Friday, May 28, 2021

TRUCKS: Steering issues on Timothy Peters’ backup truck hand him first last-place finish since 2007

PHOTO: @bobpockrass

Timothy Peters picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #25 Rackley Roofing Chevrolet fell out with steering issues after 13 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Peters’ 258th series start, was his first of the season and first in the series since August 22, 2007 at Bristol, 323 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th from steering issues, the 13th for the #25, and the 407th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 30th from steering, the 49th for the #25, and the 1,781st for Chevrolet.

Ever since he first turned laps for Bobby Hamilton Racing in 2005, Peters has been one of the most successful drivers in the recent history of the Truck Series. His first ten career victories came as the flagship driver for Tom DeLoach’s Red Horse Racing. Over those eight full-time seasons from 2009 through 2016 he finished inside the Top 10 in points each year, including a narrow loss to James Buescher by just six points in 2012. But it was after this same Charlotte race in 2017 that Red Horse shut down, citing a lack of funding. Scrambling for rides, Peters still scored the 11th and most recent victory a year later in Talladega, driving GMS Racing’s #25 to the checkered flag under caution.

After a piecemeal 2019 season where he ran part-time for Niece Motorsports and NEMCO Motorsports, Peters next turned heads last summer in Kansas, where he was tabbed as a last-minute replacement for Stewart Friesen. Despite the lack of practice and qualifying that has characterized NASCAR weekends since the pandemic, Peters steered the #52 to a 7th-place finish – his best run in over a year.

It was perhaps this reason that Peters was tabbed to drive for a new full-time team in the Rackley W.A.R. effort. Curtis Sutton of Rackley Roofing, which came into the sport as Clay Greenfield’s sponsor, has taken inspiration from Matthew Kaulig at Leaf Filter Gutter Protection to start their own organization. Partnered with former Truck Series driver Willie Allen, who now operates W.A.R. Shocks, the team would run Chevrolets. Coming into Charlotte, the team had only one DNF – a late-race crash in the Daytona opener – but had finished no better than 16th at Las Vegas.

Peters and the Rackley W.A.R. team were among the 40 drivers entered for Charlotte, a list that dropped to 38 after two withdrawals. First was Ray Ciccarelli, who would have made his first start of 2021 as driver of his own #49 Frontline Wraps Ford. The other was Spencer Davis - last in this race in 2020 - whose #11 Inox Supreme Lubricants Toyota didn’t participate in practice.

Preparing Peters' backup truck.
PHOTO: @Rackley_WAR

In that practice, Peters ran 24th of the remaining 38 entrants, but ended up the first of several drivers to spin or crash in the session. Peters slammed the Turn 4 wall broadside, resulting n heavy right-side damage as he rolled past the starting line. Back in the garage area, his team unloaded the backup truck - which incidentally had fewer associate sponsor decals from the primary - but wouldn’t have an opportunity to turn any more laps. Qualifying was rained-out, securing him the 29th starting spot before he’d fall to the rear for the backup truck penalty. Also sent back with him would be 17th-place Drew Dollar in the #51 Sunbelt Rentals Toyota. Dollar lost control off Turn 2 and backed into the outside wall, sending him to a backup of his own.

Both Peters and Dollar would roll off behind original 38th-place starter Trey Hutchens in the deep blue #14 Heintz Brothers Performance Chevrolet. Thanks to the rained-out qualifying season, Hutchens was able to make his first start of the season after metric qualifying kept him out of his previous four attempts at Atlanta, Richmond, Kansas, and Darlington. With one lap to green, someone on his team said “Let’s get all the laps in and [get] the most experience we can.” After Hutchens thanked his crew, another voice – likely his father – said “10-4 buddy. I love you. Be safe.”

Coming to the green flag, Peters let the field draw away from him while Dollar worked under Hutchens to take over 37th. By Lap 2, Peters was 8.36 seconds back of the leader and 1.204 seconds back of the next truck in line. The next time by, Peters had dropped to 13.178 back of the leader when he came down pit road. A steering issue on the backup forced the team to add power steering fluid, and the crew also topped off the fuel tank. Back under power, Peters was three laps down and on the verge of four. There were also radio issues on his main channel as team communications from Jack Wood’s #24 GMS Racing entry bled into the frequency. 

Around Lap 7, C.J. McLaughlin had made contact with the Turn 3 wall in his #34 Sci Aps Chevrolet, and would ultimately drop two laps down by the 12th circuit. He was on pit road by this point, and returned to action on Lap 13, four laps down and on the same lap as Peters. On Lap 19, Peters had just dropped McLaughlin to last place when Peters pulled the #25 into the garage area. Ultimately, Peters wouldn’t return to the race, though he wouldn’t be declared out by NASCAR until Lap 75.

Finishing 37th was Tate Fogleman, whose #12 Da-Quick Clip / Operation Kare Chevrolet pulled into the garage on Lap 45. The team jacked up the truck in the garage, but could only surmise that the issue wasn’t the driveshaft. Like Peters, Fogleman wouldn’t return to the track and was listed out due to rear gear issues. Bret Holmes took 36th after his #32 Southern State Bank Chevrolet suffered heavy damage in a tangle with Tanner Gray. Sheldon Creed wound up 35th after a poor restart while leading led to a tangle with Todd Gilliland, wrecking his #2 Chevrolet. Rounding out the group was Chase Purdy, whose #23 Chevrolet was clipped by Creed’s spinning truck in Turn 3, leading to repairs that expired his “Crash Clock.” 

Trey Hutchens, the last-place starter, was ultimately involved in the night’s most frightening accident. Entering Turn 3 with less than 10 laps to go, the right-front tire blew, putting him into the outside wall. As he slowed to make it to pit road, NASCAR had not yet thrown the caution flag, causing passing traffic to race by at full speed. It wasn’t long before Johnny Sauter and Drew Dollar came on the scene. Both cut left, but Sauter sideswiped Hutchens’ truck, destroying both machines. While both drivers were eventually checked and released from the care center, Hutchens was left with his only race-ready truck in shambles. As of this writing, the #14 team has just one other truck in the shop which still needs to be finished.

Carson Hocevar continued his breakout season with a new career-best finish, his #42 Scott’s / GM Parts Now Chevrolet charging to within a fraction of a second of race winner John Hunter Nemechek. Also impressive was Ty Majeski, making his first Truck start since he parted ways with Niece Motorsports last summer. Majeski’s run in ThorSport’s #66 SimCraft Toyota saw him finish 7th – improving on his own career-best 8th in this same race last year.

*This marked the first Truck Series last-place finish for the #25 since October 6, 2012, when Brandon Knupp’s run in the #25 Hillman Racing Chevrolet ended after 2 laps of the Freds 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega.

38) #25-Timothy Peters / 13 laps / steering
37) #12-Tate Fogleman / 38 laps / rear gear
36) #32-Bret Holmes / 49 laps / crash 
35) #2-Sheldon Creed / 55 laps / crash
34) #23-Chase Purdy / 59 laps / dvp

1st) Niece Motorsports (3)
2nd) GMS Racing (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Rackley-W.A.R., Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)


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