Sunday, October 13, 2019

TRUCKS: Mason Massey’s fluid leak leads to a frustrating race for Cobb; Boyd breaks through with upset win at Talladega

ALL PHOTOS: @chris_lightnin
Mason Massey picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career in Saturday’s Sugarlands Shine 250 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #33 Anderson Power / Generac Chevrolet fell out with a blown engine after 8 of 98 laps.

The finish came in Massey’s 7th series start. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 5th for the #33, the 130th from engine trouble, and the 381st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #33, the 1,076th from engine trouble, and the 1,690th for Chevrolet.

Massey, a 22-year-old from Douglassville, Georgia has been racing for most of his life, competing on both dirt and asphalt. He drove Late Models for Bill Elliott, winning the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway in 2012. He’s also a former U.S. Legends Pro National Champion, and has branched out into Dirt Late Models. This past June, Massey made his Truck Series debut with Josh Reaume’s team, finishing 21st at Iowa. He’s since made at least one start in each of Reaume’s three trucks with a best finish of 17th at Pocono.

Saturday marked Massey’s first Talladega start, and in opening practice ran 30th of 31 trucks ahead of teammate Jesse Iwuji in the #34. He was again second-slowest in Happy Hour, but improved to 29th of the 32 drivers in qualifying with a lap of 172.771mph (55.426 seconds). Following Ray Ciccarelli’s withdrawal of his CMI Motorsports team, no drivers failed to qualify.

Iwuji’s #34 John’s 360 Coatings Toyota started 32nd and last on Saturday, and was joined by owner-driver Jordan Anderson, who missed the driver’s meeting after timing in 30th in the #3 / Albiero Energy Chevrolet. What unfolded was a chaotic sequence of events at the back of the field.

On the break, Iwuji took over last place from Anderson, 3.068 seconds back of the lead. By the end of the first lap, Massey was back in 31st, just a fraction of a second ahead of his teammate. That same time by, Angela Ruch made an unscheduled stop when her #44 The Ruch Life Chevrolet kept jumping out of gear. The team brought out a bungee cord to hold the truck in gear, but lost two laps in the process.

On Lap 6, Codie Rohrbaugh broke loose in Turn 1, dropping him out of 19th. As he continued along the apron, NASCAR didn’t throw a caution. Moments later, Jennifer Jo Cobb in her #10 Chevrolet spun down the backstretch, but again the yellow didn’t come out. The driver was livid over the radio, saying that someone on track was leaking fluid, causing her to spin, and coating her windshield in a layer of film. This same fluid may have also caused Rohrbaugh’s incident, but this wasn’t confirmed. The caution did not fall until Lap 9, and only when Harrison Burton’s #18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota spun out on the frontstretch while in the lead draft. By then, Cobb was off the lead lap and in last place.
Cobb's truck sits on pit road as the crew searches for tires.

Under caution on Lap 10, a frustrated Cobb made it to pit road. Despite avoiding damage to her truck, a sponsor falling through meant the team didn’t have another set of tires ready to replace the ones flat-spotted by the spin. The team sent a runner up pit road to see if they could get a set of scuffs from another team. “We don’t have any fucking tires to put on it, so I guess we'll just sit here,” said Cobb. “Take that windshield and you go take that to a NASCAR official, please. The most ridiculous shit I've ever heard of.”

It was then revealed that Massey’s #33 was the truck leaking fluid, and on Lap 11 the truck was seen pushed behind the wall with the white TV panel smeared with brown liquid, believed to be gear oil. Fluid had, in fact, been left from Turn 4 all the way past Turns 1 and 2, but it was not until Lap 12 that NASCAR threw a red flag to clean it up.

While the field was stopped, Cobb’s #10 remained on pit road as the crew continued to search for tires. They first looked to Stewart Friesen’s crew for a pair of scuffs, then to Ross Chastain’s crew to get the set of tires they’d just changed. Both proved to be dead ends, and Chastain’s crew said they would be re-using the ones they’d changed. Cobb then told her crew to buy another set of tires from the Goodyear shop, but her crew didn’t have the required credit card on hand at pit road. According to Chris Knight, two fans on Talladega Blvd. stepped in and bought her another set of tires. Radio communications indicate these tires weren’t mounted until the red flag was lifted, at which point Cobb had now lost more than five laps. Back under caution, Cobb’s truck was pushed behind the wall, where they awaited new tires near one of the track’s big screens. Two tires were changed on Lap 22, and the other two were added with an impact wrench soon after. On Lap 29, Cobb re-fired her engine and returned to action a full 19 laps down. Massey didn’t return to the race, and with just one lap separating him from Cobb, dropped to last on Lap 30.

Cobb goes behind the wall for her tire change.
Cobb ultimately climbed to 27th, just outside of the Bottom Five, and the last truck to finish under power. The first truck she passed was Tyler Dippel, whose #02 Lobas Productions Chevrolet wrecked on the backstretch. Finishing 30th was John Hunter Nemechek, who pushed in the nose of his #8 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, knocking him out with radiator issues. Austin Wayne Self’s #22 Go Texan Chevrolet fell out with overheating issues. Rounding out the group was Anglea Ruch, whose earlier issues with the truck jumping out of gear were compounded when she lost the engine.

Saturday’s race ended with just as much controversy. In the sprint to the finish line, race leader Johnny Sauter threw a block on Riley Herbst, causing both trucks to cross below the yellow line in the tri-oval. As both returned to the track surface, Sauter blocked the approaching high lane and took the checkered flag in first. After Sauter did donuts on the frontstretch, NASCAR officials intervened, stating that Sauter violated the “yellow-line rule” with his block. The penalty handed the victory to second-place Spencer Boyd, who was leading the high lane up to Sauter at the finish. Boyd, who was on pit road at the time, celebrated with his crew – both his first Truck Series victory in his 23rd start and the first in the eight-year history of Young’s Motorsports. Boyd ultimately had to hustle back from victory lane as his Cup ride for Sunday, the #52 Medicine Shoppe Chevrolet, was lined up first to qualify. After a delay, Boyd hopped in the car and qualified it 39th. He finished XXTH.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #33 in a Truck Series race at Talladega.

32) #33-Mason Massey / 8 laps / engine
31) #02-Tyler Dippel / 29 laps / crash
30) #8-John Hunter Nemechek / 30 laps / radiator
29) #22-Austin Wayne Self / 69 laps / overheating
28) #44-Angela Ruch / 72 laps / engine

1st) NEMCO Motorsports (4)
2nd) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (3)
3rd) Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
4th) Copp Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Halmar Friesen Racing, Hattori Racing Enterprises, JJL Motorsports, Niece Motorsports, ThorSport Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (16)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


Thursday, October 10, 2019

PREVIEW: "White-knuckle weekend" in Talladega sees many drivers return

Ty Dillon honoring Richard Chilress' first Cup start at Talladega in 1969.
PHOTO: @GermainRacing
Saturday, October 12, 2019
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Sugarlands Shine 250 at Talladega
Round of 6 – Race 1 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Clay Greenfield

There are 33 drivers entered for 32 spots in Saturday’s return of the Truck Series after nearly a full month off, meaning one team will miss the show.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb will not enter her second truck, which was withdrawn along with Daniel Sasnett as driver in Las Vegas. The Cobb team will still field the #10 with the only superspeedway truck they have in their stables.

MISSING: #5-DGM-Crosley
Dylan Lupton is not entered after another strong run in Las Vegas, where he ran 10th.

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister is back in action for the first time since May, along with his All Out Motorsports team that is still looking for sponsorship. Forrister has four Truck Series starts at Talladega with a best of 15th both last year and in 2015.

DRIVER SWAP: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Pending the outcome of qualifying, father and son will race against each other this Saturday as Joe Nemechek moves from the #87 to the #8, leaving John Hunter to drive the #87. The younger Nemechek, who finished last with fuel pressure issues in Las Vegas, takes the place of Tony Mrakovich, who ran a strong 13th that night. UPDATE: Reportedly on Monday, Timothy Peters was slated to take the place of Joe Nemechek in the #8.

MISSING: #11-Rette Jones Racing
Spencer Davis is not entered after he ran 18th in Las Vegas.

MISSING: #19-Bill McAnally Racing
Derek Kraus and the California-based McAnally team are also not headed to Alabama following a 27th-place finish due to transmission issues in Vegas.

Bryan Dauzat and Jim Rosenblum are back in action this week, the first attempt for both driver and team since their season-best 24th-place run in Pocono. Dauzat didn’t get a chance to put the #28 through its paces at Daytona, where he was eliminated with crash damage after only two laps, leaving him 31st.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Team owner Josh Reaume takes the place of Jesse Iwuji, who was swapped out of the Las Vegas field following his scary qualifying crash in the #34 Chevrolet. No sponsor is yet listed for the #34, but Anderson Power Services will again back teammate Mason Massey in the #33.

MISSING: #38-Niece Motorsports
Colin Garrett is not entered after his 21st-place finish at Las Vegas, bringing the Al Niece contingent down to two between Angela Ruch (#44) and Playoff contender Ross Chastain (#45).

WITHDREW: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Cicarelli returns to Truck Series competition for the first time since his brief run at Mosport, and drives his own equipment for the first time since his career-best 9th-place finish at Michigan. Should he qualify, it will be Cicarelli’s first-ever start at Talladega. UPDATE: The team withdrew prior to the weekend.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Riley Herbst makes only his third Truck Series start of the season, this time taking the place of Christian Eckes, who ran 3rd after starting on pole in Las Vegas. Herbst’s best finish of the year came at Kansas, where he ran 9th in the KBM #46.

MISSING: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill and brother Timmy are not competing in Saturday’s race after they failed to qualify following a qualifying incident in Las Vegas.

RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield, the defending last-place finisher of this race, is back with his family’s #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota. Greenfield’s last attempt came at Bristol two months ago, when he ran 26th after steering issues.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper is not entered in Saturday’s race after he, too, failed to qualify in Las Vegas.

MISSING: #08-Kart Idaho Racing
Justin Johnson is not entered after they took Jesse Iwuji’s place at Las Vegas following a DNQ, ending the night in 23rd place.


Sunday, October 13, 2019
CUP Race 31 of 36 500 at Talladega
Round of 12 – Race 2 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Michael McDowell

There are exactly 40 drivers entered for as many spots in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Talladega, the first since the Roval, two races ago, and just the eighth in 31 races this year.

PAINT SCHEME: #13-Germain Racing
Announced on Tuesday was a “throwback” paint scheme for Ty Dillon. In honor of Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary, dating back to the inaugural Talladega race in September 1969, Dillon’s car will carry a flat green paint scheme reminiscent of grandfather Richard Childress’ first Cup car, which also happened to be #13. Childress’ 1968 Chevrolet was among the entrants from the lower division series who were called upon to fill out the Sunday field after a driver’s strike.

TEAM UPDATE: #21-Wood Brothers Racing
Matt Crafton is on standby to relieve Paul Menard, who is struggling with neck pain.

DRIVER SWAP: #27-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Reed Sorenson moves from the #77 to the #27 this week, taking the place of Joe Nemechek, who after running 30th at Dover isn’t entered and will instead focus on Saturday’s Truck Series race. Sorenson looks to rebound from an axle failure that came after Joey Logano’s on Lap 1. In the #77 this week is Blake Jones – not Daytona winner Justin Haley – who proudly announced his return to the series by posting pictures of his 2019 NASCAR license on social media. We last saw Jones at Bristol last year, when he drove BK Racing’s final race before their Charter officially changed hands. This will be Jones’ first Cup start on a track over two miles in length.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware Racing returns to their lineup from Richmond as Austin Theriault will make his first Cup start at Talladega. He takes the place of B.J. McLeod, who ran 29th at Dover. Theriault drives a special paint scheme in honor of Roger Haynes, who passed away in May. It was Haynes who drove his big rig around the Talladega track carrying the American flag. The #51 will bear a similar scheme to that truck.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Spencer Boyd joins Theriault in making his own first start since Richmond, where he ran 34th in the #53. This time, he drives the #52 in place of J.J. Yeley, who ran 32nd at Dover. It will be Boyd’s third series start, and comes with sponsorship from the Medicine Shoppe.

MISSING: #54-Rick Ware Racing
The Ware team has only entered their two Chartered cars this week and have not fielded the #54 which Garrett Smithley drove to a 33rd-place finish on “The Monster Mile.”

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Plate racing means the return of Mark Beard’s team with driver Brendan Gaughan, who again look to turn heads in the #62 Beard Oil Distributing / South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, which ran a strong 8th here in the spring. Gaughan’s career-best Cup Series finish came in this very race 15 years ago, when he ran 4th in Doug Bawel’s #77 Dodge.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Joey Gase and the #66 MBM Cup team are back in action for the first time since Las Vegas, interestingly carrying sponsorship recognizing sponsor Eternal Fan’s fan promotions at the Richmond Raceway. Gase has four Talladega starts in the series with a best finish of 18th in this race last year, driving for StarCom Racing.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #95-Leavine Family Racing
Talladega marks the second race of Barstool Sports’ sponsorship of Matt DiBenedetto. This time, the red paint scheme reflects the website’s “One Bite” pizza taste test series.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman rejoins the circuit following a week off in Dover, looking to improve on their 27th-place finish at Talladega this past spring.

Saturday, October 19, 2019
XFINITY Race 30 of 33
Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas
Round of 8 – Race 1 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Michael Annett

The XFINITY Series takes a week off this time and returns next Saturday in Kansas.

Today in LASTCAR history (October 10, 1993): Todd Bodine picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup career in the Mello Yello 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #75 Factory Stores Ford was involved in a crash after 140 laps. Bodine’s crash was one of just two cautions that day – the other from oil on the track – resulting in an average race speed of 154.537mph.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

ARCA: Benjamin Peterson never takes the green in rain-shortened farewell to steel bodies

PHOTO: Mark Kristl, @MarkKristl
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Benjamin Peterson finished last for the second time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway when his #0 Peterson Racing Ford did not start.

The finish was his second consecutive and came in his second attempt at an ARCA race.

The Herr’s Potato Chips 200 was the last race that ARCA teams could use steel-bodied “old style” cars. They were outlawed on restrictor plate tracks prior to 2018, then on tracks 1 mile and over before this season. Despite the restrictions, a small contingent of teams, most notably Wayne Peterson Racing, Brad Smith Motorsports and Fast Track Racing, still used the old cars. While it is unknown exactly how many teams ran steel-bodied cars on Saturday night, it is a fair guess to say that there were a good amount in the field, including the last-place finisher.

Lucas Oil Raceway brought out a good entry list for the series, topping at 22 cars, or approximately 1.5 times the size of the NASCAR K&N East field for Dover on Friday night. Darrell Basham returned for potentially his final ARCA start, driving the #1 for Fast Track Racing. LASTCAR drivers’ championship contender Dick Doheny ran the #11 car for the team. Win-Tron Racing, after announcing that part-time driver Cole Glasson had left the team, entered Howie DiSavino III for his second start of the season. Eric Caudell brought his #7 to the track, and the Darrell Basham Racing team brought a steel-bodied #34 with Mike Basham driving. Besides that, the usual short-track crew entered, including Bobby Gerhart, Scott Melton, Ty Gibbs, Sam Mayer, Corey Heim, Chandler Smith and Carson Hocevar. Hailie Deegan also made her fifth of six scheduled starts in the Venturini Motorsports #55 machine.

In practice, Peterson anchored the charts, turning a lap of around 26.4 seconds, around 4 seconds slower than leader Chandler Smith’s lap. In qualifying, Peterson was one of three cars that didn’t take a time, along with Bret Holmes and Brad Smith, who was running a steel-bodied chassis nicknamed “Harry”.

Peterson’s car, unfortunately, never saw the track after practice, as the car did not take the green flag and was classified last in the results. Darrell Basham pulled off after a lap due to a vibration, and Caudell retired after three laps with radiator problems. Brad Smith bowed out of the race after 60 laps, citing clutch issues. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Dick Doheny, who spun and damaged both ends of his #11 machine in the process, forcing him behind the wall after 89 laps.

Give a call, however, to the #34 Basham Racing team, who ran the whole race in a steel-bodied car. Driver Mike Basham finished 13th, tying his last finish at Salem for his best run of the year.
And while the ARCA points lead may have changed after Christian Eckes benefited from rain to move past Michael Self in the points, the only LASTCAR championship that has not been decided – the drivers’ championship – continues to hang in the balance heading into the season finale in two weeks at Kansas. Brad Smith could become a LASTCAR champion with a last-place finish, as he, Dick Doheny or Wayne Peterson all win with a last-place finish.

22) #0-Benjamin Peterson / 0 laps / did not start
21) #1-Darrell Basham / 1 lap / vibration
20) #7-Eric Caudell / 3 laps / radiator
19) #48-Brad Smith / 60 laps / clutch
18) #11-Dick Doheny / 89 laps / accident

1st) Ford (11)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Chevrolet (3)
4th) Dodge (1)

1st) Wayne Peterson Racing (7)
2nd) Fast Track Racing (3)
3rd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Venturini Motorsports (2)
4th) KBR Development, Mullins Racing, Our Motorsports (1)


Sunday, October 6, 2019

CUP: Wild last-place battle between Logano, Sorenson, and Elliott starts during the pace laps at Dover

Chase Elliott picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Drydene 400 at the Dover International Speedway when his #9 Hooters – Give a Hoot Chevrolet blew an engine after 8 of 400 laps.

The finish, which came in Elliott’s 143rd series start, was his second of the season and first since Pocono, nine races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 32nd for the #9, the 689th from engine trouble, and the 773rd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 51st for the #9, the 1,075th from engine trouble, and the 1,689th for Chevrolet.

Elliott entered Sunday’s race with plenty of momentum to start the “Round of 12.” Just last week on the Charlotte Roval, he led 28 of the first 64 laps. He was still out front for a restart on Lap 65 – too far out front – as his brakes locked in the tricky braking zone known as “Heartburn Turn,” sending him nose-first into the tire barrier. The youngster managed to slam his car into reverse quick enough to not lose a lap, and the resulting caution allowed for repairs. Sure enough, just 14 laps later he was back out front, and with six laps to go took the lead for good from Kevin Harvick. The win vaulted Elliott past the Round of 16 with ease, and he now returned to a race where he scored his second Cup victory just one year ago.

As September turned to October, Elliott’s car carried a pink paint scheme for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in partnership with team sponsor Hooters, creating the “Give a Hoot” campaign. Elliott began the weekend 13th on the speed charts, improved to 5th in Happy Hour, then secured the 5th starting spot in qualifying with a speed of 165.937mph (21.695 seconds), second among the Chevrolets behind outside polesitter Kyle Larson.

Starting 38th was Reed Sorenson, who this week carried no primary or associate sponsorship on Spire Motorsports’ #77 Chevrolet. Despite Martin Truex, Jr. twice failing pre-race inspection, resulting in the ejection of a crew member, neither he nor any other driver were sent to the rear for pre-race penalties. Instead, with less than two laps to the green flag, 14th-place qualifier Joey Logano made an unexpected pit stop in the #22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford. The crew looked over the car quickly, then sent him back out onto the track. Logano completed one more pace lap, then pulled down pit road again, entering the garage through the Turn 1 entrance. “Gear and axles,” called the crew, who quickly set to work on a rear end and axle failure.

Meanwhile, back on the track, last-place qualifier Sorenson advanced to 37th for the green flag when he, too, noticed something was off with his car. After completing two laps, he pulled into the garage area at the opposite end of the track, stopping in the infield at Turns 3 and 4. Sorenson reported his car “shit out an axle,” which was now sitting at the entrance to pit road. It took some time for the Spire Motorsports crew to retrieve their car, summoning an ATV to push it back to the garage area. As they did, the crew discovered the right-rear axle was missing, and was almost certainly the axle NBC saw on pit road which was originally attributed to Logano. The debris brought out a caution, and a crewman from Spire was instructed to go to pit road and retrieve it.

Elliott’s role in the last-place battle came under this caution on Lap 9, as the #77 crew reported Elliott had slowed in Turns 3 and 4. Elliott reported that “something came apart,” and the crew lifted the hood on pit road to look over the engine. Three laps down on Lap 12, Elliott also pulled into the garage, turning left into the same Turn 1 opening that Logano entered. The #9 pulled into a stall near Logano’s (the stalls appearing next to each other on RaceView), and work began. The team apparently switched to a second radio channel as little if any radio communication was heard from that point onward.

With 13 laps complete, Logano held last place, 13 laps down with no laps turned on the track. Sorenson was 11 down, two in front of Logano, holding 37th. Elliott was another six in front of Sorenson, 5 down in 36th.

Elliott's team loads up in Stage 1.
PHOTO: @spannerhead29
First to return to action was Logano, who on Lap 24 finally completed his first lap, 23 laps down. Four laps after this, Sorenson’s team - still on the primary channel – were looking for another hub as Logano dropped them to last on Lap 28 and Chase to 37th on Lap 33. On the 41st circuit, Elliott was interviewed for NBC saying it was an engine issue, the first indication that he may be done for the day. Two laps after this, Sorenson’s team found the axle was not simply missing, but had broken in half, the other part of it still stuck inside the housing. “Axle still in there?” said the #77 crew on Lap 43. “Okay, we've gotta pull the gear out. How the hell are we gonna get that out? Gotta get a broomstick.” This revelation meant the Spire team had to replace the entire rear end.

On Lap 53, Elliott’s #9 was the first to go “unavailable” on RaceView. Five circuits later on the 58th lap, NASCAR officials in the garage reported “9 out, engine,” indicating Elliott was done for the afternoon.

Sorenson’s crew continued to work through the first quarter of the race. On Lap 81, they were just about finished, and said they were waiting for green-flag stops to end before returning to the race. Whether this was their idea or if NASCAR instructed them to do so is unclear. On Lap 93, the car was brought closer to Turn 2, positioned for a drive back to the Turn 1 garage exit. Ten laps after this on Lap 103, Sorenson was rolling again, and was back up to speed on the backstretch on Lap 107. With Elliott out of the race, Sorenson dropped the #9 to last on Lap 114, just as the crew was loading up the car.

Sorenson ultimately completed 178 more laps before he fell out with handling issues, unable to gain another spot. Finishing 36th was Chris Buescher, who lost the engine on his #37 Kroger – Simmer Like A Winner Chevrolet. Ryan Blaney took 35th, his strong run foiled by a reported brake problem on the #12 PPG Ford. While the crew attempted to get him back in the race, he didn’t turn another lap and was listed out by suspension issues instead of brakes. Logano climbed to 34th by the finish, losing just two more laps by the checkered flag. In doing so, he closed within two laps of 33rd-place Garrett Smithley (similar to Erik Jones’ charge at Las Vegas), but wasn’t quite able to avoid his first Bottom Five of 2019.

*This is the first time car #9 has ever finished last in a Cup Series race at Dover.
*This marked the first last-place finish for Hendrick Motorsports in a Cup Series race at Dover since September 21, 2003, when Joe Nemechek’s #25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet was involved in a single-car crash after 78 laps of the MBNA America 400. Curiously, Nemechek was in Sunday’s race, making his 40th Cup start at Dover, and earned a solid 30th-place finish in Premium Motorsports’ #27 Chevrolet. It was Nemechek’s best Cup Series finish since August 10, 2014, when he ran 30th at Watkins Glen, and his best at Dover since September 23, 2007, when he ran 22nd for Furniture Row Racing.

38) #9-Chase Elliott / 8 laps / engine
37) #77-Reed Sorenson / 180 laps / handling
36) #37-Chris Buescher / 232 laps / engine
35) #12-Ryan Blaney / 297 laps / suspension
34) #22-Joey Logano / 375 laps / running

1st) Rick Ware Racing (8)
2nd) Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (3)
4th) Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Spire Motorsports (2)
5th) Germain Racing, Motorsports Business Management, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) Ford (9)
3rd) Toyota (4)


XFINITY: A day to forget for Joe Gibbs Racing as Harrison Burton tangles with teammate in Dover

Harrison Burton picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday's Drive Sober 200 at the Dover International Speedway when his #18 Dex Imaging Toyota was eliminated in a multi-car pileup after 2 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Burton's 6th series start. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 11th for he #18, the 132nd for Toyota, and the 329th from a crash. Across NASCAR's top three series, it was the 46th for the #18, the 325th for Toyota, and the 1,197th from a crash.

It was at this same Delaware track two years ago that the son of Cup Series veteran Jeff Burton celebrated his championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, scoring his fifth victory in fourteen races. He'd also scored his first ARCA Menards Series win that year at Toledo, and would follow that with another at Pocono the next season. He'd also been making a number of Truck Series starts dating back to 2016, when he was just 15 years old, and has driven for Kyle Busch Motorsports ever since. He finished 22nd in his series debut at Martinsville, and in the same race one year later earned his first Top Five with a 4th, just his seventh series start. This year marks Burton's first full-time campaign in the Truck Series, driving the #18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota. However, a year that began with Burton's third ARCA win in the Daytona opener has been noted more for he and teammate Todd Gilliland both missing the Truck Series Playoffs, and team owner Kyle Busch making no secret of his impatience with the two young talents.

Still just 18 years old, Burton has seen his 2019 branch out into the XFINITY Series for the first time, beginning a part-time effort in Joe Gibbs Racing's #18 Toyota Supra. With longtime backer Dex Imaging as sponsor, Burton made his series debut at Bristol this past spring, finishing 10th, then ran a season-best 4th in his very next start at Iowa. Following a rough outing at Loudon, where he came out on the losing side of an on-track battle with Paul Menard, Burton would make three consecutive starts leading into Dover. He arrived in Dover after a 6th-place finish at Richmond, then a 13th on the Charlotte Roval.

In opening practice, Burton ran fastest of all non-Playoff drivers in both practice and qualifying. He ran 6th-best in opening practice, 3rd in Happy Hour behind Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe, and 5th in qualifying with a speed of 155.864mph (23.097 seconds).

Starting 38th and last on Saturday was one Mike Harmon, who returned to the seat of his unsponsored #74 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet. He started 38th thanks to the late entry of Jimmy Means Racing's second car, the blue #53 last seen at Mid-Ohio, avoiding the first short XFINITY field since Watkins Glen. Kyle Weatherman, who moved from the #17 team Harmon supervises to the Means #53, qualified 36th. Landon Cassill, who rejoined Shepherd Racing Ventures for their return to the series after skipping the Roval, qualified strong once more, putting the 1981 "throwback" version of the #89 Visone RV Chevrolet 12th on the grid. It was to be another short afternoon for Cassill, out with electrical issues after 55 laps, but due to the day's high attrition, he still managed a 29th-place finish.

Three drivers were sent to the rear of the field prior to the start: 16th-place qualifier Michael Annett for an engine change on his #1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet, and unapproved adjustments for both 19th-place B.J. McLeod in the #15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet and polesitter Chase Briscoe in the #98 Ford Performance Ford. By the end of the first lap, however, all three were ahead of several drivers who voluntarily fell to the rear prior to the start. Judging by the intervals on NASCAR's own leaderboard, the last car across the stripe belonged to 32nd-place qualifier Carl Long, who was back behind the wheel of one of his own cars for the first time since Loudon. Long's blue-and-white #13 Motorsports Business Management Toyota was 5.115 seconds back of the lead as the field took the green. Harmon's last-place qualifying car was just 3.282 seconds back of the lead, separated from Long by at least five other drivers - 22nd-place starter Bayley Currey in the #38 RSS Racing Chevrolet (3.835 seconds back of the lead), 24th-place Joe Nemechek, who took Kyle Weatherman's place in the #17 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet (4.119 sec), 29th-place J.J. Yeley in the #93 RSS Racing Chevrolet (4.153 sec), 27th-place Timmy Hill in MBM's #66 OCR Gaz Bar Toyota (4.458 sec), and 36th-place Weatherman himself in the Means #53 (4.689 sec). Landon Cassill was also likely among this group as he was seen slowing in the high lane in front of the penalized Michael Annett.

When the green flag dropped, Burton was running among the leaders when the camera cut to his #18 suddenly spinning off Turn 2, clipping the passing Noah Gragson in the right-rear. A closing Brandon Jones, Burton's teammate in the #19 Menards / Atlas Toyota, tried to swerve right, but Jones' left-front hit Burton in the left-rear by. The hit sent Burton spinning into the inside wall, where he bounced off the inside barrier with the left-front corner. Both cars struggled around the track under yellow with Burton's car trailing smoke from the fender and Jones' hood dislodged, blocking the view through his windshield. Replays show the accident began in 2nd spot, where Tyler Reddick's #2 Freightliner Chevrolet broke loose at almost the same moment as Burton in 6th. While Reddick made minor contact with the outside wall, keeping his car straight, Burton and Jones were not so fortunate. After limping around the track for a lap, Burton followed Jones down pit road, both of them done for the day. This extra lap changed the last-place outcome as Burton had started ahead of Jones, and would have ordinarily put Jones in last. Reddick returned to action after repairs and recovered to finish 12th. Burton's crew reported the radiator was knocked out, and he pulled into the garage through the backstretch entrance on the restart on Lap 5.

After the accident, Christopher Bell found himself quite suddenly the only Joe Gibbs Racing car on the track. Unbelievably, he too soon faced trouble when his #20 Rheem Toyota clipped the Turn 4 wall and lost fuel pressure on Lap 16, spending at least seven laps on pit road with the hood up before he went to the garage. This came after problems on Lap 11 for Jeremy Clements, whose #51 Chevrolet was running well when something "went off" in the engine, forcing him to pit road. The crew looked under the hood, then pulled into the garage, done for the day in 36th. Kyle Weatherman pulled off the track in the Means #53, and on Lap 22 a lapped Harmon fell out when Playoff contender John Hunter Nemechek bumped him into a spin off Turn 4. Harmon managed to avoid serious damage when nosing into the inside wall, but was done for the day with a bent-up nose. Currey and Yeley parked their RSS cars soon after. On Lap 26, Bell's car re-fired in the garage, and he climbed from 34th to 25th, dropping Harmon to the final spot in the Bottom Five.

The first-lap wreck eliminated 37th-place Brandon Jones from Playoff contention. Among those who joined him was Ryan Sieg, who nonetheless finished 10th, his tenth top-ten finish in 29 races this season. Finishing right behind him in 11th was Brandon Brown, his #86 Jabs Construction Chevrolet second to JR Motorsports driver Zane Smith among non-Playoff drivers, his best finish since a 6th under the lights at Daytona in July. DGM Racing teammates Dillon Bassett (14th), Josh Williams (15th), and Johnny Davis driver B.J. McLeod (16th) also found their way into the Top 20. And Stefan Parsons continued to shine in his part-time effort for McLeod’s own team, running as high as 14th at the end of Stage 1 before settling back in 19th in the #99 Koolbox Toyota.

*This marked the first XFINITY last-place finish for the #18 since Darlington on August 31, when Denny Hamlin's race-winning Bill Elliott throwback was disqualified from the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200. The number had never before finished last in an XFINITY Series race at Dover.

38) #18-Harrison Burton / 2 laps / crash
37) #19-Brandon Jones / 2 laps / crash
36) #51-Jeremy Clements / 9 laps / engine
35) #53-Kyle Weatherman / 12 laps / overheating
34) #74-Mike Harmon / 19 laps / crash

1st) RSS Racing (8)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (7)
3rd) Joe Gibbs Racing (4)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, DGM Racing, Kaulig Racing (2)
5th) Brandonbilt Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) Toyota (12)


Thursday, October 3, 2019

PREVIEW: Some small teams absent while others return at Dover

Chad Finchum's ride for Saturday's race.
PHOTO: @ChadFinchum
Saturday, October 5, 2019
XFINITY Race 29 of 33
Drive Sober 200 at Dover
Round of 12 – Race 3 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Stephen Leicht

There are 37 drivers entered for 38 spots, marking the seventh short field in 29 races this season and first since Watkins Glen in August. UPDATE: Make that a full 38 as Means Racing fields the #53.

DRIVER SWAP: #0-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
Garrett Smithley moves from the #4 to the #0 in place of Lawson Aschenbach who isn’t entered after strong 14th-place run on the Roval. Smithley exited last Saturday just short of the finish with transmission issues, leaving him 33rd. Ross Chastain returns to run the #4 as part of his ongoing partnership at the Dover races with the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, who sponsors the race. It will be Chastain’s first XFINITY start since Watkins Glen, when he was wrecked in a scuffle with Justin Allgaier.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Following his last-place finish on the Roval, J.J. Yeley returns to RSS Racing, this time driving the #93 Chevrolet in place of Josh Bilicki, who isn’t entered. This brings Vinnie Miller back from the #5 to the #78, and allows Matt Mills to return to the #5 for his first XFINITY start since a 28th in Richmond.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Zane Smith is back for his ninth XFINITY start of the year and first since Richmond. PatientPop returns as a sponsor for a fifth time in 2019. His season best remains a 5th at Iowa this past June. Smith takes the place of Ryan Truex, who ran 10th on the Roval.

MISSING: #10-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger is not entered after his win on the Roval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
MBM team owner Carl Long returns to the driver’s seat for the first time since Loudon in July, where he ran 38th. Then as now he drives the #13, and this time bumps Chad Finchum to the #61. Finchum, who welcomes new sponsorship from Garrison Homes and First State Title & Marble, takes the place of Tommy Joe Martins, who was running just outside the Top 10 on the Roval before the suspension failed, leaving him 35th. Martins is not entered.

RETURNING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Kyle Weatherman eyes his sixth XFINITY start of the year and first since Las Vegas. He’s entered in the #17 team from Rick Ware, a car that hasn’t run since Richmond, where Joe Nemechek finished 32nd. UPDATE: Nemechek will again drive as Kyle Weatherman moves to the #53 (see below).

MISSING: #43-Pardus Racing, Inc.
Preston Pardus will not make the journey to Dover after he recovered from a practice crash to finish 27th in a rebuilt Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #53-Jimmy Means Racing
Added by Thursday was the second Jimmy Means Racing car that finished last in Mid-Ohio. Kyle Weatherman made the move from the #17 to drive the car.

MISSING: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
BMS Racing scales back from two cars to one this week, allowing Brandon Brown to return to his familiar #86 following a 17th-place run on the Roval. Not entered are both Will Rodgers, who spun on the final lap of the Roval race and finished 28th, and the team’s part-time #68 Chevrolet.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
The preliminary entry list had no driver named to take the place of Joe Nemechek, who ran a solid 22nd for Harmon in his first attempt at the Roval.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Landon Cassill will again be one to watch in qualifying as he seeks to put Morgan Shepherd’s #89 Chevrolet through its paces. Driver and team last ran at Richmond, where Cassill qualified 17th and finished 36th with handling issues.

Alex Labbe enjoyed a career run on the Roval, defending his 6th-place starting spot. This week, Ronnie Bassett, Jr. returns to the controls, but in place of his family’s drainage business will carry logos for Down Syndrome Awareness.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons is entered in place of Cody Ware, who Parsons relieved last week on the Roval. Koolbox will sponsor the team’s efforts this Saturday.


Sunday, October 6, 2019
CUP Race 30 of 36
Drydene 400 at Dover
Round of 12 – Race 1 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

There are just 38 drivers entered for Sunday’s 40-car field, marking the 23rd short field of 30 races this season, and the third in the last four races.

TEAM UPDATE: #8-Richard Childress Racing
On Wednesday came confirmation that Tyler Reddick will, in fact, take the place of Daniel Hemric in the #8 Chevrolet next season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #52-Rick Ware Racing
RETURNING: #54-Rick Ware Racing
B.J. McLeod steps in for J.J. Yeley, who was a late replacement for Cody Ware on the Roval. Yeley himself will drive the #52 in place of Garrett Smithley, who by Wednesday was confirmed to drive Ware’s returning #54 Chevrolet, a team returning for the first time since Indianapolis. Smithley was named to drive after the preliminary entry list had no driver named for the #54.

MISSING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Both Josh Bilicki and the Ware team’s #53 car are not entered this week after a late track bar mount failure left the pair 38th on the Roval.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Defending Dover last-place finisher Timmy Hill is not entered in Sunday’s race, but will run MBM’s #66 in Saturday’s XFINITY round.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman and the Gaunt Brothers are also not running this Sunday following a 26th-place run on the Roval.

Saturday, October 12, 2019
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Sugarlands Shine 250 at Talladega
Round of 6 – Race 1 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Clay Greenfield

One week from Saturday, the Truck Series returns to take on Talladega.

Today in LASTCAR history (October 3, 1998): Mark Martin picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300 at Charlotte when his #60 Winn-Dixie Ford was involved in a seven-car crash after five laps. No fewer than 59 drivers entered the race, attempting to qualify for the 43-car field. Among those who failed to qualify were past Cup Series winner Bobby Hillin, Jr., 2000 series champion Jeff Green, and Kerry Earnhardt. Martin rebounded nicely the next day, taking the checkered flag in the Cup Series race at the same track.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

FEATURE: Lou Goss carving his own identity in long line of Wisconsin drivers

Goss and his truck in the race shop.
PHOTO: William Soquet, @WilliamSoquet
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

While Wisconsin is known as somewhat of a racing hotbed, the names that roll off the tongue tend to be higher-profile drivers. Sam Mayer and Derek Kraus lead the K&N Pro Series East and West standings, respectively. Ty Majeski has claimed multiple ARCA checkered flags this season. Moving up the ladder, Johnny Sauter and Travis Kvapil are Truck Series champions. Paul Menard kissed the bricks in 2011, and Matt Kenseth has two Daytona 500 victories and a championship.

Tucked away, however, are past and present drivers who espouse the workingman’s mentality of the state. Rich Bickle still barnstorms in late models after his Cup career. Lowell Bennett ran Busch Grand National races from 2002 to 2004 with his own late model team. Dexter Bean, Frank Kreyer and Nathan Haseleau all made lower-level runs in the sport in the 2000s; Bean still competes part-time in the XFINITY Series with DGM Racing.

Enter the first driver from Green Bay to make it to NASCAR since Scott Hansen, who won Truck Series Rookie of the Year in 1999 driving Ken Schrader’s #52 entry - Lou Goss.

Goss comes from a racing family. His father Dean was originally a drag racer and later raced in the Mid-American Stock Car Series. Growing up in the pits, it was only natural for Lou to follow in his father’s footsteps. His first race car, a super stock to be raced at nearby Wisconsin International Raceway, was purchased during Goss’ sophomore year at Green Bay Southwest High School.

The track, about a half-hour south of Green Bay, offered a solid proving ground for a couple seasons, driving on both the quarter-mile and half-mile versions of the track as he moved up the divisions. Later, Lou made it two generations of Goss drivers to compete in the Mid-Am Series, driving full-time from 2007 to 2009 and racing sporadically after that. He also became the second Goss to campaign the #74 in that series, following in his father’s footsteps. Along with that, Goss attended University of Wisconsin-Stout and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay before finishing his education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Fast-forward nearly a decade, when Goss was looking to get approved with NASCAR. A work connection through his brother John got them connected with B.J. McLeod Motorsports for the August 2018 XFINITY race at Road America. While they expected to help on a McLeod crew that is usually understaffed, the weekend had different plans for them. “It turns out B.J. had plenty of help that weekend. We got in touch with Mike Harmon, his PR person reached out to his. We figured we’d just be showing up and hanging out, pushing the car, because what do you do with race cars other than working on them? You push them,” Goss said. “Well, we went through tech about four times last year. We were gassed. And then we found out we were going to be doing over-the-wall stuff.” From there, a relationship was kindled that included going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway the following week to help out the Harmon team, an opportunity that was unfortunately quashed by the weather. However, Goss was approved for tracks 1.25 miles and under in the fall of 2018, leaving him a driver with the proper license but no seat time at all in any series in 2018.

In the early part of 2019, Harmon was short on funds to get through SpeedWeeks, and knowing that Goss was a driver without a truck, offered a short track/intermediate rolling chassis to Goss at a price that made his racing dreams take a large step closer to reality. As part of the sale of the chassis, Harmon also leased an engine to Goss, checking another box in a long list to get the truck NASCAR-ready. The team circled Iowa as its debut race as the first short-track race that they could have the truck ready for. Lou quit his job and brother/team manager John took the week before Iowa off to prep the truck for both Iowa and Gateway, the week after.

“We didn’t know until Iowa even the questions to ask [in the garage].” Going was rough for the team. Despite the fact that Goss made inroads in the garage, like with Josh Reaume, the weekend wasn’t quite where it needed to be, as the truck arrived without a fuel cell and a carburetor and did not manage to make it through tech once it had those parts. Besides that, qualifying was rained out, and being 33rd in owner points in a 32-truck field was the final blow for the weekend.

A week can make a large difference, however. For the following event at Gateway, the team was able to get the truck through tech and while a mechanical issue ended the race early for the group, it was still a valuable experience. Merely going through qualifying and the race was another hurdle for the team, as it presented another set of circumstances that the team hadn’t faced before. The 74 truck fell out early in the Gateway race, and Goss joined the long list of drivers to encounter mechanical difficulties in their debuts.

With Goss only approved for tracks a mile-and-a-quarter and under, the team’s next opportunity was Bristol, one of the most competitive races to make in recent history. With a complete Gateway weekend under their belt, the team went into Bristol with their heads held high.

In between, however, a #74 truck showed up at Eldora with a different driver – Darwin Peters Jr. Peters and Alan Collins had a truck but no owner points. They called Harmon, who referred them to Goss. A lead-lap 17th-place finish and significant owner points later, the Goss team rolled in to Bristol.

The team’s weekend almost came to a glaring halt right before qualifying, as a NASCAR official found that the team was missing valve caps on the tires when the 74 machine was first in line. Luckily, the truck was allowed to be pushed back a couple spots in line, and GMS Racing lent the team a set for qualifying. It was not meant to be, however, as the truck was chattering tight through the turns and Goss went for a slide down the frontstretch, though he luckily kept it off the wall.

Despite that, the weekend on the whole was a plus. “The way we operated at Bristol, you could see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Goss reflected. Goss was happy that the way his team – centered around himself, his brother and team manager John, and his father Dean – operated. They were also confident in the speed of the truck, noting that it was likely one adjustment to fix tightness away from running markedly better than before.

After Bristol, the Goss family took a moment to reset. The team’s engine lease with Harmon was up. The next short track, Phoenix, was months ahead on the calendar. The truck, however, was still race-ready, as it sustained no damage in the Bristol side. What, then, was there left to do?

“Networking.” The livelihood of all NASCAR teams is sponsorship, and with the truck almost race ready, the one thing left to do was to go find the money to race it. Goss also went back to work, noting the benefits of having steady income coming in on a regular basis. He also noted that while the truck itself is race ready, the team needs to acquire auxiliary equipment like a pit box in order to be more successful on track.

As for future plans, the next obvious races are Martinsville and Phoenix, as those are the tracks Goss is approved for. That plan, however, is very fluid. The chassis is good for everything up to intermediates, and when a new motor is found, the truck is ready to go for potentially another driver if they have funding and it is the right situation. The flip side is also true – if it’s not feasible for Goss to bring his own truck out to a race, he’s not opposed to stepping in somebody else’s truck for a weekend, especially if it means a guaranteed starting spot.

As for 2020, the plan right now is to gradually scale up the operation, choosing races that make sense and aiming in the “you can count it on two hands” ballpark, somewhere in between 5 and 10 races. It’s a logical scale factor for everything from sponsorship targets to crew logistics and everything in between. Beyond 2020, however, the possibilities remain wide-open for everything up to a full-time run in the Truck Series, where he will look to put his name among not only Hansen’s, but other grassroots Wisconsin drivers who have made it past the local level into the bright lights.