|Bill Kann's car after his engine fire in qualifying at Sonoma|
PHOTO: Brock Beard
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor
Bill Kann recorded the fifth last-place finish of his K&N Pro Series West career in Saturday’s Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway when his #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet did not make it to the grid.
The finish came in the 27th time Kann qualified for a KNPSW race. It was his first since last year at Colorado National Speedway, twelve races ago.
Kann, an Arizona native, has worked his way up to the K&N Pro Series from go-karts and ASA super trucks. He races for his family B&B Motorsports team, running a part-time schedule over the past six years. The team’s number, 18, and sponsor, Interstate Batteries, have not changed in that time, though a manufacturer switch from Toyota to Chevrolet happened in the middle of last season. He has made all but one race this year, skipping Colorado.
He was part of the biggest entry list of the season so far, which included an astronomical five Cup Invaders. Stewart-Haas Racing fielded an entry for Aric Almirola, and DGR-Crosley featured a stable of Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. William Byron teamed up with Jefferson Pitts Racing and Alex Bowman drove the first Bill McAnally Racing Chevrolet in recent memory. Cole Keatts made his debut and nearly every part-time effort in the series made its way out to the track. Needless to say, the 31-car entry list was trimmed down to 27 by practice, which comparatively was about 13 percent, an almost-unheard of rate for withdrawals.
In practice, Sonoma native Rodd Kneeland was last of the 27 remaining entries. His lap of 1:28.551 was over a half-second off of Hollis Thackeray’s 26th-place lap and nine seconds off of Will Rodgers’ pace-setting lap.
Qualifying was where the trouble started and ended for Kann. After laying down the 17th-fastest lap of the session, an engine fire started in the Esses, eliminating the car from future competition. The resulting layer of sta-dri put down on the track also had an effect on the early stages of Cup Series qualifying, held just minutes later. Kann would be listed as the sanctioning body as a DNS, the third straight at Sonoma and the fourth straight year where the last-place finisher didn’t complete a lap. Coincidentally, Kann was also the last last-placer to complete a lap at Sonoma, as his #18 fell out with transmission troubles after 18 laps in 2014.
26th went to Matt Levin, who fell out after one lap due to crash damage. According to Levin, Todd Klauer was struggling and Levin was giving him room when Takuma Koga tried to pass, which resulted in Levin’s car spinning off track and into the wall. “[The 11 of Koga was] just driving over his head like he always does. Wouldn’t be the first time and probably won’t be the last,” Levin told LASTCAR after the crash. As for the first part of Levin’s statement, we can verify that. In the season-opening race at Kern County, Jesse Iwuji blamed Koga for an attempted pass gone wrong for his crash that resulted in a last-place finish.
Koga wound up being the next car out, retiring after completing nine laps, citing crash damage. Alex Bowman’s engine troubles dropped him to 24th and Hollis Thackeray rounded out the Bottom Five after transmission troubles sidelined the 38 machine after completing 17 laps.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
27) #18-Bill Kann / 0 laps / did not start
26) #10-Matt Levin / 1 lap / crash
25) #11-Takuma Koga / 9 laps / crash
24) #24-Alex Bowman / 10 laps / engine
23) #38-Hollis Thackeray / 17 laps / transmission
LASTCAR K&N WEST OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Patriot Motorsports Group (4)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing, B&B Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR K&N WEST MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Toyota (1)
LASTCAR K&N WEST DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP