|SOURCE: Lee Spencer|
The finish, which came in Roark’s 25th series start, was his first in Truck Series competition since last fall at Texas, 12 races ago.
Roark, the defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, returned to the series this season during the previous round at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 25, where he finished 31st in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10. According to the preliminary entry list, Roark was slated to run the #10 again at Kentucky while Cobb would remain in the #1 MAKE Motorsports entry for a third consecutive week, building on the Cobb team’s alignment with MAKE. Travis Kvapil would drive MAKE’s primary truck, the #50.
Roark, Cobb, and Kvapil of the Cobb / MAKE cooperative were among 30 drivers on the preliminary entry list for Thursday’s race. Two more joined on Wednesday to fill out the field: Garrett Smithley in Bobby Dotter’s #07 Mubea Job Opportunities Chevrolet and Mike Harmon’s #74 SMD Chevrolet.
Yet to be added by that day was Norm Benning, whose #6 had failed to qualify for six races and withdrawn from the other three. If things stayed the same, it would have marked the first time Benning didn’t make the entry list for a Truck Series race since October 28, 2008 at Martinsville. Fortunately, MB Motorsports came to the rescue, putting Benning in their #63. With 32 trucks for 32 spots, Benning would also make his first Truck start since November 6, 2015 at Texas.
At the track, the game of musical chairs continued. On Wednesday’s opening practice, Roark ran slowest overall in the #10, nearly five seconds off the leader’s pace. Roark then sat out Happy Hour while Cobb took 33 laps in the #10, lifting it to 29th of the 31 entries. Cobb and Travis Kvapil also turned 18 laps in the #1, which was ranked 27th overall. Cobb and Kvapil’s #1 was then renumbered #50 for Kvapil to drive on Thursday, sharing Cobb’s Driven2Honor.org sponsorship on the hood. A new truck from Premium Motorsports arrived that Thursday and was renumbered #1 in its place. This new #1 truck would be driven by Roark in qualifying and the race with Kvapil in the #50 (the first #1) and Cobb in the #10. All three Cobb / MAKE entries qualified no better than 28th, relying on Owner Points to make the field. Roark’s new #1 didn’t complete a lap in qualifying, but was placed ahead of last-place starter Mike Harmon.
But by the end of the race’s first lap, Roark had pulled off the track in his #1. A photograph by Lee Spencer showed a tow truck pushing the #1 behind the wall while crew members were still standing on pit road. Last-place starter Harmon went on to finish 29th, leaving after 62 laps with a vibration. Between Roark and Harmon were 31st-place Brett Moffitt, Tuesday’s announced relief driver for the recovering Matt Tifft, and 30th-place Kyle Busch, wrecked after light contact from Spencer Gallagher’s #23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Benning, who ran 14 laps down in the final stages before he pulled behind the wall.
Cobb finished 24th in the #10 while Kvapil came home 25th, the final two trucks to come home under power.
*This is the first Truck Series last-place finish for both Roark and the #1 at Kentucky Speedway.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #1-Caleb Roark / 0 laps / electrical
31) #11-Brett Moffitt / 26 laps / engine
30) #18-Kyle Busch / 56 laps / crash
29) #74-Mike Harmon / 62 laps / vibration
28) #63-Norm Benning / 95 laps /vibration
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Tommy Joe Martins (2)
2nd) Christopher Bell, Brandon Brown, William Byron, Claire Decker, Caleb Roark, Johnny Sauter, Austin Wayne Self, Andy Seuss (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Kyle Busch Motorsports, Tommy Joe Martins (2)
2nd) AWS Racing, Brandonbilt Motorsports, GMS Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Jim Rosenblum Motorsports / FDNY Racing, MAKE Motorsports (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (3)