Saturday, June 3, 2023

XFINITY: Brake issues and turn into Portland’s garage area cut Brennan Poole’s race short

PHOTO: Eric Estepp, @EricEstepp17

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Brennan Poole picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Pacific Office Automation 147 at the Portland International Raceway when his #6 Cascade West Development, Inc. Chevrolet fell out in a crash after 15 of 77 laps.

The finish, which came in Poole’s 106th series start, was his first of the season and first in a XFINITY Series race since April 8, 2022 at Martinsville, 39 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 19th for the #6, the 380th from a crash, and the 618th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 70th for the #6, the 1,335th from a crash, and the 1,890th for Chevrolet.

Last year, Poole nearly secured the 2022 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship, but only from the two last-place runs he earned with Mike Harmon Racing early in the season. After taking the place of Ryan Vargas in JD Motorsports’ #6 through the season’s final few races, he earned better finishes, including a 14th in Homestead. Ultimately, teammate Bayley Currey took the title in the final moments of the Phoenix championship race.

With Macc Door Systems, a sponsor from his Truck Series team owner Tim Viens, Poole became the full-time driver of the #6. He’s since run best on the superspeedways, taking 13th in Atlanta and 5th in Talladega, only twice failing to finish in the first 12 rounds of the season. In an intriguing bit of historical context, Colby Evans reported Poole's car for Portland would be the last car Morgan Shepherd entered at Darlington in May 2020. The JD Motorsports team had helped Shepherd after a wreck at Texas, and the car was subsequently resold after Shepherd stopped operating his team.

In opening practice at Portland, Poole ranked 28th of the 38 entrants for as many spots. The session was led by current LASTCAR XFINTY Series championship leader Parker Kligerman, who less than a week after his issues in Charlotte looked fast in his #48 Big Machine Racing Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. While Kligerman was one of several drivers to run off-course in Turn 11 in qualifying, placing him 14th, Poole then ran 14th of the 19 drivers in Qualifying Round 1B, which secured him the 26th starting spot with a best of three laps at 92.561mph (76.620 seconds).

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was Stefan Parsons, who during practice had smoke pouring from under the hood of his #07 Lanphere Auto Group Chevrolet. Parsons’ team had to change engines, making his one of twelve drivers sent to the back for pre-race penalties – nearly one-third of the entire field. 

The other eleven – including 14th-place Kligerman – were penalized for unapproved adjustments: 2nd-place Cole Custer in the #00 Haas Automation Ford, 17th-place Anthony Alfredo in the #78 Dude Wipes Chevrolet, 20th-place Jeremy Clements in the #51 Spartan Waste / Fox Sports 98.3 Chevrolet, 27th-place Blaine Perkins who in practice slid off Turn 5 in the #02 Our Motorsports Chevrolet, 28th-place Josh Williams in the #92 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet, 29th-place Patrick Emerling in the unsponsored #53 Emerling-Gase Motorsports Chevrolet, 33rd-place Joe Graf Jr. in the Ford, 35th-place Garrett Smithley in the #4 Chevrolet, 36th-place Sam Mayer after a Turn 10 practice spin in his #1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet, and 37th-place Brandon Jones, whose #9 Menards / Schultz Potting Soil Chevrolet suffered minor damage in a practice incident.

When the race started, Emerling and Parsons were in the final row, but ahead of two other drivers who had dropped to the rear: Jeffrey Earnhardt, who was set to start 31st in the #45 ForeverLawn Chevrolet, crossed the stripe 8.489 seconds back of the lead ahead of Mason Maggio, slated to be 34th in Motorsports Business Management’s #66 HMS Commercial Service Toyota, 9.71 back of the lead. The first trip through the chicane saw Connor Mosack overdrive the entry in his #24 Open Eyes Toyota, also damaging Chandler Smith’s #16 Quick Tie Products, Inc. Chevrolet, but both continued well ahead of last place.

Sammy Smith, the16th-place starter, had in practice broken the shifter on his #18 Pilot / Flying J Toyota, and apparently still had issues at the start. As the leaders completed the first lap, he pitted and immediately took over last, waiting as a crew member climbed through the passenger window. Smith returned to the track 63.442 seconds back of the lead and 45.738 back of 37th-place Maggio, only to incur a pit road speeding penalty in Sections 2 and 3. This brought Smith down pit road a second time on Lap 3, putting him a lap down to the leaders. Maggio remained well ahead of Smith despite spinning his #66 on Lap 8, but this allowed the leaders to catch and lap Maggio on Lap 13, taking the Lucky Dog from Sammy Smith. As the race remained under green, Smith’s crew told him to continue running smooth, that he would soon catch Maggio.

On Lap 17, Smith was still in last place when Poole found trouble in Turn 12. Heading into the hard right-hander in 23rd place, Poole lost the brakes and pulled straight, causing him to nose into the outside wall. The FS1 broadcast showed Poole’s car still under power and backed away from the fence with only minor damage to the top of the hood of his #6. Poole then cut across the track and made it onto pit road, where he immediately pulled behind the wall at the first entrance. NASCAR then radioed, “6 to the garage, DVP,” which caused immediate confusion among Poole’s JD Motorsports crew.

“We're done, by the way. They just called DVP on us.”

“What happened?”

“They called DVP on us, we're done.” 

“For what?” 

“I don't know, they called DVP. I thought it was only under caution.”

While the lack of competitive pit stops meant there was not a “Crash Clock” timing crash repairs on pit road, the “Damaged Vehicle Policy” was still otherwise in effect. This time, a driver still had three laps to reach minimum speed. And so, when Poole pulled behind the wall, it was treated the same as Joey Logano at Watkins Glen in 2018 or Aric Almirola at Bristol in 2019, where going behind the wall immediately after receiving even minor damage ended their day. By Lap 18, as Poole’s crew remarked they could smell brake fluid, Poole took last from Smith, who had still yet to take 37th from Maggio.

Maggio would ultimately get the Lucky Dog before Smith, though transmission issues would send the #66 behind the wall, putting him 36th. Taking 37th was Stefan Parsons, whose new engine overheated after 17 laps, leaving him stopped on the track and drawing the race’s first caution. Completing the Bottom Five were Parker Chase, who was recovering from an early spin in the #35 Ontivity Toyota before mechanical issues, and Kyle Sieg, who had a rear gear issue on his unsponsored #28 RSS Racing Ford. The overtime finish had just dropped Sieg into the Bottom Five after Daniel Hemric returned from an engine fire on his #11 Cirkul Chevrolet to turn another 27 laps, moving Hemric from 36th to 33rd.

Mosack earns first top-ten finish

After the damage suffered to his left-front fender that first time through the chicane, Connor Mosack responded with a strong 8th-place finish, yielding his first top-ten finish in only his eighth series start. His previous best was a 15th at Watkins Glen last summer. Also running strong was Brad Perez, who took over for Leland Honeyman at the first caution due to food poisoning. Perez was up to 16th in the final laps and the #43 Rockform Chevrolet was around 13th when Perez struck the tire barrier on Turn 12 coming to the checkered flag, leaving him 28th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #6 in a XFINITY Series race since May 21, 2022, when Ryan Vargas had engine issues after 21 laps around Texas. It’s the first for the #6 in a XFINITY road course since July 3, 2021 with Spencer Pumpelly at Road America.

38) #6-Brennan Poole / 15 laps / crash
37) #07-Stefan Parsons / 17 laps / overheating
36) #66-Mason Maggio / 28 laps / transmission
35) #35-Parker Chase / 36 laps / tie rod
34) #28-Kyle Sieg / 46 laps / rear gear

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

1st) Chevrolet (9)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


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