Sunday, October 17, 2021

CUP: Last-place battle goes to lapped Joey Gase after backstretch pileup at Texas

PHOTO: @RickWareRacing

Joey Gase picked up the 9th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s AutoTrader Echo Park Automotive 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #53 Explore Branson Chevrolet was collected in a multi-car accident after 29 of 334 laps.

The finish, which came in Gase’s 87th series start, was his second of the year and first since August 22, 2021 at Michigan, eight races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 22nd for the #53, the 623rd from a crash, and the 816th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 27th for the #53, the 1,277th from a crash, and the 1,812th for Chevrolet.

Hard crashes have unfortunately punctuated Gase’s Cup career, particularly this season. His last feature here in August came after his car darted straight into Michigan’s Turn 2 wall, and his vicious wreck last month in Las Vegas sent him to the hospital as a precaution. The lone highlight came in the XFINITY Series at Talladega, where less than a week after the Vegas crash, he drove his own Ford to a 15th-place finish with the support of his previous employer, Jimmy Means Racing.

For Texas, Gase would welcome back sponsorship from Branson, Missouri’s tourism bureau and travel company Lifetime Destinations. Branson had backed Gase’s Cup effort in Ware’s #15 at Kansas back in May, where the driver finished 35th in a different paint scheme. Featured prominently on this week’s purple-and-gold Chevrolet were logos for Branson’s Nantucket, a lakeside resort which just recently opened a new 10-story tower. According to a press release, Gase and his family had visited Branson this past summer and remarked on the variety of activities, including go-kart racing. Gase would roll off 37th.

Taking 39th and last on the grid was Timmy Hill in one of two cars fielded by Motorsports Business Management. MBM’s second entry, the #13 CrashClaimsR.us Toyota, had not been entered in a Cup Series points race since June 20th at Nashville, and David Starr had run it during the Open race at the same Texas track. Starr would also run Sunday, starting between Gase and Hill in the #66 ConnectUS / Kyocera Toyota.

The tail end of the field changed by race day as Starr was one of six drivers docked for twice failing pre-race inspection. Also sent to the rear were 6th-place Chase Elliott in the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, 26th-place Chase Briscoe in the #14 Rush Truck Centers / Cummins Ford, 29th-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 Schluter Systems Chevrolet, 34th-place Cody Ware in the #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet, and 36th-place Garrett Smithley in the #15 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet.

When the race started, Hill and Gase dropped back to the final two spots, each following new 38th-place starter Justin Haley in the #77 Alloy / Shave Logic Chevrolet, who was originally set to start 32nd. Hill and Gase were already running single file exiting the quad-oval with Gase trailing Haley by a few carlengths. By Lap 14, Hill was still in last and became the first river lapped by the leaders. He was on the verge of two laps down when the competition caution fell on Lap 25, and was shown one lap behind under the ensuing yellow. Scoring then reset on Lap 29 with Gase taking over last for the first time, shown as the only driver one lap down. Smithley took the spot the next time by as the field prepared for the Lap 31 restart. Seconds later, the battle for last came to an abrupt end.

Coming off Turn 2, Bubba Wallace broke loose while trying to race between two cars around the 15th spot. Wallace’s #23 Columbia Toyota made contact with the closing Ross Chastain in the #42 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet and Alex Bowman in the #48 Ally Chevrolet, triggering a massive pileup that instantly blocked the pack. While some slowed or even stopped exiting Turn 2, Gase seemed to be aiming for an opening up high with Haley trying for the middle. Both ended up running into other cars, destroying both of their Chevrolets. 

Since Gase was the only lapped driver to suffer serious damage in the wreck, he was classified behind Haley and the other drivers involved. Gase took last from Smithley, who was the only member of the four-car Rick Ware Racing lineup to avoid serious damage, and the #53 was towed to the garage, out of the race. Teammate Cody Ware finished 38th behind Haley, and Ryan Preece finished 36th after his #37 Little Hug Chevrolet was sent spinning into the wall during the crash. Ryan Newman completed one more lap as he came in for repairs to the nose of his #6 Violet Defense Ford, but went to the garage soon after. In all, eight drivers were knocked out of the race in the accident. The last of these was Wallace, who turned eight laps with left-rear damage before he pulled behind the wall on Lap 42, taking 32nd. NASCAR’s garage official confirmed these drivers out on Lap 62.

Group of Underdogs Survive, Earn Strong Finishes

The big wreck opened up the opportunity for other teams to enjoy surprising runs. Most significant was a group of drivers over ten laps down who finished just outside the Top 20. B.J. McLeod finished 22nd in the #78 NASCAR ’21 Ignition Ford, the second-best finish of the year for Live Fast Motorsports other than McLeod’s career-best 9th under the lights at Daytona. David Starr’s 23rd-place finish was the best of the year for MBM, eclipsing a pair of 27th-place showings. Timmy Hill was not far behind in 27th, matching his own season-best at Indianapolis. Finally, Garrett Smithley matched his career-best 24th from last year’s Brickyard 400 in the only undamaged Rick Ware Racing entry, the #15 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet. Smithley passed wrecked Playoff driver Martin Truex, Jr. on the final lap of the race to take the spot.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #53 in a Cup Series ace since September 6, 2020, when Jams Davison lost an engine after 162 laps of the Cook Out Southern 500. Neither the number nor Gase had ever before finished last in a Cup race at Texas.
*This is also the eighth consecutive different car number with which Gase has finished last in a Cup Series race. After his first two came in the #32 with Go FAS Racing, he has since scored one each with the #83, #23, #66, #7, #51, #15, and now the #53.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #53-Joey Gase / 29 laps / crash
38) #51-Cody Ware / 30 laps / crash
37) #77-Justin Haley / 30 laps / crash
36) #37-Ryan Preece / 30 laps / crash
35) #6-Ryan Newman / 31 laps / crash

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Rick Ware Racing (6)
2nd) JTG-Daugherty Racing, Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Roush-Fenway Racing (3)
4th) Front Row Motorsports (2)
5th) Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) Ford (11)
3rd) Toyota (4)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Saturday, October 16, 2021

XFINITY: Competitive Texas garage battle settled by J.J. Yeley's fractured engine

PHOTO: @RickWareRacing

J.J. Yeley picked up the 12th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #17 DFW Security Chevrolet dropped out with engine trouble after 37 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Yeley’s 349th series start, was his first of the season and first in the series since November 2, 2019 at Texas – this same race two years and 65 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #17, the 269th from engine trouble, and the 582nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 49th for the #17, the 1,110th from engine issues, and the 1,811th for Chevrolet.

While trying to make ends meet in the Cup Series, Yeley has remained competitive in the XFINITY Series. He’s both limited DNFs and at times even challenged for Top Tens. Last year, he helped Jimmy Means Racing in the first three races of the season, finishing no worse than 25th each time. He also ran 26th for the Hattori Racing Enterprises / Motorsports Business Management effort at his home track in Phoenix. His best run of the year came in Homestead, where he took 11th for Bobby Dotter’s SS-Green Light Racing. He even led 5 laps at Martinsville en route to a 14th-place finish – his first laps led in the series since 2018.

This year, Yeley’s XFINITY Series schedule has expanded thanks to a technical alliance between SS-Green Light Racing and Rick Ware Racing, the latter his most frequent ride in the Cup Series. Texas would mark the 11th time in 14 starts Yeley would run one of the team’s two cars. He ran 12th with them in Homestead, 13th in Phoenix, and 13th again in the August race at Daytona. He also ran 14th at Dover for Our Motorsports and earned back-to-back Top 20s for B.J. McLeod at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval. Only twice all year had Yeley finished worse than 24th – a 29th in Richmond, an a 37th in Las Vegas. The Vegas race saw Yeley run a powerful ECR engine that vaulted him into the Top 20 in the early laps, only to be eliminated in a multi-car pileup not of his making.

At Texas, Yeley would roll off 33rd with new sponsorship from local business DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) Security. It would be his first XFINITY race at the track since 2019, when he ran a “start-and-park” entry for RSS Racing.

Starting 40th and last was C.J. McLaughlin, back behind the wheel of Mike Harmon Racing’s #74 Sci Aps Chevrolet. During the pace laps, McLaughlin thanked his crew, saying in part, “We'll have a good race out here and finish strong.” With one lap to green, he was advised that another car was coming off pit road just before the start. This was 23rd-place starter Jeffrey Earnhardt, who made an unscheduled stop in his #0 Forever Lawn Chevrolet. With no drivers sent to the back for pre-race penalties, this put Earnhardt to McLaughlin’s inside in the final row. 

McLaughlin (left) and Earnhardt (right) in the
final row taking the green at Texas.
SCREENSHOT: Texas Motor Speedway

The only other driver who dropped back prior to the start was 35th-place Mason Massey. According to intervals, Massey’s #5 Gerber Collision & Glass Toyota crossed the line behind 36th-place starter David Starr in the #66 Whataburger Toyota and 37th-place Joey Gase in he #52 Donate Life Texas Chevrolet.

From the start, McLaughlin reported a serious tight condition that already dropped him behind the rest of the field by open track. “Feels like the track bar’s broke,” he radioed on Lap 3. By the sixth lap, McLaughlin’s crew reported he was hitting the splitter, so the crew would make adjustments under the planned competition caution for Lap 20. McLaughlin continued to lose ground so quickly that he was lapped by the 10th circuit, at which point he was 6.170 seconds of now 39th-place Gase. The #74 made it to the competition caution, when the driver reported his car was “plowing like a dump truck,” stating further “it’s like the track bar is gone, the rear end is moving around so much.”

On Lap 23, McLaughlin made his stop under caution with the other lapped drivers. The crew looked under the hood for the splitter issue, then could only glance under the rear of the car before he returned to the track. He then incurred a speeding penalty and came back in for packers to be placed in the left side. This second set of repairs caused him to return to the track just before the race restarted, forcing him to run on the apron of the track. At the same time, the caution fell out again for multiple cars in trouble. Sam Mayer’s #8 Tire Pros Chevrolet had a tire rub from left-rear contact caused by Jeb Burton. Landon Cassill’s #4 Voyager Chevrolet shut off and stopped on the apron. And Jade Buford’s #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet went behind the wall with axle and drive plate issues. After a push from a tow truck, Cassill joined Buford in the garage two laps later. The lap after - the 28th of the day - Buford took last from McLaughlin. By then, the #48 team was looking for a broom handle to push out the damaged axle. Cassill returned from the garage on Lap 31, showing four laps down in 39th as McLaughlin had also passed him on track. Over the radio, Cassill’s crew was paying close attention to the #99 B.J. McLeod Motorsports entry of Matt Mills, with whom the team was battling for rank in Owner Points. The #99 ended up picking up points on the #4 with a 32nd-place finish.

On Lap 37, another car stalled on the apron of Turn 4, drawing still another caution. This was for Yeley, who soon fell off the lead lap and plummeted to 38th. The push truck got the #17 back to the garage, where Cassill also returned for a second time, reporting a possible battery issue. On Lap 42, Buford returned to the track with a new axle, showing 17 laps down in last place. If Cassill remained behind the wall, Buford would catch and pass the #4 in just 11 more circuits. But Cassill returned on Lap 45, and just two laps later the #4 passed Yeley, whose crew was still silent on the radio. With Yeley now 39th and last-place Buford now running, the battle for 40th fell to these two drivers. Buford ultimately caught and passed Yeley on Lap 56, one lap before Cassill went to the garage for a third time.

It wasn’t until Lap 75 that NASCAR’s garage official confirmed Yeley was the first driver out of the race, citing engine problems. By then, the driver had confirmed the crank shaft broke, and video was posted of the loose part in the bottom of the engine. Buford made it into Stage 3 before he was collected in a multi-car pileup off Turn 2, dropping him back in the order once more. Cassill returned from his longest stay in the garage, but wouldn’t pass Buford for 38th until Lap 148. Running out of laps to catch 35th-place McLaughlin, who wrecked in the final laps, Cassill exited the race in 36th. Completing the Bottom Five were 38th-place Dylan Lupton in the #26 Toyota Racing Toyota and Tanner Berryhill in the #23 Eclipse Claims Consulting Chevrolet, both collected in the same wreck that eliminated Buford.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #17 in a XFINITY race since March 9, 2019, when Bayley Currey crashed hi #17 Port of Tucson Chevrolet – entered under a different Rick Ware Racing alliance with Mike Harmon Racing – after 30 laps of the IK9 Service Dog 200 at Phoenix.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #17-J.J. Yeley / 37 laps / engine
39) #48-Jade Buford / 81 laps / crash
38) #26-Dylan Lupton / 100 laps / crash
37) #23-Tanner Berryhill / 100 laps / crash
36) #4-Landon Cassill / 108 laps / electrical

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (5)
2nd) Mike Harmon Racing (4) 
3rd) Motorsports Business Management (3)
4th) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Our Motorsports, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
5th) Brandonbilt Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (21)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, October 14, 2021

PREVIEW: Grala, Berryhill, and Lupton among those making infrequent starts at Texas

IMAGE: @hershydesigns, posted on @joshbilicki

Saturday, October 16, 2021 (3:00 P.M. NBC)
XFINITY Race 30 of 33
Round of 8 – Race 1 of 3
Andy’s Frozen Custard 355 at Texas
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

ENTRY LIST
There are 41 drivers entered for the XFINITY Series’ return to Texas, which once again puts Timmy Hill and the #13 team out of the field.

TEAM UPDATE: #1-JR Motorsports
Following a last-lap spin, Michael Annett finished 27th in his return to action at the Roval. This week, he’s once again entered in the #1 in place of relief driver Josh Berry, and looks set to close out his final season as a full-time driver.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Bayley Currey is back in the #15 this week, which by all accounts will again be a JD Motorsports Chevrolet in place of the Sam Hunt Racing Toyota entered last Saturday for Kris Wright. Fort Worth Screen Printing has stepped up as Currey’s sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
It’s a game of musical chairs as Mason Massey returns to drive the B.J. McLeod #5 for his 12th XFINITY start of 2021 and first since Talladega. Massey’s return moves Matt Mills to the #99 in place of J.J. Yeley, who moves to the #17 in place of Joe Graf, Jr. Graf will himself move back to the #07 in place of Josh Bilicki, who’s not entered in this Saturday’s race following his frightening incident at the Roval.

DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
The #13 team has not started a XFINITY race since Road America in July, when Stephen Leicht finished 26th. But Timmy Hill, entered in the car this week, will run the Cup race instead (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Saturday will see Tanner Berryhill make just the third XFINITY start of the season, following the spring race at Darlington, where he ran 21st, and this same Texas track in June, where a crash left him 39th. As in Texas, Eclipse Claims Consulting will sponsor him in the high-powered #23 Chris Our entry. Berryhill takes the place of Ty Dillon, who this past week was announced as GMS Racing’s Cup driver for 2022, bearing the #94.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Dylan Lupton’s returns to the XFINITY Series at Las Vegas lasted just 31 laps before he was involved in the day’s biggest accident. This week, he looks for a better finish as he rejoins Sam Hunt’s #26 team. Lupton takes the place of Will Rodgers, who ran 29th on the Roval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
After testing StarCom Racing’s NextGen car on the Charlotte “Roval,” Kaz Grala is back in action on the XFINITY side for the first time since his 18th-place showing at Road America, his only other series start in 2021. Then as now, Grala drives for Jordan Anderson, this time taking the place of Sage Karam, 25th on the Roval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #90-DGM Racing
Joey Gase is listed in a Chevrolet rather than the Ford he entered in Talladega, and rejoins the Jimmy Means Racing team for the third time in 2021 with Donate Life Texas as sponsor. Gase takes the place of Spencer Boyd, who moves to the #90 in place of road race ace Preston Pardus, fresh off a career-best 7th on the Roval. Boyd will again be sponsored by the Mini Doge cryptocurrency.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
John Hunter Nemechek will make his fourth XFINITY start of the year and second for Joe Gibbs Racing, the other coming at Talladega just a few weeks ago with a 22nd-place finish. Nemechek takes the place of Ty Gibbs, who ran 21st on the Roval, and will be sponsored by longtime NEMCO Motorsports backer ROMCO Equipment.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
With Austin Hill still in the #61 with Hattori Racing Enterprises backing, David Starr will instead replace Loris Hezemans in the MBM #66 following Hezemans’ 35th-place finish on the Roval (and accompanying Cup Series announcement with the Reaume Brothers and Hezeberg Systems in 2022). 

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
C.J. McLaughlin and his Sci Aps backing are back with Mike Harmon Racing this weekend during what has been a frustrating season for the #74 team. McLaughlin, who finished last at Richmond, will take the place of last week’s last-placer Gray Gaulding.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jesse Little has become a less frequent sight in the XFINITY Series lately. On Saturday, he’ll make his first start since the night race at Bristol and only his seventh start in the season’s second half. He takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who ran 24th on the Roval.

CUP INVADERS: None

Sunday, October 17, 2021 (2:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 33 of 36
Round of 8 – Race 1 of 3
Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 500 at Texas
2020 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

ENTRY LIST
There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s main event, marking the 25th short field in 33 races this season.

RETURNING / DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
For the first time since Nashville, MBM’s second Cup car will start a points-paying Cup race, carrying Broken Bow Luxury Cabins as sponsorship. Timmy Hill will drive, opening up the #66 for a returning David Starr. Starr’s sponsorship from ConnectUS and Kyocera were announced earlier this month. The #13 had run at Texas this past June, where Starr drove it in the Open for the All-Star Race. Its only other attempt was this year’s Daytona 500, where Garrett Smithley ran a Ford.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #52-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Joey Gase returns for double-duty in Texas driving the #53 on Sunday, moving Garrett Smithley to the #15 with returning sponsorship from Trophy Tractor. Smithley takes the place of Josh Bilicki, who ran 28th on the Roval, and will now return to the #52 in place of Joey Hand, who will not race this weekend following his solid 27th-place NASCAR debut last Sunday. Bilicki’s Ford will be decorated with the pattern of the Texas state flag.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger is not entered after his promising run on the Roval was cut short with engine trouble, leaving him 38th. He will instead focus on the XFINITY race, where his car will carry race sponsor Andy’s Frozen Custard.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod rejoins the #78 crew this Sunday in place of road racer Scott Heckert, who turned in a 31st-place finish on the Roval. McLeod finished 30th his most recent time out in Talladega.

Saturday, October 30, 2021
TRUCKS Race 21 of 22
Round of 8 – Race 3 of 3
United Rentals 200 at Martinsville
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Reaume

There are still two more weeks until the Truck Series returns in Martinsville.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 14, 1979): Kansas native Henry Jones picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Holly Farms 400 at the North Wilkesboro Speedway when his #69 Pro Shoppe Chevrolet lost the engine after 10 laps. This was the third of Jones’ eight career starts, driving in place of team owner Mike Kempton, who made four Cup starts of his own. Kempton also scored exactly one las-place finish in Cup, which came at the Nashville Fairgrounds on July 16, 1977 following early overheating issues.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

CUP: Flat right-rear tire sends Ryan Newman into the wall on Charlotte “Roval”

PHOTO: @roushfenway

Ryan Newman picked up the 13th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval” when his #6 Castrol Ford fell out with crash damage after 19 of 109 laps.

The finish, which came in Newman’s 721st series start, was his second of the season and first since Bristol, three races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 35th for the #6, the 622nd from a crash, and the 714th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 68th for the #6, the 982nd for Ford, and the 1,276th from a crash.

Since he was last featured here, Newman earned a pair of mid-pack runs at Las Vegas and Talladega, finishing 20th and 21st respectively and moving to 26th in the point standings. He’d carry sponsorship from Castrol for the first time since the spring Talladega race. With the fall Charlotte race recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month, both Newman and teammate Chris Buescher would carry pink car numbers and, along with the rest of the field, new pink window nets to be auctioned off for charity. Newman would line up 24th.

Rolling off 39th and last was Timmy Hill, who made his return to Motorsports Business Management’s #66 Coble Enterprises / CrashClaimsR.us Toyota for the first time since the Indianapolis infield course. He’d be joined at the back by Garrett Smithley, whose #53 Kendall Motor Oil Chevrolet failed inspection multiple times. During the pace laps, Smithley slotted in behind Justin Haley in the #77 Bon Secours / Swamp Rabbits Chevrolet. But when the race started, Hill was last based on intervals, 4.781 seconds back of the lead to Smithley’s 4.339.

At the end of the first lap, Hill remained last, 14.995 seconds back of the lead with 39th now occupied by road racer Joey Hand, making his Cup debut in a Stewart-Haas Racing #52 Boom Mobile Ford fielded by Rick Ware Racing. The gap between Hill and Hand remained around 1.2 seconds for the next few laps until the first incident on Lap 5. Heading into the backstretch chicane, 20th-place Aric Almirola’s #10 Ford Warriors In Pink Ford spun from contact from Chris Buescher’s #17 Fastenal Ford. Almirola took last on Lap 6 as the team looked for damage. Almirola then caught and passed Hill by Lap 7.

On Lap 9, Hill dropped Smithley to last for the first time. By then, Smithley’s spotter was trying to plot out a different line around the track, but the driver indicated he couldn’t use it. With a competition caution scheduled for Lap 10, several drivers made green-flag stops short of the yellow. This put Daniel Suarez in 39th on Lap 10, his #99 CommScope Chevrolet then passing Almirola the next time by. When the caution fell, Almirola was left with last place again, now 3.078 seconds back of Smithley. Smithley retook the spot moments later as Almirola incurred a tail-end penalty for his gas man coming over the wall too soon. Scoring also showed Anthony Alfredo last in the #38 Citgard Ford, which soon after showed damage to the nose.

Hill retook last on Lap 13 with Haley assuming it the next time by. On the 15th circuit, Brad Keselowski spun out in the backstretch chicane in his #2 Wurth Ford and appeared to drop behind Haley. But scoring still showed Keselowski in 38th with Haley 39th, the two separated by just over eight seconds. Keselowski caught and passed Hill for 37th on Lap 19, at which point Haley was now running Top Five lap times. He now closed within 4.504 seconds of 38th place, which was now held by Hill, and was looking to cut the deficit further when the caution fell for Ryan Newman.

Coming off Turn 14 – the fourth corner of the oval – Newman’s right-rear tire came apart, sending him into a 360-degree spin. He then bounced off the outside wall with the passenger side of his car, and limped around the track for another lap with the right-rear tire virtually gone. He took over last on Lap 21, when the crew reported “It’s broke in the rear end housing, and it’s down on the ground.” The team attempted to clear the six-minute “Crash Clock,” but pulled behind the wall on Lap 22, out of the race under the Damaged Vehicle Policy. NASCAR confirmed Newman was the first car out on Lap 30. Chris Buescher, Newman's teammate, went on to finish an impressive 3rd.

Smithley pulled behind the wall with a mechanical issue that took more than 10 laps to repair. After dropping to 38th, he clawed his way back to 34th at the finish, climbing out of the Bottom Five in the process. The first he caught was A.J. Allmendinger, whose #16 Jackpot Party Chevrolet led five laps and was still among the leaders when the engine sputtered coming off the backstretch chicane. Justin Haley finished 37th when the engine of the #77 Bon Secours / Swamp Rabbits Chevrolet went flat on the banking. Cody Ware suffered crash damage on the #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet, finishing 36th.

Rounding out the group was Corey LaJoie, whose #7 Schluter Systems Chevrolet swung wide in Turn 2 and slammed the wall hard with the passenger side. Following LaJoie into the wall was Joey Hand, who was running 22nd when he hit the barrier. While LaJoie was knocked out in the incident, Hand recovered to finish 27th.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #6 in a Cup Series road course race.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #6-Ryan Newman / 19 laps / crash
38) #16-A.J. Allmendinger / 57 laps / engine / led 5 laps
37) #77-Justin Haley / 66 laps / engine
36) #51-Cody Ware / 90 laps / crash
35) #7-Corey LaJoie / 93 laps / crash

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Rick Ware Racing (5)
2nd) JTG-Daugherty Racing, Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Roush-Fenway Racing (3)
4th) Front Row Motorsports (2)
5th) Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) Ford (11)
3rd) Toyota (4)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Saturday, October 9, 2021

XFINITY: Gray Gaulding breaks a gear at brutal “Roval;” Preston Pardus finishes career-best 7th

PHOTO: @mhrracing

Gray Gaulding picked up the 3rd 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 #74 GPS Tab Chevrolet suffered a rear gear failure after 10 of 68 laps.

The finish, which came in Gaulding’s 65th series start, was his second of the season and first since Darlington, five races ago. In the XFINITY Series standings, it’s the 15th for the #74, the 15th for rear gear issues, and the 581st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 45th for rear gear trouble, the 55th for the #74, and the 1,810th for Chevrolet.

Coming into Saturday’s race, Gaulding had made just one XFINITY Series race since the last-place showing at Darlington. This happened to be the night race at Bristol, where he turned in a sterling 18th-place showing, just one spot short of his season-best 17th in Mid-Ohio. The run also came at a perfect time for Jimmy Means Racing, which has had to scale back Gaulding’s schedule to bring on other drivers with sponsorship. 

For the “Roval,” Gaulding would run for Mike Harmon Racing in the #74, the same entry he rove in the rain-soaked 2020 running. That evening, Gaulding finished 9th in Stage 2 after a tight battle with Jade Buford, then worked his way into the Top 5. He ultimately finished 28th, dropping out with electrical issues not long after a penalty for missing the chicane. The 2021 race was also run with the possibility of rain, and Gaulding was invited back. He’d run what was reported to be an oval-track car, still bearing the black-and-white scheme that C.J. McLaughlin has run in recent weeks. GPS Tab was the sponsor in place of McLaughlin’s backer Sci Aps. The car would roll off 39th.

Rolling off 40th was Austin Hill, who just four days earlier announced he would not return to Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Truck Series team in 2022. With his final two Truck starts still to come up at the end of this month, Hill would also complete his part-time XFINITY effort with HRE in sharing the #61 Toyota with Motorsports Business Management, this his first start since the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit.

Ultimately, Hill would roll off in 37th place as three other drivers dropped to the rear. The only one to incur a pre-race penalty was Michael Annett, who this week announced he would retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of this season. In a late summer derailed by a stress fracture in his leg, the “Roval” marked Annett’s first XFINITY start since Richmond in September. Josh Berry, who took Annett’s car to victory lane in Las Vegas and had been entered for Saturday, would be on standby.

Annett took the green in 39th behind Matt Mills, who surrendered 26th in the #5 Thompson Electric Toyota, and Kyle Weatherman. Weatherman’s #47 Axe Crossbows Chevrolet had issues during the pace laps and took the green 17.966 seconds back of the leader, more than 12 seconds back of 39th-place Annett, who was 5.244 seconds back of the lead and two-tenths back of 38th-place Mills.

When the race started, Tommy Joe Martins was involved in an incident coming off Turn 8 (entering the first turn of the oval), causing significant damage to the nose of his #44 AAN Adjusters Chevrolet. Martins kept going as the trailing Weatherman passed him for 39th. But Martins was struck by a passing Will Rodgers during his spin, causing a flat tire on Rodgers’ #26 Good Rx / Race To End Hep C Toyota. Rodgers spun in the backstretch chicane and stopped as both Martins and Weatherman got by, dropping the #26 to last place. 

Rodgers changed tires and returned to the track just before the caution fell on Lap 2 for trouble in the infield off Turn 6. Sage Karam’s spin in the #31 Black Ops by Ric Prado Chevrolet. This led to a collision between Brett Moffitt in the #02 Home Town Lenders Chevrolet and Jade Buford in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. Moffitt continued on with Karam while Buford remained stalled, eventually passed by both Martins and Weatherman with Rodgers still some distance behind.

On the Lap 5 restart, Martins’ damaged Chevrolet remained in last place, several seconds back of the next car in line. On Lap 7, he was 14 seconds back of new 39th-place runner Matt Mills. The next time by, Justin Allgaier was struggling with brake issues on his #7 Brandt Chevrolet when he smacked the Turn 2 wall while running among the leaders. Repairs dropped him to the tail end of the field, where he and Martins remained until the caution fell on Lap 10.

Gaulding was running near the back of the field around the 35th spot when he overdrove the backstretch chicane. He locked the brakes and soon came to a stop near the end of the chicane, leaving two long tire streaks behind him. Unable to get going again, the caution fell, and two service trucks came out to help. Someone on the team noticed rear end grease as the car was brought behind the wall on Lap 13. Brett Moffitt had also pitted his damaged #02 under this same caution, and went behind the wall a lap later for a part to be re-welded to his Chevrolet. This place Gaulding in last, one lap back of Moffitt.

On Lap 13, someone on Gaulding’s crew radioed “Broke a gear. We’re done.” NASCAR confirmed he was out on Lap 26. Moffitt returned to the track two laps later and ended up passing just two more cars before more smoke from his car ended his run. He finished 37th in the running, one spot behind Ryan Vargas with a snapped axle on his #6 MaintenX Chevrolet.

Finishing 39th was Kris Wright, who appeared to have broken a track bar in the rear of his Sam Hunt Racing-prepared #15 First National Bank Toyota, and was ultimately retired with suspension issues. Josh Bilicki, whose flight was cancelled, forcing an all-night drive from Chicago just to start, saw his race end after just 28 laps. Bilicki’s #07 Cover Seal Chevrolet lost the brakes into the backstretch chicane, and when the driver cut left to avoid hitting the cars in front, his splitter dug up an entire row of bolted-down rumble strips, ripping out the underside of his car. The resulting oil leak, combined with the damaged strips, forced a lengthy red flag. NASCAR declared Wright and Biliki were out on Lap 33.

Until the last lap of the race in overtime, it appeared several surprising names would share the spotlight. When the race restarted, Sam Mayer was hounding race leader A.J. Allmendinger in his #8 QPS Employment Chevrolet. Sage Karam had bounced back for his early spin to run 7th, having briefly flirted with a Top Five. Ty Dillon ran 6th in Our Motorsports’ #23 Koucar Management Chevrolet, continuing a strong summer into the fall for both driver and team. 

On the last lap, Mayer blew the backstretch chicane, forcing a stop-and-go penalty that opened the door for Dillon to reach 3rd while Karam dropped to 11th behind an advancing Josh Williams in the #92 Workpro Tools Chevrolet. Entering the frontstretch chicane, Williams was spun to an 11th-place finish by a closing Ty Gibbs in the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, triggering a logjam that caused other drivers to spin. Among them was Dillon, who dropped back into the clutches of Karam. Karam spun Dillon as the #31 cut short the final chicane, forcing Karam to attempt a stop-and-go just short of the finish line. NASCAR handed Karam a 30-second penalty, dropping him to 25th, one spot ahead of Dillon. Also collected was last week’s winner Brandon Brown, whose #68 American Petrolog Chevrolet ended up weaving backwards across the finish line in 22nd.

Escaping this chaos was Preston Pardus, who escaped with a career-best 7th in his #90 Chinchor Electric / Danus Chevrolet. In this, only his 13th career XFINITY start, Pardus now has three top-ten finishes, joining a 10th in last year’s Indianapolis Grand Prix inaugural and an 8th at Road America. As it happens, Pardus had just days earlier clinched a massive Spec Miata win on the same Indianapolis course during the SCCA Runoffs.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the fourth last-place run for Mike Harmon Racing in 2021 – all four have come with the team’s flagship #74: Bayley Currey at Talladega and Texas, then C.J. McLaughlin in Richmond. The MHR #47 hasn’t finished last in the series since the September 26, 2020 race in Las Vegas.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #74-Gray Gaulding / 10 laps / rear gear
39) #15-Kris Wright / 19 laps / suspension
38) #07-Josh Bilicki / 28 laps / crash
37) #02-Brett Moffitt / 30 laps / crash
36) #6-Ryan Vargas / 47 laps / axle

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (5)
2nd) Mike Harmon Racing (4) 
3rd) Motorsports Business Management (3)
4th) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Our Motorsports, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
5th) Brandonbilt Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (20)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Thursday, October 7, 2021

PREVIEW: Joey Hand among the many "road ringers" descending on Charlotte's "Roval"

IMAGE: @JoeyHandRacing

Saturday, October 9, 2021 (3:00 P.M. NBC)
XFINITY Race 29 of 33
Round of 12 – Race 3 of 3
Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Roval
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Brett Moffitt

ENTRY LIST
The Round of 8 for both the Cup and XFINITY Series will be determined this weekend on the Charlotte “Roval,” starting with Saturday’s field of 41 drivers for 40 spots. Once again, this leaves MBM’s #13 team out of the field (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-JR Motorsports
With the news that he will be retiring from full-time NASCAR competition next season, Michael Annett returned to his #1 entry in place of Las Vegas winner Josh Berry.

DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill will not qualify for Saturday's race, but is entered in Sunday's race for MBM.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports / Sam Hunt Racing
As revealed on October 1, Kris Wright will run the #15 this weekend, which will be a partnership of sorts between team owners Johnny Davis and Sam Hunt. Wright will run a Toyota prepared by Hunt with First National Bank as sponsor, but the car will be serviced by the Davis’ JD Motorsports crew. By using JD’s #15, the team does not find itself the lone DNQ, and adopts a strategy similar to Jimmy Means Racing in the last couple weeks. Davis’ #15 team has diversified since Colby Howard parted ways with the team heading into Richmond last month.

DRIVER SWAP: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Josh Bilicki will pull double-duty on the “Roval” this weekend, starting with a run in the #07 with Cover Seal as sponsor. Bilicki’s return to the XFINITY Series for the first time since Indianapolis moves Talladega 10th-place finisher Joe Graf, Jr. to the team’s second car, the #17, replacing Garrett Smithley. Arrowhead Brass will sponsor Graf’s car.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Ty Dillon is back in the XFINIY Series for the first time since his 8th-place run for Jordan Anderson in Las Vegas, and back in the #23 for the first time since Bristol’s night race, where he ran 15th. He takes the place of Blaine Perkins, who led an Our Motorsports 1-2 in Stage 2, winning the stage and finishing 13th on the day. Koucar Management sponsors Dillon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
While Kris Wright running the SHR #15 continues his exclusive road course schedule in the XFINITY Series for 2021, the team’s original #26 will go to Will Rodgers, who takes the place of Santino Ferrucci, 17th in Talladega. This will be Rodgers’ third series start of 2021 and first since Indianapolis, where he ran 28th in Sam Hunt’s #24.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Sage Karam survived the night race at Bristol, finishing a career-best 16th in only his second XFINITY Series start. He returns for the first time since then, again in Anderson’s car, and this time in place of Anderson himself, who earned a strong 5th in Talladega. Karam will run a grey variant of the #31’s paint scheme with Black Ops by Ric Prado as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Spencer Boyd will make his sixth XFINITY start of the season and first since Las Vegas, where he drove for Mario Gosselin. This time, he runs for Jimmy Means, who he last drove for in Daytona and finished 38th. RimTyme Custom Wheels & Tires, a Charlotte-area business, will back Boyd one week after Joey Gase ran 15th for the team in a Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Ty Gibbs is back in the JGR #54 for the first time since his 11th-place showing in Las Vegas, and carries Monster Energy as sponsor for the first time since Bristol. He takes the place of John Hunter Nemechek, who ran 22nd in Talladega. The first of Gibbs’ three wins on the season came on another infield road course in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management / Hattori Racing Enterprises
The “Roval” will be a Hattori effort for the #61 team as Austin Hill, ironically just after news that Hill will not return to HRE’s Truck Series team in 2022. Hill and the AISIN sponsorship take the place of David Starr, who finished last at Talladega due to engine trouble. This will be Hill’s fourth XFINITY start of the year and first since Indianapolis, where he ran 29th after steering box issues.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Reaume Brothers Racing will make an announcement on October 9th as to the NASCAR future for Loris Hezemans, who failed to qualify a Reaume entry in his most recent XFINITY attempt at Indianapolis. For now, he’ll run MBM’s #66 this week in place of Jason White, who ran a second RSS car under the MBM number at Talladega and finished 28th. Hezemans has made two prior starts this year, finishing 31st at Phoenix for MBM and 27th for DGM Racing in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Gray Gaulding is back in the XFINITY Series for the first tie since his strong 18th-place showing under the lights at Bristol, but this time runs for Mike Harmon instead of Jimmy Means. Gaulding takes the place of C.J. McLaughlin, who was eliminated in a crash at Talladega and finished 34th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons’ tenth XFINITY start of the season will be his first since the night race at Bristol, where he steered B.J. McLeod’s #5 to a 22nd-place finish. The “Roval” will see him run McLeod’s #78, meaning he will have driven all four of the team’s cars, including the #76 he debuted in Charlotte. Sokal is again the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #90-DGM Racing
Preston Pardus, the newly crowned three-time SCCA Spec Miata Champion, continues his road course season with Mario Gosselin’s #90 team. His most recent XFINITY start came on the same Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit where he just ran the SCCA Runoffs on October 1st. In the NASCAR race, he took 35th after his car was damaged by the “turtles.” Pardus takes the place of Caesar Bacarella, 32nd in Talladega, and is again sponsored by Chinchor Electric and Danus. 

CUP INVADERS: None

Sunday, October 9, 2021 (2:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 32 of 36
Round of 12 – Race 3 of 3
Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Roval
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

ENTRY LIST
There are 39 drivers entered for the 40-car field in Sunday’s main event, marking the 24th short field in 32 races this season. Each car will carry a pink window net in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Sunday will mark the NASCAR debut of veteran sports car racer Joey Hand. A champion in both the ALMS GT and Star Mazda Series with multiple endurance race wins to his credit, Hand will this time pilot Rick Ware’s #52 with Boom Mobile as sponsor. According to a report by Toby Christie, Hand will also be running Stewart-Haas Racing equipment. Hand’s arrival moves Josh Bilicki, 31st in Talladega, to the RWR #15. Bilicki’s paint scheme will celebrate the 20th anniversary for sponsor Insurance King, and the driver looks to follow up his 18th at Indianapolis. Bilicki in the #15 also moves Garrett Smithley to the #53 in place of Joey Gase, who isn’t entered. Smithley finished 29th at Talladega, four spots behind Gase.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #77-Spire Motorsports
A.J. Allmendinger will pull double-duty for Kaulig Racing, and seeks to follow-up his return to victory lane in Indianapolis. Allmendinger takes the place of Justin Haley, 20th in Talladega, who returns to Spire’s #77, which finished last with Justin Allgaier. Allgaier will not run Sunday as he continues to focus on his Playoff contending JR Motorsports entry.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill was surprising in this race last year, finishing 5th in Stage 1 before engine trouble left him in last place. He looks to improve as he returns to MBM’s #66 for the first time since Indianapolis, where he ran 27th at Indianapolis. Hill takes the place of James Davison, who finished 34th in Talladega, but isn’t entered this week. CrashClaimsR.us is the sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Scott Heckert is back in the Cup Series for the first time since Sears Point, where he drove the Live Fast entry to a season-best 26th. He again takes the place of team co-owner B.J. McLeod, 30th in Talladega, with Bremont Chronometers returning as sponsor. Kyle Tilley was originally slated to run this race until Heckert was swapped in.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Landon Cassill and the Gaunt Brothers are not entered following their 24th-place finish in Talladega.

Saturday, October 30, 2021
TRUCKS Race 21 of 22
Round of 8 – Race 3 of 3
United Rentals 200 at Martinsville
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Reaume

The Truck Series will not return until their penultimate round three weeks from Saturday on the short track in Martinsville, where they will determine their four-driver lineup for the Phoenix finale.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 7, 1990): Jimmy Spencer picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Mello Yello 500 at Charlotte when his #57 Heinz Pontiac, fielded by Rod Osterlund, was involved in a crash with Chad Little after 97 laps. Spencer wouldn’t finish last in Cup again until August 6, 1994 in the inaugural Brickyard 400 – the very next race after his final Cup win in Junior Johnson’s #27 McDonald’s Ford.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

ARCA: Fill-in driver Zachary Tinkle’s crash leads to last place at Salem

SCREENSHOT: NBC Sports Gold

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

Zachary Tinkle finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday night’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Salem Speedway when his #27 Indiana Owned Toyota was involved in an accident after completing 39 of the event’s 200 laps.

The finish came in Tinkle’s seventh series start.

Zachary Tinkle has had quite the upbringing in the motorsports world. Born in Cincinnati, he moved to Park Ridge, Illinois during his childhood. He launched his racing career in the area, starting in the Minicup division. He also cultivated a presence on YouTube, jumping into the diecast review arena at a time when SpinMaster was still producing NASCAR diecasts. The following year, he jumped up to the Central States Region Super Cup Series, and stayed in that series until 2015. During that time, he teamed-up with illustrator Nunoh Diaz and together the two created the picture book Zachary Tinkle’s MiniCup Decision, a title published through Left Paw Press, a longtime sponsor. He dipped his toe into late model racing as a test driver in 2017 and then ran the CRA circuit in 2018, earning Rookie of the Year honors in the Late Model Sportsman division. Sometime in the mid-to-late-2010s, he moved to Speedway, Indiana, and accordingly, a lot of his racing efforts shifted to Anderson Speedway.

In 2021, Tinkle and his family team had plans to contest the full CRA JEGS All-Star Tour schedule. However, those plans were derailed when Tinkle’s father sustained a stroke. His father Brad, a molecular geneticist in the Indianapolis area, was the main source of funding for Tinkle’s racing. A GoFundMe page was soon set up to help Tinkle complete the schedule, and while that did not come to fruition, it did lead to a one-off driving for Wayne Peterson Racing at Berlin. That one race turned into four, including an eleventh-place drive at Winchester. After Tim Richmond’s unfortunate injury at Michigan, Richmond Clubb Racing tapped him for relief duty at DuQuoin, then at Bristol, and now at Salem. It is currently unknown who will be in the #27 car to close out the season at Kansas.

A staple of the ARCA schedule for many decades, Salem was left off the schedule last year in the pandemic reshuffling, but returned to the calendar this year. It attracted 18 total entries as the unofficial “throwback” weekend for the ARCA Menards Series. Included in the throwbacks was USAC ace Kody Swanson, making his second career ARCA start and first for GMS Racing. His #21 entry was a tribute to Ricky Craven’s Tide Ride, with GMS Fab on the hood and Cunningham on the rear quarter panels in honor of the late Briggs Cunningham III. Hometown racer Will Kimmel also got into the throwback spirit, honoring Charlie Glotzbach with his #69 entry and winning Best in Show as voted on by the fans. Fast Track Racing also brought two throwback entries to the track: Mason Mingus ran a Harry Gant Bandit throwback in his #11 car, and Ed Pompa ran a Frank Kimmel throwback, complete with sponsorship from Menards. Pompa is quickly making himself a staple of ARCA throwback weekend, with another strong showing following a Darrell Waltip chrome throwback in 2019.

Among non-throwback entries, Jesse Love and Gracie Trotter filled out the Venturini Motorsports stable, and Landen Lewis returned to ARCA, this time in Rette Jones Racing’s signature #30 car. Willie Mullins and Ken Schrader rounded out Fast Track Racing’s lineup, and A.J. Moyer returned to Wayne Peterson Racing. The lone series debut in the field was Canadian driver J.P. Bergeron. The executives at David Gilliland Racing were impressed by his efforts at New Smyrna Speedweeks this year and signed him to a part-time drive in the team’s #46 entry, filling out the races that Thad Moffitt did not have funding to drive.

Moyer trailed the lone practice session, the only car that failed to break the 20-second barrier. Brad Smith was not far ahead of him, running in the 19.9-second timeframe. Tinkle was the only other car in the 19-second bracket, running a best lap of 19.5 seconds. Qualifying was much the same story, at least at the tail end of the field. Moyer and Smith filled out Row 9 in 18th and 17th, respectively, putting up laps on par with their practice times. Tinkle cut almost two seconds off his time to jump into the 17-second range, outqualifying Ed Pompa for 15th place.

No cars incurred tail-end penalties or chose to go to the back, so it was Moyer’s black #06 car that trailed the field to green. However, Brad Smith was slow coming up through the gears on the initial green and was last at the line, although he kept the gap relatively close to Moyer. He and Moyer stayed on the same straightaway, going a lap down on Lap 9 and a second on Lap 16. By the time Lap 35 rolled around, both cars were five laps down, and Smith had retained the 18th and final position for the duration of the race.

On Lap 43, Tinkle was running down the backstretch when, according to him, he was hooked head-on into the turn three wall. The MAVTV crew completely missed Tinkle’s accident, as the cameras first cut to him when he was sliding down the turn three banking with Ed Pompa on his rear bumper, the front end of the #27 car destroyed. Nick Sanchez saw the caution late, tagged the left-rear quarter panel of Taylor Gray’s car, and then slammed headfirst into the driver’s door of Tinkle’s spinning car. Tinkle was done immediately, and while Sanchez’s team tried to repair the damage, the wreck wound up being terminal for the #2 car as well.

Brad Smith was the only other retiree of the race, falling out with electrical issues after 141 laps. Moyer finished the race 24 laps in arrears, and Pompa was eight laps down at the checkered flag to round out the Bottom Five.

On the LASTCAR championship front, Owen Smith has clinched the 2021 LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series Drivers Championship with three last-place finishes - nobody else has more than one. This is his second consecutive LASTCAR ARCA drivers championship. Fast Track Racing has clinched the owners championship with 8, no other team has more than two. This is Fast Track’s third consecutive LASTCAR ARCA title. Chevrolet has locked up at least a share of the manufacturers championship; either Ford or Toyota can tie with a last-place finish at Kansas.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
18) #27-Zachary Tinkle / 39 laps / accident
17) #2-Nick Sanchez / 45 laps / accident
16) #48-Brad Smith / 141 laps / electrical
15) #06-A.J. Moyer / 176 laps / running
14) #10-Ed Pompa / 192 laps / running

2021 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (6)

2021 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Fast Track Racing (8)
2nd) Young’s Motorsports (2)
3rd) Bull Racing, Greg Van Alst Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Kovski Racing, Rette Jones Racing, Richmond Clubb Racing, Smith Brothers Racing, Visconti Motorsports, Wayne Peterson Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP


Monday, October 4, 2021

CUP: Justin Allgaier's Cup exploits remain a struggle; Underdogs shine as Bubba Wallace scores landmark victory

SCREENSHOT: NBCSN, NASCAR

Justin Allgaier picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Monday’s YellaWood 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #77 Brandt Chevrolet crashed after 55 of 117 laps.

The finish, which came in Allgaier’s 79th series start, was his first of the season and first since August 21, 2016 at Bristol, 188 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 37th for the #77, the 621st from a crash, and the 815th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #77, the 1,275th from a crash, and the 1,809th for Chevrolet.

When he was last featured in a Cup article on this site in 2016, Allgaier had just returned to the XFINITY Series after two frustrating Cup seasons with the short-lived HScott Motorsports effort (formerly Phoenix Racing). He’d lost his ride to Clint Bowyer, who at the time needed a gap-filling ride before taking over a retiring Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing. While Bowyer, too, struggled, Allgaier’s XFINITY return saw him run even better than he had with Turner Motorsports. 

Now with JR Motorsports’ #7 team, Allgaier has since more than quadrupled his previous win total and has become a yearly threat for the title. He finished runner-up to Austin Cindric last season – a career-best in the championship standings – and held third in the standings heading to Talladega. There, he nearly scored his third win of the season, running three-wide at the moment of the final caution. He ended up 3rd, trailing runner-up Brandon Jones and first-time winner Brandon Brown.

Three times since 2015, Allgaier has been called upon as a relief driver in the Cup Series, but his results have mirrored his time at HScott. His lone 2016 start, driving in relief of Michael Annett at Bristol, resulted in a last-place finish following a tangle with Kyle Busch. Last summer in what may have been the final running of the Brickyard 400, he earned a ride in Hendrick Motorsports’ #48 after Jimmie Johnson was sidelined under COVID-19 protocols. Allgaier only turned 17 laps before his ride was destroyed in a pileup entering pit road. His latest start, which came in Spire Motorsports’ #77 at Pocono, was this time from Justin Haley’s COVID-19 test, and resulted in a meager 25th-place finish.

For Talladega’s main event, Allgaier was this time the slated driver from the start, and would carry his longtime XFINITY sponsor Brandt Agriculture on the hood of the bright red #77 Chevrolet. Haley, who has run the car for much of this season, was already slated to run for his own XFINITY team Kaulig Racing. During the race broadcast, the #16 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet that Haley would pilot was reported to be a former Beard Motorsports Chevrolet. Allgaier would roll off 33rd.

Starting 40th and last was Landon Cassill, back in the Cup Series for the first time since a breakout run in Daytona in August. Both runs came in the #96 Carnomaly Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing, one of the series’ few remaining part-time efforts. He’d be joined at the tail end of the field by 35th-place Quin Houff in the #00 8 Ball Chocolate Whiskey Chevrolet and 36th-place Joey Gase in the #53 Sparks Ford, each sent to the rear for multiple inspection failures. James Davison would also incur the same penalty for his last-minute driver swap into the #66 Rich Mar Racing Ford. David Starr had been slated to run the #66 until a sponsorship deal fell through, handing the wheel to fifth Rick Ware Racing driver and sponsor.

During Sunday’s pace laps, Davison had radio issues and asked for a water bottle, but wouldn’t have time to address either issue. By the time the radio started working, rain began to fall, and the race was soon postponed to Monday.

When the green flag finally dropped the next day, an intense battle unfolded at both ends of the field. While many recent Cup Series superspeedway races have seen the tail end of the field string out quickly, the entire 40-car pack stayed intact for most of the opening 26-lap run to the competition caution. At the end of Lap 1, Gase ran just 0.088 second back of Davison, two cars in a three-wide battle. By Lap 3, Gase had climbed to 36th with Davison in last, 0.424 second behind new 39th-place Ryan Newman in the #6 Kohler Generators Ford. Davison edged Newman by 0.001 on Lap 4, and Newman climbed past Davison again the next time by. It was Lap 5, and Davison was back in last, 0.383 second back of Josh Bilicki in the #52 Junction Fuels / “Smokey and the Bandit” Ford. Bilicki then dropped Gase back to 39th with Davison closing fast from last place, now just 0.117 behind. The interval between Davison and Gase continued to grow and shrink for the next few laps - Davison dropped to 0.427 back on Lap 7, then closed to 0.104 on Lap 9.

It wasn’t until Lap 10 the tail end of the field began to unwind behind 29th-place Ryan Preece in the #37 Kroger / Velveeta Chevrolet, and other gaps opened up between 35th and 39th place, the former caused by Denny Hamlin dropping back in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota. By then, Gase had sole possession of 39th with Davison trailing him some distance behind in 40th. On Lap 12, the gap between Gase and Davison opened up to 1.279 seconds, then 3.876 seconds on Lap 13. That time by, Gase had also lost touch with 38th-place Bilicki by 1.677 seconds. When the field started Lap 15, Gase dropped to 8.182 seconds back of Bilicki with Davison trailing another 7.816 seconds. Davison was 12.102 seconds back of Gase on Lap 19, then was the first to be lapped on the 22nd circuit. Gase was exiting the backstretch on Lap 24 as the leaders entered it, and was himself lapped running the high lane the next time through Turns 1 and 2.

Gase earned the Lucky Dog under the competition caution, and Davison was briefly shown two laps down before scoring reset to show him still one circuit behind. Davison remained last for the Lap 30 restart, at which point Michael McDowell had dropped to 39th in the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford and Garrett Smithley 38th in the #15 Boom Mobile Chevrolet. McDowell dropped 26.856 seconds back of Smithley on Lap 38, and was himself lapped on Lap 48. Smithley and Bilicki were lapped soon after, all the while Davison closed on McDowell. Around Lap 52, Davison passed both Smithley and Bilicki, putting the #15 in last place for the first time. Bilicki then clawed past Davison into 38th, putting the #66 back in 39th. 

On Lap 57, Allgaier was running near the Top 10 in the middle groove when he received a bump from William Byron’s #24 Axalta Chevrolet. The bump sent Allgaier skidding to the high lane, where he collided with Kyle Larson in the #5 Cincinnati Chevrolet. Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe also received damage as Allgaier and Larson skated to the apron. While Larson made it to pit road and narrowly cleared the “Crash Clock” – Allgaier dropped the window net and climbed out, his car damaged at both ends. Allgaier dropped to last on Lap 58, done for the afternoon. This caused Stage 1 to end under caution with Chris Buescher up front.

Just seconds after clearing the “Crash Clock,” Larson blew a right-front tire and had to clear it a second time, ultimately finishing 37th, four laps down. Two of his Hendrick Motorsports joined him in the Bottom Five, each after separate accidents – Alex Bowman, whose #48 Ally Chevrolet was turned into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 97, and William Byron, who was collected by a wrecking Ryan Preece on Lap 115. Byron took 36th with Bowman 38th while Tyler Reddick, involved in the Bowman wreck, finished 39th in the #8 Realtree Chevrolet. 

Underdogs Shine As Bubba Wallace Scores Maiden Victory

The lead story on Monday was the first career victory of Bubba Wallace, first-year team 23XI Racing, and veteran crew chief Bootie Barker. The win – the first by an African-American driver in the Cup Series since Hall of Fame owner-driver Wendell Scott on December 1, 1963 – also brought to an end a 959-race winless streak for sponsor McDonald’s, and was the first for the #23 since 1954.

Despite a close field and relatively low attrition, a few underdogs also enjoyed fine runs in the rain-shortened event.

Anthony Alfredo finished a career-best 10th in the #38 Georgia Peanuts Ford – improving on his career-best 12th in the spring race at the same Talladega race. This was only his fourth finish of 2021 that saw him finish inside the Top 20. 

One spot ahead of Alfredo came Erik Jones, who briefly contended for the lead before his #43 U.S. Air Force: Special Warfare Chevrolet took the checkers in 9th. This was Jones’ second top-ten finish in the last three races and fifth on the season.

And, one year after his career-best 13th in the same race, Quin Houff finished 19th in the #00 8 Ball Chocolate Whiskey Chevrolet, his new season-best over a 22nd on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #77 in a Cup Series race at Talladega since May 1, 1988, when Ken Ragan (father of David Ragan) in the #77 Bob Beard Ford was collected in a seven-car crash after 13 laps of the Winston 500. That race, like on Monday, also saw a first-time winner in Phil Parsons.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #77-Justin Allgaier / 55 laps / crash
39) #8-Tyler Reddick / 97 laps / crash
38) #48-Alex Bowman / 97 laps / crash
37) #5-Kyle Larson / 113 laps / running
36) #24-William Byron / 115 laps / crash

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Rick Ware Racing (5)
2nd) JTG-Daugherty Racing, Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management (3)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing (2)
5th) Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (17)
2nd) Ford (10)
3rd) Toyota (4)

2021 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


Saturday, October 2, 2021

XFINITY: Early engine trouble leaves David Starr last; Brandon Brown breaks through with first career win

PHOTO: Dominic Aragon

David Starr picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Sparks 300 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #61 Whataburger Toyota fell out with engine trouble after 20 of 107 laps.

The finish, which came in Starr’s 230th series start, was his third of the season and first since Atlanta, ten races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 20th for the #61, the 152nd for Toyota, and the 268th from engine woes. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 32nd for the #61, the 366th for Toyota, and the 1,109th from engine issues.

Starr was originally scheduled to attempt both the XFINITY and Cup Series races at Talladega, but that changed late in the week when Rick Ware Racing driver James Davison took over his Cup #66 with sponsorship from Rich Mar Florist. The swap prevented Starr from making his first Cup start on the superspeedway, but Saturday held the potential for a good finish, as he’d earned in 2014 with TriStar Motorsports, finishing 9th. His best run since his most recent last-place finish also came on a superspeedway at Daytona, where he ran a season-best 14th. He’d start 28th on Saturday.

Taking 40th and last was Joe Graf, Jr., the last-place finisher last week in Las Vegas, in the #07 G Coin Chevrolet. He’d be joined in the back by 8th-place Justin Haley, whose Kaulig Racing team incurred a strange pre-race technical infraction relating to how the decals were applied to his #11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet. The infraction resulted in both a tail-end penalty and a pass-through after the green flag. Both Graf and Haley rolled off ahead of 39th-place starter Joey Gase, his first race back since his hard crash in last Sunday’s Cup race. Gase’s #52 Sparks Energy / Cross Eyed Owl Ford, entered under Jimmy Means Racing, rolled off 4.262 seconds back of the lead. The lineup for the tail end, their intervals, and original starting positions were as follows:

31-37) #90-Caesar Bacarella 3.042
32-35) #17-Garrett Smithley 3.199
33-27) #78-Mason Massey 3.286
34-38) #99-J.J. Yeley 3.564
35-30) #5-Matt Mills 3.676
36-36) #74-C.J. McLaughlin 3.803
37-34) #66-Jason White 3.953
38-40) #07-Joe Graf, Jr. 3.996
39-8) #11-Justin Haley 4.135
40-39) #52-Joey Gase 4.262

Coming down to complete Lap 1, Jason White in the #66 CMR Construction & Roofing / A-Game Ford had dropped to 40th place coming off Turn 4 with Haley just in front of him. Haley pulled down pit road, opening a half-second gap between White and the rest of the cars in front of him. Haley returned to the track 29.129 seconds back of White and 33.215 seconds back of the lead, hoping for an early caution. He wouldn’t get one, and by Lap 7 his team wasn’t sure he’d be able to stay on the lead lap by the end of Stage 1 on Lap 25.

Further ahead, White passed Graf for 38th on Lap 5, and four laps later both passed C.J. McLaughlin in the #74 Integrated Recycling Tech Chevrolet. This group then caught and passed Starr, whose car was starting to lose power. On Lap 10, when Starr took over 39th, he was already 2.082 second back of McLaughlin and reported just 7200 rpms. “It just started slowing down on me,” Starr said over the radio. All the while, Haley was gradually reeling in Starr until he passed him entering the tri-oval on Lap 16, dropping the #61 to last. This was the same moment the leaders caught the pair to put them a lap down. While Starr dropped back, Haley blocked then-leader Brandon Jones to stay up front.

As Starr dropped back, the team called him to pit road, where the crew looked under the hood. They found a loose plug wire, reattached it, and sent him back out two laps down. Back up to speed, the car ran between 7700 and 7800 rpms, and the spotter reported the engine sounded better. But on Lap 21, Starr’s car slowed a second time, and two circuits later the driver reported “I think the motor’s lowing up.” With just two laps to go in Stage 1, Starr pulled to the apron, then pit road, and turned into the garage area. By then, it was the last lap of the stage, when contact from Brandon Brown caused a hard Turn 3 crash between Sam Mayer in the #8 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet and A.J. Allmendinger in the #16 Gold Fish Casino Slots Chevrolet. While there was an indication Starr might come back out to pass the two drivers, the MBM crew reported “We’re done” on Lap 28, and NASCAR confirmed they were out on Lap 29.

Landon Cassill finished 37th with engine trouble on his #4 Voyager Chevrolet early in the final stage. Bayley Currey rounded out the Bottom Five after his #15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet stopped on pit road with a broken drive shaft.

Brandon Brown Scores First XFINITY Series Win

Brandon Brown, who scored his first career last-place finish this past August in his 108th start, scored his first XFINITY Series win in his 114th series start. In the closing stages, Brown’s #68 Larry’s Lemonade Chevrolet worked its way to the lead past the high-powered Joe Gibbs Racing entry of Brandon Jones and JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier. The trio were three-wide when a wreck brought out the caution amid approaching darkness. Laps later, the race was called early, and Brown was victorious.

Finishing 5th was Jordan Anderson, who competed in both the XFINITY and Truck Series races on the same day and was pushing Brown to the front in the final laps. His best run in 17 previous XFINITY starts was 15th at Michigan earlier this year, and Saturday was only his fifth start as an owner-driver in the series.

Joe Graf, Jr. was also working his way through the field on the inside line and finished 10th, rebounding from his last-place run in Las Vegas with his first career Top Ten finish in his 60th career XFINITY start. Graf’s previous best finish was 11th in this year’s opener at Daytona.

Blaine Perkins turned heads when he won Stage 2 in Our Motorsports’ #23 Circle B Diecast Chevrolet, bringing teammate Brett Moffitt to a runner-up finish in the process. Perkins survived the late-race hijinks to finish in the 13th spot, one place behind Jade Buford in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet.

Taking 15th was Joey Gase, who completed his return from Vegas with his best finish since the 2019 opener at Daytona, earning another much-needed Top 20 for team owner Jimmy Means as they continue to search for sponsorship.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #61-David Starr / 20 laps / engine
39) #16-A.J. Allmendinger / 24 laps / crash
38) #8-Sam Mayer / 24 laps / crash
37) #4-Landon Cassill / 50 laps / engine
36) #15-Bayley Currey / 73 laps / drive shaft

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (5)
2nd) Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management (3)
3rd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Our Motorsports, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
4th) Brandonbilt Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (1)

2021 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP


TRUCKS: Jack Wood first repeat last-place finisher of 2021; Tate Fogleman takes thrilling victory over Tyler Hill

PHOTO: @GMSRacingLLC

Jack Wood picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #24 Azalea Gynecology Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after 23 of 99 laps.

The finish, which came in Wood’s 10th series start, was his second of the season and first since Pocono, 7 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #24, the 136th from engine trouble and the 414th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 40th for the #24, the 1,108th from engine issues, and the 1,808th for Chevrolet.

Since he was last featured here, Wood became the first driver to lock-up a 2022 ride with GMS Racing, securing a full-time ride following this year’s part-time effort. Talladega would see him joined by Grant Enfinger with the remaining rides still to be announced. Wood has also improved on his career-best finish of 11th at Nashville with his first career Top Ten – a 10th at Gateway. But his following two rounds at Darlington and Las Vegas both yielded 30th-place finishes, the latter a trip to the garage in the final few laps of the race. He’d roll off 24th on Saturday.

Taking the 40th and final spot on the grid was a returning Bryan Dauzat, whose Jim Rosenblum-owned FDNY Racing team raced with heavy hearts. The hood of the #28 was dedicated to crew member Brent Cole, who recently passed away. Dauzat ultimately took the green in 32nd as eight other drivers were ranked behind him by intervals. He was just over a second ahead of Jennifer Jo Cobb, whose #10 Fastener Supply Co. Ford inherited the 40th spot. Codie Rohrbaugh in the #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet incurred the only pre-race penalty for missing driver introductions. The rest of the group and their intervals were as follows:

32-40) #28-Bryan Dauzat 3.01
33-31) #04-Cory Roper 3.033
34-36) #45-Lawless Alan 3.23
35-37) #75-Parker Kligerman 3.343
36-35) #33-Jason White 3.377
37-29) #9-Codie Rohrbaugh 3.625
39-38) #6-Norm Benning 3.778
38-39) #41-Keith McGee 3.812
40-33) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb 4.016

When the race started, Cobb began to lose touch with the draft, and was already 1.346 seconds back of the next truck in line when she completed Lap 1. At the same time, Dauzat incurred a pass-through penalty for a start violation, which NASCAR relayed to the team. There was little if any radio communication from the Dauzat crew, however, so on Lap 6, NASCAR threw the black flag with the white cross, stopping scoring. Dauzat came down pit road the next time by and returned to the track still on the lead lap, though 28.876 seconds behind 39th-place Spencer Boyd. Boyd’s #20 Rounded Gear Chevrolet had taken last on Lap 3, and like the #28 was running by himself on the track. On Lap 11, Dauzat became the first driver to lose a lap with 39th-place Boyd still 8.128 seconds back of 38th-place Keith McGee in the #41 Pack Bak Toyota. 

Next to enter last-place contention was Dylan Lupton, whose #34 Toyota was entered under Reaume Brothers Racing, but the truck itself was from DCC Racing, the same Brad Means-owned effort that attempted the Bristol Dirt Race earlier this year. Lupton reported the truck had too small of a steering wheel for a superspeedway, then on Lap 15 ran over debris, cutting down the right-rear tire. He took over last on Lap 16 after his stop, but the damage would remain a problem for much of the race. He held the Lucky Dog until Boyd was lapped in the tri-oval moments later.

Jack Wood, meanwhile, had slipped back in the running order, and was himself lapped entering Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 19. While this allowed Wood to take the Lucky Dog from Boyd under the caution ending Stage 1, he came down pit road with the hood up. On Lap 24, when Lupton pitted for another cut right-rear tire, Wood took over the last spot. The next time by, he was instructed to pull the #24 behind the wall. “In the truck, guys,” said someone on the #24’s channel on Lap 28. The team confirmed they were done for the day on Lap 32 as they thanked each other for their help, but it wasn’t until Lap 51 that NASCAR confirmed they were out.

Dauzat was already out by then, eliminated after a hard hit when his #28 broke loose off Turn 2 and slammed the inside wall. The rest of the Bottom Five was filled by a massive pileup on Lap 58 triggered by contact between race leaders Austin Hill and David Gilliland. Taking 38th was Lawless Alan in the #45 Auto Chargit Chevrolet followed by 37th-place Parker Kligerman in the Food Country USA Chevrolet and 36th-place Kris Wright in the #02 First National Bank Chevrolet.

Ironically, Kligerman nearly had the accident missed when he slowed on the apron. Further behind, Jennifer Jo Cobb didn’t slow in time, sped through the middle of the pileup, and slammed into the slowing Kligerman, knocking the right-rear wheel off the #75. Like Dauzat, Kligerman was racing in honor of another lost figure in the sport – Briggs Cunningham III, his team owner in ARCA. Kligerman’s truck bore Cunningham’s name on the quarter-panels, just as fellow ARCA veteran Chase Briscoe would on the roof rails of his Cup car. Between the two of them, Briscoe and Kligerman scored 16 ARCA wins for Cunningham with Briscoe claiming the 2016 title.

Tate Fogleman Takes Thrilling Victory Over Tyler Hill And Several Other Underdogs

The Lap 58 pileup was the first of two that involved several frontrunners, culminating in a wild overtime finish that saw several underdogs shine. Heading the pack was the winner himself – Tate Fogleman – who finished last just four races ago in Darlington. Fogleman’s #12 Trager Grills Chevrolet suffered significant damage in one of the wrecks, but showed speed leading a second pack up to the frontrunners. Coming off the final corner, he made contact with John Hunter Nemechek and then slid into the inside wall as the winner in just his 46th series start. His only other top-ten finish was his previous career-best 9th at Knoxville earlier this year. Combined with Spencer Boyd’s win two years ago, Young’s Motorsports now has two Talladega victories. Boyd came back from running in the back of the pack to finish 7th.

The contact that sent Fogleman into a spin came from a fast-closing Tyler Hill, just one week removed from losing the Hill Motorsports team’s last 1.5-mile truck in a last-lap tangle with Kris Wright in Las Vegas. Running 4th off Turn 4, Hill’s #56 Hair Club Chevrolet climbed to 3rd, then 2nd after the Nemechek spin and was a half-truck length from Fogleman at the stripe. Hill’s previous-best finish in 23 prior starts was 11th on three occasions, most recently this year in Gateway. It’s only the second Top Five for Hill Motorsports, which brother Timmy Hill finished 5th at Martinsville in the fall of 2019.

Ryan Truex finished 5th in the #40 CircleBDiecast.com Chevrolet, his first top-five run since he ran 4th back in Daytona.

In the same year he nearly took the victory at Daytona and had sponsor trouble in Gateway, Cory Roper crossed the line in 6th in the #04 Alliance Aviation Ford, second-highest finishing of the Fords behind Todd Gilliland. For Roper, who started 31st, this was only his third top-ten finish and first since the season opener.

Danny Bohn came just one spot short of tying his career-best 7th last fall at Martinsville by taking 8th in the #30 North American Motor Car Toyota.

Alaska native Keith McGee drove a Toyota fielded by Cram Racing Enterprises and sponsored by Pac Bak, which rolled off 38th. One week after earning a last-minute ride with Ray Ciccarelli in Las Vegas, he avoided the second pileup triggered by Grant Enfinger off Turn 4 and earned his first career top-ten finish, taking 10th. McGee’s best finish in five previous starts was just 29th at Charlotte and Texas. This was also the first Top Ten for Cram’s team, in their 27th series start.

Bret Holmes, fresh off his career-best 11th-place finish in Las Vegas, looked for even more on Saturday, leading 11 laps and pushing others toward the front. He was still in the Top Five for the overtime restart, only for his #32 Golden Eagle Chevrolet to be shaken out in the sprint to the finish, taking 15th.

Norm Benning incurred an early penalty for changing lanes when he misjudged where the start / finish line was, and his #6 XEO Cross-Eyed Owl Chevrolet lost two laps. Benning managed to avoid the race’s final two pileups and crossed the stripe one lap down in 17th, a new season-best ahead of his 19th in Knoxville.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #24 in a Truck Series race at Talladega.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #24-Jack Wood / 23 laps / engine
39) #28-Bryan Dauzat / 27 laps / crash
38) #45-Lawless Alan / 57 laps / crash
37) #75-Parker Kligerman / 57 laps / crash
36) #02-Kris Wright / 57 laps / crash

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Niece Motorsports (5)
2nd) GMS Racing (3)
3rd) Rackley-W.A.R., Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
4th) CMI Motorsports, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Roper Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (15)
2nd) Toyota (3)
3rd) Ford (2)

2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP