Saturday, June 12, 2021

XFINITY: In Texas, Bayley Currey and Jordan Anderson find themselves locked in two-car battle to even start the race

PHOTO: Brock Beard

Bayley Currey picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 250 powered by Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #74 Electric Fence Reel Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems without completing any of the 171 laps.

The finish, which came in Currey’s 62nd series start, was his second of the year and first since Talladega, six races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 13th for the #74, the 55th from electrical woes, and the 571st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #74, the 131st from electrical problems, and the 1,786th for Chevrolet.

Currey arrived at his home track looking to turn around a difficult season. Despite earning a career-best 7th at Phoenix this past spring, he’d finished no better than 22nd anywhere else and failed to qualify for both time trials at the Circuit of the Americas and Charlotte. Teammate Kyle Weatherman at the Mike Harmon Racing team has fared little better with a season-best 15th at Daytona, a 16th on the Daytona Road Course, but no other finishes better than 22nd. This was a frustrating turn for the MHR effort, whose two young drivers turned heads with many consistent runs last season.

One positive, however, has been on the sponsorship front. Both Currey and Weatherman debuted new backers at Texas: Weatherman’s #47 Duke & Boone Hunting Supply Chevrolet and Currey’s #74, which carried security fence company Electric Fence Reel on the h
Jordan Anderson in the garage

ood, plus quarter-panel logos for Shoofly Leggins, which manufactures “fly boots” for horses.

Currey rolled off 39th, one spot ahead of last-place starter Matt Jaskol in Motorsports Business Management’s #61 Toyota. When the engines fired, however, a logjam developed behind 32nd-place starter Jordan Anderson. Anderson, who got to race his own #31 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series for the first time, had trouble engaging the clutch, and soon the rest of the field drove around him to join the field. A push truck came to the scene, at which point Anderson’s engine fired, and he caught up to the pack.

Currey, meanwhile, would soon have problems of his own. During the second pace lap, his #74 started smoking, and the driver thought the car was on fire. His car also stopped on the track, and was towed into the garage area. NASCAR looked over the track, fearing that fluid had been dropped, and delayed the start. During that delay, Anderson pulled down pit road, the engine running. After a crewman looked under the driver’s side hood flap, Anderson’s engine seemed to pick up before it cut off. The team now looked under the hood, then soon pushed the car behind the wall as the green flag dropped.

Anderson’s crew worked on the #31 just behind pit wall, then at the bottom of the steep rise between the garage’s entrance and pit road, before pushing it the rest of the way to their truck. Anderson’s truck happened to be next to Currey’s, and the two cars sat nose-to-nose around ten yards apart with both crews working hard to get their machines back on the track. Currey, classified behind Anderson on the starting grid, was shown in last place on the leaderboard with Anderson 39th.

Bayley Currey's car across from Anderson's

By the time Anderson’s car arrived and was put on jack stands, Harmon’s crew had jacked up the right side of Currey’s #74 and had removed the right-rear wheel. A faulty battery had caused the smoke in the cockpit – a battery that was tossed aside, then kicked by the team owner. The crew attempted to install other batteries, but each kept shorting out due to an electrical fault. Currey climbed out of his car and assisted the crew.

Anderson’s crew continued to add fluid to a reservoir on the driver’s side of the car, and had at least two cans of engine cleaner and brake cleaner under and around the machine. A crew member from Richard Childress Racing, still wearing his TaxSlayer uniform from Myatt Snider’s team, was working under the right-front corner of the car. By Lap 35, both front wheels were off Anderson’s car, and the driver had climbed out. “No clutch, and it was leaking clutch fluid everywhere,” he said. “I don’t know what it is just yet. It keeps leaking whenever we put clutch fluid in it.” 

By Lap 40, Currey had climbed back into his car without his helmet, and another crewman was sitting on the passenger side, working on the dash. A trickle charger was then hooked to the dash four circuits later, and efforts were made to re-fire the engine. Things took a turn the next time by as Harmon walked back with the team’s tire cart, and another crewman brought back the set of tires they had on pit road. By then, Anderson was back in his car, the window net up and tires bolted back on. Currey’s crew brought out their own jack stands on Lap 47, and soon removed the right-side wheels. The car was still in this position two laps later when Anderson’s car, back on all four, re-fired its engine and returned to the race a full 50 laps down.

On Lap 54, Currey’s team removed the air cleaner, then the tapered spacer. NASCAR declared Currey out the next time by, preventing them from climbing out of last place. Currey said the car gave no indication of the issue at the shop. “I don’t know what we need to do to get the monkey off our back, man,” he said. “It’s been pretty bad these past few weeks. . .I work as hard as I can on that thing, and for something weird like that to happen sucks. I really enjoy coming here. I really enjoy Texas. Feel like I’m actually pretty good at this race track.” Currey will be helping the team get that same car turned around for next week’s race in Nashville, where he’ll drive it again.

Anderson climbed to 34th at the finish, losing just one more lap by the checkered flag. Among those who finished behind him were those collected in crashes during the race. On Lap 89, Tanner Berryhill’s #23 Eclipse Claims Consulting Chevrolet tangled with Gray Gaulding’s #52 Panini America Chevrolet off Turn 4, and Matt Mills spun his #5 J.F. Electric Toyota into the grass. The pileup resulted in heavy nose damage to both Gaulding and Berryhill with the #23 trailing fluid on his way to the transporter. Mills recovered to finish 26th while Gaulding and Berryhill ended up 38th and 39th.

Kyle Weatherman, Currey’s teammate, also had a short day, dropping out after 100 laps with fuel pump issues to take 37th. Jeffrey Earnhardt rounded out the group when his #0 Forever Lawn Chevrolet was collected by Stefan Parsons’ #99 Sokal Digital Chevrolet in a tangle down the backstretch. Parsons finished three more laps than Earnhardt, moving him to 35th behind Anderson.

*This marked the first last-place run for the #74 in an XFINITY Series race at Texas since April 10, 2015, when Mike Harmon’s unsponsored #74 Dodge fell out with engine trouble after 2 of 200 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
*It hasn’t been that long since two consecutive XFINITY Series races saw the last-place finisher fail to complete a lap. During the double-header at Kentucky on July 9-10, 2020, Brandon Jones and Kyle Weatherman, respectively, crashed out on the opening lap.

40) #74-Bayley Currey / 0 laps / electrical
39) #23-Tanner Berryhill / 88 laps / crash
38) #52-Gray Gaulding / 89 laps / crash
37) #47-Kyle Weatherman / 100 laps / fuel pump
36) #0-Jeffrey Earnhardt / 107 laps / crash

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

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


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