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 / 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)


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