Saturday, October 22, 2022

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)


No comments: