The finish, which came in Sorenson’s 248th series start, was his fourth of the 2016 season and his first since the Coca-Cola 600, eight races ago. With 15 races to go, Sorenson ties DiBenedetto for the most last-place finishes in 2016, and leads the standings in a Bottom Five Tiebreaker of 7-6.
Sorenson’s most recent run at Pocono, when he and Premium Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt traded rides, resulted in the Georgia driver’s best finish at the time, a 28th, which he later improved with a 22nd at Daytona. In the six races he’d run since the 600, Sorenson had improved on his starting spot and finished under power each time. This time at the “Tricky Triangle,” the Premium teammates would remain in their normal rides with Sorenson in the white Vydox Plus-sponsored #55.
Sorenson trailed both practices and secured the 40th and final starting spot with a lap of 158.615 mph, more than three seconds slower than the next-fastest car of 39th-place Michael Annett. That same weekend, Sorenson made his first career Truck Series start, coming back from a DNQ at Daytona for MB Motorsports to pilot Premium’s #49 Chevrolet. Sorenson finished on the lead lap in 18th.
During the pace laps for Monday’s postponed event, Sorenson was joined at the back by Aric Almirola, whose Richard Petty Motorsports team changed the rear gear, and Kurt Busch, whose team was alerted race morning that they’d been penalized for an unapproved body modification. By the time the field funneled into Turn 1, Busch and Almirola had already rocketed past Sorenson on the inside, and the #55 remained last through the early stages. At the moment of Lap 17’s competition caution, Sorenson was still last, 7.253sec behind 39th-place Josh Wise.
Under the yellow, the first round of pit stops briefly shuffled 40th between Cole Whitt, Michael Annett, and then Jimmie Johnson. Johnson, the 21st-place starter, had punctured the nose of his machine during the early laps, requiring a piece of black tape across the nose. When the field went green on Lap 20, however, Johnson had already moved to 39th - Sorenson was also forced to make an unscheduled stop, and was still working his way through Turn 3 as the leaders took the green. Sorenson caught up in short order as polesitter Martin Truex, Jr., running 3rd at the time in the same #78 Furniture Row / Denver Mattress Toyota he dominated with in the Coca-Cola 600, lost a right-front tire and smacked the outside wall. Also struggling on that restart was Paul Menard, his #27 Moen / Menards Chevrolet from Indy fastest in the opening practice. As the field headed into Turn 1, Menard couldn’t get into third gear and was nearly wrecked by Denny Hamlin. Truex briefly held 40th, but the Furniture Row team managed to get the #78 back on track while losing just one lap, but Menard had to go to the garage, putting the #27 in last for the Lap 23 restart.
Back under green, Sorenson continued to have problems and made an unscheduled stop on Lap 31. The crew came out on pit road and pushed him behind the wall - Sorenson was out with engine trouble. Last-place Menard returned to the track on Lap 38 and looked to pass both Truex and Sorenson in front of him. Menard dropped Sorenson to last on Lap 47 for the final position change of the day. Menard kept going, finishing 35th, 19 laps down. After passing Sorenson, he passed Truex, who continued to struggle. The #78 cut another right-front on Lap 40, which required Truex’s own trip to the garage until he returned on Lap 59 on the same circuit as Menard. The third tire on Lap 100 put Truex out for good, leaving him 38th.
Joining Sorenson and Truex in the Bottom Five were 39th-place Aric Almirola and 36th-place Jeb Burton, who tangled off Turn 1 on Lap 67. Almriola’s #43 Smithfield Ford crossed the nose of Burton’s #32 Erie Insurance Ford, drawing the third caution of the afternoon. Almirola was done for the afternoon while Burton finished under power, two laps behind Menard. Between Burton and Truex in 37th was Joey Logano, who led 38 laps and appeared headed to a win at halfway. But when the rains held off, Logano’s #22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford fell back in the pack and collided with Chase Elliott’s #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet in Turn 2.
Taking the win in the fog-shortened race was defending XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher, who less than a month after scoring his first NASCAR last-place run at Daytona broke through with a surprising victory in his 27th career start.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #55 in a Cup Series race at Pocono since August 7, 2011, when J.J. Yeley’s unsponsored Front Row Motorsports Ford fell out with overheating issues after 7 laps of the Good Sam RV Insurance 500.
*This was Sorenson’s first last-place finish in a Cup race at Pocono.
*This marked the 1,500th last-place finish for Chevrolet across NASCAR's top three divisions, but with three caveats:
- First, as of this writing, there are 31 races where the last-place driver’s car make is unknown - many from the first years of both Cup and XFINITY competition.
- Second, James Hylton's Chevrolet from the 1991 June Pocono race may have actually been a Buick.
- Third, there were two occasions where smaller Chevrolet models finished last behind their full-sized counterparts. The first took place August 16, 1963, when Bill Whitley’s #17X Corvette crashed after 1 lap of the International 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium. The other occurred on August 28, 1971 when Dick Brooks’ #95 1969 Camaro overheated after 30 laps of the Buddy Shuman 276 at Hickory Speedway.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #55-Reed Sorenson / 29 laps / engine
39) #43-Aric Almirola / 66 laps / crash
38) #78-Martin Truex, Jr. / 82 laps / crash / led 16 laps
37) #22-Joey Logano / 115 laps / running / led 38 laps
36) #32-Jeb Burton / 117 laps / running
2016 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Premium Motorsports (5)
2nd) BK Racing (4)
3rd) The Motorsports Group (3)
4th) Richard Childress Racing (2)
5th) Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing (1)
2016 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (3)
2016 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP