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 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 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 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.

*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.

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

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)

1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (4)


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