Sunday, October 25, 2020

TRUCKS: Tim Viens’ “Trump Truck” scores first last-place finish in opening laps of physical Texas race

PHOTO: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Tim Viens picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Sunday’s 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #49 Trump 2020 Chevrolet was involved in a single-truck accident after 29 of 152 laps.

The finish came in Viens’ 14th series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 2nd for the #49, the 162nd from a crash, and the 397th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 59th for the #49, the 1,232nd from a crash, and the 1,752nd for Chevrolet.

The 44-year-old driver from Vermont has followed an interesting path into NASCAR. In 2015, he made two one-off starts for Mike Harmon Racing – first in Trucks at Dover, finishing 23rd, and then XFINITY at Homestead, taking 33rd. At the time, he’d only been a part-timer in the ARCA Menards Series, where in 2014 he made half the season’s 20 races, but driving for the underfunded Roger Carter and Wayne Peterson teams, finished under power twice and no better than 20th.

While he’s since run another pair of starts for Harmon at Talladega and in the summer race at Daytona, finishing 36th and 18th, Viens’ focus has been on the Truck Series. He carried backing from the Patriots First of America PAC, which has run advertisements for the re-election of President Trump on some of Harmon’s XFINITY cars and nearly all of Viens’ Truck Series entries. Incidentally, this was separate from the Patriots of America PAC, which has put similar “Trump / Pence 2020” logos on both Corey LaJoie and Timmy Hill’s cars in the Cup Series.

This year, Viens and Patriots First had initially signed with Mike Affarano’s #03 team, a single-truck organization which hadn’t successfully qualified for a race since last year at Eldora. This issue would continue to plague the team as they withdrew from the season opener at Daytona, where during the President’s visit, Viens was interviewed in front of Harmon’s PAC-sponsored #47 Chevrolet, which that week was driven by Joe Nemechek. Back at the Affarano team, the #03 was on the wrong side of the cut line when NASCAR cancelled qualifying as part of their COVID-19 protocol, then was withdrawn from a guaranteed spot at Homestead due to multiple issues in technical inspection. Frustrated, Viens parted ways with Affarano effective immediately, taking his backing with him.

Viens then landed at CMI Motorsports, which had withdrawn one of his entries from Homestead. This occurred following the reaction to team owner Ray Ciccarelli’s comments criticizing NASCAR’s recent string of unilateral decisions in response to influences outside the sport, including Anthem protests and the banning of the Confederate battle flag. It was with CMI that Viens was then able to make his first start of the year the next round at Pocono, finishing 29th, then started running the PAC’s “Trump / Pence 2020” graphics package at Kentucky. In August, when the second CMI truck began carrying similar “Back The Blue” logos to Mike Harmon’s #47 team, both trucks and Viens were featured in a rap video by Forgiato Blow and Bryson Gray.

Texas would mark Viens’ ninth start in the “Trump / Pence 2020” paint job, which since Kentucky has switched between both CMI’s #49 and #83. In those nine starts, Viens has failed to finish five times, including Las Vegas, where he was flagged off the track for not maintaining minimum speed. He’s also worked with three different crew chiefs: Tim Silva, Wes Hopkins, and Matt Cooper, who would lead the team at Texas. Viens drew the 33rd starting spot for Sunday’s race.

Rolling off 37th and last was Trey Hutchens, who was making just his third start of the year and first since Michigan, ten races ago. Vytal Studios came on to sponsor his #14 Chevrolet. With no drivers dropping to the rear at the start, Hutchens held last at the start, then by Lap 2 worked his way past Norm Benning in the #6 H&H Transport Chevrolet. Benning, who was 11.12 seconds back of the lead on Lap 3, a second-and-a-half back of the next truck in line, appeared to be the first to lose a lap during the opening laps.

With nine to go in Stage 1, Benning was now two laps down along with Josh Reaume in the #33 Colonial Countertops Toyota, and Viens was now 35th, one lap down. Viens lost his second lap by five to go, but with three to go apparently lost a right-front tire and pounded the outside wall in Turn 3. With Viens stopped on the apron, the first stage ended under caution, and the #49 was out of the race. Ciccarellis finished 22nd.

Hutchens ultimately made it just 36 laps before he fell out with ignition problems, leaving him 36th. Clay Greenfield took 35th after a scary accident in Turns 1 and 2 where his #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota hit the outside barrier, then briefly caught fire as he hit the inside wall. A track bar issue dropped Ryan Truex back to 34th in the #40 Marquis Chevrolet while Tate Fogleman rounded out the Bottom Five, his #02 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet crashing out in the caution after Greenfield’s wreck.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #49 in a Truck Series race since August 16 of this year, when Roger Reuse’s #49 Belimo / Chevrolet had clutch issues before the start of the Sunoco 159 at the Daytona Infield Road Course.

37) #49-Tim Viens / 29 laps / crash
36) #14-Trey Hutchens / 36 laps / ignition
35) #68-Clay Greenfield / 42 laps / crash
34) #40-Ryan Truex / 49 laps / suspension
33) #02-Tate Fogleman / 51 laps / crash

1st) Reaume Brothers Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports (3)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Norm Benning Racing, ThorSport Racing (2)
4th) FDNY Racing, Halmar Friesen Racing, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Spencer Davis Motorsports, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Ford (5)
3rd) Toyota (3)


Saturday, October 24, 2020

XFINITY: Timmy Hill sets up LASTCAR battle with Stephen Leicht; Brown, Vargas, Martins, and Currey enjoy career-best runs

PHOTO: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Timmy Hill picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #13 Toyota fell out with engine issues after 6 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 212th series start, was his third of the season and first since Richmond, six races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 9th for the #13, the 144th for Toyota, and the 265th for engine woes. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 34th for the #13, the 350th for Toyota, and the 1,095th from an engine.

It had been an eventful week for Hill, who on Friday announced that his wife Lucy is expecting a baby boy in March of next year. He’d then head to Texas, scene of his iRacing Pro Invitational Series win over William Byron on March 29. Preorders of the 1:24-scale version of the #66 had just been sent out to buyers this same week. would sponsor Hill for his double-duty effort in Fort Worth, both on his #66 Cup car and #13 XFINITY entry from Motorsports Business Management. Since his last-place run at Richmond, he’d finished 19th or better in three of those five starts with a best of 14th at Talladega.

On top of this, Hill was also one of six drivers still mathematically in contention for the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship if they finished last in all three of the remaining races this year. The others were fellow two-time last-place finishers Kody Vanderwal, Joe Graf, Jr., Brandon Jones, Michael Annett, and Kyle Weatherman. Hill rolled off 25th on Saturday.

Weatherman rolled off 36th and last in Mike Harmon Racing’s #47 FWPDA Chevrolet. While two teams twice failed pre-race inspection, neither 11th-place Brett Moffitt in the #02 Golden Fox Footwear Chevrolet nor 16th-place Jeremy Clements in the #51 Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet Chevrolet were sent to the rear after both passed a third time. Both will, however, lose their pit stall selection for next Saturday’s Martinsville event. Just before the start, one driver did drop to the rear – 32nd-place Jesse Iwuji, whose #99 Notable Live Chevrolet was sponsored by Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.

When the race started, Weatherman pulled ahead of Iwuji, who by Lap 3 was 1.077 seconds back of new 35th-place driver Kody Vanderwal in the #52 A-1 Performance Warehouse Chevrolet. Vanderwal was himself losing touch with the rest of the field, and on Lap 5 trailed the #78 Surface Wise / Sci Aps Toyota 35th-place C.J. McLaughlin by 2.386 seconds. Timmy Hill abruptly entered the last-place picture on Lap 8, when he took over last from Iwuji and promptly went a lap down. The #13 went behind the wall, the crew saying they were “not sure what we’re gonna do.” A broken crankshaft was the issue, and NASCAR confirmed him as the first car out on Lap 33.

With the finish, the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship will come down to Hill and Stephen Leicht. Hill’s only path to the title is to finish last in both the season’s final rounds at Martinsville and Phoenix. If Hill does not finish last next Saturday, Leicht will take the title, even if he doesn’t start any more races this season.

Taking 35th was David Starr, whose #07 Chasco / Steely Lumber Chevrolet lost an engine after 40 laps, pulling to the apron after his car erupted with white smoke off Turn 2. Chad Finchum, driving in place of Leicht, took 34th with fuel pump issues on the #66 Garrison Homes Toyota, followed by Austin Hill in the MBM / Hattori effort. Austin Hill had been advised at least twice by NASCAR that one of his rear tires was rubbing. One tire blew, forcing him to pit road, and he ultimately dropped out with suspension issues on the #61 AISIN Group Toyota. Rounding out the group was Riley Herbst, whose #18 Monster Energy Toyota nosed into the inside wall down the backstretch.

Overshadowed by the last-lap pass Harrison Burton pulled on Noah Gragson were several stunning performances by the series’ underdogs.

Just weeks after he was eliminated from Playoff contention when he was forced off into a muddy puddle on the Charlotte “Roval,” Brandon Brown scored the first top-five finish of his career, taking 5th in his #68 Jabs Construction Chevrolet. The finish came in his 84th series start and improved on his career-best 6th in the July 2019 race at Daytona. Brown had been in and around the Top 10 for most of the race, and in the final laps held off the high-powered JR Motorsports entry of Michael Annett by 0.226 of a second.

Taking 8th in only his 10th series start was 19-year-old Ryan Vargas, whose growing fan base gained even more attention when the TikTok app joined him as sponsor of Johnny Davis’ #6 Chevrolet back at Talladega. This was also the best finish of the year for JD Motorsports’ #6 team, whose previous best was an 11th by B.J. McLeod in the June race at Bristol. Vargas reached the 9th spot by six laps to go in Saturday’s race, then on the final lap caught and passed Josh Williams’ #92 Allow Employer Services Chevrolet, edging him for the spot by 0.065 of a second. Williams’ 9th-place finish continues a strong late-season charge for he and the DGM team. It’s his third top-ten finish in the last four races, leaving out only a 34th on the “Roval,” where he also ran strong for the first 36 laps before a crash.

Tommy Joe Martins has endured every possible misfortune in his continuing fight to develop his owner-driver operation Martins Motorsports, first in Trucks and now in XFINITY. It was at this same Texas track in the summer that the #44 Chevrolet began to improve, taking a 15th-place finish to match their run at Talladega. He ran 13th on the Daytona infield road course, and 14th just last week in Kansas. On Saturday, Martins moved up to 11th on Lap 62, held 14th at the end of Stage 2, and reached as high as 8th on Lap 179. With three laps to go, he passed Alex Labbe for the 10th spot and was pulling away from him all the way to the checkered flag, the final gap at 2.701 seconds. The result is Martins’ first top-ten finish in 87 series starts, improving on his breakout 11th-place run at Iowa in 2017.

Further back, Bayley Currey took 8th in Stage 1, continuing to build on Mike Harmon Racing’s breakout season in the #74 Hull Supply Chevrolet. After an up-and-down day that saw him fall off the lead lap, then out of the Top 20, Currey charged back near the finish, taking 12th, just 0.542 of a second from passing Labbe for 11th on the final lap. This was Currey’s career-best XFINITY finish – the third time he’s accomplished this in 2020 alone. His previous marks were an 18th at both Charlotte and Atlanta, then a 14th on the Daytona infield road course.

Both Currey and Martins were nearly collected in one of the day’s biggest accidents triggered by Justin Allgaier, Ross Chastain, and Brandon Jones – Currey ran the apron while Martins nearly stopped in the middle lane. Jeremy Clements, who had been running in the Top 15 for much of the day, nearly made it through as well before Jones hooked Allgaier into his path, knocking Clements’ #51 out of the race in 27th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #13 in an XFINITY Series race at Texas since November 4, 2017, when John Jackson’s turn for MBM in the #13 OCR Gaz Bar Dodge ended after 7 laps with fuel pressure issues during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

36) #13-Timmy Hill / 6 laps / engine
35) #07-David Starr / 40 laps / engine 
34) #66-Chad Finchum / 55 laps / fuel pump
33) #61-Austin Hill / 107 laps / suspension
32) #18-Riley Herbst / 132 laps / crash

1st) Motorsports Business Management (9)
2nd) JR Motorsports (4)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing, Mike Harmon Racing (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Jimmy Means Racing, Shepherd Racing Ventures, SS-Green Light Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Jeremy Clements Racing, Kaulig Racing, Our Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (12)


Thursday, October 22, 2020

PREVIEW: Eye-catching paint schemes, James Buescher’s return to the Truck Series, and a LASTCAR Championship among the storylines brewing in Texas

PHOTO: @BLeavine

Saturday, October 24, 2020
XFINITY Race 31 of 33
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

There are 36 drivers entered in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, the same number as last week in Kansas.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Colby Howard returns to action for the first time since Talladega, taking the place of Jesse Little in the #15, and carrying sponsorship from the NASCAR Foundation. Little moves to the #4, taking the place of B.J. McLeod, who crosses teams this week and will instead run Mario Gosselin’s #90, replacing Dexter Bean, who’s not entered after his 16th-place run in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
It’s Jeb Burton and State Water Heaters back on the #8 this week, returning to action for the tenth time in 2020 and first time since Bristol, where he ran 9th. He takes the place of Daniel Hemric, who once again came quite close to scoring his first win in NASCAR’s top three series, driving the John Andretti “throwback” scheme from Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Kyle Weatherman returns to his familiar #47 for the first time since his rough outing early at the Charlotte “Roval,” taking the place of Josh Reaume, who finished 33rd after brake issues at Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum takes the place of Stephen Leicht in MBM's #66 Toyota, but Leicht can still clinch the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series title on Saturday if the following drivers do not finish last at Texas: Kyle Weatherman, Timmy Hill, Kody Vanderwal, Joe Graf, Jr., Brandon Jones, and Michael Annett. For any of these drivers to take the title, however, they'll also have to finish last at both Martinsville and Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
C.J. McLaughlin also rejoins the XFINITY circuit for the first time since the “Roval,” and runs his third different car in as many starts this year. This time, he takes the place of Vinnie Miller, who isn’t entered after a 31st-place finish in Kansas, driving the #78 Toyota.


Sunday, October 25, 2020 (12:00 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 21 of 23
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3 400 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bo LeMastus

There are 37 drivers entered in the first November Truck Series race since 2018, up one entry from last week in Kansas.

RETURNING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens makes only his third start of the season and first since Michigan in August, when he ran a season-best 29th. Vytal Studios will sponsor his #14 Chevrolet.

After Hailie Deegan secured a full-time Truck Series ride for 2021 midway through her 16th-place finish in Kansas, Dylan Lupton will drive the #17 this week. This marks only the second Truck start of the year for Lupton, who was a late entry into the fall race at Las Vegas, finishing 14th.

After David Gravel was swapped into his ride at Kansas, only to be collected in an early crash, Chase Purdy will again take the wheel of the #24 Chevrolet. This will be Purdy’s seventh start of 2020 and first since Talladega, where he was the one collected in an early crash, yielding a 32nd-place finish.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Bilicki and Josh Reaume will swap rides this week with Bilicki going to the #00 and Reaume to the #33.

RETURNING: #42-Niece Motorsports
Welcome back James Buescher, who makes his first Truck Series start since March 28, 2015 at Martinsville, where he ran 7th for Bob Newberry’s team. FHE Fraclock will sponsor the 2012 series champion as he also brings back Al Niece’s part-time #42 team for the first time since the fall race at Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Also welcome back Natalie Decker, back in the race for the first time since she wasn’t medically cleared at Las Vegas. She takes the place of Colin Garrett, who ran 24th with the team in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Halmar-Friesen Racing
Stewart Friesen is back in his ride after the scheduling conflict in Kansas put Timothy Peters in his truck at Kansas. Peters finished 7th in what was his first series start since October 12, 2019.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is not entered after a spirited rally at Kansas, where he was involved in the day’s early multi-truck pileup, only to take 15th at the finish.


Sunday, October 25, 2020 (3:30 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 34 of 36
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

There are 40 drivers entered in Sunday’s main event for the Cup Series, the second-straight “full” field in 2020 and the 18th out of 34 races this season.

NEW SPONSOR: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Josh Bilicki will pull double-duty with the Truck Series this weekend, and on the Cup side run a new camouflage paint scheme for sponsor Junction Fuels and the military initiative Camp Hope.

TEAM UPDATE: #14-Stewart-Haas Racing
Just days after Chase Briscoe locked himself into the Championship 4 at Phoenix, it was announced he will take over for a retiring Clint Bowyer in 2021. This was just one of the many 2021 “Silly Season” stories that played out during the week, including Kyle Larson’s reinstatement set for January 1 and Erik Jones moving to Richard Petty Motorsports.

PAINT SCHEME: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
Rising motorsports artist Noah “Lefty” Sweet has designed the look of Jimmie Johnson’s car this week as the seven-time champion nears the end of his final full-time season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Garrett Smithley returns to Cup after a brief hiatus since the night race at Bristol, replacing James Davison in the #53 with his frequent backer Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Kendall Oil as sponsors. This is just one of four head-turning paint schemes for the Ware team this weekend, including new backing from FatBoy Ice Cream Sandwiches on J.J. Yeley’s #27.

PAINT SCHEME: #95-Leavine Family Racing
It was at this same Texas track on April 9, 2011 that the #95 team – then known as Leavine Fenton Racing – made its Cup Series debut with David Starr finishing 38th. After not running the team’s red-yellow-and-blue scheme from that year in this season’s “Throwback Weekend” at Darlington, the team will run the scheme this Sunday with Christopher Bell driving. It will be the LFR team’s final start at their home track, and two races before the team closes its doors.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 22, 1994): Tommy Houston picked up the 11th last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career in the ’94 season finale, the AC-Delco 200 at Rockingham, when his #6 Red Devil Enamels Ford fell out with handling problems after just one lap. The finish tied Houston with Ed Berrier for the most last-place finishes in the series at that time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ARCA: Alex Clubb plays LASTCAR championship spoiler at Kansas

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar

by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Alex Clubb finished last for the second time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Speediatrics 150 at Kansas Speedway when his #01 A. Clubb Lawn Care & Landscaping Ford fell out with a vibration after completing only 1 of the race’s 100 laps.

The finish came in Clubb’s 11th series start, and was his first since Elko last year, 27 races ago.
 After Clubb’s 2019 season came to a premature end at Elko, the landscaper and city council member out of Morris, Illinois set his sights on 2020. While he did not enter any races until Kansas, there was a good reason for that: Clubb and his wife welcomed their first child over the summer. He tried to get a car ready for the race at Springfield, but family time and work obligations prevented him from running the event. He did finish his car for the Kansas event, and entered it with the number 01, using owner points borrowed from Andy Hillenburg at Fast Track Racing.

Clubb was not the only entry borrowing owner points from a different team at Kansas. Almost a quarter of the field - 4 of 18 entries - used owner points from a different team. The eventual race-winning car of Corey Heim was prepared in the Venturini Motorsports shop but used Fast Track Racing owner points, presumably for a better starting position. Kris Wright’s Chad Bryant Racing entry was also using owner points from Fast Track. Mike Basham’s entry from Fast Track was using owner points from Chad Bryant in a de facto swap. Derek Griffith finished out a sporadic part-time stint in CBR’s bright yellow #22 car. Other part-timers entered included Scott Melton, returning to his familiar #69, Dylan Lupton, driving a one-off ARCA race for DGR-Crosley, and Eric Caudell, who finished the season running four consecutive races in his #7 car. Owen Smith rounded out Fast Track’s stable, and based on the entry list, he looked poised to claim the LASTCAR drivers’ championship. Wayne Peterson Racing entered Tim Richmond in the #06 and Con Nicolopoulos in the #0, leaving the team patriarch off the entry list.

Only sixteen of the nineteen cars took time in practice. Eventual series champion Bret Holmes led the series with a lap of just over 30.7 seconds. Richmond trailed the field, running a best lap of 38.4 seconds. Qualifying was not held, and the lineup was set by owner points. As it was the CBR 77’s first attempt since Daytona, Basham started shotgun on the field.

Early in the race, ARCA timing and scoring listed Clubb out after one lap and Nicolopoulos out after two, all but clinching the LASTCAR championship for Owen Smith. However, during the middle portions of the race, reports emerged that Nicolopoulos was watching the race from his home in Michigan while being scored as the driver of the 0 car. Multiple sources from the garage later confirmed that Wayne Peterson had stepped into the 0 car for the race, setting off a retroactive nailbiter for the LASTCAR championship. If Peterson had pulled off at the initial green flag, as he did at Springfield two weeks ago, he would have claimed his fourth last-place finish of the year and his third consecutive LASRCAR championship. However, Peterson ran exactly two laps in all of his paved-track starts this year, and that was one too many in the LASTCAR championship battle. Clubb’s retirement after one lap prevented Peterson from claiming a would-be series-high fourth last-place finish on the year. While Peterson and Owen Smith both finished last three times in the 2020 season, Smith has a tiebreaker edge on Bottom Five finishes, 9 to 5, handing him the 2020 LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series drivers championship.

Smith, ironically, was the next car to fall out, citing brake issues. Brad Smith’s full-season effort ended a little early due to engine problems that sidelined the team after 36 laps completed. All other cars finished the race, and Ty Gibbs, who battled a number of issues throughout the night, came home 14th, 40 laps down.

The weekend took a terrible turn after the race. On Sunday morning, news broke that most of the Wayne Peterson Racing team equipment from the 06 car was stolen from a hotel outside the track:

Prior to the Kansas weekend, both Chevrolet and Fast Track Racing locked up the manufacturers and owners championships, respectively, to round out the awarding of LASTCAR ARCA Menards Series championships for 2020.

18) #01-Alex Clubb / 1 lap / vibration
17) #0-Wayne Peterson / 2 laps / brakes
16) #11-Owen Smith / 30 laps / clutch
15) #48-Brad Smith / 36 laps / engine
14) #18-Ty Gibbs / 60 laps / running

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (10)
2nd) Wayne Peterson Racing (5)
3rd) Brother-In-Law Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)

In total, 93 drivers started an ARCA Menards Series race this year. Of those, 68 recorded a Bottom Ten finish, 41 recorded a Bottom Five finish, and 16 recorded a last-place finish. The top twenty in the LASTCAR drivers standings are shown below.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

CUP: Tangle with Jones ends Matt Kenseth’s afternoon in Kansas


Matt Kenseth picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #42 Advent Health Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 144 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Kenseth’s 694th series start, was his second of the season and first since June 22, 2020 at Talladega, 20 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 27th for the #42, the 606th from a crash, and the 796th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 39th for the #42, the 1,231st from a crash, and the 1,751st for Chevrolet.

Since his most recent feature on this site, Kenseth has continued to struggle with a lack of practice and qualifying, often finishing between 15th and 20th with a handful of worse finishes. The lone bright spot came in what turned out to be the final Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, a race he’d never won in his 22-year career. For the final restart, Kenseth worked his way to 2nd, but advanced no further on race leader Kevin Harvick, and the McDonald’s sponsorship has still yet to reach victory lane since 1994. Then on September 21 came news that Ross Chastain would drive the #42 in 2021, and Kenseth has all but confirmed he will not return to Cup after this season.

Kenseth started 30th at Kansas, in part due to a frustrating afternoon on the “Roval” where he struck a tire barrier head-on, leaving him 34th. He would run sponsorship from Advent Health, which most recently sponsored Chastain at both the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, running in partnership with Ganassi at Spire Motorsports.

Starting 40th and last on Sunday was Chad Finchum, who for the first time since Las Vegas drove Motorsports Business Management’s #49 Sharelife / Toyota, still carrying Timmy Hill’s “throwback” scheme from Darlington. He was joined at the rear by two drivers who each twice failed pre-race inspection – 5th-place Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Toyota and 33rd-place James Davison in the #53 America’s Best Value Inn  / Tilson Ford.

When the race started, Davison was last across the stripe, 4.455 seconds back of the lead, but caught and passed Finchum by Lap 3. By the seventh circuit, Davison passed his teammate Joey Gase in the #51 Page Construction Ford, and both Gase and Finchum started to lose touch with the tail end of the pack. On Lap 15, Finchum’s team told him to stay high as the leaders caught him and made his #49 the first car one lap down by Lap 16. When the competition caution fell on Lap 27, Finchum was still last, but pit stops swapped the spot between Timmy Hill’s #66 Toyota on Lap 28 and Josh Bilicki’s #7 Insurance King Chevrolet on Lap 29. Bilicki took the spot after a pit road penalty that dropped him to tail end of the longest line.

On Lap 32, Bilicki dropped Finchum back to last, who gradually lost more laps through the remainder of Stage 1. He was three down on Lap 49, five down by Lap 72, and eight down by Lap 78. There was also at least one close call on Lap 76 as Brad Keselowski caught him entering Turns 1 and 2, squeezing between Finchum and the outside wall. On Lap 97, Finchum reported he had a problem in the rear of the car, but didn’t pit as he believed it was rear tire chatter. The vibration then returned on Lap 110, again in the rear of the car.

Meanwhile, Gase made a four-tire stop and took last from Finchum on Lap 124, shown 11 laps down to Finchum’s 10. The two then began racing each other, running nose-to-tail on Lap 130. On Lap 142, Gase slowed with a loss of fuel pressure, and crept onto pit road under green. The team decided to “just put fuel in it” when, moments later, the caution fell for a wreck on the frontstretch.

While not a factor for the lead, Kenseth was battling Erik Jones’ #20 Resers Toyota for 27th, running the low lane to complete the pass. When coming up the track, Kenseth wasn’t quite clear and hooked cross Jones’ nose, putting both cars into the wall. Both drivers made it to pit road with Kenseth’s team trying to address an issue with the track bar. Meanwhile, on Lap 146, Gase was told to turn into the garage “by the yellow canopy” to address a possible fuel leak, the driver told to stay in the car with the window net up. The next time by on Lap 147, Kenseth pulled behind the wall, out under the “Damaged Vehicle Policy.”

On Lap 166, Gase returned to the track 33 laps down and ten laps behind Kenseth. During the stay in the garage, the team also addressed a radio issue where they couldn’t hear the driver over static. On Lap 167, Kenseth was declared officially out by NASCAR due to an accident, not the DVP as in Noah Gragson’s finish the day before. Finchum pulled behind the wall shortly after, and NASCAR declared the #49 out with transmission issues on Lap 175. Gase then dropped Kenseth to last on Lap 180. 

Gase climbed to 37th at the finish, the last car under power, dropping Finchum to 39th and Kurt Busch, whose #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet blew an engine while battling among the leaders, dropped to 38th. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Reed Sorenson in Spire Motorsports’ #77 Marwin Sports Chevrolet, 17 laps down to the leaders.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #42 in a Cup Series race at Kansas.

40) #42-Matt Kenseth / 144 laps / crash
39) #49-Chad Finchum / 154 laps / transmission
38) #1-Kurt Busch / 197 laps / engine
37) #51-Joey Gase / 228 laps / running
36) #77-Reed Sorenson / 250 laps / running

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing (7)
2nd) Motorsports Business Management (6)
3rd) Rick Ware Racing (5)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing (3)
5th) Hendrick Motorsports, Leavine Family Racing, Penske Racing (2)
6th) Beard Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (20)
2nd) Toyota (9)
3rd) Ford (4)