Thursday, May 30, 2019

PREVIEW: Pocono's Cup Series entry list the smallest since 1991

PHOTO: Ryan Daley Design, @ryandaleydesign
Saturday, June 1, 2019
XFINITY Race 12 of 33
Pocono Green 250 at Pocono
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 38 drivers entered for Saturday’s XFINITY race on “The Tricky Triangle,” down two cars from last week. All entered drivers will start the race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Ryan Preece returns for his third XFINITY start for the season and first since Fontana, where he finished 8th. He takes the place of Jeb Burton, 7th in Charlotte, and brings with him sponsorship from Planters.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
John Jackson rejoins Carl Long’s #13 team this week, taking the place of Joe Nemechek who qualified 31st and finished 32nd after a vibration. It will be Jackson’s sixth XFINITY start of the season and first since Dover, where he ran 37th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Camden Murphy will drive in place of Bayley Currey in the Ware-owned #17 Chevrolet, one week after Murphy drove Mike Harmon's #74 to a 29th-place finish in Charlotte.

MISSING: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
The BMS team scales back from two cars to just their primary #86, moving Brandon Brown back into his familiar ride in place of Mason Diaz, who finished 30th. Brown chalked up another top-twenty finish last week, coming home 20th in the team’s new #68.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Both owner-drivers Mike Harmon (#74) and Morgan Shepherd (#89) are again the listed drivers of their Chevrolets after Camden Murphy and Landon Cassill drove in their place last Saturday.

MISSING: #92-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin’s team leaves the #92 at the shop, and Ronnie Bassett, Jr. moves from the #92 to the #90 which brother Dillon Bassett couldn’t get into the show in Charlotte.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Todd Peck eyes his first XFINITY Series start since September 24, 2016, when he finished 25th for Rick Ware at Kentucky. This time around, he takes the place of Jairo Avila, Jr. in B.J. McLeod’s #99, a car that joined Dillon Bassett on last week’s DNQ list. Peck last drove for the team at Atlanta in 2016, finishing 38th in a field of 40. Pulse Transport, a frequent Peck sponsor, is on the car this week.

CUP INVADERS: #8-Ryan Preece, #10-Austin Dillon

Sunday, June 2, 2019
CUP Race 14 of 36
Pocono 400 at Pocono
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bubba Wallace

There are just 37 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s Cup race, the fewest to take the green at this track since June 16, 1991, when Darrell Waltrip prevailed in a 37-car Champion Spark Plug 500. J.D. McDuffie finished 34th that day in one of his final Cup starts.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Updated Thursday, Bayley Currey drives Ware's primary #51 for the first time and will drive the P-40 scheme from Charlotte, replacing Cody Ware. This opens the #52 for a returning J.J. Yeley and his Steakhouse Elite sponsorship. It will be Yeley's first start of the season, though Currey ran his sponsor in Richmond.

MISSING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
B.J. McLeod isn’t entered in this Sunday’s race as Rick Ware scales back from three cars to only two. Not making the trip is the team’s newest addition, the #53 car McLeod drove in both the Open and the Coca-Cola 600.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s team goes from two cars at Kansas and the Open to one car in the 600 to not entering at all in Pocono. The team’s two primary Cup drivers Joey Gase and Timmy Hill will instead focus on Saturday’s XFINITY race, where they run MBM’s full-time #35 and #66, respectively.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
The third car missing this week is the Gaunt Brothers effort with Parker Kligerman, the 26th-place finisher of the Coca-Cola 600.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Derrike Cope’s team welcomes another new sponsor into the fold this week as Madison Group will back Landon Cassill’s #00 Chevrolet.

Friday, June 7, 2019
TRUCKS Race 9 of 23
Rattlesnake 400 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Peck

The Truck Series returns next week while Cup and XFINITY battle in Michigan.

Today in LASTCAR history (May 30, 1998): Loy Allen, Jr. picks up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the MBNA Platinum 200 at Dover. Driving the #78 Mark III Financial Chevrolet for car owner Dan Browder, Allen pulled behind the wall after 18 laps with a broken rear end. For the polesitter of the 1994 Daytona 500, it was the fourth and final series start of his career, though he and Browder would attempt two more races in 1999 at Daytona and Talladega.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

ARCA: Overheating issues sideline Richard Doheny at Charlotte

Doheny at Toledo earlier this year
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

UPDATE (June 3): After press time, Doheny was out-ranked for last by another driver who did not start, as reported in Soquet's next article here.

Richard Doheny finished last for the 3rd time in his ARCA Menards Series career during Thursday’s General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #1 Fast Track High Performance Driving School Toyota exited with overheating problems after 9 or 109 laps.

The finish came in his 27th series start, and was his first since DuQuoin last year, ten races ago.

Since we last profiled Doheny at Springfield last year, Doheny has continued driving for Andy Hillenburg and Fast Track Racing. This year, he has driven the #1 car, which has now been entered in every race this season as a third team for Fast Track. The #1 car was a partnership for its entries last year between Hillenburg and Wayne Peterson Racing, fielding entries for Peterson and Dale Matchett. Fast Track has bucked the trend for ARCA, where expansion is now the exception rather than the norm with the departure of 2018 champions MDM Motorsports and the scaling back of efforts from many teams, including 2016 champions Ken Schrader Racing.

The Charlotte race last year was a highlighted return to the ARCA schedule, and an eventful race lived up to the hype. This year, the car count was still strong, at least compared to short tracks. On this, the first intermediate on the ARCA schedule, 25 cars entered, with Doheny’s car the last to be entered, never showing up on any entry lists until first practice results. Joining him were a number of traditional superspeedway efforts, among them Andy Seuss, Bryan Dauzat, and Willie Mullins. Codie Rohrbaugh coupled this event with his Gander Outdoors Truck Series slate this year, and Gus Dean did the same, still piloting his familiar #32. Also, much like ARCA has its dedicated short track racers, it has its dedicated superspeedway racers: Riley Herbst, Harrison Burton, Scott Melton, Con Nicolopoulos and eventual winner Ty Majeski filled out full-season rides, and Thad Moffitt continued his half-season in the 46 car.

An odd collection of circumstances filled out the field. Tanner Gray, C.J. McLaughlin, and Brandon McReynolds continued undisclosed-as-of-yet partial efforts on the season, and reigning champion Sheldon Creed returned for a one-off in the GMS Racing #21. Brad Smith also resumed his team’s effort after skipping the previous race at Toledo due to engine issues. Two drivers made their series debuts on Thursday: Devin Dodson, a Maryland driver who made partial K&N East and West efforts with Jefferson Pitts Racing last year, drove the Vizion Motorsports #35 (back for the first time since Daytona) and Jason Miles, who recently made his K&N East debut with Patriot Motorsports Group at South Boston, drove the Fast Track Racing #11 car.

Practice saw some familiar names to longtime ARCA fans at the bottom of the leaderboard: Smith, Doheny and Nicolopoulos were all within two-tenths of each other from 23rd to 25th. Qualifying saw Doheny fall almost a second behind Smith as slowest among cars who took a lap, but he wouldn’t start there. A crash for Willie Mullins in crash meant he couldn’t complete a lap, leaving him to start 25th. McLaughlin completed a lap in qualifying but also crashed, and the damage proved to be terminal for his Our Motorsports team as the #09 withdrew before the start of the race.

Before the start of the race, the Mullins group repaired the car but then incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments. By the end of Lap 1, Miles was dropped to last of the 24 cars that took the green. He stayed there until Lap 7, when he dropped Con Nicolopoulos to last. Nicolopoulos had just recently passed Miles again until Doheny parked his car from the 17th position, at the time running ahead of ARCA championship contender Christian Eckes, who was dealing with tire issues. Brad Smith parked his lone composite body a lap after Doheny, and it would be thirty more laps until another car retired, as Nicolopoulos was the victim of a crash at the entrance to pit road. Dodson’s #35 battled issues during the race and only completed 72 laps, leaving him the last car running at the finish. McReynolds rounded out the Bottom Five, his #28 falling out with the unusual reason of “axle.”

24) #1-Richard Doheny / 9 laps / overheating
23) #48-Brad Smith / 10 laps / electrical
22) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 42 laps / crash
21) #35-Devin Dodson / 72 laps / running
20) #28-Brandon McReynolds / 81 laps / axle

1st) Brad Smith Motorsports, Venturini Motorsports (2)
2nd) Fast Track Racing, Kimmel Racing, Mullins Racing (1)

1st) Ford (5)
2nd) Toyota (2)


Sunday, May 26, 2019

CUP: Erik Jones becomes first NASCAR driver to finish last in All-Star and 600 in the same season

PHOTO: @erik_jones
Erik Jones picked up the 4th last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s 60th Annual Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro Toyota was eliminated in a crash after 22 of 400 laps.

The finish, which happened in Jones’ 88th series start, was his first of the season and first in a Cup points race since last fall in Las Vegas, 22 races ago. In Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 30th for car #20, the 156th for Toyota, and the 581st from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #20, the 315th for Toyota, and the 1,177th from a crash.

Following a rough night in the All-Star Race, Jones returned to the Coca-Cola 600, where he finished 7th as a rookie for Furniture Row Racing and 19th last year for Joe Gibbs Racing. The race would come just days after Gibbs was himself inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It would also see Jones honor his late great uncle Corporal Richard Ellis Eckert, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps who was killed in action on Okinawa on April 12, 1945. As part of the NASCAR Salutes program, Corporal Eckert’s name would be printed on the banner above the windshield of Jones’ #20 Toyota.

Jones’ car showed speed early, ranking 11th in opening practice, 10th in the second session, and jumped to 6th in Happy Hour. In single-car qualifying, Jones ended up just 16th on the grid, timing in at 182.082mph (29.657 seconds). With exactly 40 cars entered for as many spots, all entrants started the race.

Starting 40th was Joey Gase in Motorsports Business Management’s #66 Toyota. Following last week’s Monster Energy Open, the MBM team elected not to enter their #46 Toyota following an apparent fuel cell issue during the qualifier. The omission moved Joey Gase from the non-entered #46 to the #66 driven previously by Timmy Hill. The blue car picked up sponsorship from Big Smoke BBQ, who catered for the MBM team at the track, and carried longtime team sponsor O.C.R. Gaz Bar on the quarter-panels by race day.

The only driver scheduled to join Gase at the back of the field Sunday was Matt Tifft, who for the second time this month failed inspection multiple times in his #36 Surface Suncreen / Tunity Ford. Unlike at Dover, Tifft’s car failed just twice instead of three times, sending him to the rear and ejecting a crew member, but avoiding a first-lap pass-through penalty. During the pace laps, Bayley Currey was slow coming off pit road and re-joined the pack in his black #52 Rick Ware Racing Ford. Currey’s car was the latest of the Ware team’s “squadron” of David Marrero-designed paint schemes resembling famous fighter planes. Currey’s #52 SR-71 Blackbird and Cody Ware’s #51 P-40 Warhawk joined B.J. McLeod’s returning Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tails” #53 from the Monster Energy Open.

As Currey got back up to speed, he passed Bubba Wallace, whose #43 Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla Chevrolet was stopped on the apron of Turn 4. Wallace, set to start 29th, came down pit road, where the crew helped him with the window net. He managed to rejoin the race just in time for the field’s three-wide salute, then was slotted back in his proper starting spot.

When the field returned to two-by-two formation, the rear of the field changed once more. Gase originally lined up to the outside of 39th-place Quin Houff in Spire Motorsports’ #77 NASCAR Mobile App Chevrolet. Ahead of them were the penalized Tifft, who was on the inside of original 35th-place starter Ross Chastain. Chastain’s #15 Chevrolet picked up new sponsorship from Cross Country Adjusting, switching from a black paint scheme to a white-and-blue layout. Houff then pulled behind Gase to take over 40th, and Gase found himself 38th to the outside of 37th-place Reed Sorenson in the #27 Chevrolet.

The green flag fell, and Houff closed the gap on Gase to his outside, leading to a brief side-by-side battle. Gase first prevailed, dropping the #77 to last halfway down the backstretch. Houff then pulled low in Turns 3 and 4, drawing inside of Gase, and dropped the #66 back to last on Lap 2. By this point, Gase was 11 seconds back of the lead, and on Lap 6 radioed that his water was at 245 degrees. Now by himself, Gase fell into the grasp of the leaders, and on Lap 17 William Byron cut to his inside at the stripe, pulled to the inside, and put him the first car one lap down.

At almost that exact moment, 32nd-place starter Landon Cassill pulled down pit road in his patriotic-themed #00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet. The driver reported smoke in the cockpit, and the crew was working on at least one of the hood flaps which had come loose and needed to be screwed back into place. The crew jacked up the car and looked underneath, losing multiple laps in the process. On Lap 23, the team dropped the jack and Cassill returned to action – just as the first caution fell for a wreck.

On that 23rd lap, Jones was running 12th when the right-front tire failed in Turn 4, sending him hard into the outside wall. Jones kept his car in the outer groove, stopped just past the start / finish line, and dropped the window net. He climbed out under yellow, done for the day. Track officials towed the #20 behind the wall using the entrance to the infield portion of Charlotte’s Roval configuration near the end of pit road. Under that caution, Cassill passed Jones for last, where the #20 would remain. Jones was uninjured and released from the care center soon after. It was Jones' first bottom-five finish of 2019.

Finishing 39th was Matt DiBenedetto, also the victim of a right-front failure when his #95 Procore – Safety Qualified Toyota slapped the wall off Turn 2. The 38th spot fell to Cody Ware, whose Jacob Companies P-40 Warhawk Ford had an issue with the rear gear that eliminated him during the DiBenedetto caution. Cassill only climbed to 37th after his brief stay in last, the car filling with smoke once more due to a busted oil cooler. Rounding out the group was Chastain, whose new-look #15 made it just 134 laps before suspension woes.

Both the #77 of Quin Houff and the #53 of B.J. McLeod benefited from a pair of Lucky Dogs in the first half of the race, and each were still on the lead lap just past the race’s halfway point in 28th and 27th, respectively. Both would ultimately finish under power in 28th and 29th, Houff ahead of McLeod, each four and five laps down.

Dodging the night's many wrecks was Corey LaJoie, who finished 12th. It was just one spot short of matching his career-best series finish of 11th, and was easily his best run on a non-superspeedway race. The run was all the more sweet as representatives of his sponsor Superior Logistics Inc. were in attendance.

David Ragan also enjoyed one of his best recent runs on a non-plate track. Welcoming back Daytona sponsor Select Blinds, Ragan worked his way into the Top 10 late in Stage 3, then stayed out on old tires for the final five-lap restart. Though asked by Truex if he'd fall to the rear, Ragan restarted up front and stayed arpund 3rd for a couple laps before settling into 15th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car #20 in a Cup points race at Charlotte.
*Jones is also the first driver to finish last in both the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same season. Prior to this year, the closest it had come to happening was when Kurt Busch trailed the 2005 All-Star Race, then the 600 in 2006.

40) #20-Erik Jones / 22 laps / crash
39) #95-Matt DiBenedetto / 47 laps / crash
38) #51-Cody Ware / 51 laps / rear gear
37) #00-Landon Cassill / 108 laps / oil cooler
36) #15-Ross Chastain / 134 laps / suspension

1st) Front Row Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (3)
2nd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (2)
3rd) Germain Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Motorsports Business Management (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (2)


XFINITY: Chad Finchum scores first last-place finish; Shepherd’s and Harmon’s cars show speed with Cassill and Murphy

PHOTO: @ChadFinchum
Chad Finchum picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #42 Smithbilt Homes Toyota fell out with a blown engine after 5 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Finchum’s 49th series start. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 7th for car #42, the 126th for Toyota, and the 257th from engine failure. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 36th for the #42, the 314th for Toyota, and the 1,070th blamed on the engine.

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Finchum began racing go-karts when he was six, and drove to three championships in Bandoleros. According to his website, he graduated to Late Models by 2010 and won just his second time out at the Newport (Tennessee) Speedway. The next year, while continuing to rack up victories on local bullrings, he made his K&N Pro Series East debut at Greenville-Pickens, finishing 18th in a race won by Brett Moffitt. His own first win came five years later at his home track in Bristol, driving for retired XFINITY veteran Eric McClure.

The 2017 season saw Finchum make the move to XFINITY Series competition, where he first worked with Carl Long at Motorsports Business Management (MBM). His debut came at Dover, where he steered the #40 Chevrolet to a 34th-place finish after engine trouble. A 29th followed that summer at Kentucky, and he improved to a 28th in his return at Bristol. The #40 became Finchum’s regular ride in 2018, with sponsorship from Smithbilt Homes. His best finish of the year was a 14th at Daytona in July, but he also impressed that fall in back-to-back races in Kansas and Texas, finishing 16th and 17th. He even made his Cup debut with Long, again at Bristol, where a crash left him 33rd.

This year, MBM has increased its focus on the XFINITY Series with a four-car effort. For most of this season – except the plate races, where Max Tullman drove in his place – Finchum has driven the #42. The number was newest to the MBM effort, its Owner Points obtained after the closure of Chip Ganassi Racing’s XFINITY effort following the collapse of sponsor DC Solar. Cancelled qualifying efforts ended up giving Finchum outside-pole starts in his first two races this year in Atlanta and Las Vegas. His best finish of the year came the next time out at Phoenix, where he put the #42 20th on the grid, then finished 19th. Coming into Charlotte, he sat 29th in points.

Finchum was one of 39 drivers on the preliminary entry list for Charlotte, a list which didn’t at first have Jimmy Means Racing’s #52 despite David Starr’s earlier announcement of coming on as sponsor. Starr was added by Wednesday, averting the team’s first non-entry since 2013, meaning two teams would miss the show. It was perhaps this reason why two of the sport’s owner-drivers – Morgan Shepherd and Mike Harmon – handed over the wheel to other drivers. Shepherd’s #89 Visone RV Chevrolet went to Cup regular Landon Cassill, who most recently raced the car last fall at Homestead. This time around, Cassill ran 14th in the opening practice and jumped to an impressive 9th in Happy Hour. In qualifying, he turned this 13th-fastest lap. It was the best starting spot by a Shepherd-owned car since July 3, 2009, when the veteran rolled off 10th under the lights at Daytona.

Driving Harmon’s #74 The Journey Home Project / The Sign Shop Chevrolet was Monster Jam competitor and part-time Truck Series driver Camden Murphy, who had not run in XFINITY since 2016. Murphy had originally been entered in the #17, which Bayley Currey tweeted was a collaborative effort between Rick Ware Racing, which provided the car, and Harmon’s team. Currey instead took the wheel of the #17, which carried Harmon’s red numbers on the door. Murphy’s turn in the #74 put him 23rd in the first practice, 22nd in Happy Hour, and he qualified 20th, just five spots behind Currey. It was the best starting spot for one of Harmon’s cars since another race at Daytona - February 21, 2015, when he started 19th.

With both Harmon and Shepherd’s cars in the race, two other drivers missed the show. Jairo Avila, Jr. climbed aboard B.J. McLeod’s #99 JW Transport Chevrolet, and though his lap of 171.200mph (31.542 seconds) outpaced four other drivers, he was too low in Owner Points to rely on a provisional. Also sent home was Dillon Bassett, who was set to run against his brother Ronnie Bassett, Jr. in the same XFINITY race for the first time. Unfortunately, Bassett’s #90 didn’t complete a lap, and was out-ranked by two other drivers who didn’t put up a time. One was the #4 Florida Watermelon Association Chevrolet of Ross Chastain, whose clutch malfunctioned in qualifying. The other was Chad Finchum.

By the narrowest of margins, Finchum started the race in the 38th and final starting spot. He’d run better in the lead-up to the race, putting up the 28th-best lap of 35 drivers in opening practice, then improved to 25th of 37 in Happy Hour. The issue was technical inspection – a delay put him on the five-minute clock, and the #42 couldn’t present in time to take a lap.

As the cars prepared for the start, Finchum gained a few spots as other drivers fell to the rear. Unapproved adjustments sent to the rear 25th-place starter Brandon Brown, debuting a new second team from the Brandonbilt Motorsports effort with his #68 Vero Chevrolet; 35th-place Justin Haley, who suffered a broken axle on his #11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet; 15th-place Bayley Currey in the #17 and 37th-place Ross Chastain.

By one lap to green, all four of these drivers were back ahead of Finchum as the #42 joined others in voluntarily falling to the rear. Coming off Turn 4, FS1's cameras showed last place now belonged to Joe Nemechek - 31st on the grid and 19th in Happy Hour - making his first start in MBM's #13 Toyota. Ahead of him were four nearly identical black Chevrolets: 33rd-place qualifier Matt Mills in the #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet alongside 27th-place Jeff Green in the #38 RSS Racing Chevrolet, then 20th-place Camden Murphy in the Harmon #74 and 23rd-place Josh Bilicki in the #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet. Finchum was now 32nd, just ahead of the break back to the four-car pack. On his bumper was the #78 Lake Norman Patio & Game Rooms Chevrolet of Vinnie Miller. Behind them was a carlength's open track back to the two-by-two rows of Bilicki, Murphy, Green, and Mills, then another carlength to Nemechek in last.

On the break, Nemechek eased through the gears, dropping back even further behind the four black Chevrolets. From Finchum’s tweets, the driver reported on the very first lap of the race that his car had an engine issue. By Lap 4, Finchum had slipped behind the black Chevrolets and was back to 37th, just a half-second in front of the trailing Nemechek. He took over last on Lap 5, now more than 11 seconds back of the lead, and pulled into the garage. The crew found a plug wire was off, then sent him back out there to see if it was resolved. It wasn’t – the #42 slowed on the apron and had to be pushed by a tow truck to the garage. The team was done for the day. Although Finchum’s account tweeted that it was a mechanical issue, the official results cited “engine.”

Green and Bilicki's black Chevrolets finished 37th and 36th, both out in the first ten laps. Next was Timmy Hill, one of Finchum’s teammates, who welcomed returning sponsorship from on his Toyota, but lasted just 17 laps before his own engine let go. Rounding out the group was Landon Cassill, who turned 31 laps in Morgan Shepherd’s #89 before citing a vibration. Camden Murphy’s run in Harmon’s #74 nearly went the distance before a front hub failed after 173 laps, leaving him 29th, four spots ahead of Currey in the Ware / Harmon #17.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #42 in an XFINITY race since August 5, 2017, when Kyle Larson’s engine let go after 12 laps around Watkins Glen. The number had never before finished last in an XFINITY race at Charlotte. In fact, the number remains one of the rarest to trail a race in this series. It never one finished last between June 8, 1985 (Joe Kelly at Hickory) and July 18, 2009 (Kevin Hamlin at Gateway).

38) #42-Chad Finchum / 5 laps / engine
37) #38-Jeff Green / 6 laps / brakes
36) #93-Josh Bilicki / 10 laps / vibration
35) #66-Timmy Hill / 17 laps / engine
34) #89-Landon Cassill / 31 laps / handling

1st) Motorsports Business Management (5)
2nd) RSS Racing (3)
3rd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)
2nd) Toyota (5)


Thursday, May 23, 2019

PREVIEW: Rare car numbers add statistical significance to Charlotte entry lists

Saturday, May 25, 2019
XFINITY Race 11 of 33
Alsco 300 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

The XFINITY Series returns for the first time since Dover at the beginning of the month. There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will miss the show. UPDATE: Make that 40 drivers following the late addition of Means Racing's #52 by Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton is set to make his second XFINITY Series start of the season, and first since a 5th-place finish in Texas. Then as now, his sponsor will be longtime Burton family backer State Water Heaters. Burton takes the place of Zane Smith, 9th at Dover.

RETURNING: #10-Kaulig Racing
The second Kaulig entry returns to the series this weekend for its fifth start of the year and first since Ross Chastain’s 30th-place run in Talladega. The driver this time is Austin Dillon, who turned in the car’s best finish of 2019 in Las Vegas – a 4th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Joe Nemechek makes his first XFINITY Series attempt in exactly a year, dating back to an 18th-place run in this race for JD Motorsports. This time around, he takes John Jackson’s place in MBM’s #13 Toyota – his first time driving for team owner Carl Long. The rest of MBM’s driver lineup remains the same this week with Joey Gase (#35), Chad Finchum (#42), and Timmy Hill (#66). Hill welcomes back returning sponsorship from, which joined him last fall on the Roval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Camden Murphy looks to make only his second XFINITY Series start and first since a 26th-place showing in his series debut at Bristol in 2016. Just like that night, he will drive for Rick Ware. Murphy takes the place of Bayley Currey, who will instead drive Ware’s #52 Cup entry on Sunday. UPDATE: As of late Wednesday, Murphy's return to the series will have to wait - Currey will run double-duty for Ware. According to Currey, the run will be a combined effort between the Ware team and Mike Harmon Racing. The car carries numbers in the Harmon team's font.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt and his ubiquitous iK9 sponsorship return to the #18 team this week, taking the place of 15th-place Dover finisher Riley Herbst. It will be Earnhardt’s fifth XFINITY Series start of the season and first since a 26th-place finish in Talladega.

TEAM UPDATE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Conspicuously absent from the preliminary entry list was Jimmy Means Racing and driver David Starr. A Means-prepared #52 has not missed an XFINITY Series race since the 2013 finale at Homestead, where the team likewise wasn’t entered. UPDATE: David Starr and the Means Racing team will be at the race on Saturday with new sponsorship from The team was added back onto the list by Wednesday.

NEW TEAM: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Brandonbilt Motorsports fields two cars for the first time this weekend, adding the #68 to their flagship #86. The addition comes as Mason Diaz rejoins the team to drive the #86 with sponsorship from Solid Rock Carriers and The Sign Shop, just as he had in Richmond. Unlike that night, where Brandon Brown had to drive in place of Josh Bilicki for RSS Racing, Brown will drive the new #68 with sponsorship from Vero. If Brown qualifies, it will mark the first XFINITY start for car #68 since July 1, 2011, when Carl Long made his final start for the short-lived Fleur-de-lis Motorsports at Daytona.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
In addition to the assistance given to Rick Ware's #17 (see above), Camden Murphy - displaced by Bayley Currey in the #17 - has practiced the #74 in place of Harmon. Harmon is still the listed driver for Saturday.

TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Landon Cassill has been practicing Morgan Shepherd's #89 on Thursday, picking up a strong 9th in the second session. Shepherd is still the listed driver for Saturday.

Charlotte will also see brothers Dillon Bassett and Ronnie Bassett, Jr. run against each other in the same XFINITY race for the first time. Dillon takes the #90, bumping Ronnie to the returning #92, a third DGM entry last seen at Richmond. Dillon finished 15th in his lone series start that night, matching the best of Ronnie’s three starts this year. Both cars will be sponsored both by Bassett Gutters and Moore as well as American Wood Reface. Josh Williams remains the driver of DGM’s #36.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jairo Avila, Jr. makes his second XFINITY start of the season and first since a 25th-place finish in Las Vegas. He takes the place of Tommy Joe Martins, 21st in Dover.

CUP INVADERS: #10-Austin Dillon

Sunday, May 26, 2019
CUP Race 13 of 36
60th Annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Kevin Harvick

There are exactly 40 entrants for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the fourth full field of 2019 and the third in the last four races.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #15-Premium Motorsports
On Wednesday came the announcement that Ross Chastain has picked up new sponsorship for the Coca-Cola 600. Cross Country Adjusting will back the #15 Chevrolet this Sunday.

MISSING: #31-Richard Childress Racing
Tyler Reddick turned heads in just his second Cup start, finishing 9th under the lights in Kansas. This week, he focuses on the XFINITY race on Saturday, and the #31 is not entered in Sunday’s main event.

MISSING: #46-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
As of this writing, Carl Long’s MBM effort has only entered one of its two Cup cars from Kansas and the Monster Energy Open. Joey Gase makes the move from the #46, not entered this week, to take Timmy Hill’s place in the #66. Hill will instead focus on Saturday’s XFINITY race in MBM’s other #66.

TEAM UPDATE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware will enter all three of their cars from the Open, including B.J. McLeod’s Tuskegee Airmen tribute car #53. As reported last week, the entry is the first for the #53 in a Cup points race since April 30, 1995, when Ritchie Petty missed the field for the Winston Select 500 at Talladega. If the car starts, it will be the number’s first green flag in a points race since Petty’s 41st-place finish in the Pepsi 400 on July 2, 1994.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman and the Gaunt Brothers team rejoin the Cup tour for the first time since his 27th-place showing in Talladega. No sponsor is yet listed for the #96 Toyota.

Friday, June 7, 2019
TRUCKS Race 9 of 23
Rattlesnake 400 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Peck

The Truck Series takes the week off and will return in two weeks at Texas.

Today in LASTCAR history (May 23, 1965): Junior Spencer picks up the first last-place finish of his Cup Series career when his #17 1964 Ford suffers an oi leak after 9 laps of the World 600. Spencer, a native of Hamlin, West Virginia, was making his ninth of 25 career Cup starts, and his first at Charlotte. Though he started just 21 of 55 races in the ’65 season, he finished inside the Top 10 seven times, including a career-best 5th at the (Birmingham) Fairgrounds Raceway on June 6.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

ARCA: Hailie Deegan’s headlining debut done after 30 laps

PHOTO: @VenturiniMotor
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Hailie Deegan finished last for the first time in her ARCA Menards Series career in Sunday’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway when her #55 Toyota Racing Development 40th Anniversary Toyota crashed out after completing 29 of 152 laps. The finish came in her series debut.

Deegan has caught the NASCAR world's attention the past twelve months, having won her first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Meridian Speedway in Idaho last August, then followed that up with another win on the Las Vegas dirt this spring. Besides those two, however, Deegan has seen less success. Sure, her West results many times were in the back half of the top ten, but when matched up against K&N East fields, those results have topped out at tenth. Many viewed her upcoming six-race ARCA slate with the series best team in Venturini Motorsports as a way to prove her worth. Granted, rarely are debuts easy, but both in practice and qualifying, Deegan was last of the 12 well-funded cars at Toledo this weekend. All evaluations, however, will have to wait until at least after her next start at Pocono next month.

An even 20 cars showed up on the entry list, with Deegan’s debut in the Venturini Motorsports #55 headlining the stories for the weekend. As usual, ARCA’s short track crew came out in full force, going for their "championship within a championship." Chandler Smith, Ty Gibbs, Sam Mayer, Carson Hocevar and Corey Heim continued their pursuit of the full Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, while Tim Richmond, Alex Clubb and Eric Caudell continued their partial schedules. Rick Clifton and Richard Doheny filled out the #11 and #1 cars for Fast Track Racing, and Mike Basham returned to the #69 for Kimmel Racing.

After the first practice concluded, the car count was down to eighteen: Caudell did not make the trip to Ohio, and Brad Smith did not take the track either. Smith later posted on Twitter that engine complications from the previous contest at Nashville kept the team out of this race. It was the first race that Smith did not take the track for since this very same event four years ago, after running the first five events of the season for James Hylton before turning the car over to Rick Clifton and later James Swanson. As for the cars that took the track, Clifton was slowest, turning a lap of just over 18.5 seconds. He managed to slice about a tenth of a second off of his lap time for qualifying but remained at the bottom of the speed charts, leaving the #11 to line up last on Sunday with no post-qualifying penalties assessed.

Breaking with recent trend, this ARCA Menards Series race had all cars complete more than ten laps. The trio of Clifton, Doheny and Basham were near the tail of the field on lap 30 when a stack-up occurred in the back half of the Top Ten. Heading into Turn 3, Joe Graf, Jr., Deegan, and Gray were all running in close proximity. Deegan got under Graf, and while the MAVTV camera angle offered no definitive account of what happened, most reports indicated that Graf cut down just a tad on Deegan, which led to a check-up and Gray plowing into the back of the 55. Deegan and Graf then proceeded to bury their cars in the infamous foam that lines Toledo.

Soon after, the cars of Basham, Doheny and Clifton parked, rounding out the Bottom Five.

18) #55-Hailie Deegan / 29 laps / crash
17) #77-Joe Graf, Jr. / 29 laps / crash
16) #69-Mike Basham / 34 laps / suspension
15) #1-Richard Doheny / 38 laps / overheating
14) #11-Rick Clifton / 47 laps / brakes

1st) Brad Smith Motorsports, Venturini Motorsports (2)
2nd) Kimmel Racing, Mullins Racing (1)

1st) Ford (4)
2nd) Toyota (2)


Sunday, May 19, 2019

CUP: Fast and furious last-place battle ends with Erik Jones last in the All-Star Race

PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images
Erik Jones finished last in Saturday’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #20 Craftsman Toyota fell out with crash damage after 77 of 88 laps.

Jones arrived in Charlotte 14th in the point standings, jumping back into Playoff contention after back-to-back top-ten finishes in Dover and Kansas. Following his last-place run in the season-opening Clash at Daytona, Jones finished a strong 3rd in the Daytona 500, following his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to the finish line. A 13th-place finish in Las Vegas was followed by three finishes of 19th or worse, though at Fontana he nearly overcame minor damage to the driver’s door before he faded late. A 4th-place run in Texas was followed by three more poor showings at Bristol, Richmond, and Talladega, before a 6th at Dover and a 3rd at Kansas brought him to the All-Star break.

Locked-in to his first All-Star Race after his first career win at Daytona last July, Jones’ #20 Toyota would carry sponsorship from Craftsman for the first time since Bristol. In opening practice, Jones turned the 10th-fastest lap, then improved to 7th in the second session. He also qualified 7th of the 15 locked-in cars, his combined pit stop and hot laps equaling out at 134.546mph (2 minutes, 0.405 seconds).

Starting last in Saturday’s All-Star event was Alex Bowman, who after three consecutive 2nd-place finishes finished 3rd in the Open and earned the All-Star Fan Vote. Bowman looked to turn things around from a difficult showing in 2018, where he gave Hendrick Motorsports its first All-Star last-place finish since 1995.

What ensued was one of the most competitive and fast-paced last-place battles in recent history.

At the start, Bowman pulled alongside Kyle Larson, whose #42 Advent Health Chevrolet won the final stage of the Open race. As the two raced side-by-side, William Byron’s #24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet fell back in the far outer lane. Byron then reeled in Bowman, pulled to the inside, and on Lap 2 got by off the second corner. On Lap 3, Bowman worked his way past Aric Almirola, whose #10 Smithfield Ford trailed the race for the first time. Three circuits later, Almirola raced past Kurt Busch, putting the #1 Gear Wrench / Monster Energy Chevrolet to last. Kurt raced past Almirola on Lap 9, and Almirola slingshot past seconds later. On Lap 14, Busch passed Bowman on the inside, but this time the #88 stayed locked on the rear bumper of the #1. Bowman side-drafted Kurt to get by on Lap 20. Kurt did the same in Turn 1 on Lap 23, and Bowman again blasted past in Turn 3.

Jones entered the battle on Lap 27, when the caution fell for debris from his #20. Running 9th at the time, Jones slid up the track in Turn 4, then cut down a right-front tire, sending him sliding into the outside wall. He managed to get down to the apron with the right side of the car scraped-up and the right-front fender torn up, but a tire carcass from the right-front drew the yellow. Since caution laps didn’t count, Jones didn’t lose a lap as he made repeated stops for new tires and repairs. Kurt Busch also made an extended stop with his crew looking under the rear of the car. The incident forced a green-white-checkered restart with Jones still last and a patched-up right-front fender. Jones managed to keep up with the pack, and passed Bubba Wallace’s #43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet to his inside off Turn 2. On Lap 33, Wallace zipped past Jones on the backstretch, then both split around a slowing Almirola, who now had a loose wheel. The caution then fell to end Stage 1 with Almirola in last.

Under the Stage 1 caution, Jones made another long pit stop and resumed control of last place. But when the race restarted on Lap 34, Ryan Newman took over the spot in his #6 Acorns Ford. Newman suffered damage to the nose of his machine, forcing the crew to repair it with several strips of green tape. Newman then worked past Almirola in Turn 3 before sliding into Wallace’s left-rear and sliding into the infield grass. The Astroturf surface from last year’s Roval event prevented Newman’s splitter from digging into the soil.

After another lengthy stop, Newman managed to return to action for the Lap 40 restart for Stage 2, though now a full 22 seconds back of the pack. He was 27 seconds back on Lap 48, and in danger of becoming the first to lose a lap. This lasted only until Lap 52, when race leader Kevin Harvick in the #4 Busch Beer Millennial Car caught Newman in Turn 3 and made the pass. “That's pretty embarrassing right there, guys,” said Newman, who stayed in touch with Harvick as Stage 2 ended on Lap 53, allowing him the night’s first Lucky Dog. Under this caution, Wallace retook last since he pitted behind Newman. Wallace returned to the track first, however, dropping the #6 back to the rear.

Setting up for another two-by-two restart in Stage 3, Jones and Newman were in the final row with the #20 outside of the #6. When the green flag dropped, Jones held it briefly, but dropped Newman back to last in Turn 1 before Bowman slipped to 19th off Turn 2. On Lap 54, Ryan Blaney took last for the first time in his #12 Body Armor Ford. Just a moment later, Newman breathed yhe throttle in the high lane and dropped four seconds back. Newman then made an unscheduled stop on Lap 56 which again dropped Newman a lap down. Jones, meanwhile, tangled with Austin Dillon’s #3 Dow / RCR 50th Anniversary Chevrolet in Turn 4 after Dillon crossed the nose of Kyle Busch’s #18 M&M’s Hazlenut Spread Toyota. This saved Harvick from losing a lap to pit for a loose wheel, and also handed Newman his second Lucky Dog. With that, all 19 cars were not only still running, but all were on the lead lap.

Under caution, Dillon took over last on Lap 60 for repairs from the Jones accident andw as told he had just one set of sticker tires left. His current set had just five laps on them, but were likely flat-stopped from the accident. The only other set left were 20-lap scuffs. Regardless, Dillon passed Jones, who received additional repairs on Lap 61. The #20 crew said that nothing appeared broken on the #20 despite his multiple incidents, but the team may park the car if it was running too slow. The team thus decided on that stop to put on their last set of tires and see what Jones could do.

Newman also pitted on Lap 61, and once again came out by himself, struggling to catch the field as they took the restart. The #6 was 37 seconds back of the lead when the green flag fell, a gap which stabilized at 13 seconds when the field reached full speed. When Stage 3 ended on Lap 73, last place changed between several other drivers, including Denny Hamlin’s #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Jimmie Johnson’s #48 Ally Chevrolet, Wallace, and Dillon. Almirola took last for a brief moment when he was forced to serve a penalty for too many crewmen over the wall. But Newman again retook last under the caution and would restart in that spot.

Stage 4, the last of the night, began with Newman staring down a two-wide field in front of him. The next time by on Lap 75, as Newman was again making a move for 18th, Martin Truex, Jr. took the spot for the first time when his #19 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker ATVs & Boats / USO Toyota was shaken out in the middle line. Seconds later, the caution flew for an accident in Turn 3 when Hamlin had a left-rear tire go down in front of Blaney, who spun the #11 into a passing Dillon. Despite the damage, Hamlin took less time on pit road than Truex for his problems, and the #19 took last for the Lap 76 restart.

When the green flew once more, Truex remained last and fell back on the backstretch. He managed to catch Johnson off turn 4 at the stripe, but couldn’t clear him. Meanwhile, Jones re-enacted Fontana by charging up to 4th before he found the outside wall once more, drawing the caution before a single lap was completed. Shaken out of line once more, Jones was 14 seconds back of the lead when the yellow came out. This time, the #20 beat Blaney off pit road, dropping the #12 to last. Blaney then worked past Johnson on the Lap 77 restart, and Johnson slingshot past Blaney once more. Both then moved past Jones, who slowed on the backstretch on Lap 79.

It was then, with nine laps to go in the final stage, that Jones pulled down pit road, then made a left-hand turn into the garage area. Hamlin followed two laps later, and Busch four circuits after that. Blaney and Johnson were still on the track – and on the lead lap – when Larson took the hard-fought victory, rounding out the Bottom Five.

The feel-good story of the night turned out to be Bubba Wallace, who finished a strong 5th. A difficult start to the season saw his #43 just 29th in points coming into the All-Star Race. The driver revealed that he has been dealing with depression, and a series of increasingly-bizarre rumors surrounded the Richard Petty Motorsports team through the week. Not considered a favorite to make the main event, Wallace parlayed pit strategy in Stage 1 of the Open and found himself side-drafting Kyle Larson on the final lap before William Byron snatched away victory in a photo finish. Frustrated but undeterred, Wallace repeated the strategy in Stage 2, this time running the opposite lane alongside the #41 Arris Ford of Daniel Suarez. The two bumped across the line with Suarez spinning and Wallace racing in. After a second round of repairs and congratulations from his friend Ryan Blaney, Wallace started his first-ever All-Star Race. Though he spent his own times in last, as mentioned above, he clawed back into the Top 5 in Stage 4, running as high as 3rd before the finish.

*This was Jones’ first last-place finish in the All-Star Race, but the second in three years for Joe Gibbs Racing’s #20. In 2017, Matt Kenseth trailed the All-Star with a busted oil cooler.
*Jones becomes the first driver to finish last in both the Clash at Daytona and the All-Star Race in the same season since 2011, when Kasey Kahne did the same in Team Red Bull’s #4 Toyota. The only other time it happened was in 2000, when John Andretti drove for Petty Enterprises, though that time is was because the Petty team voluntarily made themselves ineligible for the Budweiser Pole Award at the time.

19) #20-Erik Jones / 77 laps / crash
18) #11-Denny Hamlin / 79 laps / crash
17) #1-Kurt Busch / 83 laps / crash
16) #12-Ryan Blaney / 88 laps / running
15) #48-Jimmie Johnson / 88 laps / running

CUP: Debut of Rick Ware Racing’s third team ends with blown engine for B.J. McLeod

PHOTO: David Marrero, @DavidMarrr
B.J. McLeod finished last in Saturday’s Monster Energy Open at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #53 Enlisted Nine Flight Company Chevrolet fell out with a blown engine after 15 of 62 laps.

All-Star Weekend marked the debut of Rick Ware Racing’s third team, the #53 that had been withdrawn without a driver at Dover. Driving the car would be B.J. McLeod, whose last-place run at Dover was his latest of six Cup points races in 2019. It also marked the first time car #53 had been entered in the Open since May 16, 1992, when Johnny McFadden entered a second car for Jimmy “Smut” Means, only to end up 28th of 29 drivers as one of four cars that didn’t start the race.

On Thursday, it was revealed that McLeod’s car would carry one of the most distinctive paint schemes of the weekend. Sponsored by the Enlisted Nine Fight Company branding at Nine Line Apparel, the scheme would honor the Tuskegee Airmen. The grey car with red nose and rear resembled the “Red Tails” fighter planes the African-American pilots flew during World War II. This scheme - along with the #32 Freedom Hard Ford of Corey LaJoie – was designed by combat veteran and Go FAS Racing team artist David Marrero. Marrero admitted he got goosebumps when he saw the finished product for the first time.

At Charlotte, McLeod was one of four drivers who didn’t participate in opening practice, but was fastest of the three Ware cars in qualifying with the 19th-best time of 175.319mph (30.801 seconds). Joining him were teammates Bayley Currey, 20th in an unsponsored #52 Chevrolet, and Cody Ware, 21st in the #51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet.

Starting 24th and last was Joey Gase, the only driver who didn’t turn a lap in qualifying. Gase ran the same #46 Toyota he ran in second Motorsports Business Management team’s debut at Kasnas, but this time with added decals resembling the #66 that Gase drove in Las Vegas and Fontana. Over the radio during the pace laps, the MBM team told Gase “Alright, Joey, thanks for having patience . . .let's go have some fun out there, man,” then said they would be easily able to make it all 50 laps of the race on fuel.

With one lap to the green flag, two Jay Robinson-prepared cars voluntarily fell behind Gase. One was 18th-place qualifier Ross Chastain in Premium Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet. The other was 23rd-place starter Quin Houff in Spire Motorsports’ unsponsored #77 Chevrolet. Houff lined up on the inside of Chastain, who radioed to his crew that “Water temperature's already at 190. Aero duct has it climbing higher than usual."

On the break, Chastain’s overheating car took last from the outside lane and started to lose touch with the pack. Coming off Turns 1 and 2, the #15 was already 3.2 seconds back of the lead with open track in front. On Lap 4, Chastain caught Gase and made the pass on the inside of Turn 4, dropping the #46 back to last. Chastain then made quick work of Houff, who Gase started tracking from about one corner back. By Lap 14, Gase reported his car was shoving the nose bad, and the crew alerted him to the fast-closing leaders. On Lap 15, leader Daniel Hemric got under Gase in Turns 1 and 2, putting the #46 the first car one lap down.

Two circuits later on Lap 17, Gase reported he was fuel pressure, the gauge reading it was down to 30 pounds. He said they had the same issue the day before with the pressure fluctuating, which may have accounted for their lack of a qualifying attempt. But before Gase could come down pit road, trouble broke out in Turn 2. McLeod was running a few cars ahead when the engine let go in a tremendous plume of smoke. He managed to steer the #53 to the apron and stop halfway down the backstretch before climbing out, done for the day. Nine laps of caution were needed to clean up fluid on the track as the #53 was pushed behind the wall near the Roval chicane and into the garage area.

Under the same yellow, 8th-place starter Chris Buescher saw his strong run come undone when the rear track bar came apart, forcing his #37 Kroger – Your Personal Pit Stop Chevrolet out of the race. Gase’s radio broke in with “We’ve got something big going on – let’s bring it in.” Like Buescher, Gase pulled down pit road before it was open, but the penalty was negated when he went into the garage. The team tried for several laps to figure out the issue and run some more laps, bringing out their computer to look over the readings. But on Lap 31, the #46 team called it a day and had the pit box broken down. The team continued to look over the car for several laps after, wanting to make sure the same issue didn’t bite them in the 600. Carl Long and team paid special attention to both the ECU and the fuel cell, and also believed it could be a collapsed line since the pressure fluctuations grew worse the longer the car was running.

William Byron was credited with 21st when he nudged past Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson at the end of Stage 1 to transfer his #24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet into the All-Star Race. Chastain finished 20th, citing engine issues perhaps stemming from his overheating issue at the start.

Next week, McLeod’s #53 will be among the entrants for the Coca-Cola 600. The entry is the first for the car number in a Cup race since April 30, 1995, when Ritchie Petty missed the field for the Winston Select 500 at Talladega. If the car starts, it will be the number’s first green flag in a points race since Petty’s 41st-place finish in the Pepsi 400 on July 2, 1994.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car No. 53 in the Open race.

24) #53-B.J. McLeod / 15 laps / engine
23) #37-Chris Buescher / 16 laps / suspension
22) #46-Joey Gase / 21 laps / engine
21) #24-William Byron / 27 laps / won stage 1
20) #15-Ross Chastain / 35 laps / engine

TRUCKS: Joe Nemechek tied for seventh in Truck Series last-place rankings after Charlotte

Joe Nemechek picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #87 ROMCO / TMS Titanium Chevrolet fell out with rear gear issues after 19 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Nemechek’s 62nd series start, was his second of the season and first since Atlanta, six races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 9th for the #87, the 11th from rear gear trouble, and the 372nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 52nd for the #87, the 41st from rear gear issues, and the 1,659th for Chevrolet.

Friday’s result not only gave Nemechek the early lead in defending his LASTCAR Truck Series Championship, but also moved him into a tie with Mike Harmon for the sixth-most last-place finishes in Truck Series history.

Coming into Charlotte, the veteran Nemechek had started all but two Truck Series races in 2019, skipping Las Vegas and withdrawing from a stacked entry list at Martinsville. In four of those remaining five starts, Nemechek drove his NEMCO Motorsports team’s flagship #8 Chevrolet which his son John Hunter drove for most of last season. Paired with limited backing from companies like ROMCO Equipment Company, TMS Titanium, and Acme Markets, Nemechek followed-up his last-place run at Atlanta with a 25th in Atlanta, a 26th in Dover, and 24th in Kansas. He’d yet to finish a race under power all season.

At Charlotte, Nemechek slid over to his second truck, the #87 Chevrolet, which he piloted to his season-best finish of 16th in Daytona. Driving duties in the unsponsored #8 Chevrolet would fall to Monster Jam competitor Camden Murphy, who eyed his first Truck Series start of the season.

Despite the withdrawals of Beaver Motorsports’ #1 Toyota with Bayley Currey and fellow owner-driver Norm Benning in the #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet, 36 trucks remained to attempt the Charlotte race, meaning four would miss the show. Nemechek found speed early in practice, turning just five laps – second-fewest of the session - and jumping to 5th on the speed charts. He followed this up with 19th in Happy Hour, and as the first qualifier, took 24th with a lap of 175.234mph (30.816 seconds). Murphy lined up two spots back in 26th.

Sent home after qualifying were Timothy Peters in the return of Ricky Benton’s #92 Black’s Tire Service Ford; Trey Hutchins in his new owner-driver operation, the #14 Heintz Performance Chevrolet; Josh Bilicki in Josh Reaume’s second truck, the #34 Chevrolet; and Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Osage Contractors Chevrolet. For Cobb, it was just her second DNQ of the season and first since Daytona.

Starting 32nd and last was Josh Reaume, who picked up sponsorship from Hertz Kompressoren and P&B Compressor on his #33 Chevrolet. With Bilicki unable to qualify his team truck, Reaume looked for a good showing. He was joined at the rear by two trucks sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments: 29th-place starter Austin Wayne Self in the #22 Go Texan / AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet, and 30th-place Spencer Boyd in the #20 1A Auto Chevrolet. Boyd’s truck, fielded by Randy Young, carried a large hood decal honoring the life of longtime Truck Series owner Mike Mittler, who passed away last week at age 67.

At the start, the tail end of the field uncoiled quickly with at least two trucks trailing the pack at the end of the first lap. Among them were both NEMCO trucks with Nemechek back in 30th and Murphy in 32nd. First to challenge for the spot was Natalie Decker, who after starting 21st in the #54 N29 Technologies Toyota continued her difficult rookie season when she slapped the wall in Turn 4 after four laps. As Decker lost a lap under green, Nemechek moved up to 28th, then 27th by Lap 8. Decker returned to the track on Lap 9, four laps down, but continued to struggle with speed. On Lap 27, Decker was five laps down, and leader Kyle Busch was putting tail-end cars a lap down, starting with Reaume.

Nemechek pulls into pit road under green before parking.
Then on Lap 20 and with 10 to go in Stage 1, Nemechek, now a lap down in 30th, slowed in Turn 4 and came down pit road before pulling into the garage area. Decker climbed past Nemechek five laps later, but only made it a few more before her crash damage eliminated her under green, leaving her 31st. Murphy followed Nemechek to the garage shortly after the start of Stage 2, taking 30th. The 29th spot fell to owner-driver Codie Rohrbaugh, whose #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet slapped the Turn 2 wall on Lap 72, drawing the fourth caution of the night. Reaume rounded out the group, still under power but a full 36 laps down to winner Kyle Busch. Friday marked Busch’s final Truck start of the season, during which he’d won all five of his entered events. Murphy and Rohrbaugh earned their first Bottom Fives of 2019.

Finishing a close 2nd to Busch was one Brennan Poole in the return of Steven Lane’s On Point Motorsports. Poole struggled the last two weeks, qualifying in the Top 10 at Dover only to slap the wall on the first lap, then withdrawing from last week’s race in Kansas. With new sponsorship from Madvapes on his #30 Toyota, Poole worked his way into the Top 10 from the 17th starting spot and, running 5th when Brett Moffitt’s tire carcass drew the caution, restarted 4th. Poole jumped to 2nd on the backstretch, worked to Busch’s inside and nearly drew alongside before Busch walked away. It was Poole’s best series finish.

Chad Finley restarted 8th for the final four-lap restart, but found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when 6th-place restarter Johnny Sauter stalled in front of him, dropping Finley’s #42 / Air Lift Chevrolet to a disappointing 18th-place finish. Finley had been in position to earn his first Top Ten since Gateway last summer, when he ran a strong 6th in his return to the series.

Cory Roper made his return to Truck Series competition for the first time since scaling back to a part-time effort following their withdrawal at Dover. As in many of his previous starts, his #04 Preferred Industrial Contractors Ford turned in a sterling qualifying effort, lining up 7th on the starting grid. But a slow start dropped him back through the field and he ultimately finished 20th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for both Joe Nemechek and the #87 in a Truck Series race at Charlotte. It’s also the first time a Truck Series last-placer finished last due to rear gear issues.

32) #87-Joe Nemechek / 19 laps / rear gear
31) #54-Natalie Decker / 32 laps / crash
30) #8-Camden Murphy / 40 laps / suspension
29) #9-Codie Rohrbaugh / 72 laps / crash
28) #33-Josh Reaume / 98 laps / running

1st) NEMCO Motorsports (2)
2nd) Copp Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (1)


Thursday, May 16, 2019

PREVIEW: Many Truck teams return for NASCAR's homecoming on All-Star Weekend

PHOTO: @StefanParsons98
Friday, May 17, 2019
TRUCKS Race 8 of 23
North Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

The lone points race of the weekend sees the Truck Series return to a strong 37-truck entry list (following a single withdrawal), meaning five trucks will fail to qualify. UPDATE: Make that 36 with four DNQs.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
MISSING: #38-Niece Motorsports
With a full entry list, two of the “start-and-park” entries from Kansas are not entered this week. This includes the #0 that was qualified by Joey Gase and raced by Jennifer Jo Cobb to a 23rd-place finish following Cobb’s qualifying crash (Cobb will instead drive her #10). The other is Al Niece’s #38, which T.J. Bell steered to a 26th-place finish before electrical issues.

WITHDREW: #1-Beaver Motorsports / Vizion Motorsports
Bayley Currey was set to follow-up his 29th-place finish in the #1 Toyota, but the team was withdrawn by Tuesday. Currey will instead focus on Saturday’s All-Star Open, where he rejoins Rick Ware Racing as driver of the #52 (see below).

WITHDREW: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning was entered this week, but withdrew by Thursday.

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
First of the ten teams returning to action after at least one week off is the #7, which withdrew from Kansas and hasn’t taken the green since driver Korbin Forrister finished 30th in Dover from a crash. Forrister looks to end a streak of back-to-back crashes and start his first Truck Series race here since 2015.

DRIVER CHANGE: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Camden Murphy returns to action in the Truck Series for the first time since last fall at Homestead, when he finished last in Beaver Motorsports’ #50 Chevrolet. This time, he makes his first start for NEMCO Motorsports in the team’s flagship #8. Murphy’s arrival moves team owner Joe Nemechek to the second truck, #87, taking the place of Kansas 28th-place finisher Timmy Hill. Hill will instead drive his own #56 truck (see below) in addition to his Cup ride in the Open.

RETURNING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh seeks his second Truck Series start of 2019 and first since a 23rd-place showing in Texas, again driving his #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet. Rohrbaugh finished 9th in an ARCA Menards Series race here just last year.

NEW TEAM: #14-Trey Hutchins
Trey Hutchins returns to the Truck Series for the first time since his series debut at Iowa on June 23, 2017, when he finished a solid 16th for the now-closed Bolen Motorsports. In the years since, Hutchens has remained a part-timer in the K&N Pro Series East, where just last year he finished 15th at Memphis and 18th at Loudon. There, as here, he will now run as an owner-driver of the #14 Chevrolet, the newest team on the Truck Series circuit.

RETURNING: #15-DGR-Crosley
David Gilliland’s team fields its third truck for the first time since Las Vegas, and as it was then, has Anthony Alfredo drive. Alfredo seeks his fourth Truck start of the season and first since Texas, where he ran 28th after a fiery crash. This time, he drives with returning sponsorship from the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and has new backing from Steelsmith.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Brennan Poole is back in action with his #30 team after both withdrew last week in Kansas, and carries new sponsorship from MadVapes. If he qualifies, it will be Poole’s first Truck Series start at Charlotte, a track where he has five XFINITY Series starts with a best of 5th his last time out in the fall of 2017.

RETURNING: #42-Chad Finley Racing, Inc.
Chad Finley returns to the Truck Series garage for the first time since Atlanta, where his hauler suffered damage in an incident leaving the speedway. Finley finished 28th that day, and seeks his first series start at Charlotte. and Air Lift return as sponsors.

MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
KBM has elected not to bring their part-time #46 Toyota to the track, and Riley Herbst is not entered following a 9th-place showing in Kansas.

Ray Ciccarelli’s team returns to the track for the first time since a 24th-place finish at Dover, but this time arrives with a different driver, and a message. Stefan Parsons will drive in Ciccarelli’s place, the #49 now representing The 49ers of his college, UNC Charlotte. The truck will bear the #CharlotteStrong hashtag in honor of those killed and wounded in the shooting on April 30.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch began the year four-for-four in his 2019 Truck Series schedule, and this week takes the place of Brandon Jones in a bid for his fifth victory of the season. Cessna sponsors the effort.

RETURNING: #56-Hill Motorsports
The Hill brothers return to action after a week off from Kansas, and this time Timmy Hill will drive for the first time since Martinsville. Southern Freight Services will sponsor the #56 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #92-Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises
Timothy Peters aims for his fourth Truck Series start of the year, his first since a 12th-place finish in Las Vegas. Unlike the prior three, when he drove for Al Niece, Peters will reunite with team owner Ricky Benton as driver of the #92 Black’s Tire Service Ford. Peters last took the green in the truck at Martinsville in the spring of last year, when he finished 7th. RBR’s only start this year came in the 2019 running of the Martinsville race, where Austin Theriault finished 22nd.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Jesse Little is back in action for the first time since Dover where he, like Stefan Parsons this week, ran a tribute car for victims of the UNC Charlotte shooting. Little looks to bounce back from a 29th-place finish on the Monster Mile that was his worst of the 2019 season. He finished 16th in last year’s Charlotte Truck Series race, his only other start here.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Also returning to action is Cory Roper and his Roper Racing team, which had to scale back at Dover when their full-time effort was scrapped. His new part-time schedule begins this week, where he looks to find the same speed that secured him spots in the season’s first five races.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Monster Energy Open at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Reed Sorenson

There are 24 drivers entered in Saturday’s 50-lap open race for the All-Star main event, up three cars from last year. Four of these drivers will transfer to the All-Star Race: three by winning one of the night’s three stages (Lap 20, Lap 40, Lap 50), while a fourth wins the Fan Vote. This includes Alex Bowman, who finished 2nd the last three points races, and Kyle Larson, who went winless in 2018 and has continued to struggle through the first part of 2019.

#8-Daniel Hemric
#13-Ty Dillon
#15-Ross Chastain
#17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
#21-Paul Menard
#24-William Byron
#32-Corey LaJoie
#34-Michael McDowell
#37-Chris Buescher
#38-David Ragan
#41-Daniel Suarez
#42-Kyle Larson
#43-Bubba Wallace
#46-Joey Gase
#47-Ryan Preece
#51-Cody Ware
#52-Bayley Currey
#53-B.J. McLeod
#66-Timmy Hill
#77-Quin Houff
#88-Alex Bowman
#95-Matt DiBenedetto

TEAM UPDATE: #46-Motorsports Business Management
Joey Gase and the #46 were not on the preliminary entry list for Saturday’s race, but were added late Tuesday.

NEW TEAM: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware’s team fields a third car for the first time, the #53 entry that was originally scheduled to debut at Dover. This allows for a three-car lineup of the Ware team’s most frequent starters this year: Cody Ware, Bayley Currey, and B.J. McLeod. McLeod will drive this new car. It marks car #53’s first drive in the Open race since 1992, when Johnny McFadden did not start Jimmy Means’ Pontiac, one of four drivers to not take the green flag that evening.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Landon Cassill debuts still another new sponsor to join the Derrike Cope team’s effort – truck accessory company Elongator Tailgates, manufacturers of integrated ramps and extensions for pickup truck tailgates.

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Alex Bowman

There are 15 drivers already locked-in to Saturday’s All-Star spectacular, to be joined by four drivers from the aforementioned Open race.

#1-Kurt Busch
#2-Brad Keselowski
#3-Austin Dillon
#4-Kevin Harvick
#6-Ryan Newman
#9-Chase Elliott
#10-Aric Almirola
#11-Denny Hamlin
#12-Ryan Blaney
#14-Clint Bowyer
#18-Kyle Busch
#19-Martin Truex, Jr.
#20-Erik Jones
#22-Joey Logano
#48-Jimmie Johnson

PAINT SCHEME: #4-Stewart-Haas Racing
Saturday will see defending All-Star winner Kevin Harvick drive “the ugliest car I’ve ever seen,” the light pink Millennial Car.

Saturday, May 25, 2019
XFINITY Race 11 of 33
Alsco 300 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

The XFINITY Series returns next Saturday as part of the Coca-Cola 600 weekend.

Today in LASTCAR history (May 16, 1969): Ed Hessert picks up the 1st last-place finish of his Cup Series career in the Beltsville 300 at the Beltsville (Maryland) Speedway, a half-mile paved oval. Hessert was making just the third Cup start of his career and his first as an owner-driver, but quit after 14 laps, leaving his #15 Plymouth last in the 22-car field. He would end up making 22 Cup starts with a best of 6th in the inaugural race at Dover that same 1969 season on July 6. The New Jersey-born Hessert is the father of Tom Hessert, Jr., who made one Cup start at Pocono in 1982, and grandfather of Tom Hessert III, who has six wins in the ARCA Menards Series.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

CUP: Cody Ware the first Kansas last-placer to finish under power

PHOTO: @RickWareRacing
Cody Ware picked up the 5th last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Digital Ally 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet finished under power after 245 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Ware’s 18th series start, was his second of the season and first since Martinsville, six races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 24th for car #51, the 38th where the car was still running, and the 762nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 36th for the #51, the 45th where the car was running, and the 1,658th for Chevrolet.

Kansas marked Ware’s third-consecutive start in the #51 since his drive at Martinsville, but he wasn’t originally scheduled to drive the car. Jeb Burton was on the preliminary entry list, set to return to the car for the first time since Richmond. But it was Ware’s name above the door at Kansas, and the newcomer looked to build on his season-best 28th at Talladega earlier that month.

In opening practice, Ware turned in the 36th-best lap of 40 drivers, outpacing two cars each prepared by Premium Motorsports and Motorsports Business Management. He then climbed to 34th-best of 39 in Happy Hour. Originally, Ware’s qualifying lap of 170.940mph (31.590 seconds) was originally 37th-fastest, but that changed when eleven different drivers saw their times disallowed: Aric Almirola (set to start 2nd), Daniel Suarez (4th), Martin Truex, Jr. (6th), Kyle Larson (8th), Ty Dillon (15th), Joey Logano (20th), Michael McDowell (23rd), Landon Cassill (25th), Joey Gase (38th), and Timmy Hill (39th).

The disallowed times lifted Ware from 37th to 28th on the grid. One spot behind him in 29th was the original last-place starter, Reed Sorenson, whose #27 Harrah’s Chevrolet was the only car not turn a lap in qualifying. The disallowed filled out the field based on Owner Points with Logano 30th followed by Truex, Elliott, Almriola, Suarez, Larson, Dillon, McDowell, Cassill, Hill, and Gase. Gase, who finished last in Trucks the night before, inherited the last spot since his #46 Toyota team was making its first-ever start for MBM.

The order changed once more a lap from the start when two more cars fell out of line: Sorenson’s #27 and Quin Houff’s #77 Oilfire Chevrolet from Spire Motorsports. This moved eight of the ten disallowed drivers up two additional spots with Houff now in 36th, Cassill up one spot to 37th, Sorenson 38th, Gase up one spot to 39th, and Hill now taking over last in his #66.

On the break, Hill held the 40th spot, but was already closing on a side-by-side battle for 38th between Sorenson in the low lane and Houff up high. At the stripe, Hill pulled alongside Houff, but the #77 got the drive off and kept Hill’s #66 in last. By Lap 6, Gase had been shaken out of the tail end battle, and Hill was now glued to his rear bumper in Turn 1, much to the surprise of the MBM crew. By Lap 11, Hill lost ground to Gase, who was trying to track down Ware in 38th, some distance ahead.

On the 14th circuit, Hill closed the gap on his teammate off Turn 4 and passed him up high, dropping Gase to last. The next time by, race leader Kevin Harvick made Gase the first car one lap down, moving past him on the high lane. By then, Gase had concerns over his car’s handling, saying “it’s all over the place,” and also believed his car picked up a piece of debris on the grille. Gase made it to the competition caution on Lap 30, then dropped Hill back to last since his pit stall was several stalls in front of the #66. The spot changed hands the next time by when Gase made a second stop, dropping him behind Hill. Gase re-passed Hill on the Lap 37 restart, then Hill, now two laps down. caught Ware on Lap 48, passing the #51 on the backstretch to put him last for the first time.

On Lap 50, Ware found himself caught between leaders Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, who split him on either side just past the start / finish line, putting him a third lap down. Six circuits later, Ware was called to pit road, but overshot the entrance and lost valuable time making a slower lap around. He came back in, saying “I about wrecked myself coming onto pit road – it’s out of control.” He returned to action now five laps in arrears, but still struggling with the handling in the rear of the car.

On Lap 72, the #51 team talked about bringing Ware’s car to the garage. The team did so on Lap 82, shortly after the caution came out to end Stage 1. In the garage, the crew hanged springs, including a “2000” spring in the right-rear. Just eight circuits later on Lap 90, Ware re-fired the engine, stopped in his stall for fuel, and returned to the track, 18 laps back.

Ware remained on track the rest of the night, and lost laps at a slower rate than before. He was 19 down by Lap 108, 20 down by Lap 124, and fell 22 back after a pit stop completed on Lap 144. He started to lag back on restarts, letting others line up ahead of him, and on two occasions was by himself as the rest of the field pulled away. On Lap 167, however, he took the green alongside Timmy Hill’s #66, caught Gase’s #46 two laps later, and passed both off Turn 4. Though twelve laps behind the two MBM cars, Ware still looked to race whoever he could. He fell 23 laps down by Lap 185, 24 down by Lap 201, and 25 by Lap 231. When the race restarted on Lap 245, Ware didn’t let traffic go by, and positioned himself a couple rows up.

With an eleven-lap gap up to 39th-place, Ware secured last place under green with twelve laps to go. And with seven circuits remaining, he again found himself in the middle of a lead battle at the worst possible spot. Coming off Turn 4, Brad Keselowski had worked to the outside of Alex Bowman, and just about had the #88 cleared. Ware again hugged the inside lane, which was also where Bowman was running as Keselowski passed by. The caution fell moments later for Matt DiBenedetto’s engine failure on his #95 Digital Momentum / Hubspot Toyota. Just three laps down at the time, DiBenedetto only fell to 36th at the finish, his first Bottom Five of 2019.

Ware didn’t lose another lap and finished 26 down in 40th, still under power at the checkered flag. Hill and Gase finished 39th and 38th with Gase’s new #46 a full lap ahead of Hill. Cassill ran 37th, visibly off the pace in the final moments.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car #51 in a Cup Series race at Kansas.
*This was also the first time a Cup driver finished last while still under power at Kansas. In the process, Ware came just two laps short of tying 2018 last-placer Ty Dillon for the most laps complete by a last-place finisher at Kansas (247).
*This is the eighth time in the last two seasons that the last-placer of a Cup race completed 200 or more laps.

40) #51-Cody Ware / 245 laps / running
39) #66-Timmy Hill / 257 laps / running
38) #46-Joey Gase / 258 laps / running
37) #00-Landon Cassill / 261 laps / running
36) #95-Matt DiBenedetto / 261 laps / engine

1st) Front Row Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (3)
2nd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (2)
3rd) Germain Racing, Motorsports Business Management (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (1)


TRUCKS: Late entry, qualifying crash, driver swap hand Joey Gase first series last-place finish

PHOTO: @DnfRacers
Joey Gase picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career in Friday’s Digital Ally 250 at the Kansas Speedway when his #10 Osage Contractors Chevrolet fell out with chassis issues without completing any of the 167 laps.

The finish came in Gase’s third series start, and now gives the driver at least one last-place run in each of NASCAR’s top three series. In Truck Series last-place history, it was the 19th for the #10 and the 371st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 123rd for the #10 and the 1,657th for Chevrolet. It was also the first time a last-place finisher of a points race in NASCAR’s top three series fell out with “chassis” issues, making it the 125th different reason out in NASCAR national series history.

Up until the middle of last week, Gase was only slated to run Saturday’s Cup race for Carl Long’s team, Motorsports Business Management. In a rare off-weekend for the XFINITY Series, where Gase drives MBM’s #35 Toyota, the driver would also debut Long’s new second Cup car. Joining Timmy Hill in the blue #66, a part-time effort, would be Gase’s black #46. The number held special significance for Long, as it was the number the veteran campaigned for his first team a decade ago, when a controversial penalty following the All-Star Open race shut down his program and kept him out of NASCAR’s top series. It would be Gase’s fourth Cup start of the season, following all ten of the first XFINITY races. Gase swept the last-place finishes of both series in Las Vegas. As it turned out, both Gase and Hill would run both races.

A double-duty weekend for both Gase and Hill was the result of the Truck Series’ first short field since October 14, 2017 at Talladega. Just 28 trucks appeared on the preliminary entry list, and ultimately two of those – All Out Motorsports’ #7 and On Point Motorsports’ #30 – withdrew by Wednesday. Coming to the rescue were four underdogs – Bayley Currey in the previously un-entered and unsponsored Beaver Motorsports #1 Toyota, and three backup trucks fielded by Niece Motorsports (#38 with T.J. Bell), NEMCO Motorsports (#87 with Hill), and Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (#0 with Gase).

Gase’s white #0 Chevrolet, identical to Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Chevrolet but for the sponsor decals, began the weekend 22nd of 23 drivers in opening practice, outpacing Josh Bilicki, set to make his series debut in the Reaume Brothers’ #34 Chevrolet. Gase didn’t participate in Happy Hour, and prepared to roll off 10th in the qualifying order, one spot behind Cobb. Unfortunately, it was on Cobb’s run that she clipped the apron of Turn 4 and backed into the outside wall, pushing in the rear clip. She somehow avoided splitter damage by slowing as she reached the infield grass. After a brief delay, Gase put up the 27th-fastest lap of 165.477mph (32.633 seconds).

Similar to Gateway in 2017, when Cobb started a damaged truck after a similar incident, the crew managed to piece the truck together. The team also elected to swap Cobb into the #0 for the planned full-race run, putting Gase in the #10 for a “start-and-park.” The driver swap would incur both drivers tail-end penalties. “That was a bad day,” the crew told Cobb as she fired up #0, “but it’s night now – it’s gonna get better.” The driver change was so late that this and other radio communications came over the parked #10’s channel instead of the one listed for #0.

Prior to the start, the Cobb duo would be joined by Currey’s #1, whose team had to make unapproved adjustments for a flat-sounding engine that aborted their qualifying attempt. “You know the deal here,” said Currey’s crew. “We’ll try to keep it clean.”

When the command to fire engines was given, 16th-place starter Jordan Anderson in the #3 / BG Services Chevrolet failed to start, and the line was held up before he started rolling. Once the green flag flew, Gase pulled into the garage without completing a lap, and was joined four circuits later by Currey. Hill came next, another four laps later.

For most of Stage 1, the next spot in 27th belonged to Johnny Sauter, whose #13 Tenda Ford stopped on the track after 20 laps with an unusual transmission failure that required more than 60 circuits in the garage. Sauter finally returned to the track and clawed his way out of the Bottom Five to finish 22nd. This dropped the final two spots to Austin Wayne Self with engine issues on the #22 Go Texan / AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet and the final last-minute entry of T.J. Bell in the #38 Niece Equipment Chevrolet.

Josh Reaume finished just outside the Bottom Ten in 20th, one spot ahead of Norm Benning in 21st. The extra Bottom Ten by Benning pulls him into a tie with Reaume for the 2019 LASTCAR Truck Series lead. Reaume retains the lead on a bottom-fifteen tiebreaker of 5-4.

Friday’s race proved emotional for the series’ underdogs for two very different reasons.

Earlier that day, Mike Mittler passed away after a lengthy illness. Mittler, whose team MB Motorsports had competed in every Truck Series season since the inaugural campaign in 1995, fielded a combined 301 entries. His driver roster included Cup race winners Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray, XFINITY winner Justin Allgaier, and the late Tony Roper, who the team raced on in his memory since a fatal accident at Texas in 2000. The team came closest to victory lane in 2015, when dirt track ace Bobby Pierce won the pole at Eldora, led 39 laps, and finished 2nd to Christopher Bell. It turned out to be MB’s only top-five finish. The team, now under the command of D.J Copp, wasn’t among the entrants in Friday’s race.

Then came the finish, which was settled between two hard-luck drivers, each looking for their first series win. In the final laps, race leader Stewart Friesen was in position to finally break through after five runner-up finishes, but he’d left early from a four-tire stop, preventing the #52 team from filling the fuel tank. This proved problematic as in 2nd was a hard-charging Ross Chastain, the only driver to finish Top Ten in every Truck Series race in 2019. Eight months after his first XFINITY Series win with a Chip Ganassi team he was set to run full-time before a catastrophic sponsorship issue, Chastain was the only driver to run every Cup, XFINITY, and Truck race in 2019. Driving for an Al Niece team that didn’t score a Top Ten of their own in their first full season two years ago, Chastain kept the race close, forcing Friesen to run out of fuel with three laps to go. Chastain pulled away, and in his 66th series start dating back to 2011, broke through with his first Truck Series victory.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #10 in a Truck Series race at Kansas.

30) #10-Joey Gase / 0 laps / chassis
29) #1-Bayley Currey / 4 laps / electrical
28) #87-Timmy Hill / 8 laps / vibration
27) #22-Austin Wayne Self / 26 laps / engine
26) #38-T.J. Bell / 44 laps / electrical

1st) Copp Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, NEMCO Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (6)
2nd) Toyota (1)