Sunday, September 20, 2020

ARCA: Wayne Peterson completes rare last-place sweep; several underdogs earn career-best finishes

PHOTO: @Arcafan06

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Wayne Peterson finished last for the 46th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Toyota 200 at Winchester Speedway when his #0 GreatRailing.com Chevrolet retired after 2 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish was Peterson’s second consecutive, and came in his 113th series start.

After his last-place finish at Bristol, Peterson made the journey to Winchester, Indiana, where he was also on the entry list. The 82-year-old was one of a mere fourteen drivers on the grid, which also included teammate Con Nicolopoulos. Bristol winner Sam Mayer and his GMS Racing team did not enter, as the Winchester event was not a part of the Sioux Chief Showdown. Chandler Smith also took the race off, although the Venturini Motorsports #20 car still ran, albeit with driver Jesse Love. Eric Caudell was a late add to the entry list, making the #7’s third appearance of 2020. Fast Track Racing was back to fielding three cars, with Mike Basham in the 10 car, Rick Clifton in the 11 car and Owen Smith in the 12 car.

As ARCA was the main attraction at Winchester, there was a full slate of practice and qualifying. Peterson turned three laps and was the slowest, clocking in a fastest lap of about 22 seconds. Unfortunately, this was about six seconds off Ty Gibbs’ fastest lap of just under 16 seconds. Qualifying was much the same story, with the top four cars breaking the sixteen-second barrier. Con Nicolopoulos was the slowest car to take a time in qualifying, running a lap of 19.3 seconds. However, Peterson did not take a time and was awarded the 14th position on the grid.

On the MAVTV broadcast, the final row was filled with two white-colored cars, presumably Nicolopoulos and Peterson. By lap seven, Peterson was listed as “out”, securing his second last-place finish of the year. Owen Smith ended his race after only four laps, finishing 13th. After spinning early in the race, Hailie Deegan found the outside wall on Lap 111 and retired from the resultant damage. Rick Clifton, after qualifying ninth, ran the whole race and finished 11th, 32 laps down. Nicolopoulos rounded out the Bottom Five with his first career top-ten finish, finishing 30 laps down in tenth.

Just outside the Bottom Five was Brad Smith, who claimed his first ARCA top-ten in his 363rd ARCA start. While that deservedly drew much attention on social media, two other career-bests highlighted underdog teams in the field. Eric Caudell joined Nicolopoulos and Smith in the top-ten for the first time, and Mike Basham finished seventh, his first time finishing higher than tenth in a strong home-state race.

With his second last-place finish of the season, Peterson moved into second place in the LASTCAR drivers’ standings. He made a late-season charge in 2019 to claim the drivers championship, and has more than enough time to do so in 2020, as well, with three races remaining on the schedule.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
14) #0-Wayne Peterson / 2 laps / valve spring
13) #12-Owen Smith / 4 laps / brakes
12) #4-Hailie Deegan / 109 laps / crash
11) #11-Rick Clifton / 168 laps / running
10) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 170 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (8)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (4)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP




Saturday, September 19, 2020

CUP: Difficult year for Stenhouse and JTG continues with Bristol crash

PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol when his #47 Kroger Chevrolet was involved in an accident after 28 of 500 laps.

The finish, which came in Stenhouse’s 285th series start, was his third of the season and first since Kansas, ten races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place history, it was the 33rd for the #47, the 604th from a crash, and the 795th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #47, the 1,225th from a crash, and the 1,744th for Chevrolet.

Stenhouse has continued to struggle with consistency in the 2020 season, at times impressing with strong finishes after a series of poor performances. Just after the last-place run in Kansas, he took 14th at Loudon, his best finish at the track in three years. After a 32nd-place finish in the first round of the Michigan double-header, he then took three consecutive finishes of 19th or better, capped by a 10th at Dover. He very nearly had another strong run last week at Richmond, working his way into the Top Ten during the early laps, but bad luck struck once more, leaving him 18th. For Bristol, Stenhouse would take 21st.

Rolling off 40th and last was Garrett Smithley in the #78 Major Appliance Chevrolet, signaling the return of B.J. McLeod’s Cup effort for the first time since the other concrete oval in Dover. He’d be joined at the rear by 27th-place Bubba Wallace in the #43 Cash App Chevrolet and 30th-place Corey LaJoie in the #32 Schluter Systems Ford for unapproved adjustments, a driver change in the #15 Thriv5 Chevrolet as 32nd-place J.J. Yeley took the place of Brennan Poole for the first time this year, and two technical infractions each for three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing teammates: 9th-place Kyle Busch in the #18 Skittles Toyota, 7th-place Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Toyota, and 20th-place Erik Jones in the #20 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota.

Ultimately, at least one more driver would drop to the rear as James Davison surrendered 35th before the start in his #53 Racing For Heroes Ford. When the race started, Smithley was still back there with him behind the penalized starters, and pulled ahead of the #53 as the field crossed the stripe. By Lap 3, Davison had pulled ahead of his teammate Joey Gase in the #51 Bare Arms Gear Ford. Gase was soon a full ten seconds back of the leader, and by Lap 9 was swallowed up by the leaders as the first car one lap down. He lost another lap by the 16th circuit.

On Lap 18, Yeley took over last place after an apparent unscheduled pit stop, and he was seen pulling up from the apron to rejoin the pack. Initially shown four laps down, scoring reset to show his #15 three down, but the leaders soon caught and put him four down once more. He was on the verge of losing a fifth lap when the first caution fell on Lap 29.

Heading down the backstretch, Stenhouse was sizing up Jimmie Johnson’s #48 Ally Chevrolet in a battle for 16th while also working around the lapped Gase, who pulled to the high lane. Halfway down the straight, Johnson and Stenhouse made contact, hooking the #47 straight into the inside wall. The impact caused a fluid leak, and NASCAR told him to run the apron as he pulled into the garage. A small fire ignited behind the battered left-front, then went out by the time he reached the entrance. The car couldn’t turn, so he climbed out and the #47 was towed to the garage. Done for the night under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy,” Stenhouse took last from Yeley on Lap 33. NASCAR officially declared him out on Lap 55.

Taking 39th was Josh Bilicki, whose #7 Insurance King Chevrolet slowed abruptly, then pulled behind the wall on Lap 67, citing a loss of power. He pulled up to the Tommy Baldwin Racing hauler and the crew hooked up the computer, where they soon diagnosed a fuel pump issue. While the secondary pump was functioning, the primary was out, and on Lap 107, the team took the tires off the car and prepared to load up. NASCAR reported he was out on Lap 112, just as Reed Sorenson pulled behind the wall with a similar issue on the #77 BetterForYourHealth.com Chevrolet. Sorenson’s crew also hooked up the computer and managed to get him back on track around Lap 251. Sorenson was ultimately involved in one more accident before he fell out with the electrical issue, taking 36th.

The first of the two cars Sorenson passed before his retirement was William Byron, who rear-ended another car while running inside the Top 10, knocking his #24 Liberty University Chevrolet out of the race, and the Playoffs. Timmy Hill took 37th, citing steering issues on his #66 RoofClaim.com Toyota.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #47 in a Cup points race at Bristol.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 28 laps / crash
39) #7-Josh Bilicki / 53 laps / fuel pump
38) #24-William Byron / 232 laps / crash
37) #66-Timmy Hill / 313 laps / steering
36) #77-Reed Sorenson / 317 laps / electrical

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (7)
2nd) Rick Ware Racing (5)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Racing (2)
4th) Beard Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Leavine Family Racing, StarCom Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (4)

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Friday, September 18, 2020

XFINITY: Bristol race hotly contested at both ends of the field as Stephen Leicht edges several drivers for last place

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar
Stephen Leicht picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s Food City 300 at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #66 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota fell out with clutch issues after 11 of 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Leicht’s 154th series start, was his series-leading fourth in 2020 and his first since Kansas, nine races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 9th for clutch issues, the 13th for the #66, and the 143rd for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 69th from clutch problems, the 78th for the #66, and the 346th for Toyota.

In so doing, Leicht scored the third consecutive last-place finish for Motorsports Business Management in the XFINITY Series, one each with the team’s three drivers. Last week, Chad Finchum was disqualified in the first race while Timmy Hill exited early in the second.

Like his two teammates, Leicht has enjoyed some solid runs when not on “start-and-park” duty for MBM. Following the short race in Kansas, he finished 22nd and 21st in back-to-back road course races at Road America and the Daytona infield road course, backing up his 21st-place run on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit in July. Just last week in Richmond, he matched his best oval finish of the year by taking 22nd on Saturday, matching his run in the first round of the Dover double-header. Leicht’s run was also a solid effort for the MBM team, who repaired an axle issue in the first Richmond race to recover in Race 2.

For Bristol, Leicht drew the 36th and final starting spot in Friday’s field, and would run the #66 for the first time since Darlington, where he ran a “throwback” scheme honoring MBM team owner Carl Long. In place of the Darlington car, Leicht would run the same gold-and-white Toyota Camry that Timmy Hill ran in both XFINITY races last week. While 22nd-place Bayley Currey incurred a tail-end penalty after his #74 Back The Blue Chevrolet was docked for unapproved adjustments, Leicht was still the last car across the stripe at the start, already trailing by open track. 

While Leicht would ultimately take the last spot, he did not go unchallenged. On Lap 5, Brett Moffitt made an unscheduled stop for a flat tire on his #02 Robert B. Our Co. Chevrolet and was back up to speed on the apron on Lap 8. Meanwhile, on Lap 6, Dexter Bean was given the black flag by NASCAR for a start violation, dropping his #90 Sleep Well / Alpha Prime Chevrolet off the lead lap. Thus, by Lap 10, Moffitt had taken over last place, two laps down, with Bean in 35th, one down. 

Also on the 10th circuit, race leader Ross Chastain got under the now 34th-place Leicht off Turn 4 and put him a lap down. The next time by, Kyle Weatherman made a pit stop in his #47 Honor And Sacrifice Chevrolet, also costing him laps to the leader. Trouble again found Moffitt on Lap 12 for a second flat tire, and this time he was penalized for taking on fuel before the Lap 40 competition caution. By Lap 14, Bean was now in last place, three laps down, with Weatherman two down in 35th and Moffitt also two down in 34th. Soon after this, Leicht, who was one down in 33rd, was first to pull behind the wall, and he took over last place for good on Lap 17.

Ultimately, just one of these challengers besides Leicht – Kyle Weatherman – ended up in the Bottom Five. Weatherman went behind the wall at least twice, both on Lap 64 and Lap 80, and ultimately ended up 32nd. In so doing, he first climbed past Myatt Snider, who went to the garage as late as Lap 68 and dropped out after completing just 31 laps in the #93 Superior Essex Chevrolet.

Completing the group were two drivers involved in a heavy crash. JD Motorsports teammates Jeffrey Earnhardt and B.J. McLeod made contact off Turn 4, putting McLeod’s #6 Chevrolet hard into the outside wall. The impact knocked McLeod into the path of one of the cars he owned – the #99 Koolbox Chevrolet of Vinnie Miller. The resulting collision ended both driver’s nights, though McLeod would be released from the care center and climbed atop his pit box to call the rest of the race. Tommy Joe Martins, whose #44 Gilreath Farms Red Angus Chevrolet spun into the inside wall during the aftermath, recovered to finish 24th.

The rest of the MBM team ran well in the race. Timmy Hill, driving another Toyota Camry sponsored by CrashClaimsR.us, earned four “Lucky Dogs” and finished 15th, his #13 the second car one lap down behind Ryan Sieg. Chad Finchum took 20th in a new-look paint scheme on his #61 with sponsorship from Garrison Homes and Toyota of Knoxville. Nearly joining the duo was Mike Harmon Racing’s Bayley Currey, who after his pre-race penalty was running 15th in the final 100 laps when something failed in the right-rear suspension, leaving him 30th.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in an XFINITY Series race at Bristol.
*This was also the first time an XFINITY Series driver finished last with clutch issues since November 17, 2018, when Vinnie Miller’s #78 JAS Expedited Trucking Chevrolet dropped out after 10 laps of the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #66-Stephen Leicht / 11 laps / clutch
35) #93-Myatt Snider / 31 laps / engine
34) #6-B.J. McLeod / 61 laps / crash
33) #99-Vinnie Miller / 61 laps / crash
32) #47-Kyle Weatherman / 62 laps / suspension

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Motorsports Business Management (8)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures, SS-Green Light Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, Kaulig Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (15)
2nd) Toyota (11)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


ARCA: After shoutout from Slugger Labbe, Wayne Peterson finishes last at Bristol

PHOTO: @Arcafan06
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Wayne Peterson finished last for the 45th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Thursday’s Bush’s Beans 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway when his #0 GreatRailing.com Chevrolet retired after two of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish came in Peterson’s 112th series start, and was his first since Kansas in 2019, seventeen races ago.

Wayne Peterson, now 82 years of age, has continued to field one of the longest-running ARCA teams in 2020. The full-time #06 retained Tim Richmond as primary driver, with Con Nicolopoulos piloting the car in select events. Nicolopoulos has been, up until Bristol, the sole driver of the part-time #0 entry that ran at marquee events. The Wayne Peterson Racing team is the epitome of what it means to be ARCA: with funding that doesn’t stack up to Cup-affiliated teams like Joe Gibbs Racing, the team still shows up and competes at every single race on the schedule, including a tough Thursday-Saturday doubleheader this week at Bristol and Winchester. The group received a little extra recognition on Thursday from one of the most prominent figures in the garage:

In the first ARCA race at Bristol in 51 years, 27 cars answered the call. It was the largest car count for the East Series this year, and the second-largest car count for the national series. The regular East Series contingent included Parker Retzlaff, Nick Sanchez, Chase Cabre, Mason Diaz, Justin Carroll, Max McLaughlin and Chuck Buchanan Jr. Fast Track Racing filled its 10 and 11 cars with Mike Basham and Owen Smith, and let Chad Bryant Racing use the owner points of the 12 car for a second entry, used to field Kris Wright. Derek Griffith ran CBR’s trademark #22 car. A number of ARCA part-timers emerged, including Gus Dean and Win-Tron Racing, Kyle Sieg and his RSS Racing/Cook Racing Technologies car, and Dave Mader III with his team. Con Nicolopoulos took the place of Tim Richmond in Wayne Peterson Racing’s #06 car for this race. Rounding out the field was the only series debut entered, Max Gutierrez. Gutierrez’s #53 entry showed up with little to no fanfare. It was owned by Troy Williams, and the car was a former Mason Mitchell Motorsports and Vizion Motorsports chassis. 

Rain washed out the prospective practice on Thursday afternoon, but that had no bearing on the starting lineup, as it was released shortly after the entry list. Due to this being Troy Williams’ first attempt as an owner in 2020, Gutierrez was slated to start in the 27th and final spot. Buchanan later withdrew, citing rain as a factor. Additionally, the Chad Bryant Racing crew had trouble on the Kris Bryant car, as it would not fire until the one-to-go lap.

By the drop of the green, however, the 12 car had joined the field, and Peterson and Gutierrez were noticeably slow, with both stopping on track around lap three. Peterson was able to go to the garage, ending his race; Gutierrez was able to make repairs on pit road and continue on, eventually finishing 14th.

Brad Smith was the next car to retire, as a spin off the bumper of Ty Gibbs ended his evening. Mike Basham retired after 34 laps complete, and a hard crash into the outside wall landed Chandler Smith a Bottom Five finish only 71 laps into the race. It has been nothing short of a brutal recent stretch of races in the ARCA Menards Series for Smith, who had a bushel of problems at Lebanon as well. Owen Smith finished 22nd, the victim of a car that leaked fluid on the racetrack and took him out of the race.
By virtue of Peterson’s finish, Chevrolet clinched the 2020 LASTCAR ARCA Manufacturers’ Championship.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
26) #0-Wayne Peterson / 2 laps / unknown
25) #48-Brad Smith / 33 laps / unknown
24) #10-Mike Basham / 34 laps / unknown
23) #20-Chandler Smith / 71 laps / unknown
22) #11-Owen Smith / 97 laps / unknown

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (8)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (3)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, September 17, 2020

TRUCKS: Disappointing DQ negates Trevor Bayne’s sterling 5th-place run in Bristol

PHOTO: @NASCAR_Trucks

Trevor Bayne
picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Thursday’s UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #45 Proceller8 Chevrolet finished 5th, but was disqualified after completing all 200 laps.

The finish came in Bayne’s 3rd series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 3rd disqualification, the 4th for the #45, and the 394th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 38th for the #45, the 39th by disqualification, and the 1,743rd for Chevrolet.

Josh Reaume picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Thursday’s UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #33 Colonial Countertops Toyota fell out with suspension failure after 9 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Reaume’s 46th series start, was his first of the season and first since March 29, 2019 at Texas, 35 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 8th for the #33, the 15th for suspension problems, and the 39th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 51st for the #33, the 45th for suspension issues, and the 346th for Toyota.

It was the subject of controversy when Al Niece announced that Trevor Bayne, the 2011 winner of the Daytona 500, had replaced newcomer Ty Majeski as the driver of the #45 Chevrolet, effective last week in Richmond. Ever since Majeski’s spectacular last-place finish in this year’s Daytona opener, the Niece team as a whole had been struggling after losing support from GMS Racing and their title contender Ross Chastain committing to full-time XFINITY competition. Through the season’s 15th race at Darlington, Majeski had two Top Tens with a best of 8th in Charlotte, but most often finished between 13th and 19th.

Bayne, meanwhile, had been out of NASCAR since late in the 2018 season, when Matt Kenseth closed out the season in his Cup ride with Roush-Fenway Racing. Bayne then opened Mahalo Coffee, a cafe in his native Knoxville, Tennessee, and seemed to have put his racing career behind him. That soon changed this past summer, when Niece tabbed Bayne to drive his #40 at Darlington, appropriately, for “Throwback Weekend.” Despite a 27th-place finish, the aforementioned news that he’d replace Majeski soon followed. Bayne ran 29th in Richmond, then looked ahead to his home track in Bristol, where he’d start 24th.

Following the withdrawal of both CMI Motorsports entries following a two-truck tangle between teammates at Richmond, 36 drivers rolled off on Thursday night. Taking last on the grid was NEMCO Motorsports, which returned to the circuit for the first time in five races. Driving the #8 Advanced Collision Chevrolet was Camden Murphy, who was making his first Truck Series start of the year and his first-ever at Bristol.

Prior to the start, Josh Reaume dropped from 29th to the tail end of the field, moving Murphy up a row. On Lap 4, the spot fell to Cody Erickson, who began losing laps. Erickson was making his first series start in over five years, and took the wheel of Dawson Cram’s #41 Magnum Contracting Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Reaume lost his first lap on the 6th circuit, at which point he ran 35th ahead of Erickson. Under the first caution for debris on Lap 8, Reaume pulled behind the wall, and Erickson returned before the end of Stage 1 to drop the #33 to last place. Reaume was declared out near the end of Stage 2.

Also declared out with Reaume was Norm Benning, who pulled his #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet behind the wall on Lap 50 after he lost his first lap around the seventh time by. Ultimately, he was declared out with suspension issues. Austin Wayne Self took 34th after he crossed the nose of Austin Hill heading into Turn 1, putting the #22 Go Texan / AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet into the outside wall. Stewart Friesen took 33rd after he lost power, then several laps, running on the apron for much of Stage 1 in his #52 Halmar “Racing To Beat Hunger” Toyota. He ended up on the same lap as Codie Rohrbaugh, who originally closed out the Bottom Five following brake issues on his #9 Pray For Joshua Chevrolet.

Bayne, meanwhile, turned in an impressive race. While he didn’t place in either of the two stages, he climbed into the Top 10 in the final laps and crossed the stripe in 5th – far and away the best finish of the year for the #45 team. But hours later, NASCAR Officials reported Bayne’s truck failed the height sticks in post-race inspection, resulting in an immediate disqualification. The DQ dropped Bayne to last behind Reaume and knocked Rohrbaugh back out of the Bottom Five.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish by disqualification for the Truck Series at Bristol, and ties Ross Chastain’s DQ at Iowa last year - also in a Niece truck - for most laps complete by a DQ in the series.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #45-Trevor Bayne / 200 laps / disqualified
35) #33-Josh Reaume / 9 laps / suspension
34) #6-Norm Benning / 38 laps / suspension
33) #22-Austin Wayne Self / 153 laps / crash
32) #52-Stewart Friesen / 167 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, ThorSport Racing (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, FDNY Racing, Halmar Friesen Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports (1)

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (3)

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

PREVIEW: Only a few driver and team changes in store for Bristol weekend

Chad Finchum's #61 Toyota for Friday's XFINITY race.
IMAGE: @ChadFinchum

Thursday, September 17, 2020
TRUCKS Race 17 of 23
Round of 10: Race 1 of 3 
UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at Bristol
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Jesse Little

ENTRY LIST
There are 36 drivers entered for 40 spots, the same number from last week in Richmond.

RETURNING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
Bristol will see Monster Jam competitor Camden Murphy make his first NASCAR start of 2020, and the return of Joe Nemechek’s team for the first time since Mike Skeen ran the #8 on the Daytona infield road course. This will be Murphy’s first Truck Series start at Bristol.

MISSING: #17-DGR-Crosley
David Ragan was surprisingly not entered just one week after the David Gilliland-owned team acquired All Out Motorsports’ Owner Points to lock Ragan into the field. The All Out #7 is likewise not entered.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
The two Joshs – Bilicki and Reaume – swap rides this week under the lights. Josh Bilicki will run the #00 for his first Truck Series start at Bristol while team owner Josh Reaume pilots the #33. Bilicki finished the best of the pair last week in Richmond, taking 25th ahead of his owner in 32nd.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Cram Racing Enterprises
Welcome back to Cody Erickson, who on Thursday will make his first Truck Series start since 2015 at Eldora, where he ran 25th for the Corr team. Magnum Contracting, one of his sponsors that night, will again back his effort in the #41, which last week ran 28th with Ryan Huff.

RETURNING: #42-Niece Motorsports
Ross Chastain will pull double-duty in both the Trucks and XFINITY this weekend as Al Niece has brought back his part-time third team for the first time since Mark Smith’s 36th-place run on the Daytona infield road course. Chastain will make his fifth series start at Bristol, where he has twice finished 3rd – once each in 2012 and 2019.

WITHDREW: #49-CMI Motorsports
WITHDREW: #83-CMI Motorsports
On Wednesday, the CMI team stated they would be withdrawing both entries this week – originally planned for Ray Ciccarelli in the #49 and Tim Viens in the #83 – following the damage suffered to the #49 last week in Richmond. In the meantime, the team plans to turn their focus to speedway races toward the end of the season, including Talladega.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman returns as Charlie Henderson will again enter the team’s home race, but this time carries a new JDR Graphics paint scheme with sponsorship from Luck’s Mixed Beans. Like Chastain, Kligerman has been strong at “Thunder Valley,” finishing no worse than 20th in all six of his previous starts with a best of 2nd in the same 2012 race where Chastain finished 3rd. He finished 13th in this race just last year.

CUP INVADERS: None

Friday, September 18, 2020
XFINITY Race 26 of 33
Regular Season Finale
Food City 300 at Bristol
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Mason Diaz

ENTRY LIST
There are 36 drivers entered for the regular season finale of the XFINITY Series, the same number of starters from last week in Richmond.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Two of the three MBM teammates will again swap rides this week as Timmy Hill drives the #13, putting Stephen Leicht back in the #66. Chad Finchum will remain in the #61 after his disqualification with that entry in the first round of the Richmond double-header.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Anthony Alfredo swaps back in for Kaz Grala, who finished 9th in both rounds of last week’s Richmond double-header. Carrying sponsorship from Death Wish Coffee, Alfredo will make his first short track start in his young XFINITY Series career and eyes a rebound after a disappointing early crash in Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons announced this week a three-race deal with Springrates as primary sponsor, and will debut the deal this Friday, to be followed by both Texas and Martinsville this fall. Parsons takes the place of Mason Massey, who finished 21st last week in Richmond and hoisted himself out of last place after missing the start here in the spring.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Gray Gaulding steps in for Joey Gase, who himself was a late swap for J.J. Yeley at Richmond, taking 20th and 23rd in the twin races that weekend. It will be Gaulding’s first start in the car since his season-best runner-up finish at Daytona last month, and comes one year after his track-best 6th-place finish in the 2019 Bristol race.

CUP INVADERS: None

Saturday, September 19, 2020
CUP Race 29 of 36
Round of 16: Race 3 of 3
Bass Pro Shops / NRA Night Race at Bristol
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Kevin Harvick

ENTRY LIST
There are 40 drivers entered in the first cutoff race of the Cup Series season, marking the first “full” field since the Daytona 400-miler three races ago, and only the 16th in 29 races this season.

RETURNING: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Josh Bilicki returns to drive the #7 with Insurance King as sponsor, running double-duty with the Truck Series. The TBR team didn’t run last week at Richmond, and last turned laps at Darlington, where Bilicki took 32nd under the lights.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Wae Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #27-Rick Ware Racing
Gray Gaulding will also pull double-duty - his with the XFINITY Series - as he takes the place of J.J. Yeley, 34th in Richmond. Gaulding brings returning sponsorship from Panini America, and in six previous Bristol starts on the Cup side has yet to finish better than 29th. UPDATE: Yeley will run at Bristol in the #15 as on Thursday it was revealed Brennan Poole, unsponsored last week, would miss his first race of the year. Yeley's Thriv5 sponsor will follow him to the #15.

RETURNING: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Welcome back B.J. McLeod’s single-car effort, which hasn’t made a Cup start since the Dover double-header, where McLeod himself finished 38th and 31st. McLeod was also on his way to a strong Top 25 finish at this track in May before he was collected in a late accident, leaving him 28th. This time, Garrett Smithley will drive the car for the first time since Talladega, where he took 34th.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 17, 1950): The Langhorne Speedway still stands as one of the most treacherous tracks on which NASCAR has ever competed – a one-mile unpaved near-perfect circle with hardly any straightaways. On this day in 1950, 48 drivers were entered, but at least three didn’t start, all likely due to accidents in the lead-up to the race. Credited with last place was Braddock, Pennsylvania native Dick Burns, whose 1950 Mercury joined John Meekins and Bill Harrison on the early ride home.

Monday, September 14, 2020

ARCA: Part-time fixture Clifton scores first last-place finish of career

PHOTO: Melrose Photography, thank you @StartAndParkCar and @nascarcatholic

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Rick Clifton finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Royal Truck & Trailer 200 at Toledo Speedway when his #11 Asheville Propane Ford retired with brake problems after completing three of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish came in Clifton’s 42nd career start.

The 66-year-old Rick Clifton is an eleven-year veteran of the ARCA Racing Series. He got his start with Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing in 2010, running two races with the team. Between Fast Track and James Hylton Motorsports, Clifton ran a few races a year, and made it to the finish in most of them. In 2015, he picked up backing from Ohio Ag Equipment and Asheville Propane, running a career-high seven races that year. The Ohio Ag Equipment sponsorship disappeared at the beginning of 2020, but like he has done in the past, Clifton is still running a partial schedule. He finished in the top ten for the first time at the first Toledo race this year, a small but important victory in his 40th career start.

The Royal Truck & Trailer 200 marked the first combination race for the ARCA Menards Series. Previously, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series had run combination events at tracks like Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology at Gateway. However, in the shuffle of rescheduling this year, a new type of combination event was born: the ARCA Menards Series / ARCA Menards Series East Combination Race. As such, a number of East regular teams entered, as all drivers entered earned points for both the national and East Series. Rev Racing entered its drivers, Nick Sanchez and Chase Cabre; Parker Retzlaff and his Bruce Cook Technologies team entered; Venturini Motorsports entered their East Series driver, Mason Diaz; and the part-time family teams of the East, Justin Carroll and “Farmer Bob” Pawlowski, also entered. As for the regular national series teams, it was about the usual entry list. Noticeably absent again was Thad Moffitt, whose next confirmed race is at Memphis, and Chad Bryant Racing, who will return at Bristol with Kris Wright and Derek Griffith.

All 19 cars on the entry list participated in practice, where eventual race winner Sam Mayer topped the charts with a lap that clocked in at just over sixteen seconds. Clifton was last on the charts, three and a half seconds behind Mayer and eight-tenths of a second behind 18th-place Owen Smith. Qualifying was about the same story: Mayer got just under the sixteen-second mark and Clifton barely broke the nineteen-second barrier, although the lap still left him in last place.

At the drop of the green, the nearly-identical cars of Clifton and Smith trailed the field. Clifton held last place flag-to-flag, falling ten seconds back of the leaders by the time he exited the race on lap four. Two Smiths were next to retire, with Owen retiring after five laps and Brad ending his race after 41 laps. The last two spots in the Bottom Five were filled by crash victims. Chase Cabre had what looked like a tire go down, leading to an early exit after 55 laps. Drew Dollar claimed he got dumped by Parker Retzlaff and promised words for the Wisconsin driver after the race, although it is unclear if an exchange ever happened.

With the finish, Clifton clinched the 2020 LASTCAR ARCA Owners Championship for Fast Track Racing with the team’s eighth last-place finish of the year. Wayne Peterson Racing is currently in second with two. 

THE BOTTOM FIVE
19) #12-Rick Clifton / 3 laps / brakes
18) #11-Owen Smith / 5 laps / electrical
17) #48-Brad Smith / 41 laps / overheating
16) #4E-Chase Cabre / 55 laps / crash
15) #15-Drew Dollar / 86 laps / crash

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (8)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
3rd) Brother-in-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP


Saturday, September 12, 2020

CUP: Timmy Hill the first driver to, on the same day, finish last in two NASCAR points races at the same track with the same team, car number, and manufacturer

PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

Timmy Hill
picked up the 13th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at the Richmond Raceway when his #66 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota fell out with rear hub issues after 100 of 400 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 120th series start, was his 4th of the season and first since Martinsville, 17 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place history, it was the 2nd from a rear hub, the 60th for the #66, and the 164th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 2nd rear hub issue, the 77th for the #66, and the 345th for Toyota.

With the finish, Hill became the first driver in NASCAR history to finish last in any two Cup, XFINITY, or Truck Series points races held on the same day at the same track, while also running the same car number and manufacturer for the same team. He very nearly extended the record into Friday’s first round of the XFINITY double-header, holding last from his exit on Lap 5 until teammate Chad Finchum was disqualified.

The finish also gave Hill the lead in the 2020 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship with eight races to go, tying previous leader Ryan Preece and now prevailing on a bottom-five tiebreaker of 13-6.

Following his early exit with fuel pump issues during the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 250 XFINITY race held that afternoon, Hill would roll off 37th in the field of 38. He would run the same black-and-white scheme with which he finished last at both Phoenix and Martinsville, though with main sponsor Pit Boss Grills replaced with attorney and MBM’s longtime backer James Carter, Esq., whose name was on the hood, and his website CrashClaimsR.us on the quarter-panels.

Starting 38th and last was Darlington last-placer James Davison, who this week carried sponsorship from Cruz & Associates on his #53 Ford. Davison’s last-place finish the previous Sunday was the third in a row for Rick Ware Racing, and one more finish by he or his three teammates would tie JTG-Daugherty’s streak of four from this past summer. Kyle Busch incurred a tail-end penalty, dropping his #18 M&M’s Toyota from 6th on the grid to the back of the pack, though it’s unlikely he spent much time in last place as he was 32nd by the end of Lap 1, keeping Davison in last.

On Lap 3, Davison passed his teammate Joey Gase to last, putting the #51 Donate Life Virginia Ford to last place. Gase reported his car was “really tight,” but managed to stay within shouting distance of Davison through the opening run. On Lap 22, just when Austin Dillon took the lead from Kevin Harvick, the #3 made Gase the first car one lap down, passing him low in Turn 1. He remained last under the competition caution, when the team relayed his lap time range from 23.85 to 24.90.

On Lap 36, the “choose cone” moved Gase ahead of Reed Sorenson in the #77 BetterForYourHealth.com Chevrolet, but Sorenson got back by on Lap 40. Seven circuits later, Gase’s crew had issues hearing their driver over the radio, and on Lap 51 they were advised they might be leaking oil. The driver who raised the concern was Timmy Hill, who relayed the message to NASCAR moments earlier. Gase’s crew didn’t think they were leaking anything, and were cleared by NASCAR soon after. However, Ryan Preece then reported someone was leaking oil soon after, and Gase’s team decided to check their car for leaks on the next stop.

Next to take last place at the end of Stage 1 was Quin Houff, whose #00 Trucker Appreciation Chevrolet first took the spot on Lap 84. Houff then moved past Sorenson, whose pit crew crew jumped over the wall too soon. Sorenson re-passed Houff on Lap 91, and the #00 was still running last on Lap 103 when NASCAR reported “66 to the garage, mechanical.” The next time by, Hill, who was running 37th at the time, took last from Houff in the garage area.

Hill reported he felt like “only one wheel is turning,” and the crew wondered if a faulty locker was to blame. He also reported there was a bad smell in his car. By Lap 119, with the #66 now on jack stands, the crew said they needed to change the gear, but also discovered issues with the hub and the left-rear axle. On Lap 128, the crew was looking for a new left-rear axle, and tried to match the one on the right-rear. There was very little radio traffic on the publicly-available channel until Lap 176, when NASCAR reported “66 out, rear hub.” As with Talladega, the issue seemed to revolve around the left-rear hub, making this and Matt Kenseth’s last-place run on the superspeedway the only two last-place finishes because of a left-rear hub. The team had still been working, but with so few laps remaining and no one else in the garage, there wasn’t enough time to get back out.

Hill was the only driver to fail to finish, and without any cautions for incidents, the rest of the field finished within 15 laps of the leader. Davison took 37th, two laps behind both Sorenson and Gase. Finishing one further lap ahead was J.J. Yeley, who again ran his 1997 Kenny Irwin, Jr. “throwback” scheme from Darlington, though this time with Thriv5 on the hood in place of Jacob Industries.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in a Cup Series race at Richmond since September 12, 2009, when Dave Blaney’s unsponsored #66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota fell out with brake trouble after 36 laps of the Chevy Rock ‘n Roll 400.
*Hill is also the first driver to finish last in a Cup race at Richmond specifically because of a failure of any of the four hubs.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
38) #66-Timmy Hill / 100 laps / rear hub
37) #53-James Davison / 385 laps / running
36) #77-Reed Sorenson / 387 laps / running
35) #51-Joey Gase / 387 laps / running
34) #27-J.J. Yeley / 388 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (6)
2nd) Rick Ware Racing (5)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Racing (2)
4th) Beard Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Leavine Family Racing, StarCom Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (4)

2020 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


XFINITY: Timmy Hill unable to avoid last place in second Richmond race; Matt Mills backs up 13th-place finish

PHOTO: Motorsports Business Management Facebook, thanks @StartAndParkCar

Timmy Hill
picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his #66 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota fell out with fuel pump issues after 56 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 206th series start, was his second of the season and first since August 22, the opening round of the Dover double-header, five races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th from a fuel pump issue, the 12th for the #66, and the 142nd for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 30th from a fuel pump, the 76th for the #66, and the 344th for Toyota.

It has continued to be the best of times and worst of times for the popular underdog from Maryland. Since his most recent last-place run in the XFINITY Series, he steered a Joe Gibbs Racing engine into the lead pack at Daytona, only to drop from contention after a tire went down under green. Mechanical gremlins have continued to plague his Cup effort with Motorsports Business Management, including an engine failure at Dover and overheating issues just last week in Darlington. But it’s been his Truck Series effort that has turned some of the strongest runs of the year. After a 9th-place finish at Darlington, running a paint scheme honoring he and brother Tyler’s father Jerry Hill, he finished 9th once more to start the Richmond weekend on Thursday.

For the XFINITY double-header at Richmond, Hill would drive MBM’s #66 Toyota, a team that has most often been on “start-and-park” duty in 2020. Hill, along with teammates Chad Finchum and Stephen Leicht, have combined to finish just two races this year under power in the #66 – the season-opener in Daytona and the Indianapolis road course.

On Friday night, Hill appeared to have his second last-place finish in four races when he pulled off the track in the early laps, but Finchum inherited the spot after failing post-race inspection. Despite the change, the matrix still placed Finchum’s #61 in 33rd ahead of both Leicht’s #13 and Hill’s #66, as well as Vinnie Miller in the #99 Koolbox Chevrolet. Hill would thus roll off 36th and last, a field reduced by one as Kyle Busch was not entered. Finchum would end up joining Hill at the tail end, however, as he incurred a pre-race penalty for changing engines. Myatt Snider would also surrender 27th after a crash sent him to a backup #93 Superior Essex Chevrolet.

In the race itself, Hill lost a lap by the 30th circuit, but by Lap 43 climbed past Snider’s backup car into 35th place. He only stayed in the race just past the competition caution before pulling behind the wall. Incidentally, NASCAR.com's online leaderboard showed Hill a total of 5,728.810 seconds behind the leader when the checkered flag dropped.

Hitting the "refresh" button after the race on NASCAR.com's online leaderboard
briefly showed the intervals back to last place in seconds.

Colby Howard, whose #15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet stopped in Turn 4 the night before, slowed there again on Saturday after hitting the wall. This put him out of the race, and he eventually dropped to 35th. Riley Herbst took 34th after his #18 Monster Energy Toyota crossed the nose of Brandon Brown entering Turn 1, leaving him with significant damage to the right-rear. These three were the day’s only DNFs. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Jesse Little, six laps down in the #4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet, and one lap behind Vinnie Miller’s #99.

The same B.J. McLeod Motorsports team that fielded Miller’s 32nd-place finisher also enjoyed a strong weekend with teammate Matt Mills. Mills finished 13th on Friday, took 3rd on the grid for Saturday, and finished 13th once again, achieving some well-earned television time with Jeff Burton giving him encouragement. These two runs are now tied for Mills’ second-best ever XFINITY Series finishes, trailing only his 10th-place run on the Daytona oval last month.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the third consecutive last-place finish for Motorsports Business Management in an XFINITY race at Richmond, dating back to September 20, 2019 with Mike Marlar.
*This was the first XFINITY Series last-place finish by reason of a “fuel pump” since November 4, 2017, when John Jackson's #13 Dodge (also fielded by MBM) fell out after 7 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #66-Timmy Hill / 56 laps / fuel pump
35) #15-Colby Howard / 140 laps / crash
34) #18-Riley Herbst / 227 laps / crash
33) #4-Jesse Little / 244 laps / running
32) #99-Vinnie Miller / 245 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Motorsports Business Management (7)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures, SS-Green Light Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, Kaulig Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (15)
2nd) Toyota (10)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Friday, September 11, 2020

XFINITY: Chad Finchum disqualified after 27th-place finish at Richmond

PHOTO: Brian Wertman, thanks @nascarcatholic

Chad Finchum picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s Go Bowling 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his #61 Smithbilt Homes Toyota finished 27th, but was disqualified after completing 246 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Finchum’s 93rd series start, was his first of the season and first since May 25, 2019 at Charlotte, 46 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 12th disqualification, the 17th for the #29, and the 141st for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 29th for the #61, the 38th from disqualification, and the 343rd for Toyota.

Timmy Hill picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s Go Bowling 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his #66 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota fell out with a vibration after 4 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 205th series start, was his second of the season and first since August 22, the opening round of the Dover double-header, four races ago (LINK). In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 12th for the #66, the 141st from a vibration, and the 141st for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 76th for the #55, the 215th from a vibration, and the 343rd for Toyota.

Late last year, Finchum scored a surprising 15th-place finish at Texas, which still stands as the best finish by Carl Long’s underdog XFINITY team Motorsports Business Management (MBM) on a mile-and-a-half oval. While he missed the cut for this year’s Daytona 500, he’s quietly become perhaps the most consistent driver on MBM this season. He began the year with seven-straight finishes inside the Top 25, lifting him as high as 19th in the point standings, then earned a season-best 16th in the first round of the Kentucky double-header.

Then, just last week, Finchum campaigned one of the most head-turning “throwback” schemes at Darlington. Honoring both Jerry Nadeau and the now-defunct Elliott-Marino Motorsports, Finchum’s #13 Camry was decorated like the FirstPlus Financial Ford Taurus from the 1998 Winston Cup season. In the race, Finchum battled for the Lucky Dog all the way to the finish, taking 20th at the checkered flag. It was the best finish ever for the scheme at Darlington – when it last ran in ’98, Nadeau finished 31st in the spring race while Dennis Setzer ran 29th in the Southern 500.

For Richmond, The MBM team swapped car numbers for all three of their drivers, giving Finchum the #61 number that’s been shared with Hattori Racing Enterprises and driver Austin Hill. In place of the Hattori-backed Supra, Finchum would drive MBM’s bright yellow Toyota Camry, a car which in past years has run several road course races.

Timmy Hill, one of Finchum’s teammates at MBM, drew the 37th and final starting spot. In place of the blue-and-gold Carl Long “throwback” scheme Stephen Leicht ran last week in Darlington, Hill would run the white-and-gold scheme the team ran earlier this season. Leicht moved to the #13, which still carried Hill’s sponsorship from RoofClaim.com. Prior to the green flag, Hill would be joined by two teams due to pre-race penalties – Matt Mills from 22nd for unapproved adjustments on his #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet and Joey Gase, who was swapped in for 31st-place J.J. Yeley in SS-Green Light Racing’s #07 Donate Life Virginia Chevrolet.

When the race started, Hill dropped behind both Mills and Gase, retaining the 37th starting spot for the green flag. On the break, Hill was 5.08 seconds back of the lead, and by Lap 3 had dropped a full 1.523 seconds back of 36th-place Kyle Weatherman in the #47 Honor and Sacrifice Chevrolet. By Lap 5, the team was counting Hill down to his pit stall, then was instructed to pull into the garage. The radio went silent at that point, and NASCAR didn’t report the #66 was behind the wall until Lap 10. NASCAR reported Hill out of the race on Lap 32.

Timmy Hill's #66, which was originally credited with last place.
PHOTO: @MaryMuncie

Overall, it had been a rough evening for the MBM trio. Stephen Leicht dropped out with an axle issue after 88 laps, and his car chief was ejected, unable to participate in the second round of the double-header. Leicht took 35th in the unofficial results, one spot ahead of Myatt Snider, whose #93 Superior Essex Chevrolet was turned into the inside wall on the backstretch following the Lap 42 competition caution. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Colby Howard, who stalled on the track on Lap 15 and lost 27 laps in the garage before he returned to action during the competition yellow. Jeb Burton also suffered mechanical issues on his #8 State Water Heaters Chevrolet, nixing a strong top-ten run at his home track, but also managed to finish under power in 33rd.

Finchum easily earned the best finishing position of the MBM trio, taking the 27th spot, four laps down. That changed around 10:26 P.M. local time, when it was revealed Finchum’s car had failed the rear heights phase during post-race inspection. The result dropped Finchum to last place, putting all three MBM cars in the Bottom Five, and bumping Jeb Burton out of the group. Finchum will likewise start last on Saturday for the second round of the double-header.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #61 in an XFINITY Series race since June 30, 2018, when Kaz Grala and Fury Race Cars, LLC got their only last-place finish together at Chicagoland following electrical issues on his #61 Kiklos / IT Coalition Ford after just 1 lap of the Overton’s 300.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
37) #61-Chad Finchum / 246 laps / disqualified
36) #66-Timmy Hill / 4 laps / vibration
35) #93-Myatt Snider / 46 laps / crash
34) #13-Stephen Leicht / 88 laps / axle
33) #15-Colby Howard / 220 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Motorsports Business Management (6)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures, SS-Green Light Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, Kaulig Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (15)
2nd) Toyota (9)

2020 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, September 10, 2020

TRUCKS: Mechanical gremlins cause Cobb and Decker to fight to even start Richmond race

PHOTO: Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing's Facebook Page

Jennifer Jo Cobb picked up the 8th last-place finish of her NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Thursday’s ToyotaCare 250 at the Richmond Raceway when her #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet fell out with clutch issues without completing any of the 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Cobb’s 204th series start, was her first of the season and first in the series since June 17, 2017 at Gateway, 77 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, this was the 18th from clutch issues, the 20th for the #10, and the 393rd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 68th from a clutch, the 126th for the #10, and the 1,742nd for Chevrolet.

Cobb has continued to fight to keep her underfunded owner-driver effort competitive in the Truck Series, battling both to make the field and to outlast her competition. Last summer, a qualifying crash at Michigan by teammate Daniel Sasnett left her with just one race-ready truck for the short tracks and larger tracks, her teammate’s backup #0 nowhere near ready. The only other truck in the garage was only for the superspeedways. When it ran at Talladega, she flat-spotted her only set of tires after a spin. That alone would have ended her race had it not been for fans who paid her tire bill. Talladega also saw her best finish since 2014 when she finished 11th in 2018, one month after a 12th-place run in Las Vegas.

Without practice or qualifying after the season’s second round, 2020 has been particularly challenging for underfunded teams. While her team was all but guaranteed a starting spot after she DNQ’d for the season’s first two rounds at Daytona and Las Vegas, she had shelved her second #0 truck, making her runs in the primary #10 more critical for the team’s success. Unfortunately, she’s seen an uptick in DNFs since the resumption of the season, failing to finish five races coming into Richmond after just two in all of 2019. She’s also finished no better than 26th.

The next race marked the first Truck Series race at Richmond since 2005, three years before Cobb’s first series start. While Cobb had never run her truck at Richmond, she had once before attempted an XFINITY race in September 2011. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify her #13 HipChixFundraisers.com Dodge, turning the slowest lap in time trials. The team hoped for better results this time around. According to Cobb’s radio traffic on Thursday, the team had replaced their old engine from the Daytona road course with a rebuilt motor, but used the old bell housing from the Daytona motor to link it to their Jasper transmission.

Cobb was set to start 31st, but when the command came to fire engines, there were problems immediately. During the pace laps, Cobb was sitting in the middle of pit road, the crew attending to the truck. She received a push from the tow truck, damaging the rear bumper, but the clutch continued to slip. With great difficulty, the team pushed her back to her pit stall and looked under the hood. Cobb said it felt like her transmission was stuck in neutral. After the rest of the field rolled down pit road for speed checks, she was pushed behind the wall. NASCAR indicated “10 to the garage, mechanical” an instant after the green flag. Instantly, she took last place from Tim Viens, who was slated to start last in the #83 Trump 2020 Chevrolet.

But Cobb wasn’t the only driver to miss the start. Four stalls behind Cobb, Natalie Decker was also sitting in her pit stall with the hood up on the #44 Ruedebusch Development Chevrolet, dropping her from 27th to 35th, one spot ahead of Cobb. The team cited an electrical issue with dashboard on Lap 3, just as Josh Reaume dropped off the pace down the backstretch in the #00 Motorsports Safety Group Toyota. Reaume actually beat both Cobb and Decker to the garage area on Lap 8, putting him laps ahead of the pair, who had each yet to complete even one circuit.

What ensued was a battle between both Cobb and Decker to return to the track. On Lap 13, Decker’s crew examined the battery. Two laps later, Cobb’s team believed they had a transmission issue, but didn’t have a replacement on hand. Decker was pushed behind the wall on Lap 19, when Cobb’s team believed they would have to replace both the transmission and the drive shaft. On Lap 23, Cobb requested her phone from her helmet bag so she could contact both her father, Joe Cobb, and also track down the transmission specialist. “Bearing might be stuck in the tranny” was Joe’s response on Lap 58. On Lap 30, with the #10 now on four jack stands, the crew began to wonder if the clutch was the issue instead. Four laps later, Decker’s crew was looking for a replacement battery from their two teammates at Niece Motorsports.

On Lap 46, Decker pulled onto the track for the first time, and on Lap 50 finally completed her first lap of the race. But after completing just seven laps, the electrical problem had resurfaced, and she went back behind the wall a second time. Cobb, meanwhile rallied the troops under the caution flag. “This is what it is right now,” she said, “No need to be ranting and raving.” Truth be told, Cobb’s crew sounded much calmer than Decker’s over the radio, particularly as the #44 crew struggled to find the right tools. Even so, Cobb couldn’t help but be disappointed. “It's like I'm cursed here,” she said on Lap 55, “I've been here twice, and I've never made a lap at this damned place.”

On Lap 60, Cobb’s team pulled the transmission and readied the rivet gun, all the while further examining the clutch issue. The transmission didn’t appear damaged, so they decided not to try and get a backup transmission from Austin Wayne Self’s #22 team. By Lap 72, the crew set to work piecing the truck back together, but the crew knew few drivers had fallen out of the race. Josh Reaume had since returned with Decker soon on her way back out. The only retiree had been Tim Viens, whose #83 was spun by teammate Ray Ciccarelli, then parked under the Damaged Vehicle Policy despite not hitting anything. Cobb climbed out of the truck on Lap 80 while Decker returned to action on Lap 95. Decker, meanwhile, was worried about a strange burning smell in her truck, which the team said was caused by new paint.

On Lap 119, just short of the halfway point, Cobb’s team changed strategy. “Are you saying we’re done?” someone asked. “Yes, sir,” was the answer. “I don’t blame you one bit.” On Lap 130, NASCAR confirmed that Cobb was out of the race with clutch issues. Decker ultimately climbed past Viens into 34th while Reaume ended up 32nd, both of them still under power at the finish. The only other DNF of the race was that of Danny Bohn, who suffered electrical issues of his own on the #30 North American Motor Car / Sierra Delta Toyota.

Despite the struggles for many of the series’ underdogs, two others enjoyed brilliant runs. For the second-straight week, Timmy Hill finished 9th in his unsponsored #56 Chevrolet, and this time picked up a stage point with a 10th-place finish in Stage 2. This marked the first back-to-back Top Tens for the Hill Motorsports team since their debut last year. Equally impressive was Codie Rohrbaugh, who ran as high as 5th before taking home 6th in the #9 Pray For Joshua Chevrolet. After the CR7 Motorsports team skipped both rounds at Dover and Gateway to rebuild his fleet following three crashes over the summer, Rohrbaugh earned his best finish since his career-best 3rd in the Daytona opener, and his best-ever on a non-superspeedway.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for both the #10 and Cobb in a Truck Series race at Richmond.
*This was the first time the last-place finisher of the Truck race at Richmond fell out with clutch issues since September 4, 1997, when Ernie Irvan picked up the first last-place run of his Truck career after 18 laps in the #28 Federated Auto Parts Ford during the Virginia Is For Lovers 200.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 0 laps / clutch
35) #83-Tim Viens / 50 laps / dvp
34) #44-Natalie Decker / 155 laps / running
33) #30-Danny Bohn / 175 laps / electrical
32) #00-Josh Reaume / 217 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) Norm Benning Racing, ThorSport Racing (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, FDNY Racing, Halmar Friesen Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Niece Motorsports, Spencer Davis Motorsports (1)

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (3)

2020 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


PREVIEW: The trucks return to Richmond to lead off a four-race weekend

PHOTO: @joshbilicki

Thursday, September 10, 2020
TRUCKS Race 16 of 23
ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond
2005 Last-Place Finisher: Johnny Sauter

ENTRY LIST
The Truck Series returns to Richmond for the first time since 2005 with a list of 36 drivers for 40 spots – the same sized field that last ran here. Johnny Sauter, currently tied for the 2020 LASTCAR Truck Series lead, finished last that September night when his #43 Menards / Energizer Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 100 laps of the Cheerios Betty Crocker 200.

TEAM UPDATE: #7-All Out Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #17-DGR-Crosley
It was reported this week that DGR-Crosley has acquired the Owner Point ranking for All Out Motorsports’ #7 team, which has been conspicuously absent since Korbin Forrister’s most recent series start in the first round of the Kansas double-header. The point swap secures David Ragan’s #17 a spot in the field, which is as yet unnecessary as fewer than 40 trucks have entered the last nine consecutive races, including this one. Select Blinds sponsors Ragan this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #24-GMS Racing
Sam Mayer ran a strong 4th in his most recent series start at Gateway, and this week returns for the first time since then. He takes the place of Greg Biffle, who made his series return last week in Darlington and took 19th. AWA is the listed sponsor of the Mayer truck.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Bilicki and his longtime sponsor Insurance King are back in the Truck Series, taking the place of Darlington last-place finisher Bryant Barnhill. This will be Bilicki’s first Truck Series start since the season’s second round in Las Vegas, where he himself finished last.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #45-Niece Motorsports
This week’s big news was that Trevor Bayne’s return to NASCAR at Darlington wasn’t a one-off – he now takes the place of Ty Majeski in Niece’s #45. The move opens the #40 for a returning Carson Hocevar, who last steered the entry at Gateway to 15th place.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Cram Racing Enterprises
Ryan Huff returns to the Truck Series for the first time since his series debut in the second round of the Kansas double-header, and this time will give the new Cram team its third series start. He previously drove for Josh Reaume, and took 19th in the Kansas event. Huff takes the place of Dawson Cram, whose Tim Flock “throwback” ended up 33rd at Darlington after an early crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Natalie Decker makes her tenth start of the season and first since her 28th-place run in Gateway, taking the place of Bayley Currey, who took 12th in the Cale Yarborough “throwback” truck. Ruedebusch Development is the listed sponsor for the #44 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #49-CMI Motorsports
RETURNING: #83-CMI Motorsports
Both of Ray Ciccarelli’s trucks return to action this weekend – the #49 for the first time since Gateway, and the #83 for the first time since Dover. Ciccarelli himself will run the #49, run most recently by Roger Reuse, while Tim Viens will roll off from the last starting spot in the #83.

CUP INVADERS: None

Friday, September 11, 2020
XFINITY Race 24 of 33
Go Bowling 250 at Richmond
2019 Last-Place Finisher (Spring): Jeff Green

ENTRY LIST
There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots – the same number as last week.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod and team will once again play musical chairs this week in Richmond. First off, Matt Mills and Vinnie Miller will swap rides this week with Mills in the #5 and Miller in the #99.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
In addition, B.J. McLeod himself moves back to Johnny Davis’ #6, taking the place of Ryan Vargas, who isn’t entered. McLeod thus opens the #78 for a returning Mason Massey, who makes his first XFINITY start since the Kentucky double-header. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton rejoins the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 7th-place finish at Dover, and will again run the State Water Heaters paint scheme. He takes the place of Daniel Hemric, whose John Andretti “throwback” finished last at Darlington after an early crash.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill returns to the XFINITY Series this week and will this time run the #66, bumping Stephen Leicht to the #13, which moves Chad Finchum back to the #61. Finchum bumps out Austin Hill, who isn’t entered after a strong 9th-place run last Saturday. Finchum’s 20th-place finish in the Jerry Nadeau “throwback” car last week was his best finish since the first round of the Kentucky double-header, eight races previous, and was his third-straight finish of 25th or better.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Kaz Grala makes his third XFINITY start of the year and first since his season-best 4th-place finish at Road America. He takes the place of Anthony Alfredo, whose was at the center of the early Darlington wreck that ended Daniel Hemric’s race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
JGR’s part-time Cup invader team is back again with Kyle Busch taking the place of Denny Hamlin, and Starburst Duos taking the place of Sport Clips as sponsor. Busch has completed all 5,513 laps he’s ever run in 22 career XFINITY starts at Richmond dating back to 2004. He’s won six XFINITY races there, hasn’t finished outside the Top 10 since 2006, and has never once failed to finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
J.J. Yeley returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since Homestead, where he ran a season-best 11th for the same SS-Green Light Racing team. This time, he takes the place of David Starr, who was involved in a late-race accident at Darlington.

CUP INVADERS: #54-Kyle Busch

Sunday, September 12, 2020 (2:30 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 25 of 33
Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 250 at Richmond
2019 Last-Place Finisher (Fall): Mike Marlar

ENTRY LIST
There are 36 drivers entered in Sunday’s second round of the double-header for the XFINITY Series, with one very significant team missing---

MISSING: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle Busch is not entered, and will thus be unable to sweep both XFINITY victories this weekend.

CUP INVADERS: None

Sunday, September 12, 2020 (6:00 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 28 of 36
Round of 16: Race 2 of 3
Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Erik Jones

ENTRY LIST
After this year’s spring race at Richmond was scrubbed during the pandemic, the second round of the Playoffs will be at a track where the series has yet to run in 2020. The list shows 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, down one car from last week. It is the 13th short field in 28 races this season.

MISSING: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Josh Bilicki is not entered after a 32nd-place finish last Sunday in the Tom Baldwin “throwback” car, but will focus on his Truck Series effort with Josh Reaume (see above). Incidentally, this will be only the second Cup race Bilicki has missed out of the last seven.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Reed Sorenson, who had been entered last week in Darlington before he was swapped for Ross Chastain, is again entered in the #77 this week. According to Mike Davis of Dirty Mo Media, Chastain edged J.J. Yeley for the 29th spot at the end of last week’s Southern 500, where each driver was running seven laps down.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 10, 1988): Five years before he became Dale Earnhardt’s crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, Andy Petree picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career in the Commonwealth 200, the first-ever NASCAR race run on Richmond’s current three-quarters-of-a-mile layout. Petree started 24th in the #4 Lambert Racing Oldsmobile, but was involved in an accident after only nine laps. It was Petree’s first of five series starts. His last, which came driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. at Martinsville on October 16, 1994, yielded him his best finish of 16th.

Monday, September 7, 2020

ARCA: Inaugural Lebanon race sees first-time last-place finisher

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar / @nascarcatholic via Travis Braden on Facebook

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Correspondent

Tim Monroe scored the first last-place finish of his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Zinsser SmartCoat 200 at Lebanon I-44 Speedway when his #10 Fast Track Racing Chevrolet exited the race with brake problems after 4 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Monroe’s second career start.

Fast Track Racing crew member Tim Monroe has recently been given the opportunity to jump behind the wheel for the team in two events this season. The University of Northwestern Ohio student also races UMP modifieds at tracks like Shadyhill Speedway, Farmer City Raceway and Lincoln Speedway. He has been racing since at least the late 2000s, starting in small go-karts and working his way up through the ranks to outlaw karts and modifieds. He made his series debut for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing (FTR) at the Daytona road course with an all-UNOH-student crew servicing his #11 machine. He did not complete a lap in the race due to electrical problems but was not credited with last place as Bryan Dauzat did not start the race and was scored in last.

This time around, thirteen other drivers joined Monroe for the first ARCA Menards Series race at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. Fast Track Racing kept its other two drivers the same as last week as Mike Basham piloted the #10 and last week's last-place finisher Owen Smith drive the #11. Perhaps the only surprising name to see on the entry list was road racer Kris Wright, as the former 24 Hours of Daytona driver was again entered in a Chad Bryant Racing Chevrolet. Hattori Racing Enterprises elected not to enter Max McLaughlin in the race, and Rev Racing did not enter any cars either. Thad Moffitt was once again absent from the list, leaving DGR-Crosley at two entries for the race. Despite Lebanon being a former track where the K&N Pro Series West raced, Bill McAnally Racing did not make the trip out to Missouri with its fleet of three entries. Not formally included on the entry list was former ARCA underdog and winner Brandon McReynolds, who is serving as a driver coach for Taylor Gray after helping Noah Gragson find success in NASCAR.

As the ARCA Menards Series was not racing with any national series at Lebanon, there was a full slate of practice and qualifying. Owen Smith put his machine 14th on the chart, about 2.5 seconds behind practice leader Hailie Deegan. Monroe then took the bottom spot in qualifying, running a lap of 17.4 seconds. He was not quite three seconds behind polesitter Bret Holmes.

At the drop of the green, Monroe was the last car in the running order. He was nine seconds back after two laps, and retired after four laps. Owen Smith avoided going 4-for-4 on career starts and last-place finishes by finishing 12th. He completed 39 laps before dropping out with brake issues. Brad Smith finished in between the two as the only other car to retire, citing handling as his reason out with 35 laps complete. Tim Richmond was the last car running in 11th, ten laps in arrears at the remainder of the race. Mike Basham completed the Bottom Five, finishing seven laps down.

Just outside the Bottom Five was Chandler Smith, who had what can be described as the "No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Lebanon Race." After Hailie Deegan spun him in turn one early in the race, Smith limped around a full circuit on a cut tire, damaging the front suspension. He spun again avoiding another Deegan incident, and fell two laps down. While running arguably the same time as the leaders, Smith was turned by Bret Holmes, a move that the Venturini Motorsports driver claimed came from crew chief Shane Huffman. Holmes did not directly refute the claim. An incident with Kris Wright later meant that Smith “hit for the cycle” and lost a total of two laps for repairs, the latest in a string of frustrating races between ARCA and the NASCAR Truck Series for Smith.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
14) #11-Tim Monroe / 4 laps / brakes
13) #48-Brad Smith / 35 laps / handling
12) #10-Owen Smith / 39 laps / brakes
11) #06-Tim Richmond / 190 laps / running
10) #12-Mike Basham / 193 laps / running

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (7)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

2020 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP