On Lap 60, Scott returned to the track 21 laps down, and two circuits later Michael McDowell found trouble.  The debut of McDowell’s #95 Malwarebytes Chevrolet went sideways when his car slowed in Turn 1 with what appeared to be an engine failure.  Behind the wall, the crew found a belt had come off the alternator, draining the battery, requiring a replacement of each.  With Scott back on track and McDowell’s repairs more lengthy, the #95 took last from the #44 on Lap 82.

Josh Wise, meanwhile, had continued to lose laps to the leaders, but remained on track.  That changed on Lap 100, when Wise smacked the wall coming off Turn 2.  With heavy damage to the right-front of his car, Wise slowed suddenly in front of a closing Chris Buescher in the #34 CSX “Play It Safe” Ford.  Buescher avoided a collision by cutting left, then spun to the inside of the track.  Buescher returned to competition, nearly collecting Scott’s lapped #44 in the process, but Wise pulled into the garage.  On Lap 115, Wise took 39th from Scott.  On Lap 132, he took last from McDowell.  And by Lap 143, Wise’s #30 had officially retired from the race.

McDowell’s electrical gremlins remained a problem, and the #95 pulled out of the race for good in the final 70 laps.  Though three accidents slowed the race’s final 27 laps, all of the remaining 38 starters managed to finish under power.  38th went to Scott, who ended up 23 laps behind.  Ellis came home 37th, eight laps behind.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was K&N Pro Series East driver Eddie MacDonald, making his third-straight start in this event for Go FAS Racing, his #32 Bentley’s Saloon Ford seven laps behind at the finish.

*This marked the first last-place finish for both Wise and the #30 in a Cup Series race at New Hampshire.

40) #30-Josh Wise / 94 laps / crash
39) #95-Michael McDowell / 191 laps / electrical
38) #44-Brian Scott / 278 laps / running
37) #98-Ryan Ellis / 292 laps / running
36) #32-Eddie MacDonald / 293 laps / running

1st) Matt DiBenedetto, Reed Sorenson, Josh Wise (3)
2nd) Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Cole Whitt (1)

1st) Premium Motorsports (4)
2nd) BK Racing, The Motorsports Group (3)
3rd) Richard Childress Racing (2)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (3)

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