The finish came in LeMastus’ 12th series start. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 1st for truck #54, the 32nd for Toyota, and the 148th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 19th for the #54, the 306th for Toyota, and the 1,168th from a crash.
At 55 years old, Bo LeMastus is not your typical newcomer to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The CEO of Crosley Brands has been an owner-driver in the ARCA Racing Series since 2013, most often campaigning the #42 with his Crosley company as sponsor. His only full-time ARCA season came in 2015, where he finished a strong 5th in the championship, and his best series finish was a 6th at Daytona in 2016.
This year, LeMastus joined forces with NASCAR veteran David Gilliland to form DGR-Crosley, a two-truck operation for 2018. As part of the deal, both the full-time #54 Toyota and part-time #17 Toyota would carry sponsorship from Crosley Brands and LeMastus would run a partial schedule in both trucks. LeMastus began his year in the #54, where a mid-race crash left him 30th. He would also debut the #17 team at Charlotte, only to DNQ, then bounce back with a 26th-place run at Texas in the spring.
Coming into the fall return to Texas, nine other drivers (not counting LeMastus and Gilliland) had made at least one start for DGR-Crosley in 2018, many of them looking to follow the pair into national competition: Tyler Ankrum, Kyle Benjamin, Tyler Dippel, Chris Eggleston, Riley Herbst, Justin Marks, Matt Mills, Zane Smith, and Chris Windom. Benjamin have the team its best finish to date, a runner-up to John Hunter Nemechek in the spring race at Martinsville. But for Texas, it would again be the team owners driving the #54 and #17 with LeMastus in the former and Gilliland in the latter.
The preliminary entry list for Friday stood at 35 cars earlier in the week, but by Wednesday, Jennifer Jo Cobb withdrew her second truck, the #0 Chevrolet, which was to go to Monster Jam competitor Camden Murphy. Still, with 34 trucks entered for 32 spots, there promised to be a tight battle to avoid becoming one of the two sent home. In the end, those drivers were Reid Wilson, who took Korbin Forrister’s seat in All Out Motorsports’ #7 Tru North Chevrolet, and Josh Reaume, back behind the wheel of his own #33 Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet. Reaume was faster than all but two of the five drivers locked-in on Owner Points.
LeMastus, who ran 15th in opening practice 23rd in Happy Hour, took the 20th spot in qualifying with a lap of 183.968mph (29.353 seconds).
Taking the 32nd spot was fan favorite Jordan Anderson, who debuted a new black paint scheme for his #3 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet. The chassis, designated No. 007, put up the slowest lap of the session with a speed of 158.117mph (34.152 seconds), but made it in on Owner Points. Anderson was one of four drivers who incurred pre-race tail-end penalties for unapproved adjustments following incidents in practice and qualifying, joined by Todd Gilliland (started 12th in the #4 JBL / SiriusXM Toyota), Ben Rhodes (16th in the #41 The Carolina Nut Co. Ford), and Bayley Currey (#83 United Automotive Chevrolet).
At the start of the race, the 32nd spot went to Timmy Hill, who after being denied a Cup start at Texas, turned in a career-best run in Truck Series qualifying. Hill had been swapped in for Joe Neemchek as driver of NEMCO Motorsports’ returning #87 Fleetwing Chevrolet, often a “start-and-park” paired with John Hunter Nemechek’s flagship #8. Hill put up the 10th-fastest time in Round 1 and settled for 11th in Round 2 after Todd Gilliland had an incident in qualifying. Unfortunately, the night proved short for Hill, who pulled behind the wall in the early laps. But it was LeMastus who prevented Hill’s weekend from ending with a last-place finish.
As Hill prepared to exit the race, nearly 8 seconds back of the lead on Lap 2, LeMastus was running around the 16th position when he lost control in Turns 1 and 2, then backed into the outside wall. As the caution flew, LeMastus let his car roll backwards down the banking and drove back to pit road with the rear clip crunched around the rear wheels. Unfortunately, his night was done.
Moments after securing their first last-place finish, DGR-Crosley’s night turned from bad to worse. David Gilliland wrecked the #17 shortly after the ensuing restart, leaving him a disappointing 30th. Ahead of Gilliland and 31st-place Hill came Anderson’s “007,” which overheated after only 30 laps, leaving him 29th, while fellow owner-driver Cory Roper rounded out the Bottom Five after his #04 Preferred Industrial Contractors Ford was collected in the night’s biggest pileup on Lap 40. For Gilliland, Anderson, and Roper, it was their first bottom-five finish of the season.
With two races to go, the 2018 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship remains wide open. All drivers with at least one last-place finish are still mathematically in contention. The leader remains Joe Nemechek, the first of five drivers with two last-place finishes, who leads all drivers with nine Bottom Fives. Only a finish by Nemechek at Phoenix will lock-up the title this Friday as no one below him could win a tiebreaker. Among those with two last-place finishes, runner-up Bayley Currey has the most Bottom Tens with 11, but a last-place finish at Phoenix still won’t be enough if Nemechek trails at Homestead. For the 11 drivers with one last-place finish, the only path to the title is to sweep both Phoenix and Homestead – Norm Benning has matched Currey’s 11 Bottom Tens, but cannot beat Nemechek on Bottom Fives and thus must take the title by the most finishes outright.
*This marked the first-ever last-place finish for the #54 in Truck Series history. It came in the number’s 113th series start, dating back to the first-ever Truck Series points race at Phoenix in 1995, when Steve McEachern finished 28th. As of this writing, there are 14 other currently available truck numbers that have yet to finish last in the series.
*LeMastus’ finish prevents Chevrolet from sweeping every last-place finish for a second-straight Truck Series season. It’s the first time a Toyota (and a non-Chevrolet) finished last in a Truck Series race since the 2016 finale at Homestead, when Ryan Truex fell out after 49 laps with engine trouble.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #54-Bo LeMastus / 2 laps / crash
31) #87-Timmy Hill / 5 laps / rear gear
30) #17- David Gilliland / 14 laps / crash
29) #3-Jordan Anderson / 30 laps / overheating
28) #04-Cory Roper / 40 laps / crash
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) MB Motorsports (6)
2nd) Beaver Motorsports, Copp Motorsports (3)
3rd) NEMCO Motorsports (2)
4th) Clay Greenfield Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Mike Harmon Racing, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, TJL Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (20)
2nd) Toyota (1)
2018 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP