Tuesday, June 29, 2021

ARCA: Practice crash leaves Greg Van Alst off Pocono grid

PHOTO: @ZachStur

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

Greg Van Alst finished last for the 1st time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 at Pocono Raceway when his #35 CB Fabricating Chevrolet did not start the race.

The finish came in Van Alst’s seventh series start.

After a trio of ARCA starts in 2002 at age 21, Van Alst shifted to late models and experienced a wealth of success, including a championship in the ARCA/CRA Super Series in 2019. In December 2020, Van Alst announced a partial ARCA schedule for his own team, Greg Van Alst Motorsports, headlined by superspeedway efforts run with a chassis that was formerly run by Chad Bryant Racing. While the biggest tracks of the series were not kind to him in 2021, tallying a pair of DNFs at Daytona and Talladega, the 35 car scored a top-ten finish at Kansas, indicative of where the team can run when all the pieces fall in to place.

Kris Wright scored the first last-place finish of his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 at Pocono Raceway when his #30 Master Tech Ford retired with rear gear problems after completing 13 of the event’s 80 laps.

The finish came in Wright’s eighth series start.

A sports car and open-wheel racer by trade, Wright has made quite the splash in the stock car world over the past eighteen months. He finished second in the LMP2 class in the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona, and emerged on the NASCAR scene around this time last year, running the ARCA West doubleheader at Utah Motorsports Campus for Pitts Racing, turning in two podium finishes. The performances spurred a renewed interest in stock car racing, leading to a couple of CARS Super Late Model Tour starts in the back half of 2020 as well as a handful of ARCA appearances for GMS Racing and Chad Bryant Racing and a start at the Daytona Road Course in the Truck Series for GMS. In advance of 2021, Wright signed on with Young’s Motorsports announcing a full Truck schedule; as of this writing, Wright has competed in eight of thirteen possible events for the team.

Wright also signed on with Sam Hunt Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for a handful of events, one of them being Mid-Ohio. Wright also ran the ARCA companion race with Rette Jones Racing that weekend, although an early spin derailed his effort. Driver and team paired again for Pocono, with the team noting it as a “redemption race”. Alas, it was not to be.

Van Alst was joined by twenty-four other cars on the entry list. Ryan Huff’s family team made its second race and Jett Noland’s family team, Hype Motorsports, made its first attempt. Sam Mayer jumped in Bret Holmes’ ride for the weekend, and Venturini Motorsports brought back old favorite Chandler Smith to fill the 25 car for the race. Andy Jankowiak showed up thanks to new backing from Phillips 66, and Kris Wright continued his part-time run with Rette Jones Racing. Sean Corr made his usual Pocono appearance with Empire Racing, and Jade Buford ran another race with Fast Track Racing to gain seat time for his Xfinity Series schedule. Traditional Pocono drivers Bryan Dauzat and Don Thompson were on the entry list with Brother-in-Law Racing and Wayne Peterson Racing, respectively, and Fast Track Racing filled its entries with Ed Pompa, Stephanie Moyer, and Pocono Raceway track president Nick Igdalsky.

Ty Gibbs led the lone practice session with a lap of just over 52.5 seconds, with Thompson and Brad Smith the only drivers that failed to crack the one-minute mark for a lap. Van Alst suffered significant damage to the rear of the car without posting a time and his crew called it a day with no backup car and a short turnaround to race time. Qualifying was much the same story – Gibbs led with a lap of 52.3 seconds, and this time, four drivers found themselves over the minute mark: Smith, Thompson, Igdalsky and Moyer. Wright’s team did not make a lap but still made the field, as the number of entries was not enough to fill a field.

When the race began, ARCA timing and scoring still listed Van Alst as last, raising questions as to whether the 35 car would be scored as a “did not start” and be the last-place finisher. Initially, the #35 was not listed on the post-race results, but was alter added to the results as a DNS in 25th with three points earned due to participating in some of the weekend’s events.

That left Don Thompson as the last car on the grid, as Wright was credited with the 24th starting position but actually started the race ahead of Thompson and Brad Smith. At the conclusion of the opening lap, Thompson was 3.7 seconds back of Smith, and after three laps, was 34 seconds in arrears to leader Ty Gibbs. Thompson became the first car a lap down on the track on lap six, right before the first caution flew for a spin involving Nick Igdalsky.

After an extended stay on pit road to fix damage from the incident, Igdalsky briefly dropped to 24th, also one lap down, but promptly passed Thompson on the restart to regain 23rd place. Thompson remained the last-place driver that started the race until Wright went to the pit road on lap 13. While initial reports indicated that the Rette Jones Racing machine may have had a flat tire, it was soon evident that problems were much more than that. The 30 car soon went to the garage and dropped to last on lap 15.

About that time, radio chatter indicated that there was at least one large piece of debris on the track, and several drivers and spotters were lobbying the sanctioning body to call a caution. Alas, none of the calls were heeded, and the caution came out instead for Scott Melton, who was trailing copious amounts of smoke from his machine. Sam Mayer had also been on a freefall right before the caution, and the MRN broadcast noted that the #32 car had been bottoming out more than usual.

Melton retired his car to the garage under caution, but the Bret Holmes Racing team attempted to repair Mayer’s car on pit road. It soon became apparent that there was an extra part lodged in the bottom of Mayer’s car – the pinion off of a different car, presumably Wright’s. After failing to dislodge the pinion from under the front bumper of Mayer’s car, the team sent him out so as to not lose a lap, but the engine expired not even a lap after he left the pits. 

All parties involved were understandably upset about the situation.

“You… spend a lot of money to come out here and race, and the officials don’t want to listen to the people that put on the show and come here and keep this series alive,” Holmes told Frontstretch. “It’ll probably cause us to not be able to go to the next race we wanted to, and that’s their [ARCA’s] fault. Just stupidity from the series. They do it so often. I mean, it’s not a secret.”

Last year’s ARCA East champion Mayer also shellacked the series for the inaction. “Just disappointed ARCA won’t listen to anybody up on the spotter stand. There’s about 15 spotters up there complaining that there was debris on the track and still nothing, and it took seven laps and probably three destroyed racecars and engines to make it happen,” he was quoted as saying in the same Frontstretch article.

Scott Melton was not silent on the issue either, being the third person to talk to Frontstretch about the matter. “When you’re running 180 mph, I think it’s incumbent on them [ARCA] to be on the safe side. And this was ridiculous. I mean, it’s not just the damage of the car. The yoke that took off the No. 23 could have hit Sam in the face. There’s so many bad things that can happen.”

The Bottom Five was filled by Igdalsky, eliminated in a Lap 27 tangle with Bryan Dauzat.

25) #35-Greg Van Alst / 0 laps / did not start
24) #30-Kris Wright / 13 laps / rear gear
23) #69-Scott Melton / 17 laps / crash
22) #32-Sam Mayer / 19 laps / radiator
21) #12-Nick Igdalsky / 26 laps / crash

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

1st) Fast Track Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Greg Van Alst Motorsports, Rette Jones Racing, Kimmel Racing (1)


Monday, June 28, 2021

SRX: Bill Elliott’s hard-luck streak continues at Eldora

PHOTO: CBS Broadcast

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

Bill Elliott finished last for the second time in his Superstar Racing Experience career in Saturday’s event at Eldora Speedway when his #9 machine crashed out after completing 45 of the race’s 50 green-flag laps.

The finish was his first since Stafford, two weeks ago. Across series history, it was the second for car number 9 and the first for crew chief Keith Kunz.

Since his last-place finish to kick off the season at Stafford, Elliott has continued to soldier on through the Superstar Racing Experience season. Mechanical gremlins again caught him at Knoxville, dropping him to 11th. Series director Ray Evernham actually noted the chassis Elliott was driving as one of the series’ biggest issues following the Knoxville race, and gave Elliott a new chassis to race for the rest of the season while the series tried to permanently remedy the issues on the old car.

Tony Kanaan returned to the seat at Eldora, and former Formula 1, NASCAR and rallycross driver Scott Speed took over the gold-painted entry as the ringer. A pair of midget standouts filled the local hero roles: USAC Silver Crown standout Kody Swanson took the driver role, and dynasty team owner Keith Kunz took over the crew chief role.

As luck would have it, Speed drew the 12th and final starting position for Heat 1. He did not stay there for long, as last week’s last-place finisher Paul Tracy doored Willy T. Ribbs in turn three of the opening lap, dropping the driver of the 17 to last. Ribbs, who said in an interview after the feature that a lack of rear grip hampered him during the heats, was unable to make any passes for the duration of the heat and finished last.

With the full invert from Heat 1 to Heat 2, Tony Stewart took over last at the beginning of Heat 2, although he handed the position to Helio Castroneves a little ways into the heat. Barely a minute in, however, Ernie Francis, Jr. spun Tony Kanaan at the end of the frontstretch, and Michael Waltrip and Kody Swanson piled in from behind. Francis, Waltrip and Swanson all failed to finish the heat, with Swanson scored in last. He was also the only driver forced to a backup car for the feature, his patriotic paint scheme swapped for a flat blue one. Elliott enjoyed a pair of relatively anonymous performances in the heat races, finishing 8th in the first heat and 7th in the second.

With drivers starting the feature in accordance to their average finish in the heats, Ribbs was slated to start last until Stewart hit the kill switch on his machine during the pace laps, meaning the series’ signature orange car would start the feature from the tail. Smoke made quick work of Ribbs, who remained there for much of the first half of the race before passing both Kanaan and Francis right before the halfway mark. Around that time, Francis punted Kanaan, much to the dismay of the Brazilian.

After a game of bumper cars between Kanaan and Francis during the ensuing caution, Ribbs was somehow shuffled to the end of the lineup, possibly because of a pit stop that the broadcast did not cover. He remained there into the waning stages of the race, as the evolving track continued to challenge the career pavement racer.

Things began getting dicey in the middle half of the field with about ten laps to go, and it came to a head with five to go. Fourth-place runner Paul Tracy divebombed Bobby Labonte into turn one, sending the 18 car into a lazy slide in the middle of the turn. He was tagged first by Marco Andretti and then by Elliott, destroying the front end of the 18 car and substantially damaging the 9 as well. Andretti was running in fifth and Elliott in seventh at the time of the incident.

Labonte dropped the window net and took a ride from a safety van to the infield. Elliott was able to drive his machine to pit road, where he exited the car. Since caution laps do not count in SRX feature events, Elliott was not credited with an extra lap completed and remained below Labonte in the classification, his second last-place finish in the series’ three races.

12) #9-Bill Elliott / 45 laps / accident
11) #18-Bobby Labonte / 45 laps / accident
10) #15-Michael Waltrip / 50 laps / running

1st) Mike Christopher, Keith Kunz, Todd Parrott (1)


Sunday, June 27, 2021

CUP: Blown engine drops Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. behind a battling Bilicki and Hill


Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Explore The Pocono Mountains 350 at the Pocono Raceway when his #47 Scott Brand Chevrolet lost the engine after 111 of 140 laps.

The finish, which came in Stenhouse’s 311th series start, was his second of the season and first since Sonoma, three races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 35th for the #47, the 705th from engine trouble, and the 809th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #47, the 1,104th from engine trouble, and the 1,791st for Chevrolet.

Thanks to his strong 6th-place finish just last week in Nashville, Stenhouse secured 7th on the grid for Saturday’s first round of the Pocono double-header. Overcoming a late-race penalty for laying back too far on a restart, Stenhouse finished 15th that day, which with the inversion secured him 6th on the grid for Sunday. Still sitting 18th in the point standings, 42 markers behind a spot in the Top 16, Stenhouse looked to score his fourth top-15 finish in five races.

Cole Custer, whose crash on Saturday left him in last place, was set to roll off 38th and last. He would incur a redundant tail-end penalty for going to a backup car, joining 37th-place starter Ryan Newman in the #6 Guaranteed Rate Ford, 36th-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 NationsGuard Chevrolet, 33rd-place Ross Chastain in the #42 McDonald’s Chevrolet, 26th-place Anthony Alfredo in the #38 Death Wish Coffee Ford, 23rd-place Ryan Preece in the #37 Thomas’ / Kroger Chevrolet, and 12th-place Kyle Larson in the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet. Also joining the tail-end group was the #77 Diamond Creek Water Chevrolet. Justin Haley was set to start 27th in the car, but handed the wheel to Justin Allgaier after Haley’s hard crash in the day’s XFINITY race.

When the field addressed the starter’s stand, all the backup cars lined up ahead of two other drivers who voluntarily dropped to the rear: 35th-place Timmy Hill in the #66 M&M Mechanical Toyota and 34th-place Josh Bilicki in the #52 Jacob Companies Ford. Coming to the green, Hill was on the inside of Bilicki with Custer and Haley lined up in front of them in Row 18.

On the break, Bilicki got a better pull in the outside lane, putting Hill last across the stripe, 3.807 seconds back of the lead. At the end of Lap 1, Hill was exactly one-tenth of a second back of Bilicki. On Lap 2, Anthony Alfredo’s backup car went straight coming off Turn 2 and hit the wall, then hit the wall again in Turn 3, drawing the caution. Alfredo took last from Hill as he made it to pit road. Alfredo was rolling again on Lap 4, now one lap down, and made a second stop before the Lap 7 restart.

Alfredo left open track in front of him as he took the green, and the leaders soon lapped Bilicki and Hill. On Lap 19, Alfredo reported his car was hitting the splitter hard over the bumps. A tight condition developed by the 28th circuit, forcing extensive adjustments under the Stage 1 caution on Lap 30. The car then picked up a bad vibration that caused the driver’s voice to shake on the radio. By then, he was three laps down, and just trying to reach the finish.

On Lap 61, Timmy Hill was warned by NASCAR to pick up his speed. By then, both he and Bilicki were on the same lap as Alfredo – each of them three circuits behind. Alfredo dropped Hill to last on Lap 64 and on Lap 79 dropped Bilicki back to 36th. When Stage 2 ended on Lap 85, Hill was still in last, five laps down, with all 38 drivers still running. Kyle Busch’s transmission repairs took place under the caution, and Bilicki’s hood was raised during his stop. This dropped Bilicki to last on Lap 89, and was still running there on Lap 91 as Busch caught the tail end of the field coming to green.

Bilicki dropped Hill to last again on Lap 96, and the two traded the spot over the following two circuits. By Lap 111, NASCAR warned Hill to pick up his speed a second time, and this time told him to come in for adjustments. Moments later, Stenhouse entered the last-place picture as he came down pit road reporting a dropped cylinder, smoke coming from his exhaust pipes. The next time by, Hill’s car had stalled after his mandated stop, and his car was being pushed up pit road. The car re-fired and returned to action eight laps down. On Lap 116, NASCAR declared Stenhouse out of the race. Hill made another stop on Lap 118 and was shown nine laps back. “I can’t make minimum,” said Hill as he struggled to get up to speed. On Lap 122, Hill dropped Stenhouse to last place, then pulled into the garage two laps later.

Alfredo and Bilicki climbed to 34th and 35th by the finish, passing Garrett Smithley, who broke a power steering line on his #53 RichMar Florists Chevrolet in the final laps.

Kyle Busch prevailed in the fuel-mileage battle that ended the race, but others behind him also impressed with strong runs. Bubba Wallace took 5th, both the first top-five finish for 23XI Racing and Wallace’s first finish better than 11th all season. Ryan Preece, sent to a backup car after his Saturday collision with Chase Elliott, finished 8th – his third top-ten finish of the year and best finish since he ran 9th on the Daytona Road Course in February.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #47 in a Cup race at Pocono.

38) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 111 laps / engine
37) #66-Timmy Hill / 113 laps / handling
36) #53-Garrett Smithley / 122 laps / engine
35) #52-Josh Bilicki / 132 laps / running
34) #38-Anthony Alfredo / 134 laps / running

1st) Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
2nd) Spire Motorsports (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford (6)
3rd) Toyota (2)


XFINITY: Turn 1 tangle with Ferrucci hands Josh Williams first last-place finish since 2017

PHOTO: @Zeffler9

Josh Williams picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Sunday’s Pocono Green 225 at the Pocono Raceway when his #92 Sleep Well / Alloy Chevrolet was involved in an accident after 11 of 90 laps.

The finish, which came in Williams’ 109th series start, was his first of the year and first since July 1, 2017 at Daytona, 133 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 23rd for the #92, the 350th from a crash, and the 572nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 30th for the #92, the 1,259th for a crash, and the 1,790th for Chevrolet.

Josh Williams and teammate Alex Labbe have both been an integral part of the steady improvement of Mario Gosselin’s team DGM Racing in recent years. After a challenging 2018 where he failed to finish nine races and finished no better than 20th, he attempted his first full-time season in 2019 driving DGM’s #36. That year saw him finish 20th or better 17 times in 32 starts, including his first top-ten finish by taking 8th at Talladega, and secured 17th in the standings.

Moving over to DGM’s #92, Williams became a regular fixture in the Top 20 last season, scoring another six top-ten finishes, including three in the Playoffs at Talladega, Kansas, and Texas. He very nearly finished among the leaders during the rain-soaked Charlotte “Roval” race, only to be involved in a crash. Following a 13th-place finish in the season finale at Phoenix, Williams climbed from 15th to 14th in the series standings, and closed the year with an average finish of 18.6.

This year, Williams has struggled to keep up the pace he started last season. He arrived in Pocono just 21st in points, having failed to qualify at the Circuit of the Americas with a lone Top Ten – a 10th at Mid-Ohio. A 21st-place finish in Nashville helped his qualifying metric, placing him 22nd on the grid at Pocono.

Starting 40th and last on Sunday was Joey Gase, who made a one-off start with Jimmy Means Racing thanks to sponsorship from Adirondack Tree Surgeons. The company had its logo on the hood of the same red-and-yellow scheme of Panini America, the sponsor of the team’s regular driver Gray Gaulding. Gase would be joined at the rear by Jesse Iwuji, who was a late driver replacement for Bayley Currey in Mike Harmon Racing’s #74 Reel Chevrolet, set to roll off 34th. The results also indicated Carson Ware’s entry in the #17 Jacob Construction Chevrolet was also listed as a driver change in place of brother Cody Ware, set to roll off 32nd.

Prior to the start, 25th-place starter David Starr in the #66 Alarm Tech Systems Toyota was pushed behind the wall at the exit of pit road. The car wouldn’t fire at the command, but started very soon after. So soon, in fact, that as the field addressed the starter to take the green, Starr was seen passing Gase off Turn 3 and was working his way back up through the pack going into Turn 1 for the first time. Gase, meanwhile, was having clutch issues, and remained last for the first eight laps. Gase then passed Iwuji on Lap 9, and the #74 was still running in the final spot when the caution fell on Lap 12.

Williams makes it to pit road after his crash.
PHOTO: @premium5562

The reason for the caution was Josh Williams, who had backed into the outside wall in Turn 1. Replays showed Williams was racing on the outside of Santino Ferrucci in the #26 Moery / Manatawny Still Works Toyota. Ferrucci appeared to take a wide entry into the corner, turning so much later than Williams that the #26 appeared to miss the corner altogether. Ferrucci was a half carlength ahead of Williams when the two made contact, sending Williams into his spin. Ferrucci gathered his car in the high lane and continued on without serious damage, eventually finishing 14th. “He missed the corner!” said someone one Williams’ crew. “It’s killed. We’re not gonna fix that.” Williams made it to his pit stall, saying “What a fucking idiot, dude,” and soon pulled behind the wall. He’d taken last from Iwuji on Lap 12. Gase’s clutch issue would ultimately take him out of the race, leaving him 36th.

On Lap 25, a brutal accident off Turn 1 filled the next two spots in the Bottom Five. Contact from Sam Mayer, making his XFINITY debut in the #8 Tire Pros Chevrolet, sent Justin Haley spinning into the inside wall. Haley’s #11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet bounced back into traffic, resulting in several close calls. Unable to avoid the wreck was Ryan Vargas in the #6 Every Life Is Worth Saving Chevrolet, which collided with the rear of Haley’s car. When interviewed, Vargas was emotional. That particular #6 was the last car worked on by JD Motorsports longtime car chief Brian Lear, a native of nearby Shickshinny, Pennsylvania who died on May 31 at age 38. Lear’s name was on the hood of Vargas’ car, which was otherwise unsponsored. Both Haley and Vargas were checked and released from the infield care center.

Taking 37th was Harrison Burton, whose #20 Dex Imaging Toyota spun after racing under Justin Allgaier off Turn 1, hitting the wall with the driver’s side. Burton made it to pit road, but would also drop out of the race.

Jade Buford made an unscheduled stop for a cut tire following contact with Matt Mills and recovered to finish 19th in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. The run came after Buford made his first ARCA start at the same track on Friday, where he ran 8th in a car fielded by Andy Hillenburg.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #92 in a XFINITY race at Pocono.
*The 11 laps completed by Williams is the most by a last-place finisher of a XFINITY race at Pocono. The previous record was 7 laps by Jeff Green on June 10, 2017.

40) #92-Josh Williams / 11 laps / crash
39) #6-Ryan Vargas / 24 laps / crash
38) #11-Justin Haley / 24 laps / crash
37) #20-Harrison Burton / 36 laps / crash / led 21 laps / won stage 1
36) #52-Joey Gase / 42 laps / clutch

1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (3)
2nd) DGM Racing, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (1)


Saturday, June 26, 2021

CUP: Cole Custer’s rough summer stretch continues with first last-place finish


Cole Custer picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Pocono Organics CBD 325 at the Pocono Raceway when his #41 HaasTooling.com Ford was eliminated in an accident after 13 of 130 laps.

The finish came in Custer’s 57th series start. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 41st for the #41, the 615th from a cash, and the 709th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 57th for the #41, the 976th for Ford, and the 1,258th from a crash.

While overshadowed by drivers like Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, and Tyler Reddick, who have each excelled in their rise through NASCAR’s three national touring series, Cole Custer has been impressive in his own right. In 2014, he finished 12th in his first Truck Series start, won his first pole two starts later, and his first race four starts after that. In the XFINITY Series, he ranked no worse than 5th in points across three full-time seasons, scoring nine wins. And just last year, he took Rookie of the Year after scoring his first Cup win in thrilling fashion in Kentucky. 

This year, however, has already proven a struggle. While his Stewart-Haas Racing team remained winless through the year’s first 17 races and teammate Aric Almirola had already scored the most last-place finishes on the year with three, Custer has also languished back in the running order. Only seven times in the first 17 races had he finished inside the Top 20 with a best of 10th at Talladega and Dover. He crashed out early at both Darlington and the Circuit of the Americas, the latter in terrifying fashion after Martin Truex, Jr. rammed his stalled Ford during a downpour. Just last week at Nashville, he ended up 30th, back in the order after a cut tire ripped the brake lines from his Ford.

At Pocono, Custer was set to roll off 26th, but his car twice failed inspection, resulting in a tail-end penalty for the start of the race. He took the spot from Timmy Hill, scheduled to roll off 38th in the #66 M&M Mechanical Toyota. But by the time the green flag dropped, Hill had again dropped behind Custer, and was shown 3.365 seconds back of the lead. 

Just like the Truck Series race earlier that day, there was trouble in the middle of the pack just moments after the green flag dropped. Ryan Blaney, who rolled off 27th in the #12 Menards / Richmond Ford, checked-up in front of 29th-place Chase Elliott in the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Elliott bumped Blaney, and a fast-closing Ryan Preece in 31st had to cut left to avoid ramming Elliott even harder. The gap closed too quickly, and Preece’s #37 Thomas’ / Kroger Chevrolet collided with the left-rear corner of Elliott’s car, causing significant damage to the #9. Somehow, all three kept their cars straight, and it was several laps before the television broadcast made note of the damage. 

As Elliott gradually lost ground, Hill began to lose touch with the rest of the pack. From Lap 2 to Lap 3, he fell from 0.249 back of 37th-place Josh Bilicki in the #52 Jacob Companies Ford to 1.079 seconds, and was 3.805 back when debris in Turn 2 brought out the first caution on Lap 10. NASCAR ruled this yellow as the competition caution – already set for Lap 12 – and Elliott was able to pit for significant repairs to his car. Elliott took last from Hill on the 11th circuit, and was 1.149 seconds back of 37th-place Bilicki as the field addressed the starer for the Lap 13 restart.

Custer's car (center) towed to the
infield from the exit of Turn 1
PHOTO: @premium5562

The next time by, Cole Custer was running around the 17th spot, having stayed out on old tires during the previous caution. For a moment, Custer appeared to be getting back into the outside line, but stopped short. Brad Keselowski, who was running behind Custer in the #2 Freightliner Ford, then made an abrupt move to the left, but in so doing made contact with Custer’s rear bumper. This instantly swerved Custer into the outside wall, then sent him sliding down into the inside barrier just before Turn 1. Custer climbed out, frustrated but uninjured. Custer took last from Elliott on Lap 15.

Taking 37th was Ryan Newman, who spun entering Turn 1 and backed into the outside wall with his #6 Wynham Resorts Ford. Corey LaJoie was running mid-pack when his #7 Nations Guard Chevrolet crossed the nose of Anthony Alfredo’s #38 Death Wish Coffee Ford off Turn 3, resulting in significant passenger-side damage to the #7. LaJoie managed to clear minimum speed to finish five laps down. Timmy Hill had just lost his fourth lap entering Turn 3 for the final time when race leader Kyle Larson blew a left-front tire. Alex Bowman beat both drivers to the finish line. Josh Bilicki rounded out the Bottom Five, two laps ahead of Hill.

Pit strategy in the late stages brought two of Bilicki’s teammates at Rick Ware Racing into the Top 10 inside the final 25 laps with Cody Ware’s #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet running as high as 8th and James Davison holding 10th in the #15 Go FMX Chevrolet. A debris caution bunched the field up, dropping Ware to 25th and Davison in 28th with Garrett Smithley in another Ware car – the #53 Rich Mar Florist Chevrolet – taking 29th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #41 in a Cup Series race at Pocono since June 9, 1985 when Ronnie Thomas’ #41 92 WXTU Chevrolet lost an engine after 1 lap of the Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500.

38) #41-Cole Custer / 13 laps / crash
37) #6-Ryan Newman / 96 laps / crash
36) #7-Corey LaJoie / 125 laps / running
35) #66-Timmy Hill / 126 laps / running
34) #52-Josh Bilicki / 128 laps / running

1st) Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
2nd) Spire Motorsports (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, JTG-Daugherty Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (6)
3rd) Toyota (2)


TRUCKS: Wreck on initial start hands upstart Jack Wood first last-place finish


Jack Wood picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #24 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet wrecked on the opening lap of the 60-lap race.

The finish came in Wood’s 4th series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #24, the 168th from a crash, and the 410th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 39th for the #24, the 1,257th from a crash, and the 1,789th for Chevrolet.

The 20-year-old from California - not the Stuart, Virginia group of the famous Wood Brothers – Jack Wood has competed in west coast stock car events since 2019. Driving for Velocity Racing, owned by his father, Wood finished 10th in his first K&N Pro Series West event at Irwindale, then 9th at the Evergreen Speedway in Washington. Last season, he finished 11th in the standings despite running just eight of the 11 events, buoyed by six top-ten finishes and a new career-best 5th at the Colorado National Speedway.

GMS Racing came calling for this season, putting him in the West Series opener at Phoenix, then his first foray into the ARCA Menards Series. Driving the team’s #21 Chevrolet, he finished 9th in the ARCA opener at Daytona, then earned a career-best 4th at Kansas before finishing 6th in Charlotte.

When sponsorship issues cut short Raphael Lessard’s full-time effort in GMS Racing’s #24 Chevrolet, Wood filled the seat. He made his first series start at the Circuit of the Americas – one of the few races this season with practice and qualifying – and secured 33rd on the grid. He finished 28th that day, and in his two starts since improved each time. He finished 15th at Charlotte, then qualified outside-pole and finished 11th. This helped him in the qualifying metric for Pocono, securing him 9th on the grid. He looked to bounce back from a rough outing in Friday’s ARCA race on the “Tricky Triangle” – a crash with Jason Kitzmiller left him 18th.

Starting 39th and last on Saturday was Bryan Dauzat, who along with Jim Rosenblum’s FDNY Racing team had fielded the #28 FDNY Chevrolet for the first time since their 19th-place finish in this year’s Daytona opener. While no drivers were sent to the rear for pre-race penalties, two trucks came to pit road after the first pace lap: one blue truck and and another with a yellow hood. The blue truck was likely Ray Ciccarelli, slated to roll off 38th in his #49 Sam’s Dock Toyota. The other may have been 33rd-place Howie DiSavino III in the #3 Kees Vacations / Bud’s Chevrolet, which had taken last from Dauzat, a full 18 seconds back of the leader when he took the green flag.

For the second-straight running of this race, the last-place battle was over in an instant. Coming to the green flag, Wood apparently missed a shift, causing a stack-up behind him with the #18 JBL Toyota of Chandler Smith and the unsponsored #42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet of Carson Hocevar. Smith got into the back of Wood, turning his #24 hard right into the outside wall. Wood narrowly missed 12th-place starter Johnny Sauter in the #13 AHI Facility Services Ford, but bounced off the wall and back into Sauter, damaging his truck as well. 

Wood (center) towed to the garage.
PHOTO: @premium5562

With Wood’s rear decklid sticking perpendicular from the back of his truck and a serious water leak, NASCAR instructed him to stop off the exit of Turn 2, and the team told him to drop the window net. Sauter, meanwhile, made it back around to his pit stall, and took last from DiSavino since he started behind Wood. On Lap 2, Sauter was rolling again, but didn’t beat the caution truck off pit road and was told to stop. He completed his first lap in the process, dropping Wood to last. The next time by, Sauter and DiSavino were penalized for pitting too soon while Wood’s truck was hooked up to a tow truck and pulled to the garage through the rear entrance off the Long Pond Straight.

Sauter restarted the race, but still hadn’t met minimum speed as he had another tire going down. This forced a second pit stop with less than two minutes left on the “Crash Clock.” “We can thank the 18 truck for turning the 24 into us on the fucking start,” said someone on Sauter’s crew. During this stop, Sauter’s team discovered an issue with the battery, and had to get one from teammate Matt Crafton’s crew to get rolling again. On Lap 8, Sauter was rolling again, and this time managed to clear minimum speed. He’d finish in 35th, five laps down, rounding out the Bottom Five.

Taking 38th was Danny Bohn, who lost the transmission on his #30 North American Motor Car Toyota at the end of Stage 1. Bayley Currey’s run in the #45 Circle B Diecast Chevrolet ended with engine failure after 38 laps, followed by Grant Enfinger in the #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet. Enfinger had been running among the leaders when he pulled behind the wall with just eight laps to go.

Making just his fourth series start, Lawless Alan earned a career-best 20th-place finish in Reaume Brothers Racing’s #34 Auto ParkIt Toyota.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #24 in a Truck Series race since July 23, 2005, when Roland Isaacs’ run in the #24 PMI Heating & Air / Trane Chevrolet ended with electrical issues after 20 laps of the O’Reilly 200 Presented by Valvoline at Memphis. This was the same race where Brandon Whitt scored his lone series win. The #24 had never before finished last in a Truck race at Pocono.
*This marked the fifth time the last-place finisher of the Truck race at Pocono failed to complete the opening lap. No last-place finisher of this event has ever completed more than 3 laps.

39) #24-Jack Wood / 0 laps / crash
38) #30-Danny Bohn / 17 laps / transmission
37) #45-Bayley Currey / 38 laps / engine
36) #9-Grant Enfinger / 52 laps / engine
35) #13-Johnny Sauter / 55 laps / running

1st) Niece Motorsports (4)
2nd) GMS Racing, Rackley-W.A.R. (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)


Thursday, June 24, 2021

PREVIEW: Several Truck Series teams aren't in Pocono while XFINITY sees many returning drivers

PHOTO: @Team_SHR26

Saturday, June 26, 2021 (12:00 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 13 of 22
CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Matt Crafton

Following a single withdrawal of Henderson Motorsports’ #75 (see below), there are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots. The return of metric qualifying means all of them will start Saturday’s race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Howie DiSavino III is back in Jordan Anderson’s truck for the first time since Texas, replacing Keith McGee, who failed to qualify at Nashville. Kees Vacations and Bud’s are the listed sponsors.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning returns to action at his home track, and is looking forward to it. In eleven previous Pocono starts, he’s finished under power in every one of them with a best run of 20th in 2012 and 2014, completing all but 24 of the combined 645 laps.

RETURNING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #98-ThorSport Racing
Christian Eckes is back in ThorSport’s #98, moving Grant Enfinger back to the returning Codie Rohrbaugh entry. Rohrbaugh’s Grant County Mulch is the listed backer for the #9 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb will also attempt the Pocono race after a one-week hiatus, hers coming after a liftgate failure on her hauler prevented her from practicing at Nashville. Cobb’s team withdrew the #10, and now is locked-in to Saturday’s field.

MISSING: #11-Spencer Davis Racing
Among the teams not making the trip north is Spencer Davis’ effort, which ran 25th last week in Nashville. Davis finished 18th at Pocono last year, his first series start at the track.

MISSING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens is likewise not entered after his return to action in Nashville, where he ran 33rd, the second-to-last truck to finish under power.

MISSING: #27-Rackley-W.A.R.
The Rackley-W.A.R. effort will only field Josh Berry’s #25 this week, parking the new second entry that William Byron finished last with after engine trouble in Nashville.

Team owner Jim Rosenblum has been a fixture at Pocono, and will continue to be so this weekend as he brings Bryan Dauzat back to the “Tricky Triangle.” This will be only the second attempt of the season for Dauzat and Rosenblum, who previously qualified for the Daytona opener and finished 19th. This will be Dauzat’s fourth series start at Pocono, where his best finish of 22nd came in 2017.

MISSING: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes is not entered this week after his Chevrolet failed to qualify in Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Cram Racing Enterprises
Todd Peck will finally get Holla Vodka some screen time this year after he failed to make the cut at both Daytona and Darlington. This time, instead of running his family’s #96 Chevrolet, Peck will run in place of Dawson Cram in the #41.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Bayley Currey rejoins Al Niece’s team in place of Cup regular Ross Chastain, who ran 22nd at Nashville. This will be Currey’s fifth series start, his first since a 19th-place showing on the Charlotte oval. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #49-CMI Motorsports
J.J. Yeley came up just short of qualifying for Nashville, the fastest driver to miss the show. Team owner Ray Ciccarelli will take Yeley’s place this week, driving his #49 for the first time since his bottom-five finish at Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
One week after Ryan Preece’s victory in Nashville, he will again run David Gilliland’s #17, but this time will have to contend with Kyle Busch. Busch again takes the place of Drew Dollar, who ran 24th the night Preece took the checkers.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill once again trades places with brother Timmy in the #56, which will carry the Camping World colors once more. Tyler finished 19th his most recent time out in Texas.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield’s Rackley Roofing entry is not entered after his DNQ in Nashville.

WITHDREW: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman withdrew as one of the 40 initial entries, which means he would have started had the #75 team not pulled out by Tuesday.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper is not entered after his 31st-place run in Nashville, marking the first time the #04 will not start a Truck Series race in 2021.

CUP INVADERS: #17-Ryan Preece, #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, June 26, 2021 (3:00 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 18 of 36
Pocono Organics CBD 325 at Pocono
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Quin Houff

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the fourth consecutive short field and the 14th in 18 races this season.

MISSING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
David Starr and the second MBM entry will not be in Pocono this week after they finished 34th with brake issues in Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
James Davison returns to the site of his Cup debut in place of Joey Gase, who rounded out a solid weekend for Rick Ware’s team with a 29th-place finish in Nashville. Go FMX is the listed sponsor for Davison, who returns to the series for the first time since Sonoma.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Cody Ware returns from his IndyCar debut in Road America in place of J.J. Yeley, who took 27th in Nashville. This will mark Ware’s first Cup start at Pocono since 2017, when he finished last after an early vibration.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill finished 35th and 29th in the Pocono doubleheader last year, and this week takes the place of Chad Finchum, who ran 33rd with rear end trouble in Nashville. M&M Mechanical is the listed sponsor for Hill’s Toyota.

Sunday, June 27, 2021 (12:00 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 16 of 33
Pocono Green 225 at Pocono
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Brandon Jones

There are 41 drivers entered for 40 spots, meaning one team – MBM’s #13 – will fail to qualify under the metric.

DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
For the fourth-straight XFINITY Series race since Chad Finchum’s 15th-place finish in Charlotte, MBM’s #13 team is sent home, this time with Timmy Hill behind the wheel. Hill will still run on both days in MBM’s Cup car.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Carson Ware made his first three XFINITY starts last year, most recently at this same Pocono track, where he finished a career-best 20th. He will make his first series start of the year on Sunday, taking the place of brother Cody Ware after a midweek driver change. Cody had been entered in place of Joe Graf, Jr., who was eliminated in a crash with Jade Buford at Nashville, leaving him 34th. Graf this week will return to the #07 in place of J.J. Yeley, who was running inside the Top 20 at Nashville before he spun on the final lap, putting him 22nd.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Josh Berry ran his final scheduled race for JR Motorsports in 2021 last week, taking 4th, but will still be in the show as he replaces Tyler Reddick in Jordan Anderson’s fleet #31 as he had in Mid-Ohio. Sam Mayer will make his XFINITY Series debut in Berry’s #8 with Tire Pros as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Blaine Perkins will make his fourth XFINITY start of the year and first since Martinsville, looking to improve on his 24th-place run in his series debut at Phoenix. He takes the place of Natalie Decker, who ran 26th in Nashville, and will again be sponsored by Raceline.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Still another driver returning to the series after an extended absence is Santino Ferrucci, who in the most recent three of his first four starts finished 13th at Las Vegas, 15th in Phoenix, and 15th again in Atlanta. As before, Ferrucci will drive Sam Hunt’s #26 Toyota Supra, this time with Moery and Mantawny Still Works as sponsors. He takes the place of Will Rodgers, whose own series return yielded a 14th-place finish in Nashville.

MISSING: #42-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum will not run this week’s XFINITY race as Carl Long has not entered the #42 that failed to qualify last week. The team has since reported they will enter the #42 at Road America.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Joey Gase will drive in Gray Gaulding’s place at Pocono as Gaulding offered to step out if another driver brought money. “Gray is still our driver,” says the Means team. Gase’s only other XFINITY start this year came at Talladega, when he drove the first of two Davey Allison tribute cars to a 36th-place finish after early issues.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle Busch will run the Truck Series, but not XFINITY, where he scored his 100th win last week in Nashvile. Ty Gibbs will make his eighth series start and seek his third win, back in the #54 for the first time since his 3rd-place showing in Mid-Ohio.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Announced after this article was posted, Jesse Iwuji will take the place of Bayley Currey in the #74 Chevrolet for Mike Harmon Racing. Iwuji made his first four XFINITY starts last year with a best finish of 23rd in Texas. This will be Iwuji's first start of the year.

The 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion Loris Hezemans will make his third XFINITY Series start and first since Phoenix earlier this year. After running for both MBM and B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Hezemans will this time run for Mario Gosselin in the #90. He takes the place of Dillon Bassett, who failed to qualify in Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Pocono will be Mason Massey’s third series start of the season and first since Talladega, where he ran a season-best 29th. He takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who finished last at Nashville after a hard crash in the tri-oval.


Sunday, June 27, 2021 (3:30 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 19 of 36
Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 at Pocono
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Michael McDowell

As of this writing, the same 38 drivers and teams from Saturday’s first Cup race will be entered on Sunday. This means there will have been 15 short fields in the season’s first 19 races. Just like last year, the difference is the race’s length, which increases from 325 miles (130 laps) on Saturday to 350 miles (140 laps) on Sunday.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 24, 2005): Alex Yontz of Walnut Cove, North Carolina picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 at the Milwaukee Mile when his #61 Bradco Supply Chevrolet lost the engine after 123 laps. This was the second of Yontz’ four series starts, all of them that season. His last start came at the Nashville Superspeedway, site of last week’s events, where he ran a career-best 28th.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

SRX: Paul Tracy’s rough night ends early in Knoxville


by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

Paul Tracy picked up the first last-place finish of his Superstar Racing Experience career at the Knoxville Raceway when his #13 Professional Bull Riders / World Championship Rodeo Alliance machine fell out with overheating problems after completing 5 of the feature’s 50 laps.

Across series history, it was the first for the #13 and the first for crew chief Todd Parrott.

A staple of CART in the 1990s and post-split early 2000s, Tracy drove his last full racing season in 2007 but has continued to dabble in various forms of motorsport since then, including Grand-Am sports cars and Stadium Super Trucks. Additionally, Tracy has been a color commentator for NBC’s IndyCar coverage. He took a reduced role with the broadcaster in 2021, allowing him to participate full-time in the Superstar Racing Experience.

Three driver storylines headlined the Knoxville event. The "local hero" car - driven by 410 sprint car racer Brian Brown - came loaded with expectations. Not only did Doug Coby win in the local hero car last week, but Brown is also announced to drive the Knoxville race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, making the SRX seat time all the more valuable for a driver who had never raced a vehicle with fenders before Saturday. In the "ringer" car was one of dirt racing’s best personalities, Scott Bloomquist. The dirt late model legend entered with a leg up on most of the field, as he did participate in NASCAR’s inaugural Eldora event, giving him some sought-after seat time in stock cars on dirt. The third story was Hailie Deegan, subbing for Tony Kanaan. Deegan entered the event with a wealth of dirt experience and a win on dirt in a stock car, coming in the K&N Pro Series West in 2019. All three looked to be legitimate threats to win going in to the event.

Bloomquist, by luck of the draw, rolled off last on the grid for the beginning of Heat 1. He trailed the field for the first couple of laps, but passed Willy T. Ribbs by the two-minute mark of the event to put Ribbs’ blue Fram Filters machine at the tail end of the field. Despite a mid-heat caution for Paul Tracy rubbing the wall, Ribbs stayed in 12th until the final front straightaway, when Michael Waltrip checked up and spun off the bumper of Brown. Waltrip kept it off the wall and finished the heat, albeit ten seconds later than the rest of the field.

With the full-field invert for the beginning of Heat 2, Tony Stewart looked set to roll off from the final position. However, late-breaking news from pit road indicated that an adjustment to the event format this week left the possibility for drivers to make adjustments to their cars in between heats at the expense of their starting position in Heat 2. Ribbs gave up the second starting position to make adjustments to his car and inherited the final starting position behind the other two cars that pitted, Bill Elliott and Ernie Francis Jr. The adjustments must have helped, as Ribbs passed Bobby Labonte around the three-minute mark for 11th. Labonte returned the favor at around the six-minute mark of the heat, but Ribbs dropped Marco Andretti to last with about a minute to go. As Andretti looked three-wide under Ribbs and Labonte for tenth place with 30 seconds to go, Tracy, who had already also got into the wall on a restart, spun into the outside wall and made significant contact. On the ensuing green-white-checkered restart, Tracy looped it again and finished out of contention in last place.

In an interview with Matt Yocum in between the heat and the feature, Tracy went off on Waltrip, claiming that this was the second week in a row that he had been wrecked by the driver of the 15 car (CBS’ cameras missed the beginning of Tracy’s spins in Heat 2 this week) and told Yocum that Waltrip had one coming at some point in the series.

Another change the series made for its second race weekend was that instead of the finishing order of Heat 2 becoming the starting order, drivers’ average finishing position in the heat races would be the order of the starting lineup for the feature. Ribbs, who finished 11th in both heats, rolled off last with Tracy to his inside in Row 6.

The two remained side-by-side through lap one, with Ribbs maintaining in the last spot through the first caution, five laps in. Tracy pulled in to the pits during that caution and quickly exited the car, giving an interview to Yocum under the Lap 8 caution. While the audio didn’t cut in until midway through, the split-screen cameras went to Waltrip’s car on track, indicating that Tracy was again voicing his displeasure before explaining that he called it quits after overheating to avoid blowing an engine.

The Bottom Three was filled by Bill Elliott, eleven laps in arrears due to another mechanical issue, and Ribbs, the last car on the lead lap.

After last week’s feature was published, SRX announced that paint schemes will remain constant with drivers throughout the season. As such, LASTCAR’s paint scheme rankings have been discontinued.


12) #13-Paul Tracy / 5 laps / overheating
11) #9-Bill Elliott / 89 laps / running
10) #17-Willy T. Ribbs / 100 laps / running

1st) Mike Christopher, Todd Parrott (1)


Sunday, June 20, 2021

CUP: At Nashville, five lug nuts drop Chase Elliott behind a driver who completed just two corners

PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

Chase Elliott picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet finished 13th, but was disqualified for five “loose or missing lug nuts” after completing all 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Elliott’s 202nd Cup start, was his first of the season and first since November 10, 2019 at Phoenix, 54 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 34th for the #9, the 25th from disqualification, and the 808th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 43rd disqualification, the 56th for the #9, and the 1,788th for Chevrolet.

Quin Houff picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #00 Mane ‘n Tail / Spirit Untamed Chevrolet was eliminated in a single-car crash without completing any of the 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Houff’s 70th series start, was his second of the year and first since the Daytona Infield Road Course, 15 races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 30th for the #00, the 615th from a crash, and the 808th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 45th for the #00, the 1,257th for a crash, and the 1,788th for Chevrolet.

Last November saw Elliott bounce back from his last-place finish in the 2019 Phoenix race to take the checkered flag and the series championship in the same event. Following a runner-up finish to Michael McDowell in this year’s Daytona 500, he endured a hot-and-cold start to the year until Kansas, where a 5th-place finish began a streak of six straight finishes of 7th or better. A 3rd at Dover coincided with the resurgence of the entire four-car team at Hendrick Motorsports, and a win in the rain-shortened inaugural event in COTA was his first of the season. Coming into Nashville, Elliott had finished runner-up in each of the last two races to a now-dominant Kyle Larson – one each in the Coca-Cola 600 and the road course in Sonoma.

Elliott and his familiar NAPA Auto Parts machine arrived in Nashville with the 3rd-fastest time, again trailing teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson. He then qualified 6th with a speed of 161.093mph (29.722 seconds), again directly behind Byron and Larson.

Starting 39th and last was Quin Houff. Houff began the weekend 36th of the 39 entrants in practice, outpacing both Motorsports Business Management entries and the Rick Ware Racing #15 run this week by Joey Gase. In qualifying, Houff took an aggressive line into Turn 1, but his car slid up the track and out of the groove. The driver fought the wheel, keeping the car out of the wall, and managed to slow his car down in a four-wheel drift. Houff brought his car in after the incident as the only driver to not post a time, and would roll off last.

On race day, Houff incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments. Also docked for the same reason were Erik Jones, who qualified a strong 9th in the #43 Black Entrepreneur Initiative Chevrolet, and 4th-place William Byron in the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet. Both would be joined by Ryan Blaney, who suffered minor damage to the left-rear corner of his #12 Duracell Optima / Menards Ford and had to make a stop one lap before the green flag. Blaney did not take the green in last as Houff dropped behind him along with 37th-place Joey Gase in the #15 Donate Life Tennessee Chevrolet and 38th-place David Starr in the #13 Bob Menery Toyota.

When the green flag dropped, Houff’s car was the last to cross the stripe, 3.87 seconds back of the lead. Just seconds after frontrunners Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman had to check-up for running the high lane in Turns 1 and 2, Houff’s car suddenly cut right in Turn 1 and pounded the outside wall. Houff kept his car in the fence as his right-front wheel, apparently broken off in the impact, rolled down the banking into the grass. Houff climbed from his car, his day done just 18 seconds after the green flag. “Went straight into the fence,” said the team. “Knocked the right-front tire off it.” On Lap 3, Houff’s car was towed to the garage. It wasn’t until Lap 40 that NASCAR confirmed he was out of the race.

Houff towed behind the wall after his Lap 1 crash.
PHOTO: @STaranto92

Brake issues and high temperatures made Houff far from the only victim of a hard crash. After recovering from his pre-race pit stop, Ryan Blaney’s #12 used so much brake that the rotor exploded on Lap 54, putting him into the wall off Turn 2. Just over 20 laps later, Justin Haley’s #77 Diamond Creek Water Chevrolet had a right-front tire failure of his own, and Chris Buescher’s #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford followed him into the fence after running over debris from Haley’s car. 

Originally rounding out the Bottom Five was David Starr, whose #13 blew a left-front rake rotor and cut down a tire, but didn’t draw a caution. Starr made it to pit road after his brake pedal went to the floor, and Bubba Wallace spun his #23 Door Dash / PetSmart Toyota after he ran over Starr’s debris. Wallace kept going while Starr was declared out by NASCAR on Lap 143.

Chase Elliott, meanwhile, crossed the line in 13th place, having won Stage 1 and finished 7th in Stage 2. He remained 3rd in the series standings, but closed from 73 points to within 55 of Denny Hamlin’s lead. Kyle Larson, the race winner, remained second in the standings and closed from 47 points back to only 9. But in post-race inspection, Elliott’s car was found with five “loose or missing” lug nuts (not all on the same wheel), which resulted in an immediate disqualification. This bounced David Starr out of the Bottom Five, Cole Custer out of the Bottom Ten, and dropped Elliott to 4th in the overall standings, 94 back of Hamlin.

Kurt Busch was the big beneficiary of Elliott’s DQ, inheriting the Stage 1 victory and moving from 11th into a points-earning 10th in Stage 2. Also benefitting was Corey LaJoie, who originally finished three spots behind Elliott in the #7 Pryor & Lee Chevrolet. LaJoie moved from 16th to 15th – his fourth-straight finish in the Top 20 and best run since his season-best 9th in the Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. earned one of his best runs of the season, challenging for the lead over much of the distance and finishing in 6th in the #47 Kroger / Nature Valley Chevrolet.

Behind him in 7th came Daniel Suarez, who steered Trackhouse Racing’s #99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet to its first top-ten finish since Dover and second-best behind their 4th-place run in the Bristol Dirt Race, where Stenhouse finished his own season-best 2nd. This run came just hours after it was revealed Trackhouse’s leased Charter will go to Kaulig Racing’s second Cup team in 2022. Trackhouse has since announced they will run next season with or without a Charter, but expects to acquire a Charter from elsewhere.

*This marked the first time the #9 was classified last by disqualification, and only the second time it was classified last after leading laps. The other time was March 30, 2003, when Chase’s father Bill Elliott led 43 laps at Texas before engine trouble.

39) #9-Chase Elliott / 300 laps / disqualified / led 13 laps / won stage 1 (revoked)
38) #00-Quin Houff / 0 laps / crash
37) #12-Ryan Blaney / 53 laps / crash
36) #17-Chris Buescher / 77 laps / crash
35) #77-Justin Haley / 79 laps / crash

1st) Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
2nd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing (2)
3rd) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, JTG-Daugherty Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (2)


Saturday, June 19, 2021

XFINITY: Stefan Parsons’ crash leaves Dogecoin car down in the order at Nashville

SCREENSHOT: @WithAllMarbles, taken from NBCSN broadcast

Stefan Parsons picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #99 Springrates / Dogecoin Toyota was involved in a crash after 69 of 189 laps.

The finish occurred in Parsons’ 23rd series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 14th for the #99, the 148th for Toyota, and the 349th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 35th for the #99, the 357th for Toyota, and the 1,256th from a crash.

Since 2018, the 23-year-old son of 1988 Talladega winner and current FS1 broadcaster Phil Parsons has run no more than nine XFINITY or Truck starts in a season, but has made the most of each of his runs. He made his Truck debut under the lights at Bristol on August 16, 2018 and drove an old Premium Motorsports Chevrolet to a 17th-place finish. His XFINITY debut came the next year, when he was a last-minute replacement for Cody Ware in B.J. McLeod’s #99 Jacob Companies Toyota. Parsons again impressed, finishing a strong 12th, and ran no worse than 23rd in the five starts that followed that season.

During last year’s pandemic-affected season, Parsons ran another nine races for McLeod, and finished under power in all of them. He ran both races of the doubleheaders at Homestead and Dover, finished a season-best 18th in Texas, and completed 97.5% of the laps he attempted. Returning this year, he nearly bested his career-best 12th in the Daytona opener by finishing 13th, and has since run 18th in Phoenix and 20th at Martinsville. 

Parsons also debuted McLeod’s new fourth entry – the #76 – and finished 23rd with it at Charlotte. This same car, which Parsons ran at Vegas and McLeod ran at Dover, was used again at Texas, but ended up collected in a wreck with Jeffrey Earnhardt. The team had originally planned to run the car at Nashville, but after the accident, Parsons would run a Toyota Supra instead.

On the sponsorship front, Parsons has also reunited with cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which was famously instrumental in getting his father’s team voted into the 2014 All-Star Race with driver Josh Wise. Dogecoin had sponsored Stefan’s Chevrolet in Las Vegas, and would again back his Toyota in Nashville along with his longtime backer Springrates. 

“We’ve had pretty decent speed with our cars this year,” Parsons said prior to last week’s race in Texas. “It’s just a matter of putting everything together.” I also asked about his plans for the rest of the season. “Right now, just XFINITY. Obviously, I would be more than open to running anything with four wheels and a motor. But XFINITY is the only thing we’ve got in the works right now. Already kind of working on stuff for next year, trying to get all that squared away and trying to make some opportunities. I’m super thankful to have the opportunities with B.J. and Sokal (his sponsor for many races this year) and Springrates, it’s been an awesome year. Got a few more races after this one, so hopefully we can keep our program on a high note.”

At Nashville, Parsons ran 26th in practice and qualified 24th with a speed of 153.644mph (31.163 seconds). Missing the show were Motorsports Business Management teammates Chad Finchum in the returning #42 Garrison Homes Toyota and Timmy Hill in the #13 Bret Baier / Black Tie Moving Toyota, JD Motorsports teammates Jeffrey Earnhardt in the #0 Forever Lawn Chevrolet and Colby Howard in the #15 Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet, plus Dillon Bassett in the #90 Bassett Gutters & More / J. Hunt Supercenter Chevrolet and Gray Gaulding in the #52 Panini America Chevrolet.

Rolling off 36th and last was Natalie Decker, back in Our Motorsports’ #23 Red Street Records Chevrolet for the third time this year and first time since Talladega. This was a continuation of Reaume Brothers Racing’s combined effort with the Chris Our team, which was inherited by Our after the acquisition of RSS Racing’s share of the #23 team. After featuring recording artist Jason Crabb at Daytona and Cade Thompson in Talladega, Decker’s car only carried the Red Street logo on the hood for Nashville.

When the race started, Decker in the outside lane pulled ahead of 35th-place Jesse Little in the #78 Shriners Hospitals for Children Toyota. But by the time the pair came around to complete the first lap, Little had re-passed Decker and opened up a 1.511-second advantage. That gap stayed about the same until Lap 11, when it grew to 2.059 seconds, then 2.788 on Lap 14, 3.120 on Lap 16, 4.011 on Lap 19, and 4.759 on Lap 21. The next time by, Decker lost her first lap to the leaders. There was little radio traffic from Decker during all this – there had been some interference on her end since the pace laps – but the crew continued to encourage her.

By Lap 48, Decker had reached the end of Stage 1 nearly two laps down when the leaders came down pit road. Among these was Myatt Snider, who was running around 27th in his #2 Crosley Furniture Chevrolet. Coming down pit road, Snider’s car stalled, and a wrecker pushed him to his stall. The crew replaced the battery, but still couldn’t get him re-fired. After looking over the wiring behind the driver’s seat, the Richard Childress Racing team pushed Snider to the garage on Lap 55. A faulty master switch was soon discovered, and by Lap 68, the team was preparing to re-enter the race.

On Lap 70, just as Snider returned to the track 22 laps down, Stefan Parsons was racing David Starr’s #66 Whataburger Toyota off Turn 4. The two made contact, causing Parsons to slide sideways to the apron, then clip the grass with the right-front. The splitter didn’t dig into the turf, but the car abruptly cut right, directly in the path of teammate Matt Mills in the #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet. The two missed a collision by mere inches, and Parsons slammed nose-first into the outside wall. The wrecked machine skated across the line, completing a 69th lap in the process, then stopped on the apron. Parsons climbed out without serious injury and was checked and released from the infield care center.

Finishing 35th was Brandon Brown in the #68 KickinTheTire.net / Brandon Davis Music Chevrolet, who cut down a right-front tire, then pulled behind the wall after his pit stop due to brake issues Joe Graf, Jr. in the #17 G Coin Chevrolet was eliminated in a wreck with Jade Buford, who had qualified a strong 9th in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. Buford broke loose in Turn 4 on Lap 155, collecting Graf in the process. Rounding out the group was Stage 1 winner Austin Cindric, whose #22 Car Shop Ford was collected in a five-car wreck while running among the leaders on Lap 160. Cindric’s car struck the wall head-on in a manner similar to Parsons, and also walked away without serious injury. Snider passed this entire group to finish in 31st.

Bayley Currey and Mike Harmon Racing teammate Kyle Weatherman both had brake issues during the race. Currey was involved in a frightening pit road incident where he couldn't slow for his pit stall and struck three of his crew members. Two were able to continue, though one was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. Currey soldiered on to finish in 30th, breaking his bottom ten tiebreaker with Noah Gragson for the lead in the 2021 LASTCAR XFINITY Series standings.

Saturday saw the return of Hattori Racing Enterprises’ portion of fielding the #61 MBM entry in 2021 with their Truck Series driver Austin Hill behind the wheel of the AISIN Supra. Hill started 15th and finished 9th, already his fourth top-ten finish in just 11 series starts. Jeremy Clements came across the line in 11th in his #51 All South Electric Chevrolet, which is now his 11th finish of 15th or better in 15 races this season. Also impressive was Will Rodgers, who in his fifth career start and first since 2019 took 14th in Sam Hunt Racing’s #26 Good RX Toyota, the second-best finish of his XFINITY career.

J.J. Yeley in the #07 Smart Sanitizer Chevrolet for SS-Green Light Racing ran as high as 13th in the final laps, and had just slipped from 14th to 16th on the final lap over the overtime restart when he spun in Turn 2, dropping him to 22nd at the finish.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #99 in a XFINITY Series race since July 12, 2019, when Jairo Avila Jr. crashed after 3 laps of the Alsco 300 at Kentucky. The number also has one previous last-place finish at the Nashville Superspeedway's XFINITY race - during the inaugural race on April 14, 2001, Shawna Robinson's #99 Aaron's Chevrolet was collected in a crash after the first lap of the Pepsi 300 presented by Mapco / Williams.
*The 69 laps Parsons completed were the most by a last-place finisher of a XFINITY race at the Nashville Superspeedway, breaking the record of 35 laps set by Mike Harmon, whose #54 Global Pigeon Supply Pontiac lost an engine in the Pepsi 300 on March 26, 2005. That finish happened to be the 164th and last for Pontiac in the history of the XFINITY Series.

36) #99-Stefan Parsons / 69 laps / crash
35) #68-Brandon Brown / 140 laps / brakes
34) #17-Joe Graf, Jr. / 152 laps / crash
33) #48-Jade Buford / 153 laps / crash
32) #22-Austin Cindric / 160 laps / crash / led 53 laps / won stage 1

1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (3)
2nd) JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (1)


Friday, June 18, 2021

TRUCKS: For the first time in nearly five years, William Byron starts a Truck Series race – and finishes last


William Byron picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Rackley Roofing 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #27 Cruisin’ Sports / Rackley Roofing Chevrolet lost the engine after 78 of 150 laps.

The finish, which came in Byron’s 25th series start, was his first of the year and first since February 27, 2016 at Atlanta, 125 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 8th for the #27, the 134th from engine trouble, and the 409th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 56h for the #27, the 1,103rd from engine issues and the 1,787th for Chevrolet.

Entering his fourth season as a full-time Cup Series competition, Byron has become a vital part of Hendrick Motorsports’ resurgence this season. After winning his way into the 2020 Playoffs by scoring his first career win in the cutoff race at Daytona, Byron won this season’s third race at Homestead, and finished no worse than 9th for the next ten consecutive races. It took heavy rain, minor damage, and one position for the streak to end at COTA with an 11th-place run. He then finished 4th in the Coca-Cola 600, and was set for another top-ten run in Sonoma before a late-race Turn 11 tangle took him out, leaving him 35th.

At Nashville, Byron would run double-duty, returning to the Truck Series for the first time since 2016, when he closed out a seven-win season with Kyle Busch Motorsports that put him fifth in the series standings. His ride this time was with Rackley-W.A.R., which just one week prior had hired upstart Josh Berry to replace veteran Timothy Peters. Berry would run again in Nashville, meaning Byron would run the team’s new second entry, the #27. Byron’s ride was one of three carrying logos for race sponsor Rackley Roofing, joined by owner-driver Clay Greenfield in the #68 Toyota. Byron’s paint scheme was a reverse of Berry’s with a white hood and blue rear.

Byron ran second-fastest in practice, trailing only Chandler Smith’s Kyle Busch Motorsports entry, and qualified 10th with a speed of 157.754mph (30.351 seconds).

A total of 42 of the 43 entrants took time after Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Fastener Supply Co. Ford was withdrawn due to the team’s issues with a faulty loading ramp on their hauler, which kept them from practicing. Failing to qualify were Clay Greenfield in the third Rackley-sponsored entry, J.J. Yeley in the #49 Sam’s Dock Toyota, Bret Holmes in the #32 Southern States Bank Chevrolet, Spencer Boyd in the #20 Banana Pepper Sauce Chevrolet, Josh Reaume in the #33 Colonial Countertops Chevrolet, and Keith McGee in the #3 Military.Finance Chevrolet.

McGee was bumped from the field at the last minute after John Hunter Nemechek’s lap was disallowed, dropping the #4 Mobil 1 Toyota to 34th on the grid. McGee’s loss was the gain of Dawson Cram, who inherited 31st in the #41 Camping World Chevrolet. The final two spots belonged to drivers who didn’t even turn laps in qualifying due to inspection failures relating to the noses of their trucks: Todd Gilliland in the #38 Crosley Brands Ford and Tanner Gray in the #15 Ford Performance Ford. Both teams had their crew chiefs ejected, were docked 25 points, and incurred redundant tail-end penalties – Gilliland rolled off 35th with Gray 36th.

By the end of Lap 1, Gray had climbed to 30th with Gilliland in 34th, dropping Cory Roper to last in the #04 Carquest Auto Parts Ford. By Lap 3, Roper had cleared Trey Hutchens III, who returned to the Truck Series for the first time since his scary wreck at Charlotte last month. Hutchens’ #14 – a different chassis from his totaled Charlotte ride – carried sponsorship from Rich Mar and Quality Roof Seamers. Like Roper, Hutchens was fighting a tight condition, and on Lap 13 reported his truck felt bogged down, as if the engine was not pulling enough RPMs. Despite this, Hutchens was reeling in 35th-place Danny Bohn in the #30 North American Motor Car Toyota for several laps. But when Hutchens was lapped on the 21st circuit, he had dropped to 2.798 seconds back of Bohn. On Lap 38, Hutchens was told he’d run “about your fastest lap of the race,” at which point he was two laps down.

On Lap 45, the caution fell to end Stage 1. Hutchens reported he was “getting killed down the straightaway.” The crew prepared to raise the track bar three rounds, taking a pound out of the left-rear. By the restart, he was still two laps down, and reported his truck was better than the first stage, though he still wanted further adjustments. On Lap 70, Hutchens reported his water temperatures were okay, and the team told him “Driver, hard as you can, man. All you can do.”

Byron, meanwhile, had finished inside the Top 10 in Stage 1 and was still running there ahead of ThorSport teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton. Entering the first corner, Byron’s truck let out a large puff of smoke, then slowed down the backstretch. NASCAR threw the caution for possible fluid, and Byron made it to pit road. The #27 made a move to the first garage entrance, then kept rolling, but when more smoke came from the exhaust, his truck stopped on pit road. On Lap 79, the crew talked about checking to see if it was “an oil line or something easy” to see if they could make a quick repair to try other things. But on Lap 81, they told Byron to climb out, saying “We’re done.” Byron took last from Hutchens on Lap 83 and was declared out by NASCAR on Lap 124.

Also declared out on Lap 124 was Derek Kraus, whose night began with his first career pole and ended with a hard crash. Kraus crossed the nose of Byron’s teammate, Josh Berry, turning his #19 Thorogood Toyota into the outside wall. The truck hit the fence twice more before it came to a stop in Turn 3, the driver climbing out with some difficulty. Hutchens climbed his way to 33rd, four laps ahead of Lawless Alan in the #34 Auto ParkIt Toyota. Both pulled out of the way of the leaders in the final laps along with Kris Wright, whose #02 Master Tech Chevrolet pulled high in Turn 1. 

Cup Series regular Ryan Preece led the final eight laps to take his first career Truck Series victory in his first-ever attempt, driving David Gilliland’s #17 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford. Seven spots behind him in 8th was Ty Majeski, who for just the second time in 2021 drove ThorSport’s new #66 Sim Craft Toyota. Majeski’s 8th-place finish followed his season-best 7th two rounds ago in Charlotte. Also impressive was Jack Wood, who started on the front row alongside Derek Kraus, finished 5th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2, and 11th at the finish.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #27 in a Truck Series race since June 8, 2012, when Brandon Knupp’s run in the #27 Hillman Racing Chevrolet ended with ignition issues after 2 laps of the Winstar World Casino 400 at Texas. It was also the first last-place run for the #27 in a Truck Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway.

36) #27-William Byron / 78 laps / engine
35) #19-Derek Kraus / 110 laps / crash
34) #34-Lawless Alan / 142 laps / running
33) #14-Trey Hutchens / 146 laps / running
32) #02-Kris Wright / 148 laps / running

1st) Niece Motorsports (4)
2nd) Rackley-W.A.R. (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, GMS Racing, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)