Sunday, September 5, 2021

TRUCKS: Catastrophic mechanical issue hands Tate Fogleman first last-place finish

PHOTO: @youngsmtrsports

Tate Fogleman picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Sunday’s In It To Win It 200 at the Darlington Raceway when his #12 Doge Cola Chevrolet fell out with a rear gear issue after 22 of 147 laps.

The finish came in Fogleman’s 43rd series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #12, the 13th from rear gear trouble, and the 412th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 44th for the #12, the 44th for rear gear issues, and the 1,802nd for Chevrolet.

Tate Fogleman is the 21-year-old son of Jay Fogleman, a ten-time Hooters Pro Cup Series race winner. Jay also has 19 XFINITY Series starts to his credit, capped by a best finish of 8th in two 1991 short track races driving the #5 Innkeeeper Buick. Jay’s car was one of the few second-tier series cars that diecast manufacturer Racing Champions produced at the time. Tate worked his way up the ranks from late models, and on August 5, 2017, scored his first checkered flag at the Hickory Speedway in a car his father owned. His Ford carried the iconic #00 Thomas Brothers Country Ham paint scheme in honor of Sam Ard, Jay’s former team owner and himself a NASCAR champion, who died that April.

The younger Fogleman made his Truck Series debut at Gateway on June 23, 2018, where he drove Randy Young’s #20 Chevrolet to a 27th-place finish after a late-race crash. This began a three-race stint with Young’s Motorsports, which concluded with a career-best 15th at Michigan. A full-time ride with the team opened up in 2020, where he drove the #02 with sponsorship from Solid Rock Carriers. In his return to Michigan, he again improved on his best finish by taking 13th. He now runs his second full season in Young’s #12, and earned his first Top Ten with a 9th on the dirt in Knoxville. At Darlington, Fogleman rolled off in the 24th spot.

Drawing the 38th and final starting spot was Clay Greenfield, who was finally able to make his first Truck Series start of the year after three DNQs. Greenfield’s #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota wouldn’t be joined in the back by drivers with pre-race penalties, but 32nd-place Ryan Ellis in the #33 Levrack Toyota had dropped to the back, and would start in the final row. This moved Greenfield up a spot so Ellis took the green alongside original 37th-place starter Norm Benning. Following a costly withdrawal at Gateway, Benning’s #6 MDS A Sign Co. Chevrolet sported a new nose to comply with NASCAR’s technical regulations. The team had yet to paint the nose, so the upper nose and hood remained white on his black truck.

When the green flag dropped, Ellis edged ahead of Benning, who was 4.887 seconds back of the leader across the stripe. By the end of Lap 1, both had passed Jennifer Jo Cobb in her #10 Fastener Supply Co. Ford. Cobb’s truck struggled with a loose condition in Turns 3 and 4, and by Lap 4, the driver was already 2.286 seconds back of the rest of the field. On Lap 7, Cobb was worried she wouldn’t meet minimum speed, also believing a plug wire had come loose, and she decided to come to pit road. She pulled to the apron the next time by and received four rounds down on the track bar. The crew also looked under the hood before sending her back out four laps down. By then, the field had strung out so much that the spotter struggled to find her a spot in line.

The competition caution fell on Lap 15, and Cobb reported that her truck was now too tight. The spotter indicated her truck “sounds different than everybody else’s truck up here,” which again signaled a possible issue under the hood. “I don’t know what you wanna do here,” said someone on her team. “NASCAR’s gonna start raisin’ hell on us.” Despite this, NASCAR had only been warning Cobb’s spotter to watch for faster traffic, and had not yet warned her to pick up her speed. 

On the Lap 20 restart, Cobb lined up at the back of the pack with Ellis now 37th, three laps down and one lap in front of her after a stop of his own. Just two laps later, the caution came out for debris, and Cobb reported she may have hit a piece of it. This was from Tate Fogleman’s #12, which had pulled to the inside on the frontstretch before dropping large pieces of white-painted metal from the back of his truck. Fogleman, who had been running around the 26th spot at the time of the incident, pulled down pit road. With pit stops taking place under the ensuing yellow, he had to wait for other drivers to leave before he could be pushed to the garage area on Lap 24. Cobb passed Ellis on Lap 27, dropping the #12 to last place. After several laps of silence on his channel, Fogleman’s team reported on Lap 50 “We’re done here, as far as the tires.” There had been a clean break of the yoke in the rear end, putting them out of the race. NASCAR officially declared him out on Lap 54.

Also declared out on Lap 54 was Ellis, who was going to pull his #33 behind the wall on Lap 25, but decided to wait after Colby Howard spun his #9 GCM / Highland Construction Chevrolet off the second corner. Ellis pulled into the backstretch garage entrance on Lap 32, and was declared out with transmission issues by NASCAR. 

The following run was again marked by controversy over minimum speed. While Cobb had been struggling to keep up the pace since the first lap, Norm Benning was black flagged for the issue first around Lap 68. Benning returned to the track after repairs. On Lap 82, NASCAR advised Ben Rhodes, who’d been involved in multiple incidents, to pick up his speed in the #99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota. At the time, Benning’s repaired truck had been running faster speeds than Rhodes. Benning also reported he was outpacing Jack Wood in the damaged #24 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet, passing him twice. But on Lap 86, two laps after Cobb was black-flagged and parked for not maintaining minimum speed, Benning was also parked for the same reason. “I hope everyone is listening to this,” said Benning as he pulled behind the wall. “We were running with the 24. That's a GMS truck, and we passed him twice."

NASCAR confirmed Benning and Cobb were out on Lap 117, saying “10 and 6 out, parked – minimum speed.” Both were listed as “too slow” in the results. Rhodes rounded out the Bottom Five.

*This marks the first last-place finish for the #12 in a Truck Series race since June 7, 2019, when Gus Dean crashed out after 10 laps of the 400 at Texas. The number had never before finished last in a Truck race at Darlington. This is also the first time a rear gear issue resulted in a Truck Series last-place finish at Darlington.
*The most recent time a Truck Series driver finished last due to rear gear issues was April 17, 2021, when Ryan Truex dropped out after 44 laps at Richmond.

38) #12-Tate Fogleman / 22 laps / rear gear
37) #33-Ryan Ellis / 28 laps / transmission
36) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 75 laps / too slow
35) #6-Norm Benning / 86 laps / too slow
34) #99-Ben Rhodes / 140 laps / running

1st) Niece Motorsports (5)
2nd) GMS Racing, Rackley-W.A.R. (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


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