Sunday, September 6, 2020

TRUCKS: Stuck throttle halts Bryant Barnhill’s first Darlington start


Bryant Barnhill picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Sunday’s South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Darlington Raceway when his #33 Motorsports Safety Group / Bell & Bell Buick and GMC Trucks Chevrolet was involved in a single-truck accident after 4 of 152 laps.

The finish, which came in Barnhill’s 8th series start, was his second of the year and first since Homestead, 10 races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #33, the 159th from a crash, and the 392th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #33, the 1,224th from a crash, and the 1,740th for Chevrolet.

With the finish, Barnhill makes it a three-way tie for the lead in the 2020 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship, though he still trails both Norm Benning and Johnny Sauter on Bottom Fives.

Darlington marked Barnhill’s fifth start of 2020, a season that began with his brief run at Homestead. Driving Reaume Brothers Racing’s #33, he then finished 33rd at Kentucky, 33rd again after ignition failure at Dover, then a season-best 26th just last week in Gateway.

For Sunday, Barnhill’s black-and-orange paint scheme resembled the Andy Belmont-owned car Chad McCumbee drove to his first ARCA Menards Series victory at the Nashville Superspeedway on April 7, 2007. In place of McCumbee’s #62, Barnhill would run the Reaume team’s #33, the same car number of that day’s runner-up, Cale Gale. According to his interview with The Fourth Turn, McCumbee was Barnhill’s mentor as the two raced their way up the ranks in late models. The passenger-side roof rail of the truck would also carry the name of Charlie Powell, the longtime owner of Florence Motor Speedway, who passed away in August at age 83. Most significantly, it would be Barnhill’s first-ever start at his home track in Darlington, having grown up in Conway, South Carolina, 64 miles to the south-east. Barnhill would roll off 27th in the race.

Starting 34th and last was the #17 Shriner’s Hospitals Ford of David Ragan, who was finally able to make his first Truck Series start since November 10, 2006 at Phoenix. Ragan had twice been denied a start this year at Atlanta and Michigan, where his DGR-Crosley effort was on the wrong side of the cut line on entry lists with more than 40 trucks. During the pace laps, Ragan was warned to drop back from the field for the start as the others running in front of him were in slower trucks. However, this changed by the one-to-go signal as between four and five trucks dropped behind him voluntarily.

When the field addressed the starter’s stand, the final row consisted of two black Chevrolets: 32nd-place Norm Benning in the #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet and 27th-place Barnhill. Benning drew ahead of Barnhill on the first lap, and the #33 took the last spot at the stripe. By then, the gap was 8.997 seconds from the lead to last place, and the interval grew to 12.62 seconds on Lap 3. Both Benning and Barnhill remained in the final two spots, and were each a full 1.3 seconds back of the rest of the pack. On Lap 4, Barnhill had just dropped Benning to last place when trouble broke out.

“Throttle’s sticking! Throttle’s sticking!”

Heading into Turns 1 and 2, Barnhill’s throttle stuck and the truck hit the outside wall. The FS1 cameras were apparently unable to catch the accident live, and instead showed him rolling to a stop on the apron with the right side destroyed. Barnhill was understandably animated on the radio, saying “I’m so sorry, man, I did everything I could.” The crew prepared to look over the truck and find out what caused the throttle to stick, telling the crew to stand by to check it out. By Lap 9, the team had already transferred their tires to teammate and team owner Josh Reaume in the #00 Colonial Countertops Toyota. On Lap 10, someone on the #33 crew said, “Randy, we are done for the day, sir.” NASCAR declared him officially out on Lap 61.

Finishing 33rd was Dawson Cram, who by debuting his new team just last week was able to submit a last-minute contender for best “throwback” scheme in the race. The #41 Ford carried the blue-and-white colors of Tim Flock’s Hudson Hornet, and even included a stuffed monkey tied to the roll cage representing the famous “Jocko Flocko.” Unfortunately, Cram was turned head-on into the outside wall on the backstretch, and had to be towed to the garage. Moments later, Norm Benning was parked for, in NASCAR’s words, being “nowhere near minimum speed.” Benning was first black-flagged on Lap 34, but the repairs weren’t enough, and he was posted again on Lap 59. During that stretch, Benning was reportedly waiting for fresh tires from one of the teams that fell out. By then, Barnhill’s had already gone to Reaume, and it wasn’t clear what happened to Cram’s.

Taking 31st was last week’s last-place finisher Johnny Sauter, who was at least twice warned by NASCAR that he had smoke coming off the #13 Vivitar Ford. Ultimately, he pulled off the track in the final laps, and was upset over the radio about his engines. Rounding out the group was Jennifer Jo Cobb, five laps down in the #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet.

Derek Kraus nearly pulled the upset on Sunday, taking the lead in overtime before he broke loose off Turn 2, handing the win to Ben Rhodes. Kraus’ #19 NAPA Toyota was a throwback scheme honoring Ron Hornaday, Jr.’s championship ride. The runner-up finish was Kraus’ career-best, improving on his 4th-place run in this year’s Daytona opener, and closed him within 10 points of Todd Gilliland for a place in the Playoffs. Along with Tyler Ankrum, 14 points ahead of Kraus, the three will square off for the final two Playoff spots this week in the cutoff race at Richmond.

Flying the flag for the underdogs was Timmy Hill, who elected to stay out in his Hill Motorsports unsponsored #56, honoring he and brother Tyler Hill’s father Jerry Hill. The truck, resembling Jerry’s ride with Rick Ware’s Truck team, steered clear of the chaos and held on to finish in 9th. This was the best finish for the Hill Motorsports Truck Series team since last fall at Martinsville, when Timmy took 5th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #33 in a Truck Series race at Darlington.
*Chevrolet continues to dominate the last-place finish history of the Darlington Truck Series event. The only non-Chevrolet to finish last in this race belonged to Dillon Oliver, whose #95 Team Gill Racing Dodge lost an engine after 2 laps on August 14, 2010.

34) #33-Bryant Barnhill / 4 laps / crash
33) #41-Dawson Cram / 51 laps / crash
32) #6-Norm Benning / 52 laps / handling
31) #13-Johnny Sauter / 138 laps / engine
30) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 147 laps / running

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) Norm Benning Racing, ThorSport Racing (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, FDNY Racing, Halmar Friesen Racing, Niece Motorsports, Spencer Davis Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (3)


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