Saturday, February 27, 2021

XFINITY: Runner-up finisher Tyler Reddick disqualified in series return; Starr’s 12th-place run undone by right-front tire


Tyler Reddick picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his unsponsored #23 Chevrolet finished 2nd, but was classified last by disqualification after completing all 179 laps.

The finish came in Reddick’s 85th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #23, the 14th by disqualification, and the 564th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 41st by disqualification, the 67th for the #23, and the 1,765th for Chevrolet.

Harrison Burton picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #20 Hunt Brothers Pizza / Dex Imaging Toyota fell out with engine failure after 70 of 179 laps.

The finish, which came in Burton’s 45th series start, was his first of the season and first since October 5, 2019 at Dover, 40 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #20, the 145th for Toyota, and the 266th from engine trouble. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #20, the 351st for Toyota, and the 1,097th from an engine failure.

The last time Reddick started an XFINITY Series race at Homestead, he pulled into victory lane, having claimed his second consecutive series title. The last time Chris Our’s start-up team entered an XFINITY race there, they’d been sent to a backup car after Brett Moffitt crashed their unsponsored primary in Saturday’s first round of a double-header. The next day, Jairo Avila, Jr. started a car borrowed from B.J. McLeod, the #78 of McLeod’s team replaced by Our’s #02, and pulled out after just 15 laps. The very next race was Talladega, where Moffitt finished 5th – the team’s first-ever Top Five. Andy Lally matched that run two more times by season’s end.

This year, Our Motorsports looked to field two XFINITY Series entries, but timing was not on their side. With qualifying washed out, their second entry, the #03, was sent home, unable to be entered until qualifying returned in May. But the team still ran last week on the Daytona road course – again with the help of B.J. McLeod, who entered it in place of his #99 entry. A returning Andy Lally contended for a Top Five, but was bumped back late to 31st.

For Homestead, Our Motorsports was again without a primary sponsor, and entered two matching white Chevrolets with dual racing stripes across the hood, roof, and decklid. The black-striped #02 entry would go to Moffitt while Reddick’s bore red stripes and the #23. This was a collaboration with RSS Racing and Reaume Brothers Racing, whose team finished last on the Daytona road course with Natalie Decker. As with Lally’s run, this was an Our-prepared car, and the duo looked for a strong run on Saturday. Due to metric qualifying, Moffitt lined up 6th with Reddick back in 38th.

Rolling off 40th and last was David Starr in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Whataburger Toyota. With no drivers sent to the rear before the start, Starr was reminded to hold his line on the outside of the last row until he crossed the start / finish line. 

When the race started, Starr remained in last place, but by the end of Lap 1 had worked his way around Jade Buford in the #48 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. Buford, now 5.813 seconds back of the lead, held the spot until the fourth circuit, when Josh Williams made an unscheduled green-flag stop in the #92 Starbrite / Star Tron Chevrolet. Due to issues with his dash indicator, Williams sped off pit road in Sections 1-8, forcing him to serve a pass-through penalty. By the time he was back up to speed on Lap 8, he was not only the only driver off the lead lap, but three circuits down.

Unfortunately for Williams, the caution didn’t fall until after race leader Austin Cindric started to lap the tail end of the field, meaning he wouldn’t earn the Lucky Dog. The caution fell on Lap 26 for Stefan Parsons, whose #99 Springrates Toyota spun in Turn 4. Parsons had to complete another lap under yellow with at least one flat tire, causing some minor damage to the bodywork. He dropped to 39th under caution, and was two laps down. Also two down was Brandon Brown, whose engine stumbled due to a loose plugwire on his #68 Brandonbilt Foundations Chevrolet.

Next to enter the last-place battle was IndyCar star Santino Ferrucci, who made his NASCAR debut Saturday in Sam Hunt Racing’s #26 Stillhouse Whiskey Toyota. Ferrucci ran solidly in the early laps despite slight wall contact, maintaining a spot inside the Top 20. But an unscheduled stop forced him to pit road, and on Lap 50 he incurred a pass-through penalty for running over the air hose. He served the penalty just before NASCAR could stop scoring his car, and took over last on Lap 56.

On Lap 70, the caution was out again for Parsons, whose damaged car was leaking fluid on the track. At the time, Harrison Burton’s #20 Hunt Brothers Pizza / Dex Imaging Toyota was running in 7th, having competed for the lead for much of the race. But that time by, he was suddenly on the apron of the track with smoke trailing from the exhaust pipes. He stopped in Turn 2, and received a push from a service truck to the garage area. On Lap 74 – just one lap after Parsons took last from Ferrucci – Burton took last from Parsons. The next time by, someone on Burton’s channel said “We’re done, right?” The response came back quietly – “Yes, sir.” NASCAR confirmed Burton was out of the race with 74 laps to go, and unofficially took last place.

Meanwhile, Reddick was on the charge. From the early laps, his #23 managed to hold the high line, and he remained inside the Top 10 for much of the night. At first, it appeared the win would go to his teammate, as Brett Moffitt engaged in some tight racing with Noah Gragson for the lead. But after Gragson opened up a lead, Moffitt hit the wall one time too many, cutting down the right-rear tire and forcing him to pit road. This opened the door for Reddick, who had worked his way into the Top Five and led 8 laps. When Gragson wrecked out of the lead with 3 laps to go, Reddick restarted on the front row in overtime with Myatt Snider. On the second attempt, Snider cleared Reddick, who still managed to finish a strong 2nd - barely a carlength behind.

But in post-race inspection, Reddick’s car failed post-race heights, and he was classified in 40th spot, moving Burton up to 39th and bumping Bayley Currey out of the Bottom Five. Finishing 38th was Justin Allgaier, who crossed the nose of Riley Herbst’s Ford on Lap 99, destroying his #7 Brandt Chevrolet. Ty Dillon took 37th in the #54 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, which went behind the wall with a hole in the radiator. Colby Howard stayed out to lead Lap 84-86 and restarted there, but was reported to be leaking fluid. On Lap 111, his #15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet was on the apron with a fire coming from the rear gear. 

J.J. Yeley’s first NASCAR start of 2021 ended with a strong 12th-place finish for Rick Ware Racing, whose XFINITY Series program has continued to impress since it returned late last year. Yeley, who started 39th, ran as high as 11th in the #17 Work Pro Chevrolet and overcame a spin to earn the finish.

But of all the night’s underdogs, the strongest run and biggest heartbreak belonged to David Starr. The last-place qualifier had climbed all the way to 14th inside the final 30 laps. By 18 to go, he’d reached 13th, and was getting some screen time from the FS1 broadcast crew. He gained one more spot to 12th after Brett Moffitt’s flat tire, and was still running there as race leader Noah Gragson prepared to lap him. Starr appeared to move down a lane to give Gragson the high lane, but then a right-front tire began to come apart, putting him into the outside wall and immediately in Gragson’s path. The two collided, knocking Gragson out of the race and damaging Starr’s car. Starr made it back to pit road for right-side tires and fuel, and was still 15th on the grid for the second overtime finish, but plummeted to 21st by the checkered flag.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #23 in an XFINITY Series race at Homestead.

40) #23-Tyler Reddick / 179 laps / disqualified / led 8 laps
39) #20-Harrison Burton / 70 laps / engine / led 1 lap
38) #7-Justin Allgaier / 98 laps / crash
37) #54-Ty Dillon / 102 laps / radiator
36) #15-Colby Howard / 109 laps / rear gear / led 3 laps

1st) RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
2nd) DGM Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (3)


1 comment:

NASCAR said...

Heartbreak for David Starr.