Ryan Truex picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his #40 Marquis 900 Wishes Chevrolet fell out with rear gear trouble after 44 of 250 laps.
The finish, which came in Truex’s 57th series start, was his first of the year and first since November 18, 2016 at Homestead, 98 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #40, the 12th from rear gear issues, and the 405th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 40th for the #40, the 43rd from rear gear trouble, and the 1,773rd for Chevrolet.
The younger Truex was last featured here last fall at Kansas, where he lost the engine in his most recent XFINITY Series start for JR Motorsports. A year later, he was completing his first series of Truck starts since 2017, all of them for Niece Motorsports in the #40 Chevrolet. His season-best 12th-place finish also came at Kansas.
Truex returned to the team for a full-time effort this year, and kicked off the season with a sterling 4th-place run in the Marquis Spas entry during the opener at Daytona. This was Truex’s first top-five finish in the series since the 2017 Homestead finale, when he also finished 4th for Hattori Racing Enterprises. The following races didn’t go as smoothly. He crunched the nose on his Chevrolet on the damp Daytona Road Course, was eliminated with crash damage in Las Vegas, then finished 15th and 20th at Atlanta and the Bristol Dirt Track. He entered Saturday’s race 17th in points. The Niece team had also been struggling with their #44 team already last twice in the first five races – James Buescher on the Daytona oval and Conor Daly in Vegas.
Marquis Spas would rejoin Truex’s effort for the first time since Daytona. As one of the sponsorship partners with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the company would also put the names of 900 children whose wishes Marquis had granted over the last two decades. The truck would roll off 16th on Saturday.
Starting 40th and last was Sam Mayer, back in the series for the first time since last fall’s season finale at Phoenix. The 2020 Bristol night race winner would this time drive for Bret Holmes in the new team Holmes himself debuted at Las Vegas and Atlanta earlier this year. No drivers were sent to the rear to join Mayer’s #32 QPS Employment Group Chevrolet, but Mayer quickly passed another truck in the opening moments.
That truck belonged to 21st-place Cory Roper, whose #04 Preferred Industrial Contractors Ford had a stuck throttle on the initial start, forcing him to pit road and off the lead lap. He returned to action around Lap 6, and was soon told by his team he was running as fast as drivers in the Top Five. During this opening run, Roper managed to not lose additional laps, but Norm Benning wasn’t so fortunate. His blue-and-gold #6 Chevrolet, its Camping World logos removed, was on the verge of three laps down by the 32nd circuit.
During this run, trouble found Howie DiSavino III, making his series debut in Jordan Anderson’s #3 Kees Vacations / Bud’s Chevrolet. DiSavino had apparently been running well without any word on the radio. It wasn’t until later the team discovered that was because the radio wasn’t working at all. He came down pit road for repairs and took last from Roper on Lap 38. He then pulled behind the wall on Lap 52 and returned to action on Lap 56, by which point he was 23 laps down.
Truex had also been having issues since the early laps. Very early in the race, NASCAR’s spotters were taking note of smoke coming off the right-rear of his truck, but believed it to be a tire rub. By Lap 47, however, Truex was off the pace on the backstretch and coming to pit road. The driver reported he had a rear gear issue, and said they were done for the day. He pulled behind the wall, and he team put his truck on jack stands. Truex remained behind the wheel as the crew tracked down the source of leaking gear oil. Truex took last from DiSavino on Lap 70.
Five laps later, Truex’s team was concerned that timing and scoring indicated they were “out” of the race even though they were still continuing repairs. Another crewman said they had a NASCAR official with them, who was making sure Truex remained inside the truck. Repairs continued until Lap 93, when the team declared themselves out, and Truex climbed from the truck. NASCAR declared Truex officially out with the rear gear issue on Lap 108.
Taking 39th was Tate Fogleman, who on Lap 85 was racing his #12 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet on the outside of Hailie Deegan’s #1 Built Ford Tough Ford heading into Turn 3. Deegan appeared to push up into Fogleman, who locked his brakes as he slammed the outside wall with the right-front corner. Fogleman climbed from his truck uninjured and upset, pointing at his head as Deegan rolled by under caution. Fogleman had just slipped to 38th when Truex climbed from his truck on Lap 93, and was declared out at the same Lap 108 transmission as the #40.
Finishing 38th was Jennifer Jo Cobb, whose #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet was involved in at least three incidents. Two of them occurred with Norm Benning – first with Benning spinning Cobb down the backstretch, then Cobb slamming doors with Benning in Turn 4. The latter incident saw Cobb go behind the wall, out of the race under the DVP, while Benning continued on to finish 32nd with damage to his driver’s door. Brett Moffitt made two surprising trips to the garage area for handling issues that left him 37th in the unsponsored #45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet while Codie Rohrbaugh closed out the Bottom Five after he backed his #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet into the wall on Lap 196.
A tight battle around the 10th spot in the final laps led to a few surprising runs. Last-place qualifier Sam Mayer made it up to 10th, lost a couple spots, then surged back to finish 9th – his first top-ten finish since his win at Bristol. Carson Hocevar also continued his impressive early season in Al Niece’s #42 Scott’s / GM Parts Now Chevrolet, this time keeping his nose clean to finish 12th.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #40 in a Truck Series race since February 15, 2008, when Chad Chaffin’s #40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet was involved in a multi-truck accident after 18 laps of the Chevy Silverado 250 at Daytona.
*This was the first Truck Series last-place finish by reason of rear gear trouble since May 17, 2019, when Joe Nemechek’s #87 Romco Equipment Co. / TMS Titanium Chevrolet dropped out after 19 laps of the North Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #40-Ryan Truex / 44 laps / rear gear
39) #12-Tate Fogleman / 82 laps / crash
38) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 168 laps / DVP
37) #45-Brett Moffitt / 186 laps / handling
36) #9-Codie Rohrbaugh / 195 laps / crash
2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Niece Motorsports (3)
2nd) GMS Racing (2)
3rd) Norm Benning Racing (1)
2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (6)
2021 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP