Saturday, July 29, 2023

TRUCKS: Josh Reaume clears “Crash Clock” in final laps as all starters complete Richmond Truck race for a second-straight year

PHOTO: Reaume Brothers Racing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Josh Reaume picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in Saturday’s Worldwide Express 250 at the Richmond Raceway when his #34 Motorsports Safety Group Ford finished under power, 11 laps down, completing 239 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Reaume’s 74th series start, was his second of the season and first since Las Vegas, 14 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 8th from a driver still running, the 10th for the #34, and the 121st for Ford. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 52nd while running, the 56th for the #34, and the 1,015th for Ford.

The Reaume Brothers Racing team continues to try and make ends meet after a series of setbacks. Following a costly shop fire over the offseason, co-driver Keith McGee made the unexpected decision to return home to his family in Alaska, opening the team’s second entry, the #34. While this opened the door for developing racers like Mason Maggio, Stephen Mallozzi, and Caleb Costner, the team’s flagship #33 has failed to qualify for four races with the #34 missing another three. But the #33 has only failed to finish just one of the races it has started this year, yielding a season-best 11th in Texas with Mason Massey driving.

For Richmond, Josh Reaume himself would run the #34, which was last entered in Nashville. This opened the #33 for newcomer Derek Lemke, a late model racer who also performs public relations and marketing for fellow racer Natalie Decker. While Reaume’s 35th-best lap in practice out-ranked Lemke, Lemke out-qualified Reaume in time trials, taking 31st while Reaume took 36th and last with a lap of 112.341mph (24.034 seconds).  

Reaume and Lemke were among the 38 drivers entered for 36 starting spots. Failing to qualify were both Trey Hutchens, whose #14 Quality Roof Seamers Chevrolet failed to qualify for the second of its three attempts this season, its first DNQ since Nashville, along with Memphis Villareal in G2G Racing’ #46 Zoe Freedom / Eco Pile Toyota, sponsors soon joined by Michael Waltrip’s brewery. The #46 was originally entered with Jerry Bohlman, whose marine construction firm was advertised on the lower quarter-panels. It was Bohlman who in his only previous attempt failed to qualify at the Bristol Dirt Race due to a pressure plate failure that kept him from starting Heat Race #3. In practice, Bohlman hit the wall, incurring minor damage, so crew member Memphis Villareal was called on to try and qualify the truck. Villareal missed the cut with the slowest lap of the session, 2.139 seconds off the pole and seven-tenths off Hutchens’ lap.

Reaume was also one of three sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments, including 17th-place Carson Hocevar in the #42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet and 34th-place starter Justin S. Carroll in the #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota. A lengthy delay due to a lightning hold meant two other trucks needed a push off pit road: 29th-place Will Rodgers in the #02 Chevrolet and 35th-place Christian Rose in the #22 Secure Testing Services Ford. Rodgers’ crew got a push to his pit stall while the team called for a replacement battery, and would become the fourth to drop to the tail end.

When the race started, Reaume resumed his spot in 36th place, but on Lap 5 dropped Justin S. Carroll to last. Carroll then set back after Reaume, the crew telling him, “You and him right now” on Lap 10. By Lap 18, Carroll had caught both Reaume and Lemke, then cut low in a daring three-wide pass on them both. He completed the move, climbing to 34th with Lemke now just behind Reaume in last place. Lemke was first to lose a lap on the 22nd circuit, then lost a second by the 39th. On Lap 50, the spot fell to Spencer Boyd in the #12 Latitude Aero Chevrolet. From there, Boyd’s spotter advised him to diamond the corners for faster lap times, but the truck was pushing badly in the center of the corner, and it was believed the right-front was worn down to the cords. When the Stage 1 caution fell on Lap 71, Boyd relayed that he locked his left-front at the start, then had to use more and more wheel until the front of his truck began to bounce.

Mason Massey (center-left) behind the wall.
PHOTO: @jackf_twt

On Lap 77, Lemke took over last place, followed by Reaume on Lap 78. Reaume’s team was now having radio issues and had to switch to Channel 2. Reaume remained last until Lap 113, when apparent contact from Hailie Deegan sent Dean Thompson spinning out of the Top 10 in his #5 Thompson Pipe Group Toyota. Thompson continued without damage, but the delay in turning around and subsequent pit stop dropped him three laps down. The next time by, Thompson climbed to 34th ahead of Boyd and Reaume, who had just pitted. Boyd was instructed by NASCAR to stop and let his field roll past, putting him back to last, four laps down. When the Lap 141 caution fell to end Stage 2, Boyd was still last, now five laps down.

On Lap 144, Boyd was told he would finish the race on 12-lap scuffed tires from practice. At the same time, Mason Massey pulled behind the wall in his #20 Brunt Chevrolet, stopping just behind the entrance. The issue appeared to be either the brakes or a stuck throttle as the crew had him mash the pedals, then shut off the engine and re-fire. On Lap 147, just moments after returning to pit road, Massey took last from Boyd. By the time Massey was back up to speed, he was seven laps down, two behind 35th-place Reaume and three behind 34th-place Boyd. Once again, all 36 starters were still running.

With 77 to go, Reaume bounced off the wall in Turn 1 and slowed, but didn’t draw the caution as he came to pit road with sparks dragging beneath his Ford. He retook last from Massey two laps later, and five laps after that returned to the track a full 10 laps down. One lap after this, with 71 to go, Reaume cleared the “Crash Clock” by reaching minimum speed. With 29 to go, he beat Nick Leitz’ track record of a year earlier by turning his 210th lap as the Richmond race’s last-place finisher. While multiple drivers incurred pit road penalties in the final green-flag run, including several who NASCAR threatened to stop scoring for not serving them, no other driver contested Reaume for last place. He took the checkered flag 11 laps down, one lap behind Boyd, two behind Massey, three behind Lemke, and four behind Christian Rose.

Mills follows through in KBM effort

The win went to Carson Hocevar, who along with Reaume was sent to the tail end of the field before the start. Finishing a strong 5th in his first start for Kyle Busch Motorsports was XFINITY Series underdog Matt Mills, who had never finished better than 15th in 20 previous Truck Series starts, and has only once finished in the Top Ten in 121 XFINITY races.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #34 in a Truck Series race at Richmond, and the second in a row where the entire field finished under power.

36) #34-Josh Reaume / 239 laps / running
35) #12-Spencer Boyd / 240 laps / running
34) #20-Mason Massey / 242 laps / running
33) #33-Derek Lemke / 243 laps / running
32) #22-Christian Rose / 244 laps / running

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) G2G Racing (3)
2nd) AM Racing, Niece Motorsports, TRICON Garage, Young’s Motorsports (2)
3rd) CR7 Motorsports, GK Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Ford (6)
2nd) Chevrolet, Toyota (5)


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