Saturday, April 13, 2019

XFINITY: Jeff Green prevails in Richmond last-place battle with Timmy Hill

PHOTO: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Jeff Green picked up the 116th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s ToyotaCare 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his unsponsored #38 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after 10 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Green’s 521st series start, was his second of the season and first since Texas, two races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 16th for car #38, the 255th from engine trouble, and the 524th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 49th for the #38, the 1,066th from engine trouble, and the 1,652nd for Chevrolet.

With the finish, Green retakes the lead in the LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship on a bottom-five tiebreaker with John Jackson, 6-2.

Green arrived in Richmond after he was involved in a rare accident the week before at Bristol. Driving RSS Racing’s “start-and-park” #38 Chevrolet, Green busted a radiator hose on Lap 40, sending his car sliding up the gradient banking. Caught in the crossfire was 12th-place qualifier Ross Chastain, whose favorite #4 Chevrolet from the JD Motorsports camp was destroyed in the ensuing pileup. Green pulled behind the wall along with Chastain, the passenger-side door on his own car nearly torn off by the impact.

Both drivers were uninjured in the mishap, yet each were left scrambling to get their cars ready for Richmond, less than a week away. There, Green would again be teamed with Ryan Sieg, who welcomed returning sponsorship from Larry’s Hard Lemonade on his #39 Chevrolet, and Brandon Brown in the #93. Brown, who came into Richmond 14th in the series standings, had climbed out of his #86 Brandonbilt Motorsports entry after Mason Diaz signed to drive in a one-off, bringing with him sponsorship from Solid Rock Carriers. To keep Brown in the Playoff hunt, RSS Racing elected to put him in the #93, replacing Josh Bilicki. The #93 would also carry associate sponsorship from both W.G. Speaks and Carrier, as well as the familiar Coastal Carolina University logo seen on Brown’s #86.

Green started the weekend slowest of the RSS Racing trio, placing 32nd in practice while Sieg and Brown ran 20th and 21st. Qualifying was rained out, securing Green the 31st spot on points and sending home Josh Williams, swapped into DGM Racing’s part-time car #92 after a sponsorship deal fell through. Nearly sent home was Kaz Grala, who was making just his second attempt of the season in Richard Childress Racing’s #21 Hot Scream Chevrolet. However, a deal was worked out between RCR and Morgan Shepherd, owner-driver of the #89 Visone RV Chevrolet. Although Shepherd was locked-into the field by the rain, he withdrew as part of the arrangement, giving Grala the 38th and final starting spot. Grala would capitalize on the opportunity, challenging for the lead late before finishing 14th.

When the race stared, Grala jumped from 38th to 34th on the first lap, shuffling Timmy Hill to last. Hill, who enjoyed a strong 17th-place run in Motorsports Business Management’s #66 at Bristol, was swapped into MBM’s #13 Richie Anderson Memorial / Toyota, replacing Bristol last-placer John Jackson. The #13 picked up a vibration from the early laps, and Hill pitted after just two laps to change tires. From listening to the team’s radio, the crew apparently did so in the garage area, as Hill lost 11 laps and had to drive around the pace car to return to the track. By the time Hill rejoined the race on Lap 14, Green had been in the garage for four laps. On Lap 23, Hill passed Green, only to return to pit road four circuits later, again citing the vibration. Beliving the issue to be in the wheel bearings, Hill also exited the race.

Finishing 36th was Mason Diaz, whose night in Brandon Brown’s #86 ended when the harmonic balancer came loose, stopping him in Turn 2 on Lap 65. Brown would go on to finish 20th, earning the Lucky Dog at the midway point and finishing on the lead lap. Jeremy Clements finished 35th, an unscheduled stop late in Stage 2 followed by a spectacular engine failure as he headed down the backstretch. Rounding out the group was Chad Finchum, Hill’s teammate in the #42 Smithbilt Homes Toyota. The MBM crew worked hard on Finchum’s brake issue before finally calling it a night in the final laps. Finchum and Diaz scored their first Bottom Fives of 2019.

Meanwhile, Ryan Sieg’s strong start to 2019 continued with a sterling 5th-place finish, a run that caught the eye of crew chief Chad Knaus, broadcasting from the booth for FS1. Ross Chastain, running a backup car following his tangle with Green in Bristol, came just short of finishing 10th when Justin Haley squeezed by him on the final lap. Elliott Sadler, Haley’s teammate, finished 12th in his return to the XFINITY Series with Kaulig Racing. Making his seriee debut, Dillon Bassett matched his brother's career-best 15th-place finish from Texas and earned some screen time of his own in DGM’s #90 Bassett Gutters & More Chevrolet. And Gray Gaulding continued his strong start, running as high as 6th on old tires before settling into 17th, his sixth finish of 17th or better this season.

*While this was Jeff Green’s ninth last-place run in an XFINITY race at Richmond, it marked the first time in series history that car #38 finished last at the track.

38) #38-Jeff Green / 10 laps / engine
37) #13-Timmy Hill / 15 laps / vibration
36) #86-Mason Diaz / 63 laps / engine
35) #51-Jeremy Clements / 112 laps / engine
34) #42-Chad Finchum / 119 laps / brakes

1st) Motorsports Business Management (3)
2nd) RSS Racing (2)
3rd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Toyota (3)


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