Saturday, August 13, 2022

TRUCKS: Nick Leitz turns the most laps of any Truck Series last-place finisher


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Nick Leitz picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation at the Richmond Raceway when his #33 Impact Logistics Chevrolet was involved in an accident after 209 of 250 laps.

The finish came in Leitz’ second series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 9th for the #33, the 176th from a crash, the 425th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 52nd for the #33, the 1,300th from a crash and the 1,853rd for Chevrolet.

A fourth-generation racer from Chesapeake, Virginia – home of 23-time Cup Series race winner Ricky Rudd – Leitz is a 26-year-old standout from the late model scene in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. Leitz signed with Reaume Brothers Racing to make his Truck Series debut earlier this summer at Nashville, where he qualified the #43 Chevrolet 33rd and finished on the lead lap in 26th.

Leitz reunited with the Reaume team at Richmond, this time driving the flagship #33 entry alongside Reaume himself in the #43. That then changed by Saturday afternoon as Mason Maggio, who failed to qualify in Peck Motorsports’ #96 HMY Yachts / Dry Shine / Ace Chevrolet, took Reaume’s place in the #43 Motorsports Safety Group Toyota. Maggio would be the only driver sent to the rear before the start, dropping behind 36th and last-place starter Timmy Hill in the #56 Units Storage Toyota.

Maggio was originally the second-slowest of six drivers who failed to qualify, the result of a massive 42-truck entry list, tied with Daytona for the most all season. Sent home with the Peck team were Tyler Hill in the #5 Hill Motorsports Toyota, Brennan Poole in G2G Racing’s returning #46 Macc Door Systems Toyota, Justin S. Carroll who has yet to start a race in his #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Dodd RV Toyota, Trey Hutchens III in his family’s #14 Quality Roof Seamers Chevrolet, and Norm Benning – still without a start in 2022 – in his #6 MDIA, Inc. Chevrolet.

Leitz ranked 32nd of the 42 entries in practice, then qualified 34th, relying on Owner Points after a lap of just 113.326mph (23.825 seconds) – a lap slower than the DNQs of Tyler Hill, Brennan Poole, and Justin S. Carroll. He remained 34th as the field took the green flag with Timmy Hill now up to 35th, 4.282 seconds back of the lead, and the penalized Mason Maggio nearly a second behind, or 5.274 back of polesitter Ty Majeski.

Blaine Perkins (center) during his
extended stay on pit road.
PHOTO: @conrail_1

At the conclusion of Lap 1, Maggio fell to 5.973 seconds back of the leader, and was told by his spotter, “Don’t let ‘em hold you up – if you can get ‘em, go get ‘em.” Further up, Leitz was side-by-side with Chad Chastain, who on Lap 4 pulled his #44 JDI Farms Chevrolet alongside, drawing within 0.076 second at the stripe. Chastain cleared Leitz with Maggio soon to follow on Lap 6, dropping the #33 to last for the first time. Leitz’ spotter encouraged him to go after his teammate by packing the air on the right-rear. This worked, and Leitz now drew alongside Maggio by just 0.089 on Lap 9. The two continued their battle for nearly two laps before Leitz fell back in line. During this battle, both had lost touch with 34th-place Chastain, a deficit that by Lap 20 had dropped to 1.333 seconds.

On Lap 22, the leaders lapped both Leitz and Maggio, and eight circuits later, Leitz finally dropped Maggio to last while surrounded by lead-lap traffic. Both lost a second lap by Lap 37, then a third on Lap 54. On Lap 64, still under green with more than half the field now off the lead lap, Maggio was stuck on the bottom of a three-wide battle, but reached the end of Stage 1 on Lap 71 without incident. By then, just 17 trucks were on the lead lap.

Under caution, Maggio called for adjustments, complaining that the rear of his truck was breaking loose on corner entry, and that had he wanted more rotation through the corner. The team prepared accordingly, but also walked him through making a brake bias adjustment. Both Maggio and Leitz pitted before Lap 76, when Leitz took over 36th place, but an overheating issue forced Maggio to make a second stop, and he retook the position on Lap 79.

Stage 2 got underway on Lap 81, when a new battle developed as Maggio began racing Spencer Boyd, whose #12 Chevrolet was running ahead of him on a different lap. On the 84th circuit, Reaume got on the radio and said, “Watch that 12, he may not know I'm not in the truck,” likely a reference to the early wreck between Boyd and Reaume two weeks ago at IRP that left Boyd in last place (LINK). The two remained in each other’s sights all the way until Lap 97, when race leader Chandler Smith caught both trucks as they were racing side-by-side. Another three-wide battle resulted, and Maggio let both trucks by.

Nearing the halfway point, Chandler Smith was firmly in command, but all 36 trucks were still on the track. That is, until around Lap 120, when Blaine Perkins made an unscheduled stop in his #9 Raceline Chevrolet. By Lap 122, he was still on pit road, five laps down and now in last place. The crew raised the hood, looking over the electrical system as the driver cited a loss of fuel pressure. The crew looked under the rear deck, the called for the replacement fuel pump from the hauler. With the end of Stage 2 approaching, the crew pushed Perkins backwards to the nearest garage opening on Lap 130. NASCAR advised the team that, if they returned, Perkins owed a pass-through penalty for too many crew members over the wall. On Lap 140, the team completed repairs, and now 24 laps down, finally completed his next lap under power on the 143rd circuit. He now reported brake shake, though the crew noted his rotors weren’t glowing red like those on other trucks.

With less than 50 laps to go, it appeared the race would see the season’s second full field of 36 trucks finish under power – the other being the Bristol Dirt Race. But that changed on Lap 215. Leitz, who was now 6 laps down in 33rd place, caught the ire of an approaching Carson Hocevar in the #42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet. Hocevar bumped Leitz’s truck in the left-rear, then followed him up the track toward the wall. Leitz backed into the fence as Hocevar cut left to avoid an impact. The race’s only caution for an incident saw Leitz climb from his truck, uninjured but done for the night.

By Lap 217, Leitz had dropped to 35th behind Maggio. With Perkins now 25 laps down, he could drop Leitz to last by running just 18 of the remaining 33 laps. This was followed on Lap 220 by Dean Thompson pulling into the garage in his #40 Worldwide Express Chevrolet for electrical issues perhaps stemming from an alternator failure. On Lap 235, with their truck now in 34th, Thompson’s crew re-fired the engine. They had noticed Perkins had nearly dropped Leitz to last, and was now within just a couple laps of dropping them to 35th. The next time by on Lap 236, Perkins did drop Leitz to last. Thompson was back up to speed by Lap 241, but by then, Perkins had dropped him to 35th and opened up a one-lap advantage. The race ended nine laps later with Thompson one lap behind Perkins. Maggio took 33rd, eight laps down, with Boyd in 32nd, six laps back.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #33 in a Truck Series race at Richmond.
*The 209 laps completed by Leitz set a new record for most laps turned by a Truck Series last-place finisher at Richmond, besting the previous mark of 105 by Randy Tolsma on September 7, 2000. It is also the most laps ever completed by the last-place finisher of any Truck Series race, besting the previous mark of 200 laps from two disqualified drivers of Ross Chastain (June 16, 2019 at Iowa) and Trevor Bayne (September 17, 2020 at Bristol).

36) #33-Nick Leitz / 209 laps / crash
35) #40-Dean Thompson / 223 laps / running
34) #9-Blaine Perkins / 224 laps / running
33) #43-Mason Maggio / 242 laps / running
32) #12-Spencer Boyd / 244 laps / running

1st) G2G Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports, Reaume Brothers Racing (3)
3rd) David Gilliland Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
4th) AM Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Halmar Friesen Racing, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (3)


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