Saturday, May 12, 2018

TRUCKS: Kevin Donahue outpaces brother Kyle in qualifying, but is first out of the race

Kevin Donahue's #63 with brother Kyle's #83 at far left.
PHOTO: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Kevin Donahue picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s 37 Kind Days 250 at the Kansas Speedway when his #63 First Responder Racing Chevrolet fell out with transmission problems after failing to complete any of the 167 laps.

The finish came in Donahue’s 9th series start. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it’s the 18th for truck #63, the 32nd by reason of transmission failure, and the 349th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 35th for the #63, the 155th by reason of transmission issues, and the 1,595th for Chevrolet.

Kevin is the oldest of three racing siblings in the Donahue family, joined by his younger brother Kyle and sister Angie. Born and raised in Chesterfield, Missouri, the trio have worked their way through Bandoleros and go-karts with eyes on a career in NASCAR. Kevin and Kyle made the jump on October 29, 2016, when the pair raced against each other in the Truck Series race at Martinsville, each sponsored by the Agile Network. Both encountered a steep learning curve. Kyle finished 31st in Mike Mittler’s #63 following an early crash with Josh White. Kevin made it past halfway, but lost the engine on Bobby Dotter’s #07 for SS-Green Light Racing, handing him 30th.

With the exception of a one-off for the now-shuttered Contreras Motorsports, Kevin and Kyle have run partial schedules for both Mittler’s MB Motorsports (between the primary #63 and the often “start-and-park” #36) as well as Copp Motorsports (#83). Due to the close business relationship between Mittler and Copp, this has essentially made the brothers teammates.

While Kevin has three more starts than Kyle, the younger Kyle has enjoyed the best runs of the pair: two 16th-place runs at Martinsville and Gateway last year. Kevin’s best finish in Trucks remains his 20th-place run in the one-off for Contreras two years ago. The pair’s most recent battle came last month at Martinsville, where again Kyle came out on top, steering Copp’s #83 to a 23rd-place finish. Donahue turned 49 laps before Mittler’s #63 pulled out, leaving him 30th. Kansas would see the brothers return with the same teams.

According to MB Motorsports’ press release, Kevin Donahue’s Kansas truck would carry new sponsorship from Fenton, Missouri-based Camp-Zero Coolers. Leading the returning backers was Extreme Brand Products of Cedar Hill, Missouri, joining SP Air USA, Inc., Spanesi Americas, FS Curtis, Leacree, Gateway Kartplex, MARADYNE High Performance Fans, Mayhew Tool, Reikken, Excel Bottling / Ski Soda, Timken, MechanixWear, and WIX Filters.

However, as in many of the Mittler team’s races, Kevin’s truck was still flat white with many of these sponsors crammed onto the space between the door numbers and the rear tires. A much larger logo for “First Responder Racing” occupied the hood. Kevin’s brother Kyle would run a near-identical #83 Chevrolet which, despite being fielded by Copp Motorsports, had Mittler-style red numbers similar to those on the #63, again symbolic of the cooperation between the two teams.

Kevin looked forward to getting another speedway start under his belt. “It’s great to come back to where I made my first intermediate track start,” said the driver in the same press release. “We had a pit road issue that cost us track position and dropped us to a 22nd place finish last year. This time around, I’m hoping to improve on that.” Mittler himself called the elder Donahue “a very conscientious driver,” saying that he “does his best to allow us to roll [the truck] back onto the hauler looking like it did when we rolled it off.” This proved particularly true on Friday.

This time around, Kevin outpaced Kyle in opening practice, ranking 21st ahead of Kyle in 26th. Kevin carried this momentum into qualifying, where he put up the 20th-fastest lap with a 171.681mph (31.472 seconds), more than three seconds better than Kyle in 31st.

Camden Murphy in the lone DNQ for TJL Racing.
Note the taped name in the rear window.
PHOTO: @DnfRacers
The lone DNQ was Camden Murphy, who on Friday morning was named the driver of TJL Racing’s unsponsored white #1 Chevrolet. The deal for Murphy to drive came together so late, that photos from LASTCAR reader @DnfRacers showed Murphy’s name was shambled together on the rear window with strips of white tape. In qualifying, Murphy put up the slowest completed lap of 152.018mph (35.522 seconds), nearly eight-tenths off the next-slowest truck of Kyle Donahue and nearly three full seconds off a guaranteed spot.

Starting last on Friday was Myatt Snider in ThorSport’s #13 Louisiana Hot Sauce Ford. Snider was on a pole lap in Round 1 when he spun off Turn 4. While he failed to turn a lap in the session, Snider did, however, still have his primary truck, and with it earned the final starting spot. Snider incurred a redundant tail end penalty for changing his flat-spotted tires, making him one of four drivers sent to the rear of the field. Joining him were Robby Lyons in Premium Motorsports’ #15 for unapproved body adjustments and both 14th-place starter John Hunter Nemechek and 30th-place Mike Harmon in his #74, both for unapproved adjustments to the electrical system.

Kevin Donahue on the apron.
PHOTO: @DnfRacers
Falling to the rear voluntarily prior to the start was 23rd-place starter Joey Gase in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 Chevrolet. When the race started, Gase was running 5.440 seconds behind the leader, and was in brief control of last place. Brief, that is, as Kevin Donahue encountered transmission issues that first time by. Donahue pulled the #63 behind the wall short of the starting line, preventing him from completing a lap. The issue proved terminal, and Donahue was done for the night. Gase exited 6 laps later to secure 31st.

30th fell to Joe Nemechek, who brought back his second truck, the #87 Fleetwing Chevrolet, for the first time since it was withdrawn at Martinsville. The elder Nemechek then watched over his NEMCO team as son John Hunter rallied from his tail end penalty to finish a strong 4th. 29th belonged to Donahue’s MB Motorsports teammate Bayley Currey, also entered in a “start-and-park” truck, Mittler’s #36 Chevrolet. Rounding out the group was Jamie Mosley, driving Todd Peck’s last-placer from Dover. Mosley’s first Truck Series start since 2009 ended after just 66 laps with overheating issues on Beaver Motorsports’ #50 Crossbar E-Cigarettes Chevrolet.

Kyle Donahue, meanwhile, finished 20th in the #83, his best finish since his pair of 16th-place showings.

*This marked the first time the #63 finished last in a Truck Series race at Kansas since July 2, 2005, when Justin Allgaier was driving Mittler’s #63 Dave Porter Truck Sales Ford, which crashed after 68 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250. It was Allgaier’s first career Truck Series last-place finish.
*Donahue’s 20th-place starting spot is the best by a Truck Series since last July at Eldora, 18 races ago, when Caleb Holman started 9th.

32) #63-Kevin Donahue / 0 laps / transmission
31) #0-Joey Gase / 6 laps / electrical
30) #87-Joe Nemechek / 27 laps / overheating
29) #36-Bayley Currey / 30 laps / transmission
28) #50-Jamie Mosley / 66 laps / overheating

1st) Beaver Motorsports, MB Motorsports (2)
2nd) Copp Motorsports, TJL Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)


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