Friday, March 30, 2018

PREVIEW: Happy Easter; Texas Articles Coming Next Week

Saturday, April 7, 2018
XFINITY Race 6 of 33
My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

Sunday, April 8, 2018
CUP Race 7 of 36
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

Friday, May 4, 2018
TRUCKS Race 5 of 23
Dover 200 at Dover
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Camden Murphy

Following the action in Martinsville, all three NASCAR series will take their yearly off-week for Easter. Cup and XFINITY return in Texas the following week while the Trucks won’t run again until Dover in early May. Entry lists for Texas, as well as LASTCAR’s full weekend preview and #JD70 features, will be available next week.

When looking over the LASTCAR Reason Out Rankings and seeing “spark plug” come up, you may thing it was from NASCAR’s early seasons, where teams didn’t have enough equipment at the track to make such a simple fix. It’s perhaps surprising, then, that the only time this reason left a NASCAR driver last came on February 15, 1987, during the Daytona 500, and ended the day for none other than A.J. Foyt.

Foyt had a disastrous SpeedWeeks in ’87, having destroyed his #14 Copenhagen Oldsmobile in a brutal Lap 18 crash in Twin 125 Race 1 that saw Tommy Ellis barrel-roll on the apron of Turn 3. While both Ellis and Jim Sauter, also involved in the accident, missed the 500 field, Foyt squeezed into the 41st spot in the 42-car field. He did so in a backup Oldsmobile from Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The yellow Kodak Film Oldsmobile had the sponsors removed in place of Foyt’s Copenhagen and Gilmore brands. A non-conforming “1” was added to the big red “4” on each door while the roof number was replaced completely by Foyt's white "14". Curiously, the original black-and-orange scheme would make an appearance in the race – the scheme was used on Oldsmobile’s “cut-away car” Chris Economaki featured early in the broadcast.

Right after Economaki's segment, Foyt missed pit road twice, then came in with a dropped cylinder, the car trailing smoke. After going back onto the track, Foyt soon called it a day. He took last from Rusty Wallace, who after his own 10 laps burned a piston on his Kodiak Pontiac. In a garage interview with CBS’ Mike Joy, Foyt blamed his crew, saying someone on the team may have left a spark plug wire on the headers, causing the failure. Perhaps for this reason, the results cited it simply as “spark plug.”

Five years later, Foyt would have even more difficulty during SpeedWeeks. In 1992, he wrecked two cars - both his primary Copenhagen Oldsmobile and then, in the Twin 125s, a backup car provided by Richard Jackson's Skoal Classic team. Foyt ended up starting the race in yet another driver's car - Eddie Bierschwale's #23 Oldsmobile - sponsored by, of all things, SplitFire Spark Plugs.

A.J. Foyt's car at Daytona 1987, victim of a "spark plug" issue

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