Saturday, May 6, 2023

TRUCKS: Tim Viens doesn’t run out of gas in two laps – transmission issues make it a short night in Kansas

ALL PHOTOS: @DnfRacers

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Tim Viens scored the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Saturday’s Heart of America 200 at the Kansas Speedway when his unsponsored #47 G2G Racing Toyota was listed out with transmission issues after 2 of 134 laps.

The finish, which came in Viens’ 15th series start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since October 25, 2020 at Texas, 55 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 5th for the #47, the 40th from transmission issues, and the 49th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 57th for the #47, the 172nd from a transmission, and the 392nd for Toyota.

Back in 2020, Viens was making a few Truck Series starts with CMI Motorsports, owned by Ray Ciccarelli. Viens and his cousin Bill Shea have since acquired the team and reincorporated it into G2G Racing. Through the 2022 season, G2G struggled to both qualify for and finish races, resulting in four last-place finishes. 

But with increased focus on their flagship #46 – and more drivers making one-off starts with the team – they have started to improve. Norm Benning ran in the Top 10 during Daytona practice before a series of miscues led to a DNQ. Atlanta saw Akinori Ogata finish 17th despite a crash on the backstretch. Dale Quarterley’s debut in COTA saw him finish 28th, but only after a late-race pit penalty. And crew member Memphis Villarreal, also making his debut, took 24th in the rain-plagued Martinsville race.

During G2G’s turbulent 2022 debut, Viens entered himself in three races, withdrawing his truck at both Martinsville and Charlotte, then coming just short of qualifying for Talladega. His lone NASCAR appearance since 2020 came in Daytona’s XFINITY race on August 28, 2021, where he finished on the lead lap in 29th driving for Mike Harmon. At Kansas, Viens would run a second G2G Racing entry. This would mark only the third time in 2023 that G2G entered a second truck, following both Daytona and the Bristol Dirt Race. Unlike the previous two, both the #46 of Brennan Poole and Viens himself in the #47 had no sponsorship on their Toyotas. But with only 36 trucks entered for as many spots, both were assured places in the field.

It's a good thing they were. Viens was slowest in practice, clocking in a single lap of 147.545mph (36.599 seconds), 5.515 seconds off Christian Eckes’ session-leading time, and a a full 2.718 seconds slower than 35th-place Justin S. Carroll, who after six DNQs over two seasons would finally make his series debut in the #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota. Things didn’t improve in qualifying with an even slower lap of 140.183mph (38.521 seconds), 7.589 seconds off the pole and 5.191 off the next truck of Lawless Alan in the #45 AUTOParkit Chevrolet. At race time, Viens’ stall had no tires in it, no pit box, and only a few people standing by who may not have been crew. 

Starting 36th and last was Spencer Boyd, whose bright orange #12 Burco Chevrolet was penalized in qualifying for a pit road violation. He’d be joined at the tail end of the field by three others with pre-race penalties for unapproved adjustments: 17th-place Ross Chastain in the #41 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, 21st-place Matt Crafton in the #88 Black Label Bacon / Menards Ford, and 34th-place Lawless Alan in the #45. As Chastain fell back toward Boyd before the start, Boyd’s spotter told him to try and stay on the lead lap through Stage 1.

Viens pulls behind the wall after two laps.

After NASCAR had the pace car slow to get everyone’s truck in the proper order, the green flag dropped. Across the stripe, Boyd was already in 35th, 3.485 seconds back of the lead, and with the penalized Alan, Crafton, and Chastain just in front. “The white truck is the 90, a rookie,” said Boyd’s spotter, referring to Justin S. Carroll’s #90. At that point, Boyd was already ahead of Viens, who was 4.116 seconds back of the lead in last place, more than six-tenths of a second back of Boyd’s #12.

On Lap 2, Viens was a full 8.806 seconds back of the lead, 4.336 seconds back of Carroll who Boyd had passed on his way to 34th. Seconds later, Viens pulled into the garage, the engine under power. According to the team’s radio, the crew then jacked Viens’ truck on the right side, placed it on jack stands, and looked over a linkage. On Lap 10, the team said “An official asked me if we’re done. I said we’re still working on it.” At that point, the crew said “If we go one or two more down, we’ll call it.” By Lap 12, the team said, “All right, we’re gonna call it,” and around Lap 30, G2G’s Twitter reported, “The team was unable to repair (Viens’) #47. That will end his evening.” 

NASCAR’s garage report didn’t come until Lap 44, and when it did, eyebrows raised: “47 out, out of fuel.” This would have been a first in last-place history across NASCAR’s top three series, but also would have contradicted video proof that the #47 pulled behind the wall with the engine still running. After multiple questions, G2G’s Twitter said the truck was not out of fuel, but instead had “transmission issues.” The official results reflected the latter.

Crashes completed the Bottom Five. Taking 35th was Colby Howard, whose #9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet cut a right-front tire and bumped the outside wall, ultimately requiring a tow to get back to the garage area at the end of Stage 2. Rajah Caruth was running well inside the Top Five through the early stages until he hooked bumpers racing Ty Majeski, putting Caruth’s #24 Wendell Scott Foundation Chevrolet into the wall just past the stripe. 

A multi-truck pileup on Lap 79 completed the group. Entering Turn 1, Matt DiBenedetto’s #25 Rackley Roofing / WAR Shocks Chevrolet broke loose, collecting three other trucks, including Dean Thompson’s #5 Thompson Pipe Group Toyota, Carson Hocevar’s #42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, and Christian Eckes’ #19 Instacoat Premium Products Chevrolet. As Eckes’ truck skated to a stop on the apron, he was then struck in the driver’s door by Chase Purdy in the #4 Bama Buggies Chevrolet. All drivers were checked and released from the infield care center, and Purdy and Thompson slipped into the Bottom Five.

Despite Viens’ short evening, the G2G team still secured another solid finish. With 10 laps to go, Brennan Poole climbed to 20th after Ty Majeski dropped off the pace. Poole’s #46 finished in that position, securing the team’s second-best run of the year. Another unsponsored entry – this of Bret Holmes in the #32 Chevrolet – ranked a solid 14th for his best run since Atlanta. Any Toni Breidinger, making her series debut with TRICON Garage’s #1 Victoria’s Secret Toyota climbed to 15th, mere hours after she took 11th in the day’s ARCA Menards Series race at the same track.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #47 in a Truck Series race since October 24, 2009, when Brandon Knupp’s #47 FT-11 Degreaser Chevrolet, fielded by Andy Hillenburg, had brake issues after 12 laps of the Kroger 200 at Martinsville. The number had never finished last in a Truck race at Kansas.
*This is the first last-place run for Toyota in a Truck Series race since July 23, 2022, when Todd Bodine made his 800th NASCAR start at Pocono.

36) #47-Tim Viens / 2 laps / transmission
35) #9-Colby Howard / 55 laps / crash
34) #24-Rajah Caruth / 72 laps / crash
33) #4-Chase Purdy / 78 laps / crash
32) #5-Dean Thompson / 78 laps / crash

1st) AM Racing, G2G Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
2nd) Niece Motorsports, TRICON Garage (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (3)
2nd) Toyota (2)


No comments: