Thursday, June 29, 2023

PREVIEW: NASCAR’s first Chicago street race features international cadre of road course specialists

IMAGE: @PrestonPardus

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, July 1, 2023 (5:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 16 of 33
The Loop 121 at Chicago Street Course
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are 43 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning five will fail to qualify. It will be the second-longest DNQ list of the 2023 season, trailing only the six who missed the Daytona opener.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
With Cup drivers excluded from Saturday’s XFINITY Series race due to the new venue, A.J. Allmendinger will not run following his victory in Nashville. While listed as “TBA” on the preliminary list, taking his place is Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks, who brings with him team sponsor Jockey. The result, as pointed out by the team, is the first Kaulig entry with mirrored car number decals – his in a metallic blue. This will be Marks’ first XFINITY start as a driver since September 29, 2018, when he finished runner-up to Austin Cindric in the inaugural race on the Charlotte “Roval.”

DRIVER SWAP: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Parker Chase returns to attempt his fourth XFINITY start of the year and first since Portland, where a busted tie rod left him a disappointed 35th. For the first time since Talladega, Chase will run for Sam Hunt Racing in the #24. He takes the place of Connor Mosack, who this week gets a shot in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 with Chicago-based sponsor Porter Pipe and Supply on board. Mosack takes the place of Cup regular Ty Gibbs, who finished next-to-last after an early wreck in Nashville.

Welcome back Brent Sherman, the Illinois-born U.S. Air Force veteran who in 2006 attempted to run for Rookie of the Year with BAM Racing. Sherman has not competed in NASCAR’s top three series since August 28, 2009, when he ran 16th in a Truck Series race at the Chicagoland Speedway. In the XFINITY Series, it’s been even longer – November 3, 2007 at Texas, when he finished 37th for Braun Racing. Sherman takes the controls of the #28 at RSS Racing, which with Stewart-Haas Racing chasses has been fast with both Sonoma winner Aric Almirola and 7th-place Nashville finisher Zane Smith. and A. Marek Jewelry have signed on to sponsor Sherman’s return at his new home venue.

RETURNING: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Also returning from an absence is Jesse Iwuji’s single-car team, which we last saw fail to qualify at Talladega with Iwuji behind the wheel. Among the hopefuls of making the race on speed, the team’s #34 Chevrolet is driven by 24-year-old Andre Castro. A longtime NASCAR fan, actor, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Castro is a development driver in the open-wheel ranks. He currently competes in the F4 US Championship and the USF Juniors presented by Cooper Tires championship. While this will be Castro’s first attempt at a NASCAR national touring series event, he is a past pole winner in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, which has produced such drivers as Loris Hezemans and Alon Day.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Road race ace Alex Labbe drives for his third different team in as many attempts as he this week takes the controls of Emerling-Gase Motorsports’ #35, taking the place of 30th-place Nashville finisher David Starr. Labbe’s most recent race was at Sonoma, where he debuted RSS Racing’s #29 with a 25th-place finish. 

Labbe isn’t the only Canadian on this week’s entry list. Welcome back Alex Guenette of Quebec, who hasn’t started a XFINITY Series race since July 8, 2016 at Kentucky. Then as now, he drives for DGM Racing, but this time in the #36, a team whose only start came at Sonoma with Josh Bilicki’s 19th-place run. Guenette carries sponsorship from Paille GM, DLGL, and GP3R. Guenette finished 4th in the most recent NASCAR Pinty’s Series race at the Eastbound Speedway in Newfoundland.

RETURNING: #50-Pardus Racing
Earlier this year at COTA, Preston Pardus arrived at his 20th XFINITY Series road course race driving for his family’s new team, bringing back the #50 that father Dan Pardus ran in the Cup Series in the late 1990s. This week, driver and team return, and again honor Dan’s own career with a “throwback” scheme to the patriotic variant of the Midwest Transit Racing entry. This will be Pardus’ first entry since Portland, where he ran 31st for SS-Green Light Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Speaking of distinctive paint scheme, Harris Lue harkens back to Bill Elliott’s famous “Mac Tonight” paint scheme in the latest XFINITY entry for Brad Perez. Perez makes his first series attempt since his 29th-place showing in Sonoma (where he carried logos on his Apex Coffee entry). This time, Bonesteel Aerospace is the primary paint scheme, and he is again entered in a Chevrolet. Perez takes the place of 31st-place Nashville finisher Joey Gase, who was swapped in for C.J. McLaughlin after a practice crash. Gase is this week entered in SS-Green Light’s #08, taking the place of 32nd-place Mason Massey. Clubfoot Solutions is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
A third Canadian on the list is a returning Dexter Stacey, who earlier this year at Talladega finished 35th in his series return driving for Carl Long. Stacey is this week entered in a Toyota with the same recap ReCap Recovery Drink sponsorship, looking to give Long’s MBM team just its seventh start of the year and first since Portland. Stacey takes the place of Chad Finchum, who handed the #66 its seventh DNQ of the year in Nashville.

RETURNING: #88-JR Motorsports
Left and right turns also mean the return of JR Motorsports’ #88 entry for Miguel Paludo in the Brandt Chevrolet. Paludo seeks his 10th series start and first since COTA, where he finished on the lead lap in 13th.

Last year, Dexter Bean attempted his first two XFINITY Series races since 2021, but his Mario Gosselin entry was withdrawn at Fontana and failed to qualify at Road America. Badger Environmental, Bean’s sponsor from the Road America entry, will this time sponsor the #91. Bean takes the place of Chad Chastain, who finished 29th in Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
While the preliminary entry list showed a “TBA,” the primary Bobby Dotter entry will this week go to Spencer Pumpelly, who seeks his first XFINITY start of the year. His most recent start came in Portland’s rainy inaugural last year, where he ran 29th in Dotter’s #08. This week, he carries sponsorship from two Volkswagen dealers in Oak Lawn and Orland Park, plus Oltimo Motors. Pumpelly takes the place of Stefan Parsons, whose run at Nashville was cut short by a first lap, first corner pileup.


Sunday, July 2, 2023 (5:30 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 17 of 36
Grant Park 220 at Chicago Street Course
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, which while it is the 18th straight short field since the Daytona 500, and the first with at least one “open” entry since the Coca-Cola 600, four races ago.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Taking the place of 33rd-place Nashville finisher Brennan Poole is a returning Jenson Button, who finished 18th in his Cup debut at Circuit of the Americas this spring. Mobil 1 will again sponsor the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion as he takes to NASCAR’s new street course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Teamed with Button is Sonoma 35th-place finisher Andy Lally, the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Lally will this time pilot Rick Ware’s #51 entry, and again carries sponsorship from Camping World. Lally takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who took 29th last week in Nashville.

WITHDREW: #84-Legacy Motor Club
Jimmie Johnson was slated to run his first Cup race since the Coca-Cola 600, but those plans were changed following Tuesday’s tragic news regarding his in-laws. No replacement driver was named, and the team has been withdrawn.

RETURNING: #91-Trackhouse Racing / Project 91
The talk of the garage will certainly be the return of Trackhouse’s “Project 91,” which last appeared at COTA with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who finished 29th. This time around (in place of a “TBA” on the preliminary list), the ride goes to three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen of New Zealand, winner of 79 races and 46 poles. With Trackhouse fresh off their first win of 2023 following Ross Chastain’s Nashville victory, van Gisbergen eyes a strong debut after a successful test on the Charlotte “Roval.” Enhance Health is the sponsor of his #91. 

Saturday, July 8, 2023
TRUCKS Race 14 of 23
O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 at Mid-Ohio
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Mason Filippi

The Truck Series returns next week for some road course action of their own at Mid-Ohio.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 29, 1957): Peck Peckham scored his first and only last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in a 200-lap race at the Hub City Speedway when his #13 1956 Chevrolet had clutch issues that prevented him from starting the race. This same race was cut short by 13 laps due to a lengthy red flag for a late-race crash between leaders Buck Baker and Speedy Thompson that damaged the guardrail. This red flag caused the race to run up against its scheduled curfew, giving the win to Lee Petty, who was running 3rd at the time of the crash. Thirteen days later, the 44-year-old Peckham of New Jersey earned a career-best 11th at the Southern States Fairgrounds.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

CUP: Ryan Blaney suffers hardest hit of career into Nashville’s concrete barrier

PHOTO: Jared Haas, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Ryan Blaney picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #12 Menards / Pennzoil Ford crashed after 146 of 300 laps.

The finish, which came in Blaney’s 287th series start, was his first of the year and first in a Cup Series points race since May 31, 2020 at Bristol, 116 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 31st for the #12, the 652nd from a crash, and the 731st for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 49th for the #12, the 1,014th for Ford, and the 1,340th from a crash.

Blaney’s most recent last-place finish came just weeks before his fourth career victory at Talladega, where a series of aggressive blocks in the final seconds led to him breaking away from a gathering pileup. This was followed by his first multi-win season in 2021, where he took the checkers in Atlanta, then Michigan and Daytona heading into the Playoffs. A crash in Kansas ended his title run, which also continued a frustrating losing streak through the first year of NASCAR’s NextGen car. While teammate Joey Logano won the 2022 title, Blaney could only run 2nd in the Phoenix finale, closing out his first winless season since 2016.

It was then surprising that after a hot-and-cold start to the 2023 campaign that Blaney broke through in dramatic fashion, leading 163 laps of the Coca-Cola 600 for his first-ever victory in the event. The run lifted him to second in the overall point standings, then took the regular season point lead the next week at Gateway, 13 points over William Byron. But Martin Truex, Jr.’s dominant afternoon in Sonoma two weeks ago also saw Blaney take a distant 31st after late-race contact from Michael McDowell sent him into a spin.

At Nashville, Blaney began the weekend with the 13th-best lap of the 36 Chartered entries in practice, then qualified in the same 13th spot with a lap of 159.786mph (29.965 seconds).

Securing the 36th and final starting spot was Corey LaJoie, whose #7 Garner Trucking Chevrolet didn’t complete a lap in qualifying after he spun off Turn 4 in the first round. Unapproved adjustments handed him a redundant tail-end penalty along with 10th-place Daniel Suarez, whose fast #99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet crashed coming to the green in Round 2, forcing him to a backup car.

Coming to the green flag, LaJoie rolled off in last place on the outside of Josh Bilicki in a guitar-themed variant of his #78 Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet. Across the stripe, Bilicki pulled ahead of LaJoie, who slotted in behind the #78 and got to the inside of Suarez’ backup #99. Coming down the backstretch, the outside line gained momentum with Ty Dillon in the #77 Raze Tea Chevrolet forcing a three-wide battle up high. This helped LaJoie past Bilicki, who was last at the end of Lap 1, 4.121 seconds back of the leader. Bilicki now fought against Suarez, and at Lap 4, the two were side-by-side, just 0.080 apart at the stripe. Suarez held off Bilicki’s charge, and the two remained about two-tenths apart until the #78 developed a tight condition center-off, gradually opening the deficit to a half-second.

Bilicki held the spot until Lap 17, when Kyle Busch came off pit road following an unscheduled stop for what he believed was a flat right-front tire on his #8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet. The crew instead discovered it was the right-rear, which had just nine pounds in it when it was changed. Stretching his fuel to the end of Stage 1, Busch remained on track as others pitted. This started with Ryan Preece, who on Lap 41 took the last spot in his #41 Morton Buildings Ford. 

It was during this same sequence that Michael McDowell’s #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford crossed the commitment box coming in for his stop, incurring a pass-through penalty. McDowell pleaded his case, saying Noah Gragson’s #42 was too fast behind him for a proper entry. But by Lap 45, NASCAR threatened to stop scoring by waving the black flag with the white cross, and McDowell served the pass-through. This dropped McDowell to last Lap 46, at which point he was two laps down. “About to get run over by the 42 and I get a penalty for it,” McDowell said of Gragson. “I hear you, its unfortunate.” 

Things weren’t going much better for Todd Gilliland, McDowell’s teammate in the #38 Serial 1 E-Bikes Ford had also fallen two laps down, allowing McDowell to pass him for 35th on Lap 59. By Lap 70, the leaders had caught the stranded Gilliland, putting him a third lap down. “We have to find a way to make fucking lap times,” said someone on Gilliland’s radio channel. “I don't want to keep giving away half-second clips.” Gilliland remained last when Stage 1 ended on Lap 91 and reported, “It's so on top of the race track, I have no grip anywhere . . .on ice, it's horrible across the center.”

During the Stage 1 caution, Bilicki re-took last from Gilliland. When the race resumed, both team co-owner B.J. McLeod and the team’s spotter remarked that Bilicki was learning how to use the air to make his way through traffic. This put him in position to climb back to 35th on Lap 115, which was just after McDowell made his next pit stop. At the time, Bilicki’s crew estimated McDowell would be a couple laps short of making it to the end of Stage 2. Gilliland’s own stop dropped the #38 to last on Lap 124, where he was still running when the next caution fell.

Blaney's car towed to the garage after the crash.

By Lap 138, Tyler Reddick had been enjoying a solid night in his #45 The Big 615 / MoneyLion Toyota. After starting outside-pole, he’d led for 33 laps and won Stage 1. But after a green-flag stop, he came back to pit entrance with a loose right-rear wheel. He then spun at the commitment line, where his right-rear wheel came off and bounced against the pit wall, drawing the yellow. Reddick returned to his pit stall under the ensuing caution, where he lost two laps in the process. After some deliberation as to where the wheel fell from the car, NASCAR handed Reddick a tail-end penalty, which further dropped the #45 down the lineup. By Lap 140, Reddick fell to 30th, then 35th on Lap 141, still ahead of Gilliland. He finally took last from Gilliland on Lap 143 as the field came to the choose cone. Having to start at the tail end of the line, Reddick was prohibited from choosing his lane.

This led to the Lap 147 restart, where this time trouble broke out near the front. Coming to the green, contact caused Brad Keselowski’s #6 Solomon Plumbing Ford to come out of gear, and the two trailing lanes unzipped to let him plummet down the new middle lane. During these maneuvers, Alex Bowman bumped Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney, hooking both drivers into the infield grass. While Busch managed to get control of his car, Blaney’s pointed straight at pit exit, where it slammed into a solid concrete barrier. This was among at least two stretches of the pit exit which were not protected by the SAFER barrier, resulting in a hit that left Blaney with the hardest hit he’d yet suffered. Blaney still climbed from the car under his own power and was checked and released from the infield care center. His #12 took last from Reddick on Lap 150, and was declared out by NASCAR on Lap 157.

The rest of the field finished the race under power, the remaining 35 cars all within four laps of race winner Ross Chastain. Gilliland, Bilicki, Poole, and Ty Dillon completed the Bottom Five.

Jones and Allmendinger get much-needed runs for Legacy, Kaulig

Surprising runs are becoming increasingly rare in the Cup Series, but Sunday saw two clear standouts. Finishing 8th was Erik Jones in the #43 Allegiant Chevrolet, his third top-ten finish of the year and first on a non-superspeedway. One month removed from a disastrous Coca-Cola 600 where Jones joined both his Legacy Motor Club teammates in the garage, Jones earned his best showing in seven races on the night teammate Noah Gragson returned from his concussion suffered in Gateway.

The other standout was A.J. Allmendinger, who after winning Saturday’s XFINITY race piloted his #16 Celsius Chevrolet. This was his second-straight top-ten finish following a season-tying 6th at Sonoma and likewise just the third top-ten finish he’s earned in Cup all year. While his Kaulig teammate Justin Haley only managed a 23rd-place finish, he did so after a sterling 3rd-place qualifying run, capping a solid weekend for the team.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #12 in a Cup race at Nashville.

36) #12-Ryan Blaney / 146 laps / crash
35) #38-Todd Gilliland / 296 laps / running
34) #78-Josh Bilicki / 297 laps / running
33) #15-Brennan Poole / 297 laps / running
32) #77-Ty Dillon / 297 laps / running

1st) Spire Motorsports (4)
2nd) Penske Racing (3)
3rd) Joe Gibbs Racing, Legacy Motor Club, Live Fast Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (2)


Saturday, June 24, 2023

XFINITY: First lap, first corner pileup hands Stefan Parsons second Nashville last-place finish

ALL PHOTOS: Jared Haas, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Stefan Parsons picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #07 Nelson’s Green Brier Chevrolet crashed without completing any of the 196 laps.

The finish, which came in Parsons’ 57th series start, was his first of the year and first in a XFINITY Series race since June 19, 2021 at this same Nashville track, 66 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 14th for the #07, the 381st for a crash, and the 620th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 25th for the #07, the 1,339th from a crash, and the 1,894th for Chevrolet.

Since he was last featured in a XFINITY article on this site, Parsons has continued to avail himself of every opportunity to get on the track with multiple different teams. At the time of his 2021 accident, he was driving for B.J. McLeod Motorsports, for who he drove all three of the team’s entries at some point that season. He predominately ran McLeod’s #99 into the first part of 2022, including a distinctive “throwback” scheme to the Jackson Brothers entry his father Phil Parsons won at Talladega in 1988. From midseason onward, he took more rides with Alpha Prime Racing. This secured Parsons a career-best 8th at Bristol – his first career top-ten finish.

This year saw Parsons make his season debut at Daytona, where he served as a last-minute replacement for Alpha Prime co-owner Caesar Bacarella in the #45 Clear Cryptos Chevrolet. There, Parsons again impressed, taking home what has been a season-best 13th. Since then, Parsons’ primary ride has been with Bobby Dotter at SS-Green Light Racing, running the team’s flagship #07. Coming into Nashville, he made five of the last eight races with the team, and in all but an early overheating issue at Portland had come home under power. The Nashville race would see him debut new sponsorship from Nelson’s Green Brier, a whiskey distillery from Tennessee. 

Parsons began the weekend 30th of 41 entrants in practice, the in qualifying jumped to 18th with a lap of 154.198mph (31.051 seconds). The three teams sent home were Sage Karam in Alpha Prime’s #44 Building Research Systems Chevrolet, plus the single-car efforts of Chad Finchum in the #66 Ted Russell Ford Lincoln Ford for Motorsports Business Management and Dawson Cram in the #74 Be Water Chevrolet for CHK Racing.

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was Connor Mosack, whose #24 Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota would incur a pre-race tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments along with 6th-place qualifier Zane Smith, running another Stewart-Haas Racing chassis for RSS Racing in the #28 Blue Oval City Ford. Smith would recover nicely with a 7th-place finish. Also docked was the 37th-place #53 Sci-Aps Ford of Joey Gase. C.J. McLaughlin had been entered in the race running the Emerling-Gase Motorsports team’s Toyota, but a practice crash in Turn 3 forced them to roll out the Ford. Gase then swapped in for McLaughlin for the race, resulting in a tail-end penalty for both the backup car and driver change.

Another view of Parsons' wrecked car.

When the green flag dropped, last-place qualifier Mosack pulled ahead of Gase going into Turn 1 just before trouble broke out at midfield. The RSS Racing entry of Kyle Sieg had qualified 9th in the #29 Peek and Poole and Spas Ford, and soon found himself in the middle of a three-wide battle with A.J. Allmendinger’s #10 Bailey Zimmerman – Religiously Chevrolet and Jeb Burton’s #27 Hawkins Homes Chevrolet up high. Though the corner, Sieg and Burton made contact, sending Sieg spinning into the path of brother Ryan Sieg’s #39 Ford. Ryan cut left and spun off the nose of Justin Allgaier’s #7 Brandt Chevrolet. While the Sieg brothers managed to avoid contact in their spins, Allgaier cut left as Parsons was committed to the middle lane. Parsons then went into a slide, banging doors with Allgaier, who hooked the #07 head-on into the outside wall. While Allgaier and the Sieg brothers continued, Parsons climbed out under the ensuing caution, done for the day.

Around Lap 43, Josh Williams pulled into the garage with fuel pump issues on his #92 Dan-O’s Seasoning Chevrolet, which dropped him to the 37th spot as the race continued to be slowed by multi-car incidents. Williams returned around Lap 62 and ultimately climbed to finish 33rd. The first two cars Williams passed on Lap 74 were those of Ty Gibbs in the #19 He Gets Us Toyota and Carson Hocevar in the #77 Premier Security Chevrolet, both eliminated in a Turn 1 wreck triggered by a damaged Austin Hill, who was running on old tires after a wreck of his own. Last-place qualifier Connor Mosack took home 35th after a crash on the backstretch led to an unsuccessful bid at clearing the “Crash Clock.” Completing the Bottom Five was Sammy Smith in the #18 Pilot / Flying J Toyota backed into the outside wall.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #07 in a XFINITY Series race at Nashville.
*This was the first time a XFINITY Series driver failed to complete a lap of the race since July 30, 2022, when Jeb Burton’s #27 Ergodyne Chevrolet had track bar issues at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit. It had not happened at a XFINITY race at Nashville since June 10, 2006, when Jason Leffler scored his first last-place run atter engine trouble on his #38 Great Clips Chevrolet.

38) #07-Stefan Parsons / 0 laps / crash
37) #19-Ty Gibbs / 53 laps / crash / led 28 laps
36) #77-Carson Hocevar / 53 laps / crash
34) #24-Connor Mosack / 61 laps / dvp
33) #18-Sammy Smith / 68 laps / crash / led 1 lap

1st) SS-Green Light Racing (3)
2nd) Big Machine Racing, CHK Racing, JD Motorsports (2)
3rd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Emerling-Gase Motorsports, Jordan Anderson Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


Friday, June 23, 2023

TRUCKS: Lawless Alan eliminated early in frustrating Nashville accidents

PHOTO: Jared Haas, @RealJaredHaas

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Lawless Alan picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Friday’s Rackley Roofing 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway when his #45 AUTOChargit Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 7 of 150 laps.

The finish, which came in Alan’s 43rd series start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since November 5, 2021 at Phoenix, 36 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 8th for the #45, the 184th from a crash, and the 434th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 45th for the #45, the 1,338th from a crash, and the 1,893rd for Chevrolet.

Alan’s most recent last-place finish came on the eve of his first full-time campaign for Niece Motorsports in 2022. An 11th-place finish in his fourth race of the year at COTA showed promise, but he ran no better than 18th the rest of the season with four DNFs. Unfortunately, this year has seen much of the same. A trio of 17th-place showings, starting with his return to COTA plus Kansas and Charlotte, plus a pair of crashes at Atlanta and Darlington and his first two DNQs at Daytona and the Bristol Dirt Race. Alan entered Friday’s race a distant 23rd in points.

Alan began the Nashville weekend taking 25th of the 37 entrants in opening practice, then ranking 19th with a lap of 158.496mph (30.209 seconds). After Justin S. Carroll withdrew his family’s #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Chevrolet late in the week, the lone DNQ of the weekend was fellow underdog Trey Hutchens III, who attempted his first race since his #14 Quality Roof Seamers Chevrolet was collected in Dean Thompson’s Texas wreck back in April.

It was Thompson who secured the 36th and final starting spot for Friday’s race after his #5 Thompson Pipe Group Toyota was twice unable to fire before qualifying, ultimately sending him to the garage area for repairs. Thompson thus became one of two drivers to incur tail-end penalties prior to Friday’s green flag. Joining him was Toni Breidinger, who on a day that she delivered Raising Cane’s chicken to her crew at lunch was also handed an unapproved adjustments penalty on her 28th-place #1 Victoria’s Secret Toyota.

In the race’s early laps, it was Breidinger who was running 36th, showing 9.256 seconds back of the lead on Lap 5 while Thompson climbed to 31st. On that same lap going into Turn 3, Alan was running 18th as Hailie Deegan pulled to his inside in her #13 Ford Performance Ford. After apparently clipping the apron, she lost control and slid into Alan broadside, sending both spinning up the track. While Deegan backed into the wall, Alan nearly saved his truck before it hooked right – directly into the path of a slowing Jack Wood in the #51 Rowdy Manufacturing Chevrolet. 

All three trucks made it to pit road with Wood taking last on Lap 6, then Alan on Lap 8. All three returned to the track, seeking to clear the “Crash Clock.” But on Lap 10, Alan blew a right-front tire and slapped the Turn 3 wall, this time ending his night. Alan then expressed his frustration with Deegan, saying to Jared Haas at, “She does it to fucking everybody.”

On Lap 54, NASCAR declared Alan out of the race along with Memphis Villareal in G2G Racing’s #46 Laredo Trailer Supply / Mystik Toyota. Villareal, who gave G2G its first start since Armani Williams’ hard crash at Charlotte, was classified out with electrical issues. Last-place starter Dean Thompson only climbed to 33rd before he was eliminated under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy” following an on-race tangle with Christian Eckes. Thompson finished just ahead of the #32 Benton Nissan of Columbia, imi Chevrolet of Bret Holmes, who was unable to avoid a spinning Layne Riggs following contact from a wrecking Daniel Dye off Turn 2. 

Rounding out the Bottom Five was Rajah Caruth, who on Lap 36 had just taken the lead from polesitter Nick Sanchez when Caruth’s #24 Born Driven Chevrolet suddenly lost power, forcing him to make an unscheduled stop. A loss of fuel pressure ultimately sent him behind the wall until Lap 68. Caruth finished the race under power, remaining 31 laps down at the checkered flag.

Also impressive on Friday was Bayley Currey, who reunited with Niece Motorsports in the #41 Unishippers Chevrolet team with which he finished a career-best 4th in Atlanta. This time, Currey nearly won his first pole, falling just 0.013 second back of Nick Sanchez. In the race, Currey took the lead from Corey Heim on Lap 62 under green, and ultimately crossed the finish line 5th, just one spot shy of his Atlanta run.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #45 in a Truck Series race at Nashville.

36) #45-Lawless Alan / 7 laps / crash
35) #46-Memphis Villareal / 26 laps / electrical
34) #32-Bret Holmes / 92 laps / crash
33) #5-Dean Thompson / 104 laps / dvp
32) #24-Rajah Caruth / 119 laps / running

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

1st) Ford (5) 
2nd) Chevrolet, Toyota (4)


Thursday, June 22, 2023

PREVIEW: After off-week, Nashville welcomes back many drivers from even longer absences

PHOTO: @LayneRiggs99
by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Friday, June 23, 2023 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Janes

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify. UPDATE: Make that 37, meaning only one will DNQ.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Not among the entrants is Norm Benning, who qualified for his second Truck Series race of the season three weeks ago in Gateway and earned a 28th-place finish.

Another Gateway storyline was the illness that sidelined Corey Heim, ultimately putting Jesse Love into his #11 for a sterling 9th-place Truck Series debut. This week, Heim is back with Love’s next series stat planned for Kansas in September.

RETURNING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens returns for his first attempt since Texas, where his #14 found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time during the pileup triggered by Dean Thompson and Matt Mills, leaving him 30th. Hutchens made the race here two years ago, where he finished 33rd, but under power.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Nick Leitz reunites with Randy Young’s team for the first time since his season debut at Kansas, where he finished 21st. Taking the place of Matt Mills, who was 19th in Gateway, Leitz returns to the site of his series debut last year, when he finished on the lead lap in 26th for the Reaume Brothers.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
After withdrawing from Gateway, which led to Chris Hacker running the #02 at the Young’s team, On Point brings their #30 entry back to the track with Jonathan Shafer, who finished 29th in his series debut at Martinsville this past spring. Hacker is not running the #02 this week, either, as it was announced late this week that Layne Riggs would make his first start since his 28th-place showing for TRICON Garage in Atlanta, this time bringing sponsorship from Heartland to Young’s Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Back at the track for the first time since he finished last in this race last year for G2G Racing is Chase Janes, who takes the place of team owner Josh Reaume – 23rd in Gateway – in the #33 Ford. J&J Services is the listed sponsor for the entry. Both the #33 and #34 entries had no driver listed earlier this week, and as of this writing there is no driver listed for the #34, run in Gateway by Stephen Mallozzi, who finished 31st after electrical issues. UPDATE: Mason Maggio will run the #34.

RETURNING: #46-G2G Racing
After skipping Gateway following a costly accident in Charlotte, Memphis Villareal is again behind the wheel of the #46 with Laredo Trailer Supply and Mystik as sponsors of his Toyota. Villareal is another driver who made his series debut during this spring’s rainy Martinsville race, where he finished 24th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-ThorSport Racing
Jake Drew, last year’s champion of the ARCA Menards Series West, seeks his NASCAR national series debut in ThorSport’s part-time #66 entry, most recently run to a 33rd-place finish after a crash by Conner Jones. Drew carries sponsorship from Capstone Engineering Solutions on his Ford.

WITHDREW: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Now with his first two Truck Series starts under his belt – both on 1.5-mile tracks where he finished under power, two laps down, Justin S. Carroll seeks his first start since Charlotte in his #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota. UPDATE: As of Friday, this team has withdrawn.

MISSING: #95-GK Racing
Not making the trip this week is GK Racing, whose debut at Gateway ended after just two corners following Clay Greenfield’s first-lap accident.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
A surprising return to the track is not only Roper Racing’s #04 – last seen with Johnny Sauter driving at North Wilkesboro before a mid-race electrical fire – but now with Cory Roper himself behind the wheel, seeking his first Truck Series start since the 2021 finale in Phoenix. Roper ran Nashville that season, finishing 31st, two laps down.


Saturday, June 24, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 16 of 33
Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Weatherman

There are 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning three will fail to qualify.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Although Ty Dillon was originally listed as driver of the #4, one week after he failed to qualify for the XFINITY race in Sonoma, it is Kyle Weatherman who will run on Saturday, looking to make his ninth start of the season, his fifth in a row driving for a different team. Weatherman last week ran SS-Green Light’s #08 to a 22nd-place finish, a car that this week goes to a returning Mason Massey with his Brunt Workwear sponsorship. This would be Massey’s first XFINITY start of the season – his last was the 2022 finale at Phoenix, where he took 33rd for DGM Racing.

MISSING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson is not entered along with the Hendrick Motorsports entry.

As reported on my Twitter feed, Zane Smith will take the place of Sonoma winner Aric Almirola in the #28 entry for RSS Racing. This puts Zane into a XFINITY Series field for the first time since May 15, 2021 at Dover, where he drove in relief of Justin Haley for Kaulig Racing. Blue Oval City is the listed sponsor.

Following the successful 25th-place debut of their fourth team with Alex Labbe in Sonoma, Kyle Sieg will drive the #29, which he’d originally been slated to run last week before a late driver swap. Peek Pool Spas is the listed sponsor of Kyle’s Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
As of this writing, there is no driver listed for the #35 which failed to qualify in Sonoma with Leland Honeyman aboard. UPDATE: David Starr returns to the series as driver, per news on Thursday.

MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
Josh Bilicki is not entered in this week’s XFINITY race along with the part-time #36 entry with which he earned a 19th-place showing in Sonoma. Bilicki will instead focus on Sunday’s Cup race, where he will again run Live Fast Motorsports’ #78 Zeigler Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Alpha Prime Racing
Ryan Ellis makes his 80th XFINITY start and first since Charlotte as he returns to the seat of Alpha Prime’s #43 Chevrolet, taking the place of 24th-place Sonoma finisher Dylan Lupton. Keen Parts once again joins Ellis as sponsor at a track where he finished 24th last season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
In place of 29th-place Sonoma finisher Brad Perez – who just announced another head-turning paint scheme for his next attempt in Chicago – C.J. McLaughlin seeks to make his 35th series start and fifth of the season, his firt since a 34th-place showing in Dover. Sci Aps rejoins the team as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s choice this week is Chad Finchum, who will carry sponsorship from Ted Russell Ford Lincoln on the #66 Ford. After a pair of DNQs in his previous attempts at Martinsville and Darlington, Finchum seeks his first start of the season as he takes the place of Sonoma DNQ Mason Filippi.

Mike Harmon’s team returns to the garage after not entering the west coast road course races in Portland and Sonoma. Back behind the wheel is Dawson Cram, who aims for his fourth start of the year and first since Charlotte, where he finished 36th, seven laps down, but under power. This would be Cram’s first XFINITY start at Nashville.

RETURNING: #77-Spire Motorsports
With now a Cup Series start in his back pocket after a promising start in Gateway, Carson Hocevar will run Spire’s #77 entry for the first time since his third and most recent XFINITY race in Charlotte, where he finished 8th.

It’s a Chastain swap in Mario Gosselin’s #91 entry as Chad Chastain returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 32nd-place showing in Dover with the same team. Chad takes the place of brother Ross, who finished 18th in Sonoma.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Taking the place of another Cup regular in 27th-place Sonoma finisher Daniel Suarez is Stefan Parsons, who welcomes Nelson’s Green Brier as the sponsor of Bobby Dotter’s #07. Stefan returns to the series for the first time since Portland, where overheating issues saddled this same team with a 37th-place finish.

CUP INVADERS: #10-A.J. Allmendinger, #19-Ty Gibbs

Sunday, June 25, 2023 (7:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 17 of 36
Ally 400 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Alex Bowman

There are 36 entries for 40 spots, marking the 16th straight short field in 17 races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Brennan Poole rejoins the Cup Series with a colorful paint scheme for his sponsor Mac Door Systems. Taking the place of 35th-place Sonoma finisher Andy Lally, Poole will make his first Cup start at Nashville and his fourth start of 2023.

DRIVER SWAP: #38-Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rejoining Poole as teammates at Rick Ware Racing is J.J. Yeley, who takes the wheel of the #51 with Patriot Mobile as sponsor – Yeley’s 12th start of the year and first since Gateway, where he finished 24th – which was actually his second-worst finish since his last-place run in Martinsville. Yeley takes the place of 24th-place Sonoma finisher Todd Gilliland, who returns to his #38 in place of Zane Smith, who took 34th after a pit miscue.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Legacy Motor Club
Welcome back Noah Gragson, who on Sunday will make his first Cup start since concussion symptoms stemming from his brutal wreck at Gateway sidelined him for Sonoma, where Grant Enfinger climbed to 26th in his Cup debut. Gragson will also bring back the Black Rifle Coffee sponsorship that last ran in Charlotte.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 22, 1968): Bobby Isaac picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Pickens 200 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway when his #71 K&K Insurance 1967 Dodge lost the engine after 14 laps. Isaac, who started 4th in the 22-car field, hadn’t finished last in a Cup race since his 17th career Cup start at Myrtle Beach, nearly five years earlier. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

INDY NXT: Blown tire derails Christian Rasmussen’s points lead

PHOTO: William Soquet, @WilliamSoquet

by William Soquet Staff Writer

Christian Rasmussen finished last for the 2nd time in his Indy NXT career when his #6 HMD Motorsports car crashed out of the Indy NXT by Firestone Grand Prix at Road America after completing 9 of the race’s 20 laps.

The finish was Rasmussen’s first since Gateway last year, nine races ago.

Copenhagen native Christian Rasmussen is in his sixth season running the American open wheel junior ladder. He came across the pond after two seasons of Danish formula racing, capping off his career there with a third-place finish in the 2017 F4 Danish Championship while driving for Jan Magnussen. In America, Rasmussen signed with Jay Howard Driver Development in advance of the 2018 F4 United States Championship. Following another third-place season showing, he moved over to Howard’s Road to Indy program, debuting there in 2018. His rookie season saw flashes of brilliance with three wins, but he only claimed four other podiums and finished third in the season standings yet again. The 2020 season was a different story, as he won over half the races on the schedule - 9 of 17 - including the first six in a row. A championship at the end of the year meant scholarship money up the ladder, and Rasmussen and Howard spent a fourth year together in 2021, this time in the Indy Pro 2000 category. Eight wins later, driver and team were again champions. 

Since Howard does not operate an Indy NXT team, Rasmussen signed with Andretti Autosport in advance of 2022. While multiple wins followed, so did five finishes of 12th or worse, leaving him 6th in final points. He left Andretti at year end for HMD Motorsports, the newest juggernaut in Indy NXT. With six teammates to contend with, Rasmussen won at Barber and held a narrow points lead coming into Road America.

This year’s Indy NXT field is one of the most robust in recent memory. In 2019, eight drivers contested the full schedule before the 2020 season was cancelled due to a lack of entries. There were 11 full-time teams in 2021, and although field sizes fluctuated a little bit in 2022, the maximum field size was 14 cars. This year, there are 19 teams attempting the full season. Nine of the drivers are rookies, and ten - including Rasmussen - are returning to the series.

Additionally, Road America was repaved from last year, throwing an additional variable besides a field that has increased significantly in size. Rasmussen noted that it was a give and take in terms of the effects of the repave.

“Obviously there was a lot more grip so it was a lot faster. I think it was probably about the same on the tire, because we just went so much faster – it was definitely more abrasive last year. Just with us going faster, definitely wore the tires and I think that had something to do with it as well.”

Starting last for Sunday morning’s race was Rasmus Lindh. The Swedish pilot started the year as one of Rasmussen’s teammates at HMD, but left the team after one race due to funding issues. He landed at Juncos Hollinger Racing, who was looking for a driver after Reece Gold left to take Lindh’s former spot at HMD. After issues in practice, he did not turn a lap in qualifying, although his car was all ready to go for race day.

In a frantic start that saw polesitter Kyffin Simpson hit the curbs in the opening turn and drop down at least a half-dozen positions, Lindh still trailed the field, last after one lap behind 18th starter Jagger Jones. As the second lap came around, Turn 1 remained a trouble spot. There, Josh Pierson wanted the ninth spot, but Jamie Chadwick had the position. Pierson dive bombed into the corner and made heavy contact with the side of Chadwick. The contact pushed Pierson into the asphalt runoff but put Chadwick in the gravel.

While Chadwick was able to keep the car from stalling, she plummeted to last place and was a handful of seconds behind even the tail end of the main pack and about 30 seconds behind the lead. However, with a clean track, Chadwick began to make progress on Jones, who had fallen behind Lindh, coming within a few seconds after a handful of laps.

Rasmussen had just been passed by James Roe and was running seventh on Lap 10 when his car shot straight coming out of the fast, right-hand Turn 11. The left-front corner of the car made heavy contact with the concrete wall and it came to rest in the grass, terminally damaged. According to Rasmussen, the incident did not come out of nowhere.

“The tire blew in the middle of the kink, so unfortunate,” he said after being released from IndyCar’s medical hauler. “I had a lockup trying to overtake Hunter [McElrea] earlier in the race, and that obviously took a lot of pace away. I thought I could nurse it back to the end of the race, but I couldn’t. Tire blew, hit the wall and just very unfortunate.”

He was coming from the seventh spot after a hectic qualifying session. Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Matteo Nannini spun with a mere twenty seconds left on the clock, prompting a red flag. Series officials extended the time enough to give everybody one last chance at a flying lap. The crowded track did not fall in Rasmussen’s favor.

“Just bummed, I think it was a weekend that could’ve been a lot better, we got unfortunate in qualifying with the red flag and didn’t really get to put a lap in,” he said. “It put us down here, then we have to fight our way through, and then stuff like this happens.”

With the crash, Rasmussen went from being the points leader, two points ahead of Nolan Siegel, to second place, 40 points behind. The driver says that it will not impact his outlook over the remainder of the season.

“It’s gonna be the same attitude,” he noted. “I go into every single week trying to win races, trying to do the best I can. Obviously we will have to push, but we had to push anyways. We were two points in front of Nolan before, obviously now we are quite a bit behind but it’s going to be the same approach. Push to the end and see what we get.”

Lindh went off-course and was the only other driver that failed to finish. Pakistan’s Enaam Ahmed was the last driver running, and Matteo Nannini and Chadwick rounded out the Bottom Five. Jones rallied from last car on pace all the way up to ninth, although a midrace restart from Rasmussen’s wreck did help that cause.

19) #6-Christian Rasmussen / 9 laps / crash
18) #76-Rasmus Lindh / 17 laps / off course
17) #47-Enaam Ahmed / 20 laps / running
16) #75-Matteo Nannini / 20 laps / running
15) #28-Jamie Chadwick / 20 laps / running

1st) HMD Motorsports (3)
2nd) Cape Motorsports (2)
3rd) Andretti Autosport (1)

1st) Enaam Ahmed, Christian Bogle, Louis Foster, Jagger Jones, Christian Rasmussen, Kyffin Simpson (1)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

INDYCAR: Engine failure dooms Malukas at Road America

ALL PHOTOS: William Soquet, @WilliamSoquet

by William Soquet Staff Writer

David Malukas scored the 2nd last-place finish of his NTT IndyCar Series career in Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America when his #18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda lost power after completing 24 of the race’s 55 laps.

The finish came in Malukas’ 25th career start and was his first since St. Petersburg in 2022, 24 races ago. Across IndyCar Series history, it was the 42nd due to engine problems, the 218th for Honda and the 24th for the #18.

The last time that David Malukas finished last was his debut race in IndyCar. It is safe to say he's improved since then. His immediate rebound was an 11th-place finish at Texas, and later strung together top-twelve finishes at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Belle Isle, Mid-Ohio and Toronto, putting himself firmly above Kyle Kirkwood in the Rookie of the Year hunt by summer. His real breakout, however, came at Gateway. Malukas made the Fast Twelve but started at the bottom of that group. He then steadily improved throughout the race and was able to challenge for the lead in the final segment of the race, eventually finishing second. Paired with finishes of 11th at Texas and eighth at Iowa, Malukas looked poised to be the second oval specialist in the DCR lineup next to teammate Takuma Sato.

However, Sato would leave the team at the end of the season and another rookie, Sting Ray Robb, took the #51 car. While Malukas is 24 days younger than Robb, he is now considered the veteran at Coyne with a full season of IndyCar under his belt. Initially, it seemed as though Malukas was living up to the billing. He followed a 10th at the season opener with a fourth at Texas, sitting sixth in the point standings after the race. However, Malukas and the team as a whole came down to earth after that, finishing no better than 19th over the remainder of the races up to this point. Robb fared no better, taking home back-to-back last-place finishes at Barber and the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Malukas came into Road America needing a solid result. He hails from the Chicagoland area, so Road America almost constitutes a home race for him and his family’s HMD Motorsports team that partners with Dale Coyne. Additionally, the last time that Malukas finished a race was Barber. He was collected in a Robb spin at the Indianapolis road course, was the first in a string of late crashes in the Indianapolis 500 and crashed coming to a restart in Detroit.

The one notable entry list change came out of the Ed Carpenter Racing stable. A mere three days after the Detroit race, ECR and driver Conor Daly said that they "mutually agreed to part ways," although it was probably a little less friendly than that. Speculation about the cause of the split ran from poor on-track performance to bad interpersonal relationships with the team. Whatever the reason, Daly was out. While Daly would soon pick up a drive with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in Travis Pastrana’s Nitrocross series, Carpenter announced only a day later that veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay would take over the #20 entry for the remainder of the season. After not being renewed by Andretti Autosport at the end of 2021, RHR drove a couple endurance races for the Chip Ganassi Cadillac team in IMSA and also ran full-time in the Superstar Racing Experience, finishing seventh in the point standings. He recently resurfaced in IndyCar, taking a one-off drive with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the Indianapolis 500. There, he piloted the #23 car to an 11th-place finish.

During practice, it seemed as though this would be the weekend Malukas needed to get his season back on track. He was second in first practice, coming within a tenth of session leader Alexander Rossi and a second-and-a-half ahead of Simon Pagenaud, the slowest car in the session. That was backed up by a strong fourth place in second practice, about four-tenths off Rossi and 1.7 seconds ahead of Agustin Canapino, the last car that made a lap at full pace.

Qualifying was the midpoint of the weekend and was also the midpoint of Malukas’ performance. He missed out on advancing to the second round of qualifying by a mere tenth-and-a-half, leaving Santino Ferrucci in and Malukas relegated to 13th.

Hunter-Reay would start last on Sunday. He was in the second group of knockout time trials and was in position to provisionally qualify somewhere in the 20th to 24th range. However, RHR went off-course in Turn 7 on his final flying lap, bringing out a red flag in the session. That resulted in a lap deletion penalty, with his next valid time two seconds off the rest of the field.

Last place changed hands quickly at the beginning of the race. Sixth-place starter Kyle Kirkwood got a little too impatient with Pato O’Ward in the opening corner of the race, nudging the Arrow McLaren driver from the outside lane into the runoff and spinning himself in the process. Kirkwood stalled the car and brought out a full course caution, although he was refired by the safety team in time to not lose a lap.

On the ensuing lap, most of the cars from 16th on back hit pit road. Robb, the slowest car in the first group of time trials and started 25th, dropped to last after the round of stops. Malukas was then listed as last as the field came to green the following laps. Malukas then passed Benjamin Pedersen on the opening lap of green-flag racing after the restart.

Pedersen qualified tenth, his best-ever IndyCar starting position. However, he was shoved into the grass in Turn 6 on the opening lap, before the caution for Kirkwood’s spin flew. What was a race with loads of promise turned into another uphill grind very early on. He fell 14 seconds back of the lead by the end of the fifth lap and looked to fall further behind until last place changed hands once again.

Augustin Canapino started 21st and was up five spots in the race before he lost control momentarily in Turn 14 on Lap 5, running through grass and gravel and falling back to last in the process. He was 16 seconds back of the lead, then 18, then 20 as Colton Herta took off and continued his pole-winning form.

Last place then changed hands for the sixth time in the opening ten laps as Felix Rosenqvist spun off the front wing of Rinus VeeKay in Turn 3 on Lap 8. Rosenqvist made a full loop in the grass, but managed to keep his car running and avoided causing a caution. He spent two laps chasing down Canapino before passing the Argentine, 26 seconds back of the lead on Lap 11.

During the following circuit, Romain Grosjean was running 17th when he got his left side tires in the grass between Turns 2 and 3, bringing his car into a spin. He wound up in the gravel trap and stalled his car, bringing out the day’s second caution. This time, the safety team was unable to get the Frenchman refired in time to keep him on the lead lap, pinning Grosjean as the only driver one lap down.

Jack Harvey's crew inspects the damaged front wing.

That would not stay that way for long. On the ensuing restart, Jack Harvey crashed. He was running 18th and accelerated to catch up to Helio Castroneves as they approached the final corner before the restart. However, Harvey came in with too much steam and swerved out of the way. He got the worst of both worlds, clipping Castroneves with his front wing and beaching his car in the gravel off Turn 14. Caution came out again, and this time Harvey would also be put a lap down before he rejoined the field. He hit pit road for immediate service, where the team performed a front wing change. On the Lap 18 restart, Harvey was behind Grosjean in the battle of lap-down cars. He did not make it past, and ran about two seconds behind for much of the next green-flag run.

The race’s fourth caution came before the halfway point on Lap 24. This time, Malukas parked his car on the outside of Turn 8, right before the carousel area of the racetrack. At first, IndyCar Radio speculated that he came in to hot and stalled the car, but Malukas eventually climbed out of the car while towing preparations were made. He was eventually dropped off at the IndyCar medical hauler and walked straight to his own hauler. The car arrived a handful of minutes later on the back of a tow truck operated by a local towing company. There were no visible marks on the outside of the car, meaning that whatever the problem was, it was entirely internal. 

The finish marked the eighth combined DNF for Coyne’s two cars this year, a far cry from where they were in 2022. DCR also currently leads the LASTCAR owners standing, with three of the seven last-place finishes so far this year, and its drivers hold the top two spots in the LASTCAR drivers standings.

The caution for Malukas was the last of the race, and Harvey and Grosjean remained one lap down at the end. Marcus Armstrong joined them in the lapped car club. The rookie Chip Ganassi Racing driver ran as high as second in the early goings before eventually falling off-sequence and fading to a lap down. Devlin DeFrancesco, who had a surprisingly good qualifying run in 12th, was the last car on the lead lap by the end of the race.

*The 2011 season is now the last time that the #18 never finished last in an odd-numbered year.
*Malukas is the first American driver to finish last in the #18 since Scott Mayer at Motegi on April 13, 2003. Seven different drivers - all from different countries - have finished last in the interim.

27) #18-David Malukas / 24 laps / engine
26) #30-Jack Harvey / 54 laps / running
25) #28-Romain Grosjean / 54 laps / running
24) #11-Marcus Armstrong / 54 laps / running
23) #29-Devlin DeFrancesco / 55 laps / running

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

1st) Honda (6)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)


Saturday, June 17, 2023

INDYCAR: Ferrucci’s breakout month continues at Road America

Ferrucci coming out of Turn 5 during second practice.
ALL PHOTOS: William Soquet, @WilliamSoquet

by William Soquet Staff Writer

On May 17th, Santino Ferrucci was third in Indianapolis 500 practice. On June 17th, he made the Fast Twelve at Road America, showcasing just how much of a breakout month it has been for the young driver from Connecticut.

While Ferrucci’s career was not on life support at the beginning of the 2023 season, he was not the hottest commodity in the IndyCar garage either. After an unamiable exit from Formula 2 midway through the 2018 season, Ferrucci landed at Dale Coyne Racing, piloting one of that team’s entries for both the '18 and '19 seasons. While the results were fine – a best finish of fourth, achieved four times – they weren’t the light the world on fire results that propelled Romain Grosjean from a DCR car to Andretti Autosport the following year.

Ferrucci then elected into dip his foot into stock car racing, going NASCAR XFINITY Series racing with Sam Hunt Racing for 2021. This occurred after rumors swirled that he would instead run with Our Motorsports. Running a string of four straight races in the spring, Ferrucci turned in three straight top-fifteen finishes. The success continued, as he signed with Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing to run an extra entry in the Indianapolis 500 and finished sixth. In a right place, right time moment, Ferrucci parlayed that into four extra races with the team as RLL looked to expand as a team in 2022.

Ultimately, Ferrucci lost that driver sweepstakes to Christian Lundgaard. Despite that, there were some positives in 2022. When Jack Harvey was injured in a practice crash at Texas, Ferrucci was the sub, reuniting with RLL. A ninth-place showing ensued, and a previously announced deal with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the Indianapolis 500 yielded a tenth-place finish, making Ferrucci two-for-two on the year. He solidified a reputation as a ‘super sub’ the next week, filling in for Callum Ilott at Detroit. Although a quiet 21st was the result, the name stuck in the minds of IndyCar team owners.

As the dust was settling from the 2022 season, Ferrucci was announced as the driver of A.J. Foyt Racing’s #14 entry for 2023 as his predecessor, Kyle Kirkwood, went to Andretti Autosport. That was complimented by Foyt inking former Chip Ganassi Racing engineer Michael Cannon just after the beginning of the year. It looked to be an uphill battle at first, as Kirkwood piloted the entry to a 24th-place finish in points in 2022. Ferrucci also had to become a veteran presence on the team as rookie Benjamin Pedersen was announced as teammate, replacing Dalton Kellett.

The early portions of the season went how many on the outside thought it would go. Both Foyt cars were caught up in the opening-lap melee at St. Petersburg, and a lackluster Texas race resulted in a 21st-place finish. Long Beach was the first glimmer of speed with an 11th-place finish, but the team struggled again at Barber and the Indianapolis road course.

It was not until Indianapolis 500 practice that Ferrucci really began to put the rest of the field on notice. After losing Tuesday’s practice due to rain, Wednesday was the debut day of practice and Ferrucci showed out, placing third on the overall speed charts. The speed stuck, as he put the #14 car in position to qualify for the Fast Twelve during Friday’s practice, and then did so on Saturday with a ninth-place effort in preliminaries.

The race was an even better affair, with the car growing stronger throughout the race. It culminated in a sequence with under 50 laps to go in which the driver said “shall we lead some [laps]?” to the team via radio and then proceeded to take control of the race. While a slow final pit stop brought him a handful of spots down in the running order, a few late-race cautions enabled Ferrucci to get back within striking distance of the lead. While he would ultimately settle for third on the one-lap shootout that ended the race, it was the best performance by a Foyt car at Indianapolis and showed that with the right driver, track, and engineer, driver and team could most definitely shine.

Ferrucci in Turn 13 after a spin in second practice.

The question then became whether A.J. Foyt Racing could continue that kind of form at a track not named Indianapolis. To the outside observer, the immediate answer seemed to be no. Ferrucci and teammate Pedersen were both three laps down by the end of the Detroit street race, finishing ahead of only one other running car. Even with that result, Ferrucci sat 16th in points after Detroit, eight positions ahead of where his car finished 2022 and ten positions ahead of Pedersen.

This Road America weekend started off on somewhat of a positive note, as Ferrucci slotted in 13th on the overall speed charts. Despite going for a spin and stalling the car in Turn 12 midway through the practice session, he ended sixth in overall speed, which boded well for qualifying.

Running in the first group, Ferrucci was sitting on a provisional second for much of the session before a torrent of drivers clocked fast laps at the end of the session. Despite that, he and Pedersen both made it through to the Fast Twelve. It was the first time since 2018 that Foyt put both cars in the Fast Twelve at a non-oval track. 

Ferrucci will roll off 11th in the race, looking to cap off what has arguably been the best 31 days of his career.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

ARCA WEST: Recurring mechanical problems lead to early DNF for Huddleston

ALL PHOTOS: Ben Schneider, @bcschneider53

by Ben Schneider Staff Writer

Trevor Huddleston finished last for the 2nd time in his ARCA Menards Series West career in Friday’s General Tire 200 at Sonoma Raceway when his No. 50 High Point Racing/Racecar Factory Ford fell out with mechanical issues after completing 12 of 64 laps.

The finish came in Huddleston’s 58th career West Series start.

A longtime veteran of the West Series, Huddleston’s racing career began in Bandeleros and late models. He primarily raced at Irwindale Speedway, winning a track championship and making his debut in the then-NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2016 at Irwindale while driving the No. 22 car for Sunrise Ford Racing. In 2018, Huddleston joined the Sunrise Ford team full-time, finishing sixth in the championship and narrowly missing out on Rookie of the Year to Hailie Deegan.

The 2019 campaign served as a breakthrough season for Huddleston as he moved to the team’s No. 9 Ford and scored his first career West Series win at Irwindale, edging out Tanner Gray in a thrilling photo finish. Huddleston then scored a second win at Evergreen Speedway and improved to fourth in the final championship standings. Despite not making it back to Victory Lane in 2020, Huddleston, now in the team’s flagship No. 6 Ford, again placed fourth in the championship with seven top-five finishes. It was also this season when Huddleston picked up his first West Series last-place finish, suffering a suspension failure after 48 laps at the Las Vegas Bullring race that was notable for its winner, Gracie Trotter.

In 2021, Huddleston dropped back to sixth in the standings and inadvertently cost his Sunrise Ford teammate Jake Drew the series championship. On the final lap of the final race, Huddleston slowed down and allowed Jesse Love to pass him for 14th place, just enough for Love to beat Drew for the championship by one point. Replaced in the No. 6 by Drew, and with Tanner Reif taking over Drew’s No. 9 ride, Huddleston would spend the opening race of 2022 on the sidelines. He returned to the West Series at his home track of Irwindale for the second race of the year, scoring a sixth-place finish while driving the No. 50 Ford for his father Tim Huddleston’s High Point Racing team. Huddleston ran three races for High Point in '22, finishing seventh at Kern County Raceway Park and a season-best third in the series’ return to Irwindale later in the season.

High Point Racing took Huddleston’s No. 50 team full-time this season. While his best finish to date this season is a third-place run at Kern County, his strongest overall outing came at Irwindale, where he sat on the pole and led the first 72 laps before fading to a fourth-place finish. On Friday, however, mechanical issues would deny Huddleston the opportunity to build on those strong runs. 

Huddleston first encountered trouble on Lap 16, stalling his car on pit road and forcing the second caution of the race. The first had been for Reif, now driving for Bill McAnally Racing this season, who had shredded a tire after suffering a suspension issue in Turn 7. Reif, however, was able to rejoin the race after spending several laps in the garage, as was Sebastian Arias, who suffered mechanical issues of his own early on in the race. Both drivers completed a total of 55 laps and ended up 20th and 21st respectively.

With Reif and Arias back on track, Huddleston was suddenly in danger of falling to last place. His car stalled again shortly after the restart, forcing another caution on Lap 19. After taking the car behind the wall, Huddleston briefly rejoined the race on Lap 26, though by the time the race reached the halfway break, he was back in the garage and officially listed as OUT after completing a total of just 12 laps.

In all, 30 cars appeared on the initial entry list. Of the 29 entries that arrived at the track, only 28 took the green flag in the race. Rumors began swirling of a return for Bobby Hillis Jr.’s No. 27 car, though a revised copy of the entry list did not include the team, and Racing-Reference indicates the entry was a withdrawal. The No. 46 Lowden-Jackson Motorsports Ford, meanwhile, was originally believed to be entered for Kyle Sieg, who would pull double duty this weekend just as he did last week at Portland. Once Alex Labbe was announced as the driver for RSS Racing’s No. 29 XFINITY entry, however, Sieg elected to step away for the entire weekend, allowing Stefan Rzesnowiecky an opportunity to step into No. 46 entry. Unfortunately for Rzesnowiecky, he would not take the green flag either as a crew member reported that the car “spun a bearing” and was therefore unable to start the race.

Rzesnowiecky's car on jack stands in the garage before the race.

Following Huddleston up the running order was Eric Johnson Jr., who made his debut in last week’s West Series race at Portland. Johnson’s car came to a stop when his transmission failed in Turn 1 on Lap 32, leaving him with a disappointing 27th-place finish following last weekend’s top-ten. Ryan Philpott and XFINITY last-place finisher Parker Retzlaff were the next to join the garage, falling out with axle and electrical issues respectively after completing 36 and 37 laps. Both cars were pushed behind the wall at the same time. Takuma Koga rounded out the Bottom Five with axle issues of his own, edging out Philpott and Retzlaff by completing 39 laps.

At the front of the field, NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece took a dominating win driving a No. 9 entry fielded by his Cup team, Stewart-Haas Racing. The win serves as redemption for Preece, who nearly won this race four years ago but was relegated to a 20th-place finish after a late-race penalty for a restart violation. XFINITY Series regulars Sammy Smith and Riley Herbst followed in 2nd and 3rd, while Jack Wood and William Sawalich rounded out the Top Five. The highest-finishing West Series regular was Sean Hingorani, who placed 6th, allowing him to close the points gap to championship leader Landen Lewis, who finished 19th after sustaining crash damage.

29) #46-Stefan Rzesnowiecky

28) #50-Trevor Huddleston / 12 laps / mechanical
27) #19-Eric Johnson Jr. / 31 laps / transmission
26) #52-Ryan Philpott / 36 laps / axle
25) #02-Parker Retzlaff / 37 laps / electrical
24) #7-Takuma Koga / 39 laps / axle

1st) Ford (4)
2nd) Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Performance P-1 Motorsports, Lowden-Jackson Motorsports, Central Coast Racing, High Point Racing (1)


Sunday, June 11, 2023

XFINITY: Parker Retzlaff’s first last-place finish no indicator of Jordan Anderson Racing team’s efforts to return to the track

ALL PHOTOS: Brock Beard

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Parker Retzlaff scored the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Door Dash 250 at the Sonoma Raceway when his #31 Funkaway Chevrolet had transmission issues after 21 of 79 laps.

The finish came in Retzlaff’s 23rd series start. In the XFINTY Series rankings, it was the 5th for the #31, the 52nd from the transmission, and the 619th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 35th for the #31, the 174th from the transmission, and the 1,892nd for Chevrolet.

Just last year, the 19-year-old ARCA Menards East Series driver from Wisconsin made an immediate impression with only a part-time effort for RSS Racing. In his XFINITY debut at Phoenix, he qualified 6th, and was still running well before fuel pump issues. He returned at Richmond to finish 10th, and over the next three starts ran no worse than 17th, including a 12th on a brutally hot race in Nashville. This was also Retzlaff’s first race with Funkaway odor eliminators as sponsor, branding he brought with him to Our Motorsports, then this year to a full-time ride with Jordan Anderson Racing.

Coming into Sonoma, Retzlaff’s best finish of the year was his career-best 4th-place showing in this year’s Daytona opener, his first career Top Five in just his tenth series start. He’s since picked up a pair of top-ten finishes with a 7th at Talladega and 6th in Charlotte, all while incurring just a single DNF – a crash on the Atlanta superspeedway. Even mechanical issues in Las Vegas didn’t keep him from completing all but 14 laps of that race. 

I opening practice, Retzlaff ranked 18th, then claimed 10th in Qualifying Group 1B, securing the 16th starting spot with a lap of 89.549mph (80.001 seconds). He also ran Friday’s ARCA Menards Series West race at Sonoma, the General Tire 200. Driving for Tyler Young, Retzlaff started 7th and finished 25th of 28 starters, pushed behind the wall with electrical issues.

A strong entry list of 41 drivers were entered to contest the XFINITY Series’ 38-car grid, including seven full-time Cup drivers. In qualifying, the first of three sent home was Brennan Poole, whose JD Motorsports team brought out the same #6 Chevrolet from Portland – now sponsored by Eli Black Racing - including the slight nose damage that preceded their unexpected last-place finish in that race. Next was Leland Honeyman, a late driver swap into Emerling-Gase Motorsports’ #35 Rokform Chevrolet. Honeyman brought his sponsor over from Alpha Prime Racing, with whom he swapped driving roles with Brad Perez following a bout of food poisoning in Portland. Completing the group was Mason Filippi, whose #66 / Ford spun off the track near the end of qualifying as a car that was too tight in practice turned too loose in qualifying.

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was the #38 Ford of Joe Graf, Jr. Graf’s was one of four RSS Racing entries following the addition of the #29 Ford driven by Alex Labbe in place of an originally announced Kyle Sieg. All four made the show with Labbe qualifying an impressive 11th, his #29 a former RCR chassis which only carried limited sponsorship from Darren Dilley’s SCCA team Cheap Fast Racing on the lower quarter panel and TV panel.

Anthony Alfredo's primary car after practice crash (above),
the Portland car as his backup for Saturday (below).

The only driver sent to the rear was 37th-place Anthony Alfredo, who during Friday’s lone practice session, Alfredo suffered the weekend’s most serious accident. Entering Turn 1, the throttle stuck on Alfredo’s #78 Dude Wipes Chevrolet, sending him hard into the concrete barriers with the right side. The car then skidded through the dirt, slipped right, and stopped against a tire barrier. The entire right side sheet metal was stripped down to the roll cage, but Alfredo walked away without serious injury. The B.J. McLeod Motorsports crew then unloaded their backup – Alfredo’s car from his 21st-place showing last Saturday in Portland, complete #with tire marks and a dented panel behind the right-front wheel. The crew managed to pull out the dents and present the car on Saturday, but the tire marks remained as Alfredo claimed 37th alongside Graf.

When Saturday’s green flag dropped, Alfredo started to the inside of Graf in Turn 11, and the #78 began to draw away coming to the green. Coming around to complete the first lap, Graf had fallen at least five carlengths back of Alfredo, who now set to work on 36th-place Dylan Lupton in the #43 Lupton Excavation Inc. Chevrolet. On Lap 7, Graf ran wide in Turn 11 while Alfredo remained stuck behind Lupton, who now worked to the inside of teammate Jeffrey Earnhardt in the #45 Forever Lawn Chevrolet. By then, Earnhardt had suffered damage to the right-front corner of his car’s nose. After Lupton cleared Earnhardt, Alfredo got under Earnhardt on Lap 9, dropping the #45 back to 37th as Graf closed in from last. Graf’s deficit grew on Lap 14, when he spun in Turn 4 and continued without a caution. This put him into the clutches of a fast-closing Kyle Larson, whose #17 Chevrolet put Graf the first car one lap down off Turn 11.

Graf remained in last place when the first caution fell on Lap 22. Josh Berry’s #8 Tire Pros Chevrolet lost power going into Turn 7 and stalled coming out of the corner, ultimately needing a push. After a truck arrived, Berry coasted onto pit road with the engine still shut off, only to stall in the middle of pit lane as others came in for service. Somehow, the field avoided contact, and Berry was soon brought to his stall for service, taking last on Lap 23. But he wasn’t alone. At least two other cars were in for lengthy stops. One was Connor Mosack, whose #24 Toyota wasn’t the one with which he finished 8th last week in Portland. As Mosack returned, Parker Retzlaff was still in his own stall with a transmission issue. The crew called for tools, reading off measurements of specific nuts and bolts, and by Lap 25 had fallen to last as Berry returned to the track. Soon after came the call: “Shut it off,” said Retzlaff’s team. “Push it to the garage.”

By Lap 29, Retzlaff’s car was on jack stands behind its hauler in the paddock. The #31 transporter was third from the end on the first bank of trailers, near an open space where traffic could make a left turn and reach the remaining half of the XFINITY grid. “Put a transmission in it,” said the crew, which was soon joined by team owner Jordan Anderson. With some assistance, Retzlaff climbed from the car, but kept his helmet on. On Lap 30, the team re-fired the engine, but shut it off when the rear wheels wouldn’t turn. Aiming to repair the transmission instead of replacing it, they tried again on Lap 35, and this time the wheels turned slowly, so the car came off the jack stands. Retzlaff climbed back behind the wheel and fired the engine on Lap 36.

Josh Williams (white uniform) sets to work helping the DGM crew.

At that exact moment, Josh Williams pulled into the garage with the right-front wheel of his #92 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet tilted inward at a steep angle. Williams made it past Retzlaff’s car, but couldn’t complete the left-hand turn to his hauler on the other side of the garage and had to back up. By then, Retzlaff himself backed up and tried to return to the track, but the car only moved at a snail’s pace. After several attempts to get rolling again, Retzlaff shut off the engine and was pushed back to his hauler, putting him back on jack stands to complete a full transmission swap. 

Meanwhile, Williams’ crew had removed the right-front wheel of the #92 and set to work on the suspension, the hood up for a reported power steering issue. The car also had minor damage to the right-front corner and the right-rear bumper. Williams himself then climbed from the car, then ran to the hauler to retrieve something and returned to continue the work on Lap 39. On Lap 42, the Williams crew bolted on the right-front wheel and re-fired the engine, only to shut it off once more. The crew then retrieved some zip ties and focused their attention on something on the front of the engine. After another round of tightening the right-front lug nuts, Williams fired the engine on Lap 45, and this time returned to the track.

Alfredo rushes into the garage area.

On Lap 47, Retzlaff’s crew had tools and parts scattered everywhere, still determined to complete their transmission swap in time. An instant later, Anthony Alfredo’s Portland car rushed into the garage and sped around the corner, unhindered by the suspension issue that affected Williams. Back on the other side of the hauler bank, Alfredo climbed from his car on Lap 49 and removed his helmet. On Lap 51, the message was relayed by the team to NASCAR officials that they were done for the day, “78 out, suspension.” Shortly after, Alfredo completed work on a research study on driver health, then spoke about what put them out:

“We just had a mechanical failure. Unfortunately. It sucks because yesterday we totaled the car when the throttle stuck going into Turn 1 on our fourth lap of practice. And then right there in (this) situation we just had a right-front mechanical issue. Just part of it, I guess, sometimes. But the last eight weeks have been literally miserable. Honestly, there's no better way to describe it. Our team has showed speed - the same speed we had at the start of the year - but we don't have the finishes to back it up. So, it's disappointing because I felt like we could accomplish some amazing things this year. And I know there’s a lot of racing left. But man, these guys have to work way too hard. Just seems like every week we have some sort of crazy thing happen that's out of our control. . . I hate that for our sponsors, for our crew. But man, God’s got a plan. At this point, I'm gonna stop questioning it and just try to trust it, because it's the only thing we could do.”

Back on the other side of the garage, Retzlaff’s crew was as busy as ever, but was rapidly running out of time. By Lap 58, they were 23 laps behind the now-retired Alfredo, who had just dropped to 37th behind the running Williams, and now had just 21 laps left in regulation. Even if Retzlaff returned to the track immediately, it was unlikely he’d gain even one position. As the crew continued, I spoke to Retzlaff as he stood by in the hauler.

“We’re not sure yet. We think it’s something with the transmission on the inside of it broke. We're not sure. . .There was nothing until I went up the hill and it broke and I couldn’t downshift. I couldn’t do anything. There was nothing there. . .The guys are working hard to try and fix it and see if we can go back some more laps in this race and learn more before the next road course race. But I'm just thankful for everyone on this Funkaway 31 team. We were really good. We were running like 12th or something there before it broke. So, we’re moving forward, gaining a lot of speed, and we'll continue to get better.”

Even with the last-place finish, Retzlaff’s percentage of laps completed remains an impressive 96.3% after 14 rounds.

It wasn’t until Lap 71 – just eight laps to go – that Retzlaff’s crew declared themselves out with transmission issues. Williams only climbed to 35th, passing Jeffrey Earnhardt, whose #45 suffered even more damage in a late-race off-course incident. Williams then returned to the garage on Lap 76, declared out with suspension trouble three laps short of the finish. Completing the Bottom Five was Earnhardt’s other Alpha Prime teammate Sage Karam, who had transmission problems of his own on the #44 Quality Roof Seamers / Tough Guard Chevrolet.

Taking the win was Cup regular Aric Almirola, who was entered in a Stewart-Haas Racing chassis from Riley Herbst's fleet under the RSS Racing banner. The result was the first win for the Sieg family's team after 11 years in the series.

Brad Perez (center) with Brock Beard and Ben Schneider,
two of the three writers at

Brad Perez carries LASTCAR logos to 29th place at Sears Point

A special thank you to Brad Perez, who carried logos for on the b-pillars of his #53 Apex Coffee Roasters Toyota this weekend! When Leland Honeyman's deal to drive the #35 at Emerling-Gase Motorsports came together late this week, Perez' equipment had to be swapped into a Toyota, which was the only other car the team had ready. After wrapping the #53 Supra in graphics designed for a Chevrolet, Perez qualified 31st for Saturday's race and finished 29th, locked in a tight battle for position that continued across the finish line. 

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #31 in a XFINITY Series race since August 16, 2008, when Kenny Hendrick’s #31 Chevrolet – entered by Stanton Barrett – had ignition issues after 1 lap of the Carfax 250 at Michigan.

38) #31-Parker Retzlaff / 21 laps / transmission
37) #78-Anthony Alfredo / 44 laps / suspension
36) #45-Jeffrey Earnhardt / 59 laps / crash
35) #92-Josh Williams / 60 laps / suspension
34) #44-Sage Karam / 71 laps / transmission

1st) Big Machine Racing, CHK Racing, JD Motorsports, SS-Green Light Racing (2)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Emerling-Gase Motorsports, Jordan Anderson Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)