Friday, June 24, 2022

TRUCKS: Another confusing series of events leave G2G Racing in last, this time with Chase Janes at Nashville

PHOTO: @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Chase Janes picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Rackley Roofing 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #46 Waste Connection Services Toyota fell out with rear gear issues after completing just 1 of the night’s 150 laps.

The finish came in Janes’ second series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #46, the 15th from rear gear trouble, and the 45th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 44th for the #46, the 49th from rear gear issues, and the 376th for Toyota.

A third-generation racer from Indiana, Janes transitioned from go-karts to late models, but a wrist injury on the opening lap of the 2019 season opener proved an early obstacle. In 2020, he returned with a vengeance, scoring six wins at the Hickory Motor Speedway, and catching the eye of Josh Reaume. This led to his Truck Series debut this past March at Martinsville, where a rained-out qualifying session secured him 27th on the grid in the Reaume Brothers’ flagship #33 Butler Built Chevrolet. He finished 25th, the second truck one lap down.

Janes arrived at Nashville as one of 42 entrants to attempt the 36-truck field, which tied this year’s Daytona opener for the most entrants in any one race all season. Unfortunately, he faced adversity early on. This time, his ride was with G2G Racing, which endured a disastrous weekend at Sonoma, then a disappointing mechanical issue that slowed dirt ringer Bryson Mitchell in Knoxville. Janes would run the #46 alongside Kaden Honeycutt, who made his own Truck Series debut at Martinsville with the G2G effort. Honeycutt would run the #47 with sponsorship from the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

In practice, where Janes ranked just 38th, his truck stopped on track with five minutes to go, drawing one of two red flags. This issue kept him from turning a lap in qualifying, which ordinarily would have resulted in a DNQ. Interestingly, Janes was bumped out of the field by his teammate, Kaden Honeycutt. Honeycutt had himself nearly missed qualifying when he tied Camden Murphy’s #30 ROWDY Energy Toyota, with whom he lost the tiebreaker on Owner Points.

But in post-race inspection, two trucks were either found to be too low or were too late in presenting for inspection, resulting in their times being disallowed. One was Max Gutierrez, whose relief role for Austin Wayne Self still secured him the 36th and final starting spot in AM Racing’s #22 Inspectra Thermal Solutions Chevrolet. The other was Trey Hutchens, whose #14 Quality Roof Seamers Chevrolet, who like Honeycutt surprised with a strong lap despite an early qualifying draw. With only two previous attempts this season, including a 29th-place run in Kansas, this bumped Hutchens out of the field, and brought back in the full-time #46 of Janes.

The only problem was Janes’ truck still wasn’t ready to race later that evening. According to Chris Knight, the G2G team had planned to withdraw Janes, which would have allowed the DNQ’d Bret Holmes back into the field in his next-ranked #32 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet. But according to Knight, NASCAR did not allow Holmes back into the race, saying it was too late as the field had already been set after Hutchens and Gutierrez’ disallowed times put Janes back on the grid. By just 19-thousandths of a second, Holmes ended up one of the six DNQs, joined by Justin S. Carroll, still seeking his series debut in the #90 Carroll’s Automotive Toyota, a late entering Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #10 W Nashville Chevrolet, Clay Greenfield in the returning #84 Toyota, Tate Fogleman, whose new #26 Dickies / Realtree / Camospace Chevrolet failed to complete its qualifying lap, and Hutchens’ #14.

With time ticking away, the G2G Racing team apparently continued to work on the #46 in the garage up to and through the command to start engines. The remaining 35 entrants rolled off the grid with Gutierrez bringing up the rear, to incur a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments on his #22. Not sent to the rear was 5th-place Derek Kraus, whose #19 HunterNation Chevrolet lost 10 points and his crew chief for unsecured ballast. There was more controversy in 22nd spot, where Tanner Gray was set to roll off in his #15 Ford Performance Ford. NASCAR caught his team refueling his truck before the green, which incurred him a one-lap penalty as the leaders took the green flag. 

That same instant may have moved Janes to last place. While reportedly having missed the start, NASCAR’s timing and scoring did show the #46 was 18.418 seconds behind the leader at the green flag, indicating he took the green on the track, 14.934 seconds back of Gutierrez before returning to the garage. A video of the start posted by the Nashville track stops before Janes crossed the stripe, the 35th-place Gutierrez last to enter the frame. Tanner Gray’s truck did not show an interval, but by the end of the first lap was already classified ahead of Janes.

Janes’ team radio remained silent until Lap 11, when team communications first indicated they were still working on the truck. One of the first exchanges was “How close are we?” followed by “They’re finishing up right now.” This was during the first caution flag of the night involving Jack Wood, the defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, who was turned into the outside wall by Matt Crafton entering Turn 3. Wood’s #24 Chevrolet was done for the night after only six completed laps, which meant Janes only needed to turn seven in order to climb out of last place.

A second caution fell on Lap 19, where Janes’ teammate Kaden Honeycutt reportedly made contact with Camden Murphy in the #30, sending Murphy’s truck backing into the Turn 1 wall similar to Wood’s wreck in Turn 4. The G2G crew asked if Honeycutt turned Murphy intentionally, answering “Nah, I think he was just trying a little too hard.” After driving back to pit road for repairs, Murphy pulled behind the wall on Lap 23, out of the race under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.” By Lap 30, when the team indicated Honeycutt had power steering issues, Janes was talking with his crew about where he should enter the track. After a tire pressure check, Janes’ truck finally fired on Lap 32, then re-entered the track the next time by, NASCAR reporting “46 is entering the race.” 

But the moment Janes picked up speed, he reported a loss of oil pressure. He cut to the apron down the backstretch, getting him a brief moment of screen time during FS1’s side-by-side commercial break as he slowed to a snail’s pace. NASCAR instructed Janes to pull behind the wall at Turn 3, but he came down pit road instead at a snail’s pace. The caution didn’t fall as Janes finally completed his first lap. NASCAR’s timing and scoring indicated a single lap of 1,579.334 seconds – 26 minutes, 29.334 seconds – for a single-lap average of only 3.051mph. “Same thing broke again,” said Janes as he was pushed behind the wall on Lap 39. “I feel it there in my feet.” That same time by, NASCAR confirmed both Jack Wood and Camden Murphy were out due to their earlier accidents. On Lap 41, Janes climbed from the truck. “It’s broken again,” he said before unhooking the radio. “I feel the drive shaft flying around. . .It just breaks.” Five laps later, the dejected team radioed “We’re done, Tony,” and NASCAR confirmed Janes out on Lap 74.

Unable to close the gap on Wood, Janes remained in last place with Wood 35th and Murphy 34th. The Bottom Five was completed following a grinding wreck in Turn 3 on Lap 127 where a four-wide battle for position sent Matt DiBenedetto’s #25 Rackley Roofing / WAR Shocks Chevrolet into Corey Heim’s #51 JBL Toyota and Grant Enfinger’s #23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet, putting Heim and Enfinger into the wall hard with DiBenedetto following shortly after. Heim and Enfinger were immediately eliminated with DiBenedetto managing to complete six more laps before he, too, fell out. Tanner Gray, who lost a lap at the start for his unauthorized fueling, ultimately bounced off the Turn 3 wall in a separate incident that didn’t draw the caution, leaving him 7 laps down in 30th.

Max Gutierrez, who rolled off in last place and later tangled with Hailie Deegan in a race for 11th, recovered with an impressive 8th-place finish. As with Janes, this was just the second career start for Gutierrez, who finished 26th in his series debut last month in Charlotte. It’s also tied for the fifth-best finish by the AM Racing team, and stands as the team’s best run with a driver other than Austin Wayne Self, just ahead of a 9th-place Daytona finish for J.J. Yeley.

Also impressive was Todd Bodine, who in his 799th and penultimate NASCAR start was in position to finish well inside the Top 10, even earning 9th-place points in Stage 2. But a spin into the infield grass began a downward trend that saw him lose two laps and finish 27th. Bodine makes his 800th and final start next month in Pocono.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #46 in a Truck Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway.
*Janes is the 8th consecutive first-time last-place finisher in the Truck Series, tying two streaks from the 1997 season for the second-most in series history. Another first-time last-place finisher next week in Mid-Ohio will tie the all-time record of nine, set in the opening nine races from 1995’s inaugural season.

36) #46-Chase Janes / 1 lap / rear gear
35) #24-Jack Wood / 6 laps / crash
34) #30-Camden Murphy / 20 laps / crash
33) #51-Corey Heim / 126 laps / crash
32) #23-Grant Enfinger / 126 laps / crash

1st) G2G Racing, Niece Motorsports (3)
2nd) David Gilliland Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) AM Racing, Front Row Motorsports, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (7)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (3)


No comments: