Sunday, May 6, 2018

XFINITY: Jeff Green scores third-consecutive Dover last-place finish

PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Jeff Green picked up the 107th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s OneMain Financial 200 at the Dover International Speedway when his unsponsored #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 11 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Green’s 490th start, was his fifth of the season and his first since Richmond, two races ago. In the NASCAR XFINITY last-place rankings, it’s the 32nd for car #93, the 133rd by reason of vibration, and the 349th for Chevrolet. Across the top three NASCAR series, it’s the 82nd for the #93, the 205th for a vibration, and the 1,593rd for Chevrolet.

On the final lap of last Saturday’s race in Talladega, Green was in position to pull of an upset victory. He and teammates Ryan Sieg and J.J. Yeley not only had full sponsorship, but had managed to stay out of trouble and were still on the lead lap after a long green-flag run. Heading down the backstretch for the final time, Green was running the outside lane with his teammates. Unfortunately, the group couldn’t get help from behind, and Green slipped to 13th with Yeley 11th and Sieg 6th. But all was not lost – race winner Spencer Gallagher’s “Dash 4 Cash” eligibility was rescinded after he tested positive under NASCAR’s drug testing policy. This put Sieg, the next eligible driver, in the group of four at Dover.

In practice, Green ran 22nd in the opening session, but didn’t join his two teammates in Happy Hour. In qualifying, he put up the 23rd-fastest speed in Round 1 with a 149.508mph (24.079 seconds), and when he didn’t turn a lap in Round 2, settled on the 24th starting spot. The lone DNQ of the day was Mike Harmon Racing, which endured a difficult weekend. Harmon was entered as driver of his #74 Horizon Transport Dodge, but put Cody Ware behind the wheel in opening practice. On his very first lap, Ware encountered brake problems entering Turn 3 and slapped the outside wall. The crew managed to repair the car in time for qualifying, but was one of nine drivers to not turn a lap in the session. As the lowest-ranked of those teams in Owner Points, Harmon was sent home.

Edging Harmon for the 40th and final spot was Stephen Leicht, back behind the wheel of JP Motorsports’ #55 Jani-King Toyota after Jennifer Jo Cobb’s one-off last week in Talladega. He was joined at the rear by Talladega last-placer Spencer Boyd, whose team made unapproved adjustments to the #76 Grunt Style Chevrolet, and John Hunter Nemechek, sent to a backup car after he wrecked his primary #42 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet in Happy Hour. Before the start, reader Sam Laughlin reported that Jeff Green voluntarily fell to the rear of the field. Also falling back was the 32nd-place starter: the #66 Chris Kyle Memorial Dodge of Carl Long.

From left to right: Hill, Green, Shepherd, and Long trail the field.
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Long was making his first XFINITY start of 2018, and his Motorsports Business Management team had three cars in the show for the first time since last fall in Kentucky. Long’s Dodge was nearly-identical to the blue Toyota of teammate Timmy Hill in the #13. In fact, Long’s name was added hastily to the XFINITY banner above the windshield, a rectangular white decal plainly seen over Hill’s name. Hill, meanwhile, qualified 22nd on Saturday, a career-best run for him in XFINITY competition.

Long was 5.434 seconds behind the leader when the green flag dropped, and 8.783 back at the end of Lap 1. Just as in Friday’s Truck Series race, trouble broke out at the end of that first lap. This time, it was 6th-place runner Matt Tifft, whose #2 Nexteer Chevrolet broke loose racing under the #11 Bar Harbor / Leaf Filter Chevrolet of Ryan Truex in Turns 1 and 2. Tifft avoided contact, and managed to make it safely onto pit road. This allowed him to take last from Long at the end of two laps.

Green (left of center) comes down pit road on Lap 11
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
When the race restarted on Lap 9, Tifft made quick work of Long and the other drivers in front of him, climbing out of the Bottom Five. The next time by, Long was now 11.342 seconds back of the leader, and he’d lose another two seconds the next time by. As he did, he soon saw Jeff Green slow in front of him. Running 34th at the time, 8.791 seconds back of the lead, Green pulled onto pit road under green on Lap 11. After a brief stop, Green rolled around the track and entered the garage through the access point on the backstretch. Though Green’s car has traditionally been a start-and-park entry, reader Max Neuwirth (@racingfan83) reported that Green said the battery was failing, and he was also having radio troubles. Long pulled behind the wall on Lap 19, citing that only the front brakes were working at the start of the race.

Morgan Shepherd qualified 28th, but this stop cost him 4 laps.
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
While the leaders worked their way through lapped traffic, Morgan Shepherd was having transmission problems on his #89 Visone RV / Racing With Jesus Chevrolet. Shepherd had qualified 28th that day, his best starting spot at Dover since 2013. Unfortunately, the transmission issue forced him to make at least one unscheduled stop with the hood up, costing him four laps, though he returned to action soon after. Sometime before Lap 91, Long also brought the #66 back onto the speedway, and he completed another ten laps before he called it a day, never climbing from 39th. Shepherd’s additional laps kept his #89 in 38th, and he pulled out of competition with 57 laps logged. Both Shepherd and Long used the backstretch entrance to the garage area.

Finishing 37th was Kaz Grala, whose #24 NETTTS Ford wrecked in Turn 4 on Lap 78, ending a day that saw him start a strong 16th. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Jeff Green’s teammate J.J. Yeley, who cited a vibration on his #38 RSS Racing Chevrolet just past the halfway point. Ryan Sieg finished 17th in his bid for the “Dash 4 Cash.”

*This marked Green’s seventh XFINITY last-place run at Dover, his third in a row, and his fifth out of the last seven.

40) #93-Jeff Green / 11 laps / vibration
39) #66-Carl Long / 29 laps / brakes
38) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 57 laps / transmission
37) #24-Kaz Grala / 76 laps / crash
36) #38-J.J. Yeley / 111 laps / vibration

1st) RSS Racing (5)
2nd) Jeremy Clements Racing, JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford (2)


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