Friday, July 31, 2020

ARCA: Owen Smith’s series debut cut short in first race of Toledo doubleheader

PHOTO: @owen_smith36 on Instagram

by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Owen Smith finished last for the 1st time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s 200 presented by SPxE at Toledo Speedway when his #11 Double H Ranch Chevrolet retired with electrical problems after 5 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Smith’s series debut.

While the Toledo entry list was a little lean and mostly expected, one name popped out – Owen Smith. Smith was the only driver on the entry list set to make his series debut in Friday’s race, the first of two this weekend at Toledo Speedway. Smith’s entry blank was filed by Fast Track Racing, a team known for giving drivers their first opportunities in the series. Smith comes to the ARCA Menards Series from Virginia, where he was a 2018 graduate of Louisa County High School, and was a shophand for Virginia team Brandonbilt Motorsports in between his junior and senior years in high school. In 2016, Smith started competing in what was then the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, moving up from local divisions at Shenandoah Speedway in Shenandoah, Virginia. He earned a Top 500 national ranking during his rookie season, and carried that into the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons, linking up with CTD Racing and making an attempt at last year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. 

At the beginning of 2019, Smith went down to Daytona as a crew member for Fast Track Racing for the preseason test, and later pitted Tommy Vigh Jr.’s car at Five Flags Speedway. With NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series action on hold at Dominion Raceway in 2020, Smith continued his involvement with Fast Track, pitting for Ryan Huff at Pocono. When the preliminary entry list for Friday and Saturday were released, Smith was on both of them, entered in the #11.

Fifteen other cars populated the entry list, with not too many surprise entrants. Fifteen-year-old Taylor Gray returned to the #17 DGR-Crosley car, and Tim Richmond resumed driving duties of the Wayne Peterson #06 entry. Derek Griffith added this weekend to his schedule with Chad Bryant Racing, and Giovanni Bromante made his national ARCA series debut after running both East races so far this year. Rick Clifton and Mike Basham filled out Fast Track’s three-car lineup for the weekend.

As it was not a companion weekend with NASCAR or IndyCar, there was a full slate of practice and qualifying. Eventual race winner Sam Mayer paced practice, and Basham was at the bottom of the charts. As an interesting note, Con Nicolopoulos practiced the 06 car, as Tim Richmond was finishing out his work week in Illinois before driving to Toledo for the races. The #10 car’s fastest lap of 18.904 seconds was about 2.7 seconds off of Mayer’s pace. In qualifying, Chandler Smith broke the 16-second barrier with a lap of 15.999 seconds. Anchoring the field was Smith, who ran a lap of 19.062 seconds. Basham picked up nine-tenths of a second to secure the thirteenth spot on the starting grid. 

As the field took pace laps, one car did not join the field – Thad Moffitt. The eleventh car on the grid had a starter wire catch on fire; the car was sidelined in the pits with that and potentially other issues, as there were reports of a battery switch issue as well for the #46 car. When taking the green, Rick Clifton was the last car on track, but attrition was quick to take a sizeable portion of the field out. Smith pulled off track after five laps, citing electrical issues. Bromante went to the infield after seven laps, victim of an oil leak. Basham retired after fifteen laps with a vibration. Brad Smith’s race ended after 52 laps with brake problems, seemingly capping the Bottom Five for the night only about a quarter of the way through the race.

Prior to the race resuming from the first race break, Moffitt was able to get the car fired and joined the field. He went on to complete 55 laps and rose to the top of the Bottom Five before retiring for the night. It is unclear whether further issues forced Moffitt out or whether he parked, unable to gain any more positions before the race’s end.

Clifton, an Ohio native, completed the race and finished tenth, the first of his career in his 40th career start. Tim Richmond finished ninth, the first of his career in his 23rd career start.

16) #11-Owen Smith / 5 laps / electrical
15) #74-Giovanni Bromante / 7 laps / oil leak
14) #10-Mike Basham / 15 laps / overheating
13) #48-Brad Smith / 52 laps / brakes
12) #46-Thad Moffitt / 55 laps / electrical

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

1st) Fast Track Racing (3)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
3rd) DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)


Thursday, July 30, 2020

PREVIEW: Just days after the passing of Bob Bahre, Cup Series takes center stage at Loudon

Michael McDowell with new sponsorship from Chicago Pneumatic Compressors
IMAGE: @Team_FRM, scheme by @ksykes_designs
Sunday, August 2, 2020
CUP Race 20 of 36
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Daniel Hemric

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, meaning all will qualify for Sunday’s lone event of the weekend. This marks the eighth short field in 20 races this season and the first since Kentucky, three races ago.

MISSING: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Reed Sorenson is not entered this week following a 31st-place finish at Kansas following late-race electrical issues on the Tommy Baldwin’s Wilkerson Crane & Rental Chevrolet.

LASTCAR STORYLINE: #37-JTG-Daugherty Racing
LASTCAR STORYLINE: #47-JTG-Daugherty Racing
While Ryan Preece’s record-tying streak of three consecutive last-place finishes ended last Thursday in Kansas, teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.’s issues put the #47 in last instead. This means JTG-Daugherty Racing is now in position to break PRISM Motorsports’ Cup Series record of four consecutive last-place finishes in 2010.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
James Davison returns to the Cup Series for the first time since his debut in both rounds of the Pocono double-header. This time, he drives Rick Ware’s #53, taking the place of Josh Bilicki, who isn’t entered after a 25th-place finish in Kansas. Bilicki’s run matched his career-best at Indianapolis earlier that month.

MISSING: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Also not running this week is B.J. McLeod, who had serious handling issues during the opening stages of the Kansas race and ultimately finished 39th in the field of 40 with rear gear trouble.

Friday, August 7, 2020
TRUCKS Race 11 of 23
Michigan 200 at Michigan
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Norm Benning

Saturday, August 8, 2020
XFINITY Race 18 of 33
Henry 180 at Road America
2019 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

Both the XFINITY Series and the Truck Series take the week off and will return for another packed weekend in both Road America and Michigan. The Cup Series will also run double-duty that weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 30, 1963): On this day at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway, the late J.D. McDuffie scored the first last-place finish of his Cup Series career. Driving the #76 in place of his familiar #70 on his 1961 Ford, McDuffie started last in the 21-car field and crashed after he completed just one lap of the Pickens 200.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

ARCA: Local racer Russ Lane gets first last-place finish in a wreck eerily similar to that of Preece

by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Russ Lane finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s Dawn 150 at Kansas Speedway when his #8 Make It Rain / Invest Wisely by Vercie Lark Toyota crashed after completing 19 of the race’s 100 laps. The finish came in Lane’s second career series start.

Most ARCA fans knew of Russ Lane from his series debut, which came earlier this season at Pocono Raceway. However, Lane has a much longer story to tell. Now 23 years old, his childhood homes included towns in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. A lifelong race fan, Lane picked up local racing at age 18 and started road racing with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) three years ago, picking up the points title in the American Iron division in 2019. He also some unfortunate news when his car, trailer and tools were stolen out of a storage shed near his Kansas home last year about a month before NASA nationals. The car was eventually found, and the local community pitched in to help him get to nationals, where he received the Spirit of NASA award for his travails.

At the beginning of 2020, Lane decided to go oval racing and got in contact with Jack Irving from Toyota Racing Development, who pointed him towards an old Venturini Motorsports car. Lane purchased the car and, while looking for a place to house it, came across Empire Racing Group. In the end, Lane, a mechanic by trade, found not only a place to house his car but also a job opportunity, as he now wrenches on his car and others in the Empire shop for a living. His Pocono debut, cut short by oil line issues, carried sponsorship from NASA’s Central Region. This “home track” race at Kansas was funded by, the website for a book published by Kansas City-area financial manager Vercie Lark which aims to help low- and middle-income families stabilize their finances.

Car counts at intermediate tracks continue to suffer in 2020. The Kansas race saw only 18 entries hit the track. In total, there were 20 entries filed, as Eric Caudell (with his own team) and Howie DiSavino III (with Win-Tron Racing) withdrew before the weekend.  Riley Herbst filled the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car, taking the place of Ty Gibbs. Venturini Motorsports shuffled their lineup, putting Ryan Repko in the #20 and Corey Heim in the #12, borrowing points from Fast Track Racing – presumably to grab a better starting spot based on owner points. Fast Track welcomed back Ryan Huff to their lineup in the #10, as he ran double-duty at Kansas, making his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut on Saturday. Current Truck driver Tyler Hill returned to the team, driving the #11, and Mike Basham piloted the #01. Con Nicolopoulos returned to Wayne Peterson Racing, taking the place of Tim Richmond. Jason Kitzmiller continued his sporadic schedule, and Derek Griffith returned to Chad Bryant Racing after Kody Swanson held the seat last week. Caudell shifted from his own team to Kimmel Racing, keeping that entry full-time for the year and rounding out the part-time entries.

Bret Holmes was as fast in practice as he would be in the race. His lap of 31.669 seconds was good for a quarter of a second over the field and was almost ten seconds ahead of the last-place runner in practice, Con Nicolopoulos, who ran a lap of 40.646 seconds. As the Kansas race was a companion weekend with NASCAR, there was no qualifying - instead, the lineup was set by owner points.
That left the final starting spot to Lane, who had only one previous start with his team (Russ Lane Racing). After one lap, Lane was already up to 14th place, passing Kitzmiller, Brad Smith, Basham and Nicolopoulos, who took over last place. He was lapped for the first time on lap six, followed by Smith and Basham a lap later, and was lapped for a second time on lap ten.

Lane had been solidly plugging away until Lap 20, when he got loose off of turn two and spun to the inside of the track, making broadside contact with the inside SAFER barrier that sent the car momentarily off the ground. The Fox Sports 1 broadcast team mentioned the wreck's eerie similarity to that Ryan Preece just a day before during the NASCAR Cup Series race, as both were high-energy impacts that left their cars in shambles.

Lane went to a local hospital Saturday for follow-up testing for a concussion. The results of those tests have not been publicly disclosed.

This article could have very easily gone a different direction, as Mike Basham also retired after 19 laps, but timing and scoring placed him ahead of the wrecked Lane. Nicolopoulos and Smith were the next two cars to quietly retire from the race. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Hill, seven laps down. It is unclear if Hill had any extended problems and if so, what those problems were.

18) #8-Russ Lane / 19 laps / crash
17) #01-Mike Basham / 19 laps / unknown
16) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 33 laps / unknown
15) #48-Brad Smith / 67 laps / unknown
14) #11-Tyler Hill / 93 laps / unknown

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

1st) Fast Track Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)


Sunday, July 26, 2020

XFINITY: Last place war of attrition between Stephen Leicht and Kyle Weatherman sees determined efforts by MBM and MHR teams

PHOTO: Motorsports Business Management Facebook
Stephen Liecht picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 250 at the Kansas Speedway when his #66 Jani-King Toyota fell out with transmission issues after 26 of 175 laps.

The finish, which came in Leicht’s 146th series start, was his series-leading third of the 2020 season and first since Homestead, seven races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 10th for the #66, the 49th for transmission issues, and the 139th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 74th for the #66, the 164th for transmission problems, and the 339th for Toyota.

Leicht has continued to race for Carl Long’s team Motorsports Business Management, and at Kansas would run a now familiar paint scheme. He would run the same bright blue and neon orange Toyota Supra – a former superspeedway car – that was resurrected as a downforce car at Homestead. The car’s best showing came at Pocono, where he ran 27th despite electrical issues. The following round on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit saw him earn his best run of the season so far, taking a quiet 21st-place run in MBM’s #61.

At Kansas, Leicht drew the 25th starting spot, matching his season-best starting spot at Phoenix in March.

Drawing the 37th and final starting spot was Colin Garrett, who reunited with Sam Hunt Racing in the #26 Rosie Network Toyota for the first time since Talladega. There was some delay in the field rolling off, however, as the crew for 26th-place Jairo Avila, Jr. at B.J. McLeod Motorsports was addressing an issue on the #99 Art General Contractor Toyota. As both Avila and Garrett followed the field onto the track, however, 33rd-place Myatt Snider unexpectedly pulled behind the wall with fuel pressure issues. The crew worked frantically to get Snider’s #93 The Original Louisiana Hot Sauce Chevrolet back on track, just as Tommy Joe Martins dropped from 28th to the rear for unapproved adjustments following a pre-race oil leak on the #44 AAN Adjusters Chevrolet. Somehow, Snider’s crew finished repairs, and the #93 sped back onto the track in time for the start.

When the green flag dropped, Leicht had dropped behind Martins into the 36th spot, 4.013 seconds back of the lead. Snider was still some distance behind Leicht in last place. At the end of Lap 1, Snider was 26.832 seconds back of the leader and a full 19.528 seconds back of Leicht. Snider had a fast car, however, and early on was told he had speed to match the driver in 10th. On Lap 5, Snider closed within 12.402 seconds of Leicht, then 10.448 seconds on Lap 6, all the while running two seconds faster than the cars in front of him.

Leicht, meanwhile, had problems of his own. His car was extremely loose, and on Lap 9, he was told to make a pit stop to tighten his #66. At the time, he was still in 36th and on the lead lap, 7.624 seconds ahead of the fast-closing Snider. Snider, however, couldn’t escape the leaders, who lapped him that time by, followed moments later by Leicht’s trip to pit road. The stop dropped Leicht to last on Lap 11. Meanwhile, the penalized Martins’ problems appeared to continue as NASCAR noticed the rear bumper of his #44 was “changing color,” indicating a possible return of his earlier oil leak.

On Lap 14, Leicht was nearly three laps down and still unhappy with his car. He prepared for another pit stop, this time for five rounds in the left-rear of his car. “Fucking thing’s loose on the straightaway,” said the driver. “I can’t turn the steering wheel left at all.” The competition caution on Lap 20 gave Liecht the chance to pit for the five rounds, the team hoping his car would stop skating around the track. Through the caution, Leicht pointed out this was the worst this particular Supra had handled all season, and team owner Carl Long said, “If we're not making any gains on it or anything else, take the thing straight to the trailer.”

Leicht still took the green flag for the Lap 26 restart, but things immediately went from bad to worse. The driver now had smoke in the cockpit, and the back of his seat was heating up to an uncomfortable degree. Leicht believed the added heat indicated a possible leak in the oil tank. On Lap 28, Leicht pulled into the garage, and appeared done for the day. But the spotter stepped in when he noticed something on the track.

Kyle Weatherman rolled off 35th in Mike Harmon Racing’s #47 #BackTheBlue Chevrolet, but by Lap 28 the engine had soured, catching the attention of Leicht’s spotter. “The 47’s blowing up,” he said. “Don’t call yourself out.” Weatherman said he was trying to reach the caution to end Stage 1, but NASCAR posted him for not meeting minimum speed. The believed issue was the battery as the car was down on power. He pitted on Lap 32, then the last car on the lead lap in 31st. By Lap 36, Leicht and Weatherman were in the final two spots, seven laps apart. A few laps by either driver could prove decisive.

Weatherman’s car was pushed behind the wall on Lap 39, and someone on the crew believed someone else had forgotten to charge the battery since last week in Texas. The crew took off the wheel and prepared to install a new battery. Leicht’s crew got word of Weatherman’s issues on Lap 44, informing the team of the narrow seven-lap gap between themselves and the #47. In the meantime, Dexter Bean suddenly pulled his #36 Genteel Coatings Chevrolet behind the wall, and on Lap 59 would be reported out with power steering issues. Now there was a chance for Weatherman to pass a car, and for Liecht to pass two.

First to re-fire his engine was Weatherman, who returned to action on Lap 52. He finally completed his 32nd lap on Lap 54. Back in the garage, the MBM team was getting Leicht back in the #66 when they soon saw Weatherman return to the garage on Lap 56. The driver of the #47 reported the car felt like it was “on the chip,” and that the alternator had likely failed. Both batteries were now dead, and the air conditioning system had stopped completely. The heat soon got to Weatherman, who was told to stay in the car while he waited for the team to report if they were out of the race. By then, he was now nine laps ahead of Leicht in 36th.

On Lap 62, Leicht’s engine roared back to life, and he re-entered the race 38 laps down. With 17 laps to go in Stage 2, he could mathematically pass Weatherman for 36th and come within two laps of passing Bean as well for 35th. Unfortunately, like Weatherman, Leicht’s issues returned immediately. The driver reported the car was “smoking like hell,” filling the cockpit and also trailing smoke from behind the car. This brought him back to pit road on Lap 66, at which point he’d closed back within seven laps of Weatherman. Weatherman, meanwhile, now found he couldn’t disengage the clutch on Lap 70. On Lap 71, Harmon himself told Weatherman to flip the ignition switch on and off, but the car wouldn’t respond. Two laps later, Denise Harmon-Mixon said “We’re done.”

On Lap 76, NASCAR confirmed Leicht was out with transmission issues even though “handling” and “oil leak” were perhaps more accurate based on the radio chatter. Weatherman wasn’t officially listed out until Lap 100, the team citing the battery rather than “electrical” or “clutch.”

Also officially listed out on Lap 100 was Brett Moffitt, whose #02 Knockaround Sunglasses Chevrolet went behind the wall on Lap 91 and was ultimately retired with an oil leak. The Bottom Five wasn’t complete until the final laps, when Jesse Little’s #4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet was wrecked after a late bump from Joe Graf, Jr.

Last-place starter Colin Garrett managed to climb to 16th by the finish, two spots ahead of Tommy Joe Martins, whose car held together after the earlier suspected oil leak. Myatt Snider earned a Lucky Dog on Lap 42 and finished 22nd, one spot ahead of Weatherman’s teammate Bayley Currey in 23rd. Also of note was the strong 19th-place finish for Leicht’s teammate Timmy Hill, driver of the #61 Toyota whose triple-header weekend ended with his fifth finish of 21st or better in the last six races.

Brandon Brown also nearly netted his fifth top-ten finish of the year in a photo finish with Justin Allgaier and Riley Herbst for 9th, coming up just short of the pair when his #68 Chevrolet ran the low lane.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in an XFINITY Series race at Kansas.
*This was also the first time an XFINITY Series last-place finisher fell out due to transmission issues since May 4, 2019, when Josh Bilicki retired after 10 laps at Dover.

37) #66-Stephen Leicht / 26 laps / transmission
36) #47-Kyle Weatherman / 33 laps / battery
35) #36-Dexter Bean / 43 laps / power steering
34) #02-Brett Moffitt / 91 laps / oil leak
33) #4-Jesse Little / 165 laps / crash

1st) Motorsports Business Management (4)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures (2)
4th) Jeremy Clements Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (7)


TRUCKS: Bryan Dauzat’s electrical issue ends spirited last-place battle in Kansas

PHOTO: Jim Rosenblum's Facebook Page
Bryan Dauzat picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Saturday’s E.P.T. 200 at the Kansas Speedway when his #28 FDNY / Fowler Companies Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 61 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Dauzat’s 13th series start, was his first of the season and first since August 21, 2014 at Bristol, 134 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th for the #28, the 37th from electrical issues, and the 389th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 42nd for the #28, the 128th for electrical woes, and the 1,728th for Chevrolet.

The finish also gives Dauzat the lead in the 2020 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship by a single bottom-ten finish over Norm Benning.

Duazat’s first Truck Series last-place finish was also his series debut at the tender age of 54. He’d made the transition from NASCAR Modifieds, which he has run on a part-time basis since 2008. He was brought on board by Jim Rosenblum who, like the late Mike Mittler, has been fielding trucks in the series since the inaugural 1995 season (though unlike Mittler, not in every season, and most often on a part-time basis). Dauzat has made each of Rosenblum’s Truck Series starts since 2017, the highlight of which was an 8th-place run at Talladega in 2018.

The COVID-19 break and NASCAR’s subsequent decision to cancel practice and qualifying have helped both driver and team remain on track. The break allowed the small team to repair their red #28 from a fiery crash in Daytona while the 40-truck fields have kept them in the show for five of the eight starts since. It's been anything but smooth sailing, however, as early spins, mechanical issues, and the truck's undercarriage dragging on the track have kept them running well back in the order. Races 4 and 5 would be the first Truck Series double-header at Kansas, where Fowler Companies replaced American Genomics as the team's associate sponsor. Unfortunately, the Friday race didn’t go well as the #28 banged doors with Jordan Anderson near the entrance to pit road, leaving them 37th of 38 trucks due to the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

With repairs made, Dauzat took the 36th spot in the 37-truck field. Jordan Anderson’s crew prepared their backup #3 / BG Services Chevrolet and would have to drop to the rear along with backups for Sheldon Creed (8th), Spencer Boyd (29th), and Stewart Friesen (27th). The field had also shrunk by one entry from the first round of the Kansas double-header after Korbin Forrister did not have a backup truck following the wreck of his #7 Nursing Home Caregivers Toyota, which took 35th.

Taking the 37th and final spot on Saturday was last-place finisher Kevin Donahue in the #33 First Responder Racing Toyota. Donahue would incur a redundant pre-race penalty for a driver change as he’d originally been slated to run Josh Reaume’s #00 556 Body Ops Toyota, but swapped rides with the also penalized Ryan Huff, making his series debut. Also docked for swapping drivers were 34th-place Travis Pastrana, taking the place of Ross Chastain, and 19th-place Tyler Hill, replacing brother Timmy Hill in the #56 Chevrolet. These were in addition to the aforementioned four backup trucks and a transmission change for 5th-place Ty Majeski in the #45 Studio 45 Tavern Chevrolet.

Despite no fewer than nine teams sent to the rear for pre-race penalties, the last two trucks to take the green were ultimately Dauzat and 35th-place starter Norm Benning in the #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet, the pair of them 4.422 and 4.246 seconds back of the lead, respectively. Benning pulled ahead of Dauzat at the start, but on Lap 2, Ty Majeski dropped off the pace after banging doors with Tyler Ankrum’s #26 Liuna Chevrolet. Majeski brought his smoking truck to pit road and took last on Lap 4, 18.503 seconds back of the lead. The next time by, Majeski became the first driver to lose a lap to the leader, and fell two down by Lap 10.

By Lap 20, Jennifer Jo Cobb had also fallen two laps down in her #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet. Cobb was four seconds off Majeski’s pace, but insisted her truck was handling well, only that the engine was “on its last legs.” Majeski caught and passed her for 36th on Lap 21. Next to take last was Travis Pastrana, making his series return in place of Ross Chastain in the #40 Plan B Sales Chevrolet. Pastrana pushed in a fender and cut down a tire, forcing an unscheduled green-flag stop just before the end of Stage 1. Pastrana had just managed to get back up to speed and put Cobb back in last place when the caution came out. Pastrana re-took the spot on Lap 34, then Cobb on Lap 35. During this same stretch, Cobb was told her white left-front wheel looked “Martinsville black” from high brake use.

Dauzat (left) and Norm Benning (right) on pit road
before the race.
PHOTO: Jim Rosenblum's Facebook Page
On Lap 37, Norm Benning returned to the last spot and was three laps down. At the time, Benning was orchestrating his upcoming pit strategy – one stop for fuel, then the next for left-side tires. In so doing, Unfortunately, the team had trouble locating their full-face helmets, and were still filling the cans. Upset, Benning ultimately changed the strategy so he’d have the tire change done first, then fuel on the second stop.

During this, Benning was soon on the same lap as several drivers in front of him, and the group started to race each other for the spot. The sequence began after the Lap 43 caution where Dauzat spun in Turn 2, Benning putting Dauzat in last as a result. Dropping into contention now was Ray Ciccarelli, who on the same 45th circuit dropped to 36th in his #49 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet. On the restart, Dauzat then put Benning back to last on Lap 47 and also passed Ciccarelli, putting Benning into a race with the #49. Benning was faster than Ciccarelli on Lap 49, and passed him in the low lane on Lap 50. Ciccarelli hounded Benning for the next lap and made it back by on Lap 51. “He’s being a real asshole,” said Benning before this pass was made. Benning then took it to Ciccarelli once more and dropped the #49 to last on Lap 58. Ciccarelli responded on Lap 60, putting Benning back to last once more, and the #6 still held the spot at the end of Stage 2.

Prior to the race, Benning had also worked out a deal with FDNY Racing to use some of their crew members after the #28 was serviced. Benning specifically wanted Dauzat’s gas man to serve for the fuel stop, but unfortunately he was indisposed pushing the #28 to the garage area. Electrical issues were to blame, and Dauzat took last once again on Lap 65. Benning’s crew managed to get their work completed on pit road, and he went back to work racing Ciccarelli and the other lapped drivers. Ultimately, Ciccarelli would finish one lap and one spot ahead of Benning, the pair taking the checkers in 24th and 25th, respectively.

Several late-race wrecks filled the remainder of the Bottom Five. First was Cory Roper, whose #04 Carquest Ford wrecked in a Lap 78 tangle with Derek Kraus’ #19 ENEOS Toyota. The remainder of the group were devoured in the day’s biggest tangle on the Lap 83 restart. When Clay Greenfield’s #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota was bumped into a spin, eleven other drivers were collected. Most significantly damaged were 36th-place Natalie Decker in the #44 Ruedebusch Development Chevrolet, 35th-place Stewart Friesen in the #52 Halmar “Racing To Beat Hunger” Chevrolet, and 34th-place Johnny Sauter in the #13 Vivitar Ford. Greenfield was one of four other drivers eliminated under the Damaged Vehicle Policy soon after.

Amidst the chaos, the two most recent last-place finishers in the series both stayed out and restarted 1st and 2nd on Lap 87. Texas last-place Tanner Gray led three laps in the #15 Ford / Ford Performance Ford next to Kansas last-placer Kevin Donahue in the Reaume #33. While Donahue dropped 21 spots in the first three green flag laps, Gray held on to finish 4th – his career-best finish and first Top Five in just his 13th series start.

For more pictures and info on FDNY Racing, check out Jim Rosenblum's Facebook page at this link.

37) #28-Bryan Dauzat / 61 laps / electrical
36) #04-Cory Roper / 77 laps / crash
35) #44-Natalie Decker / 82 laps / crash
34) #52-Stewart Friesen / 82 laps / crash / led 3 laps
33) #13-Johnny Sauter / 83 laps / crash

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (3)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, FDNY Racing, Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports, ThorSport Racing (1)

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


Friday, July 24, 2020

TRUCKS: Kevin Donahue’s series return ends early with power steering issues

PHOTO: Kevin Donahue's Facebook page
Kevin Donahue picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series career in Friday’s Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 at the Kansas Speedway when his #33 First Responder Racing Toyota fell out with power steering issues after 17 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Donahue’s 11th series start, was his first of the season and first since May 11, 2018 at the same Kansas track, 49 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place history, it was the 2nd for power steering issues, the 6th for the #33, and the 37th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 7th for power steering problems, the 49th for the #33, and the 338th for Toyota.

Kentucky marked Donahue’s first start in the Truck Series since June 23, 2018, when he finished a career-best 12th at Gateway. The finish was all the more special as he was driving for the late Mike Mittler, who considered the Missouri oval to be his home track. Mittler’s team would make just eight more starts before his failing health led to D.J. Copp operating the team. In those eight starts, the team finished no better than 22nd.

This time around, Donahue would drive for Josh Reaume, who originally didn’t have a driver listed for his flagship #33 Toyota until Tuesday. While his entry was listed simply under “First Responder Racing,” which was on his quarter-panels, a brief view of the truck during the FS1 broadcast showed the team also had hood sponsorship from Levrack (shared with teammate Dawson Cram in the #00) and TV panel sponsorship from 556 Bodyops. Donahue drew the 22nd spot for Friday’s race.

Starting 38th and last on the grid was Truck Series last-place record holder Norm Benning in his #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet. By Lap 5, the spot had fallen to 35th-place starter Ray Ciccarelli, who had withdrawn his #83 earlier in the week and took over for teammate Tim Viens in his #49 Springrates Automotive Suspension Parts Chevrolet. During this same run, Donahue had dropped to the 29th spot, and later revealed on Facebook that the power steering had failed on the opening lap. On or about Lap 10, Donahue made minor contact with the outside wall, and soon came to pit road for repairs. He took over last from Ciccarelli, but returned to the track three laps down.

At nearly the same instant, 9th-place starter Tyler Ankrum blew a right-rear tire on his #26 Liuna Chevrolet. This forced Ankrum to make two unscheduled stops as the tire ripped out the brake lines, forcing the team to push him behind the wall. When Robby Lyons’ spin drew the first caution on Lap 20, the FS1 cameras revealed Donahue was in the garage by this point, but Ankrum had edged Donahue for last place. Donahue’s crew had the hood up and were working hard on the right side. At the time, there appeared to be no significant damage from the encounter with the wall.

On Lap 36, Ankrum returned to the track about 22 laps down, and soon moved Donahue to last place. While Ankrum managed to climb out of the Bottom Five for a 33rd-place finish, Donahue never returned, and ultimately retired with the power steering issue.

Taking 37th was Bryan Dauzat, whose #28 FDNY Racing / American Genomics Chevrolet was out under the Damaged Vehicle Policy following a bizarre incident where he banged doors with Jordan Anderson’s #3 / BG Services Chevrolet near the entrance of pit road. Benning finished 36th, out with handling issues after 50 completed laps. Korbin Forrister took 35th after his #7 Nursing Home Caregivers Toyota drew the race’s final caution flag on Lap 83. Rounding out the group was Ross Chastain, whose strong start was undone by brake issues on the #40 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet. Chastain will hand the wheel over to Travis Pastrana for the Saturday round of the double-header.

Donahue's last-place finish means the #33 will also start last in Saturday's second Truck Series race at the Kansas track. Donahue will run that race as well, but instead in Reaume's #00, taking the place of Dawson Cram, who isn't entered following a 25th-place finish. Starting last on Saturday will be ARCA Racing Series driver Ryan Huff, who will be making his series debut.

*This marked just the second time in Truck Series history the last-place finisher retired with power steering issues. The only other occurrence was on May 18, 2012, when Clay Greenfield’s #68 @ClayGreenfield RAM fell out after 6 laps of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte.

38) #33-Kevin Donahue / 17 laps / power steering
37) #28-Bryan Dauzat / 26 laps / dvp
36) #6-Norm Benning / 50 laps / handling
35) #7-Korbin Forrister / 80 laps / crash
34) #40-Ross Chastain / 102 laps / brakes / led 1 lap

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (3)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports, ThorSport Racing (1)

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


CUP: Rough stretch for JTG-Daugherty Racing continues after Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has smoke in the cockpit

PHOTO: NBC Sports, @XfinityRacing
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Thursday’s Super Start Batteries 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #47 Kroger Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after 58 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Stenhouse’s 275th series start, was his second of the year and first since Darlington, 14 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 32nd for the #47, the 38th for electrical issues, and the 789th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 49th for the #47, the 127th for electrical problems, and the 1,727th for Chevrolet.

Stenhouse’s most recent last-place finish came in NASCAR’s first race back after the COVID-19 pandemic paused the season. A first-lap accident put his #47 Chevrolet into the inside wall, and dropped him from 17th to 23rd in the point standings. In the weeks since, there have been just two highlights – a 4th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, and a near-victory at Talladega, where he led five laps and was edged by Ryan Blaney in a photo finish. Most often, mechanical issues, crashes, and just plain bad luck had kept Stenhouse well back in the running order. He was collected in the same pit road wreck at Indianapolis that started teammate Ryan Preece’s streak of three consecutive last-place finishes. Preece arrived in Kansas in position to become the first Cup Series driver to finish last in four straight point races.

Stenhouse drew the 25th starting spot, ten spots ahead of Preece in 35th.

Rolling off 40th and last was B.J. McLeod, who for the second-straight race was running new sponsorship from on the #78 Chevrolet. This was reportedly the same car Vic Keller acquired from Rick Ware Racing to debut at Texas as Keller’s own #90. McLeod finished 33rd, avoiding the day’s biggest accident, and ran the car again in Kansas. He’d be joined by 33rd-place starter Josh Bilicki, who incurred a tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments on his #53 RBR Aviation Chevrolet. Bilicki’s crew chief would be Todd Parrott, who was atop the pit box in each of McLeod’s previous starts in the #78. Ken Evans led the McLeod team on Thursday.

When the race started, Bilicki remained in last place, 3.612 seconds back of the lead, and dropped to 4.376 seconds back at the end of Lap 1. By Lap 4, he had re-passed McLeod, who soon closed on new 39th-place driver Timmy Hill in the #66 Toyota. By Lap 7, however, McLeod said his car was “pretty free everywhere” and “too left-front dominant.” This caused McLeod to lose his first lap on the 13th circuit, then a second around Lap 22. When the competition caution came out three laps later, McLeod was frustrated. “The worst 25 laps ever since I started running a Cup car,” he said in a calm voice. “We knew what we brought, I'm not mad at you guys. . .Thank you guys for trying.”

McLeod’s crew managed to make some significant adjustments under yellow, and the driver reported his car was “much better” on Lap 35. Regardless, he continued to lose laps. On Lap 39, he was shown three laps down, and said his car was still “free center-off.” By Lap 48, McLeod’s car was so sideways that he thought he’d broken a shock. NASCAR took notice, and on the next time by black flagged him for not meeting minimum speed. He pulled onto pit road for an extended stop on Lap 50, and returned six laps in arrears.

Stenhouse entered the last-place picture around Lap 60, when he came down pit road with smoke in the cockpit. The crew removed the passenger-side window and looked inside, tracking the smoke to beneath the dashboard. The smoke appeared to subside, but Stenhouse climbed from the car before the crew pushed the #47 behind the wall. Stenhouse took last from McLeod on Lap 64, but radio communications from the Stenhouse crew indicated they were still working on the car. On Lap 73, McLeod pulled behind the wall to address his handling problem, and the driver said “We’re done” on Lap 82. That same time by, Stenhouse’s crew removed the wheels from the #47. If Stenhouse turned just nine more laps, he’d be able to move 39th-place McLeod to last place.

Meanwhile, the garage continued to fill. On Lap 86, Brennan Poole’s #15 Spartan Mosquito Chevrolet went behind the wall with a fuel cell issue. Three laps later, Timmy Hill pulled in, once again struggling with their recurring fuel pressure issues. Poole returned to the track on Lap 125, followed soon after by Hill.

It wasn’t until Lap 133 that NASCAR officials confirmed McLeod was out, citing rear gear issues. The news reached Stenhouse’s crew, which believed they could pass both McLeod and Hill, the latter with a souring engine. But on Lap 150, the plan quickly changed. “We’re done,” said someone on Stenhouse’s crew. “Did it fire?” another asked. “No.” Three laps later, NASCAR officials relayed the message, announcing “47 out, electrical.” With that, Stenhouse and McLeod took the final two spots.

Hill ultimately fell out of the race after 116 laps and took the 38th spot. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Bubba Wallace in the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet and Matt DiBenedetto in the #21 Menards / Dutch Boy Ford, who tangled in a multi-car accident after Joey Logano slid up the racetrack in Turn 2. Wallace, who was recovering from an early spin through the grass, tore up his right-front fender after contact from DiBenedetto, who slammed hard into the outside wall.

As for Ryan Preece, his #37 Bush’s Beans Chevrolet had remained on the lead lap into the opening laps of the final stage, where he’d worked his way to around 13th spot on Lap 182. But when Ryan Newman put Christopher Bell into the wall, both spinning cars caught Preece in the low lane. The three made contact, sending Preece so hard into the inside wall that his car flipped on its side as it switched ends. Fortunately, Preece was uninjured as he climbed out, but his Chevrolet finished 34th.

*This marked the fourth consecutive last-place finish for JTG-Daugherty Racing. It marked the first time a Cup Series team finished last in four consecutive Cup Series points race since March 29-April 25, 2010, when PRISM Motorsports finished last at Martinsville (#55-Michael McDowell), Phoenix (#66-Michael McDowell), Texas (#55-Dave Blaney), and Talladega (#66-Dave Blaney).
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #47 in a Cup race at Kansas, and the first blamed on electrical issues.

40) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 58 laps / electrical
39) #78-B.J. McLeod / 66 laps / rear gear
38) #66-Timmy Hill / 116 laps / electrical
37) #43-Bubba Wallace / 170 laps / crash
36) #21-Matt DiBenedetto / 175 laps / crash

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (6)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (3)
3rd) Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Leavine Family Racing, Penske Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (2)


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

PREVIEW: Twice the Trucks and Thursday Night Cup headline stacked Kansas weekend

Spencer Boyd's Steelsafe Shelters ride for this weekend's Truck Series double-header.
PHOTO: @SpencerBoyd
Thursday, July 23, 2020
CUP Race 19 of 36
Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Cody Ware

There are 40 drivers entered for as many spots, the 12th “full” field in this season’s 19 races and the sixth in the last seven races. This also happens to be the first Cup Series race held on a Thursday since July 4, 1985, when Greg Sacks pulled off the upset in the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

TEAM UPDATE: #24-Hendrick Motorsports
Keith Rodden will fill in for Chad Knaus as William Byron's crew chief this weekend as Knaus' wife Brooke is expected to give birth to their daughter at any moment.

DRIVER SWAP: #27-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Garrett Smithley returns to the Cup Series after he was swapped out for Josh Bilicki last week at Texas. Instead of running the #53 he’d been slated last Sunday, Smithley will run the Spire #77 for the first time since Martinsville. This bumps J.J. Yeley to the #27 in place of Gray Gaulding, who isn’t entered after he finished 25th. Yeley finished one spot and five laps ahead of Gaulding in 24th.

LASTCAR STORYLINE: #37-JTG-Daugherty Racing
Ryan Preece has faced some serious bad luck on the track this past month, and comes into Thursday’s race on the heels of three consecutive last-place finishes, just the fourth driver in Cup Series history to do so. If he finishes last on Thursday, he will become the only Cup driver to finish last in four consecutive points-paying races. Preece runs the Bush’s Beans paint scheme this week.

MISSING: #90-Vic Keller Racing
Not among the entrants is Vic Keller’s #90 entry which failed to make the cut last week in Texas.

Friday, July 24, 2020 
TRUCKS Race 9 of 23
Blu Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, up two drivers from last week despite one withdrawal (see below). Four of the first six races since the season returned from the pandemic have seen full 40-truck fields, most recently in Kentucky.

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister returns to the series for the first time since Kentucky, where he tangled with Jennifer Jo Cobb in the final laps and finished 34th. Forrister’s season-best finish remains his 18th in the season-opening Daytona race.

Chase Purdy also returns after taking off the Texas weekend, looking to improve on his season-best 21st in his debut at Pocono. He takes the place of XFINITY Series regular Justin Haley, who ran 7th in Texas.

Bryan Dauzat returns for the first time since his season-best 26th-place run at Pocono, again driving for Jim Rosenblum with sponsorship from American Genomics.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
The preliminary entry list had no driver listed for Josh Reaume’s primary #33 Toyota, but that changed by Tuesday with Kevin Donahue’s name added. This will be Donahue’s first Truck Series start since June 23, 2018, when he finished a strong 12th for the late Mike Mittler at Gateway. Donahue takes the place of Akinori Ogata, who ran 25th at Texas.

DRIVER SWAP: #40-Niece Motorsports
MISSING: #42-Niece Motorsports
Al Niece’s #42 is again not entered this week, and this time Ross Chastain moves to the #40, taking the place of Ryan Truex, who isn’t entered. Chastain finished 10th last week in Texas with Truex close behind in 13th. Trophy Tractor is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch is back out of this weekend’s field after his win in Texas, but XFINITY regular Brandon Jones will take his place in the #51 Toyota. Jones will carry sponsorship from Barracuda Pumps and Menards.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
The preliminary entry list had the two Hill brothers entered for the wrong rounds of the Truck Series double-header. The team clarified that Timmy Hill will run the Friday race with Tyler taking over on Saturday. Timmy finished 18th with the team last week in Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #49-CMI Motorsports
WITHDREW: #83-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli was originally entered in his team’s second truck, but by Tuesday the team had withdrawn. Tim Viens was originally listed to run the #49 again after his 26th-place run in Texas, but Ciccarelli will instead drive in his place for both this weekend’s races.

RETURNING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
Robby Lyons will run both this weekend’s Truck Series races with the same Sunwest Construction sponsorship on the former Jesse Little entry. Lyons finished 20th in his season debut at Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
The preliminary entry list showed team owner Josh Reaume would drive the #00 this week in place of Angela Ruch, who isn’t entered after a 23rd-palce run in Texas. By Tuesday, Dawson Cram had been entered instead. This will be Cram’s third start of the year, following a pair of runs with Boyd Long’s #55 at Homestead and Kentucky. His best finish came in the latter, when he ran 28th.


Saturday, July 25, 2020 (1:30 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 10 of 23
E.P.T. 200 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

The same 39 teams from Friday’s race will run again on Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Kevin Donahue will run both races this weekend, but in two different trucks. After the Friday race, he will move to Josh Reaume’s #00 in place of Dawson Cram, who isn’t entered in the Saturday race. The new driver for the #33 was still to be announced until it was revealed ARCA Racing Series driver Ryan Huff would make his NASCAR debut with the team. Huff is in his first ARCA season and has two Top Tens for series veteran Andy Hillenburg.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
Saturday will also see the return of Travis Pastrana, who will drive in place of Ross Chastain in the Saturday race. It will be Pastrana's 4th series start and first since 2017 - all three of his previous starts came at Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill will drive in place of his brother on Saturday, returning to the driver’s seat for the first time since Kentucky, where he took 30th.

MISSING: #83-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli’s second truck will likewise not be entered on Saturday.


Saturday, July 25, 2020 (5:00 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 17 of 33
Kansas Lottery 250 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, the same amount as last week in Texas. The XFINITY Series has still yet to run a full 40-car field since NASCAR’s temporary field increase rule went into effect in May.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Daniel Hemric and his Poppy Bank sponsorship will again run the #8 Chevrolet this Saturday, their first since a 9th-place run in Kentucky. They take the place of Jeb Burton and State Water Heaters, who took a strong 6th-place run in Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Ryan Vargas returns for his second XFINITY Series start of the year and first since his strong season debut at Pocono, where he earned an impressive 13th after battling inside the Top 10. He takes the place of Colby Howard, who isn’t entered after a 23rd-place finish in Texas. Cranio Care Bears and Faces are again the sponsors for Vargas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Kansas marks the 2020 season debut for Kaz Grala, who makes his first XFINITY start since August 24, 2019 at Road America, where he ran 5th. The website is the listed sponsor for Grala’s run in the #21 as he takes the place of Anthony Alfredo, who ran 27th in Texas.

STORYLINE: #22-Penske Racing
Following Kyle Busch’s disqualification at Texas, Austin Cindric has now won three consecutive XFINITY Series races, and will eye his fourth in a row this Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Welcome back Sam Hunt Racing for the first time since Brandon Gdovic’s strong run on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit on Independence Day weekend. Back behind the wheel is Colin Garrett, SHR’s primary driver, who last took the green at Talladega. Garrett was collected in a multi-car pileup that day and finished a disappointing 35th. Rosie Network is again the sponsor.

MISSING: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle Busch and the JGR #54 will not run this week following their disqualification in Texas. Busch still has one start remaining at a track to be announced.

TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Morgan Shepherd’s team is not entered once again this week. Following news that the announced dates through August will still not have qualifying, it has been reported this team may not return until at least Darlington in September.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jairo Avila, Jr. is set to make just his second start of the 2020 season and his first since an abbreviated run in the second round of the Homestead double-header, where he drove a B.J. McLeod car 15 laps as a backup for Our Motorsports. This time, Avila will drive for McLeod himself in place of Stefan Parsons, whose 18th-place run last week in Texas was the best for the #99 team all season. This was also the second-best finish of Parsons’ young XFINITY career, trailing only his 12th in his series debut at Daytona last summer.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Carson Ware and the Jacob Construction sponsorship return to the SS-Green Light Racing team this week. This will be Ware’s fourth series start following solid finishes of 22nd at Bristol, 28th at Homestead, and 20th at Pocono. He takes the place of David Starr, who impressed with a 13th-place run at his home track. UPDATE: And now David Starr will run the car again in place of Ware.


TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 22, 2000): Phil Bonifield picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the Michigan 200 at the Michigan International Speedway after his #23 Red Line Synthetic Oil Chevrolet had brake issues after 3 laps. Bonifield won the 1999 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship with six last-place runs, but would in 2000 lose the title on a tiebreaker with Ryan McGlynn.

Monday, July 20, 2020

ARCA: Dick Doheny picks up first last-place finish of the season in third start

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Dick Doheny finished last for the fifth time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Shore Lunch 150 at Iowa Speedway when his #11 Fast Track High Performance Driving Chevrolet retired with sway bar problems after completing 15 of the race’s 150 laps.

The finish came in Doheny’s 41st career start, and was his first since Michigan in 2019, 18 races ago.

After driving 16 races in 2019 and serving as crew chief for the #11, Doheny has more evenly split duties so far this year, crew chiefing the first four races all for different drivers in the Fast Track Racing organization before moving to the driver’s seat for races five, six and seven on the schedule. After completing about 10 percent of the Lucas Oil Raceway race, Doheny ran 81 of 100 laps at Kentucky before turning into the garage. He wound up on the Iowa entry list as a driver, but switched over to the #11 entry after running the #12 the last two weeks.

After a lackluster 17-car field at Kentucky, the entry list for Iowa peaked at 22 cars. Veteran underdog Eric Caudell withdrew before race weekend, leaving 21 cars at the track. A number of short-track stars continued their schedules, including Ty Gibbs, Chandler Smith and Sam Mayer. Some East and West teams made the trek to Iowa for the Sioux Chief Showdown: Max McLaughlin and Hattori Racing Enterprises represented the East while the Bill McAnally Racing contingent of Jesse Love, Gio Sclezi and Gracie Trotter represented the West. Howie DiSavino III, Taylor Gray and Scott Melton also all continued part-time schedules with their teams. Aside from Doheny, Fast Track Racing tapped Mike Basham and Rick Clifton for its other entries, bringing an end to Ryan Huff’s six-race streak with the team. The one debut in the Shore Lunch 150 was USAC superstar Kody Swanson, driving for Chad Bryant Racing.

The lone practice, held earlier on Saturday, went much the same as the race: Gibbs at the top of the chart, Doheny on the bottom. There was no qualifying again for the Iowa weekend, so the starting lineup was set by Sioux Chief Showdown owner points standings. That meant that the #99 Bill McAnally Racing entry of Gracie Trotter was slotted to start shotgun on the field. Engine problems led to a 22nd-place finish at Phoenix, the team’s only prior Showdown start.

At the drop of the green flag, two cars could be seen trailing Trotter’s bright orange Eneos-sponsored machine to the line. Due to technical difficulties, MAVTV did not have their live ticker firing for the beginning of the race, and tracking the last-place battle fell to ARCA’s website, which by that point had already updated to reflect the first caution, which was caused by Scott Melton spinning on Lap 5. Melton fell a lap down after the spin and remained in last, a lap down, until Doheny and Brad Smith fell a lap down around Lap 13. A few laps later, Doheny started falling laps down per timing and scoring. He never came back on track, done after 15 laps.

Teammate Mike Basham parked after 36 laps to finish 20th. Smith fell victim to overheating issues around the two-thirds' mark of the race, and Hailie Deegan retired a few laps later due to a broken track bar. Drew Dollar rounded out the Bottom Five as the last car running, 42 laps down due to ignition problems.

21) #11-Dick Doheny / 15 laps / sway bar
20) #10-Mike Basham / 36 laps / vibration
19) #48-Brad Smith / 95 laps / overheating
18) #4-Hailie Deegan / 96 laps / suspension
17) #15-Drew Dollar / 108 laps / running

1st) Fast Track Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (3)
2nd) Ford (1)


Sunday, July 19, 2020

CUP: For just the fourth time in NASCAR history, a Cup Series driver scores three consecutive last-place finishes

PHOTO: Sean Leider, @nascar_sean
Ryan Preece picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #37 Glad Chevrolet was collected in a multi-car pileup after 217 of 334 laps.

The finish, which came in Preece’s 59th series start, was his fourth of the year and third in a row, tying a NASCAR record (see below). He also takes the mid-season lead in the 2020 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship.

In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 42nd for the #37, the 695th from a crash, and the 788th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #37, the 1,215th from a crash, and the 1,726th for Chevrolet.

No driver has ever scored four consecutive Cup Series last-place finishes. Preece can be the first if he finishes last this Thursday in Kansas.

Preece’s most recent last-place finish in Kentucky was followed by another difficult night in the All-Star Open at Bristol. Driving his #37 Energizer / Morton Buildings Chevrolet, he failed to transfer into the main event, taking 13th in the final laps, and his car then caught fire as it sat on pit road. The following round at Texas would see him carry sponsorship from Glad plastic bags. In three previous starts at the track, he’d finished no better than 22nd, but each time finished under power no more than eight laps down to the race winner. Preece drew the 25th starting spot.

Drawing the 40th and final starting spot was Reed Sorenson, back behind the wheel of a Cup car for the first time since Martinsville. Sorenson would incur a redundant tail-end penalty after his #7 Gorilla Glue Chevrolet repeatedly failed pre-race inspection. Joining Sorenson at the rear would be 8th-place starter Chase Elliott, whose #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet was nabbed for the same reason. Elliott would hardly spend any time in last place as three Rick Ware-affiliated cars dropped to the back for driver changes: 27th-place Josh Bilicki in the #53 Junction Fuels Chevrolet, 31st-place Joey Gase in the #51 Red Rock Secured Ford, and 35th-place J.J. Yeley in the #77 Formula One Imports Chevrolet. Sorenson resumed his spot in last for the start, 5.137 seconds back of the leader and alongside still another car, B.J. McLeod’s #78 Chevrolet.

On Lap 3, Gase fell behind Sorenson for last place, and the crew soon told Gase to run his right-side tires into the groove of PJ1 for faster laps. Gase was the first to go a lap down on the 13th circuit, at which point his spotter was concerned about teammate Bilicki slowing down in the #53. Pit stops under the competition caution handed last to McLeod on Lap 24, then Bilicki on Lap 25, at which point the #53 was now two laps down. Gase retook last on Lap 56 after a green-flag stop, but Bilicki took the spot again on Lap 85.

Next to take the spot was Brennan Poole, who was frustrated after his #15 Spartan Mosquito Chevrolet cut down a tire after contact from fellow rookie Tyler Reddick. Poole made an unscheduled stop on Lap 99, running slow with the right-rear tire coming apart. A second stop dropped him seven laps down, putting him into last place on Lap 110. Poole then passed Bilicki on Lap 112. Jimmie Johnson’s difficult season then continued on Lap 117, when he slapped the wall off Turn 4. Johnson’s #48 Ally Chevrolet dropped back as he pitted for tires and repairs, then incurred a two-lap penalty for too many men over the wall while under the Damaged Vehicle Policy. Meanwhile, Poole took last again on Lap 120, McLeod on Lap 122, Gase on Lap 124, then finally Johnson for the first time on Lap 130.

Timmy Hill took last from Johnson on Lap 148. Before the race, track president Eddie Gossage presented Hill with a cowboy hat, commemorating his win in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series earlier this year. Unfortunately, Hill’s car on Sunday struggled, and was eight laps down when he took last from Johnson. Johnson re-took the spot from Hill by Lap 172, followed by McLeod around Lap 187. Just before the end of Stage 2, McLeod was put a 12th lap down by then-leader Ryan Blaney. McLeod would still be last when a huge wreck changed the complexion of the battle.

One lap into the final stage at Texas, Preece was running around the 18th spot on the lead lap when trouble broke out among the leaders. As Kyle Busch’s #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota threaded the needle between Joey Logano’s #22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford and Aric Almirola’s #10 Smithfield Ford, Almirola clipped Busch into a spin, collecting his teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Toyota. The contact spun Truex driver’s side first into the outside wall, then bounced him back into traffic. Preece, who was following Kentucky winner Cole Custer through the melee, rear-ended Custer’s #41 Ford as Custer slammed into the spinning Truex. The result stoved in the nose of Preece’s smoking car and destroyed Custer’s, but Truex was somehow able to clear the “Crash Clock” on his second lap at speed.

After the red flag was lifted, the lowest-classified driver involved appeared to by Chris Buescher, whose #17 Roush Performance Stage 3 Ford had nosed into the inside wall. But Buscher, like Truex, managed to complete repairs, and under caution, he was moved ahead of Preece. Preece went to the garage along with Custer, and would later be joined by Preece’s teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose #47 Kroger Chevrolet failed to clear the “Crash Clock” on Lap 221. On Lap 230, Preece took last place from McLeod. And on Lap 235, NASCAR confirmed that Preece, Custer, and Stenhouse were out due to crashes. Those three took the first spots in the Bottom Five.

Taking 37th was William Byron, whose #24 Axalta Chevrolet was collected in a wreck with Ty Dillon’s #13 GEICO Chevrolet in the final laps. Byron made it to pit road, but Chad Knaus quickly surmised the damage was total, and the crew pushed the car back to the garage. Timmy Hill rounded out the Bottom Five when electrical issues put them out of the race.

*Preece is just the fourth driver in NASCAR history to finish last in three consecutive Cup Series points races. The first instance was August 8-23, 1960, when G.C. Spencer and his #48 1958 Chevrolet finished last at Columbia, South Boston, and Bowman Gray Stadium. The next wasn’t until August 22-September 12, 2009, when Dave Blaney’s #66 PRISM Motorsports Toyota trailed at Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond. The most recent occurrence was June 13-27, 2010, when Max Papis’ #13 GEICO Toyota was last at Michigan, Sonoma, and Loudon.
*This marked the second time the #37 finished last in a Cup Series race at Texas. The previous time was on November 6, 2005, when Mike Skinner’s #37 Patron Tequila / Dodge fell out with rear end trouble after 151 laps of the Dickies 500.

40) #37-Ryan Preece / 217 laps / crash
39) #41-Cole Custer / 219 laps / crash
38) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 221 laps / crash
37) #24-William Byron / 252 laps / crash
36) #66-Timmy Hill / 254 laps / electrical

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (5)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (3)
3rd) Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Leavine Family Racing, Penske Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (2)


Saturday, July 18, 2020

TRUCKS: Locked-up transmission ends Tanner Gray’s night in Texas

PHOTO: @DGR_Crosley
Tanner Gray picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoor & RV Truck Series career in Saturday’s Vankor 250 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #15 Ford / Ford Performance Ford fell out with transmission issues after 43 of 167 laps.

The finish came in Gray’s 11th series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th for the #15, the 36th for transmission issues, and the 108th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 42nd for the #15, the 163rd for transmission issues, and the 964th for Ford.

The youngest race winner and champion in the history of the NHRA, the 21-year-old Pro Stock racer from New Mexico has decided to give NASCAR a try. After years of racing for his family’s team in drag racing, Gray signed with David Gilliland’s team DGR-Crosley, who in 2019 fielded him a full-time ride in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He’s proven a quick study. Gray won in just his third time out, leading 79 of 104 laps at South Boston, and finished third in the series standings. He also ran eight ARCA Menards Series races and finished Top Ten in five of them, capped by a 5th in Michigan. This vaulted him to the Truck Series, where in his first three starts he improved each time, never once finishing lower than 20th.

This year, Gray has earned a full-time ride with DGR-Crosley, which this year touts a manufacturer change from Toyota to Ford. Gray’s #15 would be almost exclusively carry logos from the manufacturer. Following a crash in the season opener at Daytona, Gray took his best finish of the season with an 8th in Las Vegas, then after a 20th in Charlotte finished no worse than 12th in the next four races. This put him a solid 13th in the series standings headed to Texas, where he drew the 20th spot on the grid.

Drawing the 36th and final starting spot was Norm Benning, who last week in Kentucky secured the all-time lead in Truck Series last-place finishes. Reports indicate Benning was in the process of returning to the race after he was sidelined with a broken rocker arm when lightning, then rain halted the race after 71 laps. With the engine now repaired, Benning lined up on the outside of Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet. Hustling up on the inside was Angela Ruch, whose #00 The Wounded Blue Toyota didn’t start and had to be serviced on pit road. Ruch slotted into the 23rd spot just before one more pace lap was added.

On the backstretch just before the green flag, Gray had himself dropped to the final row with Benning now on his inside. According to DGR-Crosley’s Twitter account, Gray’s transmission had been sticking in fourth gear, causing him to surrender his starting spot. When the race started, Gray inched his way inside the Top 30 as Benning resumed the last spot, 4.547 seconds back of the lead when the field accelerated into Turn 1 for the first time. After the first completed lap, Gray had reached the 33rd spot with Benning now 8.676 seconds back.

Benning became the first to lose a lap on the 9th circuit, when Kyle Busch passed him to the outside. A moment later, NASCAR Officials noticed Sheldon Creed had slowed suddenly from the Top 5, his #2 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet dropping to the apron on the backstretch. Creed had a flat tire, and made an unscheduled stop, dropping him two laps down and putting him in last on Lap 11. Soon to join him in 35th was Spencer Davis, who after an early incident made an unscheduled stop of his own, and took last from Creed on Lap 15. By Lap 19, Creed passed both Benning and 34th-place Tim Viens in the #49 Trump 2020 Chevrolet, but Davis still hadn’t, his spotter reporting he “still (had) an issue.” Waiting out the end of Stage 1, Davis finally climbed past Benning on Lap 25, and the #6 soon after lost a third lap.

Gray re-entered the last-place battle on Lap 45 when he went behind the wall during the Stage 1 caution. “They’re gonna have to push me, it’s fucking smoked,” said the driver. According to team communications, the transmission issue from the start had returned, and now it had locked up completely. When the race restarted on Lap 47, Natalie Decker’s N29 Capital Partners #44 Chevrolet suddenly erupted in smoke at the start / finish line. As NASCAR told her to move below the line to keep the fluid off the groove, she was guided back to the garage area, where the truck had a serious oil leak. While Gray and Decker were in the garage, Akinori Ogata briefly took last in the #33 KYOWA Toyota before Benning re-took the spot on Lap 47, then Gray on Lap 48. Decker slipped to the 36th spot and would ultimately finish there. Benning slowed on Lap 50, and would also go to the garage.

Curiously, it took a very long time for NASCAR Officials to confirm any driver was out of the race. It wasn’t until Lap 93 that reported 35th-place Decker was out, announcing it at the same time as 32nd-place Tate Fogleman, who damaged his #02 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet in a tangle with Derek Kraus on Lap 80, and Johnny Sauter, who blew the engine on his #13 Vivitar Ford after 62 laps and took 33rd. Fogleman was reported to be out under the Damaged Vehicle Policy (DVP), but the official results indicated he was out due to a “crash.” On Lap 109, the quiet radio on Gray’s #15 channel was suddenly interrupted with a “We’re done, guys.” However, Gray wouldn’t be confirmed out by NASCAR until Lap 145 following the final round of green-flag stops. By then, Benning had been reported out on Lap 117 along with Brennan Poole’s #30 Remember Everyone Deployed Toyota under the DVP (out after 91 laps), followed by a report for Austin Hill’s #16 United Rentals Toyota on Lap 123 (out after 107 laps).

*This marked the first Truck Series last-place finish for the #15 since November 15, 2019, when Anthony Alfredo’s #15 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota blew the engine shortly after the command to start engines for the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead. The number had never before finished last in a Truck race at Texas.
*This marked the first time a Truck Series last-place finisher at Texas fell out with transmission issues since November 1, 2013, when Chris Lafferty’s #0 OEM Auto Parts Plus / Koma Unwind Chevrolet fell out after 4 laps of the Winstar World Casino 350.

36) #15-Tanner Gray / 43 laps / transmission
35) #44-Natalie Decker / 45 laps / engine
34) #6-Norm Benning / 46 laps / handling
33) #13-Johnny Sauter / 62 laps / engine
32) #02-Tate Fogleman / 79 laps / dvp

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports, ThorSport Racing (1)

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


XFINITY: “Car 54, How Could You?” - Texas-sized disqualification hands Kyle Busch first XFINITY last-place finish since 2003

Kyle Busch picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #54 Twix Cookies & Creme Toyota took the checkered flag in first, but was disqualified after completing all 201 laps.

The finish, which came in Busch’s 356th series start, was his first of the season and first in an XFINITY Series race since October 25, 2003 at Atlanta, 251 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, this was the 11th disqualification, the 5th for the #54, and the 138th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 21st for the #54, the 37th disqualification, and the 337th for Toyota.

Riley Herbst picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #18 Monster Energy Toyota was parked under the Damaged Vehicle Policy after 9 of 201 laps.

The finish came in Herbst’s 26th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place history, it was the first time a driver fell out under the DVP, the 12th for the #18, and the 138th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the first incident for the DVP, the 47th for the #18, and the 337th for Toyota.

The two-time and defending Cup Series champion was slated to make another five XFINITY Series starts this year. When reported on February 20, these races were slated to be Phoenix (March 7), Charlotte (May 23), Chicagoland (June 20), Loudon (July 18), and Watkins Glen (August 15). That first race at Phoenix saw a tight battle between Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones. Jones worked his way past Busch with 20 laps to go, yielding his first series victory. Just six days later, however, the National Emergency declaration for COVID-19 suspended the season.

With the cancellation of both races at Chicagoland and Watkins Glen, as well as the XFINITY race at Loudon, Busch has since changed his schedule. He ran the first XFINITY race back when the series ran at Darlington, and was again involved in tight battle with an up-and-comer. This time, it was with Chase Briscoe, who prevailed in a tight side-by-side battle just days after Briscoe and his wife suffered a personal tragedy. Busch then returned for his originally-scheduled race at Charlotte, where his #54 Toyota carried its third different paint scheme. This time, it was to salute the graduating class of Appalachian State University. And this time, Busch prevailed, leading 94 of 203 laps.

Texas marked his fourth XFINITY start of the season and his fifth in Trucks, but he also arrived without a single Cup Series win. Due to his team’s rank in Owner Points, Busch only secured the 28th starting spot for Saturday’s race. He ran the same Twix Cookies & Creme paint scheme that he ran during his loss to Jones at Phoenix.

Taking 37th and last was current 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series leader Stephen Leicht, who again drove the bright orange-and-blue #66 Jani-King Toyota Supra from Motorsports Business Management. Leicht would be joined at the rear by Bayley Currey, whose #74 Produxa Chevrolet drew 31st, but was docked for multiple inspection failures. Brett Moffitt, the 15th-place starter, didn’t roll off pit road at first, but resumed his spot in the new-look #02 Knockaround Sunglasses Chevrolet.

Coming to the green flag, Leicht had dropped to the 37th spot once more, and had some open track between himself and the rest of the field. He was seven seconds back of the lead across the stripe, then by Lap 3 had worked his way past Dexter Bean in the #36 Genteel Coatings Chevrolet. Bean was slated to start 13th in his first start since his breakthrough 11th-place run at Pocono, but had apparently dropped near the tail end of the field before the start. Leicht then had trouble, however, as his #66 popped out of fourth gear, causing him to slow suddenly and retake last from Bean. Leicht reported he didn’t over-rev the engine, but did check-up after Kody Vanderwal broke loose in the #52 Advanced Dairy Services Chevrolet. This caused Leicht to lose a lap.

On Lap 5, at nearly the same moment, the caution fell for an incident off Turn 4. Riley Herbst in the #18 Monster Energy Toyota started 5th and was still among the leaders when Noah Gragson’s #9 Bass Pro Shops / BRCC Chevrolet came up behind him on the bottom groove. Gragson then leaned on Herbst’s bumper and gave him a shove just past corner apex, sending Herbst sliding up the track. This caused Herbst to lose control and slide rear-first into the outside wall. The impact destroyed his rear clip and dislodged the rear decklid, sending him down pit road. Leicht was told to stay out despite his transmission issue to try and get that spot. Leicht earned the Lucky Dog for Herbst’s wreck, putting Herbst back in last place.

Herbst pitted for repairs, including tape on the rear decklid and a replacement rear bumper panel which was screwed onto the body using the NASCAR-mandated four mounting flanges, two on each side of the piece. He returned to the track for the restart, but was still on the “Crash Clock,” meaning he’d have to reach minimum speed in order to keep driving. When the green flag dropped, Leicht’s car jumped out of gear for a second time, and this time he pulled behind the wall. As the MBM team removed Leicht’s right-front wheel and spring, Herbst was told by NASCAR he’d failed to clear the “Crash Clock” and was done for the race. Herbst pulled down pit road, where the crew made adjustments and examined the rear of the car, but was then told the news.

“I thought we had six minutes?” asked Herbst. “We ran out of laps to meet it,” the crew answered. “That’s crap,” said the driver, who then said, “We’re gonna fix that further down the road, I promise you.” Herbst was clearly upset at Gragson in his television interview.

Despite the efforts of the MBM team, Leicht never returned to the track. NASCAR confirmed he was out with the transmission issue on Lap 59. At that point, both Herbst and Leicht had completed the same number of laps, but Herbst had held down last ever since Leicht got the Lucky Dog following the wreck.

Taking 35th was Myatt Snider, whose #93 Louisiana Hot Sauce Chevrolet was nudged loose off Turn 2 by Matt Mills, destroying the rear clip to the same degree as Herbst. This began a prolonged issue for the team as they tried to make repairs, ultimately dropping debris in the grass off the frontstretch. After multiple penalties for too many crew members over the wall and repairs, Snider exited the race after 50 completed laps. Dexter Bean took 34th, passed by his teammate Alex Labbe, who brought the #90 Larue Snowblowers / Prolon Chevrolet back on track following a right-rear hub issue. Labbe’s climb dropped Kody Vanderwal to the final spot in the Bottom Five after contact from Bayley Currey sent Vanderwal’s #52 Chevrolet backing into the Turn 2 wall. According to team owner Jimmy Means, Vanderwal missed minimum speed by just two-hundredths of a second – a 33.04-second lap to a 33.02. This would soon change by an equally small margin.

Kyle Busch, meanwhile, overcame his poor starting spot and a pit road speeding penalty to snatch the win away from Chase Briscoe with ten laps to go. He took the checkered flag less than a second ahead of Briscoe’s #98 Ford. But with just minutes until his scheduled start in that evening’s Truck Series race, it was reported Busch’s car for failing the rear heights in post-race – specifically, his left-rear corner was found to be too low. With that, Busch was disqualified, bumping Herbst out of last and Vanderwal out of the Bottom Five. The venue for Busch’s one remaining XFINITY start is still to be announced.

Several underdogs enjoyed fine runs. Brandon Brown took 10th in the #68 Jabs Construction Chevrolet, his first Top Ten since Bristol. David Starr returned to his home track as a last-minute driver of SS-Green Light Racing’s #07 Chevrolet and put it 13th across the stripe, his best XFINITY finish since he ran 14th at Talladega last year. Tommy Joe Martins finally enjoyed a drama-free race and took 15th in his #44 AAN Adjusters Chevrolet, a rally from next-to-last on the starting grid to tie his season-best run at Talladega. Taking 19th was Bayley Currey, who in Mike Harmon’s #74 earned his first top-twenty finish since his streak of three straight Top 20s ended at Atlanta in June.

David Gilliland in the most recent #54 to finish last in XFINITY, April 2005
SCREENSHOT: SPEED Channel, Qualifying video on YouTube from user Dave W
*This marked the second time a driver was classified last in a Texas XFINITY race due to disqualification. The other time was on April 16, 2005, when Johnny Sauter’s #1 Fleet Pride / Yellow Dodge finished 14th, but was disqualified for an oversized carburetor in the O’Reilly 300.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #54 in an XFINITY Series race since April 22, 2005, when David Gilliland drove it in his first XFINITY Series start. Gilliland’s run in the #54 / Luke’s Chevrolet ended with a multi-car crash after 24 laps of the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix. He slowed for the Turn 2 pileup and tried to squeeze by in the high lane when the hole closed, damaging his car. While reportedly built by Hendrick Motorsports, the paint scheme appeared to be from Richard Childress Racing as it resembled Kevin Harvick's car from that year. This happened to be the first and only XFINITY Series start for team owner Mark Golembeski, who also fielded Gilliland’s full-time West Series ride that year. Gilliland took 4th in that year’s point standings with a single win in the January opener at the same Phoenix track. Gilliland ran the #88 in the West, but the team selected the #54 in the Busch race as a reference to the show “Car 54, Where Are You?”

37) #54-Kyle Busch / 201 laps / disqualified / led 15 laps
36) #18-Riley Herbst / 9 laps / dvp
35) #66-Stephen Leicht / 9 laps / transmission
34) #93-Myatt Snider / 50 laps / crash
33) #36-Dexter Bean / 64 laps / power steering

1st) Joe Gibbs Racing, Motorsports Business Management (3)
2nd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures (2)
3rd) Jeremy Clements Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (6)