Tuesday, July 31, 2018

K&N EAST: Chase Cabre doesn’t actually finish last at Iowa but claims first tail-end finish of career

Cabre at New Hampshire earlier this year.
PHOTO: Zimbio
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Chase Cabre scored the first last-place finish of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career Friday night in the Casey's General Store 150 at the Iowa Speedway when his #4 Honda Generators / Rev Racing Toyota fell out with transmission issues after 35 of 150 laps in the race.

Cabre is the younger of two Cabre racing brothers; his brother Collin ran with Rev Racing for three years in the K&N Pro Series East, scoring a lone win in his rookie season of 2015. Chase’s racing career started in the motocross ranks at the age of three and moved through karting and circle track racing. He moved up alongside brother Collin together in the K&N Pro Series East ranks last year, outlasting his elder sibling by about forty points and three positions, sixth to ninth. He finished second at Memphis, a highlight of a season that saw him win poles for the South Boston Twin 100s but falter towards the end of the season. He returned to the 4 car in 2018 but again switched numbers for Thompson throwback weekend (6 in 2017, 15 in 2018). Coming into Iowa, he sat seventh in points, once again recording a season-best finish at Memphis with a fourth-place effort.

The Iowa combination race came with an entry list of a paltry 25 cars, not enough to sustain minimum field size this season (13 in both East and West) for both series. Of course, car counts fall every year during the season, but 25 was alarmingly low. This is counting one-off Kyle Benjamin, driving for Hattori Racing Enterprises while in town for the XFINITY Series race, and Sam Mayer, his ever-expanding slate finding himself driving a part-time #27 for Jefferson Pitts Racing. For LASTCAR scoring purposes, separate standings are used according to which series drivers run more, East or West.

The West contingent of the field did not have a banner weekend by any stretch of the imagination. Jesse Iwuji, whose team bought a new car a week ago exclusively for the Iowa race, trailed first practice. Fellow West competitor Takuma Koga anchored second practice and stayed there for qualifying, his lap of 25.178 seconds a pickup from final practice yet still more than four-tenths behind Iwuji for 24th. Chase Cabre, for comparison, was the lowest-qualifying East car in 21st with a lap of 24.453.

The overall last-place battle switched hands quickly, it was Koga at first, then Colin Garrett after an early spin and then Iwuji, who retired after ten laps with motor trouble. Cabre followed Iwuji into the garage after another 25 laps, the team citing clutch issues as the demise. The East Bottom Five was rounded out by Garrett, who struggled with mechanical gremlins, Anthony Alfredo, who after delivering more than his fair share of trash talk wrecked a primary car in practice and drew the ire of Hailie Deegan by wrecking the lead-lap #19 machine as a car two laps down, Ronnie Bassett Jr., both four laps off the pace, and Tristan van Wieringen, his Rette Jones Racing team struggling to master the mile-long oval.

24) #4-Chase Cabre / 35 laps / clutch
23) #18-Colin Garrett / 101 laps / running
22) #40-Anthony Alfredo / 120 laps / crash
16) #04-Ronnie Bassett Jr. / 146 laps / running
14) #30-Tristan van Wieringen / 147 laps / running

1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (5)

1st) Hunt-Sellers Racing, Ronnie Bassett Sr. (2)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing, Chuck Buchanan Jr., Carroll Motorsports, Danny Watts Racing, Ace Motorsports, Rev Racing (1)


Monday, July 30, 2018

CUP: B.J. McLeod’s first Cup Series last-place finish comes on a rough afternoon in the garage for the underdogs

PHOTO: @RickWareRacing
B.J. McLeod picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 at the Pocono Raceway when his #51 Jacob Companies Patriotic Chevrolet lost the engine after 77 of 164 laps.

The finish came in McLeod’s 16th series start. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 21st for car #51, the 682nd for engine trouble, and the 751st by a Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 33rd for the #51, the 1,061st for engine trouble, and the 1,616th for Chevrolet.

McLeod is a name that has steadily become more of a presence in NASCAR. The native of Wauchula, Florida is most readily known for his three-car XFINITY Series operation, B.J. McLeod Motorsports. The founding of the team in 2016 was the culmination of a career that began when McLeod was racing ATVs at age three. He graduated to go-karts at five, Super Late Models at 13, and on June 2, 2001, became the youngest driver to start an ASA race. Just 17 at the time, McLeod finished 15th in a race at Nashville won by Johnny Sauter.

In 2010, McLeod joined the NASCAR tour as an infrequent competitor in the Camping World Truck Series, and on October 23rd of that year finished 17th in his Martinsville debut for Germain Racing. He began working with team owner Christopher Long later that season, and ran ten races in 2015 driving the #45 Tilted Kilt Chevrolet. That same season saw his XFINITY debut for Rick Ware at Iowa, a 36th-place finish, and B.J. McLeod Motorsports opened its doors the following season.

The current incarnation of McLeod’s team has seen near-weekly driver changes between the full-time #78 and #8 Chevrolets and Toyotas, plus the part-time #99 team. Joining McLeod have been such drivers as Angela Ruch, one of Derrike Cope’s nieces, 2000 series champion and LASTCAR record holder Jeff Green, and outspoken underdog Tommy Joe Martins. This diverse lineup turned in several strong runs last year. Martins impressed at Iowa, challenging for a Top Five late before he slipped to 11th. Green paced the field at Talladega for 18 green-flag laps before finishing 10th. And David Starr surprised with a team-best 5th-place finish in Daytona.

It was during this same 2017 season that McLeod first drover for Rick Ware Racing in the Cup Series. He’d made just one Cup start prior to that, finishing 34th at Loudon for Circle Sport. Taking over the #51 Chevrolet at Ketucky, McLeod finished under power once again, taking 32nd. It was the beginning of a relationship that continues to this day. As of this writing, every one of his subsequent Cup starts have come in Ware’s #51.

McLeod drove double-duty last weekend, driving in both the Cup and Truck Series races at Pocono, and was also represented as team owner for the stand-alone XFINITY Series race in Iowa. On Saturday morning, McLeod finished 24th in Mike Harmon’s truck, one lap down to the leaders. Meanwhile, in Iowa, Tommy Joe Martins finished 21st in his #78 Riessen Construction Chevrolet while Ray Black, Jr. steered the #8 JW Transport Chevrolet to a 28th-place finish.

For Pocono’s Cup race, McLeod drove the same patriotic-schemed #51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet he drove to a 34th-place finish at Loudon. Judging from the red-white-and-blue paint scheme, it also appeared to be the same car as the #52 SBC Contractors Chevrolet that Cody Ware debuted last month at Sonoma. McLeod was slowest of the 39 drivers who turned laps in opening practice, then passed Timmy Hill in Happy Hour to rank 38th. McLeod looked set to start alongside Hill’s new Lehigh Valley Phantoms Toyota in the final row on Sunday until no less than 13 drivers had their times disallowed for post-qualifying technical infractions. The result hoisted McLeod to 26th with a lap of 165.789mph (54.286 seconds), nearly four full seconds off the new pole speed set by Daniel Suarez.

The new last-place starter was Kasey Kahne, whose #95 Procore Chevrolet was the lowest-ranked of the 13 disallowed entrants in Owner Points. Kahne also incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for an engine change, joining the unapproved adjustments on J.J. Yeley’s #23 Steakhouse Elite Toyota for BK Racing and the #15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, practiced by Gray Gaulding while Ross Chastain was competing in Iowa.

Excitement over big-name drivers starting at the tail end of the field was tempered somewhat with one lap before the green flag, when no less than seven drivers pulled out of line and slowed on the inside down the frontstretch, purposefully falling to the rear. Joining the penalized Chastain and Yeley were StarCom Racing teammates Kyle Weatherman (started 23rd in the #99) and Landon Cassill (24th in the #00), Reed Sorenson (25th in the Premium #7), Timmy Hill (27th in the #66 for Motorsports Business Management), and McLeod’s #51. Despite Kahne’s engine change penalty, he slotted in ahead of these drivers, lifting him from 40th to 33rd. In addition, Kevin Harvick climbed from 29th to 22nd, and eventual race winner Kyle Busch from 28th to 21st.

The battle for 40th place on Sunday proved surprisingly competitive. Entering the very first corner, Timmy Hill and Reed Sorenson raced door to door until Sorenson cleared himself off Turn 2, dropping the #66 to last. Several lengths in front of them, 21st-place starter Corey LaJoie slid up the track, directly in the path of Joey Logano’s closing #22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford. As Logano caved in the nose of his machine, the sliding LaJoie clipped the left-rear tire of McLeod’s #51, passing to his high side. This appeared to cut down that tire, for McLeod made an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 2 for fresh rubber.

McLeod returned to action on Lap 3, the first driver to lose a lap to the leaders. By the eighth lap, he was closing in on 39th-place runner Timmy Hill, who was himself three seconds back of Weatherman’s #99 in 38th. By Lap 16, McLeod’s tires had fallen off to match his competitors, and he lost a second lap to the leaders. On the 34th circuit, three laps after losing his third, McLeod was in the middle of a close call. The spotter told him to hold his line behind Jeffrey Earnhardt’s #96 Toyota as a resurgent Logano and Chris Buescher split between the pair up high and Cassill down low.

On the 36th circuit, Chastain entered the last-place picture when he slowed with an apparent dropped cylinder. He made it to the garage, where the crew examined the fuel pump. By Lap 40, he had taken last from McLeod. Chastain returned to the track following the end of Stage 1 on Lap 51, 16 laps behind and still in 40th place.

Next to challenge were both Timmy Hill and the #37 Scott Products / Viva / Hidden Valley Chevrolet of Chris Buescher, who each made it to the garage within a couple laps of each other. By Lap 60, Buescher had fallen to 38th, six laps behind the leaders, while Hill sat 39th, 11 circuits behind. MBM team owner Carl Long posted on Facebook that Hill’s #66, Chassis No. 819, was being run for the first time, and something broke in the front end. The team made several handling adjustments before the car rejoined the race on Lap 68, two circuits after the #66 took last from the #15.

Buescher’s crew tweeted that the #37 had a leak in the rear end, and the crew needed to replace the transmission. This new transmission had issues shifting into reverse, and the leak added to the delay as the crew wanted to make doubly sure it had stopped. Buescher slipped to last on Lap 75, then got rolling again on Lap 83 after Corey LaJoie crashed hard in Turn 3 to bring out the yellow. Buescher waited at the garage exit for pit stops to complete before he rejoined the race, 30 laps down. LaJoie averted the “Crash Clock” and rejoined the action three laps down, though the driver had misgivings about continuing.

By Lap 86, Buescher was back in the garage a second time. Moments later, McLeod made an unscheduled stop reporting that he had engine trouble. The crew pushed the #51 behind the wall, and by Lap 95, the car was unlisted on NASCAR RaceView. At the time, McLeod was 17 laps down, 19 circuits ahead of Buescher, who was back on track. The running order looked like this:

40) #37-Chris Buescher -36L
39) #66-Timmy Hill -20L
38) #15-Ross Chastain -17L
37) #51-B.J. McLeod -17L

Chastain passed McLeod the next time by, and the #51 slowly dropped down the rankings before finally taking last on Lap 114.

Finishing 39th was Corey LaJoie, whose #72 Monarch Crypto Wallet Chevrolet lost the brakes in Turn 3 and slammed the outside wall on Lap 83. The crew managed to avoid elimination under the “Crash Clock,” returning to action three laps down, but the driver had reservations about continuing as he didn’t want to risk another crash. By Lap 101, LaJoie was back in the garage again. While the crew’s twitter indicated they were again trying to return to action, they soon called it a day, and slipped to 39th with crash damage as the officially listed cause.

An accident also eliminated 38th-place Brad Keselowski, who cut down a right-rear tire in the Tunnel Turn and backed his #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford into the outside wall. Chris Buescher’s second transmission still wasn’t functioning properly, and he was behind the wall again in the race’s final moments. Rounding out the Bottom Five in 36th was Hill, the final driver to finish under power. Carl Long confirmed that MBM will focus exclusively on the XFINITY race at Watkins Glen with their next Cup race to be announced.

For more on B.J. McLeod and his XFINITY Series team, check out his full profile here: https://www.bjmcleodmotorsports.com/about

*This marks the second time in three Pocono races that Rick Ware Racing’s #51 Chevrolet trailed a Cup race at the track, following Cody Ware’s vibration on June 11, 2017, when the car was sponsored by the Clemson Tigers.

40) #51-B.J. McLeod / 77 laps / engine
39) #72-Corey LaJoie / 95 laps / crash
38) #2-Brad Keselowski / 121 laps / crash / led 1 lap
37) #37-Chris Buescher / 123 laps / transmission
36) #66-Timmy Hill / 142 laps / running

1st) StarCom Racing, TriStar Motorsports (3)
2nd) Premium Motorsports (2)
3rd) BK Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Germain Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Penske Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (3)


XFINITY: Gremlins under the hood cut Josh Bilicki’s day short in Iowa

PHOTO: @joshibilicki
Josh Bilicki picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at the Iowa Speedway when his #45 Prevagen Toyota fell out with engine trouble after 2 of the race’s 257 laps.

The finish, which came in Bilicki’s 26th series start, was his second of the year, his first since Daytona, three races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it’s the 12th for car #45, the 119th for Toyota, and the 254th due to engine trouble. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 36th for the #45, the 298th for Toyota, and the 1,060th because of engine trouble.

Following his difficult night in Daytona, Bilicki finished 28th at Kentucky, then had ignition issues at Loudon, dropping him to 34th. In that time, his sponsorship from Prevagen spread to his JP Motorsports teammate in the #55. That car carried a blue scheme while Bilicki ran a white car. Bilicki and his new teammate, a returning Peter Shepherd III, would run these schemes at Iowa.

Bilicki didn’t run the opening practice session and ranked 33rd of 37 drivers in Happy Hour. He then tweeted that the team was running used tires for qualifying, which accounted for a modest lap of 123.042mph (25.601 seconds), the slowest completed circuit that afternoon. Bilicki then mentioned that the team discovered an engine issue in Round 1, a “high rpm misfire” that was either fuel or electrical related. As the rest of the field lined up for the race, the JP Motorsports crew was under the hood of the #45, trying to diagnose the problem.

Starting last Saturday was Dexter Bean, back on the circuit for the first time since last fall at Kentucky. Then, as on Saturday, Bean drove Mario Gosselin’s second car from DGM Racing, a car that hadn’t even been entered since last fall at Charlotte. Bean turned only two laps prior to qualifying, both in Happy Hour, and was slowest in that session. In qualifying, he outpaced four other cars – including Stephen Leicht, who didn’t make an attempt in Round 1 – but was still ranked last as the #92 had no previous attempts in 2018.

Bilicki joined Bean at the back of the field. The last-minute look under the hood by the JP team meant the #45 was the only driver penalized before the start. Unfortunately, the repairs didn’t take. After steadily losing ground on the start, dropping 18 seconds back of the lead and 7 behind the 39th-place car, Bilicki pulled behind the wall after just two laps, done for the day with engine woes.

Finishing 39th was Stephen Leicht, who late in the week was appointed to drive Jeff Green’s #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet when Green was moved to the #38. Leicht started 39th after not turning a qualifying lap and worked his way up to 33rd in the first 19 circuits, fending off the leaders to stay on the lead lap before the race’s first caution. The Lucky Dog for that yellow went to 38th-place finisher Morgan Shepherd, who qualified on time in 33rd and briefly put his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet on pole in the opening seconds of Round 1.

The 37th spot fell to Chad Finchum, whose composite bodied #40 MBM Motorsports Toyota caught fire on the backstretch during the yellow at the end of Stage 1. Brake issues were the officially-listed cause of his retirement. Bean rounded out the group, completing 73 laps in the Gosselin car before citing a vibration.

*This marked the first last-place finish for both Bilicki and the #45 in an XFINITY Series race at Iowa.
*Bilicki is the first XFINITY Series driver to finish last at Iowa because of engine trouble.

40) #45-Josh Bilicki / 2 laps / engine
39) #93-Stephen Leicht / 36 laps / electrical
38) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 46 laps / brakes
37) #40-Chad Finchum / 56 laps / brakes
36) #92-Dexter Bean / 73 laps / vibration

1st) RSS Racing (10)
2nd) JP Motorsports (2)
3rd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Fury Race Cars LLC, Jeremy Clements Racing, JGL Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (2)


TRUCKS: Pocono sees Bayley Currey’s first NASCAR last-place finish

PHOTO: @BayleyCurrey
Bayley Currey picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Gander Outdoors 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #63 G-Style Transportation / Cedar Peaks Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after he completed 3 of 60 laps.

The finish came in Currey’s 12th series start. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it’s the 21st for the #63, the 125th because of engine trouble, and the 357th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 38th for the #63, th 1,059th for engine trouble, and the 1,615th for Chevrolet.

Currey is, in a modern sense, a grassroots driver. According to Dustin Albino’s feature on Frontstretch.com, Currey is a college student who transferred from Texas State University (near his hometown of Driftwood, Texas) to the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where he’s continued pursuing his degree in mechanical engineering. The transfer also allowed him to find work at local race shops, helping out at Rick Ware Racing. Through networking among other small teams, Currey landed a Truck Series ride with Beaver Motorsports, and at Martinsville on October 28, finished under power in 25th. His next time out at Phoenix, Currey finished a strong 10th, the first-ever top-ten finish for Copp Motorsports.

Contrary to what I reported here at Loudon, Currey’s XFINITY Series debut did not come last week at Loudon. He took his first green flag in the series at his home track in Texas back in April, driving for B.J. McLeod. Once again, he impressed, rallying from 39th on the grid to finish 22nd, the seventh-best finish ever recorded by McLeod’s #8 team. It’s for this reason that, after Brandon Hightower unexpectedly left JP Motorsports in New Hampshire, Currey would climb behind the wheel of the #55 Toyota, where he again brought the car home in one piece, finishing 29th.

Currey’s part-time effort in the Truck Series has continued this year. Most of his starts have come with Copp Motorsports, with a handful of runs in Mike Mittler’s #63 Chevrolet. Pocono would mark Currey’s third start for Mittler’s team, and his first since a 30th-place showing at Kentucky earlier this month. The entry list indicated returning sponsorship from G-Style Transportation and Cedar Peaks, which backed Kyle Strickler’s strong run for Mittler at Eldora. In place of the white truck that Strickler ran on the dirt, the right-front heavily damaged in a wreck near the end of the race, Currey would drive a black truck with red accents. Photos of the truck by Sam Laughlin of “2018 Cautions” showed few sponsor decals except for a large Fr8Auctions.com logo on the rear “TV Panel.”

Of the 32 trucks entered, Currey ranked 26th of the 30 who practiced in the lone practice session, then held serve to time in 27th – the last truck to make it on speed – at an average of 157.577mph (57.115 seconds).

Starting last on the grid was championship contender Brett Moffitt, who didn’t turn a lap in qualifying following an engine change in practice, and incurred a redundant tail-end penalty One spot in front of Moffitt’s #16 Toyota Tsusho Toyota was another surprise, the fleet #18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota. Noah Gragson steered the #18 to the fastest lap in the opening practice, but wasn’t cleared to qualify or race after he suffered flu-like symptoms. In his place came Cup regular Erik Jones, who would drop from 31st on the grid to the tail end for the driver change.

Joining Moffitt and Jones at the back of the field were four other drivers. Both Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Driven2Honor Chevrolet and Austin Hill’s #02 Young’s Building Systems / Randco Chevrolet made unapproved adjustments. Hill had backed up a solid night in Eldora with a 9th-place starting spot, tied for the second-best of his career. Stewart Friesen’s #52 Halmar International / We Build America Chevrolet made an understandable tire change after a dramatic spin off Turn 2 in qualifying, somehow avoiding contact with either wall. Last of the group was Ben Rhodes, whose primary #41 The Carolina Nut Co. Ford backed into the wall in practice, forcing the team to roll out the backup.

Currey pulls into the garage at Pocono.
PHOTO: Sam Laughlin
Four of the final five positions filled during Stage 1. Currey pulled behind the wall one lap before J.J. Yeley, who gave Reaume Brothers Racing’s second truck, the #34 Steve King Foundation Chevrolet, its second-consecutive start. According to a report from the track by Sam Laughlin, Yeley overshot the entrance to the garage area, then backed up to pull back in.

The 30th spot fell to Reed Sorenson, back in Premium Motorsports’ unsponsored #15 Chevrolet. Sorenson made an early stop on Lap 1, then managed 16 more before his day was done. Sorenson and 29th-place Camden Murphy in the second Cobb truck, the #0, both pulled out during the yellow that ended Stage 1.

Rounding out the group was Timmy Hill, back in the Truck Series for the first time since Charlotte, who turned 23 laps in Joe Nemechek’s second truck, the #87 Toenjes Brick Contracting Chevrolet. Nemechek finished a strong 10th in his son’s #8.

Currey remained at the Pocono track through Sunday, where he helped out at the team that first hired him, Rick Ware Racing, and the driver he raced for in April, B.J. McLeod. Unfortunately, engine trouble left that car last as well.

*This marks the second last-place finish for the #63 truck at Pocono. The other occurred August 2, 2014, when Justin Jennings’ turn in the truck ended after 2 laps. While Jennings’ truck carried Mitter’s number, it was actually a second entry from Young’s Motorsports, and carried sponsorship from Randco and Young’s Building Systems. Saturday was thus the first time Mittler’s entry trailed this event.

32) #63-Bayley Currey / 3 laps / engine
31) #34-J.J. Yeley / 4 laps / suspension
30) #15-Reed Sorenson / 17 laps / electrical
29) #0-Camden Murphy / 17 laps / electrical
28) #87-Timmy Hill / 23 laps / vibration

1st) MB Motorsports (5)
2nd) Beaver Motorsports (3)
3rd) Copp Motorsports (2)
4th) Mike Harmon Racing, NEMCO Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, TJL Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)


Thursday, July 26, 2018

PREVIEW: A new team in XFINITY and some new Cup sponsors among Iowa and Pocono storylines

The new Tullman Walker Racing entry in XFINITY
PHOTO: @TeamMaxTullman
Saturday, July 28, 2018 (1:00 P.M. ET)
TRUCKS Race 14 of 23
Gander Outdoors 150 at Pocono
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Mike Senica

There are exactly 32 drivers entered for 32 spots in this weekend’s race, down from the 39 entrants at Eldora. Most of these missing teams and driver changes are due to the return of series regulars following the only dirt-track event of 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
There’s a game of musical chairs afoot between these three teams. Monster Jam competitor Camden Murphy rejoins the Cobb team’s second truck for his fifth start of 2018. He takes over for Ray Ciccarelli, who had a difficult night at Eldora, but now hops over to Beaver Motorsports’ #50 Chevrolet. In turn, Ciccarelli takes the place of Mike Harmon, who also missed the cut on the dirt track. Harmon is only entered in the XFINITY race at Iowa this week, so his #74 truck, driven last week by crewman Trevor Collins, falls to B.J. McLeod. McLeod eyes a triple-header this weekend, as he’s entered in all three NASCAR races at Pocono and Iowa.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Ryan Newman showed speed early at Eldora, but was eliminated from contention after he was caught up in one of the night’s many wrecks. Back at the shop, Jordan Anderson switches hats from crew chief back to driver, and loads up his white-and-blue #3 Chevrolet for Pocono.

RETURNING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
NEMCO returns to a two-truck operation this week, fielding the #87 Chevrolet for the tenth time this year and the first time since the truck failed to qualify at Kentucky. Timmy Hill takes the wheel of the #87 while Joe Nemechek takes over for his son in the #8. John Hunter Nemechek will instead be in Iowa, driving Chip Ganassi’s #42 Chevrolet.

MISSING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
MISSING: #17-DGR-Crosley
MISSING: #27-ThorSport Racing
MISSING: #38-Niece Motorsports
MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
MISSING: #80-Jacob Wallace Racing
MISSING: #97-JJL Motorsports
MISSING: #99-MDM Motorsports
Eight of the entered teams at Eldora aren’t entered this week, including the #27 ThorSport entry that Chase Briscoe took to victory lane, and the KBM #46 that was withdrawn prior to last Wednesday. Briscoe is also one of 17 drivers not entered in this week’s race, many of them last week’s “dirt ringers:” John Provenzano, Ryan Newman, Ty Dillon, J.R. Heffner, Tyler Dippel, Braden Mitchell, Jeffrey Abbey, Max McLaughlin, Logan Seavey, Chris Windom, Kyle Strickler, Trevor Collins, Justin Shipley, Nick Hoffman, R.J. Otto, Jr., and Sheldon Creed.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Among the swaps from dirt track to pavement racers, Reed Sorenson is entered in Jay Robinson’s #15 Chevrolet, taking the place of J.R. Heffner. Heffner raced his way into the Dirt Derby last week and finished 24th, overcoming a disappointing engine failure that forced a withdrawal in 2017.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #20-Young's Motorsports
Tanner Thorson once again drives the #20, which carries sponsorship from Maestro's Classic Beard Wash and Beard Butter. The company previously backed Darrell Wallace, Jr.'s series win at Michigan last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Braden Mitchell had a strong run in his heat race, but came out on the losing end of several tangles with John Hunter Nemechek, missing the cut. Team owner Josh Reaume returns to the controls of the #33 this week. The car will share the same sponsorship from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey team as Timmy Hill's Cup car (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Following Jeffrey Abbey racing his way into the Dirt Derby, the Reaume Brothers will bring two trucks to the track for the second-straight race. This time, it will be J.J. Yeley behind the wheel in a truck backed by the Steve King Foundation. Like B.J. McLeod, Yeley is entered in all three races this weekend, running for RSS Racing in XFINITY at Iowa and BK Racing in Cup at Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Logan Seavey was within striking distance of claiming last Wednesday’s victory, a strong outing in his series debut. Cup regular Kyle Busch, also nipped for victory last week, returns to the #51 for his fifth Truck Series start of the year.

Chris Windom earned a solid 14th-place run at Eldora, finishing right behind his DGR-Crosley teammate Tyler Dippel. This week, Bo LeMastus returns to the #54 team. LeMastus has three Pocono starts in the ARCA Racing Series with a best of 8th in 2015.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
After his unexpected XFINITY Series debut at New Hampshire for JP Motorsports, Bayley Currey takes over for Kyle Strickler in the #63. Strickler, making his Truck debut last week, was gunning for a strong finish when he was caught up in the final wreck, leaving him 31st. For Currey, sponsorship comes aboard from G-Style Transportation and Cedar Peaks on a black-and-red paint scheme.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Running an identical Mike Mittler truck under the D.J. Copp banner, Nick Hoffman impressed in his first Truck Series start in seven years, finishing 10th. This week, Todd Peck rejoins the Copp effort with returning sponsorship from Pulse Transport. It will be Peck’s third series start, following last-place finishes at Dover and Texas for Beaver Motorsports.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, July 28, 2018 (3:30 P.M. ET)
XFINITY Race 19 of 33
U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are exactly 40 drivers entered for 40 spots, but not the same teams we saw in New Hampshire.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
After the Dillon brothers traded off in last week’s race at Loudon, Shane Lee is back in the #3 Chevrolet for the first time since his season-best 6th at Daytona. Lee finished 16th at Iowa two races prior.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Ray Black, Jr. will drive the #8, taking the place of Angela Ruch, who ran 30th at Loudon. Black has four starts at Iowa, but just one finish better than 29th – a 20th in 2016. Tommy Joe Martins remains in the team’s flagship #78, following a 20th-place run at New Hampshire.

MISSING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
MBM scales back from three cars to two, and Timmy Hill is not entered in the XFINITY race, either. Hill will instead run both Trucks and Cup in Pocono. The #66 for the team falls to Stan Mullis, who drove the car at Iowa in June. Mullis takes the place of team owner Carl Long in what will be his third series start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Welcome back Kyle Benjamin, who we haven’t seen in the XFINITY Series since his 8th-place showing at Atlanta in February. Benjamin nearly won this race last year, coming up short of Ryan Preece by less than a tenth of a second. Unfortunately, there won’t be a repeat on Saturday – Preece isn’t entered this week, and Benjamin was assigned in his place. Benjamin will be running double-duty with the K&N Pro Series East, where he'll drive for Hattori Racing Enterprises.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Austin Cindric moves from the #60 team to the #22, taking the place of Cup regular Brad Keselowski in the LTi Printing Ford. In Cindric’s place on the #60 team is Eldora winner Chase Briscoe.

Since GMS Racing wasn’t sure when Spencer Gallagher was set to return from his suspension back in May, the team already contracted with a number of drivers to fill out the season. Following Johnny Sauter’s run last week, Casey Roderick makes his return to XFINITY Series competition for the first time since July 6, 2012, when he ran 27th at Daytona for Jason Sciavicco’s team SR2 Motorsports. More recently, Roderick has been running late models, and this past April took the checkers at the Nashville Fairgrounds, edging current Truck Series full-timer Stewart Friesen.

NEW TEAM: #26-Tullman Walker Racing
We last saw Max Tullman at Chicagoland, where he finished 23rd in the Truck Series race for Young’s Motorsports. On July 23, it was announced that Tullman would be making his XFINITY Series debut for a brand new team, Tullman Walker Racing. The team is owned in part by his father Steve Tullman as well as partners Jim and Neal Walker. Zoomi, Tullman’s sponsor at Chicagoland, will back the Iowa effort, along with Myota. Championship crew chief Doug Richert will sit atop the pit box. The car carries the #26, and in promotional shots appears to be using the same number font Jamie McMurray used at Roush-Fenway Racing prior from 2006-2009.

After originally being listed in the JP Motorsports #55 (see below), Stephen Leicht is instead entered in the #93 for RSS. Jeff Green moves from the #93 to his teammate's #38, taking the place of J.J. Yeley. Yeley will not make the trip to Iowa and instead runs double-duty in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #55-JP Motorsports
In a curious twist, Stephen Leicht is again entered as the driver for JP Motorsports’ #55 Toyota, a team he left after Dover in May. The reunion comes a week after Brandon Hightower, Leicht’s replacement, also parted ways before the Loudon race, causing Bayley Currey to be brought on as a last-minute replacement. With Currey in Pocono for the Truck Series race, Leicht is again the #55, which again carries the Prevagen sponsorship from teammate Josh Bilicki’s #45. UPDATE: By Thursday, Leicht was out of the #55 and headed to RSS Racing (see above). Peter Shepherd III will make his first XFINITY Series start after attempting his last series race at Memphis in 2006 for Roush-Fenway. Shepherd was one of seven drivers swapped out for Cup regulars prior to the race, his in place of Carl Edwards.

MISSING: #61-Fury Race Cars LLC
For the second time in three races, upstart Fury Race Cars isn’t entered this week, nor is driver Kaz Grala. However, with a 14th-place finish in Loudon and some more media attention from Jeff Gluck, this driver-team combo is remaining in the headlines.

Alongside Josh Williams in the #90, team owner Mario Gosselin has brought back his second team, the #92, to make it an even 40 cars on the entry list. Rejoining the effort is Dexter Bean, who has driven for DGM in the past.


Sunday, July 29, 2018
CUP Race 21 of 36
Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Aric Almirola

There are 40 drivers entered to fill the 40-car field on Sunday, the first time this has happened since Daytona, three races ago.

RETURNING: #7-Premium Motorsports
While a report on Tuesday showed that Jesse Little has no future Cup races planned after his debut at Kentucky, the #7 team has rejoined the circuit for the first time since that night. Reed Sorenson is the listed driver, following up on his Truck Series run for Premium on Saturday. Ross Chastain remains in the #15 despite the preliminary list showing Justin Marks in that car for the second-straight race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-BK Racing / NY Racing Team
As the bids continue to come in for BK Racing and its charter, J.J. Yeley returns to the #23, bringing with him his sponsorship from Steakhouse Elite. Blake Jones finished 33rd in his debut last week in Loudon.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Not only does this team and Timmy Hill return to action, but with several new sponsors on a bright orange Toyota. Brandished on the hood is the logo for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey team, plus associate backing on the sides from Wegmans, Service Electric, Ppl Center, Yocco’s Hot Dogs, Spectra, and Rich Mar Florists.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
On Wednesday, the Gaunt Brothers indicated they were making the trip north to Pocono, upping what would have been the 17th short field of 2018 to just the fourth 40-car showing all year. The driver is to be announced.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
A new backer has arrived for Landon Cassill in the form of Pennsylvania's Lock Haven University. The scheme was designed by Ryan Daley, who on Facebook said an old college professor of his had once dissuaded him from doing paint schemes.

Only once in NASCAR history has a driver fallen out of the race because his car “stalled.” While today’s cars are often able to be restarted like a glitch computer, this was not the case back on April 14, 1957, during a race at Pennsylvania’s other famous track, the Langhorne Speedway. That day, Oregon native Bill Amick qualified a strong 3rd in the #97, a Ford fielded by DePaolo Engineering. But the car never turned a lap, and was listed as “stalled” at the start. Fireball Roberts, Amick’s teammate, took the win, leading 99 of 150 laps. Amick would run just one Cup race a year after the 1957 season, his final start coming at Riverside’s season opener in 1965, where he ran 18th.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

K&N EAST: Vibration sidelines Dillon Bassett at Loudon

PHOTO: Eric Egnor
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Dillon Bassett picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career in Saturday evening’s United Site Services 70 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #44 Universal Technical Institute Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 51 of 70 laps.

The finish came in Bassett’s 44th career start, and was his first since the first South Boston Twin 100, five races ago.

Bassett is a member of arguably K&N East’s most old-school family, the Bassett clan. Brothers Dillon and Ronnie Jr. both race a full slate of K&N races under the tutelage of father Ronnie Sr. Each brother has one win in East competition, the younger Dillon winning in 2015 and the older Ronnie Jr. breaking through in 2017.

Much of this success wouldn't have happened if it weren’t for a generous benefactor - not a sponsor, but a fellow competitor. After a shop fire destroyed all the team’s equipment in 2016, fellow team owner David Calabrese, owner of Calabrese Motorsports, lent the brothers equipment. The Bassett brothers missed five races in the 2016 season but soldiered on, piecing together a full 2017 season. Dillon has shown promise in 2018 with a top-five at Langley and a runner-up finish last week at Thompson, but has also been towards the back of the field on occasion, getting caught up in a large crash at South Boston, forcing him to last in the first Twin 100.

The entry list showed a promising 21 cars, up from previous low car counts. Once again, Bill Hoff withdrew, leaving 20 cars to duke it out. Part-time efforts of Spencer Davis and Brandon McReynolds both showed up, as did three Bill McAnally Racing cars and an assortment of part-time teams and independents like a Jefferson Pitts Racing entry driven by JR Motorsports late model driver Sam Mayer, one-time Truck competitor Trey Hutchens, and Reid Lanpher, making his series debut in a new #59 entry.

Both practice sessions found Mexican driver Abraham Calderon in last, about 1.6 seconds behind leaders Brandon McReynolds in Practice 1 and Tyler Ankrum in Practice 2. Calderon also laid town the slowest lap of the time trial session to set the field but he did not start there. Hailie Deegan and Ronnie Bassett Jr. were listed last and next-to-last because their qualifying times were disallowed after failing post-qualifying technical inspection. Lanpher and Cole Rouse also went to the back for unapproved adjustments, pushing Calderon up to 15th on the grid.

Live timing wasn’t immediately available due to the previously-run NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event. When live timing was available, Calderon was once again last, running 26 seconds behind the leader on Lap 29. He was the first to lose a lap a bit later. Enter Dillon Bassett into the last-place battle. A seemingly routine unscheduled stop turned into a terminal vibration problem, and the car retired 19 laps from the finish.

Bassett wound up being the only retiree from the race. Calderon, a former NASACR Peak Mexico champion, finished 19th. He later was quoted by the Mexico Series (translated from Spanish) saying that the weekend was frustrating due to a lack of speed in the car and also compounded with chassis issues contributing to the troubles. Trey Hutchens, back running part-time for a sixth year, finished eighteenth. Sam Mayer and Hailie Deegan both struggled to live up to the hype surrounding their entries and rounded out the Bottom Five, both one lap down.

20) #44-Dillon Bassett / 51 laps / vibration
19) #55-Abraham Calderon / 69 laps / running
18) #14-Trey Hutchens / 69 laps / running
17) #27-Sam Mayer / 69 laps / running
16) #19-Hailie Deegan / 69 laps / running

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Toyota (4)

1st) Hunt-Sellers Racing, Ronnie Bassett Sr. (2)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing, Chuck Buchanan Jr., Carroll Motorsports, Danny Watts Racing, Ace Motorsports (1)


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#JD70: New Book Signing in Watkins Glen, New York

Click here to download the flyer

Get knocked down twice. Stand up three times.

After last month’s setback, we have a new book signing for the upcoming NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen International. It will not be at the track, but will be in Watkins Glen itself, on that weekend, and at a location significant to the track’s history.

The signing will be held Saturday, August 4 from 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. at historic Smalley’s Garage in Watkins Glen, New York. Located at 204 South Franklin Street, Smalley’s once served as the technical inspection facility for the original road course from 1948 through 1952. It stands today in remembrance of America’s first post-World War II road course race, known locally as “The Day They Stopped The Trains.”

I will be there to sell and sign copies for $20 apiece, and I will not be there alone. Joining me that night will be J.D.’s daughter Linda McDuffie, who will be making the trip to the site of her father’s last race for the very first time. Linda will also be selling J.D. t-shirts and lanyards. She will also be at the track that weekend, and will have more information about that on her Facebook page here.

Also joining me will be photographer Charlie Berch, who took some of the most iconic shots of McDuffie, and was in Turn 5 at the time of the accident. Charlie not only locked us down this signing, but has graciously opened his home to myself, my brother, as well as Linda and her spouse Wendy. Both Linda and Charlie were among the more than 30 people interviewed in “J.D.”

So, if you’re in the area for the Go Bowling at the Glen weekend, be sure to stop by to see the three of us:

Saturday, August 4th
6:00 to 9:00 P.M.
Smalley’s Garage
204 South Franklin Street
Watkins Glen, New York
(across the street from Burger King)

As for the NASCAR weekend itself, I will be in attendance for the Go Bowling at the Glen weekend, but unfortunately I will not have media access for LASTCAR.info. Despite my best efforts, and despite our successful coverage at both Sonoma and Darlington, I was told that LASTCAR.info is not “an accredited media publication.” While I am extremely disappointed that they saw things that way, I respect their decision.

Instead, similar to this past March in Fontana, I will be providing the best coverage I can from the stands, specifically The Ninety in Turn 1. Expect LASTCAR.info reports on both Saturday’s XFINITY race and Sunday’s Cup event, as well as several updates on Twitter through @LASTCARonBROCK.

On top of all this, I will also be making a trip north of the border to Ontario to meet with motorsports artist Rob Taylor, who we featured in 2013. Taylor has shared our passion for NASCAR history in his art, and has done several drawings of stars past and present, including McDuffie.

As always, thank you for your support, and if you’d like to order a copy of “J.D.” from me, the full details can be found here. You’re also welcome to bring your copy to Smalley’s in Watkins Glen; I’d be happy to sign it for you.

And so, one year after #LASTCARlington, your last-place headquarters heads to upstate New York for the #SteamedHamsTour2018!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

CUP: Two cars, two accidents in the same turn mark Landon Cassill’s difficult New Hampshire weekend

PHOTO: Mike Douton, @mikedouton
Landon Cassill picked up the 12th last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet was involved in a single-car accident after 13 of 301 laps.

The finish, which came in 272nd series start, was his second of the season, his first since Martinsville, 13 races ago. In the Cup Series last-place standings, it’s the 25th for the #00, the 569th because of a crash, and the 750th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 38th for the #00, the 1,154th because of a crash, and the 1,614th for Chevrolet.

As team owner Derrike Cope reported in Sonoma, the popular Cassill has been instrumental in StarCom Racing’s first full Cup Series season. Cassill’s last-place run at Martinsville was his season debut with the team after losing his ride at Front Row Motorsports, and his two best runs came in the next two rounds: a 21st at Texas and a 20th at Bristol. Since then, Cassill has run every Cup race except Sonoma, where Tomy Drissi took the controls of the #00 Chevrolet, and had finished under power each time. At Daytona earlier this month, Cassill got StarCom’s second car into the race and overcame early electrical issues to finish 24th, a season-best for the #99 team.

Sunday’s race at New Hampshire marked the third-straight race where StarCom fielded both of its cars. While Cassill remained in the #00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, the inverted version of the gold-and-black scheme on the #99 saw Kyle Weatherman climb behind the wheel for the first time since Chicagoland. On Friday, Cassill outpaced Weatherman in the opening practice – 33rd to his teammate’s 36th – then timed in 34th in qualifying with a lap of 129.134mph (29.495 seconds), one spot ahead of the #99.

Cassill's primary car was wrecked in this incident Saturday
PHOTO: NBCSN, capture by CrashRacing
Although Cassill prevailed again in Saturday’s Happy Hour, ranking 34th ahead of Weatherman’s 36th, his session was cut short with a hard crash. On the same day that saw Michael McDowell slam the outside wall in Turn 3, Cassill’s #00 hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4. The car hopped up and down on the right-front before it finally came unglued from the fence, and the driver made his way to the apron. According to radio communications, Cassill had been trying to dial more front brake into the car when he lost control and backed into the outside wall, then struck the fence with the right-front.

The accident forced the StarCom team to roll out a backup, a flat black Chevrolet with hardly any decals. By race day, the car wasn’t wrapped in the team’s gold-and-black scheme, but had a small StarCom logo on the rear TV panel, roof numbers, and white door numbers italicized in opposing directions. His car, as well as McDowell’s backup car, would be sent to the back of the field prior to the start. Joining them were Ross Chastain, who voluntarily surrendered the 32nd starting spot in Premium Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet, and Ty Dillon, sent to the back after an unscheduled stop before the start to have a crewman reach in and retrieve his water bottle rolling around the inside of the car.

All these drivers fell behind last-place starter Blake Jones, the part-time XFINITY Series driver for B.J. McLeod Motorsports who was making his Cup debut. Jones qualified 37th in BK Racing’s #23 Toyota with sponsorship from Tennessee Shine Company and KBM Commercial Properties. Jones’ debut came amid new reports of the BK team’s potential new buyer, reports including a new start-up effort by former crew chief Mike Beam, a bid placed by GMS Racing, and even news that enigmatic XFINITY operation Obaika Racing had purchased some of BK’s Toyotas.

When the race began, Ty Dillon was running near the back with Cassill holding down the 37th spot. As Dillon made a move to the inside of Turn 1, making quick work of the cars in front of him, Cassill saw Jones’ #23 come into view in front of him. On Lap 2, Cassill worked to the high side of Jones in Turn 3 and made the pass, dropping the #23 to last. From there, Jones settled into a rhythm, all the while losing ground to the leaders. By Lap 13, he was 22.4 seconds back, entering Turn 3 as the leaders were coming off Turn 2. The next time by, Jones’ spotter came over the radio warning him to watch for a car in trouble ahead of him.

That driver was Cassill, who Jones was trying to catch for 36th. Once again, Cassill lost control in Turn 3 with heavy damage already to the right side of his #00 Chevrolet. The wreck drew the first caution of the afternoon, during which time he pulled down pit road and into the garage. Under NASCAR’s “Crash Clock” protocol, this ended his afternoon. He was joined shortly after the restart by A.J. Allmendinger, who cut down a left-rear tire racing Ryan Newman and backed into the wall at the same spot.

Finishing 35th was Clint Bowyer, who was running in the Top 5 in the final laps of the race before a disastrous combination of brake issues, a pit road penalty, and ultimately a suspension failure that sent him into the wall ended his day. 34th fell to Blake Jones’ XFINITY team owner B.J. McLeod, who on Lap 204 and on Lap 210 returned to action from extended trips to the garage area. In the end, McLeod’s latest ride in Rick Ware’s #51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet ended with him 34 laps behind. Rounding out the group was Jones himself, 12 laps down.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #00 in a Cup Series race at New Hampshire since July 17, 2005, when Carl Long’s #00 Buyer’s Choice Auto Warranties Chevrolet, fielded by Raynard McGlynn, fell out with brake woes after 8 laps of the New England 300.
*This was Cassill’s first Cup Series last-place run at New Hampshire.

37) #00-Landon Cassill / 13 laps / crash
36) #47-A.J. Allmendinger / 19 laps / crash
35) #14-Clint Bowyer / 255 laps / crash
34) #51-B.J. McLeod / 267 laps / running
33) #23-Blake Jones / 289 laps / running

1st) StarCom Racing, TriStar Motorsports (3)
2nd) Premium Motorsports (2)
3rd) BK Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Germain Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Penske Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (3)


XFINITY: Jeff Green scores fourth New Hampshire last-place finish

PHOTO: @hrm8ter
Jeff Green picked up the 111th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with brake woes after 22 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Green’s 498th series start, was his ninth of the season and his second in a row. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it’s the 37th for car #93, the 54th due to brake trouble, and the 508th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it’s the 87th for the #93, the 153rd for brake trouble, and the 1,613th for Chevrolet.

Once again driving RSS Racing’s third Chevrolet, Green began the weekend 25th in the opening practice despite running the second-fewest circuits of anyone – two – and seven other drivers not making it out at all. Curiously, Green was also the only driver to not turn a lap in Happy Hour. In qualifying, he settled in at 31st on the grid with a lap of 124.053mph (30.703 seconds). With exactly 40 drivers for as many spots, no cars missed the show, though at the Richard Childress Racing stable, Austin Dillon stepped in for his brother Ty before the opening practice. Another surprising driver change came at JP Motorsports, which tabbed Truck Series part-timer Bayley Currey to step in for Brandon Hightower in the #55 Prevagen Toyota. Currey finished 29th in his first XFINITY Series start.

Starting 40th in Saturday’s race Angela Ruch, one of Derrike Cope’s nieces, who was making her first XFINITY Series start since last fall at Texas. Then, as on Saturday, Ruch carried logos for her “Give A Child A Voice” campaign, this time on B.J. McLeod’s #8 Chevrolet. Joining her in the back were Ryan Reed for unapproved adjustments on the #16 Drive Down A1C / Lilly Diabetes Ford, and B.J. McLeod himself and polesitter Brad Keselowski, who both missed the driver’s meeting.

During the race’s first stage, Green turned 22 laps, his most on a non-restrictor-plate track since Iowa, where driveshaft issues stopped him past the halfway point. Nevertheless, he remained in the 40th and final spot at the finish, ten laps behind 39th-place Morgan Shepherd in the #89 Visone RV Chevrolet. The next two spots fell to Motorsports Business Management teammates Timmy Hill in the #13 OCR Gaz Bar Toyota and Carl Long in the #66 TLC Resorts Chevrolet.

The Bottom Five wasn’t locked-up until past the halfway point, following brake troubles for Green’s RSS teammate J.J. Yeley in the #38 Chevrolet. One of the cars who dropped him there was Canadian driver Donald Theetge, making his series debut for Mario Gosselin’s DGM Racing. Driving the #90 Mercedes-Benz St-Nicolas / Circuit Acura Chevrolet, Theetge was 19 laps down by Lap 58, but climbed from 38th to finish 33rd, under power, 28 laps behind.

*While this was Green’s fourth last-place finish in an XFINITY Series race at New Hampshire, it’s the first for the #93.

40) #93-Jeff Green / 22 laps / brakes
39) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 32 laps / brakes
38) #13-Timmy Hill / 57 laps / vibration
37) #66-Carl Long / 62 laps / brakes
36) #38-J.J. Yeley / 113 laps / brakes

1st) RSS Racing (10)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Fury Race Cars LLC, Jeremy Clements Racing, JGL Racing, JP Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (1)


Friday, July 20, 2018

#JD70: How To Get Your Copy of "J.D.," And How To Get It Signed


Available in paperback, digital Kindle edition, and Audible.com audiobook.


Mail your copy along with a stamped and addressed return 8" x 11.5" envelope to:
Brock Beard
P.O. Box 1599
Sutter Creek, California 95685

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

TRUCKS: Norm Benning’s strong night in Eldora ends just short of the finish

Richard Allen, InsideDirtRacing.com (@RichardAllenIDR)
Norm Benning picked up the 12th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Wednesday’s Eldora Dirt Derby at the Eldora Speedway when his #6 Zomongo / H&H Transport Chevrolet was collected in a multi-truck accident after 144 of 153 laps.

The finish, which came in Benning’s 197th series start, was his first since October 14, 2017 at Talladega, 17 races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 11th for the #6, the 144th because of a crash, and the 356th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 58th for the #6, the 1,153rd for a crash, and the 1,612th for Chevrolet.

Benning has become synonymous with the Eldora track. Earlier on the day of the race, he was photographed next to his bright red #57 Chevrolet, a truck that in 2013 became famous for a no-holds-barred battle with Clay Greenfield for the final transfer spot in the Dirt Derby’s inaugural Last Chance Qualifier. That day, Benning reminded everyone of his prowess on the dirt tracks, where he’d also been fielding ARCA Racing Series entries on the dirt of DuQuoin, Springfield, and Mineral Wells since 1997.

Coming into this year’s Eldora race, Benning looked to improve on his track-best finish of 13th in last year’s Derby. After some difficulty qualifying for races the last two seasons, he’s made every race in 2018 with a season-best 14th in the Daytona opener. But seven DNFs, including three times being flagged off the track or parked for his speed, placed him just 21st in the point standings.

Benning began his weekend 30th in Tuesday’s opening practice session and matched that rank in Happy Hour. He picked up some in qualifying, ranking 28th with a lap of 83.149 mph (21.648 seconds), lining him up 6th in the field of 8 for Heat Race 3. Much like in the LCQ in 2013, Benning stole the show, speeding past the fleet KBM truck of Noah Gragson after Gragson slipped up the track in Turn 2. The FS1 crew remarked at how stable Benning’s truck looked, and the veteran snagged the 4th spot, locking himself into the main. He’d line up 18th in the field of 32. Track owner Tony Stewart was the first to congratulate Benning in the paddock, and Kenny Wallace interviewed him for FS1.

As it turned out, the other four heat races also saw underdogs prevail over fully-funded efforts. In Heat Race 1, contact between John Hunter Nemechek and Braden Mitchell opened the door for Austin Hill, who joined his other two Young’s Motorsports teammates Ty Dillon and Tanner Thorson in the main event. Heat Race 2 saw Max McLaughlin get Al Niece’s second truck into the show, beating Dillon to the line for 4th. Heat Race 4’s star was Nick Hoffman, whose run in D.J. Copp’s #83 Chevrolet saw him run fast laps in the very upper lane for a 3rd-place finish. And in Race 5, after his teammate Mitchell’s #33 was sent to the LCQ, Jeffrey Abbey got the Reaume Brothers’ new second truck into the main event, building a two-second cushion and taking the final transfer spot in the #34 Chevrolet.

With 39 drivers entered, seven missed the show, and they happened to finish in the final seven spots in the Last Chance Qualifier:

First among them was John Provenzano, who was looking to make his first start in a national touring series since 1997, since he ran an ARCA Racing Series event at Salem. Driving Mike Affarano’s #03 Calumet City Auto Parts / Stop Bullying Chevrolet, Provenzano was the first to pull off the track after 4 laps of Heat Race 5. The problem proved terminal, as the driver didn’t start the LCQ.

Slowest in qualifying, Mike Harmon missed out in a battered #50 Motorsport Safety Group Chevrolet for Beaver Motorsports, as did his crewman Trevor Collins, who attempted to make his debut in Harmon’s #74 Solid Rock / Southern National Chevrolet. So did Jennifer Jo Cobb and her teammate Ray Ciccarelli, whose identical black Driven2Honor Chevrolets nearly missed the race when their hauler broke down. Ciccarelli had a particularly difficult time, spinning out several times in both his heat and the qualifier.

The aforementioned Braden “Big Papa” Mitchell banged fenders with John Hunter Nemechek in Heat Race 1, spinning out twice in the process in the Reaume Brothers’ #33 Sparks Energy, Inc. Chevrolet. He was about to transfer in on the final lap of the heat before he and Nemechek collided once more, sending both into the LCQ. Nemechek won that round while Mitchell spun out and finished 8th.

Fellow “dirt ringer” R.J. Otto, Jr. had the biggest heartbreaker of all. After starting alongside Nemechek in the LCQ in JJL Motorsports’ tribute to Red Farmer, Otto was holding fast to the second spot until the final laps, when he slid out of a transfer spot into 3rd. Otto was still digging when he slammed the wall in Turn 2, then spun down the backstretch with two laps to go. He parked the #97 S&S Express Ford after that, ending his night.

With the field for the 150-lap main set, starting last was Dalton Sargeant, one of several full-time drivers who found themselves having to scrounge for positions in the Last Chance Qualifier. He came into the race 11th in points, 98 markers behind the bubble. Joining him at the back was Wendell Chavous, sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments on the #49 Sobriety Nation Chevrolet.

At the end of the first lap, Noah Gragson fell to the rear in the #18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota, apparently struggling with damage suffered in his Turn 2 hit during his heat race. Gragson fell more than 8 seconds back before he reeled in Jeffrey Abbey on Lap 5. Abbey’s #34 was still trailing on Lap 10 when Johnny Sauter spun his #21 Allegiant Chevrolet in Turn 2 and stalled, losing a lap as he tried to get rolling again.

On Lap 21, Justin Fontaine was running 31st in his #45 ProMatic Automation / Superior Essex Chevrolet when he spun and slammed the Turn 3 wall with the driver’s side. The caution allowed Sauter to get the Lucky Dog, and Fontaine managed to narrowly stay on the lead lap. Fontaine took last place from Sauter under the ensuing yellow on Lap 25.

Three circuits later on Lap 28, the spot fell to Cody Coughlin, whose #2 Coughlin Chevrolet-backed Chevrolet spun in a chain reaction started after a four-wide battle for the lead caused Stewart Friesen to be bumped into a spin by Chris Windom exiting Turn 4. Like Sauter before him, Coughlin lost a lap as a result, and was still running last at the end of Stage 1. Fontaine re-took the last spot on Lap 42.

On Lap 46, another frontrunner had a sudden misfortune. Race leader Ben Rhodes claimed the pole and led 44 of the first 45 laps, taking Stage 1 in the process. On Lap 46, something broke entering Turn 1 and the #41 The Carolina Nut Co. Ford slammed into the wall with the right-front.

Then, on the 54th lap, the battle for 4th went sideways when Tyler Dippel’s #17 Hue Jackson Foundation / Caruso Logistics Ford crossed the nose of Matt Crafton’s #88 Menards / Ideal Door Ford, sending both trucks sliding up the track. Trapped with nowhere else to go was Ryan Newman, driving in place of team owner Jordan Anderson in the #3 Ryan Newman VR Experience / MotoShield Pro Chevrolet. Newman ran into the back of Crafton, damaging the right-front of the #3 and knocking out FS1’s onboard camera. Newman lost a total of four laps as the crew worked on the right-front, and he returned returned to action for the Lap 61 restart.

Newman remained last through the rest of Stage 2 and for most of Stage 3, even as several other altercations bent fenders and stirred tempers. With 12 laps to go in the race, Coughlin spun and stalled once again, dropping him to 31st, but just one lap short of taking the spot from Newman. By then, Rhodes’ night had also deteriorated as he spun, but didn’t draw a caution, putting him on the same lap as Coughlin.

Benning didn’t enter the last-place picture until just three laps to go, when trouble broke out on the backstretch. Contact between Dalton Sargeant and J.R. Heffner caused a chain reaction. Benning spun and was apparently struck by the closing #63 G-Style Transportation / Cedar Peaks Chevrolet of Kyle Strickler. The contact sheared the door from Benning’s truck and destroyed the right-front suspension on the Strickler machine. Both trucks made it to pit road, but were done for the night. Benning, classified one lap behind Strickler, fell down the rankings first, and took the spot on Lap 149 as the field prepared for a green-white-checkered finish. Strickler, Newman, Rhodes, and Coughlin rounded out the Bottom Five, their first bottom-five runs of 2018.

The race was won by Chase Briscoe, who impressed in his first Truck Series start since he won last fall’s Homestead finale, his last ride in ThorSport’s #27 machine. Joining him in the Top 10 was 10th-place Nick Hoffman, who fell outside the Top 20 early in the event, then clawed his way back up the rankings. It was team owner D.J. Copp’s only second top-ten finish, matching the team’s best of 10th by Bayley Currey last fall at Phoenix. Max McLaughlin came just two spots short of a Top 10 of his own, finishing 12th – the third-best finish by Niece Motorsports.

*This marked the first time the #6 finished last in a dirt track NASCAR race since July 17, 1962, when Rock Harn’s 1960 Ford crashed after 2 laps at the Augusta (Georgia) Speedway – almost 56 years to the day.
*The 144 laps Benning completed stands as the fourth-most by a last-place finisher in Truck Series history, and the most by any Truck Series last-placer since May 24, 2008, when Tim Cowen’s #42 Cowen Truck Lines Ford overheated after 140 laps of the Ohio 250 at Mansfield. The record belongs with Ken Butler, who at Mansfield the year before on May 26, 2007 ran 167 of 250 laps before the engine let go on his #00 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Toyota in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ohio 250.
*Benning is the first last-place finisher of this event to have not also earned the first last-place finish of his Truck Series career.

32) #6-Norm Benning / 144 laps / crash
31) #63-Kyle Strickler / 145 laps / crash
30) #3-Ryan Newman / 149 laps / running
29) #41-Ben Rhodes / 150 laps / running
28) #2-Cody Coughlin / 150 laps / running

1st) MB Motorsports (4)
2nd) Beaver Motorsports (3)
3rd) Copp Motorsports (2)
4th) Mike Harmon Racing, NEMCO Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, TJL Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)


PREVIEW: A stacked field of dirt track ringers in Eldora followed by two series debuts in Loudon

PHOTO: @jrheffnerracing
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Eldora Dirt Derby 150 at Eldora
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Caleb Holman

There were originally 40 trucks entered for this season’s annual dirt track round. But by the time the preliminary list was posted, Kyle Busch Motorsports withdrew the #46 without selecting a driver, leaving 39 trucks for the grid of 32. Seven drivers will not transfer into the main event.

DRIVER CHANGE: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Ray Ciccarelli returns to action this week, making his second attempt of the season following a DNQ at Dover for TJL Racing. He takes the place of Camden Murphy, next-to-last in Kentucky, and brings with him sponsorship from Stealth Belt.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
As announced on July 12, Ryan Newman will drive in place of Jordan Anderson with sponsorship from the VRX Ryan Newman VR Experience, MotoShield Pro, and Newman’s Rescue Ranch foundation. It will be Newman’s first start in the event since the 2013 inaugural, when he finished 3rd for Turner Motorsports.

RETURNING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
The third Young’s Motorsports entry returns for a second time this year, the first since Iowa in June when Reid Wilson finished 28th. This time around, Cup regular Ty Dillon takes the wheel. Ty’s brother Austin won the first running of this race in 2013.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
J.R. Heffner’s long wait is over. After a blown engine during qualifying for the 2017 race forced he and the Martins Motorsports team to withdraw, J.R. Heffner is back, looking to make the main for a third time. He again runs sponsorship from A. Colarusso with new associate Upstate Utilities, though this time on the quarter-panels of Jay Robinson’s #15 Chevrolet. He takes the place of Robby Lyons, who ran 22nd in his series return at Kentucky.

Tyler Dippel won his second and most recent K&N Pro Series East race at the Langley Speedway this past April. Currently second in the standings, just 22 markers behind Tyler Ankrum, Dippel and team owner David Gilliland turn their attention to Eldora. Dippel eyes his Truck Series debut as he drives in place of Chris Eggleston. He brings with him sponsorship from the Hue Jackson Foundation and Caruso Logistics.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Nevada’s Tanner Thorson prepares to make his third Truck Series start of the year and first since a 13th at Iowa. He takes the place of Tate Fogleman, 28th after suspension issues at Kentucky. It will be Thorson’s first attempt at this race.

RETURNING: #27-ThorSport Racing
Before he heads north to the XFINITY race in New Hampshire, Chase Briscoe will return to the site of his 3rd-place finish at Eldora last year for Brad Keselowski Racing. He drives ThorSport’s #27 truck, a ride we haven’t seen since the entry was scrubbed at the end of last season. Ben Rhodes, who ran the #27 last year and now campaigns ThorSport’s #41, had his worst finish of last season in this race, finishing 30th after a crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Ever since he was 13, Alabama’s Braden Mitchell has been running dirt late models. Currently runner-up in the standings at the North Alabama Speedway, Mitchell makes his NASCAR debut in Josh Reaume’s #33 Chevrolet. He carries sponsorship from Sparks Energy, Inc., a brand more closely identified with Joey Gase in Cup and XFINITY.

NEW TEAM: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
In addition to Mitchell’s debut, the Reaume Brothers expand to two trucks for the first time in 2018. Driving the second truck, the #34, is Jeffrey Abbey, 14th here last year for Niece Motorsports. Abbey eyes his first series start since last fall at Martinsville, where he ran 22nd, one lap down.

RETURNING: #38-Niece Motorsports
The Niece team also expands to two trucks for the first time since last fall at Las Vegas. Driving the #38 this time is “Mad” Max McLaughlin. The son of veteran XFINITY racer “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin, Max has followed his father’s path through the dirt tracks, starting in UMP Modifieds and now running Super DIRT Car Big Block Modifieds. Al Niece’s full-time driver Justin Fontaine remains in the team’s primary truck, the #45.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
RETURNING: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon takes the place of Timmy Hill, who DNQ’d at Kentucky, in the #50 Motorsport Safety Group Chevrolet. He climbs from the seat of his #74, not entered last week in Kentucky, to make way for a member of his crew, dirt racer Trevor Collins. Collins, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, runs a slightly different look on the Harmon truck with italicized dirt track-style numbers on the doors.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Like Jeff Gordon before him, Logan Norman Seavey moved from California to Indiana, and has been electric in USAC midgets. With sponsorship from Mobil 1, Seavey trades his traditional #67 for the fleet KBM #51, taking the place of Brandon Jones. Seavey’s ride was announced by current XFINITY Series driver Christopher Bell, Eldora’s defending winner, on July 11.

Joining Tyler Dippel on the Gilliland team is Chris Windom, who we last saw attempt a number of races with Mike Mittler’s MB Motorsports. He finished 19th in his series debut in this race last year. This time around, Windom and his Baldwin Brothers sponsorship move to the #54, taking the place of Bo LeMastus.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
After three heartbreaking near-misses at victory lane, Bobby Pierce is not entered in this year’s Dirt Derby. Taking his place in Mike Mittler’s #63 Chevrolet is “The High Side Tickler,” two-time Supernational Champion and Renegades of Dirt National Champion Kyle Strickler. This week, he trades in his black-and-gold #8 dirt modified for what could be another strong bid at getting Mittler’s team into victory lane.

RETURNING: #80-Jacob Wallace Racing
For the third-straight year, Justin Shipley and the Wallace team’s #80 Ford return to Eldora with sponsorship from Roger’s. Shipley made the last two runnings of this race, but has yet to come home under power. He finished 31st with overheating issues in 2016, then 25th after engine woes last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Welcome back Nick Hoffman, who is set to make his first attempt at a Truck Series race since June 4, 2011, when he ran 25th for MB Motorsports at Kansas. This time around, he drives for Mittler’s sister team owned by D.J. Copp, taking the place of Tyler Matthews. And he’ll do it on dirt, where in his absence he’s cut his share of laps in dirt modifieds, driving the blue Elite Chassis #2.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Dirt track racing is just as much a throwback as the Darlington Raceway, and the #97 will pay homage to a legend of both. The blue Ford will this week be decorated white with gold stripes, resembling the machines piloted by ageless Red Farmer. Behind the wheel is R.J. Otto, Jr., another driver from the UMP Modifieds. The truck carries sponsorship from S&S Express.

RETURNING: #99-MDM Motorsports
Sliding in under the radar is MDM Motorsports, a team we’ve seen only once this season, finishing 21st at Martinsville with Tyler Matthews. Driving the #99 this week is Sheldon Creed, a two-time starter of this race with a best finish of 16th two years ago for SS-Green Light Racing. The Miller team finished 12th in this race last year with Ty Dillon, who this year runs for Young’s Motorsports (see above).

RETURNING: #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports
After an earlier withdrawal, the Affarano team returns to the circuit at a track where they finished last in 2014. Driving the truck, sponsored by Calumet City Auto Parts and a Stop Bullying initiative, is Illinois driver John Provenzano. If he qualifies, it will be not only the driver’s NASCAR debut, but his first in a national touring series since April 20, 1997, when he finished 28th out of 31 starters in an ARCA Racing Series round in Salem.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Ryan Newman, #12-Ty Dillon

Saturday, July 21, 2018
XFINITY Race 18 of 33
Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire
2017 Last-Place Finisher: John Jackson

Despite reports of a possible short field this weekend, exactly 40 cars are entered in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Angela Ruch is set for her first XFINITY start of the season, taking the place of Ray Black, Jr. in the second McLeod machine. It will be Ruch’s first series start at Loudon since 2011, when she finished a series-best 25th for TriStar Motorsports.

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
The Penske / Roush game of musical chairs continues in Loudon, where the #12 isn’t entered, and driver Austin Cindric dusts himself off from Eldora to take Ty Majeski’s place in the #60 Pirtek Ford. It will be Cindric’s first series start at this track, following an 8th in the Truck Series last year.

RETURNING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
One of the teams keeping the field at 40 cars is MBM, which brings the #13 back to the track for the first time since Chicago. While Timmy Hill was the listed driver the previous three times this car has run in 2018, Carl Long is the entered driver of this OCR Gaz Bar Toyota. Hill remains in the #66, which the list shows as a Chevrolet in place of last week’s Dodge.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Ryan Preece had a short night in Daytona, and will look for a rebound on the “Magic Mile” as Kyle Busch steps out of the #18 Toyota. Out of his four previous Loudon starts in this series, his best finish by far came last year, where he ran runner-up to Busch. With Busch not entered, Preece must certainly be considered a favorite – if he can dispense with two other Cup invaders.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
Brad Keselowski has won both of the only XFINITY races he’s run this year, taking the checkers at Phoenix and Charlotte. This week, he returns in place of Paul Menard to compete in Loudon, a track where he’s won twice in XFINITY (and never finished worse than 10th in all 9 of his previous series starts at the track), and won in Cup in 2014.

DRIVER CHANGE (?): #23-GMS Racing
After Spencer Gallagher’s return to action last week yielded a 20th-place finish, the preliminary entry list showed Johnny Sauter driving the #23 this week. Sauter has five previous starts in this series at Loudon, but none since 2006, when he finished 6th for HAAS-CNC Racing, three years before Tony Stewart acquired the Gene Haas-owned team.

RETURNING: #61-Fury Race Cars, LLC
As Kaz Grala indicated, the Fury team has landed sponsorship from both the IT Coalition and 15-40.org, allowing the #61 team to return from their one-week hiatus. With the pressure of a championship bid effectively off, Grala and team look to keep their momentum going in driver and team’s first XFINITY start at the track. Grala has performed well in the Truck Series here, running 7th two years ago and 10th last year, both for GMS Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins, who was swapped out Blake Jones at Kentucky, returns this week to make his 12th start of the season. He finished 29th in his series debut at this track last year, and again drives B.J. McLeod’s #78 Chevrolet. Jones, meanwhile, will make his Cup debut for BK Racing and the NY Racing Team (see below).

Making his XFINITY Series debut this week is 51-year-old Donald Theetge of Canada, who enters this race 8th in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series standings. Taking the place of Josh Williams, who moves over into a crew chief role this week, Theetge drives for fellow Canadian Mario Gosselin in a #90 Chevrolet sponsored by two dealerships: Mercedes-Benz St-Nicolas and Circuit Acura. Theetge has also been active in ACT Late Models for 12 years, winning back-to-back races at the Circuit Riverside Speedway in Quebec in 2006 and 2007.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Ty Dillon, #22-Brad Keselowski

Saturday, July 22, 2018
CUP Race 20 of 36
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Erik Jones

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots. It’s the second-straight short field and the 16th out of 20 races in 2018.

MISSING: #7-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Perhaps due to their two-truck effort at Eldora, Premium Motorsports scales back from two entries to just one for the first time since Sonoma. As on the road course, the driver of the #15 will be Justin Marks, who takes the place of Ross Chastain. The team staying in the shop is the #7 Chevrolet, which was driven last Saturday by Jesse Little in his series debut, finishing 35th with all four fenders straight. UPDATE: Chastain is in the #15, not Marks.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-BK Racing / NY Racing Team
Making his own Cup debut is Blake Jones, who moves over from B.J. McLeod’s XFINITY Series team to racing alongside him in the Cup Series. Jones takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who lost an engine at Kentucky and finished next-to-last. In place of Yeley’s Steakhouse Elite sponsorship, the #23 Toyota carries backing from Tennessee Shine Company and KBM Commercial Properties.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
MBM is again focusing exclusively on their three XFINITY Series cars this week, and have left the Cup car home after Timmy Hill’s 34th-place run in Kentucky. Hill will run the #66 on in Saturday’s race instead (see above).

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-StarCom Racing
Garrett Smithley made it much further in his second Cup start, finishing the last car under power in 36th. This week, he and sponsor Victory Lane Quick Oil Change are out of the car, and Kyle Weatherman is back in. As at Chicagoland, both Weatherman’s #99 and Landon Cassill’s #00 will run inverted versions of the gold-and-black StarCom Fiber paint scheme.

On June 19, 1949, the last-place battle of NASCAR’s first-ever Cup race, also run on the dirt, was ultimately decided by the rulebook. Glenn Dunaway was flagged the winner, but disqualified for illegal rear shocks. Until that happened, NASCAR’s first points race was about to have the sport’s first polesitter finish last. Bob Flock led the opening five laps in his #7 Hudson, only to blow the engine after 38 laps. Among the recorded results from that season, a polesitter wouldn’t finish last in NASCAR until that October, when Al Bonnell blew up after 28 laps around the Heidelberg (Pennsylvania) Raceway.