Friday, March 3, 2023

TRUCKS: Josh Reaume unable to climb out of last place after truck jumps out of gear


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Josh Reaume picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Friday’s Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 presented by Westgate Resorts at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #34 Reaume Brothers Racing Ford fell out with transmission issues after 4 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Reaume’s 66th start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since September 16, 2021 at Bristol, 29 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #34, the 38th from a transmission, and the 116th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 53rd for the #34, the 169th from a transmission, and the 1,004th for Ford.

On January 26th, while completing a manufacturer swap from Toyota to Ford, the Reaume Brothers Racing team experienced a terrible shop fire sent three crew members to the hospital. While the Mooresville Fire Department quickly brought the fire under control, the property sustained enough damage to put their Daytona effort in jeopardy. Still, the crew managed to get both entries qualified into the opener with Mason Massey and Jason White. White’s #34, which carried a "From The Ashes We Will Rise" paint scheme thanking the local fire department, finished 21st ahead of Massey in 24th. Reaume himself took 22nd in a one-off for AM Racing, substituting for Max Gutierrez. Gutierrez would return for the season’s second race in Las Vegas, his first since the death of his brother Fico in a traffic accident near Mexico City.

Reaume returned to his own #34 entry for Las Vegas, a race where his white Ford didn’t have a sponsor. He ran the slowest lap by far in practice, clocking in at 165.148mph (32.698 seconds), more than 2.5 seconds off the session’s best lap by Ty Majeski. He picked up more than four-tenths in qualifying, but remained the slowest to complete a lap. But with only 35 trucks on the entry list, Reaume made the field. He’d roll off 33rd ahead of two others who didn’t make a qualifying lap – 34th-place Brennan Poole in the #46 South Point Toyota for G2G Racing, and Young’s Motorsports’ #20 J.F. Electric Chevrolet for last-place starter Matt Mills.

Prior to the start of Friday’s race, both Mills and Poole incurred redundant tail-end penalties for unapproved adjustments. Also docked for the same reason were Tanner Gray in the #15 Dead on Tools Toyota, which was set to start 16th before a fuel pump replacement, and 23rd-place starter Ross Chastain in Niece Motorsports’ #41 Worldwide Express Chevrolet. All four penalized drivers would ultimately take the green ahead of Reaume, whose truck slotted into the final spot on the inside line. By the time the field came off Turn 2, Reaume was already trailing the field by open track. By Lap 3, Reaume was on pit road, and he pulled behind the wall on Lap 6.

In the garage, Reaume instructed the crew to jack up the right side of his truck and relay to him if anyone else was falling out of the race. The first report was of Bret Holmes, who qualified a strong 6th in his own #32 Pate Holdings Chevrolet. On Lap 13, Holmes was put on the “Crash Clock” when he bounced off the wall coming off Turn 4, forcing him to pit and fall off the lead lap. Holmes returned to the track two laps down, and on Lap 17 met minimum speed. But just two laps later, Holmes struck the Turn 1 wall even harder, flattening the right side and this time drawing the caution flag. The crew attempted repairs, but soon called for the tow truck, which partially blocked the stall of polesitter Kyle Busch, whose #51 Zariz Transport Chevrolet was pitting in the next opening. This was only the latest drama on pit road, as several members from Busch’s and other crews arrived 20 laps into the race after their flight was delayed.

On Lap 24, when the tow truck was hooking up the Holmes entry, Brennan Poole’s #46 was being pushed backwards up pit road and into the garage, citing a hole in the radiator. It was on this lap that Reaume returned to the track 21 laps down, allowing him to take the restart with the field. If he completed just 15 laps, he’d drop Holmes to last place. Reaume finally completed his third lap, then came back to pit road. On Lap 32, he was on track once more, completing his fourth lap, but was told by NASCAR that he had to pick up his speed or he’d be parked. Reaume relayed through his team that his truck was jumping out of gear, which was why he’d been running so slow. That same lap, Reaume pulled behind the wall for a second time. “You can tell NASCAR we’re done,” said Reaume. “It keeps jumping out of gear.” Reaume climbed from his truck, done for the night. He was still 13 laps short of dropping Holmes to last place. Instead, Holmes took 34th with Poole 33rd.

On Lap 69, NASCAR’s garage official confirmed the bottom three drivers were out of the race – Poole’s #46 listed with rear gear issues instead of the radiator – along with 32nd-place Hailie Deegan, whose #13 Pennzoil Screen to Speed Ford started 5th, but was eliminated under the DVP. The initial report said “DVP,” but the results reported it as an accident. Rounding out the Bottom Five was John Hunter Nemechek, whose #17 Berry’s Manufacturing Toyota was damaged in a pileup entering Turn 3, and was later warned by NASCAR to pick up his speed. Nemechek pulled off the track due to a vibration.

After his last-place run in Daytona, Dean Thompson earned his best overall performance to date, running as high as 6th on Lap 69 before his #5 Thompson Pipe Group Toyota fell back to 16th at the finish. Only four times has he finished better in a Truck Series race.

*This marked the second last-place run for the #34 in a Truck Series race at Las Vegas. Josh Bilicki, then driving for the Reaume Brothers, fell out with handling issues after 3 laps in 2020.

35) #34-Josh Reaume / 4 laps / transmission
34) #32-Bret Holmes / 16 laps / crash
33) #46-Brennan Poole / 20 laps / rear gear
32) #13-Hailie Deegan / 59 laps / crash
31) #17-John Hunter Nemechek / 98 laps / vibration

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing, Tricon Garage (1)

1st) Ford, Toyota (1)


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