|PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images|
by Brock Beard
Brennan Poole scored the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at the Darlington Raceway when his #15 Macc Door Systems Ford fell out with transmission issues after 39 of 295 laps.
The finish came in Poole’s 38th series start. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 31st for the #15, the 82nd from the transmission, and the 730th for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #15, the 173rd from the transmission, and the 1,011th for Ford.
With the finish, Poole became the 42nd driver to complete the LASTCAR Triple Crown. His first XFINITY and Truck Series last-place finishes came just last year.
As mentioned in his feature on Friday, Poole arrived in Darlington set to run triple-duty. The weekend got off to a rough start on Friday when nose damage and a blown engine stopped his G2G Racing entry, leaving him in last place. Despite a car swap in Saturday’s XFINITY race, he recovered to finish on the lead lap in 23rd.
For Sunday’s “throwback” race, Poole ran a simple white-and-blue scheme of the iconic Bud Moore Engineering Ford that Bobby Allison drove in 1979. Macc Door Systems, the sponsor Poole picked up through his Truck ride with Tim Viens, would sponsor the #15. It was at this Darlington track on May 20, 2020 that Poole led Lap 182 under caution, then briefly stayed in the Top Five before transmission issues put him out of the race.
On Saturday, Poole was slowest of the 36 entrants in practice and was again slowest overall in qualifying, clocking in at just 160.266mph (30.684 seconds). The reason was a dropped cylinder, and the required repairs incurred him a redundant tail-end penalty for Sunday’s race. Also sent to the back would be Corey LaJoie, whose #7 Nations Guard Chevrolet broke a control arm after hitting the wall on Saturday. LaJoie honored his grandfather Don LaJoie with a scheme resembling his “7/11” modified.
|Poole in the garage shortly after he was declared out.|
SCREENSHOT: NASCAR Drive
In the race’s early laps, B.J. McLeod was struggling for speed in his #78 The Daily Down Force Chevrolet, and was first to be lapped as he took over last place. An unscheduled pit stop under green dropped him three laps down, and the now 35th-place Poole soon went a lap down on track. “This one’s so slow, I can’t do anything with it,” said McLeod on Lap 41. This was during the first caution on Lap 39 for fluid on the track. This fluid was reportedly from Poole’s car, which was on pit road with the crew working on an apparent toe link issue on the right-rear wheel. He then went behind the wall with a mechanical issue. On Lap 45, Poole took last from McLeod. Parked in his garage stall, the crew jacked up the right side and looked to be making repairs. But on Lap 47, NASCAR officials confirmed Poole was out with what was first reported as a transaxle issue – a first in NASCAR’s last-place finishers – but turned out to be the transmission. The crew continued to work, looking under the hood with one crewman reaching through the passenger window.
McLeod only climbed to 32nd before steering issues put him out of the race in the final laps. The three cars he passed were eliminated in the first of three multi-car pileups in Turns 1 and 2, this one triggered by a loose right-rear wheel off Erik Jones’ #43 Allegiant Chevrolet. Taking 35th was Austin Dillon, whose #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet struck the inside wall on the backstretch, then limped around on the apron before pulling behind the wall. He was followed three laps later by Daniel Suarez, who stoved in the nose of his #99 Quaker State Chevrolet, a tribute scheme to Ricky Rudd’s Buick from 1988. Taking 33rd was Michael McDowell, who had right-side damage to his #34 StageFront.VIP Ford.
*This marked only the second time the #15 finished last in a Cup Series race at Darlington. Perhaps appropriately, it was also the final last-place finish scored by a Bud Moore Engineering car. On September 6, 1998, Ted Musgrave lost the engine on his #15 Rescue Engine Formula Ford after 83 laps of the Pepsi Southern 500.
*Poole is the first driver to finish last in both the Truck Series and Cup Series race on the same weekend since June 28-30, 2012, when Scott Riggs’ #68 @ClayGreenfield RAM overheated three laps into Friday’s Truck Series race at Kentucky, then had electrical issues on the #23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet after 12 laps of the Cup race at the same track.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #15-Brennan Poole / 39 laps / transmission
35) #3-Austin Dillon / 196 laps / crash
34) #99-Daniel Suarez / 199 laps / crash
33) #34-Michael McDowell / 200 laps / crash
32) #78-B.J. McLeod / 226 laps / steering
2023 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Spire Motorsports (3)
2nd) Live Fast Motorsports, Penske Racing, Rick Ware Racing (2)
3rd) Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Legacy Motor Club, Richard Childress Racing (1)
2023 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (8)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (1)
2023 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
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