Sunday, March 4, 2018

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)


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