Dean Thompson picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Thursday’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #40 Worldwide Express Chevrolet fell out with electrical issues after he completed 13 of 200 laps.
The finish, which came in Thompson’s sixth series start, was his second of the season and first since the Daytona opener, four races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 8th for the #40, the 38th from electrical issues, and the 419th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 42nd for the #40, the 136th from electrical issues, and the 1,831st for Chevrolet.
The 2022 season has remained a challenge for one of the rookie members of Niece Motorsports. Following his last-place run in Daytona, he ran 11th in Las Vegas, but then rook just 34th and 29th in the two races since. With practice and qualifying cancelled by steady rain on Thursday, Thompson secured the 28th starting spot at Martinsville. This meant the three DNQs each didn’t get to turn a lap, including both Justin S. Carroll in the #90 Carroll’s Automotive Toyota and Jake Garcia in the unsponsored McAnally-Hilgemann Racing #35 Chevrolet, each seeking their NASCAR debut. Blaine Perkins also saw his day cut short in the #9 Grant County Mulch / Raceline Chevrolet.
Slotting in 36th and last on the grid was Johnny Sauter, who was making just his second Truck Series start of the season and first in the #13 ThorSport entry, now a part-time effort. Sauter’s grey Toyota, sponsored by Protect The Harvest, would be joined in the back by one of four drivers who would make their Truck Series debut in the race. This was late model racer Dillon Steuer, who took the controls of Randy Young’s #20 Randco Industries Chevrolet in 33rd. During the pace laps, Ty Majeski then made an unscheduled stop from 16th for a battery change on his #66 American Racing Wheels Toyota.
When the race started, still another driver had dropped to the rear – 35th-place Bret Holmes in his unsponsored #32 Chevrolet was 5.325 seconds back of the leader with Majeski now 35th, Steuer 34th, and Sauter in 33rd. Holmes remained in last at the end of Lap 1, but had passed two other trucks by Lap 3. That time by, Steuer regained last place, but was locked into a side-by-side battle with fellow newcomer Blake Lothian in the #43 The Texas Lawbook Toyota. At the stripe, the pair were just 0.092 second apart. Steuer stayed on Lothian, and dropped the #43 to last on Lap 5. Lothian was still running in last when his spotter told him to check up for a spin off Turn 4.
On Lap 6, as Majeski climbed his way through the field, he made contact with Kris Wright’s #44 F.N.B. Corporation Chevrolet as the two came off Turn 4. The contact hooked Wright to the left – directly in the path of a closing Jack Wood in the #24 chevyliners.com Chevrolet. The two collided, kicking in Wright’s door and caving in the nose of Wood’s Chevrolet. While Wright remained on the lead lap, Wood came down pit road and lost two laps for repairs. He returned to the track at the one to go signal, his water temperature reading 260 degrees. It was on Lap 13, as Wood restarted with designs on making minimum speed to clear the “Crash Clock,” that Thompson entered the last-place battle.
Coming off Turn 4 to start Lap 14, something catastrophic happened to Thompson’s truck, causing the rest of the field to pull away from him. The #40 dropped off the pace, ultimately stopping on the inside of the track entering Turn 1, forcing a caution. “It just puked!” shouted Thompson as he sat on the apron. The driver reported smoke from the engine bay, and a fire was noticeable from the area of his shifter. He climbed out under caution, and signaled a rescue worker in a nearby truck who seemed confused as to what was happening. On Lap 18, Thompson took over last from Jack Wood as NASCAR turned their attention to oil in Turn 3 which may have come from the #40. But as their truck went to the garage, Thompson’s crew heard they might be able to attempt repairs since Thompson climbed from the truck due to the fire. But the crew noticed issues with the wiring, and on Lap 42 reported “We’re done.” Thompson would make clear in a tweet after the incident that, whatever caused the incident, “I didn’t miss a shift.”
It wasn’t until Lap 101 that NASCAR’s garage official confirmed Thompson was out with electrical issues, a report delayed five laps due to the approaching conclusion of Stage 1. Jack Wood was also declared out in the same report, having pulled behind the wall with the overheating issue on Lap 47 from his tangle with Wright. Wood’s crew said they would need to install a new radiator mount, but the damage to the truck was so bad that they could barely even open the hood. Their night ended in 35th place.
Another driver with significant frustrations was Spencer Boyd, whose #12 RimTyme Chevrolet twice stalled on the track with a loss of fuel pressure, drawing two separate caution flags on Laps 40 ad 71. Each time, his truck fired up again once the yellow came out. The ill-timed incidents were due to something that hit the bottom of Boyd’s seat and was moving around, an object he then concluded was the battery. The team received extra scrutiny from NASCAR as they pulled Boyd behind the wall, allowing one chance of repairs. Boyd returned to the track on Lap 83, 25 laps down, and actually ran his fastest lap of the race on the ensuing run. He finished 33rd, climbing past first-timer Kaden Honeycutt in the #46 Solid Rock Carriers Toyota, who backed hard into the outside wall off Turn 2, and just four laps short of passing Steuer’s #20, which was eliminated under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy” following his own tangle with Kris Wright.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #40 in a Truck Series race at Martinsville.
*Thompson is the first Truck Series driver to finish last at Martinsville due to electrical issues since March 27, 2010, when Shane Sie's #93 S&W Services Chevrolet fell out after 3 laps of the Kroger 250.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #40-Dean Thompson / 13 laps / electrical
35) #24-Jack Wood / 26 laps / crash
34) #46-Kaden Honeycutt / 107 laps / crash
33) #12-Spencer Boyd / 119 laps / electrical
32) #20-Dilon Steuer / 122 laps / dvp
2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Niece Motorsports (2)
2nd) David Gilliland Racing Ford, Front Row Motorsports, Young’s Motorsports (1)
2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (3)
2nd) Ford (2)
2022 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP