Saturday, October 15, 2022

XFINITY: Loose steering issue hands Ryan Sieg first last-place finish since 2019

ALL PHOTOS: Brock Beard

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Ryan Sieg picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #39 / A-Game Ford fell out with steering issues after 32 of 201 laps.

The finish, which came in Sieg’s 298th series start, was his first of the season and first since September 14, 2019, 104 races ago, when he was disqualified from this same race after his car was found to be too low. In the XFINIY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 3rd due to the steering, the 10th for the #39, and the 160th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 21st for the #39, 33rd from steering, and the 999th for Ford.

Just last week on the Charlotte “Roval,” Ryan Sieg came tantalizingly close to extending arguably the best Playoff push of his career. Still in search of an elusive first career victory, Sieg had made the Playoff cut after a hard-fought late-race battle in Bristol. He then finished 9th at Texas, avoiding the day’s many accidents, and secured a 4th-place Talladega finish in a race with no margin for error – everyone finished under power, and within 18 laps of the leader. This put Sieg on the Playoff bubble in 8th – six points to the good over Daniel Hemric. In the final laps of the “Roval” race, Sieg was running 9th, needing to gain two more points with fellow Playoff contender Brandon Jones just ahead. But Sieg ran out of time, and he joined Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric, and Jeremy Clements in failing to advance.

Undaunted, Sieg looked ahead to Las Vegas, where his RSS Racing team would enter three cars for the first time since Daytona in August. With only 38 cars for that many starting spots, it would also mark the first time since Michigan that all three would start the race. Sieg ranked 14th in practice and secured 13th in qualifying with a lap of 178.318mph (30.283 seconds), ranking him fifth among non-Playoff drivers in the race. Further back were teammates C.J. McLaughlin, who secured 34th in the #38 Sci Aps Ford, and younger brother Kyle Sieg in the #28 / A-Game Ford, which would roll off 38th and last.

After practice, Kyle Sieg’s #28 was pushed backwards behind the wall, where the crew addressed a clutch line issue as they looked under the rear of the car. Moments later, David Starr’s #08 Amptricity Ford was pushed to the garage with power steering issues. During the session itself, Riley Herbst spun his #98 Monster Energy Ford and limped behind the wall without setting a time. The three would occupy the final three starting spots and each incur unapproved adjustments penalties along with 29th-place Mason Massey in the #91 Apollo Energy / Power Center Chevrolet and 35th-place Ryan Vargas in the #6 Swann Security / Best Buy Chevrolet.

Sieg goes behind the wall after two pit stops.

When the race began, the last row belonged to David Starr, who was on the inside of Kyle Sieg. By the end of Lap 1, Sieg had dropped Starr to last, and was working over Vargas for 36th, but by Lap 3, both had cleared Mason Massey. Massey then caught and passed Vargas around Lap 4, at which point both Massey’s #91 and Vargas’ #4 trailed the field by open track. During this same run, C.J. McLaughlin slipped to 37th behind Massey and into the clutches of Vargas. McLaughlin soon had a rear-view mirror full of Vargas’ Chevrolet. At the line to start Lap 12, Vargas got under the #38 and cleared him for position. The leaders caught and lapped the duo by Lap 21, at which point Vargas had opened an advantage over McLaughlin with Massey now several car lengths ahead in 36th. Kyle Sieg, the original last-place starter, climbed to 27th by Lap 23. He’d ultimately finish 26th.

Ryan Sieg entered the last-place battle quite suddenly on Lap 25, when he pitted from 14th with a reported steering issue. He returned to the track off the pace, and soon took last from teammate McLaughlin. During this same run, Sheldon Creed’s #2 Whelen Chevrolet developed a flat engine note. Sieg made a second stop on Lap 35, and returned to the track five laps down. But the issue still wasn’t resolved, and he pulled behind the wall on Lap 39. Both Sieg and his crew set to work under the hood, at first putting the car on jack stands and removing the right-front wheel.

“Just came up about halfway through that run and it started feeling odd,” said Sieg. “Tried to put tires on to diagnose, but it kept going on with whatever’s going on. It’s like it has a whole bunch of play in the steering wheel. So, I didn’t want to tear our car up. This is next week’s car [for Homestead].”

Sheldon Creed lost a valve shortly after Sieg's isues.

During our interview, Sheldon Creed pulled his #2 to the back of his hauler and climbed out. No crew members worked on the car for several moments until an ECR Engines crewman came by to  examine the engine. After removing both valve covers, a member of Creed’s crew said they lost a valve, and were soon the first car out of the race. At the time, Creed was in 37th, a full 20 laps ahead of Ryan Sieg. Sieg’s crew continued to work until Lap 105, when the NBC broadcast indicated the #39 was out of the race. Moments later on Lap 119, Sieg’s crew was bringing their pit equipment back to the garage, and the shop wheels were put on the #39. By this point, Creed’s car was loaded onto its hauler.

Taking 36th was J.J. Yeley, whose engine soured on the #66 Diamondback Land Surveying Toyota. Yeley pulled behind the wall on Lap 87 with the crew pushing his car directly to the hauler. The car had hit the wall at least once on its final run as the Goodyear markings on the right sides were both rubbed off. Finishing 35th was Matt Mills, six laps down in B.J. McLeod’s #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet, followed by 34th-place Josh Williams in the #36 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet.

In her first-ever XFINITY Series start, Hailie Deegan finished a strong 13th, driving the same #07 team that had finished last in the previous two consecutive XFINITY races at Las Vegas. Deegan’s #07 Pristine Auction Ford came home just one spot behind reigning ARCA Menards Series champion Nick Sanchez, who followed up a career-best 11th in Texas with a 12th on Saturday.

*Saturday marked the first time a XFINITY Series driver finished last due to steering issues (not “power steering”) since October 7, 2017, the day Jeff Green – also driving for RSS Racing – scored his record 100th XFINITY Series last-place finish after 2 laps around Charlotte. 

38) #39-Ryan Sieg / 32 laps / steering
37) #2-Sheldon Creed / 52 laps / engine
36) #66-J.J. Yeley / 82 laps / engine
35) #5-Matt Mills / 195 laps / running
34) #36-Josh Williams / 195 laps / running

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JR Motorsports (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management, 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 (3)


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