Friday, March 16, 2018

PREVIEW: Premium’s #55 returns, Gaunt Brothers’ #96 missing on Fontana entry list

PHOTO: Prudential Overall Supply
Saturday, March 17, 2018
XFINITY Race 5 of 33
Roseanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

There are exactly 40 drivers entered to attempt this Saturday’s 40-car field, meaning that all entrants will start the race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
Austin Dillon steps in for brother Ty Dillon this Saturday in a #3 Chevrolet sponsored by Red Kap and Prudential Overall Supply. Ty finished 13th last week in Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Fontana will see the season debut of Ryan Preece, last year’s Iowa winner, as he takes the controls of Joe Gibbs’ flagship #18 driven last week by Kyle Busch. It will be Preece’s first XFINITY start at the track since 2016, when he finished 25th for JD Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
Following Brad Keselowski’s win last Saturday in Phoenix, Cup teammate Joey Logano drives the #22 this weekend. Logano and Dillon are the only Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s race, improving the odds for the series regulars.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-John Hunter Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek makes his second career XFINITY start on Saturday, following a sterling 4th-place run last month in Atlanta. It will be Nemechek’s first race on the Fontana track, where his father Joe won the first Cup Series pole in 1997.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Austin Dillon, #22-Joey Logano

Sunday, March 18, 2018
CUP Race 5 of 36
Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

There are 37 drivers entered to make the 40-car field, the fourth-consecutive short field in 2018 and the third with just one Open team entered. It is the shortest Cup field in the history of the Fontana track, two cars fewer than the previous record of 39 in the last two runnings.

UPDATE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Bubba Burger, which backed the Ware team in 7 races last year, returns to sponsor Timmy Hill this weekend. The team has also stuck with the new number font that debuted last month at Atlanta with Harrison Rhodes.

RETURNING: #55-Premium Motorsports
Fontana sees the return of Premium Motorsports’ Open team, two weeks after Joey Gase gave the car a 32nd-place finish in its season debut. Sponsorship for the #55 Chevrolet is still to be announced, though the entry list has Reed Sorenson listed as driver. It will be Sorenson’s first start of 2018 after running 28 races for Premium last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Corey LaJoie’s second engine failure in as many starts this season will be followed with Cole Whitt back in the #72. Whitt, who finished 28th in both his starts in 2018, has a track-best finish of 18th in the 2014 running, when he drove for Swan Racing. SoCal Chevrolet is listed as the car’s sponsor.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
D.J. Kennington earned a quiet 31st-place finish last Sunday in Phoenix, finishing three laps down to race winner Kevin Harvick. The team is not entered this weekend. Given their 2017 schedule, expect GBR to return next month at Talladega the latest.

Saturday, March 24, 2018
TRUCKS Race 4 of 23
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Bryce Napier

The Truck Series returns next week at Martinsville for the first short track race of the 2018 NASCAR season.

The first XFINITY Series race at Fontana was held on October 19, 1997, four months after the first Cup race, and during a weekend shared with the Camping World Truck Series. Finishing last that day was Johnny Chapman, the very first of his career. That day, Chapman was driving a second car belonging to Phil Parsons, who at the time was running the full season in his #10 Channelock Chevrolet. Chapman drove the #0 with sponsorship from Bowl Fresh and Honeywell, but turned just three laps before the engine let go. In his career, Chapman would go on to score 13 more XFINITY last-place finishes, including the 2009 LASTCAR XFINITY title. In that 2009 season, Chapman again drove for Phil Parsons and co-owner Randy Humphrey under the banner MSRP Motorsports.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#JD70: J.D. McDuffie's Career at the Ontario Motor Speedway

PHOTO: Getty Images
Less than seven miles west from the Auto Club Speedway, where NASCAR runs this weekend, is the site of the Ontario Motor Speedway. Nothing remains of the track today other than the roads that once formed a rectangle around the property. The Citizens Business Bank Arena dominates what would have been the infield of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis-style oval. Even a small park named for the track sits about one block west of where Turns 3 and 4 actually were.

“The Big O” hosted nine Cup Series races from 1971 through 1980. And, though the track was 2,481 miles west of tiny Sanford, North Carolina, J.D. McDuffie made the long drive each year. He qualified for all nine races, and never once finished last there.

In the inaugural race, held February 28, 1971, McDuffie entered a two-year-old Mercury, the marque he would run for most of that season. After radiator trouble in his 125-mile qualifier knocked him out of the Daytona 500 field, McDuffie arrived in California with new sponsorship from the T.D. Welker Construction Company. He qualified 42nd in a tremendous 51-car field – no small accomplishment, since another 30 drivers failed to qualify. He finished 35th when the engine let go short of halfway.

McDuffie’s best Ontario finish came on November 24, 1974, when his 1972 Chevrolet climbed from 25th to finish 10th in a race won by Bobby Allison. McDuffie finished nine laps down to Allison, on the same circuit as Richard Childress, who lost an engine in the final laps. McDuffie came just short of a second Top Ten two years later, this time coming one lap short of taking 10th from the late Bruce Hill. Again, McDuffie was nine laps down, this time to race winner David Pearson. Among the drivers McDuffie beat that day were Bobby and Donnie Allison, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, and last-place finisher Darrell Waltrip, out with engine failure.

McDuffie’s own engine let go in three of his nine Ontario starts, though in all but the inaugural race, he completed more than half distance of the 200-lap, 500-mile marathon. In 1979, he made it 104 laps into the Los Angeles Times 500, ending a day where he’d qualified a respectable 20th.

The final running of the Los Angeles Times 500, won by Benny Parsons on November 15, 1980, saw McDuffie qualify 31st in his Bailey Excavating Chevrolet. This time, he closed within six laps of the winner to finish 14th. He was also second among owner-drivers that day, four positions behind Buddy Arrington in an old Petty Enterprises Dodge. It was on that same day that Dale Earnhardt scored his first of seven Winston Cups, having edged Cale Yarborough by 19 points thanks to a 5th-place finish. It was also the first title for his crew chief, Doug Richert, who was just 19 at the time.

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018

CUP: Two starts, two engine failures, two last-place finishes for Corey LaJoie in 2018

PHOTO: Dominic Aragon, The Racing Experts
Corey LaJoie picked up the 4th last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Ticket Guardian 500 at the ISM Raceway when his #72 Schluter Systems Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after 23 of 312 laps.

The finish, which came in LaJoie’s 36th series start, was his second of the season, his first since the Daytona 500, three races ago. In the LASTCAR Cup Series rankings, it’s the 14th for #72, the 739th for Chevrolet, and the 678th by reason of engine failure. Across the top three series, it’s the 29th for #72, the 1,581st for Chevrolet, and the 1,052nd by reason of engine failure.

This year, LaJoie is sharing TriStar Motorsports’ #72 Chevrolet with Cole Whitt, who drove the car full-time in 2017. Following LaJoie’s brief Daytona run, Whitt ran 28th at both Atlanta and Las Vegas, each time five laps down to race winner Kevin Harvick. The ISM Raceway would see the return of both LaJoie and sponsor Schluter Systems, which followed the driver from his tenure at BK Racing.

LaJoie began his Phoenix weekend 33rd in Friday’s opening practice session and kept that same spot in qualifying with a lap of 130.378mph (27.612 seconds). The car still struggled for speed in Saturday’s practice sessions, running 35th in the morning and 33rd in Happy Hour.

Starting last on Sunday was Jeffrey Earnhardt, whose sponsor VRX Simulators agreed earlier in the week to sponsor StarCom Racing’s #00 Chevrolet through the conclusion of the “West Coast Swing” next Sunday in Fontana. Earnhardt was the only driver to turn a lap in qualifying as he slapped the outside wall on his first circuit, forcing him to a backup. Joining him at the rear were Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., also sent to a backup after his own first-lap misadventure in Friday’s opening practice, and D.J. Kennington, back with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the first time since the Daytona 500, with a tire change on his #96 Northern Provincial Pipelines Toyota.

Jeffrey Earnhardt got a slow start at the green, and was already gapped by more than a second on the very first lap, 5.8 seconds back of the leader. By the fifth circuit, he was 13.2 seconds back, and on Lap 12, was running completely by himself. At the start of the 15th lap, Earnhardt moved high as race leader Kyle Larson moved past, putting him the first car one lap down. Larson caught LaJoie on Lap 24 – just in time for the #72 to erupt in smoke in front of him. LaJoie pulled to the inside, then made it into the garage, and several caution laps were needed to clean up the oil. He took last from Earnhardt on Lap 26, and the team rolled the car to another part of the garage a few minutes later. When LaJoie was six laps down, the car was pulled off RaceView, and listed officially out soon after.

Finishing 36th was Paul Menard, whose #21 Menards / Dutch Boy Ford broke coming off Turn 2 and backed hard into the outside wall. Jeffrey Earnhardt made it to 35th, finishing under power despite an extended stay in the garage area on Lap 234. 34th went to Atlanta last-placer Gray Gaulding, his #23 Earthwater Toyota eight laps down. Two laps in front of Gaulding in 33rd was Timmy Hill, making his season debut in Rick Ware Racing’s #51. The Ware team brought a red Chevrolet to the track, and on Saturday debuted new sponsorship from Custom Aircraft Cabinets, Inc.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car #72 in a Cup Series race at Phoenix since November 12, 2006, when Brandon Whitt’s only Cup start ended with rear end trouble 123 laps into the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil.

37) #72-Corey LaJoie / 23 laps / engine
36) #21-Paul Menard / 189 laps / crash
35) #00-Jeffrey Earnhardt / 292 laps / running
34) #23-Gray Gaulding / 304 laps / running
33) #51-Timmy Hill / 306 laps / running

1st) TriStar Motorsports (2)
2nd) BK Racing, Front Row Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (2)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)


XFINITY: Jeff Green swaps rides at RSS Racing, exits early at ISM Raceway

PHOTO: Joshua A. Hill, The Racing Experts
Jeff Green picked up the 104th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s DC Solar 200 at the ISM Raceway when his unsponsored #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with brake issues after 18 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Green’s 484th series start, was his second of the season and his first since Atlanta, two races ago. In the LASTCAR XFINITY Series rankings, it’s the 29th for car #93, the 496th for Chevrolet, and the 52nd by reason of brake issues. Across the top three series, it’s the 79th for car #93, the 1,580th for Chevrolet, and the 150th by reason of brake trouble.

Early last week, Ryan Sieg at RSS Racing announced that Jeff Green would be swapping rides at Phoenix, moving teammate J.J. Yeley to his #38 with sponsorship from Superior Essex. Green, in turn, would drive the #93 with which he scored ten last-place finishes in 2017. Green’s car carried a gray carbon fiber paint scheme to his teammates’ black cars, reminiscent of Sieg’s Code Rum sponsored car at Daytona.

Green didn’t participate in Friday’s opening practice, but jumped to a strong 19th in Happy Hour, beating Yeley by three-thousandths of a second and Ryan Sieg by more than two tenths. Green also came just short of making Round 2 in qualifying, falling just seven-hundredths short of 24th-place Alex Labbe. Green’s lap of 128.742mph (27.963 seconds) would put him 25th on the grid.

Starting 40th on the grid was Daytona winner Tyler Reddick, who like Jeffrey Earnhardt in Cup qualifying, hit the wall on his timed lap and was unable to post a time in his #9 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet. Reddick’s backup car was joined at the rear by Cole Custer, his #00 Haas Automation Ford sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments, and the #1 Cessna / Beechcraft Chevrolet of Reddick’s teammate Elliott Sadler, whose team changed engines after one let go in a small fire during practice.

Jeff Green was the first driver behind the wall, retiring during the opening 26-lap green-flag run. When the red flag fell for rain on Lap 47,’s leaderboard listed Matt Mills 39th in the #15 Flex Shot Chevrolet. However, by that point, David Starr had lost the motor on Jimmy Means’ #52 Whataburger Chevrolet. Mills returned to the track at least 30 laps down, only to be eliminated in a crash on Lap 84. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Morgan Shepherd, out with brake trouble on his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet, and Chad Finchum, who lost the engine on Carl Long’s only composite-body car, the green-and-gold #40 Angry Crab / Mohawk Market Toyota.

*This marked the second-consecutive last-place run for car #93 in an XFINITY Series race at Phoenix, following Gray Gaulding’s early electrical problem with the same team last November.

40) #93-Jeff Green / 18 laps / brakes
39) #52-David Starr / 24 laps / engine
38) #15-Matt Mills / 54 laps / crash
37) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 56 laps / brakes
36) #40-Chad Finchum / 104 laps / engine

1st) RSS Racing (2)
2nd) JGL Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, RSS Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (2)


Friday, March 9, 2018

PREVIEW: A driver-sponsored car and a returning team stand out on ISM Raceway entry list

PHOTO: @GauntBrosRacing
Saturday, March 10, 2018
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
DC Solar 200 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

There are exactly 40 drivers entered to attempt this Saturday’s 40-car field, meaning that all entrants will start the race.

DRIVER SWAP: #0, #15-JD Motorsports
Johnny Davis has once again changed his driver lineup for this weekend with Garrett Smithley moving from the #15 to the #0 and Matt Mills from the #0 to the #15.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
In the first of several Cup drivers swaps in the XFINITY Series, Ty Dillon returns to the seat of the #3 in place of brother Austin, 12th in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
Brad Keselowski goes from the broadcast booth to the driver’s seat, replacing teammate Ryan Blaney, who ran 4th last week.

DRIVER SWAP: #38, #93-RSS Racing
Per the RSS team's Twitter on Tuesday, Jeff Green and J.J. Yeley have swapped rides. Yeley will drive the #38 with returning sponsorship from Superior Essex. Green will move to the #93. Ryan Sieg remains in the team's primary car, the #39.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
Jamie McMurray will make his first XFINITY Series start since 2013 as he takes the place of teammate Kyle Larson in the #42 DC Solar Chevrolet.

UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
In addition to landing sponsor Koolbox for this weekend, Harmon's team tweeted Thursday that he has signed a multi-race deal with Horizon Trabsport to back both his XFINITY and Truck Series efforts.

MISSING: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
After back-to-back withdrawals without drivers listed, B.J. McLeod has not entered his third car, the #99 Toyota, this weekend.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Ty Dillon, #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Brad Keselowski, #42-Jamie McMurray

Sunday, March 11, 2018
CUP Race 4 of 36
Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

There are 37 drivers entered to make the 40-car field, marking the third-consecutive short Cup field this season. It’s the shortest Cup field at Phoenix, breaking the previous record of 39 set in the last two spring races. This track once hosted as many as 44 starters in the 1995 and 1996 runnings.

UPDATE: #32-Go FAS Racing
After driver Matt DiBenedetto tweeted on Tuesday morning that his #32 didn’t have a sponsor for Sunday’s race, several drivers including Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Darrell Waltrip pledged funds to the team. According to Chris Knight, all three, along with SS Green Light Racing sponsor Grunt Style, will be associate sponsors on the #32. The team's press release indicated Zynga Poker then signed as primary sponsor, Enlisted Nine Fight Company as secondary, and Pit Stops For Hope as another associate backer. All will have a place on a white Ford with black numbers the team prepared for Sunday. DiBenedetto looks for a good run on Sunday to follow-up his solid 22nd-place performance in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
After fielding cars for the Cup debuts of XFINITY regulars Harrison Rhodes (Atlanta) and Cole Custer (Las Vegas), Ware originally listed Justin Marks, the 12th-place finisher in this year’s Daytona 500. On Wednesday, that changed to Timmy Hill, who made nine starts for Ware in the first 12 races of 2017 before moving to Motorsports Business Management. As of this writing, the #51 does not have a sponsor. UPDATE: By Saturday, the car carried primary sponsorship from Custom Aircraft Cabinets, Inc.

MISSING: #55-Premium Motorsports
Both the second Premium Motorsports car and driver Joey Gase, who last week climbed from last on the grid to 32nd, are not entered this week. Gase will continue his XFINITY effort on Saturday, driving Go FAS Racing’s #35 Donate Life Arizona / Sparks Chevrolet. Premium’s primary #15 LowT Center Chevrolet will again be driven by Ross Chastain following finishes of 30th and 29th in the last two races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Following back-to-back 28th-place runs by Cole Whitt, Corey LaJoie returns to TriStar for the first time since his last-place finish in the Daytona 500. LaJoie finished 38th and 31st in last year’s Phoenix races driving for BK Racing.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Gaunt Brothers Racing returns for the first time since their 24th-place performance in the Daytona 500 for their Cup effort’s first non-superspeedway start. The team’s driver, D.J. Kennington, will return to the scene of his Cup debut in November 2016, when he ran 35th for Premium Motorsports. Then as now, the sponsor on his Toyota will be Northern Provincial Pipelines.

UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Jayski reported on Wednesday that VRX Simulators, which joined the #00 team in the Daytona 500, has extended its partnership with driver Jeffrey Earnhardt through this weekend's race at ISM Raceway, as well as next week in Fontana.

Saturday, March 24, 2018
TRUCKS Race 4 of 23
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Bryce Napier

The Truck Series is off for two weeks and will rejoin the circuit in Martinsville at the end of the month.

The only time a NASCAR driver finished last because of a “fuel leak” occurred August 11, 1963, when owner-driver Lewis V. “Possum” Jones suffered that issue during the Wester North Caorlina 500 at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. The 29-year-old Jones, then competing in his eighth partial season on the tour, lined up 13th in the 27-car field, but fell out after just eight laps. It was the second and final last-place run of Jones’ career, which ended two years later. As of this writing, car #05 hasn’t finished last in a Cup race since October 19, 1980, when Bill Elswick’s #05 Performer Boats Oldsmobile crashed nine laps into the American 500 at Rockingham.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#JD70: J.D. McDuffie's Career at the Darlington Raceway

J.D. McDuffie's final No. 70 being painted in Sanford
during the Phoenix race weekend, November 1990
PHOTO: Charlie Berch
J.D. McDuffie never raced at Phoenix (now ISM Raceway), which hosted its first three Cup races toward the end of his career. According to Watkins Glen photographer Charlie Berch, who was staying with the McDuffie family in Sanford during the weekend of the 1990 Phoenix event, the driver was watching the race at home. That day, McDuffie was taking a break from painting what would turn out to be the final car he ever raced. Two weeks later, the burgundy and black #70 Pontiac hit the track for the first time in practice and qualifying for the season finale, the Atlanta Journal 500 in Atlanta. The car failed to qualify.

Instead, this week we’ll look at McDuffie’s career at the Darlington Raceway.

McDuffie made 39 starts at Harold Brasington’s egg-shaped oval, but didn’t qualify for a race there until September 2, 1968, during his fourth season on the circuit. Even then, McDuffie barely made the cut for the 19th Annual Southern 500, edging Paul Dean Holt for the final starting spot on the 44-car grid. His Buick lasted just 22 laps into the race, climbing past Bobby Johns and Bill Champion before the car lost oil pressure, leaving him 42nd.

McDuffie’s first of three Top Tens at Darlington came on May 2, 1971, during the Rebel 400. Driving a 1969 Mercury Cyclone, McDuffie lined up 34th on the 36-car grid and climbed his way up to 7th. It’s interesting to note that McDuffie finished this well despite coming home a full 28 laps behind race winner Buddy Baker. Back then, the gap between the fastest and slowest cars was much greater than it is today, and the rate of attrition was much higher. Baker himself took the lead after Donnie Allison’s dominant Wood Brothers Mercury blew an engine while leading with 11 laps to go. Despite the failure, Allison had lapped so much of the field that he only dropped to 4th. In the end, Baker took the checkered flag by more than seven full circuits over Dick Brooks.

McDuffie’s best finish at Darlington came on April 15, 1973, during a Rebel 500 dominated by polesitter David Pearson. On that day, McDuffie started 26th out of 40 drivers and made his way up to 5th in a 1972 Chevrolet, this time 21 laps down to Pearson. He was also just two laps from catching fellow owner-driver Richard Childress, who impressed in his very first Darlington start. Just like two years earlier, bad luck bit the Allisons in the final laps. This time, it was Bobby Allison whose #12 Coca-Cola Chevrolet lost an engine after leading 96 laps, but only slipped to 3rd in the finishing order.

The attrition snatched up McDuffie as well. In 19 of his 39 starts, he failed to finish, but only twice did he finish last at “The Lady In Black.” The first time came on September 6, 1971, just four months after his 7th-place performance. McDuffie had failed to qualify for that weekend’s Southern 500, but managed to pick up a ride in Junior Fields’ #91 1971 Chevrolet, making him the ninth different driver to run for Fields that season. Unfortunately, a steering failure ended his day after just two laps. The other run didn’t come until March 29, 1987, when the engine on his #70 Rumple Furniture Pontiac let go after just one lap of the TranSouth 500.

Much like Rockingham, Darlington was a relatively short drive from McDuffie’s home in Sanford. On race weeks there, he often stayed in Lumberton, North Carolina, located approximately halfway between his home and the track. As covered in this piece by nascarman, Maurice Leggett, journalist for The Robesonian, and the Ramada Inn at Lumberton played a role in supporting what turned out to be McDuffie’s final Darlington start on April 7, 1991. A fundraiser was held, allowing fans to get their names on the side of #70 that weekend. As in his first Darlington start, McDuffie needed to beat one car and did – this time edging Mark Stahl for the 40th and final starting spot. He finished 30th.

And, of course, it was at Darlington in 2016 that Landon Cassill and Front Row Motorsports ran a special “throwback” scheme honoring McDuffie, carrying both longtime sponsors Bailey Excavating and Rumple Furniture.

Today, Lumberton still has several hotels frequented by race teams. At least one crewman from King Autosport, Mario Gosselin’s XFINITY Series team, stayed in the same hotel I did during my trip east last year. The latest edition of The Robesonian still fills the newspaper racks.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

CUP: Strong weekend for Michael McDowell ends with first last-place finish in four years

PHOTO: @RPMVisuals
Michael McDowell picked up the 29th last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford fell out with engine problems after 100 of 267 laps.

The finish, which occurred in McDowell’s 252nd series start, was his first of the season and his first in a Cup race since this same event, four years ago, on March 9, 2014. In the LASTCAR Cup Series rankings, it’s the 30th for car #34, the 379th for Ford, and the 677th by reason of engine failure. Across the top three series, it’s the 42nd for the #34, the 936th for Ford, and the 1,051st by reason of engine failure.

Sunday’s run also moves McDowell into sole possession of 3rd on the all-time LASTCAR Cup Series rankings, breaking a tie with Derrike Cope. Only Joe Nemechek and the late J.D. McDuffie have more. He’s also tied with McDuffie for the fifth-most last-place runs all-time with 32 across the top three divisions.

McDowell’s most recent last-place finish came in his second start for Leavine Family Racing, having made the move from prolific “start-and-park” operation Phil Parsons Racing. For the next three seasons, driver and team would improve steadily with the driver turning in four of his next five top-ten finishes at Daytona (another 10th-place finish came at Homestead, when he was driving LFR’s second entry during a points swap). Through it all, McDowell climbed from 39th in the 2015 driver standings to 30th in 2016, then 26th just last year.

This year, McDowell drives Front Row Motorsports’ flagship #34 Ford, taking the place of Landon Cassill, who is still searching for a ride. Once again, McDowell excelled at Daytona, turning in a sterling 9th-place finish, his third season in a row with at least one Top 10 at the superspeedway. He finished just 24th last week in Atlanta, but still held a 14th-place ranking in points as NASCAR embarked on the “West Coast Swing.” In addition to returning sponsorship from Love’s Travel Stops, McDowell’s Ford for Las Vegas would carry a special decal on the A-post in memory of the late Wendell Scott, who campaigned the #34 all but 26 of the 495 Cup starts in his Hall of Fame career.

Among the 37 entrants for Sunday’s race, McDowell put up the 16th-best lap in Friday’s opening practice, besting the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. In qualifying, he put up the 18th-best lap in Round 1, then jumped to 15th in Round 2, just a fraction behind Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Johnson for a spot in the final round. His official lap clocked in at 188.607mph (28.631 seconds). On Saturday, he continued to impress, running 9th in the second session before settling back to 29th in Happy Hour.

Starting last on Sunday was Joey Gase, who along with his #55 Nevada Donor Network Chevrolet from Premium Motorsports was making his season debut on the Cup side. During the pace laps, Gase was joined at the rear by both his teammate, Ross Chastain, in the #15 LowT Center Chevrolet, and the #48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson, both incurring penalties for multiple inspection failures. Gase backed up once more, allowing Chastain and Johnson to line up side by side for the start.

When the green flag dropped, Gase began to lose touch with the pack, as did 36th-place starter Jeffrey Earnhardt, who was shaken out of the pack in the early moments. Gase began to close on Earnhardt’s #00 VRX Simulators Chevrolet, but then lost touch with him, falling two seconds back of the #00 by Lap 10. Five circuits later, race leader Kevin Harvick caught Gase in Turn 4, moved low, and made the #55 the first of 28 cars he’d put at least one lap down on his way to victory.

On the 30th circuit, Gase lost a second lap, and was reporting his car was fighting a tight condition. If he stayed there at the checkered flag, it would be the first last-place run for the #55 at Las Vegas since 2002, when the late Bobby Hamilton wrecked an Andy Petree car in the early laps. As it turned out, he was passed for last on Lap 41 after Jeffrey Earnhardt went a third lap down during his green-flag stop. Next was Atlanta last-placer Gray Gaulding, whose #23 Earthwater Toyota took the spot on Lap 46 after his own pit stop. Gaulding eventually made his pit stop, and resumed hold of 36th on Lap 49, now four laps in arrears. He’d lose a fifth on Lap 74. The next round of stops also jumbled up the last-place battle with Gaulding taking it on Lap 84, then Gase back to the rear for the Lap 89 restart to begin Stage 2.

McDowell, meanwhile, was backing up his strong performance in practice and qualifying. Even when Harvick continued to dominate, McDowell held fast to one of the few remaining lead lap spots. On Lap 39, he stayed out longer than much of the rest of the field, putting him up front for 11 laps. The move singlehandedly bested the driver’s record for most laps led in a season (ten last year), and marked the first time he’d led more than four laps in any single event. Unfortunately, as the second stage began, McDowell was lagging back, reporting smoke in the cockpit. Not wanting to lose an engine on track, he pulled behind the wall on Lap 104 with smoke trailing from his car. He officially took last on Lap 107, at which point he was seven laps down. On Lap 121, someone on the crew said over the radio the team was done, making them the first retiree of the afternoon.

The rest of the Bottom Five contained the day’s only other DNFs. 36th-place Jamie McMurray fell out when his #1 Cessna / DC Solar Chevrolet slapped the outside wall in Turn 2 on Lap 177. 35th and 34th went to Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott, who tangled on Lap 184 when Busch broke loose under Elliott coming off Turn 4. Rounding out the group was Gray Gaulding, who pulled his #23 behind the wall 15 laps down on Lap 210.

*McDowell’s 11 laps led are the most by a Cup Series last-place finisher since September 5, 2010, when Denny Hamlin led 74 laps of the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta. Hamlin’s run is one of only 18 recorded instances in Cup Series history where a driver led more laps than McDowell did Sunday, only to finish last.
*This was the first last-place finish for car #34 in a Cup Series race since September 9, 2017, when Landon Cassill’s #34 CSX “Play It Safe” Ford crashed out after 33 laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. The number had never before trailed a Cup race at Las Vegas.
*This marked McDowell’s third last-place finish in the previous six Cup races at Las Vegas.

37) #34-Michael McDowell / 100 laps / engine / led 11 laps
36) #1-Jamie McMurray / 176 laps / crash
35) #41-Kurt Busch / 183 laps / crash
34) #9-Chase Elliott / 183 laps / crash
33) #23-Gray Gaulding / 195 laps / engine

1st) BK Racing, Front Row Motorsports, TriStar Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota (1)


XFINITY: Savage crash leaves Dylan Lupton last in Vegas

Dylan Lupton picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #28 thinQ Technology Partners Ford crashed out after 5 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Lupton’s 27th series start. In the LASTCAR XFINITY Series rankings, it’s the 16th for car #28, the 154th for Ford, and the 313th by reason of a crash. Across the top three divisions, it’s the 41st for the #28, the 935th for Ford, and the 1,130th by reason of a crash.

Lupton, a California native, has enjoyed a swift rise through the ranks of stock car racing. At age 16, he scored three wins in the Langers Juice S-2 Sportsman Series. Three years later, he scored his first K&N Pro Series West victory at the Evergreen (Washington) Speedway, edging series veteran Greg Pursley, and a year later came just 17 points short of besting Pursley for the title. His XFINITY Series odyssey began in 2015, driving in place of John Wes Townley in the #25 Zaxby’s Chevrolet. He finished 19th in his series debut at Phoenix, then 9th at Mid-Ohio. His Cup debut came two years ago at Sonoma, finishing 35th for BK Racing. And, more infamously, it was Lupton’s tire failure in the closing stages of that year’s Homestead finale that ultimately led to the wreck eliminating Carl Edwards from his final Cup Series start.

This year, Lupton is again focusing on XFINITY, continuing a relationship with JGL Racing. He joined James Whitener’s team last spring at Richmond, finishing 12th in the #24 Nut Up Toyota. It turned out to be his best finish in a season where he swapped rides with fellow young guns Corey LaJoie, Drew Herring, Jeb Burton, and Cale Conley, as well as pay driver Scott Lagasse, Jr. This year, he’s moved to JGL’s #28 with new sponsorship from thinQ Technology Partners. His season began on a rough note with a hard crash at Daytona leaving him 27th, then just a 21st-place run in Atlanta.

At Las Vegas, Lupton ran 21st of 28 drivers in Friday’s opening practice, then held serve as 22nd of 40 in Happy Hour. With exactly 40 drivers for as many spots following back-to-back withdrawals of B.J. McLeod’s #99 Toyota, Lupton would join all the entrants in Saturday’s race.

In qualifying, Lupton squeezed into Round 2 with the 24th-best lap in Round 1. He edged Timmy Hill for the spot by just over four-hundredths of a second. According to David PeQueen, Hill’s resulting 25th-fastest lap and teammate Chad Finchum’s 30th spot put both of Carl Long’s Motorsports Business Management cars inside the Top 30 for the first time in the team’s history.
In Round 2, Lupton picked up two more spots with a lap of 178.106mph (30.319 seconds), moving him past Joey Gase and Alex Labbe.

Starting last was Stephen Leicht, whose JP Motorsports teammate Josh Bilicki made his first start of the season after back-to-back DNQs in his #45 Prevagen Toyota. Bilicki ran two-tenths faster than Leicht’s #55 Jani-King Toyota, putting both teammates in the final row. The teammates would both finish under power with Bilicki 28th, 11 laps down, and Leicht 30th, 15 behind.

On Lap 5, Lupton was racing Ryan Sieg, who started alongside him in Row 11. Coming across the start / finish line, Sieg’s right-front made contact with Lutpon’s left-rear, sending the #28 spinning across the line. Lupton slid past the grassy infield and appeared to be headed straight again when the car cut left a second time, headed straight toward the inside wall. The right-front corner of Lupton’s Ford struck the very edge of the SAFER barrier, just before it gave way to a  tire barrier located several feet back. The impact bounced Lupton abruptly to the left into another spin before it finally stopped on the inside. Fortunately, Lupton was upset, but uninjured, walking from the wreck.

Finishing 39th was Atlanta last-placer Jeff Green, who turned 15 laps before citing brake issues. Three laps later came Green’s RSS Racing teammate J.J. Yeley in the #93, followed six laps later by owner-driver Morgan Shepherd in the #89 VisOne RV Chevrolet. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Spencer Boyd, who had suspension issues on his #76 Grunt Style Chevrolet.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car #28 in an XFINITY Series race since July 29, 2006, when Josh Richeson’s #28 Speed Zone Energy Drink Chevrolet (fielded by Jay Robinson, today’s owner of Cup and Truck Series team Premium Motorsports), fell out with handling issues after 2 laps of the Busch Silver Celebration 250 presented by Shop ‘n Save at Gateway International Raceway. It was Richeson’s 24th and final series start.

40) #28-Dylan Lupton / 5 laps / crash
39) #38-Jeff Green / 15 laps / brakes
38) #93-J.J. Yeley / 18 laps / vibration
37) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 24 laps / oil leak
36) #76-Spencer Boyd / 70 laps / suspension

1st) JGL Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, RSS Racing (1)

1st) Ford (2)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)


TRUCKS: Scott Stenzel scores back-to-back lasts on a rough night for back half of the field

PHOTO: FS1, Screenshot by David PeQueen
Scott Stenzel picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Stratosphere 200 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #63 Copp Racing Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems after 5 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Stenzel’s 13th series start, was his second in a row, giving him an early lead in the 2018 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship. In the LASTCAR Truck Series rankings, it’s the 17th for truck #63, the 346th for Chevrolet, and the 32nd by reason of electrical issue. Among the top three series, it’s the 34th for the #63, the 1,579th for Chevrolet, and the 111th by reason of an electrical issue.

After his early exit at Atlanta, Stenzel moved to MB Motorsports’ #63 in Vegas, continuing the business partnership between D.J. Copp and MB’s owner Mike Mittler. The white Chevrolet wouldn’t carry any sponsorship, but would be listed with Mittler as the owner and “Copp Racing” in the sponsor’s position.

Stenzel didn’t participate in Thursday’s opening practice session, then ran 27th of 30 trucks in Happy Hour. He earned the 29th spot in qualifying with a lap of 149.072mph (36.224 seconds). This was actually the second-slowest lap turned in the session, besting Norm Benning’s lap of 142.646mph (37.856 seconds). Not turning laps in qualifying would be 31st-place starter B.J. McLeod, a late driver announcement for Beaver Motorsports in the #50 Motorsports Safety Group Chevrolet, and last-place starter Mike Senica.

Over the offseason, Mike Senica had made several tweets indicating he had attracted a number of sponsors, and would return to drive Norm Benning’s second truck, the #57. A source close to the team has indicated this is not the case, that Benning was not made aware of such a deal, and the #57 has yet to be entered this season.

Regardless, Senica has since tweeted that he had a new uniform and helmet. Both made their trackside debut at Las Vegas’ Neon Garage, where Senica had picked up a ride in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 Chevrolet. The truck would carry hood and quarter-panel logos for Betty Lou’s, a brand which Senica mentioned over the offseason, as well as P3 Power Products, which backed him late last year.

At Vegas, Senica had been one of the slowest drivers in practice, his best of 11 laps clocking in at just 135.590mph (39.826 seconds), nearly ten full seconds slower than session leader Johnny Sauter. B.J. McLeod was even slower in the Beaver #50, running just 130.668mph (41.326 seconds), another second and a half off Senica’s speed.

On the night of the race, as Senica followed the rest of the field off pit road, Stenzel pulled to the left and stopped his #63 parallel to the opening to the garage entrance, causing at least one crew member to run up to the truck. Stenzel managed to join the race for the green flag, at which point he’d been moved up a handful of positions. Senica had incurred one of three unapproved adjustments penalties, joined by McLeod’s #50, Matt Crafton’s #88 Black Label Bacon / Menards Ford, and the #25 Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet of Dalton Sargeant. Also sent to the rear was 28th-place starter Tommy Regan, a late entry in TJL Motorsports’ #1 Chevrolet, due to a tire change.

This was, admittedly, a challenging last-place battle to follow as multiple drivers lost laps in rapid succession. When the race started, Senica held down 32nd, 3.925 seconds back at the stripe. Just three laps into the race, he was already more than 18 seconds back, and was lapped so quickly that it didn’t register on NASCAR’s online leaderboard. On Lap 4, Tommy Regan took last, and he was lapped the next time by entering Turn 1. The next time by, Senica lost a second lap as the field roared by to his outside, the FS1 cameras showing the entire field move up the track.

By the time Senica appeared on camera, Scott Stenzel had pulled into the garage. Stenzel didn’t take last right away as both Senica and Regan continued to lose laps, perhaps from extended stops on pit road. On Lap 12, Regan, Stenzel, and Senica were all more than five laps down. Both Regan and Senica were still rolling on Lap 16, but Stenzel wasn’t. Stenzel quickly tied, then passed the number of laps down Regan was to the leaders, taking last. On Lap 17, Stenzel was 11 laps behind, 3 behind Regan and five behind Senica.

31st ended up going to Joe Nemechek, who ran on the lead lap for most of the early laps until he pulled into the garage around the 24th circuit. Nemechek’s #87 Fleetwing Corporation Chevrolet fell slowly down the rankings among the other lapped trucks. On the 28th circuit, Nemechek was behind the wall while Senica lost his 7th circuit and Regan his 9th. Senica exited after he turned 28 laps of his own, but Regan managed to finish the race under power, 22 laps behind, in 27th.

Rounding out the Bottom Five behind Stenzel, Nemechek, and Senica were 29th-place Matt Crafton, who encountered a surprising brake issue that sent him behind the wall in the opening stages. 28th fell to Justin Haley, who avoided serious damage after a Lap 73 spin, but was unable to return in his #24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet.

Norm Benning ended up 26th on Friday, parked by NASCAR after he and second-place runner Brett Moffitt made contact as Moffitt passed Benning to his outside in Turn 1 while tracking race leader Kyle Busch. Moffitt was recovering from another such instance earlier in that stage when he passed to the inside of 19th-place finisher Michel Disdier, locking fenders with his #20 Richard Orlinski Chevrolet as he passed to Disdier’s inside. Moffitt recovered once more to finish 3rd behind Busch and Johnny Sauter.

*This marked the second-consecutive last-place finish for truck #63 at Las Vegas, following Todd Peck’s run last fall, and the first for the number in a Truck Series race since Chris Windom’s early engine failure at Martinsville later that month.

32) #63-Scott Stenzel / 5 laps / electrical
31) #87-Joe Nemechek / 23 laps / vibration
30) #0-Mike Senica / 28 laps / electrical
29) #88-Matt Crafton / 40 laps / brakes
28) #24-Justin Haley / 75 laps / crash

1st) Beaver Motorsports, Copp Motorsports, MB Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (3)


Friday, March 2, 2018

PREVIEW: Premium Motorsports brings Cup field up to 37 starters, shortest in Cup history at Las Vegas

PHOTO: Stephen Borodkin
Friday, February 24, 2017
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Stratosphere 200 at Las Vegas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are 32 trucks for 32 spots, meaning that all listed entries will qualify for the race. It’s one fewer entry than last week in Atlanta, but three more than the last Truck Series race here last fall, when just 29 took the green.

DRIVER CHANGE: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Mike Senica is set to make his season debut, driving in place of Joey Gase in the second Cobb truck. Senica brings in sponsorship from offseason from Betty Lou’s and P3 Power Products. Norm Benning Racing has yet to field Senica’s 2017 ride, the #57 Chevrolet, this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-TJL Motorsports
TJL Motorsports wasn't originally listed on the preliminary entry list, but by Tuesday the team posted that they were loading up a white Chevrolet for Tommy Regan to run this weekend. Clay Greenfield, who was flagged off the track last week, doesn't have a ride this weekend.

DRIVER SWAP: #4, #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Spencer Davis and Kyle Busch have swapped rides this week with Davis in the #4 and Busch in the #51.

MISSING: #7-All Out Motorsports
The #7 team and Korbin Forrister finished 16th at both Daytona and Atlanta, but are not entered this week.

RETURNING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
With Kyle Larson returning to the seat of Ganassi’s #42 XFINITY Series ride, John Hunter Nemechek returns to his #8 on the Truck Series side, and his father Joe will be move back behind the #87 not entered last week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Last week, Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon managed a 10th-place finish in the Young team’s #20. This week, French driver Michel Disdier makes his first series start since the 2016 Daytona opener, where he ran 11th for Bobby Dotter. Tyler Young had been the listed entry until Thursday.

UPDATE: #49-Premium Motorsports
Wendell Chavous is again entered in his #49 Chevrolet after he fell ill at Atlanta and had to hand the wheel over to Ross Chastain.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
B.J. McLeod will turn double-duty this weekend in place of Travis Kvapil, who finished last at Daytona and failed to qualify at Atlanta.

55-year-old Bo LeMastus isn’t entered this week following finishes of 30th and 17th in the season’s first two rounds. In his place will be Justin Marks, who we last saw finish 12th in the Daytona 500. As of this writing, we are still awaiting the entry of DGR-Crosley’s second truck, the #17, and the series return of K&N Pro Series West standout Chris Eggleston.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
In place of Akinori Ogata, who wrecked last week in Atlanta, Mike Mittler has tabbed Bayley Currey to drive the #63 this weekend. The Texas native made his series debut in three of the last four races in 2017, finishing a season-best 10th for D.J. Copp at Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
After Tim Viens failed to qualify last week in Atlanta, Mike Harmon will drive his own truck.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, March 3, 2018
XFINITY Race 3 of 33
Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

There are 40 cars entered for 40 spots, meaning that all teams will start. That is down three entries from last week in Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
The Dillon brothers swap Richard Childress’ #3 car with Austin Dillon moving in place of Ty, who ran 13th last Saturday.

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Austin Cindric recovered from his disaster at Daytona with a 7th-place run at Atlanta. This week, Penske Racing’s #12 isn’t entered, so he moves back to Roush-Fenway’s #60, taking the place of 15th-place finisher Chase Briscoe.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
A stacked field of Cup invaders is headed by Las Vegas native Kyle Busch, who takes the place of last week’s 8th-place finisher Kyle Benjamin.

ADDED: #22-Penske Racing
In place of Penske’s #12 Ford will be the returning #22, which has brought with it Cup regular Joey Logano. UPDATE: As of Friday, the driver is now Ryan Blaney.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
John Hunter Nemechek finished a strong 4th last week in Atlanta. Regardless, he’s out of the car this week and Cup regular Kyle Larson is in.

MISSING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste
After Kevin Harvick cruised to the first part of his double-header sweep at Atlanta, both he and the #98 team are not entered this weekend, capping the Cup invaders at four.

WITHDREW: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
McLeod's third car is entered, but withdrawn without an entered driver for the second straight race. By bringing the field down to 40 cars, this effectively locked in Josh Bilicki, whose #45 from JP Motorsports failed to qualify for the first two rounds.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Austin Dillon, #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Ryan Blaney, #42-Kyle Larson

Sunday, March 4, 2018
CUP Race 3 of 36
Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Corey LaJoie

There are 37 cars entered for 40 spots, meaning that all entered drivers will qualify. It’s the second-consecutive short field in 2018, but one team more than last week in Atlanta. Regardless, Sunday will set the record for the shortest Cup field at Las Vegas, beating the previous record of 39 cars in the last two runnings.

LATE DRIVER ANNOUNCEMENT: #15-Premium Motorsports
Ross Chastain’s unexpected tripleheader weekend in Atlanta was capped by an uneventful 30th-place finish last week. He returns for his second-straight start this week, added to the roster by Wednesday.

SPONSOR CHANGE: #43-Richard Petty Motorsports
As RPM’s sponsorship for Darrell Wallace, Jr. continues to come together, the team will continue the tradition of programs sponsored by local hotels and attractions as “The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas” will back the #43 effort.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
While originally listed under Justin Marks, Cole Custer will drive in place of fellow XFINITY Series regular Harrison Rhodes. Rhodes finished 33rd last week, though he showed speed early when racing Jeffrey Earnhardt and Ross Chastain for position. Custer’s car will be a Ford in place of a typical Ware-prepared Chevrolet. Reports indicate Custer’s Ford will be prepared by his XFINITY car owner Stewart-Haas Racing, much as Kerry Earnhardt’s 2000 Cup debut was in a DEI car fielded by Dave Marcis.

ADDED: #55-Premium Motorsports
Just like in 2016, Premium Motorsports is helping fill short fields by fielding the first new Open team of 2018. Premium last fielded the #55 at Kansas last fall, though they’d entered a second Open car – the ex-Tommy Baldwin #7 – as recently as last fall at Phoenix. Sunday’s driver will be the same one from Phoenix, Joey Gase, who brings with him sponsorship from the Nevada Donor Network. Gase’s most recent Cup start was last year’s Homestead finale, when he finished last for BK Racing.

Coming into this weekend’s Cup race, the #55 is tied with the #19 for the second-most last-place finishes in series history with 46 apiece. The number’s first last-place run came with none other than Junior Johnson on May 12, 1956, during a 200-lapper at the Hickory Speedway. Johnson started 3rd that day, but burned a piston on his 1956 Pontiac after only nine laps. The number has since finished last with Don Hamilton, Tiny Lund, Jimmy Thompson, Jerry Draper, Earl Brooks, John Banks, Tommy Ellis, Benny Parsons, Phil Parsons, Jimmy Hensley, Kenny Wallace, Bobby Hamilton, Michael Waltrip, Michael McDowell, Dave Blaney, Jeff Green, J.J. Yeley, Travis Kvapil, Brian Vickers, and most recently last spring at Talladega by Reed Sorenson.