Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#JD70: J.D. McDuffie had a long road course career before his final race

McDuffie at Riverside in the mid-1970s
PHOTO: source unknown
Though he was active during the first three Cup Series races run there, J.D. McDuffie never competed at the Sonoma Raceway, scene of this weekend’s 30th Annual Toyota / Save Mart 350. He did, however, race in a combined 40 road course events.

The first of these took place on July 10, 1966, in the fourth and final Cup Series race at the Bridgehampton Raceway. Located near the very tip of Long Island in New York state, this 13-turn, 2.85-mile course weaved through soft sandy run-offs and heavy woods. Constructed in 1957, it first hosted NASCAR the following year, when Jack Smith won a 35-lap race by more than 12 seconds. Richard Petty won the next race in 1963 followed by Billy Wade in 1964.

In the 1966 race at Bridgehampton, McDuffie lined up 13th in a 28-car field driving his #70 1964 Ford. After 52 laps, McDuffie finished 17th, seven circuits behind polesitter David Pearson. The track continued to host road racing events for SCCA Trans-Am and Can-Am until 1970, and fell into disrepair. The track was turned into a golf course in 1997. As of 2016, a few elements remain, including its iconic Chevron Bridge across a stretch of pavement.

One of McDuffie's final starts at Riverside, circa 1986
PHOTO: source unknown
The bulk of McDuffie’s road course experience occurred at another track no longer in existence, the Riverside International Raceway in southern California. Like Bridgehampton, Riverside opened in 1957 and first hosted NASCAR in 1958, this time with Eddie Gray taking the checkered flag. Of the 48 races hosted there on configurations between 2.62 and 2.7 miles, McDuffie competed in 33 of them.

McDuffie’s first Riverside race was the February 1, 1969 running of the Motor Trend 500. He made the long trip west, qualified 35th in the 44-car field in his Buick, and finished 29th after engine trouble. It was the first of his 16 DNFs at the track, nearly one for every two starts at the demanding road course. Only once – the final race for NASCAR’s 115-inch wheelbase cars on January 11, 1981 – did he crash out of a race there, finishing 23rd.

McDuffie in a Junior Johnson car at Riverside, 1982
PHOTO: Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports
McDuffie’s first of three top-ten finishes at Riverside was a track-best 6th on June 8, 1975. The #70 lined up 28th on the grid and was the second-highest-finishing Chevrolet behind 3rd-place Benny Parsons. McDuffie found most of his success in the summer’s 400-mile races, finishing 7th on June 10, 1979 and 9th the following year on June 8, 1980. The lone exception was his only Riverside last-place finish on June 2, 1985, when he dropped a valve after 3 laps.

His best finish in a 500-mile race at Riverside (once the season opener and later the season finale) came on November 22, 1981 when he came home 11th. He led one of his two laps at the track that day. The other came the following year, when Junior Johnson tabbed him to drive a second Buick alongside series champion Darrell Waltrip. The full story of this car will be in my book.

McDuffie (left) racing Dale Earnhardt (right) at Watkins Glen, 1986
PHOTO: source unknown
Unfortunately, McDuffie did not start the final Cup race at Riverside in 1988. His final green flag there was the previous year’s running of the Budweiser 400 on June 21, 1987, when his Rumple Furniture Pontiac lined up 35th of 41 starters and retired early with an oil leak, leaving him 37th. Unlike Bridgehampton, no trace of the Riverside track currently exists other than a museum located off the former grounds.

This, of course, leads to McDuffie’s career at Watkins Glen International. The current site of The Glen first hosted Cup races in 1957, one year before Bridgehampton and Riverside, and six years before McDuffie’s first Cup race. Although McDuffie started racing in 1963, he was briefly off the Cup tour in 1964 and 1965, when The Glen hosted its last two starts there until 1986. Once the track returned to the circuit in 1986, McDuffie made the race every year, achieving a track-best finish of 22nd in 1990.

Then came 1991.

Reserve your copy of "J.D.: The Life and Death of a Forgotten NASCAR Legend" at Waldorf Publishing, coming July 15, 2018. Click here for more details.

SOURCE
*Rudow, Martin. “Lost Road Courses,” CarTech, 2016.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

ARCA: Darrell Basham helps bring Kimmel Racing to tie owners’ championship lead

Darrell Basham and his son Mike
PHOTO: ARCARacing.com
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Darrell Basham scored his 9th last-place finish in ARCA Racing Series competition in Friday night’s Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at the Madison International Speedway after his #69 Kimmel Racing Ford fell out with clutch issues after completing 1 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Basham’s 379th series start, and was his first since last fall at Salem, twelve races ago.

Basham has been around the racing scene for decades, so long that Racing-Reference.info doesn’t have all of his ARCA stats (the tally of nine last-place finishes only goes back to 1985). He has made his family’s #34 entry iconic in ARCA circles, and the yellow car still runs this season with his son Mike behind the wheel. Darrell also made a quick foray into NASCAR, driving for Jim Patrick at Nashville in 1979. He fell out after completing 101 laps, and never ran another NASCAR national series race.

Basham did, however, run the full ARCA circuit from 2002 to 2012, becoming good friends with the late James Harvey Hylton along the way. After 2012, Darrell scaled back on the driving, making only sporadic races while his sons took over driving duties. He has returned occasionally, most recently last fall at Salem, driving for Hixson Motorsports. He hinted at a possible return at Nashville earlier this year, but handed the car off to Mike.

How did Basham wind up in the 69 car last week? The partnership actually started earlier this year at Pocono. Jesse Iwuji was campaigning the 34 as part of his slate of races this year, so Mike transferred over to the 69 as a start-and-park. Now, with Will Kimmel focusing on his street stock efforts, Darrell stepped into the 69 for the Madison race.

The Madison race, on paper, looked to be both exciting and disappointing. Only 19 cars were entered, the lowest in recent memory. Several factors indicate that this is rock bottom for the ARCA Racing Series. Mainstay teams Ken Schrader Racing, Hixson Motorsports and DK-LOK Racing didn’t file any entries. Other mainstays that normally enter multiple cars, like Wayne Peterson Racing, Chad Bryant Racing and Mason Mitchell Motorsports only entered one car. And not a single entry for Friday’s race has plans to run less than half the schedule. That’s right - no family teams or part-time efforts decided to show up. On the other hand, a solid dozen of those nineteen cars had a legitimate shot at a win or podium, led by usual heavyweights MDM Motorsports and Venturini Motorsports, entering four cars apiece. Toni Briedinger and Tommy Vigh Jr. made debuts, the former for Venturini and the latter for Fast Track Racing.

Only fifteen cars took a time in first practice. Local driver Dick Karth from nearby Grafton, Wisconsin was last of the fifteen, nearly three seconds off of Chandler Smith, who would remain a fixture at the top of the leaderboard for the remainder of the day. Later in the day, only sixteen cars took time in qualifying, and of the three that did not take time, the #11 machine of Karth lined up last on the grid.

The race at Madison was the start of a new era for ARCA: new PR man Charles Krall debuted, replacing another mainstay, Don Radebaugh. Krall, unintentionally, was much more tail-end oriented than Radebaugh (though we at LASTCAR do wish Mr. Radebaugh the best in his future endeavors). Krall made two updates on the last-place battle: The first, before the race started, when Mike Basham needed a push to get started. The second was when, after Brian Eberly tweeted out that Darrell Basham and Karth had both turned in after a lap, the reasons for failing to finish were listed: Basham had clutch issues and Karth retired with overheating problems.

The Bottom Five did not fill out until the end of the event, a rarity for ARCA races. Wayne Peterson Racing driver Con Nicolopoulos bowed out with handling issues after 31 laps, and Mike Basham retired because of oil problems past the midway point. Vigh Jr. was the last car running, eighteen laps down after multiple spins in what proved to be a rough debut.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
19) #69-Darrell Basham / 1 lap / clutch
18) #11-Dick Karth / 1 lap / crash
17) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 31 laps / handling
16) #34-Mike Basham / 137 laps / oil pressure
15) #10-Tommy Vigh Jr. / 182 laps / running

2018 LASTCAR ARCA OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Wayne Peterson Racing, Kimmel Racing (2)
2nd) Max Force Racing, Darrell Basham Racing, James Hylton Motorsports, Brad Smith Motorsports, Wayne Peterson Racing/Fast Track Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR ARCA MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (6)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)

2018 LASTCAR ARCA DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Monday, June 18, 2018

XFINITY / TRUCKS: J.J. Yeley pulls NASCAR’s first last-place sweep since 2016

J.J. Yeley pulled a rare last-place sweep in the Truck Series and XFINITY Series rounds at the Iowa Speedway. He’s the first driver to finish last in two of NASCAR’s top three divisions on the same weekend at the same track since Josh Wise swept the Cup and XFINITY races at Texas in 2016.

Yeley also holds the unique record of being the first NASCAR driver to score at least one last-place finish in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions in the same season, which he accomplished in 2011. After his weekend in Iowa, Yeley is now one Cup Series last-place run away from matching that feat this season. In addition to running a partial Truck Series effort for MB Motorsports and a full XFINITY Series season for RSS Racing, Yeley has already made three Cup starts for Premium Motorsports and the NY Racing Team.

PHOTO: Max Neuwirth, @racingfan83
On Friday, Yeley picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s M&M’s 200 at the Iowa Speedway when his #63 Fr8Auctions.com Chevrolet fell out with brake issues after 19 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Yeley’s 32nd series start, was his second of the year and first since Charlotte, two races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it’s the 20th for the #63, the 24th by reason of brake trouble, and the 352nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 37th for the #63, the 152nd for brake issues, and the 1,604th for Chevrolet.

Yeley didn’t participate in opening practice, then ranked 26th of the 33 in Happy Hour. He qualified a solid 25th, just missing out on advancing to the second round with a lap of 129.125mph (24.395 seconds). Yeley was edged for the final spot in Round 2 by Jordan Anderson’s owner-driver effort by a difference of just 0.038 second. It was the best qualifying run of the season for MB Motorsports’ #63, and the team’s best starting spot in any race since Chris Windom rolled out 25th last year at Homestead.

With 35 drivers entered, three teams missed the race. First was Josh Reaume, who failed to qualify for the first time since this year’s Daytona opener in the #33 Colonial Countertops Chevrolet. Bryant Barnhill was set to make his series debut in Mike Harmon’s #74 Barnhill Realty Chevrolet, but also missed the cut. Coming the closest was Monster Jam competitor Camden Murphy, whose #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing had trailed three of the last six Truck Series races in Iowa with Chris Lafferty and Caleb Roark.

Starting last in Saturday’s race was Bobby Reuse, the second different driver in as many races to race in place of Robby Lyons in Premium Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet. Reuse brought with him sponsorship from WCIParts.com, which also backed him when he drove for Mike Harmon’s XFINITY Series team. Reuse had turned in the slowest lap in qualifying with a lap of 120.362mph (26.171 seconds), but secured his spot thanks to the #15 team’s Owner Points.

Joining Reuse at the rear was Cory Roper, back in the series for the first time since his debut at Martinsville. Roper’s family-owned #04 Preferred Industrial Contractors Ford was sent back due to unapproved adjustments.

By Lap 4, Yeley had gone down a lap to the leaders, taking last place. Also coming into the pits in 31st was Ross Chastain, who was making his first Truck Series start since last year at Kentucky. On top of his full-time XFINITY effort for JD Motorsports and running most of the Cup schedule in Premium Motorports’ #15 Chevrolet, Chastain looked to make his first Truck Series start since last year in Kentucky. This time around, he took the place of Todd Peck in the Beaver Motorsports #50 tied for the LASTCAR Truck Series lead. The truck carried sponsorship from VIP Racing Experience, which has also backed Chastain’s Cup teammate Reed Sorenson in the #55.

On Lap 5, Yeley was on the track two laps down, dropping Chastain, still on pit road, to last. By Stage 2, Chastain would return to action 38 laps down while Yeley went to the garage area, this time done for the day. This allowed Chastain to climb past Yeley and then 30th-place Joe Nemechek, who had parked his #87 Romco Equipment / D.A.B. Constructors Chevrolet. Chastain ended up turning six more laps than Nemechek before settling for 30th.

Finishing 29th was Todd Gilliland, whose #4 JBL / Sirius XM Toyota was involved in two separate wrecks, ultimately retiring after he completed 102 laps. Rounding out the group was Reid Wilson, making his first start since Martinsville. Wilson drove a new third entry from Young’s Motorsports, but the #12 TruNorth Chevrolet only made 109 laps before overheating issues.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish in a Truck Series race at Iowa for Yeley and the #63, and was also the first time the last-place finisher in this event trailed because of brake issues.
*This was Yeley's second-consecutive last-place finish in this event. He trailed the 2017 event driving a second truck for Norm Benning.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #63-J.J. Yeley / 19 laps / brakes
31) #87-Joe Nemechek / 50 laps / brakes
30) #50-Ross Chastain / 56 laps / suspension
29) #4-Todd Gilliland / 102 laps / crash
28) #12-Reid Wilson / 109 laps / overheating

PHOTO: Michael Harvey
The next day, Yeley picked up the 4th last-place finish of his XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at the Iowa Speedway when his unsponsored #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 21 of the race’s 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Yeley’s 297th series start, was his first since September 6, 2013, when he fell out after 4 laps of the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond driving for The Motorsports Group. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it’s the 35th for car #93, the 136th by reason of a vibration, and the 506th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 85th for the #93, the 208th because of a vibration, and the 1,605th for Chevrolet.

The game of musical chairs at Rod Sieg’s team RSS Racing continued into the Iowa weekend with Yeley taking the wheel of Jeff Green’s #93 Chevrolet for the first time since Las Vegas. Green would return to Yeley’s #38, which the Phoenix native earned his season-best 11th-place finish at Talladega, while Ryan Sieg remained in the flagship #39. While all three RSS cars lacked primary sponsorship, Sieg looked to improve on his career-best runner-up finish to William Byron in this event last year.

On Saturday morning, Yeley began his weekend strong with the 18th-best lap in opening practice, besting Sieg (23rd), and Green, who did not turn a lap. Yeley was the only driver to not participate in Happy Hour, where Sieg led the group in 21st with Green in 27th. The session was topped by the #61 NETTTS Ford of Kaz Grala, whose fourth and final scheduled start for start-up Fury Race Cars LLC continued to yield impressive results.

Yeley managed just 31st in qualifying with a lap of 126.618mph (24.878 seconds) while both Sieg and Green advanced to Round 2 to start 21st and 24th.

With exactly 40 cars entered for 40 spots, no teams were sent home. This proved fortunate as two Cup Series operations both required provisionals to start in the final row. The 39th starting spot went to Christopher Bell in Joe Gibbs’ #20 Rheem Toyota while 40th and last went to Ryan Reed in Roush-Fenway Racing’s #16 Drive Down A1C / Lilly Diabetes Ford. Bell was unable to turn a qualifying lap due to lengthy adjustments made during the session while Reed’s car didn’t clear technical inspection in time. Reed took the last spot as the #16 trails the #20 in Owner Points.

Prior to the start, Bell and Reed advanced ahead of four other drivers sent to the rear for pre-race penalties. Ryan Sieg’s #39 had to surrender the 21st spot due to unapproved adjustments, as did Matt Tifft’s #2 Wastebits Chevrolet. Tire changes sent back B.J. McLeod on JD Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet and Talladega last-placer Spencer Boyd in the #76 Grunt Style Chevrolet.

The Bottom Five filled during the race’s early moments. Yeley turned two more laps than he did the previous day, his day over after 21 circuits. Seven laps later, Morgan Shepherd pulled behind the wall in his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet, citing brake trouble. Three circuits later came fellow owner-driver Mike Harmon, back behind the wheel of his #74 Chill by Koolbox Chevrolet. 37th went to Timmy Hill, who brought back Motorsports Business Management’s third team, the #13 OCR Gaz Bar Toyota, for the first time since Dover. Rounding out the group with his first Bottom Five of 2018 was Josh Bilicki, who had a busted fuel pump on JP Motorsports’ #45 Prevagen Toyota.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marks the third-consecutive last-place finish for the #93 in an XFINITY Series race at Iowa. Jeff Green swept both races last year with the same team, including his 100th XFINITY Series last-place run in July.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #93-J.J. Yeley / 21 laps / vibration
39) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 28 laps / brakes
38) #74-Mike Harmon / 31 laps / rear gear
37) #13-Timmy Hill / 75 laps / brakes
36) #45-Josh Bilicki / 95 laps / fuel pump

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) MB Motorsports (4)
2nd) Beaver Motorsports (3)
3rd) Copp Motorsports, TJL Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP












2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) RSS Racing (8)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Ford (2)

2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#JD70: Watkins Glen Book Signing Cancelled

On Wednesday, I announced that I would be selling and signing copies of my upcoming book “J.D.: The Life and Death of a Forgotten NASCAR Legend” during the NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen, August 3-5.

The deal, which came together earlier this year, was worked out with the track’s International Motor Racing Research Center, which puts on a yearly display in the infield. I had an agreement with the IMRRC, had been told where I would be signing my books, and had agreed to donate a share of my profits to the museum. All travel arrangements and preparations had been made prior to my announcement on Wednesday.

On Friday, I was informed by the IMRRC that I would no longer be allowed to sell books at the track that weekend. Someone at Watkins Glen International told the IMRRC that my signing “will be a major problem for everyone involved” due to the track’s existing merchandising agreements. These problems were not told to me, nor raised by anyone, at any point prior to then.

To avoid any conflict between the track and the IMRRC, I decided not to object. So I will not be signing or selling books at Watkins Glen. Wednesday’s post has been removed in place of this one, and I have updated both of my social media accounts about the cancellation.

While I strongly disagree with what happened, I nevertheless thank the IMRRC for their offer and their contributions to the book itself. I still hold out hope that we can work together in some other faculty at a later date.

So, what happens now? Well, I’m still going to be in Watkins Glen this August – the money’s already been spent and the books purchased (plus a weekend ticket for my brother to come to the track). So here are two things I’m working on.

First, I am looking into getting credentialed for the Watkins Glen weekend for LASTCAR.info. Again, I would not be selling or signing copies at the track – I would only be there to cover the weekend’s events. If this goes through, I will provide similar last-place coverage to my upcoming work at Sonoma next week.

Second, myself and my contact in New York are looking into other book signings in upstate New York away from Watkins Glen International. If and when we are able to get new signings set up, you readers will be the first to know.

To you readers, I share your disappointment and frustration, and I’m sorry that this has happened. I had hoped that this signing would be an opportunity to share an important chapter of NASCAR’s past at the place where it happened. I am saddened that the track did not see it that way.

Much like McDuffie’s racing career, the work to bring his story to life has been a grassroots effort, and myself and the staff at Waldorf Publishing have been working hard to exceed expectations. We will continue to do so.

This is not the finish line, folks. This is only the beginning.

Friday, June 15, 2018

PREVIEW: Iowa sees returning drivers and teams in both fields

PHOTO: Roper Racing Facebook

Saturday, June 16, 2018

TRUCKS Race 9 of 23
M&M’s 200 at Iowa
2017 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

ENTRY LIST
There are 35 drivers entered for Friday’s 32-truck field, meaning that three entries will miss the starting field.

MISSING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister was the final driver to finish under power in Texas, coming home 12 laps behind in the 22nd spot. Both he and the All Out Motorsports team will not be making the trip to Iowa.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
RETURNING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
NEMCO Motorsports returns to being a two-truck operation for the first time since Kansas. John Hunter Nemechek will climb aboard the #8 as he runs double-duty in Iowa along with his XFINITY Series effort for Chip Ganassi Racing. His father Joe will slide back to the #87 which, but for its 3rd-place run in this year’s Daytona opener, has traditionally been a “start-and-park” entry.

NEW TEAM: #12-Young’s Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Young’s Motorsports will expand from two to three trucks in Iowa. The new third entry, the #12 TruNorth Chevrolet, will see the return of Reid Wilson. Wilson made his series debut this past spring at Martinsville driving the Young’s team’s #20 Chevrolet, finishing 16th. This weekend, the #20 will be driven by Tanner Thorson, his first start since he also ran 16th in his own debut at Dover. Austin Hill remains in the third truck, the #02.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Following his illness that sidelined him at Texas, where spotter / driver Reed Sorenson finished 27th, Robby Lyons was entered in the #15 Chevrolet alongside teammate Wendell Chavous in the #49. However, by Wednesday he was replaced by Alabama native Bobby Reuse. It will be Reuse's first Truck Series start since Mosport last year, when he finished 17th for Beaver Motorsports.

MISSING: #17-DGR-Crosley
DRIVER CHANGE: #54-DGR-Crosley
DGR-Crosley scales back from two trucks to one in Iowa, leaving the #17 Toyota home after a 26th-place showing in Texas. Bo LeMastus, who drove that truck last week, will replace Chris Eggleston in the #54. Eggleston is not entered in this weekend’s race. UPDATE: David Gilliland took LeMastus' place at Iowa.

RETURNING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Expanding to four trucks is KBM, which brings the #46 Mobil 1 Toyota back to the track for just the second time this season following Brandon Jones’ 3rd-place showing in Charlotte. Behind the wheel this time is New York native Christian Eckes, who this past April claimed his first ARCA Racing Series win at Salem driving for Venturini Motorsports. Eckes has two Iowa starts in ARCA with an 11th in 2016 and an 8th last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
In place of Todd Peck, who finished last at Texas, the Beaver truck will be raced by Ross Chastain. Chastain, who has run double-duty for most of this season in Cup and XFINITY, last started a Truck race last summer in Kentucky, when he finished 13th for Bolen Motorsports. Justin Marks will drive Chastain's #15 entry in next Sunday's Cup race at Sonoma.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Driving the flagship KBM truck is Harrison Burton, ready for his third Truck Series start of the year and first since his 5th-place showing at Dover. He takes the place of Spencer Davis, 9th at Texas, who isn’t entered this week. The #51 continues to boast a strong driver lineup. Though Kyle Busch has driven the truck in two of the eight rounds run so far, it has finished 9th or better in all but one race – a 13th by Davis at Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
Although Kyle Donahue was listed for a second-straight start for Mike Mittler, he was replaced by Wednesday with J.J. Yeley, who last drove this truck in a tail-end performance at Charlotte.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Clay Greenfield and his #68 team are not entered this week following their 20th-place showing in Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
In place of team owner Mike Harmon, who failed to qualify at Texas, Iowa will see the first Truck Series attempt by 19-year-old Bryant Barnhill of South Carolina. Barnhill Realty Co., the driver's family business, will be an associate sponsor for the #74.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Welcome back Jesse Little, who we last saw finish 16th at Charlotte in May. Little, who finished 9th in this race last year, is again listed without a primary sponsor.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Also rejoining the action is Roper Racing with short tracker Cory Roper behind the wheel of the #04 Preferred Industrial Contractors, Inc. Ford. Looking to build on driver and team’s impressive 13th-place showing in Martinsville, Roper posted on Facebook that the team plans to follow Iowa with Bristol, Las Vegas, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead.

CUP INVADERS: #50-Ross Chastain (though points ineligible)

Sunday, June 17, 2018
XFINITY Race 14 of 33
Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

ENTRY LIST
There are 40 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning all entered drivers will start Sunday’s race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
One week after Austin Dillon claimed his rain-shortened win, Shane Lee returns to the #3 Chevrolet in Iowa for his fourth start in the last eight races. Lee is the defending polesitter of the ARCA Racing Series event at Iowa, where he finished 11th for Kerry Scherer.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Blake Jones eyes his first XFINITY Series start since September 24, 2016, when he drove JD Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet to a 35th-place finish. This time around, he takes the place of Caesar Bacarella in B.J. McLeod’s #8 Chevrolet. He’ll be teamed with the #78 once again driven by Tommy Joe Martins, who impressed with an 11th-place showing in this race last year. Riessen Construction will sponsor Martins' effort.

RETURNING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s MBM effort returns to a three-car operation this week with the return of the #13 for the first time since Dover. Now, as then, the driver is Timmy Hill, who moves over from the #66 Dodge he’s driven the last two rounds. In Hill’s place in the #66 will be Stan Mullis, who hasn’t started an XFINITY Series race since his series debut in this track last July, when he finished 32nd for MBM.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Joe Nemechek was scheduled to pull double-duty in Iowa, following-up his run in the #87 Truck Series effort by running JD Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet. However, by Wednesday he was replaced by B.J. McLeod, who last week made a one-off for Mike Harmon. McLeod takes the place of Matt Mills, who crashed hard in Turn 2 last week in Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Iowa will see the XFINITY Series debut of 19-year-old Riley Herbst. The Las Vegas native finished 7th in the K&N Pro Series West standings in 2016, and the following year won his first ARCA Racing Series event at Pocono en route to a 5th-place rank in the standings. He enters Iowa 3rd in the ARCA standings for Joe Gibbs Racing’s effort, having finished 2nd to Sheldon Creed last week in Michigan. Herbst finished 12th in the ARCA race at Iowa last year. Advance Auto Parts sponsors his XFINITY effort.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Austin Cindric returns to Penske Racing, taking the place of Cup regular Paul Menard. Cindric again makes the lateral move from Roush-Fenway Racing’s #60 Ford, which this week will again be driven by Ty Majeski. Majeski made his XFINITY debut in this race last year, finishing 34th after a crash. Cindric finished 8th in last year’s Truck Series race here for Brad Keselowski Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-GMS Racing
Also making his XFINITY debut this week is Justin Haley, currently 8th in the Truck Series standings in GMS Racing’s #24 Chevrolet. Haley takes the place of Cup regular Alex Bowman, who ended up 21st when the rain fell at Michigan.

STILL MISSING: #28-JGL Racing
After their withdrawal from the Michigan race following the parting of ways with driver Dylan Lupton, the #28 was this time not entered on the preliminary list for Sunday’s race.

DRIVER SWAP: #38-RSS Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #93-RSS Racing
Coming off his second-consecutive last-place finish, current LASTCAR XFINITY Series leader Jeff Green moves over to the #38 with J.J. Yeley swapping rides into the #93. Ryan Sieg remains in the #39, and looks to improve on his stunning 2nd-place run to William Byron in this race last year.

TEAM UPDATE: #61-Fury Race Cars LLC
Iowa is the fourth and final scheduled start for Fury Race Cars LLC, whose driver Kaz Grala has been competitive in each of those starts, including a near-win at Michigan. The story has caught the attention of FOX, which sent Alan Cavanna to interview Grala for Race Hub on Monday. As of this writing, plans for the rest of the season are still coming together.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon returns to his own Chevrolet in place of B.J. McLeod, who ran 28th at Michigan.

MISSING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi DenBeste
Along with the Cup Invaders, the Biagi DenBeste #98 entry is not entered this week following Kevin Harvick’s 8th-place showing in Michigan.

CUP INVADERS: None

Sunday, June 24, 2018
CUP Race 16 of 36
Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

This time, it’s the Cup Series that takes a week off. Next up is the annual visit to the Sonoma Raceway, where LASTCAR will be covering the event in the media center for the fifth time.

LASTCAR STAT OF THE WEEK
The listed reason “too slow” has only been to blame one time each in both the XFINITY and Truck Series. On the XFINITY side, it occurred March 27, 2004 during the Sharpie Professional 250 at Bristol. Last-place starter Donnie Neuenberger made it 26 laps into the event before his run ended in the #77 Moy Racing Ford. On the Truck side, it happened just over four months later on July 31, 2004, during the Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners 200 at Michigan. Flagged off the track after 8 laps was Loni Richardson, that year’s LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, whose #0 Value Tool & Engineering Chevrolet started 32nd in the 34-truck field.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

K&N WEST: Cassie Gannis records Patriot Motorsports Group’s fourth last place in five races

Gannis with a young fan
PHOTO: Cassie Gannis Instagram
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Cassie Gannis picked up the 1st last-place finish of her NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career in Saturday night’s NAPA Auto Parts 175 at Colorado National Speedway after her #36 Tough Tested / Patriot Motorsports Group Chevrolet fell out with rear end problems after 154 of 175 laps. The finish came in her 11th series start.

Gannis, a 27-year-old Phoenix native, has overcome many obstacles throughout her racing career. In her teens, she dealt with dyslexia and asthma, and at 17 had surgery to correct her scoliosis. At 20, she made a venture into the K&N Pro Series West in the 2011 season, making three starts. The next season, she made five starts, winning the series’ Most Popular Driver award.

Fast-forward to 2015, which looked to be promising from the outset. She attempted the ARCA race at Daytona with Carter 2 Motorsports, but wound up 42nd on the speed charts in a race that took 40 cars. At the other end of the season, Gannis attempted her Truck debut with Mike Harmon Racing, but wound up last of the 36 trucks in qualifying, leaving her on the outside looking in. She disappeared from large-scale racing until earlier this year, when she teamed up with John Wood, Jesse Iuwji and Patriot Motorsports Group to drive the team’s #08 entry in the Tucson Twin 100s.

After finishing sixteenth and fifteenth in a crash-shortened Second 100, Gannis returned in the #36, vacated by Iwuji for the first time since he started running full-time in 2016. That same weekend, Iwuji was in Michigan for the ARCA race, where his run ended early after transmission failure. Gannis, meanwhile, would try to keep the #36 from last, where it had finished twice in the opening four races of the season.

Colorado’s entry list showed only sixteen cars, on pace to tie Orange Show for the least cars this year. Soon after, the #77 Performance Motorsports entry withdrew without ever naming a driver, leaving only fifteen cars to race. Takuma Koga, once again in the #11 machine for John Krebs, anchored first practice with a lap of 18.084, a relatively competitive seven tenths off the leader. Koga, however, picked up four-tenths in qualifying, outpacing Wood and Gannis, the latter of whom picked up less than a tenth from practice to qualifying. She later incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments before the green. Joining her at the back was Wood, sent to the back for missing the mandatory pre-race autograph session.

After a lap under green, Gannis was 3.8 seconds back of the leaders, still the last car on the track. She retired after 154 laps due to rear end problems, though none of the driver’s social media channels had any specific comment on the end of the race. None of NASCAR’s coverage regarding the race did, either.

Gannis wound up being the only attrition in the 175-lap race. Koga finished fourteenth, eight laps off the pace. Wood was seven laps in arrears in thirteenth, Todd Souza two down in twelfth and Rudy Vanderwal was the last car one lap down in eleventh to round out the Bottom Five.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
15) #36-Cassie Gannis / 154 laps / rear end
14) #11-Takuma Koga / 167 laps / running
13) #08-John Wood / 168 laps / running
12) #13-Todd Souza / 173 laps / running
11) #34-Rudy Vanderwal / 174 laps / running

2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Patriot Motorsports Group (4)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (4)
2nd) Toyota (1)

2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CUP: Garrett Smithley’s Cup debut and reunion with Cope ends early at Michigan

PHOTO: @XfinityRacing
Garrett Smithley picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway when his #99 Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Chevrolet fell out with transmission issues after 1 of 133 laps.

The finish occurred in Smithley’s series debut. It is the first for StarCom Racing since Landon Cassill’s rear gear issues at Martinsville in March. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it’s the 16th for car #99, the 77th by reason of transmission issues, and the 747th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 30th for the #99, the 157th by reason of transmission trouble, and the 1,603rd for Chevrolet.

Last Tuesday, June 5, StarCom Racing announced that Smithley would be making his Cup Series debut in Sunday’s Michigan race, driving the #99 Chevrolet previously fielded by StarCom team owner Derrike Cope. It would be a reunion of sorts for Smithley and Cope. The two crossed paths when Smithley was testing an ARCA car for the Keselowski family at Daytona.

According to his website, Smithley, born in Reed Sorenson’s hometown of Peachtree City, Georgia, is something of a stock car racing prodigy. In 2007, he was the Rookie of the Year in Bandoleros, and soon after was winning races and championships in the U.S. Legends Car Series. He was then invited to compete in Richard Petty’s national driver development program, and had so impressed the staff that, by the time he met Cope, he was the lead instructor for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Following his test with the Keselowskis, Smithley was invited by Cope to run a handful of ARCA Racing Series events. His series debut came at Pocono on June 8, 2013, when he moved from 33rd in the 34-car field to finish 17th. He improved with a 14th in his return to Pocono in August, then the next year ran a one-off for Wes Gonder at Talladega, finishing 18th. Cope then fielded Smithley’s first XFINITY ride in the 2015 finale at Homestead, where he ran 28th. The run closed out a season where Smithley gained SegPay as a sponsor for four Truck Series efforts with Mike Mittler’s MB Motorsports. His best run in that series was a 14th at Michigan.

Smithley is perhaps best known for his current XFNITY Series effort in the “Number Nuthin,” the #0 Chevrolet fielded by Johnny Davis at JD Motorsports. Smithley’s first start with the team came February 27, 2016 at Atlanta, when he took over the ride from Eric McClure and finished 24th. A 12th at Talladega and a 13th at Daytona were the highlights of a season that saw Smithley finish 18th in the standings. He stood 21st in points last year with a new career-best of 8th in the Daytona opener, then a 10th at Iowa, his first top-ten performances in the series.

The 2018 season has seen Smithley earn his first Top Five – again at Daytona, where he finished 5th – and he’s paced the field for five laps, most recently his solid 14th-place showing last month at Charlotte. His #0 Chevrolet carried new sponsorship for Saturday’s XFINITY event at Michigan. Through the same weekend as his planned Cup debut, Smithley ran 25th and 22nd in the two practices, lined up 22nd on points after a qualifying rain-out, and finished 26th due to engine trouble.

On the Cup side, Smithley’s #99 carried a new look for what would be the third start of 2018 for StarCom Racing’s second team. New sponsorship arrived from Michigan franchise Victory Lane Quick Oil Change with associate backing from Showcase Auto Sales. In Friday’s opening Cup practice, the car ran 38th of the 39 entered teams, outpacing Timmy Hill in Motorsports Business Management’s #66 MBM Motorsports / CrashClaimsR.us Toyota by four-thousandths of a second. Smithley qualified slowest overall with a 186.552mph (38.618 seconds), then again edged Hill for 38th in the second practice, this time by 0.150 second. Happy Hour was washed out.

Prior to the race, we tweeted that Smithley was one of only seven drivers in the field who had never finished last in a Cup Series race. The statistic arose because of a lesser-known streak coming into Michigan where the last three rounds saw a driver trail their first Cup race (Ty Dillon at Kansas, Kevin Harvick at Charlotte, and Darrell Wallace, Jr. at Pocono). There hadn’t been a streak of four first-timers since 1983, which saw a run of eight from April through June. Smithley responded with the “See-No Evil Monkey” emoji.

Joining Smithley in the back of the field were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Erik Jones, who were all sent to the rear for failing inspection due to a splitter infraction. When the green flag fell, Smithley retook the spot from the trio, and pulled down pit road after the opening lap. The crew discovered a transmission issue, and pushed the car behind the wall. By the end of Stage 1, Smithley was listed out of the race. This made Smithley the first Cup driver to finish last in his Cup debut since Ray Black, Jr. last September at Chicagoland.

Knowing their driver didn’t get a chance to show what he could do, StarCom Racing tweeted during the race that “We will have him (Smithley) back!”

Finishing 38th was David Ragan, whose #38 MDS Transport Ford backed into the wall in Turn 2 after Pocono last-placer Darrell Wallace, Jr. slid into him on the inside. It was Ragan's first bottom-five finish of 2018. 37th fell to B.J. McLeod, who struggled with handling issues and finished the last car under power, two laps behind race winner Clint Bowyer. Also two laps down was 36th-place Matt DiBenedetto in the #32 Can-Am / Wholey Ford. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Timmy Hill, the last driver one lap down.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Smithley is the first Cup driver to finish last while making his Cup debut at Michigan since August 20, 2000, when Kerry Earnhardt wrecked the #71 RealTree Camouflage Chevrolet after 5 laps of the Pepsi 400 presented by Meijer.
*This is the first time the last-place finisher of a Cup race at Michigan only completed 1 lap since June 15, 2003, when Ricky Rudd’s #21 Motorcraft Ford was involved in an accident with Ken Schrader’s #49 Blair.com Dodge in the Sirius 400. Rudd was classified last behind Schrader, who started four spots ahead.
*This marked the first last-place finish for car #99 in a Cup Series race since February 19, 2006, when Carl Edwards’ #99 Office Depot Ford crashed 78 laps into the Daytona 500. It was Edwards’ only last-place finish in the series.
*This marked the first time the #99 finished last in a Cup race at Michigan, and the first time a Cup driver finished last here with transmission issues.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #99-Garrett Smithley / 1 lap / transmission
38) #38-David Ragan / 35 laps / crash
37) #51-B.J. McLeod / 131 laps / running
36) #32-Matt DiBenedetto / 131 laps / running
35) #66-Timmy Hill / 132 laps / running

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) TriStar Motorsports (3)
2nd) Premium Motorsports, StarCom Racing (2)
3rd) BK Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Germain Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (2)

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

XFINITY: After Saturday, Darlington stands as only XFINITY track where Jeff Green has not finished last

PHOTO: Michael Harvey, @MrLester88
Jeff Green picked up the 109th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s LTi Printing 250 at the Michigan International Speedway when his unsponsored #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 5 of 91 laps.

The finish, which came in Green’s 493rd series start, was his series-leading seventh of the 2018 season and his second in a row. In the XFINITY Series last-place standings, it’s the 34th for car #93, the 135th by reason of a vibration, and the 505th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 84th for the #93, the 207th for a vibration, and the 1,602nd for Chevrolet.

Green was set to be one of 41 drivers entered in Saturday’s race. That list shrank by one on Thursday, when JGL Racing withdrew the #28 Fatal Clothing Ford after driver Dylan Lupton parted ways with the team. Just 37 of the remaining 40 drivers turned laps in Friday’s opening practice with Green 35th overall, ahead of Talladega last-placer Spencer Boyd and Josh Bilicki. Green did not participate in Happy Hour, and a washed-out qualifying session secured him 31st on the grid with the Past Champion’s Provisional.

With the remainder of the field set by owner attempts, the 40th starting spot fell to Kaz Grala, whose new ride at Fury Race Cars LLC was making its third of four planned starts in the #61 NETTTS Ford. However, according to a video posted by the speedway, five other drivers had fallen to the rear, lifting him to 35th as he took the green.

Morgan Shepherd (No. 89) trails the field at the start
PHOTO: @MISpeedway
Last at the stripe went to Morgan Shepherd, scheduled to start 39th in the #89 VisOne RV Chevrolet that failed to make last week’s race at Pocono. Shepherd received one of the day’s three tail end penalties, his for unapproved adjustments. The other two went to Chad Finchum, his #40 Smithbilt Homes Toyota slated to start 36th before an engine change, and 9th-place starter Justin Allgiaer, for unapproved adjustments on the #7 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet.

Ahead of 40th-place Shepherd was Jeff Green, followed by 38th-place Josh Williams, whose #90 Sleep Well / Bethel Glass & Shower Door Chevrolet had lined-up 26th. Timmy Hill’s #66 Dodge retained his original 37th spot while B.J. McLeod moved Mike Harmon’s #74 Horizon Transport Chevrolet up from 38th to 36th.

On Lap 6, Shepherd was still in last, 14.278 seconds back, when Green surrendered the 37th spot under green to pull behind the wall, done for the afternoon. Shepherd turned 34 laps before he exited the race with brake problems for a 38th-place finish. Between the two came Joey Gase, whose #35 Sparks Energy, Inc. Chevrolet fell out with overheating issues. It’s Gase’s worst finish of the season since a 33rd at Daytona.

Crashes filled the rest of the Bottom Five before rain shortened the event. 37th-place Alex Labbe, Gase’s teammate at Go FAS Racing, spun to the inside of Turn 1, ripping the splitter and much of the front clip from his #36 Can-Am / Wholey / Cyclops Chevrolet. Labbe made it to pit road, only to fall out. This gave both Go FAS Racing teammates their first Bottom Five runs of 2018.

Rounding out the group was Matt Mills, who lost a tire in Turn 1 and pounded the outside wall in JD Motorsports’ #15 Flex Glue Chevrolet. After a few anxious moments, Mills climbed from the car under his own power.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This was Green’s first-ever XFINITY Series last-place finish at Michigan in 17 career starts at the track. Among tracks on the current 2018 XFINITY Series schedule, Green has finished last at every track at least one time with the sole exception of Darlington (24 starts). Curiously, it was at the Darlington track in 2015 that Ryan Ellis put to an end Green’s NASCAR record streak of eight consecutive last-place finishes. Green finished 38th. This statistic does not count the upcoming Charlotte “Roval” set to debut in September.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #93 in an XFINITY Series race at Michigan.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #93-Jeff Green / 5 laps / vibration
39) #35-Joey Gase / 33 laps / overheating
38) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 34 laps / brakes
37) #36-Alex Labbe / 52 laps / crash
36) #15-Matt Mills / 54 laps / crash

2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) RSS Racing (7)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford (2)

2018 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

TRUCKS: Todd Peck finishes last as Beaver, Mittler teams draw even for LASTCAR lead

Peck in the #50 at Dover
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Todd Peck picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s PPG 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #50 Image Tech Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 1 of 167 laps.

The finish, which came in Peck’s 32nd series start, was his second of the year and first since Dover, three rounds ago. It ends a streak of two consecutive lasts by Mike Mittler’s MB Motorsports. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it’s the 10th for the #50, the 33rd by reason of electrical issues, and the 351st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 49th for the #50, the 115th by reason of electrical issues, and the 1,601st for Chevrolet.

As of this writing, Peck and Scott Stenzel are tied for the lead in the LASTCAR Truck Series Championship. If the championship ended today, Stenzel would take the title by a single bottom-twenty finish, thanks to him running one more race than Peck.

Peck’s return to Beaver Motorsports’ #50 team came after the team’s back-to-back 28th-place runs, first with Jamie Mosley at Kansas, then with Timmy Hill at Charlotte. It would be Peck’s third Truck Series start at the Texas oval, following a 28th for his family’s team in 2015, then a 24th last year for D.J. Copp.

Peck was one of the 33 drivers entered to attempt Friday’s 32-truck field. He was also one of the seven drivers who didn’t run the weekend’s only practice session on Thursday. This ultimately meant Peck would not turn a lap until the race itself. The second practice was washed-out by rain, and the #50 was the only truck to not turn a lap in qualifying. He still made the field on Owner Points, securing the 32nd starting spot.

Missing the race was Mike Harmon, who committed to the Truck Series race in Texas while B.J. McLeod drove his Chevrolet in the XFINITY race in Michigan. Harmon turned a lap of 163.349mph (33.058 seconds), which placed him ahead of not only Peck, but also Norm Benning’s 162.656mph (33.199 seconds) and Jennifer Jo Cobb’s 162.352mph (33.261 seconds). Like Peck, both Benning and Cobb managed to make the race on Owner Points. Benning and Cobb qualified for all eight races in 2018, Peck’s #50 only missed Atlanta, but Harmon’s #74 failed to qualify four times, which proved decisive.

On Friday night, Peck incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments. The same penalty went to Dalton Sargeant, who surrendered the 28th starting spot in GMS Racing’s #25 Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet. Just seconds into the seven-lap green-flag run, Peck pulled behind the wall, followed three circuits later by Cobb’s second truck, the #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet, driven by Camden Murphy.

Finishing 30th on Friday was Justin Fontaine, who drew the first yellow when his #45 ProMatic Automation / Superior Essex Chevrolet, running 23rd, pounded the outside wall in Turn 4.

The 29th spot went to the victim of the next yellow, Bayley Currey, whose #83 Fr8Auctions.com Chevrolet snapped loose in the high lane off Turn 4 and hit the outside wall with the right-rear. The tail end of the field barely missed Currey’s truck as he fought for control on the apron, the rear decklid flapping from its tether.

Rounding out the Bottom Five was Kyle Donahue, back at the track for the first time since driving the #83 at Kansas. This time around, he drove MB Motorsports’ #63 Chevrolet, once again with backing from First Responder Racing. Donahue turned 13 laps before overheating issues during the Currey caution.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first Truck Series last-place finish for the #50 at Texas.
*Chevrolet, which swept the final six positions in Friday’s race, has now finished last in 31 consecutive Truck Series races.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #50-Todd Peck / 1 lap / electrical
31) #0-Camden Murphy / 4 laps / electrical
30) #45-Justin Fontaine / 6 laps / crash
29) #83-Bayley Currey / 11 laps / crash
28) #63-Kyle Donahue / 13 laps / overheating

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Beaver Motorsports, MB Motorsports (3)
2nd) Copp Motorsports, TJL Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (8)

2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

Friday, June 8, 2018

PREVIEW: Michigan and Texas doubleheader keeps Cup regulars out of Trucks, but not XFINITY

PHOTO: @j66anderson

Friday, June 8, 2018

TRUCKS Race 8 of 23
PPG 400 at Texas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Tommy Regan

ENTRY LIST
There are 33 drivers entered for 32 spots, meaning that one team will miss the race. This is a significant improvement from the last few spring races at Texas, which saw 27 starters in 2014, 30 in 2015, and 28 last year (2016 was a full field of 32).

RETURNING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing fields their second truck for the first time since Kansas, when Joey Gase drove to a 31st-place finish. With Gase running the XFINITY race at Michigan for Go FAS Racing, Monster Jam racer Camden Murphy takes the controls of the #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet. Murphy has one Michigan start in the series, which came last August, when he drove MB Motorsports’ second truck to a 25th-place finish.

MISSING: #1-TJL Racing
Tracy Lowe’s TJL Racing isn’t entered this week, following the team’s withdrawal without a driver at Charlotte.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
The Mark Martin Podcast has joined Jordan Anderson’s grassroots effort as sponsor, the logo on the rear decklid of the #3 Chevrolet. This is in addition to the signing of Brian Keselowski to the crew after Keselowski parted ways with Premium Motorsports last month. Sefton Steel has also signed to sponsor the quarter-panels.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
With John Hunter Nemechek running the XFINITY race at Michigan for Chip Ganassi Racing, father Joe Nemechek climbs aboard the #8 Romco Equipment Chevrolet. It will be Nemechek’s third Michigan start in the series following a 10th-place run in the #8 in 2014 and a 30th last August in the “start-and-park” #87, not entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Bob Pockrass reported Thursday that Robby Lyons has fallen ill, and the team was now looking for a replacement driver in the #15 Chevrolet. Driving in hos place is Reed Sorenson, the team's spotter, who had also been pulled from the Premium / NY Racing Team #7 on the Cup side (see below).

MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch Motorsports scales back to two trucks from three, omitting the #46 that Brandon Jones drove to a 3rd-place finish in Charlotte. Jones will continue his full-time XFINITY effort in Michigan, driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 XYO Networks Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
With Charlotte driver Timmy Hill in Michigan for a double-duty effort (see below), Todd Peck returns to the #50 team for the first time since his last-place run in Dover. Peck has five previous Truck Series starts at Michigan with a best of 27th for SS-Green Light Racing in 2014.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
With Kyle Busch running double-duty in Cup and XFINITY in Michigan, the flagship KBM truck goes to Spencer Davis, who we last saw running the opening three rounds of the 2018 campaign in Daytona (finishing 7th), Atlanta (13th) and Las Vegas (13th). Davis has one Michigan start in the ARCA Racing Series last year, when he finished 9th for Bill Venturini. JBL and SiriusXM continue as sponsors.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
Kyle Donahue returns to attempt his third Truck Series start and first since his season-best 20th-place run for D.J. Copp Motorsports at Kansas. Donahue drives in place of J.J. Yeley, who drove the last two rounds in the NY Racing Team’s #7 Cup Series effort, but isn’t entered this week (see below).

RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
After the team withdrew in Charlotte, Clay Greenfield and his team are back in action at Texas in the #68 AMVETS / Please Stand Chevrolet. If he qualifies, it will be Greenfield’s first series start at Michigan and his team’s first start of 2018 since a strong 3rd-place start, then 22nd-place finish at Daytona.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon’s team confirmed that Harmon will himself be driving the #74 truck, despite the driver listing being blank on the preliminary entry list. A “surprise driver” was then mentioned to drive Harmon’s XFINITY car in Michigan (see below).

MISSING: #92-RBR Enterprises
Ricky Benton’s #92 team isn’t entered this weekend, nor is Timothy Peters, who failed to qualify at Charlotte after a washed-out time trials.

MISSING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Jesse Little and JJL Motorsports are also not entered following their 16th-place performance in Charlotte.

CUP INVADERS: None

Saturday, June 9, 2018
XFINITY Race 13 of 33
LTi Printing 250 at Michigan
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Morgan Shepherd

ENTRY LIST
There are 40 drivers entered for 40 spots, following the withdrawal of the #28 (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
Saturday’s stacked field of Cup regulars begins with Austin Dillon, who takes the place of Shane Lee in Richard Childress’ #3 Bass Pro Shops / Cabela’s Chevrolet. It will be Dillon’s first XFINITY Series start since Fontana, where he ran a season-best 4th.

DRIVER SWAP: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
A three-team driver swap has unfolded between the teams belonging to owner-drivers B.J. McLeod and Mike Harmon. Driving the #8 this week is Floridian Caesar Bacarella, who we last saw finish 13th with the team in this year’s Daytona opener. This moves Tommy Joe Martins to the flagship #78 Chevrolet. McLeod himself will drive Harmon’s #74 Chevrolet as Harmon himself will be running Friday’s Truck Series race (see above).

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Penske Racing will field just one car this week – the lead #22 Menards / Richmond Ford, driven for a second-straight round by Cup regular Paul Menard – and has not entered the #12 Ford. Austin Cindric, who drove the #12 to a 4th-place finish in Pocono, moves back to the #60 Roush-Fenway Racing entry, taking the place of Chase Briscoe (who is not entered). Cindric last drove the #60 at Fontana, where he finished 28th. Race sponsor LTi Printing backs the effort, moving over from the #22.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-GMS Racing
Alex Bowman eyes his first XFINITY Series start since an 8th-place finish last fall in Phoenix. This time around, he drives in place of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott in the #23 ISMConnect Chevrolet. Bowman’s best of three XFINITY starts at Michigan was this race two years ago – his most recent at the track – when he won the pole and finished 7th.

WITHDREW: #28-JGL Racing
Dylan Lupton and the #28 Fatal Clothing Ford have were withdrawn from Saturday's race. A Twitter debate followed Thursday between Lupton and team. Lupton pointed to "unfortunate circumstances" leading to him leaving the team. JGL accused Lupton's sponsors of not paying, and also volunteered that team owner James Whitener has fallen ill. JGL withdrew the #28 from Michigan to evaluate their options going forward. This continues the strange saga of JGL, which shuttered one of its teams in each of the last two years, most recently the release of Kaz Grala to Fury Race Cars LLC.

RETURNING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi DenBeste
The Biagi DenBeste entry returns to the circuit for the first time since Charlotte, and Cup regular Kevin Harvick will be driving it for the first time since his 19th-place performance in Texas.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Austin Dillon, #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Paul Menard, #23-Alex Bowman, #98-Kevin Harvick

Sunday, June 10, 2018
CUP Race 15 of 36
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Danica Patrick

ENTRY LIST
There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots, the second-straight short field and 12th out of 15 this season. It is, however, two more entrants than this race last year, when only 37 took the green.

DRIVER CHANGE: #7-Premium Motorsports
Michigan sees still another twist to the #7 team. For the second-straight race, the car will be entered under Jay Robinson’s Premium Motorsports, not by Johnathan Cohen’s NY Racing Team. This time around, D.J. Kennington returns in his first start since Parker Kligerman took his place driving for the Gaunt Brothers at Charlotte. APC Executive Management signs as a sponsor. Premium’s driver Reed Sorenson was originally listed in the seat in place of J.J. Yeley. Sorenson had previously driven the #55 this year, a car withdrawn last week and not entered this week. Whether this means the #7 team will be run in place of the #55 this year, and if Cohen will again be the listed owner, is still to be determined.

PAINT SCHEME: #23-BK Racing
While Gray Gaulding will once again drive without a primary sponsor, it's worth noting the team will be running "Redwing," another variation of their black, white, and red scheme, by DC2 Designs.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
The car last week was driven by Cole Custer, who turned in a 26th-place finish in his second-ever Cup race last Sunday in Pocono. This week, B.J. McLeod returns to run double-duty, a driver-team pairing that wasn't revealed until Friday.

MISSING: #55-Premium Motorsports
As mentioned above, Premium Motorsports has not entered the #55 car this week and has placed driver Reed Sorenson in the #7. Ross Chastain remains in the flagship #15.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill will pull double-duty this weekend, driving both the #66 O.C.R. Gaz Bar Toyota (UPDATE: Dodge) in Saturday’s XFINITY race and the #66 CrashClaimsR.US Toyota on Sunday. Hill returns to action in Cup for the fifth time this year and the first time since the Coca-Cola 600, when he finished 32nd, 17 laps down. It will be Hill’s first Cup start at Michigan since August 2015, when he finished last for Premium Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Corey LaJoie returns for his seventh start of 2018, taking the place of Cole Whitt, who ran 30th in Pocono. LaJoie ran both Michigan races last year for BK Racing with a track-best 30th in June, then a 31st in August. Zomongo has signed as primary sponsor on another new paont scheme for the #72.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-StarCom Racing
Garrett Smithley is set to make his Cup debut, taking the place of 34th-place Pocono finisher Derrike Cope in the #99 Chevrolet. New sponsorship has arrived from Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Showcase Auto Sales. With this run, Smithley will join fellow JD Motorsports teammates Harrison Rhodes and Ross Chastain as drivers who have made their Cup debuts in the last two seasons. Smithley has two XFINITY starts at Michigan for JD in the “Number Nuthin,” finishing 17th in 2016 and 29th last year.

LASTCAR STAT OF THE WEEK
The lone NASCAR last-place finish earned by a Henry J automobile occurred on November 11, 1951 at the Lakewood Speedway, a one-mile dirt track in Atlanta. The only Henry J in the 31-car field was fielded by Florida native Tommy Moon, who was then making his second start after a sterling 6th-place run one week earlier in Jacksonville. Moon’s #30 was owned by Ralph Chaney, whose dealership Chaney Motors put its logos on the car. As of this writing, Moon’s starting spot and reason out are not listed, but he is credited with finishing last as Tim Flock’s Hudson took the win.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#JD70: J.D. McDuffie's Career at Michigan

Based in nearby Jackson, Michigan, Bailey Excavating supported
McDuffie's #70 for much of his career.
PHOTO: source unknown
J.D. McDuffie made 33 starts at the Michigan International Speedway and, like Pocono, was there for the inaugural event. What’s more, he enjoyed a strong run. The date was June 15, 1969, and the race length was 500 miles. Driving his two-year-old Buick, McDuffie qualified 20th in the 38-car field and climbed to 13th by the finish. Heavy attrition that day meant that only 17 cars finished under power. Most of those DNFs were due to engine failure, and included polesitter Donnie Allison, brother Bobby Allison, and 1970 Cup Series champion Bobby Isaac.

McDuffie himself didn’t fail to finish a Michigan race until June 16, 1974, when his own engine let go after 135 of 180 laps. Even then, he had outlasted much of the competition, climbing from 34th on the grid to 17th.

With the exception of a second engine failure on August 24, 1975 that left him 28th, McDuffie finished inside the Top 20 in 14 of 15 consecutive Michigan races without a single DNF. The streak began with his first of four career Top Tens on June 24, 1973, when he rallied from 26th to finish 10th, 8 laps down to David Pearson. It also included his track-best 7th-place run on August 20, 1978. That particular running of the Champion Spark Plug 400 was one of his best overall weekends. He qualified 9th that day – his only starting spot there better than 15th – led his first three circuits from Laps 39 to 41, and was this time within three laps of Pearson’s winning Mercury. The streak ended on June 21, 1981, the first Michigan race after NASCAR downsized from full-sized race cars. McDuffie’s his Pontiac Grand Prix ran 22nd.

McDuffie finished last at Michigan only once, during the following year’s Gabriel 400 on June 20, 1982. The #70 Bailey Excavating Pontiac lined up 32nd in the 37-car field, but drew the first caution after the engine let go on Lap 10. The driver then struggled to qualify in 1984, missing both races that year, but made both rounds there in 1985 and 1986. On June 15, 1986, he led Lap 22 – his fourth and final lap led at the track – but dropped a valve for a 35th-place finish. The year after, he ended a streak of six consecutive DNFs at Michigan with a 22nd-place finish on August 16, 1987.

McDuffie’s final start at Michigan came on June 24, 1990, during the Miller Genuine Draft 400. The entry list saw 44 drivers entered for 40 spots, and the Sanford native earned 37th on the grid. Missing the field were David Ragan’s father Ken Ragan, series veteran Charlie Glotzbach, Mickey Gibbs, and Rich Vogler, who one month later would lose his life in a USAC race at the Salem Speedway. The #70 ended up finishing in 37th, out with a broken rocker arm after 57 laps.

It was also at Michigan, one week after the tragedy at Watkins Glen, where fans and drivers alike paid tribute to the fallen driver. This tribute aired on ESPN during the third caution of the Champion Spark Plug 400, scene of Dale Jarrett’s first Cup victory.

Reserve your copy of "J.D.: The Life and Death of a Forgotten NASCAR Legend" at Waldorf Publishing, coming July 15, 2018. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

K&N WEST: Spencer Davis leads laps, then falls out late at Memphis

PHOTO: NASCAR Home Tracks

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Spencer Davis finished last for the first time in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career in Saturday night’s Memphis 150 presented by AutoZone at the Memphis International Raceway when his #82 Horton Avenue Materials LLC / Danny Watts Racing Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 139 of the race’s 150 laps. The finish came in Davis’ 25th series start.

Davis has emerged as one of a number of prospects jostling for seat time in a crowded field of Toyota development drivers. He started racing karts at the age of six, winning multiple championships in his home state in Georgia, and eventually progressed to pro trucks at eleven, then pro late models at twelve. A year later, he ran his first All American 400 as an independent. He continued running big-ticket late model races until 2015, where he debuted in both the K&N Pro Series East and West. A year later started out with a promising deal to run the K&N East schedule with Ranier Racing with MDM, but that fell apart mid-season due to funding issues. Davis spent the rest of the year bouncing between teams, including his family team, Jefferson Pitts Racing and Hattori Racing Enterprises.

In 2017, Davis found himself in the ARCA Racing Series, running seven races with four top tens for Venturini Motorsports. He also traveled around the country as a Toyota super late model driver. He stepped up this year to run a few Truck races for Kyle Busch Motorsports, joining a multitude of Toyota drivers getting limited seat time, sharing the #51 truck with Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, David Gilliland and Kyle Busch. Less publicized, however, is Davis’ effort in the K&N Pro Series East, a part-time deal with Danny Watts Racing in the #82 car. The team, prior to Memphis, had finished between fifth and eighth in all four of its 2018 starts.

Memphis’ entry list yielded 19 cars and was heavy on part-time returns. Armani Williams was the only driver to make a debut, driving with Calabrese Motorsports, a team which had previously entered cars for Joe Graf Jr. and Eddie MacDonald earlier in the season. Also returning were all three of the Bill McAnally Racing cars, with Derek Kraus, Hailie Deegan and Cole Rouse back for the first time since Bristol. Trey Hutchens returned to the series for the first time in 2018 after running nearly half the schedule last year. Colin Garrett and his Hunt-Sellers Racing team returned after a rough set of Twin 100s and J.P. Morgan made his first start in the #23 machine since New Smyrna. Missing from the entry list again was Salvatore Iovino, whose full-season effort was apparently abandoned.

Last in practice on Saturday was the aforementioned Williams. The practice session was one of the closest of the season, as Williams’ fastest lap was only a second slower than leader Tyler Dippel. The 43 car again anchored the charts in the next event of the weekend, qualifying, this time slipping to almost two seconds behind leader Tyler Ankrum.

In the race, Williams held last until about Lap 35, when Juan Manuel Gonzalez dropped to last and became the first to fall a circuit behind on Lap 39. After the first mid-race break, Williams dropped to last again, only for it to be re-claimed by Gonzalez on Lap 65. He didn’t stay there long, however, as Cole Rouse pitted on Lap 70 to diagnose an engine issue and spent eight circuits on pit road, dropping the #99 to last. Rouse held that spot until around Lap 145, when Davis dropped to last. After the second mid-race break, electrical problems hampered the team, and a steady fall through the running order ended after 139 laps.

Rouse finished eighteenth, the last car running. Gonzalez finished four laps down, Williams three in arrears, and Trey Hutchens was the last car one lap down to round out the Bottom Five.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
19) #82-Spencer Davis / 139 laps / electrical
18) #99-Cole Rouse / 142 laps / running
17) #5-Juan Manuel Gonzalez / 146 laps / running
16) #43-Armani Williams / 147 laps / running
15) #14-Trey Hutchens / 149 laps / running

2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota, Chevrolet (3)

2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Bill McAnally Racing, Ronald Bassett Jr., Charles Buchanan Jr., Carroll Motorsports, Hunt-Sellers Racing, Danny Watts Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday, June 3, 2018

CUP: One year after his Cup debut, Darrell Wallace, Jr. becomes first African American to finish last in series since 1970

PHOTO: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / LAT Images
Darrell Wallace, Jr. picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at the Pocono Raceway when his #43 Weis Chevrolet fell out with engine problems after 108 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Wallace’s 18th start. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it’s the 37th for car #43, the 680th by reason of engine failure, and the 746th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 48th for the #43, the 1,056th by reason of engine failure, and the 1,600th for Chevrolet.

It was in this same race, just under a year ago, that Wallace arrived on the Cup Series scene. At the time, the up-and-coming racer from Mobile, Alabama had worked his way through the Truck Series and XFINITY rankings, earning a full-time ride in Roush-Fenway Racing’s #6 Ford Mustang. The 2017 had been his third season in the car, and he sat 4th in the series standings after a strong start. But sponsorship issues led to the closure of the #6 team, leaving Wallace with an uncertain future. But another opportunity came just as quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Wallace’s final XFINITY start for Roush-Fenway would be followed the next day by his Cup debut.

Following Aric Almirola’s back injury suffered in a terrible crash at Kansas, Richard Petty Motorsports was without their lead driver for two months. After a couple decent finishes by series veteran Regan Smith, RPM decided to try something different at Pocono, and tabbed Wallace to drive. He would become the first African American to start a Cup Series race since June 18, 2006, when Bill Lester took the green at Michigan. Wallace finished 26th that day, and soon after celebrated with friend and fellow competitor Ryan Blaney, who had just claimed his first Cup Series win. It was a poignant moment of the past meeting the future: Blaney drove the Wood Brothers’ #21 Ford, a ride just as iconic as Wallace’s #43.

Wallace made three more Cup starts that year, each time improving on the previous finish. He ran 19th at Michigan, 15th at Daytona, then 11th at Kentucky before Almirola returned the next week at Loudon. When news broke of a falling-out between RPM and sponsor Smithfield, and that Almirola would be taking the sponsor to Stewart-Haas Racing to replace Danica Patrick, the ride once again became vacant. The team signed Wallace, who once again would have to cobble together sponsorship to fund his ride. Click ‘n Close Mortgages joined the team’s Daytona 500 effort, where RPM would debut their new Chevrolet Camaro, thanks to a new technical partnership with Richard Childress Racing. For the fifth time in as many starts, Wallace again improved. He finished a close 2nd to Austin Dillon, banging doors with Denny Hamlin across the finish line. Wallace’s Chevrolet was later sold at auction.

Coming into Sunday’s one-year anniversary, Wallace sat 23rd in the point standings. While he hadn’t scored a DNF, he’d endured several difficult runs, including a late-race crash at Atlanta and a mechanical failure at Martinsville. But there were also flashes of brilliance: an 8th-place showing at Texas, a green-flag pass on Kyle Busch to lead six laps at Bristol, then another five laps out front at Talladega. New sponsorships arrived, from first-time backers like World Wide Technology to a returning Food Lion, plus several blue-and-red throwbacks to the STP machines of old. Pocono would see another of the former – Weis Markets – whose logos also adorned the 2.5-mile track’s scoring pylon.

Wallace began the weekend 23rd in Friday’s opening practice. In qualifying, he made it to Round 2 with the 18th-fastest time, then ranked 19th in Round 2 with a lap of 173.708mph (51.811 seconds). He was then 23rd again in Happy Hour. With 38 cars entered for 40 spots, no teams were sent home after time trials.

Starting last in Sunday’s race was Derrike Cope, who was making his 23rd Cup start at Pocono. The race would also see the return of his StarCom Racing’s second team, the #99 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, which was wrecked midway through last month’s round in Dover. No teams incurred pre-race penalties sending them to the rear, nor did any other teams fall back voluntarily. This meant that Cope would line up next to 37th-place starter J.J. Yeley. Yeley, tabbed to drive in Johnathan Cohen’s return to Cup team ownership, was again behind the wheel of the team’s #7 Steakhouse Elite Chevrolet. During the week, however, the car had been withdrawn by Cohen and re-entered under the team’s partners at Premium Motorsports, meaning that Premium’s owner Jay Robinson would earn Yeley’s Owner Points.

When the green flag fell, Cope inched ahead of Yeley heading into the first corner, but Yeley pulled back to his inside in Turn 1. Yeley then got the drive off and began to work his way past Cope through the tunnel turn before finally clearing him in Turn 3. Cope then fell into line, where he could see Yeley work his way past Cole Whitt in TriStar Motorsports’ #72 Chevrolet.

Cope would stay in the last position for most of the afternoon. On Lap 4, he was 15.8 seconds back of the leader. He reported the car was tight, but was trying not to overuse the brakes. By Lap 8, Cope’s car had turned loose both on entrance and exit, and he continued to lose ground to the rest of the field. By Lap 12, he was entering Turn 1 as the leaders came off Turn 3. Four circuits later, Cope pulled to the inside off Turn 3 as race leader Kevin Harvick motored by to his outside, the #99 now the first car one lap down. At this moment, just as Ryan Blaney began a sequence of off-cycle green-flag pit stops, Cope’s crew discussed how they were going to keep their driver hydrated. The #99 didn’t have a cupholder in it, so the crew would have to hand him a water bottle with a straw in it, then instruct the driver to toss it out at the end of his stop.

During these stops, Cole Custer took last on Lap 22. Custer was making his first Cup start since his series debut at Las Vegas in March, again driving a Stewart-Haas Racing prepared #51 Ford entered by Rick Ware Racing. Cope retook 38th by Lap 25, then lost a second lap after his own stop for tires, fuel, and water. Cope lost his third circuit on the 44th lap, which allowed Martin Truex, Jr. to use him as a pick in order to pass leader Harvick.

Cope finished Stage 1 three laps down and had planned to fall to the tail end of the field for the start of Stage 2. However, when the green flag fell, Cope was surrounded on all sides by several drivers, including Cole Whitt, Kasey Kahne, and teammate Landon Cassill. J.J. Yeley was also having difficulty finding a clear place to run, and on Lap 60 pulled his car close to the grass in Turn 1 to let the leaders pass. Through it all, Cope said his car was “definitely better” and that he could “definitely drive it harder.” But the overall pace was still not there. He lost a fourth lap by Lap 61, then a fifth after his next stop on Lap 78. Cope lost a sixth circuit by the time Stage 2 ended.

As Cope prepared his adjustments for Stage 3, Darrell Wallace, Jr. was having an up-and-down day. The variety of pit strategies allowed Wallace to stay out longer during Stage 2, and he paced the field for four laps. Once he made his stop, Wallace was then caught speeding off pit road, and NASCAR waved the black flag with the white cross, indicating he would no longer be scored if he didn’t serve the pass-through. Wallace served the penalty on Lap 89, and lost a lap in the exchange. In Stage 3, he was working his way back through the field, and was running in 27th when a rookie mistake ended his day. On Lap 108, he shifted down from third to second on a straightaway, blowing the engine. Wallace limped down the short chute and made it to pit road, then pulled behind the wall. He took last from Cope on Lap 116.

Finishing 37th was Matt DiBenedetto, whose right-front wheel on the #32 Zynga Poker Ford erupted in flames, forcing an abrupt turn to the garage on Lap 117. Unable to find a replacement brake caliper in time, the Go FAS Racing team called it an afternoon. It marked the second-straight Pocono race where the #43 and #32 finished in the bottom two positions, following both cars’ involvement in a first-lap fracas that led to a scoring issue last July.

36th fell to Kasey Kahne, whose #95 FDNY Foundation Chevrolet tore out the transmission moments after DiBenedetto’s exit, forcing a hard left turn at pit exit and into the garage area. 35th-place Denny Hamlin was the only driver eliminated in a crash, the result of a tangle with Alex Bowman in the first corner on Lap 148. Rounding out the field was Derrike Cope, eight laps down to the leaders – no thanks to contact from Kyle Larson that sent him into a spin off Turn 3 on Lap 126. Unlike Dover, Cope managed to leave the track with his car intact.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*Wallace is the first African American to finish last in a Cup Series race since September 20, 1970, when Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott lost an engine on his #34 1969 Ford after 1 lap of the Mason-Dixon 300 at Dover. It was the 12th and final last-place run of Scott’s career.
*This marks the first streak of three consecutive first-time last-place finishers since Races 2 through 4 of 2017: Cody Ware (Atlanta), Corey LaJoie (Las Vegas), and Jeffrey Earnhardt (Phoenix).
*Wallace is just the third Cup Series driver to lead at least one lap at Pocono, then finish last. The other two were Todd Bodine on July 29, 2001 (2 laps led) and Michael Waltrip on August 3, 2008 (1 lap led). Wallace’s four laps led are the most by any driver in this category.
*Wallace’s 108 laps are the most completed by a first-time last-placer at Pocono since June 12, 1983, when Bobby Gerhart ran 44 laps of the Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500 before engine trouble. It’s the sixth-most laps complete of any Cup Series last-placer at Pocono.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
38) #43-Darrell Wallace, Jr. / 108 laps / engine
37) #32-Matt DiBenedetto / 113 laps / brakes
36) #95-Kasey Kahne / 120 laps / transmission
35) #11-Denny Hamlin / 146 laps / crash
34) #99-Derrike Cope / 152 laps / running

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) TriStar Motorsports (3)
2nd) Premium Motorsports (2)
3rd) BK Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Germain Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, StarCom Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (2)

2018 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP