Saturday, September 23, 2023

XFINITY: First lap, first turn crash may have significant Playoff implications for Sam Mayer


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Sam Mayer picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet crashed without completing any of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Mayer’s 79th series start, was the second of his career and first since June 4, 2022 at Portland, 47 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place standings, it was the 19th for the #1, the 386th from a crash, and the 631st for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 74th for the #1, the 1,355th from a crash, and the 1,916th for Chevrolet.

Since he was last featured here, Mayer finally broke through with his first two XFINITY Series victories. Each occurred on the road courses, beginning with his home track at Road America, then three rounds later at Watkins Glen, firmly locking himself into the Playoffs. But in the Round of 12 opener last Friday night in Bristol, Mayer was collected in a multi-car pileup with two of his JR Motorsports teammates, handing him a disappointing 35th-place finish. Still, his two wins kept him within 14 points of moving back above the cut line.

At Texas, Mayer ran 13th in practice, then qualified 6th with a lap of 183.911mph (29.362 seconds), part of a sweep of the top seven positions by Playoff drivers. With 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, the two teams missing the cut were Garrett Smithley in JD Motorsports’ #4 Trophy Tractor Chevrolet and Blaine Perkins, in Our Motorsports’ #02. For Smithley, it was his sixth DNQ of 2023 and first since Darlington in May. For Perkins, it was the first of 2023 for both himself and the #02 team.

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was Layne Riggs, who along with Daniel Dye were Truck Series drivers making their XFINITY Series debuts. Riggs took the wheel of Kaulig Racing’s #11 Infinity Communications Group Chevrolet. In practice, Riggs spun on the backstretch, resulting in damage to the left-rear of his car and requiring minor repairs. He would incur a redundant tail-end penalty as a result, joined by the unapproved adjustment penalties for 9th-place Chandler Smith in the #16 Quick Tie Products Inc. Chevrolet, 22nd-place Brett Moffitt in the #25 AM Technical Solutions Ford, and 35th-place Joe Graf, Jr. in the #38 Tarpon River Brewing / Honey Love Ford.

During Saturday’s pace laps, NASCAR instructed the four penalized drivers to complete both rows with Chandler Smith and Joe Graf, Jr. to the inside while Brett Moffitt and Layne Riggs rounded out the outside. Over the radio, the Kaulig team told Riggs to “go ahead enjoy it,” and to not worry if he lost a lap. As the green flag dropped, the spotter soon cleared him to move into the low lane as trouble broke out in Turn 1. Heading into the corner, Sam Mayer was running the high lane when his car started to push just past the apex, steering him directly into the fence at corner exit. As Mayer slowed down the backstretch, NASCAR held off the caution as spotters cleared the track, allowing Mayer to come down pit road. But moments later, Riley Herbst struck the wall off Turn 4 in his #98 Monster Energy Ford, ultimately drawing the yellow for debris.

On Lap 4, Herbst was the first to go behind the wall, his right-front wheel pushed in beneath the fender. Mayer’s crew planned to go to the garage as well, then called for a wheel spacer, but by Lap 5 also rolled into the garage as the wheel was rubbing the shock. Just like that, both drivers were done for the day. While Herbst managed to complete two laps by the time he came down pit road, Mayer came up just short of reaching the line, crediting him with zero completed circuits. With the wreck, Mayer finds himself 34 points below the cut line - a must-win scenario at the Charlotte “Roval” to avoid a first-round elimination.

The Bottom Five was soon filled as record high temperatures made a treacherous track even more so. Taking 36th was Joe Graf, Jr., whose #38 slid into Patrick Emerling’s #53 Space Beans Chevrolet coming off Turn 4. Both cars bounced off the outside wall, chasing Layne Riggs’ #11 into the grass and tearing the rear bumper from his own car. While Graf’s day was done, Emerling returned to the track 29 laps down at the end of Stage 1, only to pull out of the race soon after, unable to climb out of 35th. Completing the Bottom Five was Brennan Poole, who after contact from Ryan Sieg entering the quad-oval slammed head-on into the pit road wall at Stall 2, where Jeffrey Earnhardt’s crew stayed clear. The impact ended the race for Poole’s #6 GJ Boring RW3 Services Chevrolet.

Cram and CHK Racing battle on the lead lap for most of Texas race

The biggest surprise from Saturday’s race had to be Dawson Cram, who qualified CHK Racing’s #74 Chevrolet into only its fifth start of the year, their first attempt since Watkins Glen, in a season that’s seen them DNQ 14 times. On top of this, Cram secured 25th on the grid, the team’s best run of the year. In the race itself, Cram stayed on the lead lap for most of the day. He was 23rd on Lap 80, and at the end of Stage 2 finished just a couple carlengths ahead of stage winner Justin Allgaier. On Lap 109, he climbed to 17th, then saved his car in a Turn 4 spin that left him 21st. He didn’t lose a lap until the 147th circuit and came home 21st, two laps down – a season-best finish for the CHK group. He even got some screentime when he completed the cooldown lap on the frontstretch, putting him just behind race winner John Hunter Nemechek as he did his burnouts.

Among the race’s 12 cautions was a yellow during late-stage green-flag pit stops, which brought into the Top 10 such drivers as J.J. Yeley in the #08 MPV Express Ford, Ryan Ellis in the #43 Limetree / Classic Collision Chevrolet, Anthony Alfredo in the #78 Andy’s Frozen Custard Chevrolet, and Kyle Sieg in the #29 Pathway Homes Ford. Yeley ran as high as 4th before he was collected in a wreck with Kaz Grala, leaving him 28th. But Kyle Sieg finished best of this group in 12th with Ellis 13th and Alfredo 14th. Sage Karam also followed up his Michigan performance for Motorsports Business Management by taking home 23rd in the #66 AmeriDream / Coble Enterprises Ford.

*This was the first last-place run for the #1 in a XFINITY race at Texas since April 16, 2005, when Johnny Sauter’s #1 Fleet Pride / Yellow Dodge finished 14th, but was disqualified for an oversized carburetor.
*This was the first last-place finish for JR Motorsports in 2023.
*This marked the first time the #1 failed to complete a lap of a XFINITY Series race.

38) #1-Sam Mayer / 0 laps / crash
37) #98-Riley Herbst / 2 laps / crash
36) #38-Joe Graf, Jr. / 11 laps / dvp
35) #53-Patrick Emerling / 24 laps / suspension
34) #6-Brennan Poole / 55 laps / crash

1st) SS-Green Light Racing (4)
2nd) Alpha Prime Racing (3)
3rd) Big Machine Racing, CHK Racing, DGM Racing, Emerling-Gase Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Jordan Anderson Racing, JR Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

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


Friday, September 22, 2023

PREVIEW: Two Truck Series upstarts look to make XFINITY debut in Texas

IMAGE: Daniel Dye Racing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, September 23, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 28 of 33
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

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

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
Garrett Smithley rejoins the Johnny Davis team with his Trophy Tractor sponsorship, his first XFINITY start since he ran 25th in Kansas. Smithley takes the place of Kyle Weatherman, who returns to DGM Racing in the #91 with One week after taking 23rd in Bristol, Weatherman takes the place of 27th-place finisher Josh Bilicki.

DRIVER CHANGE: #11-Kaulig Racing
The first of two Truck Series drivers making their XFINITY Series debuts this weekend is Layne Riggs, announced as the latest driver of the team’s renumbered “all-star” entry, the #11. Riggs arrives after six Truck Series starts, most recently his career-best 3rd-place finish at IRP for Spire Motorsports. Carrying sponsorship from Infinity Communications Group, the second-generation racer takes the place of 12th-place Bristol finisher Derek Kraus.

The Sieg team brings back their part-time fourth entry, the #29, which goes to 21st-place finisher Kyle Sieg and sponsor Pathway Homes. Sieg’s team switch leaves open the #28 for a returning C.J. McLaughlin, back in action for the first time since he finished 22nd at Kansas, his second-best run of 2023.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
It was a difficult weekend in Bristol for the Emerling-Gase effort, which following Patrick Emerling’s practice crash in the #35 withdrew their #53 to serve as its backup, only for B.J. McLeod to drop out with a persistent power steering issue for a 37th-place finish. Emerling will this week pilot the #53, joined by team co-owner Joey Gase in the #35. Gase’s most recent start in Kansas yielded a 24th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
The other Truck Series driver seeking a debut on Saturday is Daniel Dye, who this week pilots Alpha Prime’s struggling #44 entry. Just like his current Truck Series entry at GMS Racing, Dye’s car carries car numbers in the style of Petty Enterprises, bringing with him sponsor Champion Container. Dye takes the place of Rajah Caruth, who earned a solid 17th-place finish in Bristol. For Dye, the challenge will be in qualifying as the #44 has failed to qualify for four of its last seven attempts. Dye is also entered in the upcoming races at Las Vegas and Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Sage Karam makes his 11th XFINITY start of the year and first since he scored back-to-back 15th-place runs in Alpha Prime’s #45 at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen. This time, he reunites with Carl Long for the first time since Michigan, where he led a lap during late-race pit stops and finished 25th. AmeriDream Mortgage Group, LLC joins as primary sponsor with PRS Stormwater Management and Coble Enterprises. Karam replaces Timmy Hill, whose rear gear issues at the start resulted in a last-place finish.

The Harmon team returns to action for the first time since the team’s season-best 28th at Michigan, and again enlists the aid of Dawson Cram, who got the CHK effort into its first race since Charlotte in May. The team is also preparing to run at the upcoming Charlotte “Roval” with the car Casey Carden DNQ’d in their most recent attempt at Watkins Glen, but will this time bring in sports car racer Devin Jones for his first XFINITY attempt since 2017.

MISSING: #88-JR Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is not entered along with the team’s part-time #88 entry after Junior’s top-five run at Bristol was spoiled late by an electrical fire, leaving him 30th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Two veteran drivers will pilot Bobby Dotter’s Fords this weekend, starting with Texas native David Starr, who makes only his fifth series start of the ear and first since his 22nd-place run for Emerling-Gase in Atlanta this past July. Starr’s only previous attempt this year for SS-Green Light came at Talladega, where he had his only DNQ of 2023. He takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who ran 19th in Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
The other veteran is J.J. Yeley, who will pull double-duty with the Cup Series this weekend. Yeley pilots the #08 in place of 29th-place Bristol finisher Chad Finchum, and MPV Express is the listed sponsor. This will be only the second XFINITY start of Yeley’s season, following his 30th-place showing in Dotter’s #07 last month in Daytona.


Sunday, September 24, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 30 of 36
Round of 12: Race 1 of 3
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Busch

For the 29th straight Cup race, there are not 40 entrants for this week’s action, and for the 19th time and fourth in a row, only the 36 Chartered teams will occupy the Cup garage.

DRIVER CHANGE: #38-Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Just days after it was announced Zane Smith will drive for Trackhouse in 2024, Smith will again pilot Front Row’s #38 in place of 6th-place Bristol finisher Todd Gilliland, who goes to the #51 in place of Ryan Newman, last that night. Ambetter Health is the listed sponsor for Smith’s eighth Cup Series start, his first since a 34th-place showing at Sears Point in June.

Saturday, September 30, 2023
TRUCKS Race 21 of 23
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Talladega 250 at Talladega
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

The Truck Series takes the week off and returns to action on the superspeedway in Talladega.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 22, 1985): Buddy Baker picked up the 14th last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career when his #88 Bull Frog Knits Oldsmobile had brake issues after 24 laps of the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville. Baker made just two more Cup starts at Martinsville, finishing last a second time on September 27, 1987, then 7th in his 39th and last race there on April 24, 1988.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

ARCA: Basham claims last, Moeller claims tiebreaker for East Series title

Mike Basham's #69 in the garage area at IRP last month.
PHOTO: Colby Evans, @StartAndParkCar

by Ben Schneider Staff Writer

Mike Basham finished last for the 6th time in his ARCA Menards Series career (and 3rd time in his ARCA Menards Series East career) in last Thursday’s Bush’s Beans 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway when his #69 Ford fell out with mechanical issues after completing 9 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Basham’s 87th career ARCA Menards Series start and 5th ARCA Menards Series East start.

The final ARCA combination race of the 2023 season, Thursday night’s race at Bristol also marked the season finale for the ARCA Menards Series East. Going into the event, Nate Moeller, who was absent from the Bristol entry list, led the LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series East Drivers’ Championship by one last-place finish over Tim Monroe, Brayton Laster, Alex Clubb, Jeff Smith, and Mike Basham. With Laster also missing from the entry list, the bottom-five tiebreaker left Monroe as the only driver with a chance to dethrone Moeller, as a last-place finish would have given Monroe five bottom-five finishes to Moeller’s four.

In total, 32 cars appeared on the entry list. Of these, 31 ran at least one lap in practice, while 29 were able to take to the track in qualifying. Monroe was the only driver absent from the timing and scoring charts during practice, while Chuck Buchanan Jr., Rita Goulet, and Frankie Muniz were all unable to set a qualifying time. A.J. Moyer was the slowest of the 29 cars that took part in the session, while Basham’s entry rounded out the Bottom Five in the starting lineup.

Rita Goulet waves to the camera as her husband Tim brings their No. 31 Chevrolet
to the garage shortly before the green flag.

As the race began, it looked as if only 31 cars would be classified as having started the race. Goulet’s #31 entry, now being run by her husband Tim following a driver change, was seen on the FS1 broadcast being pushed back to the garage area as the field was warming up on the pace laps. He was eventually able to return to the track, meaning all 32 entries would be classified in the official results. He would ultimately complete 43 laps before spinning out and collecting Monroe in the crash. Goulet and Monroe would finish 28th and 25th with 43 and 54 laps completed respectively. Crucially, this meant Monroe avoided a last-place finish, eliminating him from LASTCAR title contention.

Alex Clubb spins on the front straightway coming to complete his first lap of the race.
At left, Basham has just entered the frame in his red #69.

On Lap 2, Alex Clubb looked as if he might end up claiming last-place as his #03 Ford spun out and hit the inside frontstretch wall. However, Clubb’s team was able to repair the damage, allowing him to finish 22nd as the final car running at the finish with 104 laps completed. With Goulet and Clubb both recovering from their initial problems, Basham’s 9 laps completed secured him last place.

While Basham equaled Moeller’s total of two last-place finishes, because this was only his second start of the ARCA East season, Basham’s season total of Bottom Fives also tallies up to two. Moeller, meanwhile, finished the season with four bottom-five finishes, giving him the tiebreaker over Basham for the title.

A few laps after Basham’s retirement from the race, Matthew Gould pulled his #42 Chevrolet off the track, finishing with just 12 laps completed due to overheating issues. Brad Smith was the next to pull behind the wall as mechanical issues ended his day after 24 circuits. Luke Fenhaus, the only driver with an outside shot at preventing William Sawalich from claiming the ARCA East championship, suffered two incidents in the opening 40 laps, the combined damage from which ultimately proved terminal. Fenhaus was credited with completing 30 laps and a 29th-place finish just behind Goulet, who rounded out the Bottom Five.

Up front, Sawalich clinched the ARCA East championship in style by passing current ARCA national championship leader Jesse Love with nine laps to go to take the race win. Love hung onto a runner-up finish ahead of Andres Perez de Lara in third, allowing Love to inch even further ahead in his own championship points battle.

32) #69-Mike Basham / 9 laps / mechanical
31) #42-Matthew Gould / 12 laps / overheating
30) #48-Brad Smith / 24 laps / mechanical
29) #28-Luke Fenhaus / 30 laps / crash
28) #31-Tim Goulet / 43 laps / crash

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Click HERE to view the full standings for both the main ARCA Menards Series and the ARCA Menards Series East and West divisions. You can also find the full manufacturers’ and owners’ standings HERE.

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (8)
2nd) Toyota (2)

1st) Fast Track Racing (5) 
2nd) Smith Brothers Racing (4)
3rd) Clubb Racing, Kimmel Racing (2)
4th) Coughlin Brothers Racing, KLAS Motorsports, Our Motorsports, Spraker Racing Enterprises, Tamayo-Cosentino Racing (1)


1st) Wayne Peterson Racing, Fast Track Racing, Kimmel Racing (2)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Clubb Racing (1)

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


Saturday, September 16, 2023

CUP: Ryan Newman collected in multi-car Bristol pileup

PHOTO: Steven Taranto, @STaranto92

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Ryan Newman picked up the 14th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #51 Biohaven / Jacob Companies Ford was involved in a multi-car accident after 260 of 500 laps.

The finish, which came in Newman’s 730th start, was his first of the season and first in a Cup Series race since October 10, 2021 at the Charlotte “Roval,” 69 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 31st for the #51, the 658th from a crash, and the 735th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 45th for the #51, the 1,020th for Ford, and the 1,354th from a crash.

An overshadowed storyline in the 2023 season has been the return of Newman, whose last Cup start came in the 2021 Phoenix finale. This was just before both NASCAR’s introduction of the NextGen car and Brad Keselowski’s investment in Roush-Fenway Racing. Newman returned at Darlington this spring, where he ran a “throwback” to the Penske Racing entry with which he won his first Cup race at New Hampshire in 2002. He this time drove for Rick Ware Racing, and came home 28th, four laps down. This allowed him to run the All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro, where he finished 12th in the 16-car field. Bristol marked his fifth Cup start of the year, fresh off a season-best 27th in his return to Darlington for the Southern 500. 

While the preliminary entry list showed Cole Custer as the #51’s driver for Saturday, that changed back to Newman by mid-week. With only the 36 Chartered entries arriving for a 40-car starting grid, that would secure Newman his 40th career Cup start at Bristol. He turned the slowest lap in practice, but found speed in qualifying, jumping to 27th on the grid with a lap of 124.484mph (15.414 seconds). Ironically, that was Newman’s worst starting spot at Bristol since 2018.

Surprisingly, the 36th and final starting spot fell to Kyle Larson, whose #5 Valvoline Chevrolet broke loose in the corner and nearly wrecked. Even so, Larson ranked just 0.017 second behind 35th-ranked J.J. Yeley, Newman’s teammate, in the #15 Steakhouse Elite Burgers Ford. After several delays due to rain, Larson moved up a row for the start, taking the green in 33rd, 3.482 seconds back of the lead ahead of Ty Dillon’s #77 Gainbridge Chevrolet (3.466), B.J. McLeod’s #78 Chevrolet (3.754), and Yeley (3.91).

Kyle Larson running 36th during the rainy pace laps.

Yeley remained in last at the start, but on Lap 3 had pulled alongside McLeod by 0.084 second at the stripe. McLeod held off the charge, and soon dropped Harrison Burton to 35th in the #21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford. Yeley then dropped Burton to last on Lap 6, opening a gap of 0.219, and McLeod fell to last again on Lap 8. By Lap 12, McLeod was now following Daniel Suarez, whose #99 Aerial Recovery Chevrolet had slipped back from 24th on the grid. “Really bad,” said McLeod on the radio, remarking that his car was “porpoising” around the track. McLeod was first to lose a lap on the 19th circuit, and was losing a second lap when the first caution fell on Lap 70.

The caution came out for debris resulting from a two-car incident off Turn 4. Seconds after he also lost a lap, A.J. Allmendinger bounced off the Turn 4 wall and slowed, his #16 Barger Precast Chevrolet directly in the path of a fast-closing Austin Cindric in the #2 Menards / Monster Ford. Cindric collided with Allmendinger’s left-rear, briefly ramping Cindric’s car off the ground before landing on all four wheels. Both made it to pit road for repairs. Allmendinger took last from McLeod on Lap 71, followed by Cindric on Lap 74. Cindric also incurred a pit road penalty for his stop, so after Allmendinger retook last on Lap 75, Cindric was there on Lap 77. 

The field pulls away from Cindric's damaged Ford.

With the race back under green, Cindric lost touch with the rest of the field. The team planned to make further repairs under the next caution, which came for rain on Lap 105. The rain was light, keeping the field on the track, so Cindric pitted on Lap 109 and stayed there as other cars joined him. A two-tire stop became a four-tire change, and Cindric returned to the race four laps down. Back under way, Cindric pitted under the second rain caution on Lap 130 for a round out of the left-rear and air pressure adjustments, but again was penalized, this time for speeding in Section 4. The rain intensified, and the crew covered his car under the Lap 137 red flag.

“All right now, we are not done fighting tonight,” said Cindric’s crew as the caution came back out. On the Lap 140 restart, Cindric was three laps down, and this time was able to catch the tail end of the field, starting on Lap 149 with 35th-place McLeod, who was two laps ahead. But by Lap 190, Cindric’s spotter was frantically calling faster traffic past the #2, which found itself on the inside of several three-wide battles in a row. By Lap 237, Cindric was six laps down, where he remained when Stage 2 ended on Lap 251. At that point, 35th-place McLeod was still two laps ahead of him, and all the starters were still running.

Logano pulls his damaged #22 behind the wall. Note the image on the big screen at left.

The turning point came on the Lap 261 restart to begin the third and final stage. Just two laps later, contact back in the pack between Erik Jones’ #43 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet and Corey LaJoie’s #8 NEGU Chevrolet sent LaJoie spinning down the backstretch, spoiling a race where the #7 led 48 laps and finished 2nd in Stage 1. LaJoie bounced off the inside wall and slid up the banking, colliding with the left-rear of a passing Joey Logano. Logano’s #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford was then piled into by Justin Haley’s #31 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, Ty Dillon’s #77, and Ryan Newman. Logano pulled into his pit stall, only for the crew to discover the left-rear wheel had been wrenched backward in the impact. Logano drove behind the wall on Lap 266 as Newman’s car was towed in, soon to be joined by Haley and Dillon. 

Newman's car towed into the garage.

Newman, already laps down at the time of the crash, was lowest-classified of the four drivers eliminated in the wreck, and took over last from Cindric on Lap 267. Haley, Logano, and Dillon filled the next spots in the Bottom Five, which was completed by Cindric. Cindric reached the finish under power, 12 laps down at the checkered flag.

Carson Hocevar continues incredible run for Legacy Motor Club

Carson Hocevar’s fourth and latest Cup Series start was his best yet. After qualifying 16th in the #42 Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet, Hocevar charged through the field in Stage 2. He reached 10th on Lap 185, passed William Byron for 7th on Lap 211, then on Lap 244 took over the 5th spot, where he soon finished in Stage 2. After losing a few spots, he remained on the lead lap until just 11 laps to go, when he was running 11th, where he finished as the first car one lap down. This marked the best finish of the year for LMC’s #42, besting the 12th-place run by Noah Gragson in the spring Atlanta race.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #51 in a Cup Series race at Bristol. As for Newman, it was his second – the other occurred on September 18, 2021 – two days short of two years to the date – when his #6 Kohler Generators Ford was eliminated under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.”

38) #51-Ryan Newman / 260 laps / crash
37) #31-Justin Haley / 261 laps / crash
36) #22-Joey Logano / 262 laps / crash
35) #77-Ty Dillon / 263 laps / crash
34) #2-Austin Cindric / 488 laps / running

1st) Live Fast Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing, Spire Motorsports (4)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing (3)
3rd) Legacy Motor Club (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Trackhouse Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (16)
2nd) Ford (9)
3rd) Toyota (3)


Friday, September 15, 2023

XFINITY: Smoking rear gear spoils Timmy Hill’s strong run at Bristol

ALL PHOTO: Steven Taranto, @STaranto92

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Timmy Hill picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Friday’s Food City 300 at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #66 Coble Enterprises Toyota fell out with rear gear trouble after 81 of 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 242nd series start, was his first of the season and first in a XFINITY Series race since May 28, 2022 at Charlotte, 47 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 16th for the #66, the 18th for rear gear trouble, and the 161st for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the rear gear, the 86th for the #66, and the 400th for Toyota.

When he was last featured here, Timmy Hill was on the verge of the best run of his career. Under Daytona’s lights last August, only a late-race caution kept him from challenging Jeremy Clements for the lead, ultimately settling on a runner-up finish. It was also the best run yet for Carl Long’s team Motorsports Business Management, which this year has faced even stiffer challenges. Coming into Bristol, MBM’s flagship #66 qualified for exactly as many races as it had missed – 11 each – and were unable to return to Daytona in August after a deal on a leased engine fell through. 

Hill had only made three previous XFINITY starts with MBM this year, taking 32nd in Fontana, 30th at Dover, and 32nd in Darlington. He was slated to run last week in Kansas, where he again qualified on speed. But after a deal with Tommy Joe Martins, Hill handed the wheel to Alpha Prime’s driver Leland Honeyman. After failing to qualify earlier in the day, Honeyman came home to finish a solid 26th. Hill’s focus has been on his Truck Series effort at Hill Motorsports, where he ran a “throwback” scheme to honor his and brother Tyler's father Jerry at North Wilkesboro, and ran 8th in the spring race at Atlanta.

Hill again ran double-duty at Bristol, starting with a 26th-place finish in Thursday’s Truck Series race. On Friday’s XFINITY portion, Hill ranked 35th of the 39 entrants in practice, then qualified 34th with a lap of 118.364mph (16.211 seconds). The run came after a single team withdrew earlier in the afternoon. The Emerling-Gase Motorsports team entered two near-identical black Chevrolets, putting Patrick Emerling in the #35 and B.J. McLeod in the #53. During practice, Emerling cut a right-front tire and slammed the outside wall. With no backup car, Emerling withdrew, and McLeod’s orange-numbered #53 was hastily re-decaled with the white numbers of the #35. The car kept McLeod’s sponsorship from the Meredith Haga Foundation on the hood. Because of the number change, NASCAR would still count McLeod’s car as Emerling’s backup, incurring him a redundant tail-end penalty from 37th on the grid.

Jeb Burton also wrecked in practice, though his Jordan Anderson Racing team had a backup #27. There was one catch: Burton’s primary carried sponsorship from Alsco Uniforms while this backup carried a full wrap for Celsius beverages. Steven Taranto reported that, since the team had no time to change the wrap for the race, Alsco would be run on the car for a makeup race, either at Homestead or Phoenix. Burton secured the 38th and final spot on the grid next to 37th-place McLeod, the two the only drivers who didn’t turn a lap in qualifying. Three other teams were sent to the back for unapproved adjustments: 16th-place Riley Herbst in the #98 Monster Energy Ford, 18th-place Derek Kraus in the #11 Crav’n Flavor / Hardscape Construction Chevrolet, and 32nd-place Anthony Alfredo in the #78 Dude Wipes “Dumpkin Spice” Chevrolet. Of these drivers, Burton recovered nicely, taking 13th at the finish.

Prior to the start, NASCAR reminded Alfredo to drop behind Kraus’ #11, which put him at the tail end of the field. When the green flag dropped, Alfredo was last across the line, already trailing Kraus by over three carlengths. By Lap 3, as Alfredo had dropped McLeod to last, NASCAR was already watching Hill’s #66 for smoke. The race stayed green, and McLeod maintained his position. By Lap 5, he was now tracking down Blaine Perkins in the #02 Gratis Chevrolet, a car that by Lap 10 had passed Stefan Parsons’ #07 Sokal Chevrolet. That time by, McLeod pulled to within 0.154 of Parsons, and on Lap 13, the two were side-by-side at the stripe, just 0.046 apart. Parsons held off the charge and dropped Perkins back to 37th, leaving McLeod another 0.674 behind on Lap 15. Two circuits later, McLeod’s was the first car to be lapped, and he was nearly two down by the 32nd go-round.

It was on Lap 32 that Jeremy Clements made an unscheduled stop in his #51 All South Electric Chevrolet, which had qualified a strong 9th. The stop dropped Clements to last by Lap 35, and he returned to the track three laps down. From there, Clements set after McLeod for the 37th spot, and on Lap 44 turned a 16.494-second lap to McLeod’s 17.819. Six laps later, Clements caught and passed McLeod, putting the #35 to last once more. 

McLeod's #35 joins Hill's #66 (background) in the garage.

Nearing the end of Stage 1 on Lap 76, McLeod was running between four and five laps down. Meanwhile, Timmy Hill had managed to climb to 24th. But on Lap 83, Hill pulled behind the wall, his car smelling strongly of gear oil, and the right side showing visible damage. On Lap 87, when the caution fell to end Stage 1, McLeod reported he was having a power steering issue, and talked with the team about coming behind the wall to bleed the system. He joined Hill in the garage on Lap 89, at which point the two were two laps apart. McLeod returned to the track on Lap 98, his previous lap clocked at 392.361 seconds, and gradually increased his gap over last-place Hill. But on Lap 103, NASCAR was still having its spotters watch McLeod, who apparently was still not up to speed. This was followed on Lap 112 by NASCAR confirming Hill – still in the garage – was the first car out of the race. McLeod returned to the garage a second time on Lap 134, and was likewise declared out of the race.

Completing the Bottom Five were no less than three of the five entered JR Motorsports cars. A Lap 168 tangle between Josh Berry’s #8 Bas Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet, Sam Mayer’s #1 Huck’s Market Chevrolet, and Brandon Jones’ #9 Menards / Patriot Lighting Chevrolet. Berry and Mayer were done for the night – Berry’s car after briefly catching on fire – while Jones managed to turn 12 more laps before suspension issues ended his night in 34th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #66 in a XFINITY Series race at Bristol since September 18, 2020, when Stephen Leicht had clutch issues after 11 laps.
*The 81 laps Hill completed came just four short of breaking the record for most laps complete by a last-place finisher of a XFINITY Series race at Bristol. The record of 84 laps was set by Derrike Cope, whose #28 AMD / FOX Sports en Espanol Ford lost the engine on April 4, 2005.

38) #66-Timmy Hill / 81 laps / rear gear
37) #35-B.J. McLeod / 117 laps / power steering
36) #8-Josh Berry / 166 laps / crash
35) #1-Sam Mayer / 166 laps / crash
34) #9-Brandon Jones / 178 lap / suspension

1st) SS-Green Light Racing (4)
2nd) Alpha Prime Racing (3)
3rd) Big Machine Racing, CHK Racing, DGM Racing, Emerling-Gase Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Jordan Anderson Racing, Kaulig Racing, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (21)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (2)


Thursday, September 14, 2023

TRUCKS: Jack Wood scores first last-place run for the #51 truck since 2003

PHOTO: Thank you Nick Brown, @NickBro57062889, picture taken by his father

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Jack Wood picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Thursday’s UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his #51 Rowdy Manufacturing Chevrolet was involved in a two-truck accident after 13 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Wood’s 45th series start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since October 2, 2021 at Talladega, 45 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 6th for the #51, the 188th from a crash, and the 438th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 44th for the #51, the 1,353rd for a crash, and the 1,915th for Chevrolet.

You may recall Wood as the 2021 LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, the bizarre result of him being the only Truck Series driver to finish last more than once all season, and with fewer bottom-five finishes than any of the four drivers ranked below him. Wood did so despite running just 12 of the season’s 22 races with GMS Racing, and also earned his first career Top Ten at Gateway. The results were about the same in his first full-time campaign in 2022, but a big opportunity soon followed – sharing Kyle Busch Motorsports’ flagship #51 entry with XFINITY underdog Matt Mills, plus Cup regulars William Byron and, as always, Kyle Busch himself.

With KBM now a Chevrolet team following Busch’s landmark departure from Joe Gibbs Racing, the season has seen Busch score KBM’s 100th win at Pocono, and Mills earn recognition for a strong 5th-place finish during the long green-flag runs at Richmond. But coming into Bristol, Wood’s nine previous starts in the #51 have yielded inconsistent results. Five times, he’d qualified inside the Top 10, but his best runs came back in the spring – a 10th in Atlanta followed by a 9th in Texas. But, coming into Bristol, where Wood finished 21st with GMS Racing last year, the #51 had finished under power in every race in 2023.

At Bristol, Wood ran 10th-fastest in practice, then improved in qualifying to secure 7th on the grid with a lap of 126.054mph (15.222 seconds). After all 38 of the entrants took time, the two DNQs were Danny Bohn, who attempted his first stat of the season in Niece Motorsports’ part-time #44 Rust-Oleum Chevrolet. Bohn put up the slowest lap in qualifying, nearly a tenth off fellow DNQ Justin S. Carroll, who fought a loose-handling #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota.

Three other drivers who had issues all secured spots in the starting lineup, including 36th and last-place qualifier Bayley Currey. Currey was unable to qualify his #41 Unishippers Chevrolet after his truck caught fire in practice. The fire was extinguished quick enough that the team was able to run the same truck in the race. Nick Sanchez also didn’t take a timed lap due to an upper control arm issue on his #2 Gainbridge Chevrolet. Kaden Honeycutt put up the fifth-fastest lap in practice in the #02 Randco Industries Chevrolet, qualified 17th on his first lap in time trials, then suffered minor right-rear damage when he spun into the wall off Turn 4. 

As the field formed up for the start, Currey, Sanchez, and Honeycutt were three of the five drivers with tail-end penalties. Both were joined by 24th-place Stewart Friesen in the #52 Halmar International Toyota and 28th-place Parker Kligerman in the #75 Jack Kite Company Chevrolet. NASCAR instructed Honeycutt and Sanchez to line up the final two trucks on the inside line with Friesen, Kligerman, and Currey trailing the outside line. By the one-to-go signal, still another driver dropped back from 34th. This was Stephen Mallozzi, who after this spring’s Martinsville race tweeted about his day job as a server at Outback Steakhouse. A grassroots effort led to Outback sponsoring Mallozzi for the first time, complete with a new driver’s uniform, as he returned to AM Racing’s #22 Ford. Mallozzi addressed the starter’s stand to Honeycutt’s outside in the final row.

Damage to Thompson's #5 after the Wood wreck.
PHOTO: J.L. Steele, @JL_Steele
When the green flag dropped, Mallozzi was last across the stripe, 4.041 back of the lead and a half-second back of Honeycutt’s 3.575. The gap between the two grew to 0.719 second at the end of the first lap, but Mallozzi gained a tenth by Lap 4. On Lap 5, the 35th spot fell to Memphis Villarreal, a late substitute for Mason Maggio in the Reaume Brothers’ #33 Laredo Trailer Supply Ford. Villarreal had been muscled out of line further ahead, dropping him back behind Honeycutt and ahead of Mallozzi. By Lap 8, Mallozzi’s deficit to Villarreal then increased to 1.046 second. The leaders put Mallozzi a lap down on the 12th circuit, followed seconds later by Villarreal. But before the two could battle for the Lucky Dog, the caution came out.

Replays on FS1 showed Jack Wood was still among the leaders, but holding up a pack of traffic led by Playoff contender Corey Heim. Coming through Turns 3 and 4, Heim’s #11 Safelite Toyota bumped Wood into a spin, sending him backwards into the outside wall. As the rest of the field scattered, Dean Thompson arrived on the scene running the middle lane. Thompson tried to slow his #5 Thompson Pipe Group Toyota, which skated sideways and struck the rear of Wood’s truck with Thompson’s right-rear. Wood was left stranded on the apron while Thompson made it to pit road, the right-rear of his truck torn open with visible suspension damage to the exposed wheel. Around Lap 15, Thompson was first credited with last place and Wood in 35th, but by Lap 17, the spot fell to Wood. With Wood’s truck brought to the garage nose-first, Thompson’s crew called for a tow truck to pull his #5 backwards behind the wall. Heim cleared the “Crash Clock” on the Lap 25 restart, and both Thompson and Wood were declared out on Lap 51.

Finishing 34th was Greg Van Alst, who after spinning his #20 CB Fabricating Chevrolet developed brake problems which caused him to run on the apron, then 14 laps down pulled behind the wall. Villarreal and Mallozzi completed the Bottom Five in 33rd and 32nd, both finishing under power with the rest of the field, each one lap apart.

Kvapil and Jones among the youth movement at Bristol

A pair of newcomers quietly earned solid finishes on Thursday night. After dominating in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, second-generation racer Carson Kvapil came home 12th in his NASCAR national series debut, piloting Spire Motorsports’ #7 Chevrolet. Three spots behind came Conner Jones, who in ThorSport’s #66 America’s Quarter Horse Congress / TSport Ford earned a career-best 15th-place finish that bested his previous mark of 18th in only his eighth career start. In between came last-place qualifier Bayley Currey, who clawed his way to 13th by the checkered flag. Currey has now finished 18th or better in seven of his eight starts this year – his worst of the season came last week in Kansas, where he still ran 21st.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #51 in a Truck Series race since September 13, 2003 – exactly 20 years and one day ago. On that day, Carl Long had rear end trouble on Rick Ware’s unsponsored #51 Dodge after four laps of the New Hampshire 200 in Loudon. At the time, Ware’s team was called “Ware Racing Enterprises.” 
*The #51 had never before finished last in a Truck Series race at Bristol.
*This was also only the fourth time in Truck Series history the 7th-place qualifier finished last in the race. It last happened on May 22, 2021, when Cameron Lawrence’s #33 Impact Health Chevrolet was sitting on pit road at the end of the inaugural race at COTA.

36) #51-Jack Wood / 13 laps / crash 
35) #5-Dean Thompson / 14 laps / crash
34) #20-Greg Van Alst / 140 laps / brakes
33) #33-Memphis Villarreal / 191 laps / running
32) #22-Stephen Mallozzi / 192 laps / running

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (4)
2nd) G2G Racing (3)
3rd) AM Racing, Niece Motorsports, Roper Racing, TRICON Garage (2)
4th) CR7 Motorsports, GK Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (5)


PREVIEW: Bristol sees the return of Junior, the debut of Carson Kvapil, and a special sponsorship for Stephen Mallozzi

PHOTO: Stephen Mallozzi, @DriverMallozz

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Thursday, September 14, 2023 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3
UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Spencer Boyd

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify.

William Sawalich is back to make his sixth series start and first since Milwaukee, where he finished 26th. Back in TRICON’s #1 entry, taking the place of 9th-place Kansas finisher Jess Love, Sawalich comes into this race with four consecutive races where he qualified 12th or better. His 6th-place run at IRP remains his best of the season.

RETURNING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Second-generation racer Carson Kvapil continues his meteoric rise from the late model ranks with his first-ever attempt at a NASCAR national series race. JR Motorsports’ development driver, the winner of North Wilkesboro’s inaugural Window World 125 last summer, and runner-up to Connor Mosack in his ARCA debut last week in Kansas, Kvapil will run Spire’s #7, which last ran at Milwaukee for Derek Kraus’ 8th-place showing in Milwaukee.

MISSING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb is not among this week’s entrants after her 34th-place finish in her series return last week in Kansas.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
When Stephen Mallozzi discussed his day job as a server at Outback Steakhouse following his second series start at Martinsville this past April, it triggered a chain of events that led to this weekend’s moment, where Outback will sponsor the New Jersey driver’s fifth series start. Complete with a brand-new uniform paid for by merchandise sales, Mallozzi will pilot AM Racing’s #22 entry, taking the place of 35th-place Kansas finisher Mason Maggio. Maggio will also run this weekend, taking the place of 28th-place Kansas finisher Chase Janes. Both drivers will be making their first starts at Bristol. UPDATE: Memphis Villarreal from G2G Racing has taken Maggio's place in the #33.

RETURNING: #44-Niece Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Danny Bohn returns to the Truck Series for his first Truck Series attempt since May 6, 2022 at Darlington, seeking his 36th series start and third at Bristol. This time, Bohn drives for Al Niece in the team’s returning #44 entry, which failed to qualify with Chad Chastain in the team’s last attempt at IRP. The #44’s only start of the year was at Pocono, where Kaden Honeycutt finished 20th. Honeycutt will also run this week, once again in the #02 with which he ran 27th in Kansas. The team originally had TBA listed for its driver. Both Honeycutt's #02 and the #9 of Colby Howard arrive in Bristol after losing 10 driver and owner points for L1 penalties handed down Tuesday for improper triangular filler panels.

RETURNING: #66-ThorSport Racing
Bristol marks Conner Jones’ eighth series start, his first since Milwaukee, where he tied his season-best 18th from his debut at Martinsville. This is also the return of ThorSport’s #66 team to Bristol for the first time since Joey Logano won with the team on the dirt this past spring.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Before Parker Kligerman embarks on his first XFINITY Playoff run with Big Machine Racing, he’ll first reunite with Charlie Henderson’s team for the first time since their 22nd-place finish in Pocono – ironically, his best run of the season so far, and the only Truck Series race he’s finished under power in 2023.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Not among the entrants this week is Spencer Davis, whose practice crash at Kansas resulted in such damage to the team’s only truck that they pulled in after one lap.


Friday, September 15, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 27 of 33
Round of 12: Race 1 of 3
Food City 300 at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Brandon Brown

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will fail to qualify.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
Josh Bilicki will make his first XFINITY start at Bristol since 2019 – a track where he’s finished no better than 32nd in the series and has yet to finish under power. This time around, he takes the place of Kansas last-place finisher Kyle Weatherman in the #91 with returning sponsorship from Insurance King and his 2020 backer Rock’n Vodka. Weatherman is also running this weekend, taking the place of 25th-place Kansas finisher Garrett Smithley in Johnny Davis’ #4.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Trevor Bayne returns to his home track for his first XFINITY race at Bristol since 2014, when he finished 13th for Roush-Fenway Racing. He this time takes the controls of JGR’s #19 with He Gets Us as sponsor, replacing Joe Graf, Jr., who earned his fourth career top-ten finish with a 9th in Kansas. Graf is also running this weekend, back in RSS Racing’s #38. Graf takes the place of Nick Leitz, who finished 31st in his series debut last week.

MISSING: #29-RSS Racing
Speaking of the RSS team, the organization will not bring their part-time fourth entry, the #29, with which Kyle Sieg finished 20th in Kansas. Kyle will move back to the #28 in place of C.J. McLaughlin, who finished 22nd – his second-best finish of 2023. Cooks Comfort is Kyle’s listed sponsor.

TEAM UPDATE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
As of Tuesday night, there were no drivers listed to run both Emerling-Gase Motorsports entries. Last week’s race in Kansas saw Joey Gase finish 24th in the #35 while Matt Mills took 19th in the #53, both two laps down to race winner John Hunter Nemechek. By Wednesday, team co-owner Patrick Emerling was listed in the #35 alongside B.J. McLeod, who will pull double-duty between XFINITY and Cup as he climbs aboard the #53. This will be McLeod's 167th series start, and his first since last fall's Phoenix finale, where he finished 32nd.

DRIVER SWAP: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt is back in an Alpha Prime Chevrolet for the first time since his season-best 11th last month in Daytona. He again pilots the #45, this time taking the place of 29th-place Kansas finisher Rajah Caruth, who struggled after a couple of spins in last Saturday’s race. Caruth looks to boost a team that is itself struggling in APR’s #44, which failed to qualify both at Darlington with Dawson Cram and Leland Honeyman last week in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Following Honeyman’s DNQ last week, Tommy Joe Martins arranged with Carl Long for him to take the place of Timmy Hill in the qualified #66 Ford, coming home a solid 26th. This week, Honeyman’s not on the entry list, and Hill is again listed in the MBM Ford.

MISSING: #74-CHK Racing
The Mike Harmon / Gary Keller effort is not among this week’s entries after they withdrew from Kansas without a driver listed.

RETURNING: #88-JR Motorsports
For a sixth straight season since his retirement from full-time Cup competition in 2017, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is back for a one-off XFINITY Series start. This time, for the first time since his 13th-place finish in that same ’17 season, the site is Bristol, where he last won in 2004. Pending qualifying, this will be Junior’s 145th series start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Taking the place of Dawson Cram, who along with teammate Mason Massey put both of Bobby Dotter’s cars finished inside the first 21 positions, Stefan Parsons is back for his first XFINITY start since his 19th-place showing in Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
In place of 16th-place Kansas finisher Mason Massey comes a returning Chad Finchum, who carries sponsorship from Elite Petroleum on his red-and-white Ford. Back at the site of his Cup debut back in 2018, Finchum seeks his eighth XFINITY start at Bristol, where he earned a best finish of 20th in both 2019 and 2020.


Saturday, September 16, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 29 of 36
Round of 16: Race 3 of 3
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Martin Truex, Jr.

There are only the 36 Chartered entries once more, the 28th straight short field following the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
While the preliminary entry list still showed Cole Custer, who finished 24th during a solid race at Kansas, the ride will instead go to Ryan Newman, marking his 40th Cup start at Bristol. Despite three poles and at one point holding the track qualifying record, Newman has yet to win a Cup race at this track. His best finish came in this race in 2004, when he finished runner-up to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Sheldon Creed doesn’t have any other Cup starts planned this season, one week after a cancelled Truck Series start allowed him to run 29th in a Playoff race at Kansas, the first of his Cup career. Back in the driver’s seat is B.J. McLeod, most recently the last-place finisher after late-race engine trouble at Darlington. McLeod’s best of five previous Cup starts here came in this race last year, when he finished 24th.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 14, 1958): Bailey Wynkoop picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Richmond 200 at the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds – the current Richmond Raceway when it was a half-mile dirt track – when his #5 1956 Chevrolet lost the engine after 15 laps. This was the second and last Cup start for the driver from Falls Church, Virginia.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

INDYCAR: Graham Rahal is only retiree from opening-lap melee at Laguna Seca

PHOTO: Yahoo! Autos

by William Soquet Staff Writer

Graham Rahal finished last for the 11th time in his NTT IndyCar Series career in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca when his #15 iPacket Honda crashed out of the race without completing any of the race’s 95 laps.

The finish was Rahal’s first since the first Iowa race, six races ago. Across IndyCar Series history, it was the 16th for the #15, the 224th for damage and the 109th for Honda.

Rahal’s rollercoaster ride of a year has continued clear through to the season finale. A sixth-place start at the second Iowa race turned into a rather pedestrian 20th-place finish. Nashville was a quiet race as he started and finished in 15th. Then, on the Indianapolis Road Course, the 15 car claimed the pole amidst a burst of speed for the entire organization, but Scott Dixon played a superior strategy and managed tires better in a race that featured a prolonged green-flag run to end the race. A long-awaited next win for Rahal slipped out of his hands once again as he stood on the second step of the podium. It was back to the doldrums at Gateway, as the team’s oval woes flared up again with a 21st-place start and a finish that was just barely inside the Top 20. Portland almost felt like whiplash, as Rahal won his second pole in three races and Juri Vips slotted into the sister #30, hoping to give that car a bit of life. However, multiple strategy errors saw a strong race fade to 12th, with Rahal ripping his crew over the radio for the missteps at the conclusion of the race.

On top of these highs and lows, Rahal now finds himself unsigned for 2024. Most believe it is merely a matter of formalities before he announces an extension to remain at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, but in the grand scheme of things, rumblings that Graham would call it quits following the season were prevalent as recently as June. Where things go from here remain to be seen. For the finale at Laguna Seca, Rahal welcomed back iPacket, a sponsor that previously appeared on his car at Gateway in 2022. 

While there were no entry list changes for Monterey, it did mark the end of a number of eras. Helio Castroneves will step back from full-time racing to become a part-owner of current team Meyer Shank Racing, still driving the Indy 500 in the future. Felix Rosenqvist will depart Arrow McLaren at season's end to replace Castroneves. Taking Rosenqvist’s spot will be David Malukas, who continued the run of surprising series debut tenures for Dale Coyne Racing. Romain Grosjean concluded a frustrating period at Andretti Autosport, and Marcus Ericsson will leave his Chip Ganassi Racing slate to take his place. Devlin DeFrancesco is another driver that will be leaving his ride with an uncertain future. Finally, Ryan Hunter-Reay indicated that he will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing after serving as a half-season replacement for Conor Daly.

Sting Ray Robb, another driver whose plans for next year are not set in stone, was slowest in the opening practice session with a fast lap of 1:09.1, over a second and a half off Colton Herta in a "throwback" scheme honoring father Bryan's victory in 1998. It was still much faster than the previous Laguna Seca pavement, which was redone since last year. Simona de Silvestro’s anchor lap in 2022 first practice was a lap of 1:14.0, nearly a five-second difference. Pato O’Ward was the slowest driver in practice, sitting with a best lap of 1:09.4 after he had an off in turn 3 and went all the way to the tire barriers early in the session, completing only six laps. Rahal was seventh in both practices, but still played second-fiddle within RLL. Christian Lundgaard was on point for second practice and stole many of the headlines surrounding that.

In qualifying, Hunter-Reay suffered an off, causing a red flag in Group 1. He was given lap deletion penalties as such, and his best mark of 1:11.06 was by far the slowest. Castroneves also spun during qualifying, the first of several off-track incidents for him on the weekend. He did not record an official lap, placing him at the bottom of Group 2. Rahal was seventh in Group 2, missing out on advancing to the Fast 12 by a mere .07 seconds to Will Power.

Despite some grid penalties for engine changes, Castroneves was still the final starter on the grid for Sunday’s race. At the initial start in the hairpin, Christian Lundgaard got into Scott McLaughlin, causing both to get sideways. Further back in the field, Marcus Armstrong turned Rahal sideways in the middle of the corner, causing the 15 to spear Vips. Rahal was then t-boned by a slow Josef Newgarden while entering the gravel. While not immediately apparent, the damage was significant, as Rahal was quickly out of the car and had a conversation with Vips while the young Estonian was still in his car.

As the race trudged on with numerous incidents, attrition began to pile up. After being involved in multiple incidents throughout the race, Tom Blomqvist finished 27th when he piled into a restart stackup. It was his third career bottom-five finish in only three IndyCar starts. Kyle Kirkwood and Vips were the next finishers, both running at the end after incurring damage but returning to the track. Colton Herta rounded out the Bottom Five as he incurred gearbox damage and was then punted into the sand after completing 80 laps.

2023 LASTCAR IndyCar Series Champion – Benjamin Pedersen
Entering the race, Sting Ray Robb was the only driver in contention for Benjamin Pedersen's LASTCAR title, and Robb could only claim it with a last-place finish. While both drivers tallied at least 13 Bottom Ten finishes on the year, both finished outside the Bottom Ten. Pedersen was involved in multiple incidents throughout the day - run over by Scott McLaughlin early and spun by Will Power late - but still recorded the second-best finish of his season in 16th. Robb had an incredibly quiet race and finished 12th, his best finish of his rookie season by four spots. With the standings remaining unchanged, Pedersen recorded the 2023 LASTCAR IndyCar Series championship by virtue of tiebreaker on bottom-five finishes, 10 to 8.

27) #15-Graham Rahal / 0 laps / crash
26) #60-Tom Blomqvist / 61 laps / crash
25) #27-Kyle Kirkwood / 65 laps / running
24) #30-Juri Vips / 71 laps / running
23) #26-Colton Herta / 80 laps / crash

1st) Honda (12)
2nd) Chevrolet (5)

1st) Dale Coyne Racing (5)
2nd) A.J. Foyt Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (3)
3rd) Andretti Autosport, Arrow McLaren, Juncos Hollinger Racing (1)


ARCA: Monroe retakes LASTCAR championship lead as top three ARCA points leaders fall out

PHOTO: Michael Reno Johnson

by Ben Schneider Staff Writer

Tim Monroe finished last for the 6th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s Sioux Chief Fast Track 150 at Kansas Speedway when his #10 Ford fell out with mechanical issues after completing 4 of 100 laps.

The finish came in Monroe’s 32nd career ARCA Menards Series start.

Prior to Friday’s race at Kansas, Monroe took last at both Phoenix and Talladega earlier this year, giving him a season total of three last-place finishes. This moved Monroe to the top of the leaderboard in the LASTCAR Drivers’ Standings for the national ARCA Menards Series tour, breaking a tie with Brad Smith for most last-place finishes in 2023. Monroe and Smith are now tied with 10 bottom-five finishes apiece, though Smith holds the bottom-ten tiebreaker with 16 such finishes to Monroe’s 13.

Although most of Monroe’s starts this season have resulted in DNFs due to the "start-and-park" practice, his latest last-place finish comes after two consecutive races where he attempted the full race distance. Monroe finished 15th at Milwaukee before picking up a season-best 8th-place finish at DuQuoin the following weekend.

In total, 22 cars appeared on the entry list for Kansas. Due to the withdrawal of Rita Goulet’s No. 31 Rise Motorsports entry, only 21 took part in the race. The Rise Motorsports team posted on their Facebook page that the engine builder who rented the team their DuQuoin engine was not confident it was in good enough shape to last the entire race at Kansas, leading the team to withdraw after they were unable to find a replacement motor in time.

Of the 21 cars at the track, all but Kevin Hinckle made an appearance during qualifying. Smith placed last of the 20 cars to run a lap, clocking in at 39.288 seconds. Alex Clubb was the next driver up the grid in 19th, followed by Monroe and his Fast Track Racing teammate Matt Kemp, who rounded out the Bottom Five spots on the grid.

After Monroe became the first retirement from the race, Kemp pulled behind the wall with a vibration after completing 10 laps. Shortly thereafter, a third Fast Track entry, driven by Ryan Huff, was shown on the FS1 broadcast on pit road with the hood up. Huff’s issues were not terminal, however, as he returned to the track and ultimately finished 15th, completing 86 of 100 laps. 

The rest of the Bottom Five consisted of Jesse Love, Frankie Muniz, and Andres Perez de Lara, who entered the race first, third, and second in points respectively. Perez de Lara was the first to encounter trouble, hitting the wall on Lap 6. While Perez de Lara returned to the track, Love lost a right-front tire and hit the wall on Lap 24, ending his race and causing the first caution to be displayed. Finally, Muniz blew a right-front tire of his own on Lap 50, continuing a difficult stretch of results for the Rette Jones Racing team. Perez de Lara then rounded out the Bottom Five as his damage proved terminal after 57 laps.

At the front of the field, Connor Mosack took advantage of the high attrition to take a commanding victory, nearly lapping the entire field in scoring his first career ARCA win. JR Motorsports late model driver Carson Kvapil was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap, while Toni Breidinger brought home a career-best third-place finish having just been lapped as Mosack was coming to take the white flag.

21) #10-Tim Monroe / 4 laps / mechanical
20) #11-Matt Kemp / 10 laps / vibration
19) #20-Jesse Love / 24 laps / crash
18) #30-Frankie Muniz / 48 laps / crash
17) #2-Andres Perez de Lara / 57 laps / crash

1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (2)

1st) Fast Track Racing (5) 
2nd) Smith Brothers Racing (4)
3rd) Clubb Racing (2)
4th) Coughlin Brothers Racing, KLAS Motorsports, Our Motorsports, Spraker Racing Enterprises, Tamayo-Cosentino Racing, Kimmel Racing (1)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Click HERE to view the full standings for both the main ARCA Menards Series and the ARCA Menards Series East and West divisions. You can also find the full manufacturers’ and owners’ standings HERE.


Sunday, September 10, 2023

CUP: Punctured tire sends title contender Martin Truex, Jr. into the wall early at Kansas

SCREENSHOT: From video by Colby Evans, @StartAndParkCar

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Martin Truex, Jr. picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota crashed after 3 of 268 laps.

The finish, which came in Truex’s 649th series start, was his first of the season and first since September 17, 2022 at Bristol, 35 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 48th for the #19, the 185th for Toyota, and the 657th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 85th for the #19, the 399th for Toyota, and the 1,352nd from a crash.

When he was last featured on this site, Truex was enduring his first winless season since 2014, ultimately causing him to miss the Playoffs. This year’s turnaround began immediately with a hard-fought win in the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum. This was followed by the official end of his winless streak at Dover, where his younger brother Ryan won his first XFINITY race that same weekend. A dominant victory at Sonoma and his long-awaited first at Loudon coincided with a streak of strong runs that earned him the regular-season championship. But he arrived in Kansas after finishing 18th in the Playoff opener in Darlington, where he never led.

With only the 36 Chartered entries once again arriving trackside, Truex began his Kansas weekend 8th in practice, then ran 4th-fastest in Qualifying Round 1A. This put him solidly into the qualifying’s second round, where he secured 3rd on the grid with a lap of 178.767mph (30.207 seconds).

Starting 36th and last on the grid was Ty Gibbs, whose team was sent to a backup #54 Monster Energy Toyota after a blown right-rear tire put him into the Turn 2 wall in practice. Both Gibbs and 35th-place Kyle Busch in the #8 Casey’s Chevrolet were unable to turn a lap in qualifying, and both would incur tail-end penalties on Sunday. Busch had also blown a tire in practice, his incident putting him into the Turn 3 wall. Unlike Gibbs, Busch’s team required only unapproved adjustments, not a backup car. Not incurring penalties were both 9th-place William Byron for a parts issue on the #24 Raptor Chevrolet, and Erik Jones whose transaxle replacement on the 19th-place #43 Allegiant Chevrolet was ruled a vendor issue.

When the race started, Busch remained in last place, 2.885 seconds back of the lead to Gibbs’ 2.748. By the end of Lap 1, the spot fell to Sheldon Creed, the XFINITY Series regular making his Cup debut in Live Fast Motorsports’ #78 Whelen Chevrolet that was prepared in the Richard Childress Racing shop. The next time by, Creed dropped to last J.J. Yeley in Rick Ware Racing’s bright green #15 Jungle Law Ford, opening a gap of 0.483 second, 6.099 behind the leader. Yeley was still last on Lap 4, now 7.727 behind the lead, but trouble broke out ahead of him.

After qualifying in 3rd, Truex began a perplexing drop through the field, complaining of a tight condition. By Lap 3, he’d dropped to 11th. On Lap 4, he was running the high lane when the right-rear tire blew, sending him sliding into the outside wall. Under this first caution of the race, Truex rolled down the banking, but could advance no further as the right-front wheel was pointed at a bad angle, the right-rear tire practically off the rim. The team suggested he get a push, but the car wouldn’t roll. Instead, a tow truck brought him down pit road, during which Truex radioed, “Take me to the garage, James.” Thus, instead of pulling up to their stall, the #19 was brought behind the wall, done for the race. Later reports indicated Goodyear found a puncture in the tread of Truex’s right-rear tire, and that a control arm had been sheared off in the accident. NASCAR declared Truex out of the race on Lap 15.

Finishing 35th was Harrison Burton, whose #21 Menards MasterForce Ford slapped the wall in Turn 3 on Lap 175, then his “Crash Clock” expired about ten laps later. The 34th spot fell to J.J. Yeley, who reportedly ran out of time replacing a bent toe link after wall contact that did not bring out the caution. Yeley was the only other car to fail to finish. Taking 33rd was Austin Dillon, whose #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet slapped the Turn 2 wall and dropped debris on Lap 64, then returned to action multiple laps down. Also suffering misfortune was Bubba Wallace, whose #23 Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota finished 2nd in Stage 1 and was still running there on Lap 109 when he hit the Turn 2 wall, cutting down the right-rear tire.

Legacy Motor Club continues to rise

Kansas saw the continued resurgence of a struggling Legacy Motor Club. Just days after John Hunter Nemechek was revealed as the team’s driver of the #42 in 2024, Carson Hocevar finished on the lead lap in 20th, successfully backing up his 17th-place showing at Darlington in the now-white #42 Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet. Erik Jones did even better in the flagship #43 Allegiant Chevrolet, making the most of his replacement transaxle to finish 6th in Stage 2, then restart 2nd on the overtime finish before coming home in 3rd. Since his 35th-place finish at Indianapolis, Jones has now finished better in each of the four races since, capped by his first Top 5 since he won the 2022 Southern 500.

*This marked the first last-place finish for Martin Truex, Jr. at Kansas since September 28, 2008, when his #1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet suffered transmission issues after 229 laps of the Camping World RV 400 presented by Coleman. This was Truex’s first career Cup Series last-place finish.
*This is Truex’s third straight last-place finish to have occurred between September 10th and 17th.

36) #19-Martin Truex, Jr. / 3 laps / crash
35) #21-Harrison Burton / 175 laps / dvp
34) #15-J.J. Yeley / 212 laps / dvp
33) #3-Austin Dillon / 259 laps / running
32) #23-Bubba Wallace / 264 laps / running

1st) Live Fast Motorsports, Spire Motorsports (4)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing (3)
3rd) Legacy Motor Club (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Trackhouse Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (16)
2nd) Ford (8)
3rd) Toyota (3)