Sunday, May 6, 2018

TRUCKS: Todd Peck’s return to competition a brief one at Dover

PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Todd Peck picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s JEGS 200 at the Dover International Speedway when his #50 Fluidyne Chevrolet fell out with rear end problems after 7 of 210 laps.

The finish, which came in Peck’s 31st series start, was his first since last fall at Las Vegas, ten races ago. In the NASCAR Truck Series last-place rankings, it’s the 9th for truck #50, the 18th by reason of rear end trouble, and the 348th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 51st for the #50, the 106th by reason of rear end trouble, and the 1,592nd for Chevrolet.

Peck’s last-place run at Las Vegas in 2017 put him in position to challenge for the LASTCAR Truck Series Championship. When Peck didn’t start any of the remaining races, including a withdrawal at Martinsville, the title ended up going to Mike Senica in the final round at Homestead.

At the same time, Mark Beaver’s team, Beaver Motorsports, made all but one race in 2017 (a withdrawal at Pocono). Peck didn’t drive for Beaver that year. The majority of the team’s starts went to Josh Reaume with limited runs by Travis Kvapil, Akinori Ogata, Cody Ware, Spencer Boyd, Mike Harmon, Bobby Reuse, and Bayley Currey. With Reaume starting his own Truck Series effort this year, three different drivers shared driving duties in the #50. Travis Kvapil lost an engine at Daytona, leaving him last, then failed to qualify at Atlanta. B.J. McLeod finished 23rd at Las Vegas while Dawson Cram’s debut at Martinsville earned a season-best 17th.

Dover would see Peck’s first start for Beaver. He would drive the same black-and-white paint scheme that Beaver Motorsports fielded for Kvapil at Atlanta and McLeod at Las Vegas. Sponsorship came from Fluidyne, which also backed Cram’s run at Martinsville. However, as at Atlanta and Las Vegas, the truck still didn’t have sponsors on the quarter-panels or rear “TV Panel.”

Peck's #50 (left of center) in the garage during qualifying
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Peck pulls behind the wall, first out of the race
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
According to reader Sam Laughlin, who was at the track, it seemed clear Peck’s run would be a “start-and-park.” Peck didn’t participate in either of Thursday’s practice sessions, nor did he turn a lap in qualifying. In fact, the driver spent the entire qualifying session in the garage. Thanks to the late withdrawals of Joey Gase in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #0 on Thursday and Ray Ciccarelli in TJL Racing’s #1 on Friday, the entry list had been pruned from 34 entrants to 32, exactly the number of spots available in the field. This put Peck shotgun on the field, the only driver without a qualifying speed.

Reed Sorenson goes behind the wall. He'd make a brief return
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
At the start of Friday’s race, Peck was already 5.808 seconds back of the leader coming to the green. He’d been joined at the rear by Austin Wayne Self, his #22 Flying Circle / Don’t Mess With Texas Chevrolet sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments, and Reed Sorenson, who voluntarily surrendered his 26th starting spot in Premium Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet. Norm Benning also stopped on the track during the pace laps, then resumed running in the 31st starting spot. By the end of the first lap, Peck was now 16.886 seconds back of the leader with Sorenson some distance in front. By the time the pair reached the front stretch, trouble broke out in front.

Austin Hill's #02 towed behind the wall
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
A tight battle for 17th had developed between Stewart Friesen in the #52 Halmar International / We Build America Chevrolet and the #16 AISIN Group Toyota of Brett Moffitt. Just past the starting line, the two made contact with Friesen spinning into Moffitt. While Friesen avoided serious damage, Moffitt had heavy damage to the left-front of his truck, forcing him to come down pit road. By the end of Lap 2, Moffit was 29th with Peck still last, now 28.271 seconds back.

While Moffitt became the first driver to lose a lap, Peck remained on track, dropping Moffitt’s #16 to last at the end of the third lap with Friesen in 31st, the last car on the same circuit as the leaders. When the race restarted on Lap 7, Peck dropped to the last car on the lead lap, then pulled into the garage area, and took last from Moffitt the next time by. reader Max
Camden Murphy takes Mittler's truck behind the wall
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Neuwirth (@racingfan83) was tuned to the #50’s radio, and reported that the crew was keeping an eye on possible smoke coming from the #74 Horizon Transport / Koolbox Chevrolet of Mike Harmon, asking “are they going to leave the 74 out?” When Peck pulled behind the wall, the crew chief said “Alright, [Todd], we appreciate you bud, take it back to the hauler.”

Parker Kligerman in for his oil leak
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Reed Sorenson had originally followed Peck to the garage, but in Premium Motorsports tradition, the crew worked on a mechanical issue and sent him back out on Lap 17, 7 laps
down. This allowed Sorenson to pass Austin Hill for 30th after Hill wrecked the #02 United Rentals Chevrolet on Lap 15. Sorenson turned two more laps than Hill before he pulled it in a second time on Lap 23.

Finishing 29th was defending Dover last-placer Camden Murphy, whose season debut in Mike Mittler’s #63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet ended after 58 laps when he reported a vibration. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Parker Kligerman, who led 11 of the first 60 laps in Charlie Henderson’s #75 Utz Snacks / Food Country USA Chevrolet only to discover smoke in the cockpit. According to the radio transcript, Kligerman’s truck still had oil pressure, but the issue was diagnosed as a busted oil cooler.

*This marked the first Truck Series last-place finish for the #50 since this year’s Daytona opener, where Travis Kvapil lost the engine on the #50 Rhino Rush Energy Chevrolet after 2 laps of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. The number had never before finished last in a Truck race at Dover.

32) #50-Todd Peck / 7 laps / rear end
31) #02-Austin Hill / 13 laps / crash
30) #15-Reed Sorenson / 15 laps / vibration
29) #63-Camden Murphy / 58 laps / vibration
28) #75-Parker Kligerman / 86 laps / oil cooler / led 11 laps

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

1st) Chevrolet (5)


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