Sunday, October 30, 2022

CUP: Wild Martinsville finish followed by Brad Keselowski’s disqualification


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Brad Keselowski picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s XFINITY 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #6 Kohler Generators Ford finished 4th, but was disqualified after completing all 500 laps.

The finish, which came in Keselowski’s 484th series start, was his first of the season and first since August 9, 2020 at Michigan, 85 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 28th from disqualification, the 35th for the #6, and the 726th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th by disqualification, the 69th for the #6, and the 1,002nd for Ford.

Tyler Reddick picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s XFINITY 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #8 3CHI Chevrolet fell out officially due to a crash, though resulting from a driver illness, after completing 188 of 500 laps.

The finish, which came in Reddick’s 109th series start, was his second of the season and first since Talladega, 25 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 32nd for the #8, the 640th from a crash, and the 830th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 51st for the #8, the 1,315th from a crash, and the 1,867th for Chevrolet.

Just last week in Homestead, Brad Keselowski earned his first Top Five of a difficult 2022 campaign, taking 5th the day Kyle Larson dominated the 400-miler in Homestead. The run came near the conclusion of the veteran driver’s most ambitious business deal yet – leaving his previous ride at Penske Racing to invest as part-owner of Roush-Fenway Racing. The rebranded RFK Racing began the year with a statement by sweeping the qualifying races at Daytona. But the team hardly contended after. 

The turning point seemed to come in May, when teammate Chris Buescher was sidelined from the race at Gateway due to a positive COVID-19 test. That weekend, relief driver Zane Smith finished a strong 17th in his unexpected Cup debut, and Buescher responded promptly by finishing runner-up in his return the next round at Sonoma. Buescher then made a strong push for the Playoffs, taking 6th at Road America, 3rd at Richmond, and 9th at Watkins Glen. He narrowly missed the cut, only to steal the spotlight under the lights at Bristol, where he won his first race since 2016. Keselowski also contended that night, leading 109 laps before a flat tire left him 13th. Keselowski’s Top Five at Homestead was his best run since, and he looked forward to Martinsville, where he felt his team could be competitive.

Securing the 36th and final starting spot was Cody Ware in the #51 Nurtec ODT / United Breast Cancer Foundation Ford. With no drivers sent to the back for pre-race infractions, Ware remained in last until the end of Lap 1, when he passed teammate J.J. Yeley in the #15 Rad Cats Ford, 5.444 seconds back of the lead. Yeley re-passed Ware the next time by, when McLeod now held 34th. By Lap 5, Yeley dropped McLeod back to 35th, and Ware drew alongside, just 0.042 second apart at the stripe. The lap after, Ware cleared McLeod, putting the #78 in last place.

McLeod’s last-place finish in the spring Martinsville race was one of his series-leading four on the 2022 campaign, practically assuring him the LASTCAR Cup Series Championship. The only way he could lose the title was if Corey LaJoie finished last while McLeod ran 31st or better, and even then LaJoie would have to do the same thing next week in Phoenix. When Stage 1 ran caution-free, the resulting 130-lap green-flag run saw McLeod lose a lap to the leaders on the 25th circuit. A few drivers fell toward the Bottom Five, starting with Ty Dillon, whose #42 U.S. Space Force Chevrolet dropped to 34th on Lap 72, then Kyle Busch, whose #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota dropped to 33rd, also off the lead lap. Busch remained silent on the radio as his car struggled through the corners, often passed by two cars off Turns 2 and 4. By Lap 106, Busch dropped to 35th, and on Lap 121, NASCAR warned him about his speed, saying “Let’s pick up the speed on the 18.” Then on Lap 123, 36th-place McLeod passed Busch off Turn 4. When Stage 1 finally ended, Busch was shown between four and five laps down. One of the only team communications under yellow reported “rear tire’s gone.”

Reddick pulls up to the hauler in the garage.

Stage 2 began with a ragged restart where several drivers near the back of the pack ran into each other, but none with enough damage to come to pit road. Busch remained in last place, and didn’t lose another lap until the 189th circuit, when he was shown six down. The next time by, Tyler Reddick slowed, then made a left-hand turn into the garage area entrance at Turn 3. He pulled up to the hauler, and Richard Childress came to the driver’s window. Reddick reported his head started hurting after he rear-ended another car on the track. The lower part of his car’s front valence was bent slightly, but the car was otherwise undamaged. NASCAR had not put him on the “Crash Clock” as his trip to the garage was listed as “mechanical.” Reddick climbed out under his own power and was brought to the infield care center, where he was checked and released. Childress called for a relief driver, calling for XFINITY Series drivers since the other 35 runners were still on track, but apparently none were found. On Lap 200, NASCAR officials reported Reddick was out of the race, listing it as an “accident.” The reason out was repeated.

McLeod was still running in 34th ahead of Kyle Busch when, on Lap 230, he pulled to pit road with a small fire coming from between the driver’s door panel and the inside of the left-front fender. When he stopped, smoke swirled from beneath the hood and into the driver’s compartment, and the crew looked under the hood. After fire crews sprayed the fender with extinguisher, McLeod’s car was pushed to the garage on Lap 244, finally going behind the wall by Lap 247. As with Reddick, NASCAR declared this to be a “mechanical” issue. 

Smoke in the cockpit of McLeod's car on pit road
Kyle Busch climbed to just 30th in the unofficial results, passing three other drivers who fell out of the race. On Lap 320, a shattered brake rotor sent Austin Dillon’s #3 Dow Chevrolet speeding out of control into Turn 3, and only quick thinking by Dillon allowed him to hit the fence with the passenger side of the car. The last caution on Lap 467 saw the same thing happen to Landon Cassill, whose #77 Nations Guard Chevrolet pounded the wall in the same spot. Both drivers escaped without serious injury. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Ty Dillon, his #42 the only other retiree after late-race brake issues of his own that did not result in a crash.

Keselowski, meanwhile, had successfully built upon the momentum from his top-five run in Homestead. Despite a Lap 273 spin off the nose of Ross Chastain, Keselowski clawed his way into contention on a late round of pit stops and briefly challenged Chase Briscoe for the lead before he broke loose off Turn 2. He ultimately crossed the finish line in fourth – just as Chastain rammed him from behind after Chastain’s daring last-lap wall-ride pulled him past 5th-place Denny Hamlin. But in post-race inspection, Keselowski’s car was found to be below minimum weight, and he was disqualified. Keselowski took last from Reddick, bumping Ty Dillon out of the Bottom Five and Austin Cindric out of the Bottom Ten. It was also the first last-place finish for either of the RFK Racing teams this season.

Despite Keselowski’s disqualification, the now 34th-place B.J. McLeod remained in the Bottom Five for a series-leading 13th time in 2022, securing him the 2022 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship over Corey LaJoie, who finished 21st.

Todd Gilliland earned his third-best finish of the year with a solid 13th-place showing in the #38 Moji Sushi Ford, completing all 500 laps in the process. He finished just 30th at Martinsville in the spring.

*The 500 laps completed broke the previous record for most laps complete by a Cup Series last-place finisher, set by Jimmie Johnson’s 405 laps around Charlotte before he was disqualified on May 24, 2020. Ricky Craven set the previous Martinsville record at 401 laps before handling issues on April 18, 1999. Johnson does retain the record for longest distance covered before finishing last.
*The #6 had not finished last in a Cup race at Martinsville since April 25, 1982, when D.K. Ulrich’s #6 Ulrich Racing Buick crashed after 14 laps of the Virginia National Bank 500. Ulrich had just changed car numbers from the #99 as he had too many “9” decals left over from the previous year, while the #9 was already being used by Melling Racing.

36) #6-Brad Keselowski / 500 laps / disqualified
35) #8-Tyler Reddick / 188 laps / crash
34) #78-B.J. McLeod / 225 laps / fire
33) #3-Austin Dillon / 316 laps / crash
32) #77-Landon Cassill / 460 laps / crash

1st) Live Fast Motorsports (6)
2nd) 23XI Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (4)
3rd) Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
4th) Penske Racing, Team Hezeberg, Trackhouse Racing (2)
5th) Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, RFK Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Ford (14)
2nd) Chevrolet (12)
3rd) Toyota (9)


Saturday, October 29, 2022

XFINITY: With crash at Martinsville, Bayley Currey leads LASTCAR championship showdown in Phoenix

PHOTO: Steven Taranto, @STaranto92

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Bayley Currey picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Dead On Tools 250 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #4 Aleve Chevrolet was involved in a single-car accident after 55 of 269 laps.

The finish, which came in Currey’s 106th series start, was his second of the year and first since March 26th at the Circuit of the Americas, 26 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ rankings, it was the 20th for the #4, the 374th from a crash, and the 608th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 70th for the #4, the 1,314th from a crash, and the 1,866th for Chevrolet.

Since he was last featured on this site, Currey’s prospects have improved with the signing of new sponsors. At Indianapolis came Hy-Vee Supermarkets, expanding on the company’s massive marketing push in the IndyCar Series with driver Jack Harvey. Then at Daytona came Bayer Pharmaceuticals with brand Alka-Seltzer, the once-prolific sponsor of Jimmy Means in the Cup Series and Terry Labonte in the Busch Series, among others. Labonte’s paint scheme from 1997 inspired a “throwback” look to the #4 at Talladega, where Currey finished 24th after leading 12 laps – his most in any one single race. During this same stretch, Currey has also finished 11th at Bristol, 12th at Texas, and 13th just last week in Homestead, keeping him 21st in points.

For the Martinsville race, set to be run on Currey’s 26th birthday, Bayer chose to promote pain reliever Aleve as sponsor on the #4 Chevrolet. The brand was most visible in NASCAR during the early 2000s, when they sponsored Tony Raines at BACE Motorsports. The most recent time the sponsor ran in what is now the XFINITY Series was on August 16, 2003, when Matt Kenseth finished 18th at Michigan for the Reiser family. 

Currey joined an entry list of 40 drivers, of which he ranked 32nd in practice. He then improved in qualifying, jumping to 20th on the grid with a lap of 93.437mph (20.266 seconds). The two who missed the show were Dawson Cram in Mike Harmon Racing’s #47 KMI Trucking Chevrolet and Ronnie Bassett, Jr. in the #77 Jerry Hunt Supercenter Chevrolet.

While Cram and Bassett ran the two slowest laps in qualifying, three others didn’t turn a lap and made the show. The 36th spot went to Playoff contender Austin Hill, whose #21 Chevrolet had an issue with the radiator between practice and qualifying. Daniel Hemric went to a backup car after his #11 AG1 – Athletic Greens Chevrolet wheel-hopped into Turn 1 and backed into the Turn 2 barrier. Kyle Weatherman, swapped in for team co-owner Jesse Iwuji, had a mechanical issue of his own and took the 38th spot in his #34 eRacing Association Chevrolet. 

Hill, Hemric, and Weatherman all incurred redundant tail-end penalties along with Derek Griffith, whose #26 Hudson Speedway Toyota secured a career-best 15th on the grid, only to be docked for unapproved adjustments. When the race started, Griffith rolled off 34th ahead of Weatherman, Hill, Hemric, and now last-place Finchum, 5.018 seconds back of the lead. By Lap 7, when C.J. McLaughlin fell to 37th in the #38 Sci Aps Ford, Finchum was 11.202 seconds back of the lead, reporting his car was “tight in the middle at both ends.” The Motorsports Business Management team hoped for an early caution to allow for adjustments, but Finchum became the first driver lapped on the 20th circuit.

On Lap 32, a tight battle for 28th ensued between Joe Graf, Jr. in the #07 Bucked Up Energy Ford and Patrick Emerling #35 Jordan Tiegs Designs Chevrolet. Heading into Turn 1, Mason Massey’s #91 Anderson Power Services Chevrolet bumped Emerling, putting him into Graf and sending both spinning. Graf backed into the outside wall while Emerling had damage to the nose, forcing both to come down pit road. Just behind them, Kris Wright’s #68 First National Bank Chevrolet tangled with Matt Mills’ #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet at corner entrance, leaving Wright with damage. 

On Lap 33, as Finchum reported his brake pedal was fading, his #13 dropped Emerling to last place. Emerling also reported brake issues as he made it to pit road for bear-bond on the nose, also taking note of the engine temperature. Graf’s crew focused on the fuel filler neck, which had to be cleared from the crumpled left-rear quarter-panel. Both returned to the track, though an extra stop by Graf dropped him to last on Lap 38. Both were on track on Lap 42, when NASCAR deemed all cars met minimum speed, including Graf, Emerling, Wright, and Mills. NASCAR did advise Graf’s crew to make further repairs to the loose decklid on their next stop. At the time, Graf was between three and four laps down, one lap back of Emerling.

Currey on pit road after his wreck, before he was towed.
PHOTO: Dominic Howe, @iDomHowe

Currey wasn’t anywhere near last place until disaster struck on Lap 57. Running 23rd at the time, Currey apparently lost a right-front tire while running the high lane in Turns 3 and 4, then slammed hard with the right-front corner of his car. Currey made it around another lap, then nearly stopped at the backstretch entrance to the garage area. Instead, he managed to make it to his pit stall. “Can you get it where you can at least turn the wheel?” the crew asked. The team looked at changing the right-front wheel and soon found a shop wheel with a yellow rim instead of a sticker tire. They then called for the tow truck, which towed him behind the wall on Lap 64. He'd taken last from Graf three laps earlier.

Both Graf and Emerling climbed out of the Bottom Five as attrition steadily increased. Taking 37th was Landon Cassill, whose #10 StormX Chevrolet lost a right-front tire in the same spot as Currey, putting him into the wall and out of the race. Chad Finchum’s brake condition worsened, forcing him behind the wall twice for brake fluid that kept boiling off. After the second stay, he returned to the track on Lap 168, only to immediately lose the pedal. The crew had Finchum return to the garage through the backstretch entrance, and he stopped in the Cup garage, done for the day. Finchum’s teammate J.J. Yeley in the #66 Toyota spun and backed into the Turn 3 wall, then lost the engine with a fire behind the right-front wheel, thus locking Ty Gibbs into the Championship Four. Between Finchum and Yeley came 35th-place Matt Mills, who recovered from his tangle with Kris Wright only to lose the engine on Lap 149.

2022 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship to be decided in Phoenix finale

With the finish, Bayley Currey joins a nine-car battle for the 2022 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship in next week’s title race at Phoenix. In fact, he took the lead from Brennan Poole, who wasn’t entered in Saturday’s race, and now leads him on a bottom-ten tiebreaker 13-8. Poole now joins Jeb Burton, Rajah Caruth, Joe Graf, Jr., J.J. Yeley, Matt Mills, Brandon Brown, and Sheldon Creed as the title challengers. Nearly all the challengers must finish last at Phoenix to take the title. Poole can also take the title with a Bottom Five in Phoenix if neither Burton nor Caruth finish last AND if Currey finishes 33rd or better.

Two ARCA standouts and two Our Motorsports teammates earn great finishes

As Playoff drama boiled over, a few underdogs found their way toward the front. On the same day that Parker Kligerman was announced as Big Machine Racing’s full-time driver in 2023, Nick Sanchez continued his impressive late-season run with a 7th-place finish in the #48 Borchetta Bourbon Chevrolet – his first top-ten finish in just seven XFINITY starts. Fellow ARCA star Rajah Caruth also earned a career-best of his own by taking 12th in the #44 Virginia State Chevrolet, an improvement of eight positions from his previous mark of 20th in Las Vegas, and in only his sixth career start.

Our Motorsports also turned in a pair of fine runs. Blaine Perkins, who rejoined the team a few weeks back, scored his first career Top Ten by taking 10th in the #02 Warrior Health Foundation Chevrolet. It was Perkins’ best since his 13th at Talladega last fall, a race where he won Stage 2. One spot behind in 11th came teammate Jeb Burton, who after a difficult 2022 season and fresh news of his upcoming departure from the team at season’s end earned an 11th in his #27 State Water Heaters Chevrolet. This ties the spring race at Richmond for Burton’s best finish of the season.

*This is the first last-place finish for the #4 in a XFINITY Series race at Martinsville.

38) #4-Bayley Currey / 55 laps / crash
37) #10-Landon Cassill / 108 laps / crash
36) #13-Chad Finchum / 137 laps / brakes
35) #5-Matt Mills / 145 laps / engine
34) #66-J.J. Yeley / 176 laps / engine

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JD Motorsports, JR Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management (3)
3rd) Mike Harmon Racing, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing (2)
4th) Big Machine Racing, Brandonbilt Motorsports, DGM Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing, RSS Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (23)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (4)


Thursday, October 27, 2022

PREVIEW: Spooky paint schemes and a few returning drivers add to Martinsville storylines

IMAGE: Render by Michael Miceli Design LLC @raceartist, tweeted by @dgm_racing_

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, October 29, 2022 (3:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
XFINITY Race 32 of 33
Round of 8: Race 3 of 3
Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Tommy Joe Martins

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning two will be sent home.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
NASCAR’s Halloween weekend features multiple holiday-themed paint schemes in both races. While Ryan Vargas’ Williamsburg Contracting paint scheme isn’t one of these, he and motorsports artist Harris Lue collaborated on a race day graphic inspired by “Stranger Things.” Vargas takes the place of current LASTCAR XFINITY Series leader Brennan Poole, who finished 14th last week in Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
It’s been a challenging year for Chad Finchum, who has only qualified for one of his five attempts this year, taking 32nd back in Dover. Taking the place of Timmy Hill, who ran 29th in Homestead, Finchum has only one previous XFINITY start at Martinsville, which was a 37th-place run for MBM in this race two years ago. Finishing Touch and Food City are his sponsors.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Six-time ARCA race winner Sammy Smith returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 14th-place showing at Bristol, again in the #18 with Pilot and Flying J as sponsors. He takes the place of Trevor Bayne, who made his last start of the year last week in Homestead, winning the pole and finishing 6th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Derek Griffith seeks his sixth career XFINITY Series start and first since his 23rd-place showing in the fall race at Talladega. As with his previous five, he drives for Sam Hunt Racing, this time taking the place of Chandler Smith, who finished a career-best 7th just hours after locking himself into the Truck Series’ Championship Four. Griffith ran the spring race at Martinsville, finishing 21st – his second-best finish to date.

MISSING: #28-RSS Racing
After a bizarre late-race wreck in Homestead involving brother Ryan Sieg and Stefan Parsons, the #28 team is not entered this week. Kyle finished 35th at Homestead after fender damage from the wreck.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji is listed as the driver of the #34 for what would be the 12th time this year and first since Talladega, where he took 28th. Kyle Weatherman earned a 20th-place finish last week in Homestead. This would be Iwuji’s first XFINITY start at Martinsville, where he has one previous Truck Series start last fall, taking 30th for the Reaume Brothers.

Just as they did last year, Mario Gosselin’s team has a trio of Halloween-themed paint schemes designed by Michael Miceli Design, LLC. Among these are Alex Labbe and Josh Williams, who this week swap rides. Last week, Labbe failed to qualify in the #92 while Williams took 30th. This week, Williams is in the #92, whose graphics include a rendering of Williams as Beetlejuice.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Rajah Caruth returns two weeks after his most recent start in Las Vegas, where he ran a career-best 20th in only his sixth series start. Taking the place of Julia Landauer, who was 28th in Homestead, Caruth will be making his first Martinsville start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Taking the helm of the second Alpha Prime entry is Howie DiSavino, who we last saw in this series at Talladega, taking 32nd. DiSavino made his XFINITY debut at this track this past spring, where a busted driveshaft left him 36th. Carrying sponsorship from the Travis Mills Foundation, DiSavino takes the place of Stefan Parsons. Parsons, 34th due to his aforementioned wreck with the Siegs, will race this Saturday as well, rejoining B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the #78. Carrying another Halloween-themed paint scheme with Rich Mar Florist as sponsor, Parsons takes the place of McLeod himself, who ran 36th with electrical woes in Homestead.

RETURNING: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
For the first time since the Charlotte Roval, where Gray Gaulding failed to qualify, Mike Harmon’s team is back on the entry list, looking to avenge their first-lap clutch failure that left them last here in the spring. No driver was originally listed until Dawson Cram reported he would drive. Cram seeks MHR’s first start since the fall Talladega race, where Harmon ran 34th, in what would be Cram’s third series start and second in 2022. He finished 30th for Emerling-Gase Motorsports last month in Darlington, having taken 35th at Loudon for MHR last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Bassett Racing
The Bassett team returns after Dillon Bassett missed the show in Homestead. This week, Ronnie, Jr. takes the wheel of the #77 Chevrolet, seeking his first Martinsville start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Our Motorsports
Blaine Perkins makes his fifth start of the year for Our Motorsports and first since Talladega, where he ran 36th in the #02. Perkins, who carries Warrior Health Foundation as sponsor, has just one previous XFINITY start at Martinsville. In the spring race last year, he finished 35th in Our’s #23.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt
After he was not entered the last two races, Brandon Brown returns, this time taking the place of 21st-place Homestead finisher David Starr in the second Bobby Dotter entry. Solid Rock Carriers will be the sponsor for Brown, whose best of four XFINITY starts at Martinsville was an 18th in 2020.


Sunday, October 30, 2022 (2:30 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 35 of 36
Round of 8: Race 3 of 3
Xfinity 500 at Martinsville
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

There are 36 entries for as many spots, marking the 34th short field in 35 races this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-23XI Racing
Following his one-race suspension for the Las Vegas wreck with Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace returns to the #45 entry, one week after John Hunter Nemechek was fastest in practice, qualified 4th, then finished 27th after an early spin. Wallace makes his 10th Martinsville start in the Cup Series, where his best finish remains an 11th in 2020.

Friday, November 4, 2022
TRUCKS Race 23 of 23
Championship Race
Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Lawless Alan

The Truck Series returns next week to kick off Championship Weekend in Phoenix, where Ty Majeski, Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith, and Zane Smith will battle for the title.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 27, 1991): Ricky Craven picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career in the Winston Classic at Martinsville when his #20 SpeeDee Oil Change Oldsmobile lost the engine after 19 laps. Craven had made his Winston Cup debut one week earlier at Rockingham, finishing 34th in a field of 40 after another engine problem.

PREVIEW: LASTCAR Cup and XFINITY Clinch Scenarios for Martinsville

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

While Spencer Boyd secured the LASTCAR Truck Series Championship last week in Homestead, the remaining two series face two very different championship scenarios.

The 2022 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship comes down to just two drivers:

#7-Corey LaJoie
#78-B.J. McLeod

With a two-finish deficit, LaJoie is on the verge of elimination. The only way he can force a title showdown in Phoenix is by finishing last in Sunday’s race while McLeod finishes 31st or better. If this does not happen, McLeod will secure the title this weekend.

Current LASTCAR XFINITY Standings,
including drivers still eligible for the title
with two races to go.
The 2022 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship remains wide open heading into these final two races as only these three drivers have finished last twice all year:

Brennan Poole
#27-Jeb Burton
#44-Rajah Caruth

The lead is held by Brennan Poole, who is not entered in this week’s race. This is critical as he would have been able to lock-up the title by finishing last if Jeb Burton didn’t finish in the Bottom Five. Instead, Burton, who is just one Bottom Five behind Poole, has a chance to take the lead with either a last-place finish or a Bottom Five. Caruth can only take the lead by finishing last. Even if either Burton or Caruth finish last, neither can lock-up the title on Saturday since Poole is entered in Phoenix. 

#2-Sheldon Creed
#4-Bayley Currey
#5-Matt Mills
#66-J.J. Yeley
#91-Mason Massey
#07-Joe Graf, Jr.
#08-Brandon Brown

Poole, Burton, and Caruth each have so few Bottom Fives and Bottom Tens that these seven drivers can take the lead simply by finishing last in Martinsville, regardless where the other three finish. But each would still remain tied with Poole, Burton, and Caruth with two last-place finishes, and the trio would have a chance to respond with a last-place run in Phoenix. Sheldon Creed is the biggest longshot of this group. Had Poole been entered and finished Bottom Five while Creed finished last, Creed would have the lead on a slim Bottom Fifteen tiebreaker of 12-9.

#1-Sam Mayer
#6-Ryan Vargas
#10-Landon Cassill
#39-Ryan Sieg
#68-Kris Wright
#98-Riley Herbst

A last-place finish by any of these six drivers won’t put them in the lead after Martinsville, but they may be close enough to challenge Poole, Burton, or Caruth at Phoenix, depending where they finish. Of this group, Vargas has more Bottom Tens than any of the three leaders, which would put him in the best spot for a tiebreaker.

#7-Justin Allgaier
#9-Noah Gragson
#11-Daniel Hemric*
#18-Sammy Smith
#31-Myatt Snider*
#34-Jesse Iwuji*
#38-C.J. McLaughlin*
#51-Jeremy Clements*
#92-Josh Williams*

These nine drivers would need to finish last at both Martinsville and Phoenix to win the title, but may still fall short depending where Poole or Burton finish. Drivers marked with a * indicate drivers who have not yet finished last yet this season, but their Bottom Five and Bottom Ten totals may be competitive if they sweep both last-place finishes.

Caesar Bacarella
Jade Buford
Jeffrey Earnhardt
Tommy Joe Martins
Timmy Hill
Sage Karam
Will Rodgers
Chandler Smith
David Starr*
Kyle Weatherman

These ten drivers are also still mathematically in contention if they finish last in both races, but none are entered this week, and will thus be eliminated at the command to start engines on Saturday. Among the eliminated is defending LASTCAR XFINITY Series Champion David Starr, who is out of the #08 this week.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

CUP: Chase Briscoe scores first last-place finish of NASCAR career

PHOTO: Jared Haas at Frontstretch, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Chase Briscoe picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #14 Magical Vacation Planner Ford was eliminated with crash damage after 160 of 267 laps.

The finish came in Briscoe’s 70th series start. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 41st for the #14, the 639th from a crash, and the 725th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 60th for the #14, the 1,001st for Ford, and the 1,313th from a crash.

The finish also gave Ford the lead in the 2022 LASTCAR Cup Series Manufacturer’s Championship. Ford hasn’t claimed the title since 2013 as Chevrolet has scored it every year since. With two races to go, Ford holds a one-finish lead over Chevrolet.

It was at Homestead on November 17, 2017 that Chase Briscoe scored the first win of his Truck Series career. At the time, he drove for Brad Keselowski Racing with Austin Cindric, and for most of 2018, the two would join Ty Majeski in sharing Roush-Fenway Racing’s #60 entry. All three struggled, but Briscoe found his footing with the Biagi-DenBeste effort, soon to be absorbed by Stewart-Haas Racing. It was with this team Briscoe scored his first XFINITY win in the first race on the Charlotte “Roval,” won again at Iowa the next year, and in 2020 dominated the series with nine victories. Only a sluggish performance in the championship race at Phoenix left Briscoe fourth in the standings, and Cindric as champion.

The following year’s Phoenix finale saw Briscoe complete a challenging rookie campaign in the Cup Series – a year where he nearly won at his home track in Indianapolis before he ran off-course, then crashed in the final race itself. This past spring, the same Phoenix track saw Briscoe return in NASCAR’s new NextGen car. After a thrilling late-race restart against Tyler Reddick, Briscoe came out ahead and scored his first Cup Series victory. He, Reddick, and now Daytona 500 champion Cindric would eventually be among the five first-time winners to have celebrated since, all advancing to the Playoffs.

After taking 27th, 13th, and 14th through the first round of this year’s Playoffs, Briscoe made his way past the first eliminations into the “Round of 12.” There, he finished 5th in a crash-marred Texas race, squeezed out a 10th-place showing in a relatively placid Talladega event, and in the closing laps of the Charlotte “Roval” had done just enough to beat Kyle Larson for the final spot in the “Round of 8.” Heading through the backstretch chicane for the final time, NASCAR concluded teammate Cole Custer checked-up on purpose, blocking the advancing cars of Erik Jones and Austin Dillon. Briscoe made it the rest of the way with now a two-point advantage over Larson, while Custer was levied a 50-point penalty for influencing the outcome. 

Despite the controversy, and team co-owner Tony Stewart’s frustrations, Briscoe arrived last week in Las Vegas, where he turned in a 4th-place finish – his best since the Coca-Cola 600. The run was enough to put Briscoe 6th in the point standings, just nine points from a spot in the “Championship Four.” Homestead – the site of Briscoe’s first Truck Series victory nearly five years ago – would be next. Coming into Sunday’s race, Briscoe had made a combined 183 points-paying starts in NASCAR’s three national series, running 69 in Cup, 86 in XFINITY, and 28 in the Truck Series. Not one had resulted in a last-place finish.

At Homestead, Briscoe’s weekend began with an 8th-fastest time in practice, ranking him fourth among Playoff drivers behind Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, and Ross Chastain. This did not carry over into qualifying, as he ranked just 19th with a lap of 165.996mph (32.531 seconds), ranking him second-slowest of the Playoff guys, just three-thousandths of a second ahead of Chastain.

Securing the 36th and final starting spot was Cody Ware in the #51 Nurtec ODT / United Breast Cancer Foundation Ford. He’d be joined in the back by 29th-place Todd Gilliland, whose #38 EO South Florida Ford had steering issues on race morning, and 31st-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 Chevrolet. Ultimately, Gilliland crossed the stripe 32nd ahead of 33rd-place LaJoie. The 34th spot fell to Ware’s teammate J.J. Yeley, who debuted a new 360-degree camera on board his #15 Jacob Companies Ford, followed by Ware and new 36th-place runner B.J. McLeod.

McLeod, driving the #78 Frankie Zombie Z222 Motorsport Games Ford, entered the race with a series-leading four last-place finishes in 2022. This meant he could secure the LASTCAR Cup Series Championship by finishing last on Sunday. McLeod crossed the stripe in 36th, 3.379 seconds back of the lead, and fell to 4.069 back at the end of Lap 1. By Lap 3, he caught and passed Ware, but Ware responded by diving under him using the low lane entering Turn 3. Ware was fast at corner entry, but each time, McLeod pulled ahead off Turn 4. It wasn’t until Lap 9 that Ware cleared the #78, just as McLeod was catching Yeley. On Lap 13, Ware dropped Yeley to 35th, and McLeod started to reel him in. But by Lap 21, each of the bottom four runners were a second or more apart.

On Lap 28, McLeod was over three seconds back of Yeley when race leaders Kyle Larson and William Byron moved past to his outside. Yeley was just about to be lapped when, seconds later, John Hunter Nemechek spun the #45 Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota off Turn 2 and made light wall contact with the rear of the car. Nemechek, back in a Cup car for the first time since the 2020 finale, had stepped in for Bubba Wallace following his one-race suspension. Nemechek was fastest in opening practice and qualified 4th, but the incident ultimately dropped him to 27th at the finish.

Briscoe climbs from his car in the garage.

When NASCAR waved Yeley by, McLeod was awarded the Lucky Dog, and talked over the crew about an issue in the front of his car. He got his lap back on the 33rd circuit and dropped Nemechek to last on Lap 35, the #45 docked for pitting too soon after his spin. Nemechek got by again on the Lap 36 restart, and McLeod was now watching Yeley and Ware race for position. On Lap 39, McLeod battled Ware on the inside of Turn 1, but Ware held him off. Once again, it was tough work completing the pass. Despite a car that now handled better at the start of the run, it wasn’t until Lap 54 that McLeod passed Ware for 35th, dropping the #51 to last once more. Ware then lost a lap to Larson on the 64th circuit with McLeod now more than a second ahead. On Lap 81, the caution fell to end Stage 1, and Ware apologized to the team for struggling, requesting they go back on their previous adjustments to tighten the car. Ware also said running the low lane was likely burning up his tires.

On Lap 85, McLeod took last from Ware, followed by Gilliland under the continuing caution the next time by. Gilliland had a good restart, dropping Ware back to last on Lap 88, and Ware put McLeod back to 36th on Lap 90. “Starting to think I’m not gonna get the fronts [tires] back,” said McLeod. According to the driver, the car ran well on the first few laps of a run, then struggled for the 30 laps following. This proved disastrous as Sunday’s race saw few cautions, low attrition, and several long green-flag runs. All the while, driver and spotter remarked on how fast Larson’s car was, a Chevrolet that was on its way to leading 199 laps on its way to victory. “Oh yeah, this 5 is putting on a clinic,” said the crew on Lap 118. “He’s in another zip code.”

Green-flag stops followed, and Ware retook last on Lap 122 after he returned to the track. Two circuits later, McLeod pitted from 34th and took over the spot. The lap after, Landon Cassill took 36th after his #77 Zeigler Auto / LoJack Chevrolet had stalled sideways on pit road. Cassill fell three laps down before he returned to the track, still under green. Cassill caught and passed McLeod on Lap 127, and by now all 36 cars were still running within 3 laps of the leader.

The next driver to faulter was Justin Haley, who on Lap 138 pitted his #31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet with a flat right-front tire. The crew then had issues with the right-front single lug, and put on a replacement by hand before locking it down with the gun. Haley returned to the track in 35th, just barely ahead of McLeod, and promptly took 34th on Lap 149.

Briscoe (far left) out of his car in the garage.

Around this time, Chase Briscoe had made a miraculous save off Turn 2. But just moments after the replay, the caution fell on Lap 161 for debris down the backstretch. Briscoe had slapped the wall between Turns 1 and 2, and his car took a peculiar stance as it drove back to the pits, smoke trailing from nearly every corner. He made it to pit road, only for the crew to discover they’d broken a control arm. Due to a rule change by NASCAR, teams would not be allowed to make such a repair on pit road. Briscoe backed up from his stall as the team talked about going to the garage. When they realized going to the garage would end their day, they hesitated, and Briscoe came back to his stall. On Lap 164, at the very moment Briscoe took last from McLeod, NASCAR relayed “14 to the garage.” The official hesitated, perhaps considering if it was a mechanical issue that would allow them to return, then said “And that will be DVP on the 14.” 

With that, Briscoe’s day was done. Heading into next week’s final race of the “Round of 8,” Briscoe sits 44 points behind the bubble, making Martinsville a practical must-win to make the “Championship Four.”

The only other incident occurred to Tyler Reddick, whose solid run in the early laps was spoiled by multiple issues. On Lap 245, his #8 3CHI Chevrolet spun off Turn 2 and slammed head-on into the inside wall at the exit used be rescue equipment. Reddick climbed out uninjured, and promptly took over 35th. McLeod ultimately climbed past Ware in the final laps to take 33rd, the two remaining on the same lap. Yeley rounded out the Bottom Five, just behind Gilliland in 31st.

LASTCAR Cup Championship down to two drivers

With two races to go, the battle for the 2022 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship has come down to two drivers. B.J. McLeod remains the leader with four finishes, two more than two-time finishers Corey LaJoie, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Ty Gibbs, and Austin Cindric. Busch, Larson, Wallace, Gibbs, and Cindric needed to finish last in all three remaining races to take the title, and all were eliminated when Briscoe took 36th. Wallace was eliminated when the race started due to his one-race suspension.

LaJoie is the only driver left who can take the title, but needs to sweep the last-place finishes at both Martinsville and Phoenix. Even then, he doesn’t entirely control his destiny:

To stay in contention, LaJoie must first finish last at Martinsville. McLeod will clinch at Martinsville simply if LaJoie doesn’t finish last in that race.

McLeod can also win the title if he finishes Bottom Five at Martinsville, no matter where LaJoie finishes. In this scenario, even if LaJoie finishes last at both Martinsville and Phoenix, LaJoie will still lose a bottom-ten tiebreaker of either 20-17 or 19-17, depending where McLeod finishes in each.

If LaJoie finishes last at Martinsville AND McLeod either gets a Bottom Ten or finishes better than a Bottom Ten, the title fight goes down to Phoenix. There, LaJoie will need to finish last again AND McLeod will have to finish better than a Bottom Five again. This would give LaJoie a bottom-five tiebreaker of 13-12, rendering McLeod’s Bottom Ten total irrelevant.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #14 in a Cup race since March 17, 2019, when Clint Bowyer’s #14 Rush Truck Centers / Haas Automation Ford overheated after 130 laps around Fontana. It was the first for the #14 in a Cup race at Homestead since November 16, 2014, when Tony Stewart’s #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet was involved in a crash after 182 laps.
*Briscoe is only the fourth driver to score his first Cup last-place finish at Homestead, joining Scott Pruett (2000), Matt Kenseth (2003), and Regan Smith (2018).

36) #14-Chase Briscoe / 160 laps / crash
35) #8-Tyler Reddick / 242 laps / crash
34) #51-Cody Ware / 262 laps / running
33) #78-B.J. McLeod / 262 laps / running
32) #15-J.J. Yeley / 263 laps / running

1st) Live Fast Motorsports (6)
2nd) 23XI Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (4)
3rd) Spire Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
4th) Penske Racing, Team Hezeberg, Trackhouse Racing (2)
5th) Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Ford (13)
2nd) Chevrolet (12)
3rd) Toyota (9)


Saturday, October 22, 2022

XFINITY: J.J. Yeley shows speed at Homestead before wreck results in Ford’s 1,000th NASCAR last-place finish

PHOTO: Jared Haas at Frontstretch, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

J.J. Yeley picked up the 13th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Contender Boats 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #66 Workpro Breast Cancer Awareness Ford was involved in a multi-car accident after 3 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Yeley’s 379th series start, was his first of the season and first in a XFINITY race since October 16, 2021 at Texas, 35 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 14th for the #66, the 161st for Ford, and the 373rd from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 84th for the #66, the 1,000th for Ford, and the 1,312th from a crash.

Yeley has remained as busy as ever in 2022, splitting time between the Cup Series and XFINITY Series for both Rick Ware Racing and Carl Long’s program, Motorsports Business Management. In a year that saw both MBM’s cars shut out of the Daytona 500 field – Yeley coming just one last-lap pass from his first 500 start since 2015 – the team has since focused almost entirely on their two-car XFINITY program. While MBM’s #13 team scaled back to part-time, Yeley’s offseason funding for the #66 has been instrumental in keeping that car full-time.

This year, Yeley has most often finished under power and earned several solid finishes. He began the season with a 13th in the Daytona opener, then an 11th in Atlanta, a season-best 8th on the rainy road course in Portland, then a 9th in the August Daytona race. When MBM loaned their NextGen car to Penske Racing after Austin Cindric’s Daytona 500 winner was preserved in the Daytona 500 Experience, the crew got one of Penske’s XFINITY cars for Yeley to run in Texas. There, Yeley qualified 14th and was running among the leaders when he was caught in a pileup not of his making, leaving him a disappointing 31st. GMS Racing has since put a new nose on the Penske car, but it hasn’t been as fast since the wreck.

This was likely the same Ford that Yeley ran at Homestead, where he did show speed early. In a practice session cut short by rain, he ran 15th of the 40 entrants and third-best of the Fords behind Ryan Sieg and Riley Herbst. He improved further in qualifying, running the fastest of all the Fords with a speed of 163.865mph (32.954 seconds). Missing the show were Alex Labbe in the #92 Prolon Controls / Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet and Dillon Bassett in the returning #77 Jerry Hunt Supercenter Chevrolet.

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was C.J. McLaughlin, whose #38 Sci Aps Ford made the field despite running a slower qualifying lap than both DNQs. McLaughlin’s full-time RSS Racing entry made the show ahead of both part-timers that were sent home. No drivers were sent to the back for the start, and McLaughlin remained in the final row for the start next to Julia Landauer in Alpha Prime Racing’s #44 Atem Car Club Chevrolet. “Have fun, race the track,” said McLaughlin’s crew. “We’ll pass a lot of people.”

When the race started, McLaughlin indeed began to climb, and by the end of Lap 1 dropped Landauer to last, 4.675 seconds back of the lead and 0.240 back of new 37th-place runner Patrick Emerling in the #35 Toyota. Landauer said her car jumped out of gear at the start, but quickly climbed out of last place when Kris Wright’s #68 iHeart Radio Chevrolet bounced off the outside wall and made an unscheduled stop on Lap 2. While NASCAR mistakenly reported Wright went behind the wall under the DVP, the #68 returned to the track one lap down on Lap 3, taking over the last spot from Landauer. The next time by saw the battle abruptly end.

Coming off Turn 2 on Lap 4, Yeley was locked in a four-wide battle with Stefan Parsons’ #45 Clear Cryptos Chevrolet to his inside, Jeb Burton’s #27 Larry’s Lemonade Beach Bash Chevrolet to his outside, and Riley Herbst’s #98 Monster Energy Ford even higher. Yeley slid up the track and made contact with the left-front of Burton’s car, steering Yeley into the outside wall and collecting Herbst. The caution fell as Yeley and Herbst made it to pit road along with David Starr, whose #08 Amptricity Ford was likewise put on the 10-minute “Crash Clock.” While Starr and Herbst returned, Yeley’s crew discovered the ball joint on the right-front was damaged, and he pulled behind the wall, done for the day.

Taking the 37th spot was Mason Massey, whose #91 Anderson Power Services Chevrolet twice bounced off the outside wall. On Lap 65, Massey pulled behind the wall with a blown engine, though with some difficulty as he briefly blocked the garage entrance. B.J. McLeod had an electrical issue on his #78 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet, ending his run early in Stage 3. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Kyle Sieg in the #28 Ford and Stefan Parsons in the #45 Clear Cryptos Chevrolet, who tangled entering Turn 1. Parsons was running 12th, one lap down, at the time of the incident.

Several underdogs sneak in strong runs amid Playoff drama

Parsons was among a few drivers who turned in strong runs. Kyle Weatherman turned in another fantastic qualifying effort for Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, taking 8th on the grid and climbing as high as 5th in the #34 SELE Foundation Chevrolet, eventually taking 20th. Parker Retzlaff returned to form in his third start for Our Motorsports, taking 16th in the #02 Funkaway Chevrolet. And most impressively, JD Motorsports teammates Bayley Currey and Brennan Poole finished 13th and 14th with Currey’s #4 KSDT CPA Chevrolet ahead of Poole’s #6 Macc Door Systems Chevrolet, the last two cars on the lead lap.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in a XFINITY Series race at Homestead since June 14, 2020, when Stephen Leicht fell out with handling issues after 9 laps.

38) #66-J.J. Yeley / 3 laps / crash
37) #91-Mason Massey / 62 laps / engine
36) #78-B.J. McLeod / 115 laps / electrical
35) #28-Kyle Sieg / 183 laps / crash
34) #45-Stefan Parsons / 189 laps / crash

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JR Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing (2)
4th) Big Machine Racing, Brandonbilt Motorsports, DGM Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing, RSS Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (22)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (4)


TRUCKS: Spencer Boyd prevails in intense last-place battle at Homestead, taking LASTCAR title

PHOTO: Jared Haas at Frontstretch, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Spencer Boyd picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #12 Hair Club Chevrolet fell out with brake issues after 124 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Boyd’s 87th series start, was his series-leading third of 2022 and first since Bristol, two races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 9th for the #12, the 29th from brakes, and the 429th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #12, the 165th caused by the brakes, and the 1,865th for Chevrolet.

Spencer Boyd arrived in Homestead marking both the Miami venue and Breast Cancer Awareness Month by running a pink version of his Hair Club #12 Chevrolet, a pattern adorned with palm trees. With the new paint scheme was the hope to turn around a rough late-season slide for his Young’s Motorsports effort. His two last-place finishes at IRP and Bristol bookended a 32nd in Richmond and 33rd at Kansas. He then failed to qualify at Talladega, site of his upset victory in 2019. It was the first race he’d missed since Knoxville in 2021, when Kyle Strickler drove in his place.

With 37 drivers entered for 36 spots, Boyd was not in immediate danger of failing to qualify for a second-straight race. He ran 31st fastest in practice, and when qualifying was cancelled due to rain, he secured the 32nd spot on the grid. Sent home was the lowest ranked of three part-time efforts – the #84 Backyard Blues Pools Toyota of Clay Greenfield for Cook Racing Technologies.

Securing the 36th and final starting spot was fellow part-timer Tyler Hill, back in the #5 Hill Motorsports Toyota for the first time since last month’s race in Kansas. He’d be joined at the tail end by three drivers for unapproved adjustments: polesitter Ryan Preece in the #17 Compustar / RaceChoice Ford, Lawless Alan in Al Niece’s #45 AUTOChargit Chevrolet, and Nick Leitz in the #33 Geese Chevrolet for Reaume Brothers Racing. Preece’s penalty moved 3rd-place starter and Talladega winner Matt DiBenedetto to the pole, his #25 Rackley Roofing / WAR Shocks Chevrolet alongside 2nd-place Ben Rhodes in the #99 Kubota Toyota.

Coming into the race, John Hunter Nemechek received an opportunity to make his first Cup start since the end of his difficult 2020 rookie season, this time relieving the suspended Bubba Wallace at 23XI Racing. He looked to secure a Playoff spot with Kyle Busch Motorsports, making it to the “Round of 8” in the #4 Gearwrench Toyota. But while running 9th on Lap 3, Nemechek scraped the outside wall. He still climbed to 5th by Lap 13, only to bounce off the wall again, this time cutting down a tire and forcing him to pit. 

During these same laps, the last spot was traded on Lap 4 by Mason Maggio in the #43 pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina Toyota. Maggio then climbed past Boyd on Lap 14, opening up over a one-second advantage over Boyd’s #12. Bret Holmes, denied the victory at Talladega after a last-minute freezing of the field handed the win to Matt DiBenedetto, also took the spot by Lap 20 in his #32 Golden Eagle / Bridger Aerospace Chevrolet. It wasn’t until Lap 21, after Nemechek returned to the track following his second pit stop, that the #4 took over the last spot. Further up, Holmes was fighting to stay just one lap down, at one point squeezing past race leader Rhodes who broke loose coming off Turn 4.

Nemechek remained in last place when Stage 1 ended, and he remained three laps down on the ensuing run. On Lap 53, Boyd was running in 34th, two laps down, and was being warned by his crew to pick up the pace. “Frankie, we’ve gotta pick the speed up,” the team said on Lap 53, “It’s like Kansas all over again.” Boyd reported a significant loose condition where the right-rear wheel seemed to “lead” into Turns 1 and 2. “I had a couple ‘oh shit’ moments that really hurt my pace,” he radioed. By Lap 64, with Stage 2 now in the books, Boyd had slipped to 35th, just one lap ahead of Nemechek. By now, the team had bolted on old right-side tires – the right-front had 10 laps on it while the right-rear had 13. Boyd made do with the scuffs, and by Lap 66 had passed Mason Maggio to retake 34th.

On Lap 86, Boyd’s crew relayed his lap time at 37.08, telling him to keep it up. Meanwhile, a few other drivers also found trouble. On Lap 80, Playoff contender Grant Enfinger made contact with the Turn 1 wall in his #23 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet, forcing an unscheduled stop that dropped him to 31st. Lawless Alan dropped to 35th on Lap 88, losing three laps after serving a pass-through penalty for improper fueling. Alan made another stop on Lap 90, but Nemechek did two laps earlier, keeping the #4 in last with Alan 35th. Bret Holmes’ stop on Lap 95 dropped him to 34th, but he too received a pass-through after the crew realized he’d run through too many pit boxes. Holmes served his pass-through on Lap 98, and by Lap 100 he’d taken last place from Nemechek.

With all trucks still running, pit stops and penalties continued to crowd the Bottom Five. Mason Maggio dropped to 35th after his Lap 102 stop, moving Nemechek up to 34th. Boyd moved to 32nd until he pitted on Lap 101, and took the last spot from Holmes on Lap 108. At the time, Boyd, Holmes, Maggio, and Alan were all on the same lap, meaning Boyd had a shot at catching Holmes for 35th. By Lap 117, Boyd was running faster than both Maggio and Alan, and Holmes was within his sights. On Lap 120, Boyd was a half-second faster than Holmes when Jack Wood, the defending LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, pitted for right-side tires on his #24 Logitech Chevrolet, dropping him to 31st. This put Wood in position to defend his title, needing to finish last at both Homestead and Phoenix to do so.

Then on Lap 129 – just five laps to go – Boyd radioed he had an issue with the right-rear, believing he had a flat tire. He slowed as he came down pit road. Behind him, John Hunter Nemechek’s damaged truck bounced off the Turn 2 wall. “We lost an axle out the right side,” said Boyd’s crew, which pushed him behind the wall with just three laps to go in the race. As the checkered flag fell, Nemechek, too, appeared to have come down pit road, dropping to 35th, one lap behind Alan, who took 34th. Holmes remained 33rd at the finish with Maggio completing the Bottom Five.

At first publication, the unofficial race results did not list a reason out for Boyd, leaving the entry blank. It was later updated to indicate brake issues. Nemechek, despite dropping back at the very end to 35th, was still listed under power in both the unofficial and official results.

With one race still to run, Boyd has locked-up the 2022 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship, having taken the lead from Dean Thompson with this finish. A revision of the standings indicated Boyd had eight Bottom Fives to Thompson's six, meaning Thompson would still lose a tiebreaker at Phoenix with a third last-place finish of his own.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #12 in a Truck Series race at Homestead.

36) #12-Spencer Boyd / 124 laps / brakes
35) #4-John Hunter Nemechek / 128 laps / running
34) #45-Lawless Alan / 129 laps / running
33) #32-Bret Holmes / 129 laps / running
32) #43-Mason Maggio / 129 laps / running

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

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (3)


Thursday, October 20, 2022

PREVIEW: Homestead sees the return of several series newcomers

PHOTO: @MBMMotorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, October 22, 2022 (1:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 22 of 23
Round of 8: Race 3 of 3
Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 at Homestead
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Bryant Barnhill

There are 37 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning one will fail to qualify.

MISSING: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
As Jordan Anderson continues to recover from his burns suffered in his crash during the early laps at Talladega, his Truck Series team is not entered this week. Myatt Snider continues to drive for Anderson’s XFINITY effort, and now returns to the site of his win in 2021.

RETURNING: #5-Hill Motorsports
The Hill brothers’ second entry returns for the first time since Kansas, and again it is Tyler Hill behind the wheel of the #5 Toyota. Tyler ran 29th his last time out and finished 23rd and 25th in the last two Truck races at Homestead.

MISSING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb is not entered after she finished 32nd in her season debut at Talladega.

MISSING: #13-ThorSport Racing
The Homestead race is not on the schedule for Johnny Sauter and the now part-time #13 entry which came home 25th at Talladega, the last truck on the lead lap.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
While the preliminary entry list had no driver listed in place of Parker Retzlaff, who ran 16th in Talladega. That has since changed as Stefan Parsons will make just his third Truck start of the season and first since he ran this same #20 entry to a 22nd-place finish in Nashville.

Speaking of Nashville, welcome back that night’s 8th-place finisher Max Gutierrez, who rejoins the AM Racing team for the first time since his 21st-place showing in Pocono. He takes the place of Austin Wayne Self, who finished 30th in Talladega.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
Bryan Dauzat is not entered after early crash damage in a tangle with Dean Thompson left him 35th in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Nick Leitz seeks his third Truck Series start and first since his last-place finish at Richmond, again driving Josh Reaume’s #33 entry. He does so in place of Canadian racer Jason White, who was among the four DNQs in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Natalie Decker likewise didn’t qualify at Talladega along with her sponsor Diesel Beverages. Returning to the #43 this week is Mason Maggio, whose third and most recent start came at Kansas, where he finished 32nd in the RBR #33. Maggio has finished under power in all three of his previous starts, each time within eight laps of the leader.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
For the first time in his young Truck Series career, Chad Chastain will make a Truck Series start in his home state of Florida, seeking to improve on his career-best 30th in both his 2022 starts at IRP and Richmond. The younger brother of Cup Playoff contender Ross Chastain steps in for Bayley Currey, who showed speed early at Talladega before a 21st-place finish. Custom Cooling & Heating Inc. joins as sponsor of his Chevrolet.

Brennan Poole climbs aboard G2G Racing’s #46 entry for the first time since Kanss, where he finished under power in the 34th spot. He takes the place of team co-owner Tim Viens, who failed to qualify last time out at Talladega. Fanttik is the listed sponsor.


Saturday, October 22, 2022 (4:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 31 of 33
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Contender Boats 300 at Homestead
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Tyler Reddick

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
In addition to his Truck Series effort with G2G Racing, Brennan Poole will attempt double-duty with the XFINITY Series at Homestead, taking the wheel of the #6 in place of Ryan Vargas. Vargas, who struggled with transmission issues in Las Vegas en route to a 28th-place finish, indicated he will return next week in Martinsville. Macc Door Systems will return as Poole’s sponsor, as it had during Poole’s most recent start in Texas, where a crash left him 31st.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill has perhaps the most eye-catching paint scheme in the field (along with Jeb Burton's #27 Larry’s Lemonade Beach Bash Chevrolet at Our Motorsports) as he makes his ninth XFINITY start of the year and first since his 28th-place showing on the Charlotte “Roval.” Hill carries sponsorship from GENERX Generators on his Ford as he takes the place of Matt Jaskol, who finished 32nd in Las Vegas. The car also carries a "Florida Strong" decal on the rear decklid in solidarity with the state's victims of Hurricane Ian.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
As dust remains to settle over Kyle Busch’s move from Toyota to Chevrolet, Kyle Busch Motorsports frontrunner Chandler Smith will return to the XFINITY Series this weekend in Sam Hunt Racing’s Toyota, replacing 16th-place Las Vegas finisher John Hunter Nemechek. WearMe and ChargeMe are the sponsors of Smith’s third career XFINTY start and first since his career-best 21st in Dover. Smith has already been announced as A.J. Allmendinger’s replacement at Kaulig Racing’s Chevrolet team next year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Patrick Emerling is set to make his 10th start of the season and first since a 27th-place showing under the lights at Bristol, taking the place of 27th-place Las Vegas finisher Jeffrey Earnhardt. This would be Emerling’s first XFINITY start at Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Back in the XFINITY Series for the first time since her 36th-place debut in Loudon is Julia Landauer, who brings with her sponsorship from Atem Car Club on the primary Alpha Prime Chevrolet. Landauer takes the place of Rajah Caruth, who finished a solid 20th in Las Vegas after a difficult first few XFINITY Series starts.

WITHDREW: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
By Thursday, Mike Harmon Racing withdrew their entry, having not yet announced a driver after they were not entered at all in Las Vegas.

TEAM UPDATE: #48-Big Machine Racing
ARCA Menards Series Champion Nick Sanchez revealed he will run the #48 for these remaining three races of 2022, coming off a solid 12th-place finish in Las Vegas.

RETURNING: #77-Bassett Racing
Homestead will see the return of part-timers Ronnie and Dillon Bassett with their #77 Chevrolet, which last took the green with Ronnie at Bristol, taking a season-best 28th. Dillon will drive this time as Jerry Hunt Supercenter remains the sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Team owner B.J. McLeod will take the wheel of his #78 to begin a double-duty weekend with the Cup Series, taking the place of 25th-place Las Vegas finisher Garrett Smithley. It will be just the fourth XFINITY race of the year for McLeod as driver, his first since a season-best 26th at Talladega.

Alex Labbe will return to action this weekend, but this time in Mario Gosselin’s part-time #92, which last time out finished 37th with Josh Williams on the Charlotte “Roval.” While Williams remains in the #36 after his 34th-place finish in Las Vegas, Labbe carries sponsorship from Prolon Controls and shares the Alloy sponsorship with Williams.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt
After Hailie Deegan’s impressive 13th-place debut in Las Vegas, Joe Graf, Jr. returns along with his Bucked Up Energy sponsorship. This would be Graf’s fourth XFINITY start at Homestead, a track where he finished a strong 16th and 13th in 2020’s double-header.


Sunday, October 16, 2022 (2:30 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 34 of 36
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

There are 36 cars entered for as many spots once again, meaning the smallest field ever for a Cup race in Las Vegas will be followed by the smallest ever for Cup in Homestead. The previous mark of 38 was set, then matched the last two years. The Daytona 500 remains the only race in these first 34 with a field of 40 starters.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-23XI Racing
Following Bubba Wallace’s one-race suspension NASCAR handed down after his tangle with Kyle Larson last week in Las Vegas, John Hunter Nemechek will make a return to the Cup Series in the #45 Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota. Nemechek, who had been considered as Kurt Busch’s relief driver in July before Ty Gibbs was selected, will be making his 40th Cup start and his first since the end of a challenging 2020 rookie campaign with Front Row Motorsports. This will be his third Cup start at the Homestead track, a venue significant both as his home state and the site of his uncle and namesake John Nemehek’s untimely passing in a crash during a 1997 Truck Series race. John Hunter finished 23rd here in 2019, then 19th in 2020.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 20, 1996): Robby Gordon picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the AC-Delco 400 at the North Carolina Motor Speedway when his #40 First Union Chevrolet qualified 7th but backed into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 5 and collected a passing Bill Elliott. All three of Gordon’s Cup starts in ’96 – the fifth, sixth, and seventh of his career – ended early due to crashes.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

CUP: Bubba Wallace’s retaliatory wreck may result in more than a last-place finish

ALL PHOTOS: Brock Beard

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Bubba Wallace picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Speedway when his #45 McDonald’s Toyota crashed after 94 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Wallace’s 181st series start, was his second of the season and first since Sonoma, 17 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 24th for the #45, the 182nd for Toyota, and the 638th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 44th for the #45, the 388th for Toyota, and the 1,131st from a crash.

The Las Vegas weekend began on an emotional note Saturday morning as Kurt Busch announced he would not be running for the rest of this year, nor would he run full-time in 2023. The reason was his concussion suffered in a qualifying crash at Pocono, which put Ty Gibbs into his #45 and ultimately led to Busch declining his medical waiver for the Playoffs. Incidentally, Busch’s announcement also confirmed that Tyler Reddick – signed earlier this summer – would run the #45 next year, his #8 at Richard Childress Racing already the chosen destination for Kurt’s brother Kyle Busch.

Kurt's announcement is the latest chapter in a year whose debate over safety is comparable to that of the 2000 to 2001 seasons. At its center are changes to NASCAR's problematic NextGen car, particularly the disproportionate effect on drivers even in low-speed impacts. This same race, scheduled on the 11th anniversary of Dan Wheldon's tragic death in the IndyCar Series finale at the same track, was also missing the track's most recent Cup Series winner. Alex Bowman took the checkered flag in the spring, setting his own course to the Playoffs, only to be undone by a concussion suffered in a crash at Texas. Bowman had just days earlier tweeted he would not run these next three races during his continued recovery. NASCAR held at least one safety meeting with the drivers during the Vegas weekend, where Noah Gragson finished 11th in Bowman's car.

These same Playoffs saw 23XI Racing change car numbers, meaning Gibbs would run the #23 and Wallace the #45 while keeping their teams intact. This gave Wallace the opportunity to compete for the 2022 NASCAR Owners Championship, which came at the perfect time. In the Playoff race at Kansas, Wallace took his second career victory, pulling a season sweep along with Kurt’s victory on the same track in the spring. While the following races at Bristol, Texas, and Talladega saw him finish no better than 16th, he recovered from an early stop-and-go penalty on the Charlotte “Roval” to take a strong 7th. Vegas would come next.

The preliminary entry list for Sunday’s race showed both Wallace and Ty Gibbs carrying sponsorship from MoneyLion, which also bought a billboard a few blocks down the track on Las Vegas Boulevard. But instead, only Gibbs carried the sponsor with Wallace running the McDonald’s scheme on the #45 for the first time since the number swap. Wallace ran 14th in practice and qualified 9th with a lap of 182.033mph (29.665 seconds), but was still just fifth among the non-Playoff drivers in time trials.

Securing the 36th and final spot was B.J. McLeod, whose #78 Pala Casino Ford was slowest of the Chartered entries occupying the garage. With no drivers sent to the rear, McLeod remained on the outside of the final row with Todd Gilliland’s #38 Ruedebusch Development & Construction Ford. 

When the green flag dropped, McLeod got the jump on Gilliland and closed on Cody Ware’s #51 Nurtec ODT / United Breast Cancer Foundation Ford. But McLeod passed neither car, and remained in the 36th spot at the end of Lap 1. By Lap 5, McLeod, Ware, and Ware’s teammate J.J. Yeley in the #15 ConnectUS Kyocera Ford had lost touch with the pack. Yeley opened an advantage over Ware, but Ware passed him back on Lap 13 as McLeod continued to lose ground. By Lap 21, race leader Tyler Reddick in the #8 Alsco Chevrolet passed McLeod to the inside, and by Lap 26 was running behind 10th-place runner Kyle Busch in the #18 M&M’s Toyota. Further ahead, both Ware and Yeley were still on the lead lap when Yeley dropped Ware back to 35th. Ware was then lapped, followed by Yeley by Lap 32.

Green-flag pit stops shuffled the order, starting with Cole Custer, who pitted his #41 Feeding America / Wow Wow Ford and fell to 36th on Lap 39. Ware’s own pit stop dropped him to last on Lap 45, but Yeley came in for a second stop due to a loose wheel, dropping the #15 to last on Lap 47. Still under green on Lap 67, Yeley bounced off the outside wall, causing damage to control arm, but not the critical toe link. He pitted a third time for repairs and returned to the track noticeably off the pace. He remained under power when on Lap 78, 6th-place Kyle Busch spun into the grass off Turn 4. The ensuing caution ended Stage 1, won by Bubba Wallace.

Larson's car after the tangle with Wallace.

Wallace had a strong car early, taking the lead on Lap 57 from Daniel Suarez in the #99 Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk Chevrolet. Wallace defended the spot through the caution-flag pit stops after Stage 1 and chose the inside line for the restart. But when the race restarted, Suarez passed Wallace high, bringing with him teammate Ross Chastain in the #1 Tootsie’s Chevrolet. By Lap 95, Wallace had dropped to 6th place in a battle with Kyle Larson in the #5 Chevrolet. Coming off Turn 4, Larson slid up and nearly got into Wallace, causing the #45 to bounce off the outside wall. Wallace then cut hard left, hooking Larson in the left-rear and sending both cars into the outside wall. Caught in the rapidly closing hole between Larson and the wall was Playoff contender Christopher Bell, whose #20 Rheem Toyota spun with damage to the left-rear. Bell made it to pit road while Wallace and Larson climbed from their destroyed cars in the infield grass. Wallace confronted Larson and shoved him many times before he returned to pit road.

Scoring recorded Wallace behind Larson, and the pair dropped to the final two spots behind Yeley sometime during the ensuing caution. At the time, Yeley was five laps down, having pitted two more times by Lap 85 and been shaken out of line on the restart following Busch’s spin. Bell’s crew made lengthy repairs to the left-rear, applying tape and working on the suspension, but their ten-minute “Crash Clock” expired. On Lap 102, Bell pulled behind the wall and up to his hauler, where just a few feet away Larson’s car had been towed back to the garage area. As a Hendrick Motorsports representative instructed the gathering crowd not to take photos, Wallace’s #45 was towed in on Lap 105 – and parked in the stall directly next to Larson’s. Both crews worked quietly as they loaded up. Track security formed up two lines on either side of the bank of haulers, fencing Bell’s car in as well. Wallace walked to his hauler soon after his car arrived in the garage.

As of this writing, NASCAR has reported they will be investigating the incident further this week. Wallace was not called to NASCAR’s hauler after the wreck.

Wallace, Larson, and Bell took the final three spots in the results. Taking 33rd was Ty Dillon, whose #42 Lucky 29 Vodka Chevrolet had suspension issues. In fact, Dillon’s car struggled to make the left turn into the garage. He at first approached at too shallow of an angle, forcing him to stop, then make another turn. Rounding out the group was Landon Cassill, whose #77 Voyager: Crypto for All Chevrolet caught a toe link in the radiator, then spun and made some contact with the Turn 4 wall with the right-rear. NASCAR officials photographed the right-rear of his car after it stopped behind the hauler. Cassill was uninjured in the incident.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #45 since August 14, 2022, when Ty Gibbs’ run in 23XI’s Jordan Brand Toyota ended with a blown engine after 180 laps around Richmond. The number had never finished last in a Cup race at Las Vegas.

36) #45-Bubba Wallace / 94 laps / crash / led 29 laps / won stage 1
35) #5-Kyle Larson / 94 laps / crash
34) #20-Christopher Bell / 94 laps / dvp
33) #42-Ty Dillon / 237 laps / suspension
32) #77-Landon Cassill / 246 laps / crash

1st) Live Fast Motorsports (6)
2nd) 23XI Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (4)
3rd) Spire Motorsports (3)
4th) Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Hezeberg, Trackhouse Racing (2)
5th) Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (12)
2nd) Toyota (9)