Thursday, October 22, 2020

PREVIEW: Eye-catching paint schemes, James Buescher’s return to the Truck Series, and a LASTCAR Championship among the storylines brewing in Texas

PHOTO: @BLeavine

Saturday, October 24, 2020
XFINITY Race 31 of 33
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

There are 36 drivers entered in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, the same number as last week in Kansas.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Colby Howard returns to action for the first time since Talladega, taking the place of Jesse Little in the #15, and carrying sponsorship from the NASCAR Foundation. Little moves to the #4, taking the place of B.J. McLeod, who crosses teams this week and will instead run Mario Gosselin’s #90, replacing Dexter Bean, who’s not entered after his 16th-place run in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
It’s Jeb Burton and State Water Heaters back on the #8 this week, returning to action for the tenth time in 2020 and first time since Bristol, where he ran 9th. He takes the place of Daniel Hemric, who once again came quite close to scoring his first win in NASCAR’s top three series, driving the John Andretti “throwback” scheme from Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Kyle Weatherman returns to his familiar #47 for the first time since his rough outing early at the Charlotte “Roval,” taking the place of Josh Reaume, who finished 33rd after brake issues at Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum takes the place of Stephen Leicht in MBM's #66 Toyota, but Leicht can still clinch the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series title on Saturday if the following drivers do not finish last at Texas: Kyle Weatherman, Timmy Hill, Kody Vanderwal, Joe Graf, Jr., Brandon Jones, and Michael Annett. For any of these drivers to take the title, however, they'll also have to finish last at both Martinsville and Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
C.J. McLaughlin also rejoins the XFINITY circuit for the first time since the “Roval,” and runs his third different car in as many starts this year. This time, he takes the place of Vinnie Miller, who isn’t entered after a 31st-place finish in Kansas, driving the #78 Toyota.


Sunday, October 25, 2020 (12:00 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 21 of 23
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3 400 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bo LeMastus

There are 37 drivers entered in the first November Truck Series race since 2018, up one entry from last week in Kansas.

RETURNING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens makes only his third start of the season and first since Michigan in August, when he ran a season-best 29th. Vytal Studios will sponsor his #14 Chevrolet.

After Hailie Deegan secured a full-time Truck Series ride for 2021 midway through her 16th-place finish in Kansas, Dylan Lupton will drive the #17 this week. This marks only the second Truck start of the year for Lupton, who was a late entry into the fall race at Las Vegas, finishing 14th.

After David Gravel was swapped into his ride at Kansas, only to be collected in an early crash, Chase Purdy will again take the wheel of the #24 Chevrolet. This will be Purdy’s seventh start of 2020 and first since Talladega, where he was the one collected in an early crash, yielding a 32nd-place finish.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Bilicki and Josh Reaume will swap rides this week with Bilicki going to the #00 and Reaume to the #33.

RETURNING: #42-Niece Motorsports
Welcome back James Buescher, who makes his first Truck Series start since March 28, 2015 at Martinsville, where he ran 7th for Bob Newberry’s team. FHE Fraclock will sponsor the 2012 series champion as he also brings back Al Niece’s part-time #42 team for the first time since the fall race at Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Also welcome back Natalie Decker, back in the race for the first time since she wasn’t medically cleared at Las Vegas. She takes the place of Colin Garrett, who ran 24th with the team in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Halmar-Friesen Racing
Stewart Friesen is back in his ride after the scheduling conflict in Kansas put Timothy Peters in his truck at Kansas. Peters finished 7th in what was his first series start since October 12, 2019.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is not entered after a spirited rally at Kansas, where he was involved in the day’s early multi-truck pileup, only to take 15th at the finish.


Sunday, October 25, 2020 (3:30 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 34 of 36
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

There are 40 drivers entered in Sunday’s main event for the Cup Series, the second-straight “full” field in 2020 and the 18th out of 34 races this season.

NEW SPONSOR: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Josh Bilicki will pull double-duty with the Truck Series this weekend, and on the Cup side run a new camouflage paint scheme for sponsor Junction Fuels and the military initiative Camp Hope.

TEAM UPDATE: #14-Stewart-Haas Racing
Just days after Chase Briscoe locked himself into the Championship 4 at Phoenix, it was announced he will take over for a retiring Clint Bowyer in 2021. This was just one of the many 2021 “Silly Season” stories that played out during the week, including Kyle Larson’s reinstatement set for January 1 and Erik Jones moving to Richard Petty Motorsports.

PAINT SCHEME: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
Rising motorsports artist Noah “Lefty” Sweet has designed the look of Jimmie Johnson’s car this week as the seven-time champion nears the end of his final full-time season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Garrett Smithley returns to Cup after a brief hiatus since the night race at Bristol, replacing James Davison in the #53 with his frequent backer Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Kendall Oil as sponsors. This is just one of four head-turning paint schemes for the Ware team this weekend, including new backing from FatBoy Ice Cream Sandwiches on J.J. Yeley’s #27.

PAINT SCHEME: #95-Leavine Family Racing
It was at this same Texas track on April 9, 2011 that the #95 team – then known as Leavine Fenton Racing – made its Cup Series debut with David Starr finishing 38th. After not running the team’s red-yellow-and-blue scheme from that year in this season’s “Throwback Weekend” at Darlington, the team will run the scheme this Sunday with Christopher Bell driving. It will be the LFR team’s final start at their home track, and two races before the team closes its doors.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 22, 1994): Tommy Houston picked up the 11th last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career in the ’94 season finale, the AC-Delco 200 at Rockingham, when his #6 Red Devil Enamels Ford fell out with handling problems after just one lap. The finish tied Houston with Ed Berrier for the most last-place finishes in the series at that time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ARCA: Alex Clubb plays LASTCAR championship spoiler at Kansas

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar

by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Alex Clubb finished last for the second time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Speediatrics 150 at Kansas Speedway when his #01 A. Clubb Lawn Care & Landscaping Ford fell out with a vibration after completing only 1 of the race’s 100 laps.

The finish came in Clubb’s 11th series start, and was his first since Elko last year, 27 races ago.
 After Clubb’s 2019 season came to a premature end at Elko, the landscaper and city council member out of Morris, Illinois set his sights on 2020. While he did not enter any races until Kansas, there was a good reason for that: Clubb and his wife welcomed their first child over the summer. He tried to get a car ready for the race at Springfield, but family time and work obligations prevented him from running the event. He did finish his car for the Kansas event, and entered it with the number 01, using owner points borrowed from Andy Hillenburg at Fast Track Racing.

Clubb was not the only entry borrowing owner points from a different team at Kansas. Almost a quarter of the field - 4 of 18 entries - used owner points from a different team. The eventual race-winning car of Corey Heim was prepared in the Venturini Motorsports shop but used Fast Track Racing owner points, presumably for a better starting position. Kris Wright’s Chad Bryant Racing entry was also using owner points from Fast Track. Mike Basham’s entry from Fast Track was using owner points from Chad Bryant in a de facto swap. Derek Griffith finished out a sporadic part-time stint in CBR’s bright yellow #22 car. Other part-timers entered included Scott Melton, returning to his familiar #69, Dylan Lupton, driving a one-off ARCA race for DGR-Crosley, and Eric Caudell, who finished the season running four consecutive races in his #7 car. Owen Smith rounded out Fast Track’s stable, and based on the entry list, he looked poised to claim the LASTCAR drivers’ championship. Wayne Peterson Racing entered Tim Richmond in the #06 and Con Nicolopoulos in the #0, leaving the team patriarch off the entry list.

Only sixteen of the nineteen cars took time in practice. Eventual series champion Bret Holmes led the series with a lap of just over 30.7 seconds. Richmond trailed the field, running a best lap of 38.4 seconds. Qualifying was not held, and the lineup was set by owner points. As it was the CBR 77’s first attempt since Daytona, Basham started shotgun on the field.

Early in the race, ARCA timing and scoring listed Clubb out after one lap and Nicolopoulos out after two, all but clinching the LASTCAR championship for Owen Smith. However, during the middle portions of the race, reports emerged that Nicolopoulos was watching the race from his home in Michigan while being scored as the driver of the 0 car. Multiple sources from the garage later confirmed that Wayne Peterson had stepped into the 0 car for the race, setting off a retroactive nailbiter for the LASTCAR championship. If Peterson had pulled off at the initial green flag, as he did at Springfield two weeks ago, he would have claimed his fourth last-place finish of the year and his third consecutive LASRCAR championship. However, Peterson ran exactly two laps in all of his paved-track starts this year, and that was one too many in the LASTCAR championship battle. Clubb’s retirement after one lap prevented Peterson from claiming a would-be series-high fourth last-place finish on the year. While Peterson and Owen Smith both finished last three times in the 2020 season, Smith has a tiebreaker edge on Bottom Five finishes, 9 to 5, handing him the 2020 LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series drivers championship.

Smith, ironically, was the next car to fall out, citing brake issues. Brad Smith’s full-season effort ended a little early due to engine problems that sidelined the team after 36 laps completed. All other cars finished the race, and Ty Gibbs, who battled a number of issues throughout the night, came home 14th, 40 laps down.

The weekend took a terrible turn after the race. On Sunday morning, news broke that most of the Wayne Peterson Racing team equipment from the 06 car was stolen from a hotel outside the track:

Prior to the Kansas weekend, both Chevrolet and Fast Track Racing locked up the manufacturers and owners championships, respectively, to round out the awarding of LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series championships for 2020.

18) #01-Alex Clubb / 1 lap / vibration
17) #0-Wayne Peterson / 2 laps / brakes
16) #11-Owen Smith / 30 laps / clutch
15) #48-Brad Smith / 36 laps / engine
14) #18-Ty Gibbs / 60 laps / running

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (10)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (5)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

In total, 93 drivers started an ARCA Menards Series race this year. Of those, 68 recorded a Bottom Ten finish, 41 recorded a Bottom Five finish, and 16 recorded a last-place finish. The top twenty in the LASTCAR drivers standings are shown below.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

CUP: Tangle with Jones ends Matt Kenseth’s afternoon in Kansas


Matt Kenseth picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #42 Advent Health Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 144 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Kenseth’s 694th series start, was his second of the season and first since June 22, 2020 at Talladega, 20 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 27th for the #42, the 606th from a crash, and the 796th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 39th for the #42, the 1,231st from a crash, and the 1,751st for Chevrolet.

Since his most recent feature on this site, Kenseth has continued to struggle with a lack of practice and qualifying, often finishing between 15th and 20th with a handful of worse finishes. The lone bright spot came in what turned out to be the final Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, a race he’d never won in his 22-year career. For the final restart, Kenseth worked his way to 2nd, but advanced no further on race leader Kevin Harvick, and the McDonald’s sponsorship has still yet to reach victory lane since 1994. Then on September 21 came news that Ross Chastain would drive the #42 in 2021, and Kenseth has all but confirmed he will not return to Cup after this season.

Kenseth started 30th at Kansas, in part due to a frustrating afternoon on the “Roval” where he struck a tire barrier head-on, leaving him 34th. He would run sponsorship from Advent Health, which most recently sponsored Chastain at both the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, running in partnership with Ganassi at Spire Motorsports.

Starting 40th and last on Sunday was Chad Finchum, who for the first time since Las Vegas drove Motorsports Business Management’s #49 Sharelife / Toyota, still carrying Timmy Hill’s “throwback” scheme from Darlington. He was joined at the rear by two drivers who each twice failed pre-race inspection – 5th-place Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Toyota and 33rd-place James Davison in the #53 America’s Best Value Inn  / Tilson Ford.

When the race started, Davison was last across the stripe, 4.455 seconds back of the lead, but caught and passed Finchum by Lap 3. By the seventh circuit, Davison passed his teammate Joey Gase in the #51 Page Construction Ford, and both Gase and Finchum started to lose touch with the tail end of the pack. On Lap 15, Finchum’s team told him to stay high as the leaders caught him and made his #49 the first car one lap down by Lap 16. When the competition caution fell on Lap 27, Finchum was still last, but pit stops swapped the spot between Timmy Hill’s #66 Toyota on Lap 28 and Josh Bilicki’s #7 Insurance King Chevrolet on Lap 29. Bilicki took the spot after a pit road penalty that dropped him to tail end of the longest line.

On Lap 32, Bilicki dropped Finchum back to last, who gradually lost more laps through the remainder of Stage 1. He was three down on Lap 49, five down by Lap 72, and eight down by Lap 78. There was also at least one close call on Lap 76 as Brad Keselowski caught him entering Turns 1 and 2, squeezing between Finchum and the outside wall. On Lap 97, Finchum reported he had a problem in the rear of the car, but didn’t pit as he believed it was rear tire chatter. The vibration then returned on Lap 110, again in the rear of the car.

Meanwhile, Gase made a four-tire stop and took last from Finchum on Lap 124, shown 11 laps down to Finchum’s 10. The two then began racing each other, running nose-to-tail on Lap 130. On Lap 142, Gase slowed with a loss of fuel pressure, and crept onto pit road under green. The team decided to “just put fuel in it” when, moments later, the caution fell for a wreck on the frontstretch.

While not a factor for the lead, Kenseth was battling Erik Jones’ #20 Resers Toyota for 27th, running the low lane to complete the pass. When coming up the track, Kenseth wasn’t quite clear and hooked cross Jones’ nose, putting both cars into the wall. Both drivers made it to pit road with Kenseth’s team trying to address an issue with the track bar. Meanwhile, on Lap 146, Gase was told to turn into the garage “by the yellow canopy” to address a possible fuel leak, the driver told to stay in the car with the window net up. The next time by on Lap 147, Kenseth pulled behind the wall, out under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.”

On Lap 166, Gase returned to the track 33 laps down and ten laps behind Kenseth. During the stay in the garage, the team also addressed a radio issue where they couldn’t hear the driver over static. On Lap 167, Kenseth was declared officially out by NASCAR due to an accident, not the DVP as in Noah Gragson’s finish the day before. Finchum pulled behind the wall shortly after, and NASCAR declared the #49 out with transmission issues on Lap 175. Gase then dropped Kenseth to last on Lap 180. 

Gase climbed to 37th at the finish, the last car under power, dropping Finchum to 39th and Kurt Busch, whose #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet blew an engine while battling among the leaders, dropped to 38th. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Reed Sorenson in Spire Motorsports’ #77 Marwin Sports Chevrolet, 17 laps down to the leaders.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #42 in a Cup Series race at Kansas.

40) #42-Matt Kenseth / 144 laps / crash
39) #49-Chad Finchum / 154 laps / transmission
38) #1-Kurt Busch / 197 laps / engine
37) #51-Joey Gase / 228 laps / running
36) #77-Reed Sorenson / 250 laps / running

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (7)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (6)
3rd) Rick Ware Racing (5)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing (3)
5th) Hendrick Motorsports, Leavine Family Racing, Penske Racing (2)
6th) Beard Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (20)
2nd) Toyota (9)
3rd) Ford (4)


Saturday, October 17, 2020

XFINITY: Noah Gragson's out under DVP historically significant among last-place finishes


Noah Gragson picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway when his #9 Bass Pro Shops / True Timber Camo Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car accident and eliminated under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy” (dvp) after 16 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Gragson’s 66th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 1st for the dvp, the 11th for the #9, and the 559th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 1st for the dvp, the 53rd for the #9, and the 1,750th for Chevrolet.

Just last week on the Charlotte “Roval,” Gragson overcame multiple incidents – including a skirmish with Riley Herbst, with whom he tangled at both Texas and Pocono – to finish a close 2nd to road course ringer A.J. Allmendinger. It was a performance befitting of the aggressive driver from Las Vegas as he completes his second full season in the XFINITY Series. This year saw him score his first series win in the Daytona opener, already securing him a spot in the Playoffs, then followed that up with a win at Bristol, where he tangled with his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, who led 156 of the 303 laps.

The “Roval” performance followed a runner-up at Las Vegas and a 3rd at Talladega, easily moving him to the “Round of 8” for a chance to make the Championship Four. Last year, he came just short of making the cut, eliminated in the penultimate round. The slide began at Kansas, where he finished 13th, then crashed out to take 30th at Texas. The 10th-place run at Phoenix wasn’t enough to advance. Saturday would see him return to Kansas for another shot, and this time he’d start on the pole under NASCAR’s metric qualifying. In addition, NASCAR would stream on-board footage from his car.

Drawing the 36th and final starting spot was Josh Reaume, who took the wheel of Mike Harmon’s #47 Chevrolet for the first time. Carrying sponsorship from GPS Tab in addition to Reaume’s own Colonial Countertops sponsorship, Reaume pulled double-duty with the Truck Series along with Josh Bilicki, who served as his spotter. No teams were slated to join him at the back of the pack.

In the early laps, Stephen Leicht took over last place in the #66 Jani-King Toyota, running the same orange-and-blue Supra that made its downforce track debut at Homestead earlier this summer. Leicht lost a lap in the opening stages, then got it back when the caution fell for Matt Mills’ spin on Lap 10. The #66 made at least one more stop on Lap 14, and was still shown the only car one lap down for the restart.

On Lap 15, the battle up front rapidly intensified, and Gragson was part of a four-wide battle for the lead with the #10 Dyna-Gro Seed Chevrolet of Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric’s #22 Menards / Richmond Ford to his outside with Brandon Jones’ #19 Toyota Service Centers Toyota to his inside. As Jones backed off, Gragson appeared to try and slot in behind Cindric’s car when the two made contact, bumping Cindric into Chastain. While Chastain maintained control, Cindric’s car cut hard left into Gragson, damaging Gragson’s right-front and destroying Cindric’s left-front. Most of the field managed to keep going, though Anthony Alfredo banged doors with another car in his #21 Andy’s Frozen Custard Chevrolet and Tommy Joe Martins spun further back in the #44 AAN Adjusters Chevrolet.

With Leicht now back on the lead lap, both Cindric and Gragson pulled down pit road for repairs, each trying to clear the “Crash Clock.” Cindric took over last from Leicht on Lap 17, and by Lap 18 had already used up 3 minutes and 50 seconds on the six-minute clock. Cindric managed to pull back on track for the Lap 19 restart, three laps down, and despite heavy left-side damage would ultimately clear the clock on the first green-flag lap. The Penske crew made further repairs and returned to action on Lap 40, at least 20 laps down. Gragson, however, was still on pit road when the race restarted, and the clock soon expired. NASCAR reported they were out of time, and the crew eventually pushed the #9 behind the wall. Gragson bucked up his crew, looking ahead to trying to win Texas or Martinsville to make the Championship Four. Gragson took last from Cindric on Lap 20.

Leicht, meanwhile, remained on the lead lap until Lap 60, when he pulled behind the wall with fuel pump issues. With now three races to go and still a two-finish lead over the field, Leicht will secure the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship if any of the drivers behind him fail to finish last at Texas – Kyle Weatherman, Timmy Hill, Kody Vanderwal, Landon Cassill, Joe Graf, Jr., Brandon Jones, or Michael Annett. If one of those drivers finish last in Texas, that same driver must also finish last at Martinsville and Phoenix to take the title from Leicht.

 Ryan Vargas ended up 34th after two stays in the garage for a power steering issue, ultimately falling out in Johnny Davis’ #6 TikTok Chevrolet. Taking 33rd was Josh Reaume, whose right-front wheel locked-up in the final laps, citing brake issues in the final results. Joe Graf, Jr. rounded out the Bottom Five in 32nd after his #08 Bucked Up Energy Chevrolet erupted in smoke just before one of the last restarts, listed as a rear gear failure.

Making just his 9th series start, Austin Hill earned his first series top-five finish, finishing 5th in Motorsports Business Management and Hattori Racing Enterprises’ #61 Toyota Tsusho Toyota. Josh Williams and Brett Moffitt both rebounded from frustrating incidents at the “Roval” to finish 6th and 7th, respectively – Williams with a new career-best in the #92 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet and Moffitt with his best run in the series since Richmond driving Chris Our’s #02 Destiny Homes / Concrete Supply Chevrolet just hours after ending his losing streak in the Truck Series. Further back, Tommy Joe Martins recovered from rear bumper damage to take 14th while Dexter Bean earned the second-best finish of his XFINITY career, taking 16th in the #90 Sleep Well / Alpha Prime Chevrolet.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #9 in an XFINITY Series race since October 13, 2006, when Kasey Kahne’s #9 Wisk Dodge crashed after 7 laps of the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte.
*Gragson is only the eighth driver to start on pole and finish last in an XFINITY Series race, and the first since May 9, 2008, when Carl Edwards’ #60 Scotts Water Smart Ford crashed after 3 laps of the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington.

The official reason out for Gragson was “DVP,” indicating the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.” It is not the first time a driver has been listed out for this reason, but it is the first time it’s resulted in a last-place finish. It’s much more common for a driver involved in an early wreck to fall out due to a “crash.” What distinguishes a “DVP” from a DNF by reason of a “crash” seems to be whether, in the space of six minutes, the team has attempted repairs, sent the driver back on the track to complete laps, and the driver fails to reach minimum speed when time expired. If any one of these elements isn’t met, it is listed as a “crash” instead. For example, when both Joey Logano at Watkins Glen in 2018 and Aric Almirola at Bristol in 2019 suffered minor damage, but were pushed behind the wall without an attempt to return, each were listed out as a “crash.”

This distinction came into focus a couple months ago at Indianapolis, where three drivers involved in the pit road accident – Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Brennan Poole – all attempted to meet minimum speed after the restart, but failed to do so. The four other drivers involved in the wreck were listed out as a “crash.” This, too, had a wrinkle, as the collected Martin Truex, Jr. was listed out as a “crash” despite returning to the track after repairs, then coming down pit road under caution before climbing out of the car. The “attempt” seems like it has to be made under green – a couple laps to feel it out under caution and then returning to pit road isn’t enough. This also explains Quin Houff’s incident at Pocono listed as a “crash,” where he made two trips to pit road for repairs, but had such a bad vibration each time that they called off the attempt and brought him to the garage.

The most deceptive aspect of a failure to finish under the “DVP” is the clock doesn’t stop if the driver suffers an issue unrelated to the crash, and goes to the garage to address that problem. At Bristol last month, Bayley Currey bumped the wall on Lap 198, completed repairs, and returned to the track to attempt to meet minimum speed. During this attempt, the battery died, and his car stalled on the track. The crew pushed him behind the wall for what they believed was the battery issue, unwittingly ending their race simply because they failed to meet minimum speed before the stall. NASCAR informed them they were out, and had been before they even set to work in the garage area.

36) #9-Noah Gragson / 16 laps / dvp / led 13 laps
35) #66-Stephen Leicht / 59 laps / fuel pump
34) #6-Ryan Vargas / 81 laps / power steering
33) #47-Josh Reaume / 101 laps / brakes
32) #08-Joe Graf, Jr. / 158 laps / rear gear

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

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (11)


TRUCKS: Tanner Gray collected in chain-reaction of grinding Kansas wreck


Tanner Gray picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Saturday’s Clean Harbors 200 at the Kansas Speedway when his #15 Ford Performance Ford was collected in a multi-truck accident after 37 of 139 laps.

The finish, which came in Gray’s 23rd series start, was his second of the year and first since Texas, 12 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #15, the 110th for Ford, and the 161st from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 43rd for the #15, the 968th for Ford, and the 1,230th for a crash.

With three races to go, Gray joins an even tighter battle for the 2020 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship, joining Bryant Barnhill, Johnny Sauter, and Norm Benning in a tie for the most last-place finishes this year. Benning leads Sauter in the bottom-five tiebreaker, 8-5.

Since he was last featured here, Gray has become the strongest non-Playoff driver in the Truck Series, finishing a career-best 3rd at Michigan, Bristol, and Las Vegas. Curiously, the streak began at Kansas, where in July 25th’s second round of a weekend double-header he took home 4th, his first career Top Five. The Bristol and Vegas runs were two of the series’ most recent three rounds heading into Saturday, followed by a wreck at Talladega that left him 29th. The wreck cost him one spot in points, from 12th to 13th. Gray would rolled off 19th in Saturday’s race.

Starting 36th and last was Ray Ciccarelli, who brought back his #83 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet that had been withdrawn in the most recent round at Talladega. When the race started, he was 3.837 seconds back of the lead, but no longer in last place. At least three others had dropped to the rear: 21st-place Ryan Truex in the #40 Marquis Chevrolet (4.329 seconds back at the start), 33rd-place Dawson Cram in the #41 Chevrolet (4.504 seconds), 34th-place Hailie Deegan, making her series debut in the #17 Ford as Gray’s teammate (4.094 seconds). Norm Benning had also surrendered 26th in his #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet and was just ahead of Ciccarelli for the restart, 3.724 seconds back of the lead.

When the first lap was complete, Cram took over last place, 6.949 seconds back, with Ciccarelli up to 32nd. By Lap 3, Cram passed Ciccarelli’s teammate Tim Viens in the #49 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet, which became the first truck to lose a lap around the 16th circuit. Struggling with a tight condition off Turns 2 and 4, Viens was three down by Lap 25. He also complained that the throttle was sticking.

Next to enter the last-place battle was Jordan Anderson, who this week ran red door numbers on his #3 Chevrolet. After rolling off 15th, Anderson dropped to 32nd by Lap 16, when he too lost a lap. Radio communications indicated several issues, including a piece of debris on the grille and a track bar issue. The truck had jumped loose under green, feeling like it had “1500 springs in the rear” according to the driver. “It’s gonna be one of those days,” said someone on his radio. After a stop on Lap 33, Anderson was three laps down and took last place from Viens. He pitted a second time, and the crew looked under the hood. The truck lost electrical power, showing 12 volts on the battery, and couldn’t re-fire on pit road. Citing a starter issue, Anderson waited for a tow truck to push him to the garage when trouble broke out on the track.

On Lap 38, Talladega winner Raphael Lessard broke loose on the inside line of a tight Turn 4 battle, then pinned title contender Tyler Ankrum’s #26 Liuna Chevrolet into the outside wall. As Ankrum skated down the track with flames trailing his machine, Parker Kligerman was collected in the #75 Food Country USA Chevrolet. Further back, Tanner Gray was slowing in the outside lane when David Gravel broke loose in front of him in the #24 Chevrolet. Gravel snapped to the right, pinning Gray into the outside wall. Still another wreck nearly unfolded behind the two as Deegan clipped Cram, leading to Colin Garrett’s nose damage to the #44 The Rosie Network Chevrolet as he rear-ended Clay Greenfield’s #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota. Kligerman recovered to finish a strong 15th.

The wreck resulted in a red flag, and crash damage eliminated Gray, Gravel, Ankrum, and Lessard. Gray, the lowest-classified of the four, dropped to 35th when the race restarted. Anderson, eight laps down when the wreck unfolded, returned to action soon after the restart, dropping Gray to last around four laps later. Gravel, Ankrum, and Lessard took the next three spots in the Bottom Five, which was completed by Viens. After running last before the accident, Anderson climbed to finish 30th.

Making his first Truck Series start since October 12, 2019 at Talladega, Timothy Peters took the checkered flag in 7th, turning in a strong run in his unexpected relief driver role after Stewart Friesen’s scheduling conflict. Peters’ performance in the #52 Halmar “Racing To Beat Hunger” Toyota was his best finish in the series since the 2019 Daytona opener, when he also ran 7th for Niece Motorsports.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #15 in a Truck Series race at Kansas.

36) #15-Tanner Gray / 37 laps / crash
35) #24-David Gravel / 37 laps / crash
34) #26-Tyler Ankrum / 38 laps / crash
33) #4-Raphael Lessard / 39 laps / crash
32) #49-Tim Viens / 91 laps / fuel pump

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports (3)
3rd) DGR-Crosley, Norm Benning Racing, ThorSport Racing (2)
4th) CMI Motorsports, FDNY Racing, Halmar Friesen Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (3)


Friday, October 16, 2020

PREVIEW: Kansas sees several drivers return to action after absences

PHOTO: @Utechcorpsoft

Saturday, October 17, 2020 (4:00 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3 
Clean Harbors 200 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Race

After taking the Roval weekend off, the Truck Series returns to action as part of a Saturday double-header. There are 36 drivers entered for 40 spots, down two entries from Talladega.

MISSING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek is not entered after he was collected in the early wreck at Talladega, finishing 37th.

MISSING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh is not entered after second-straight strong superspeedway finish, this time taking 5th at Talladega.

Hailie Deegan will make her first start in NASCAR’s top three series, taking the place of Korbin Forrister in the same David Gilliland-owned team that fields her ARCA Menards Series entry. Deegan arrives currently 3rd in the ARCA standings heading into today’s season finale.

While Chase Purdy had been slated to run this truck again, news broke on October 9 that David Gravel will instead run the Chevrolet, bearing the same Hendrick-styled number font made famous by Jeff Gordon. Gravel finished 10th in his series debut earlier this year at Michigan.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
Bryan Dauzat is not entered after team ran both Kansas double-headers in the summer, then finished a season-best 21st last week in Talladega.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Bilicki returns to the Truck Series for only the fourth time this year and first time since Bristol, where he finished 26th. He’ll drive the #33, moving team owner Josh Reaume to the #00 in place of Jason White, who isn’t entered after a 25th-place performance in Talladega. Reaume will himself also kick off a double-header Saturday with the XFINITY Series (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
Ryan Truex returns to the Truck Series for the sixth time in 2020 and first time since the fall race in Las Vegas. He takes the place of Bayley Currey, who finished 15th at Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Colin Garrett, who we’ve seen compete five times this year for Sam Hunt Racing’s XFINITY Series team, makes just his second Truck Series start and first since a 21st-place finish last year at Las Vegas’ fall race. He takes the place of Kaz Grala, who ran a strong 9th in Talladega.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #45-Niece Motorsports
After nearly winning Talladega, Trevor Bayne will run the rest of the 2020 season in the Niece #45. To mark this occasion, Bayne will be sponsored by Mahalo Coffee Roasters, his own coffee shop founded during his brief hiatus from NASCAR.

DRIVER SWAP: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli will field both of his trucks after the #83 was withdrawn last week in Talladega. Ciccarelli will himself run the #83, moving Tim Viens to the flagship #49.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Halmar-Friesen Racing
Welcome back 11-time Truck Series race winner Timothy Peters, who on Saturday will make his first series start since the 2019 race at Talladega. The opportunity arose when a scheduling conflict meant Stewart Friesen couldn’t compete in Saturday’s race, which was rescheduled from Friday. Christopher Bell had originally been Friesen’s replacement, but that changed because NASCAR deemed him ineligible as a backup driver.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill will run a pink version of the Hill Motorsports entry in what will be his 10th start of the year and first since Las Vegas. He takes the place of Gus Dean, who crashed out at Talladega with a 30th-place finish.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman returns to action for the first time since his season-best 4th-place run under the lights at Bristol.

MISSING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
Robby Lyons is not entered after he finished 26th in DME’s return to the series at Talladega.


Saturday, October 17, 2020 (7:00 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 30 of 33
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3
Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Ryan Truex

There are 36 drivers entered for 40 spots in this week’s XFINITY race, down two entries from the “Roval.”

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
After Timmy Hill finished 19th on the “Roval” with teammate Stephen Leicht in 24th, the two drivers have swapped rides with Hill in the #13 and Leicht in the #66.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger and the third Kaulig entry are not entered after his thrilling win in the rainy “Roval” race.

MISSING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
After back-to-back weeks of career-best finishes in NASCAR’s top two divisions, including an impressive 7th in the rain last Saturday, Cody Ware will not run this weekend’s XFINITY race, and neither will RWR’s XFINITY team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Anthony Alfredo is back behind the wheel of RCR’s #21 with Andy’s Frozen Custard as sponsor. He takes over for Kaz Grala, who ran strong early at the “Roval” before a wreck and suspension issues left him 31st.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
In addition to running his own entry in the Truck Series race, Josh Reaume will make his first XFINITY start since July 13, 2018 at Kentucky, making his first-ever start for Mike Harmon. Taking the place of Kyle Weatherman, who wrecked out early at the “Roval,” he’ll carry sponsorship from GPS Tab.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
After a strong performance during the opening stages of last week’s “Roval” race, Gray Gaulding is back out of the #74, bringing back Bayley Currey for the first time since his 25th-place showing in the fall race at Las Vegas. Currey ran 23rd in the most recent Kasnas race earlier this year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Vinnie Miller returns after missing the “Roval” race, taking the place of 13th-place Josh Bilicki in the #78 Koolbox Toyota.

Last week, Preston Pardus made his way into the Top 10 at the “Roval” before a tangle with Justin Haley left him just 32nd at the finish. Dexter Bean takes Pardus’ place this week with Sleep Well and Alpha Prime as sponsors. It’s Bean’s first start since the fall race at Las Vegas, where he ran 29th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji goes from pit reporter to driver again, in for C.J. McLaughlin, who ran 29th on the “Roval.” The eRacing Association will be Iwuji’s sponsor for his first XFINITY start since his 26th-place finish in his series debut at Road America earlier this summer.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Coming off back-to-back top-ten finishes at two radically different tracks, the second Bobby Dotter entry will see David Starr take the place of Jade Buford with American Rebel Safes as sponsor. This will be Starr’s first XFINITY start since his 34th-place run at Darlington.


Sunday, October 18, 2020
CUP Race 33 of 36
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3
Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Ryan Newman

There are 40 drivers entered for as many spots in Sunday’s race, up two entries from the “Roval.” This marks only the 17th “full” field in 2020, and the first since Bristol, four races ago.

RETURNING: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
One day after running the Truck Series race, Josh Bilicki and his Insurance King sponsorship move from XFINITY back to the Cup Series, and the TBR team returns to Cup action for the first time since the Bristol night race. In so doing, Bilicki moves from the #51, which wrecked on the final lap last week, and Joey Gase returns to drive that car.

DRIVER SWAP: #27-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
J.J. Yeley moves from the #77 to the #27, replacing Gray Gaulding, who isn’t entered this week. Stepping into the Spire entry is a returning Reed Sorenson, who also makes it back to Cup for the first time since Bristol. Marwin Sports sponsors Sorenson this week.

RETURNING: #49-Motorsports Business Management
A late addition to the Cup field this week is MBM’s second entry, which returns for the first time since their last-place finish at Las Vegas three weeks ago. Once again, Chad Finchum will drive with as sponsor.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 16, 1955): Jimmy Pardue picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career when his #24 1955 Chevrolet fell out with hub failure after 10 of 200 laps at Martinsville. This was also the first last-place finish for the #24 in Cup Series history.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

CUP: Scuffed tires carry Timmy Hill from last to fifth at the end of Stage 1 before engine lets go

PHOTO: @mlharvey00

Timmy Hill picked up the 14th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Bank of America 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval” when his #66 Toyota fell out with engine problems after 57 of 109 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 124th Cup start, was his series-leading fifth of the season and first since Richmond, four races ago. With four races remaining, Hill has broken his tie with Ryan Preece, and now holds a one-finish over him, two finishes over Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Preece’s teammate at JTG-Daugherty Racing.

In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 61st for the #66, the 167th for Toyota, and the 698th for an engine. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 79th for the #66, the 349th for Toyota, and the 1,094th from an engine.

While still dealing with mechanical gremlins on the Cup Series side, finishing 37th in the next two rounds after his most recent last-place finish, Hill was again very strong on the superspeedway last week in Talladega. Driving a Ford for the first time since the Daytona 500 in collaboration with Go FAS Racing, Hill battled inside the Top 10 for much of the race before crossing the stripe in 15th. It was the second-best finish of Hill’s entire Cup career, trailing only his 14th-place showing at Indianapolis in 2017.

At the Charlotte “Roval,” Hill would again pull double-duty with the XFINITY Series, driving MBM’s #66 Toyota on Saturday. There, he finished 19th for his third Top 20 finish in the series out of the last four races. He did so despite heavy rains that proved a stumbling block for teams both bigger and smaller than his, which must have instilled confidence for Sunday’s main event, where more rain was anticipated. Hill drew the 27th spot in the entry.

Rolling off 38th and last was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose early wreck last week in Talladega put his pink #47 Kroger Chevrolet into the final spot. Joining him in the rear were 29th-place Josh Bilicki, who was swapped in for Joey Gase in the #51 Rich Mar Florist / Lemons of Love Chevrolet, and 14th-place Erik Jones for unapproved adjustments. Jones’ #20 Craftasman ACE / CMN Toyota wouldn’t fire at the command to start engines, and the penalty was incurred when a crewman had to reach into the car to get it started. 

Coming to the green flag, at least four more drivers dropped to the rear voluntarily: 22nd-place Brennan Poole in the #15 Remember Everyone Deployed Chevrolet, 33rd-place J.J. Yeley in the #77 Chevrolet, 25th-place Quin Houff in the #00 Sim Seats Chevrolet, and Timmy Hill. Of these drivers, Yeley slotted into the last spot, and was among the four drivers trailing the field on the opening lap.

From there, the last spot changed several times. On Lap 3, Yeley raced past Houff, opening up a 0.632-second gap between the two drivers. By Lap 4, Yeley had also passed Hill, and Houff dropped Hill to last for the first time on Lap 6. The next time, when Poole dropped to 37th, Hill trailed the #15 by 4.258 seconds. The issue was tire degradation as during this time the damp track started to dry, and the team debated whether to change to dry-weather slicks. The MBM team also considered looking under the hood on their next stop as the driver expressed concerns over his ability to reach full throttle. 

Hill held the last spot through the competition caution on Lap 11, and with all 38 starters still on the lead lap, pit stops shuffled the bottom of the order. Rick Ware Racing’s James Davison in the #53 Tilson Chevrolet took it first, followed by his teammate Bilicki, who held last for the Lap 13 restart. Bilicki got a better start than Hill, however, and the #66 was once again in last place. Hill then caught Bilicki two laps later and passed him, but on Lap 16 the pair moved past the spun #6 Castrol Ford of Ryan Newman. That time by, Newman had dropped to 6.317 seconds back of Bilicki, and set to work reeling in the tail end of the field.

On Lap 17, as Newman caught Bilicki for 37th, several drivers began to pit for slick tires, starting with Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Ally Chevrolet and Christopher Bell in the #95 Rheem Toyota. Johnson took over last on Lap 17. Two circuits later, Johnson was reeling in new 37th-place runner Michael McDowell in the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, but both of them moved past Stenhouse, who took over last on Lap 19. Stenhouse then dropped Gray Gaulding to last on Lap 20, passing his #27 Panini America Ford as he, too, pitted for slicks. It was then Gaulding who dropped Denny Hamlin to last after Hamlin’s #11 FedEx Ground Toyota following a spin in Turn 6. Hamlin was barely able to return to the track and had minor damage to his car.

The next last-place challenger was John Hunter Nemechek, whose #38 Citgard Ford spun into the barriers, damaging the right side of his car and eventually causing the hood to come loose. Stuck in the wet grass, he lost at least a lap trying to pull back on track. Just before he was about to receive a push from a service truck, he finally pulled back onto the speedway, by which point he was shown at least two laps down. By this point, however, Timmy Hill had stayed out on scuffed tires during a pit sequence, and was running as high as 3rd place. On Lap 25, right when Nemechek cleared the “Crash Clock,” Hill lost two spots to Matt DiBenedetto and William Byron, but held on to finish 5th.

“Thanks for the TV time, Timmy,” said Carl Long over the radio. “Yes, sir!” answered the driver. Only then was Hill told he had scuffed tires on during that run. "I could've won the stage!" he laughed.

While Hill enjoyed his strong run - which would have awarded him stage points had he not declared for the XFINITY Series in 2020 – another underdog team was struggling. J.J. Yeley incurred a one-lap penalty for pitting outside the box. Unfortunately, the Spire Motorsports team was having radio trouble, and for much of the race couldn’t hear their driver over the static. NASCAR reminded the team he had to serve the penalty, which he served on Lap 29, and he returned a lap down in 37th.

By Lap 45, Nemechek was still in last with Yeley holding 37th, but more problems awaited the #77. Yeley was spun by Davison entering the backstretch chicane, then spun himself in Turn 6, slapping the wall in much the same way as Nemechek. The impact resulted in heavy damage to the right-rear, and two pit stops were required to clear the fenders and cut away some debris. The second stop was required after the fender continued to rub as Yeley ran on the oval’s banked turns. Even after all this, Yeley managed to stay out of last place, remaining just ahead of Nemechek in 37th.

On Lap 52, as Yeley’s crew voiced their frustrations after missing out on the “Lucky Dog,” the driver reported a bad vibration in the front of the car. The team said there was nothing they could do, and Yeley had to deal with it as best he could to the finish. On Lap 54, during a tight battle in Turn 6, the damaged Hamlin rear-ended Hill, who was rammed by Davison, leaving Hamlin and Davison with the worst damage of the three. Davison’s crew managed quick repairs for a second time, following left-rear damage suffered earlier, and cleared the “Crash Clock” soon after Hamlin on Lap 56.

Finally, on Lap 58, Hill slowed while still on the lead lap, and NASCAR officials watched him to make sure he made it to pit road. The crew reported smoke from the exhaust pipes, but still looked over the car before going to the garage that same lap. Running 34th on the lead lap at the time, Hill soon took over last place from Nemechek on Lap 63, and was declared out by NASCAR on Lap 69.

Finishing 37th was Brennan Poole, whose #15 broke down on the apron in the late stages, and was the only other retiree, citing suspension issues. Nemechek and Yeley climbed to 36th and 35th, respectively, with Matt Kenseth’s #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet left in 34th after he stuffed the nose of his car into the barriers during the final laps.

In addition to Hill’s breakout performance in Stage 1, others who finished back in the order each threatened strong finishes of their own. Ryan Preece, Hill’s closest LASTCAR contender, led eight laps in the #37 Maxwell Houses For Heroes Chevrolet before the leaders caught him on Lap 82, leaving him 14th. Ty Dillon in the #13 GEICO Chevrolet had his second strong run in a row after his 3rd-place finish in Talladega, working out the right tire strategy in the opening stage to lead five laps of his own, but a mid-race slide into the barriers ultimately left him 23rd. Christopher Bell in the #95 Rheem Toyota was likewise battling to get Leavine Family Racing a win after their disappointing last-place run at Talladega, leading six laps before taking 24th. These were among the 32 drivers, including Michael McDowell, who spun in the final laps, who all finished on the same circuit as the leader.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in a Cup Series road course race since November 18, 1984, when Phil Parsons' #66 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet fell out with a broken shock after 15 laps of the Winston Western 500 at Riverside. Curiously, it was Hill who honored Parsons with a throwback scheme to his Skoal car at Darlington just last month.

38) #66-Timmy Hill / 57 laps / engine
37) #15-Brennan Poole / 95 laps / suspension
36) #38-John Hunter Nemechek / 105 laps / running
35) #77-J.J. Yeley / 108 laps / running
34) #42-Matt Kenseth / 108 laps / running

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (7)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (6)
3rd) Rick Ware Racing (5)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Leavine Family Racing, Penske Racing (2)
5th) Beard Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (9)
3rd) Ford (4)


Saturday, October 10, 2020

XFINITY: Brett Moffitt scores first NASCAR last-place finish as several underdogs surprise in the Roval’s rainstorm

PHOTO: @OurMotorsports

Brett Moffitt picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Drive for The Cure 250 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval” when his unsponsored #02 Robert B. Our Co. Chevrolet fell out because of a crash after 2 of 68 laps.

The finish occurred in Moffitt’s 28th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th for the #02, the 558th for Chevrolet, and the 338th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 29th for the #02, the 1,229th for a crash, and the 1,749th for Chevrolet.

Coming into 2020, Moffitt had 59 Truck Series starts with 11 wins and the 2018 title, plus 45 Cup starts, highlighted by a career-best 8th-place finish in the 500-mile Atlanta race in 2015, when he was driving for Michael Waltrip Racing. In comparison, he’d been a much more infrequent competitor in the XFINITY Series, making just three starts with a best of 9th for RAB Racing in Iowa back in 2012. In each of those starts, he had never once finished last.

That changed when GMS Racing, his current Truck Series team owners, scaled back their XFINITY program at the end of 2019. The team was purchased by Chris Our and Andy Seuss, who rebranded the team Our Motorsports. Through his connection with GMS, Moffitt was originally slated to run four races to get the team off the ground with Seuss sharing the ride with other drivers after. That changed again when Seuss parted ways in July without making a start, and Moffitt had made all but four of the first 28 starts. 

Both driver and team have struggled this season. While Moffitt has gone without a Truck Series win this year, both his entry and the #02 XFINITY team have struggled with sponsorship. At Homestead, Moffitt was collected in early wrecks in both series, and the #02 team had to rent a backup car from B.J. McLeod Motorsports, which was then parked by Jairo Avila, Jr. But there have also been bright spots – Moffitt remained 5th in the Truck Series points in October, and he’d earned six top-ten finishes on the XFINITY side with a series-best 5th at Talladega in June. 

Both driver and team hoped for another strong performance at the “Roval,” where the No. 02 had once again had no primary or associate sponsorship. Even the Robert B. Our, Co. logos weren’t added, leaving a plain white car with pink door and roof numbers in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Three pink ribbons were also added to the car next to the door number in honor of Bernadette Simpson, Deanne Miller, and Florence Stephens, each a breast cancer survivor. Moffitt drew the 19th starting spot.

Taking the 38th and last spot on the grid was Cody Ware, who one week after a career-best 19th-place Cup finish at Talladega would bring Rick Ware Racing back to the XFINITY Series for the first time since last year. Ware would carry sponsorship from Thriv5, which has run several times on RWR’s Cup cars this summer, and field the same #17 from their 2019 effort with Mike Harmon Racing, this time on a Ford Mustang. No drivers would join him in the back for pre-race penalties, but 29th-place B.J. McLeod in the #4 Swenson Chevrolet dropped to 36th as the field crossed the stripe for the first time. Ware remained last at that moment with C.J. McLaughlin, who needed a push from NASCAR after the command to start engines, running 37th in McLeod’s own #99 Hyundai Material Handling Chevrolet. 

Ware remained in last place for only a moment as Matt Mills made an unscheduled stop in the #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet. As someone on the team called for a flat-head screw driver, NASCAR reported someone had spun out, drawing the caution. This was Moffitt, whose car was smoking on the backstretch on Lap 2. After the chicane, he entered Turns 3 and 4 when the right-rear tire went down, sending him spinning to the apron. Moffitt continued to roll and made it to his pit stall under yellow, and received fresh tires. He managed to return and complete a second lap, but said something was “broke out of it, it’s still moving.” With that, Moffitt pulled into the garage area, then to the transporter, and on Lap 3 was retired from the race under the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

By falling out so early, Moffitt never needed to use either of his two sets of rain tires, and avoided the chaos when a rain storm descended on the track around Lap 13. At that point, all 37 of the remaining starters were still running and on the lead lap. That changed when Kyle Weatherman plowed his #47 Thin Gold Line Solutions / #BackTheBlue Chevrolet into the wall, the first of three incidents he’d be involved in during the next few minutes. Weatherman ended up in 37th, just ahead of Austin Hill, whose #61 AISIN AW Toyota was one of at least four different drivers who piled into the same spot in the infield portion of the course, including Matt Mills, who briefly held last place after his unscheduled stop. Mills returned to action along with Tommy Joe Martins and Ryan Vargas to climb out of the Bottom Five.

Taking 35th was Justin Haley, who crunched the nose of his #11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet when he piled into a barrier soon after the red flag, his car pinned beneath the wrecked #90 Chinchor Electric / Danus Chevrolet of Preston Pardus. Pardus, fresh off a thrilling victory in the SCCA Runoffs in Road America for Spec Miatas, was himself battling for a Top Ten when he was collected, ultimately taking 32nd. Rounding out the Bottom Five was the #92 General Formulations / Star Tron Chevrolet of Josh Williams, Pardus’ teammate, who took 34th when he slammed the Turn 1 SAFER barrier after contending for a Top 5 for much of the first 36 laps.

Alex Labbe, third of the DGM trio in the #36 Can-Am Chevrolet, turned in one of the biggest underdog performances of the day, continuing to build on his impressive road racing resume. After battling inside the Top 5 well into the late stages, Labbe slid off course and struck the barrier with his right-front fender. In the final laps, he clawed his way back into the Top 10, then jumped to 4th in overtime – his first top-five finish in his 75th series start.

Cody Ware, who started last in the aforementioned #17, ran around the 19th spot for most of the day, then after spinning in Turn 1 began to work his way toward the front during the final stage. He was up to 13th with 15 to go, then 8th for the final restart in overtime, where he made it past the spinning Chase Briscoe to take the 7th spot. Following his career-best Cup performance, this was Ware’s best-ever in XFINITY, outdoing his 15th-place run in the Mid-Ohio race in 2014. It’s also tied for the second-best finish in the RWR team’s entire XFINITY career, which covers 444 combined starts dating back to 1995. Only Kevin O’Connell, 3rd at Road America in 2014, finished better.

Finally, Jade Buford broke through with his own first career top-ten finish, taking 8th in SS-Green Light Racing’s #07 Big Machine Distillery Chevrolet. Making only his fourth series start after taking 14th, 19th, and 16th in his previous three road course starts, Buford made his way into the Top 10 at the end of Stage 2, securing his first stage point, and remained in the conversation until the final laps. This also follows-up Garrett Smithley’s 8th-place run for the same team just last week in Talladega.

The rain also presented opportunities for several other drivers to run strong, at least for a portion of the event. Gray Gaulding looked to give Mike Harmon Racing their second top-ten of the year, and beat Buford for 9th at the end of Stage 2, then climbed into the Top 5 during the final stage. But a chicane penalty combined with radio issues dropped his #74 Chevrolet to the 28th spot, ultimately out with electrical issues.

Stephen Leicht ran strong at the start of the race in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Jani-King Toyota, and like Buford, looked to continue his series of strong runs on the road courses in 2020. But when he ran out of fuel at the end of Stage 1, then was pushed down pit road, he could only take 24th at the finish. With four races to go, Leicht remains the leader in the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series championship by just two finishes over seven drivers. However, with 15 Bottom Fives to Kyle Weatherman's next-closest total of 10, Leicht can only lose the title if one of those seven drivers finish last in three of the remaining four races. Leicht can clinch the title either if this doesn't happen, or if he finishes last one more time.

Myatt Snider battled his way to 2nd in the final laps, but spun at the exit of Turn 1 and ended up 13th in RSS Racing’s #93 The Original Louisiana Hot Sauce Chevrolet. Kody Vanderwal put Jimmy Means’ #52 Space Shuttle Inn Chevrolet up to 13th in the closing stages, but was shuffled back to 20th. And Brandon Brown’s Playoff bid ended in spectacular fashion when, while running 9th in the final laps, his #68 Ray’s Siding Chevrolet ran off-course and splashed wheels-deep into a massive puddle, putting him 26th. 

Hermie Sadler's #02 wrecked at IRP in 2004
SCREENSHOT: video posted by Michael McIntyre

*This was Moffitt's first last-place finish in 151 combined NASCAR Cup, XFINITY, and Truck Series points race starts dating back to 2012.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #02 in an XFINITY Series race since August 7, 2004. On that day, Hermie Sadler’s #02 East Tennessee Trailers Chevrolet was collected in a two-car accident with Brian Tyler after Shane Hall’s car lost an engine in Turns 3 and 4 six laps into the Kroger 200 Presented by Tom Raper RVs at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

38) #02-Brett Moffitt / 2 laps / crash
37) #47-Kyle Weatherman / 13 laps / crash
36) #61-Austin Hill / 13 laps / crash
35) #11-Justin Haley / 34 laps / crash
34) #92-Josh Williams / 36 laps / crash

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

1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) Toyota (11)


Thursday, October 8, 2020

PREVIEW: Road course specialists set to mix it up with Playoff contenders in return to Roval

IMAGE: @joshbilicki

Saturday, October 10, 2020
XFINITY Race 29 of 33
Round of 12: Race 3 of 3
Drive For the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Roval
2019 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

There are 38 drivers entered in Saturday’s cutoff race for the XFINITY Series, up one entry from last week in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #15-JD Motorsports
B.J. McLeod returns to action this week after stepping out of his JD Motorsports entry for the first time since Road America. This time, he drives the #4 for the first time this season, taking the place of Jesse Little. Little moves to the #15 in place of Colby Howard, who isn’t entered following his 36th-place finish in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
MBM will only make one driver swap on the XFINITY side as Stephen Leicht looks to continue his steady runs on the road courses this year, taking the place of Chad Finchum, who isn’t entered. Jani-King will sponsor the #13 Toyota.

RETURNING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
For the first time this year, Rick Ware Racing will field an XFINITY Series entry, putting Cody Ware behind the wheel after his career-best 19th-place finish in the Cup race at Talladega. Recall that RWR also entered the #17 in the first months of the 2019 season in conjunction with Mike Harmon Racing, who eventually took over and made it their current second team, the #47. Jacob Construction will sponsor Ware this weekend.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Kaz Grala goes from “super sub” as a relief driver in both the Cup and Truck Series to his regular part-time ride with RCR, taking the place of Anthony Alfredo in the #21 Chevrolet. Always a standout on the road courses, it will be Grala’s first start in the series since the doubleheader in Richmond, where he ran 9th in both races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Kyle Weatherman and the “Back the Blue” paint scheme return to MHR this Saturday, along with backing from Thin Gold Line Solutions. This will be Weatherman’s first-ever start in an XFINITY race at Charlotte – he has yet to start on either the oval or the “Roval.”

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Bayley Currey will not be joining Weatherman on the MHR ticket this weekend as Gray Gaulding had already been revealed as the team’s driver of the #74. Gaulding, who was noticeably absent from the lineup last week in Talladega, will carry a new teal paint scheme on the Harmon entry with backing from Visit North Carolina and (COMNC). Gaulding finished 29th in this race last year driving for Bobby Dotter.

DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Welcome back C.J. McLaughlin, who on Saturday will make his first XFINITY start since this year’s opener at Daytona, where he ran 27th for RSS Racing. This time around, he drives for B.J. McLeod in the #99 with sponsorship from Hyundai Material Handling. This moves Josh Bilicki from the #99 to the #78 Toyota, bumping out Vinnie Miller, who isn’t entered. Bilicki will again carry his longtime sponsor Insurance King.

With top-ten finishes in two of this season’s three road courses in 2020, and in addition to racing his Spec Miata in the SCCA Runoffs in Road America, Preston Pardus is back to rebound from a late crash on the Daytona infield road course that left him a disappointing 31st. He will again drive for DGM Racing, but this time in the flagship #90, taking the place of Caesar Bacarella. Chinchor Electric and Danus will sponsor Pardus once more.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
A dark horse among the “road ringers” this Saturday has to be Jade Buford, who returns to action after finishing 14th, 19th, and 16th in his first three XFINITY Series starts. Big Machine Distillery will again back his #07 Chevrolet as Buford eyes his first career Top Ten. He takes the place of Garrett Smithley, who earned a Top Ten of his own with a sterling 8th-place finish in Talladega.


Sunday, October 11, 2020
CUP Race 32 of 36
Round of 12: Race 3 of 3
Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Roval
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Erik Jones

There are 38 drivers entered in Sunday’s race, one fewer than at Talladega. This marks the 16th short field in 32 races this season – exactly half the schedule so far.

DRIVER CHANGE: #27-Rick Ware Racing
While Cody Ware will run RWR’s XFINITY car, Gray Gaulding will pull double-duty, rejoining the Cup Series for the ninth time this year and first since Las Vegas, two weeks ago. He will again drive the #27 Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Although the preliminary entry list showed Joey Gase entered this week following his strong 17th-place run in Talladega, Josh Bilicki will also turn the double in an RWR car, his own first since a 36th-place run in Las Vegas. Bilicki will be sponsored by Rich Mar Florist and Lemons of Love.

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Brendan Gaughan made what was perhaps his final start in the Cup Series last week in Talladega, where a heartbreaking tangle with Kyle Busch left him a disappointing 35th. As of this writing, both driver and team’s plans for 2021 and beyond are still to be announced.

MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill returns to a Toyota this week after he ran a Ford for the second time in 2020, taking a strong 15th in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
J.J. Yeley returns to action after he was swapped out for Cody Ware in Talladega, and this time drives the #77 – the same team he last ran in his most recent start in Las Vegas. He takes the place of Justin Haley, who finished a strong 11th last Sunday. The colors will return to the team once more.

Saturday, October 17, 2020
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3 
Kansas 200 at Kansas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Race

The Truck Series takes the week off and returns to Kansas for the third time this year. The race, originally slated for Friday, will instead lead off a double-header with the XFINITY Series.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 8, 1988): Former Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Joe Millikan scored the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Grand National Series career in the All Pro 300 on the Charlotte oval. Millikan was making just his third of only five series start in Howard Thomas’ #00 Thomas Brothers Country Hams Oldsmobile when he was eliminated in a multi-car crash along with Bobby Labonte and Morgan Shepherd after 3 laps. Millikan rounded out a 44-car starting grid which saw another 12 drivers fail to qualify, including both Donnie and Davey Allison.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

ARCA: Wayne Peterson continues yearly late-season title hunt at Springfield

PHOTO: @DriverBradSmith

by William Soquet Guest Correspondent

Wayne Peterson finished last for the 47th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Illinois Truck and Equipment Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack when his #0 Chevrolet did not start the race.

The finish was Peterson’s first since Winchester, two races ago. The finish came in Peterson’s 115th series start.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, Peterson’s starts in the ARCA Menards Series have skewed towards the end of the season. He won LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series championships in 2018 and 2019 and is looking to make a run at the 2020 championship, as he currently sits second in the championship standings to Owen Smith on a tiebreaker.

The initial entry list for the only dirt race of 2020 released with eighteen cars. Traditional dirt ringers Ryan Unzicker and Kelly Kovski were on the list, as well as a four-car team for Fast Track Racing featuring Alex Clubb in the #01, Mike Basham in the #10, Tim Monroe in the #11 and Owen Smith in the #12. Eric Caudell and Will Kimmel returned as part of their limited schedules, and Corey Heim filled out the Venturini Motorsports lineup in the #20 car.

Clubb’s entry withdrew before on-track activity began, leaving seventeen cars in the field. Fifteen cars took a time in the half-hour practice, of those that did, Peterson was the slowest, clocking in at just over 66 seconds on what was likely a lap just to make sure there were no mechanical gremlins in the car. In qualifying, Peterson was the only driver that did not take a time. Eric Caudell was sixteenth-fastest; his lap of 42 seconds was about eight seconds off of Unzicker’s pace.

Peterson’s car was on the grid for driver introductions but the 82-year-old’s machine was not included in any of the pace lap television shots. He was later listed as a “did not start” by Racing-Reference.

Caudell pulled off after six laps, followed by Owen Smith two laps later. Will Kimmel retired with damage just shy of the quarter-race mark, and Brad Smith parked with clutch issues after thirty laps, rounding out the Bottom Five.

17) #0-Wayne Peterson / 0 laps / did not start
16) #7-Eric Caudell / 6 laps / suspension
15) #12-Owen Smith / 8 laps / brakes
14) #69-Will Kimmel / 23 laps / accident
13) #48-Brad Smith / 30 laps / clutch

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (9)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (5)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)


Sunday, October 4, 2020

CUP: While several underdogs brighten ugly finish for NASCAR, Christopher Bell finishes last at Talladega


Christopher Bell picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #95 Rheem / Procore Toyota was eliminated in an accident after 1 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Bell’s 31st series start, was his second of the year and first since Fontana, 28 races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 18th for the #95, the 166th for Toyota, and the 605th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 27th for the #95, the 348th for Toyota, and the 1,228th from a crash.

When we last featured Bell in February, he was struggling to make the adjustment to the Cup Series, having finished no better than 21st. But his performance improved noticeably after the season’s suspension lifted in May. His first top-ten finish came with a 9th in the Coca-Cola 600, followed by three more finishes of 9th or better in the next seven races, capped by a career-best 4th in Pocono. Bell then enjoyed one of his strongest runs of the year at Loudon, where he flirted with a possible victory before he spun near the halfway point, leaving him 28th. He was again among the leaders just last week in Las Vegas, but a late-race wreck left him 24th.

All of this was against the background of Leavine Family Racing’s impending closure, which was announced this past summer along with Bell’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing’s #20. With the sale of the LFR team’s Charter to Spire Motorsports and the Toyota contract headed to the new Michael Jordan / Denny Hamlin venture in 2021, this year would mark the Bob Leavine-owned team’s tenth and final in the Cup Series. The Talladega race was one of the last opportunities for the LFR team to score their first win in 251 combined Cup starts. Bell would roll off 22nd in Sunday’s field.

Rolling off 39th and last was Brendan Gaughan, who prior to the season indicated he would retire from NASCAR’s top three series after running the four plate races for Beard Motorsports. That plan later changed to include the Daytona infield road course, where he finished last, and he’s reportedly considered running next year’s Daytona 500.

Gaughan’s #62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet would be joined at the rear by Cody Ware, a late driver change with J.J. Yeley in the #27 Thriv5 Ford set to start 34th, plus two other drivers for multiple inspection failures: 32nd-place Brennan Poole in the #15 Goettl Air Conditioning & Plumbing Chevrolet and 37th-place Timmy Hill in the #66 Trump 2020 Ford, a Go FAS Racing car run in place of Motorsports Business Management’s Toyotas. Go FAS ran Schluter Systems as Corey LaJoie’s sponsor instead, decorating a chassis Roush Racing built in 2008 for David Ragan.

When the green flag dropped, Gaughan pulled ahead of Hill, who held last across the stripe, 3.311 seconds back of the lead. Hill then moved to the high lane and passed at least one car, which appeared to be the blue #15 of the penalized Poole. Poole was still running in last when trouble broke out in the middle of the pack. 

Heading into Turn 3, Bell’s #95 unexpectedly spun to the inside directly into the path of Tyler Reddick. Reddick cut to the right and nearly cleared Bell, but suffered damage to the front of his #8 CAT Next Gen Dozers Chevrolet. Both drivers made it to pit road under caution, but while Reddick returned to stay on the lead lap, Bell’s crew was still hard at work. Both rear tires were flat, and the track bar had been bent into a “U” shape. On Lap 4, Bell had still yet to complete a lap, and the crew had just one minute and fifteen seconds left on the “Crash Clock.” “If it’s not straighter, it’s gonna smoke a tire.” Still, the team got Bell back onto the track, but the problem wasn’t at all fixed. While being advised by the crew not to run near anyone, the driver said. “I can barely drive it.” The crew responded, “Don’t get yourself hurt here.” Then Bell said “I just broke a driveshaft,” and he was told to go to the garage. With just one completed lap, he pulled behind the wall, done for the day under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.”

Finishing 38th was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose #47 Hungry Jack Chevrolet was turned by John Hunter Nemechek exiting the tri-oval, sending his car backing into the inside wall. James Davison dropped to 37th in the #53 America’s Best Value Inn Chevrolet after he pulled behind the wheel around 30 laps in with grease leaking from the right-rear hub getting on the tire. The team attempted to replace the rear gear, and finally succeeded in the closing laps before the car dropped debris near the very end. He ultimately climbed to 30th by the end, the last car under power.

When Davison got back up to speed, 37th went to Aric Almirola, whose #10 Smithfield Power Bites Ford was turned after contact from fellow Playoff contender Alex Bowman as the pair battled for the lead at the end of Stage 1. Bowman managed to recover in 14th while Almirola dropped even further back in the Playoff standings, needing a win in Charlotte to advance. The 36th spot fell to Michael McDowell, whose #34 Love’s Travel Stops / Luber Finer Ford unexpectedly pulled out of the lead draft entering the tri-oval, then pulled behind the wall with a hole in the radiator. Rounding out the group was Gaughan, who nearly avoided the day’s biggest wreck until Kyle Busch’s spinning car crossed his path entering Turn 1, destroying his #62. As of this writing, there is no news as to whether he’ll return to run Cup in 2021.

While the finish of Sunday’s race was negatively affected by NASCAR’s interpretation of the outdated and controversial “Yellow Line Rule,” several underdog drivers enjoyed some of the best runs of their careers. Just like LFR, Germain Racing will shut down at the end of this season as a result of a lost sponsor and the “Air Jordan” venture. In the team’s 420th series start, Ty Dillon handed Germain their best-ever Cup Series finish by taking 3rd in the #13 GEICO For Your RV Chevrolet. Five spots behind him came the #38 Speedy Cash Ford of John Hunter Nemechek in 8th, matching his equally strong bid for the lead when the Cup Series last ran at Talladega in June.

One spot behind Nemechek in 9th came Brennan Poole, who wasn’t even in the #15 Geottl Air Conditioning & Plumbing Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing just two rounds ago in Bristol. Despite running over debris in one of the day’s biggest wrecks, damaging his front splitter, he managed to take 9th – his first career top-ten finish and a significant improvement over his previous career-best of 15th under the lights at Daytona. Justin Haley, back in Spire Motorsports’ #77 Parts Plus Chevrolet in a points race for the first time since his upset win at Daytona, escaped with an 11th-place finish, just one day after he took the checkers in the XFINITY race.

Quin Houff took 13th in the #00 Permatex Chevrolet, a full ten spots better than his previous best Cup finish of 23rd earlier this year at both Indianapolis and Daytona. Only Landon Cassill’s 11th-place finish in July 2019 at Daytona saw the Derrike Cope effort finish better in a Cup points race. Two spots back in 15th, Timmy Hill briefly entered the Top Ten in a partnership between Motorsports Business Management and Go FAS Racing in the #66 Trump 2020 Ford, running as high as 3rd and coming within one spot of MBM’s best-ever Cup finish at Indianapolis three years ago.

Finally, two Rick Ware Racing entries also turned heads, starting with Cody Ware, who was not even entered in the #27 Thriv5 Chevrolet until mid-week, when he took the place of original entrant J.J. Yeley. Making his first Cup start since August 2019, Ware climbed as high as 5th and was still in the lead draft when he wrecked on the final lap of the race, dropping him to 19th – nine spots better than his previous best of 28th, also at Talladega. Among the drivers who inched past Ware was his teammate Joey Gase in the #51 Jimco Windows / Donate Life Ford. This was just enough to improve on Gase’s own career-best with StarCom in this same race two years ago.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #95 in a Cup race at Talladega.
*The one lap Bell completed is the fewest by any Cup Series last-place finisher at Talladega since April 17, 2011, when Kevin Conway’s #97 ExtenZe Toyota fell out with electrical issues after 1 lap of the Aaron’s 499.

39) #95-Christopher Bell / 1 lap / crash
38) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 8 laps / crash
37) #10-Aric Almirola / 57 laps / crash
36) #34-Michael McDowell / 79 laps / overheating
35) #62-Brendan Gaughan / 108 laps / crash

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

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (4)