|PHOTO: Rob Taylor, @drawnbyrobt|
The finish, which occurred in Nemechek’s 51st series start, was his second of the season and first since Gateway, seven races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 7th for truck #87, the 25th because of brake problems, and the 360th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #87, the 155th because of brake problems, and the 1,623rd for Chevrolet.
With six races to go in 2018, Nemechek is now this season’s LASTCAR Truck Series leader by two bottom-five finishes ahead of Bayley Currey, who just took the lead last week at Bristol. The title battle remains anyone’s to win at this point with Nemechek prevailing in a five-way tie over Currey, J.J. Yeley, Todd Peck, and Scott Stenzel, each just one finish ahead of the field.
Mosport marked the elder Nemechek’s fifth Truck Series attempt since Gateway and his fourth in his NEMCO Motorsports team’s second truck, the #87. The lone exception came last month at Pocono, when his son John Hunter Nemechek was running the XFINITY Series event at Iowa. Joe finished 10th that day, his third top-ten finish of the year. Joe’s other runs in the #87 have been predominately “start-and-park” efforts. He finished 28th at Chicagoland, failed to qualify at Kentucky, and ran 30th at Michigan. As John Hunter climbed aboard the #8 with designs on repeating his 2016 win at Mosport, Joe drove the #87 once again.
With rain in the area, Joe Nemechek didn’t participate in Friday’s opening practice, then jumped to 20th of the 30 drivers to run Happy Hour after turning just three laps. In qualifying, Joe settled for 29th on the grid as one of the 12 drivers who didn’t turn in a qualifying lap (UPDATE: Reports indicate this large number of non-qualifiers was because the track was damp, and a number of teams either were unable to afford rain tires or saw no use in doing so with better weather forecast for Sunday). With exactly 32 trucks for 32 spots, everyone from 21st-place Bo LeMastus on back was set by the rulebook with Nemechek fourth of the five listed as in by Owner Points.
Starting last was Mike Harmon, whose #74 Chevrolet was a late entry to the lineup, which stood at just 31 trucks on Wednesday. Joining Harmon at the rear were Grant Enfinger, who had to surrender the 11th spot on the grid due to last-minute repairs for an electrical issue. Norm Benning also surrendered the 25th starting spot for unapproved adjustments on his #6 Zomongo / H&H Transport Chevrolet, and Austin Wayne Self’s #22 Go Texan Chevrolet gave up 18th due to an engine change.
Then, just prior to the start, both Joe Nemechek and Harmon pulled to the final two spots with Harmon trailing overall, 7.830 seconds back of the leader at the stripe. At the end of Lap 1, Harmon was now 25.612 seconds back of the lead, this time following Ray Ciccarelli in Beaver Motorsports’ #50 VIPracingexperience.com Chevrolet. Ciccarelli held a 17.334 seconds advantage over Harmon at the end of Lap 3, when the #74 was now 48.124 seconds back of the lead.
On the third lap, Joe Nemechek was shown off the track on FS1’s leaderboard. As the rest of the field crossed the stripe, Joe’s truck fell from 30th to last, having pulled into the garage area. On the other side of pit wall, Harmon crossed the stripe in 31st, 68.815 seconds back of the lead. Another 26.810 seconds ahead of Harmon, Ciccarelli had reeled in K&N Pro Series regular Jesse Iwuji, the U.S. Navy veteran turned racer making his first national touring series start. Ciccarelli closed to the rear deck of Iwuji’s #34 Zulu Audio / Silk Title & Escrow Chevrolet, the second Reaume Brothers Racing entry, with just 0.111 second between the pair. Ciccarelli made his way past, and both Harmon and Iwuji were down a lap by the end of Lap 7. Harmon joined Nemechek in the garage after he lost his circuit to the leader, settling in at 31st.
Ciccarelli made his way to 28th before he fell out of the race with a vibration after 34 laps. Between he and Harmon, the Bottom Five was filled by 30th-place Max Tullman, whose #20 Zoomi Chevrolet from the Young’s Motorsports stables stalled at the far end of the course after the transmission failed, drawing a caution. Three laps in front of him came Jennifer Jo Cobb, out with a ruptured oil line in her #10 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet.
*This was the first last-place finish for both Joe Nemechek and the #87 in a Truck Series race at Mosport.
*It was also Nemechek’s 43rd last-place finish across NASCAR’s top three series, still a distant second in the overall rankings behind Jeff Green, who turned in his 117th at Road America.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #87-Joe Nemechek / 2 laps / brakes
31) #74-Mike Harmon / 7 laps / brakes
30) #20-Max Tullman / 29 laps / transmission
29) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 32 laps / oil line
28) #50-Ray Ciccarelli / 34 laps / vibration
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) MB Motorsports (6)
2nd) Beaver Motorsports, Copp Motorsports (3)
3rd) NEMCO Motorsports (2)
4th) Mike Harmon Racing, Norm Benning Racing, TJL Racing (1)
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (17)
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP