Sunday, October 2, 2022

CUP: Ty Gibbs avoids “The Big One” on Saturday, but not on Sunday

Gibbs during last week's race at Texas.
PHOTO: Sean Gardner, Getty Images

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Ty Gibbs picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Yellawood 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #23 Monster Energy Toyota crashed after 23 of 188 laps.

The finish, which came in Gibbs’ 11th series start, was his second of the season and first since Richmond, seven races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 39th for the #23, the 180th for Toyota, and the 637th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 71st for the #23, the 386th for Toyota, and the 1,309th from a crash.

Since his most recent last-place finish, Gibbs has continued his determined pursuit for a first XFINITY Series championship. Despite a crash while battling for the lead at Bristol, he easily made the cutoff for the Playoffs and since finished 3rd in Texas. He’s also continued his unexpected relief driver role for Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing, though now running the #23 in a number swap with Bubba Wallace to pursue the Owner’s Championship. The swap paid off with Wallace’s second career win at Kansas, and Gibbs earned solid finishes of 13th at Daytona and 15th in his first Southern 500. 

But there has also been controversy. First a debate over “team orders” at Bristol, where both Wallace and Gibbs lost several laps with steering issues. When fellow Toyota driver and Playoff contender Kyle Busch lost an engine, both 23XI Racing cars still returned to the track many laps down. Wallace passed Busch, who ultimately was eliminated from Playoff contention, while Gibbs pulled off the track just four laps short of catching the #18. A more troubling issue came up last week in Texas, where Gibbs and Ty Dillon made contact on pit road late in the race. Gibbs retaliated, swerving into Dillon, who nearly struck a NASCAR official and members of Chris Buescher’s pit crew. The incident resulted in a $75,000 penalty and a 25-point deduction for the #23 team, after which Gibbs tweeted an apology.

Talladega proved to be a bizarre weekend for Gibbs. On the XFINITY side, he started outside-pole, then on Lap 3 contact from Justin Allgaier caused him to spin out of 3rd place. Incredibly, Gibbs didn’t make contact with any other driver and made just light contact with the wall. In a race where all 38 starters finished under power, Gibbs finished 7th. In Cup, Gibbs’ #23 briefly had the fastest lap in Round 1 of qualifying despite smoke from his right-front tire. The issue kept him from competing in Round 2, so he earned the 10th spot. Additional repairs meant Gibbs would incur a tail-end penalty on Sunday for unapproved adjustments, the same for 35th-place B.J. McLeod in the #78 NASCAR Rivals Ford and 8th-place Tyler Reddick, whose #8 Realtree Chevrolet suffered splitter damage after a brake failure in qualifying caused him to hit a NASCAR official on pit road. Gibbs’ teammate Bubba Wallace required an engine change, so he would also drop to the rear in his #45 Leidos Toyota.

On race day, Ryan Blaney was slow coming off pit road as his #12 Menards / Dutch Boy Ford had a radio issue. NASCAR allowed him to rejoin the field in his original 19th-place starting spot, last of the 12 current Playoff contenders. When the race started, Gibbs and Wallace were the last two cars across the stripe, 2.765 and 2.997 seconds back of the lead, respectively. By Lap 1, both pulled past McLeod, who was 2.579 seconds back of the lead and just 0.074 behind J.J. Yeley’s #15 Summit Racing Equipment Ford. McLeod then dispensed with Yeley by Lap 3 with Martin Truex, Jr.’s #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota ahead of him in 36th.

The next time by, as RFK Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher dropped toward the tail end of the field, Yeley lost touch with the pack, and was already 1.344 seconds back of 36th place. Yeley relayed information on his rpms and voltage, and by Lap 6 said his car was running between 7400 and 7500 rpms. By then, he was now 7.151 behind 36th and 9.632 back of the lead. The crew told Yeley to keep running, hoping for an early caution to look over their car. On Lap 8, they got that break when a debris caution came out for the right-side window coming out of Ty Dillon’s #42 Chevrolet. By then, Yeley had dropped a full 14.412 seconds back of 36th place, 20.082 back of the lead.

Gibbs was among those joining Yeley on pit road, and on Lap 9, Michael McDowell took over the last spot after an extended stop for handling issues on his #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford. McDowell held the spot until Austin Cindric incurred a pit road speeding penalty, then his #2 Discount Tire Ford came in another time to top off his fuel cell before the restart. Cindric passed the RFK duo on the restart, moving Chris Buescher to last in the #17 Fastenal Ford behind teammate Brad Keselowski in the #6 Kohler Generators Ford. Buescher was still running in last, following Keselowski’s tire tracks, when trouble broke out just in front of them on Lap 24.

Gibbs' car being towed to the garage after the Lap 24 crash.

Heading into Turn 1, Harrison Burton’s #21 made a move for 13th by pulling his #21 DEX Imaging Ford in front of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.’s #47 Kroger / SunnyD Chevrolet. But the two cars made contact, causing Burton to spin across Stenhouse’s nose. The two-wide pack behind them jammed up with at least seven cars colliding and spinning. Among these was the #62 Beard Oil Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier – the lone “open” entry in the field – which after their incident in Saturday’s race ended up the one who pinned Gibbs’ #23 into the outside wall. Of those involved, both Gibbs’ and Burton’s cars were stopped on the infield grass with Allgaier limping to pit road.

On Lap 24, it appeared that Allgaier’s string of terrible luck on the Cup Series side would continue as he took over last place, the same spot he finished in this race last year for Spire Motorsports. Allgaier wasn’t slated to run this race until Noah Gragson was tabbed by Hendrick Motorsports to take over for Alex Bowman in the #48 Ally Chevrolet, Bowman the victim of a concussion in a crash last week at Texas. But on Lap 25, Allgaier’s crew got the #62 back on track, dropping Gibbs to last on Lap 26. Gibbs’ car was towed to the garage, followed by Burton’s, which was dragged backwards toward the exit of pit road. Gibbs’ car reached the garage on Lap 28 followed by Burton’s on Lap 30. Both were done for the day, declared out by NASCAR on Lap 40.

Finishing 35th was Corey LaJoie, whose #7 Schluter Systems Chevrolet was in a trailing pack of cars when he lost a tire in Turns 1 and 2 and bounced off the outside wall. Daniel Hemric took 34th after he drew the last caution when his #16 Celsius Chevrolet had an electrical failure at the exit of pit road. McLeod rounded out the Bottom Five with a 33rd-place showing, six laps down to the leaders.

Cassill and Gilliland enjoy strong runs

Following a 3rd-place finish in the XFINITY Series race the day before, Landon Cassill earned a strong 11th-place finish in the #77 Voyager: Crypto For All Chevrolet, backing up his 4th-place run in the crash-marred Daytona race in August. Also impressive was Todd Gilliland, whose 7th-place finish wasn’t a career-best, but his #38 Georgia Peanuts Ford was among the lead pack all day long, often drafting with his teammate and eventual 3rd-place finisher Michael McDowell.

*Gibbs has so far handed 23XI Racing two of their three last-place finishes this year, one each in both the team’s car numbers.
*This marked the first time the #23 finished last in a Cup race at Talladega since October 19, 2014, when Alex Bowman crashed his #23 Dustless Blasting Toyota after 102 laps.

37) #23-Ty Gibbs / 23 laps / crash
36) #21-Harrison Burton / 23 laps / crash
35) #7-Corey LaJoie / 44 laps / crash
34) #16-Daniel Hemric / 180 laps / electrical
33) #78-B.J. McLeod / 182 laps / running

1st) Live Fast Motorsports (6)
2nd) Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (4)
3rd) 23XI Racing, Spire Motorsports (3)
4th) Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Trackhouse (2)
5th) Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing, Team Hezeberg (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (12)
2nd) Toyota (7)


Saturday, October 1, 2022

XFINITY: For the first time in more than 14 years, all XFINITY Series starters finish under power - including last-place Mason Massey

PHOTO: @dgm_racing_

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Mason Massey picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Sparks 300 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #91 Anderson Power Services Chevrolet finished under power, 18 laps down, after completing 95 of 113 laps.

The finish, which came in Massey’s 43rd series start, was his first of the season and first in a XFINITY Series race since July 17, 2021 at New Hampshire, 42 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 4th time the driver finished under power, the 30th for the #91, and the 606th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 49th to finish running, the 55th for the #91, and the 1,863rd for Chevrolet.

After running part-time for B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Massey joined Mario Gosselin’s then three-car lineup this year in the #91 Chevrolet, running most of the oval schedule with Preston Pardus taking over on the road courses. Through a difficult start to the season where Massey failed to qualify for three of the first 15 races, the DGM Racing team had to scale back the #92 entry due to sponsor issues, losing Kyle Weatherman. But Massey also picked up a career-best 6th-place finish at Atlanta’s new superspeedway this past spring, then bounced back from his last-place run in 2021 to take 9th at the Loudon oval in July. Massey arrived in Talladega in need of a turnaround, having finished no better than 31st in his last three starts.

The preliminary entry list showed 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, but with weather threatening from Hurricane Ivan, three teams withdrew: the second entries for both Sam Hunt Racing and Emerling-Gase Motorsports, plus Bassett Racing’s #77 Chevrolet. With that, Massey secured 29th on the grid among the 38 remaining drivers, clocking in with a speed of 178.971mph (53.506 seconds).

Securing the 38th and final starting spot was Mike Harmon, who made his first XFINITY Series start as a driver since last fall at Martinsville. The short entry list helped the Mike Harmon Racing team tremendously as Harmon was prohibited from taking qualifying time since his car failed inspection three times.

Before the start, Harmon would be joined by no less than 10 other drivers who incurred various pre-race penalties, including Massey, who was docked for unapproved adjustments along with 6th-place Noah Gragson in the #9 Bass Pro Shops TrueTimber BRCC Chevrolet, 22nd-place Jesse Iwuji in the #34 Equity Prime Mortgage Chevrolet, 31st-place Caesar Bacarella in the #45 Clear Cryptos Chevrolet, 32nd-place B.J. McLeod in the red #78 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet, and 37th-place Jeremy Clements in the #51 One Stop / ASE Chevrolet. Joey Gase, swapped from the withdrawn Emerling-Gase #53 to B.J. McLeod’s #5 in place of Matt Mills, needed an engine change on the #5 Absaroka Ford that lined up 25th. Three others missed driver intros: 24th-place Bayley Currey in the #4 Alka-Seltzer Chevrolet, 34th-place Howie DiSavino III in the #44 Travis Mills Foundation Chevrolet, and 36th-place Timmy Hill in the #13 Buffalo Wild Wings / Coble Chevrolet. Currey and Hill had just completed the Truck Series event run before the XFINITY race.

Last-place qualifier Harmon didn’t incur a tail-end penalty, but still crossed the starting line 36th ahead of Hill and DiSavino, the #44 reaching the line 3.883 seconds back of the leader. At the end of Lap 1, both had dropped Harmon back to last, 3.68 seconds back of the lead, while DiSavino paired up in the draft with teammate Bacarella. On Lap 3, contact from Justin Allgaier off Turn 2 caused Ty Gibbs to spin from third place. Miraculously, the only damage to Gibbs’ #54 SportClips Haircuts Toyota was to the right-front and right-rear as the field avoided involvement. Bacarella had just taken over last at the moment of caution, followed by Gibbs on Lap 4 after an extended stop for new tires and cosmetic repairs. Gibbs remained in the spot through the Lap 7 restart, when he just caught the tail end of the field before the green flag dropped. Gibbs quickly cleared minimum speed as he worked his way through the field. The first car he passed turned out to be Mason Massey’s.

Just before Lap 8, NASCAR radioed that Massey had gone behind the wall with a mechanical issue. There was an issue with the gauges, and the crew checked the alternator wire. On Lap 15, Massey returned to the track eight laps down, but said the car wouldn’t be able to reach minimum speed as it struggled in fourth gear. The team now believed the issue to be with the ignition or carburetor, and called him behind the wall a second time on Lap 17. As Massey’s team scrambled to get the replacement carburetor, they sent him back out a second time on Lap 19, but signs now pointed to a short in the electrical system. “It’s something to do with that fucking master switch,” said someone on the team. Just like last time, after completing just one more lap, Massey was behind the wall for a third time on Lap 20. This time, he complained of a vibration that was so bad he couldn’t see anything in his rear view mirror. By Lap 24, Massey was now 16 laps down and the crew was replacing the master switch, which had been caused the car’s electronics to flicker. Finally, on Lap 28, Massey returned to the track for a third time and turned just his ninth lap of the day. He now said the engine sounded fine, but the vibration was still there. To address it, the crew called him in for four tires and two bounds out of both rears, though the team had issues relaying it due to radio problems. Massey himself had to be told to move his microphone closer to his mouth as the team couldn’t hear him over the engine noise.

By Lap 31, Massey was back up to speed. The vibration had subsided. But he was now down a full 18 laps to the leader – and more intriguingly, the only driver so far off the lead lap. The crew had Massey lag back by himself, anticipating a pileup among the leaders that didn’t come. Stage 2 ended on Lap 51, and Massey got the Lucky Dog, putting him 17 laps down to the field. The crew discovered they’d forgotten to re-hook his coolbox during the master switch change, but driver and team agreed to not take the time to set it back up again. On Lap 71, Massey was docked for speeding in Section 1 and served a pass-through, putting him back down the 18th lap. 

No other drivers were lapped until around the 85th circuit, when DiSavino’s went down a lap after a stop. The leaders remained single-file for much of the final stage, and ultimately caught a few stragglers toward the back of the field by the checkered flag. On Lap 105, there were still 29 cars on the lead lap, then 23 at the finish. One of the last to drop off was Myatt Snider, whose #31 Tax Slayer Chevrolet spun to the runoff down the backstretch, but still managed to come home under power. In fact, everyone else did, too – including 37th-place Jeffrey Earnhardt, whose Ford was just in front of the leaders as A.J. Allmendinger took the checkered flag. Snider took 35th with Harmon 34th. The 36th spot fell to Blaine Perkins in Our Motorsports’ #02 AUTOParkIt Chevrolet.

Turning heads was Parker Kligerman, who in his first XFINITY start at Talladega since 2013 finished a strong 6th in Scott Borchetta’s #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet. It was Kligerman’s first top-ten finish in a XFINITY Series race since he drove for Precision Performance Motorsports at Road America in 2017, taking 10th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #91 in a XFINITY Series race since November 15, 2014, when Jeff Green picked up his 60th last-place finish with an early vibration on his TriStar Motorsports entry at Homestead. The number hadn’t finished last in a XFINITY Series race since April 26, 2008, when Larry unselman’s MSRP Motorsports Chevrolet collided with Dario Franchitti’s Dodge on the apron of Turn 3, resulting in injuries to Franchitti.
*This was the first time the entire field of a XFINITY Series race finished under power since August 15, 1998, when the 43 cars that took the green for the Pepsi 200 Presented by Devilbiss all finished within eight laps of the leader, including last-place finisher Tracy Leslie.
*This was also the first time the last-place finisher of a XFINITY Series race at Talladega finished the race under power – excluding Michael Annett’s disqualification from a lead-lap finish in 2020.

38) #91-Mason Massey / 95 laps / running
37) #35-Jeffrey Earnhardt / 109 laps / running
36) #02-Blaine Perkins / 110 laps / running
35) #31-Myatt Snider / 111 laps / running
34) #47-Mike Harmon / 111 laps / running

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JR Motorsports (3)
3rd) JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing (2)
4th) Big Machine Racing, DGM Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (21)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (2)


TRUCKS: Jordan Anderson airlifted to local hospital after fire invades the cockpit in early laps at Talladega

PHOTO: @j66anderson

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Jordan Anderson picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s Chevy Silverado 250 at the Talladega Superspeedway when his #3 Dometic Outdoor Chevrolet was involved in a fiery single-truck accident after 18 of 95 laps.

The finish, which came in Anderson’s 138th series start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since July 20, 2016 at Eldora, 147 races ago. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 2nd for the #3, the 178th from a crash, and the 428th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 29th for the #3, the 1,308th from a crash, and the 1,862nd for Chevrolet.

Since he was last featured on this website, Jordan Anderson has grown his own race team by leaps and bounds, expanding first into a full-time Truck Series effort, then a full-time program in XFINITY. His longtime sponsor Bommarito Automotive Group teamed with him in 2018, when he first campaigned the #3 with a 9th-place showing at Daytona. In the years that followed, he’d come agonizingly close to his first career win at the track, taking 2nd in both 2020 and 2021. 

The ’21 season saw Anderson’s expansion into the XFINITY Series, where the use of metric qualifying in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic limited him to just six starts, including a career-best 5th at Talladega. This year, Anderson has handed the wheel of his XFINITY ride to Myatt Snider, who brought sponsor Tax Slayer from his previous ride at Richard Childress Racing. Coming into this weekend, Snider nearly scored his second career win in a rain-soaked Portland race, where he finished runner-up to A.J. Allmendinger. Anderson’s only XFINITY attempt as a driver this year came in a joint effort with AM Racing at Michigan, where a slip in qualifying kept him out of the show.

Since his XFINITY expansion, Anderson has scaled back to only a part-time effort in the Truck Series, but has remained a contender for his first series win. Last year at Darlington, he avoided much of the night’s chaos to finish 10th – his first top-ten in the series on a non-superspeedway. With new sponsorship from Dometic Outdoor, Anderson missed the field for this year’s Daytona race, then after a crash at Las Vegas came into Talladega with three consecutive finishes of 18th or better, most recently a 16th in Gateway.

With no practice at Talladega, Anderson needed to put up a big lap in qualifying and did, securing a career-best 9th on the grid with a speed of 175.600mph (54.533 seconds). Missing the show were Tim Viens in his co-owned #46 Turning Point USA Toyota for G2G Racing, 2019 Talladega winner Spencer Boyd in the #12 Alabama Roofing Professionals Chevrolet, and Reaume Brothers Racing teammates Jason White in the #33 Lakeside Heffley Hideaway Toyota and Natalie Decker in the #43 Diesel Beverages Toyota.

Securing the 36th and final starting spot was Kaden Honeycutt, who raced On Point Motorsports’ #30 Rangeline Group Toyota with a heavy heart following the passing of his grandfather on Tuesday. No drivers joined him in the back for pre-race penalties, so Honeycutt took the green in last place, 3.447 seconds behind the leader.

By the end of Lap 1, Honeycutt had climbed to 32nd, dropping Jennifer Jo Cobb to last in her first start of the 2022 season, following a pair of DNQs at Daytona and Nashville. Cobb’s #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet remained in the spot until Lap 4, when Bryan Dauzat dropped 0.307 second behind her in his #28 FDNY / National Police Association Chevrolet for Jim Rosenblum’s returning FDNY Racing. Enthusiastic over the radio, Dauzat shouted “Truck’s good. Truck’s real good,” and decided to hang back while the field sorted itself out. But Dauzat’s truck also drafted well, and on Lap 5 had dropped to last XFINITY Series standout Parker Retzlaff, making his Truck Series debut in Randy Young’s #20 Funkaway Chevrolet. Dauzat then picked up debris on his grille, bringing the water temperature to 245 degrees, and dropped back behind Retzlaff on Lap 6. The two were side-by-side the next two laps, and on the 7th circuit were in a dead heat at the stripe, tied past the thousandth of a second with Retzlaff credited with last place.

As Dauzat cleared the debris from his nose, his battle with Retzlaff continued. Retzlaff pulled ahead on Lap 9 and opened up an advantage of 0.232 second, but by Lap 14, Dauzat had rocketed back to 34th, passing both Retzlaff and teammate Kaz Grala in the #02 RandCo Chevrolet. That time by, Clay Greenfield made an unscheduled pit stop in Cook Racing Technologies’ #84 Backyard Blues Pools Toyota. Greenfield, another driver making his first start of the 2022 season, was back up to speed on Lap 15, when he took over last a full 48.005 seconds back of the lead. Stranded without drafting help, the field immediately rushed past, putting him the first truck one lap down. The crew remained calm, reminding him he’d get his lap back soon at the end of Stage 1. One of the last trucks to catch Greenfield was Cobb, whose #10 had fallen 1.249 seconds back of now 34th-place Bryan Dauzat.

Then on Lap 19, Greenfield’s spotter said, “Got a smoker up front – got one on fire,” and told him to watch for fluid and a truck spinning to the middle of the track. This was Jordan Anderson, who after his strong qualifying run was still in the Top Five, just 0.325 seconds back of the lead behind Carson Hocevar. Entering Turn 1 in the low lane, a fuel line came loose in the engine, and the truck erupted in flames from behind both front wheels. Anderson dropped the window net as he slowed and pulled to the apron, then was beginning to climb from the window an instant before the truck slammed the inside wall. Anderson climbed on the barrier, then fell as he hopped back onto the track. He was quickly attended to by emergency crews, who brought him to the infield care center, then airlifted him to a local hospital in Birmingham. He was reported to be awake and alert. After 60 laps of the following XFINITY race, Anderson was reported to have suffered minor burns to his neck, left arm, and knee and was expected to be discharged in the evening.

Anderson took over last on Lap 20, becoming at least the fourth driver to finish last in a Truck Series race after a fire invaded the cockpit. The previous instances were Hailie Deegan at Atlanta, Dean Thompson at Martinsville, and Spencer Boyd at IRP.

The next three trucks eliminated were involved in a bizarre series of incidents that began when Lawless Alan’s #45 AUTOParkIt Chevrolet blew a right-front tire in Turn 3 and slammed the outside wall, causing a piece of debris to embed itself in the front valence of teammate Carson Hocevar’s #42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet. On the same lap, Bryan Dauzat suffered heavy right-front damage to his truck, which may or may not have been from contact with Dean Thompson, whose #40 WWEX Racing Chevrolet had damage to the left-front and right-rear. Alan climbed from his truck, which was towed behind the wall. Dauzat made it to pit road, where his truck stalled as their “Crash Clock” expired, eliminating him under the DVP. What happened to Thompson’s truck wasn’t televised, though he did not make it back to pit road and was checked and released from the infield care center with teammate Alan.

With two races to go, Thompson now retakes the lead in the 2022 LASTCAR Truck Series standings by a single bottom-ten finish over Spencer Boyd, who failed to qualify.

Rounding out the Bottom Five was Jennifer Jo Cobb, who had clutch issues from the start of the race and was ultimately eliminated when the starter failed near the end of the race.

DiBenedetto wins first NASCAR national series race over surprising Bret Holmes

Seconds before a photo finish between Bret Holmes and Matt DiBenedetto, NASCAR threw the caution for an accident in the tri-oval. Holmes’ #32 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet reached the finish line first by mere thousandths of a second, which would have been Holmes’ first win in just his 14th series start. But NASCAR ruled that at the moment of caution, DiBenedetto’s #25 Rackley Roofing Chevrolet was out front, giving him his own first NASCAR national series win after 248 Cup starts, 69 in XFINITY, and 21 – all of this season’s – in Trucks. Holmes ended up taking 3rd, still his first Top Five after a previous career mark of 8th this year in Las Vegas.

Colby Howard picked up a career-best 8th in the #91 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet, recovering from at least one spin off Turn 4 to improve on his previous best mark of 9th at both Mid-Ohio and Kansas. 

Kaden Honeycutt charged from last on the grid to take home a career-best of his own in 11th in this, only his seventh series start. His previous best of 13th was the very last race at Bristol.

And in the #84 team’s first-ever start of the season, Clay Greenfield finished in 12th, his best run since the 2019 opener at Daytona, where he also ran 12th. His career-best remains a 8th-place finish at the Talladega race in 2017.

Jay Sauter's truck losing the engine at Richmond, September 9, 1999.
SCREENSHOT: ESPN2, race posted by Dave W

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #3 in a Truck Series race since September 9, 1999, when Jay Sauter’s run in Richard Childress’ #3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet ended with a blown engine after 60 laps at Richmond. The #3 had never finished last in a Truck Series race at Talladega.
*This is also the first last-place finish for Jordan Anderson’s own Truck Series team.

36) #3-Jordan Anderson / 18 laps / crash
35) #28-Bryan Dauzat / 32 laps / dvp
34) #40-Dean Thompson / 32 laps / crash
33) #45-Lawless Alan / 32 laps / crash
32) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 73 laps / clutch

1st) G2G Racing (4)
2nd) Niece Motorsports, Reaume Brothers Racing, Young’s Motorsports (3)
3rd) AM Racing, David Gilliland Racing (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Halmar Friesen Racing, Jordan Anderson Racing, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Toyota (6)
3rd) Ford (3)


Thursday, September 29, 2022

PREVIEW: Talladega sees several drivers and teams eager to break through amid Playoff storylines

PHOTO: JD Motorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, October 1, 2022 (12:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 21 of 23
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Chevy Silverado 250 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Jack Wood

The Truck Series returns for the first time since Bristol with 40 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning four will fail to qualify.

RETURNING: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
For the first time since Knoxville, where Dylan Westbrook finished 17th, Jordan Anderson Racing returns to the Truck Series. And for the first time since Gateway, where he finished 16th, Jordan Anderson is piloting his #3 Dometic Outdoor Chevrolet. Anderson has two top-ten finishes in five Truck starts at Talladega, taking 7th in 2018 and a track-best 6th in 2020.

MISSING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Rajah Caruth is not entered along with the Spire entry with which he finished 34th after an early crash at Bristol.

RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb makes just her third attempt of the 2022 season and first since Nashville, where mechanical issues ended her bid at making the field. Cobb has not started a Truck Series race since last fall at Martinsville, where she finished 36th of 40 starters.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Ryan Preece looks to continue his strong part-time Truck Series campaign for the Gilliland team with which he’s finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in his last three starts at Nashville, Pocono, and Kansas. In fact, Preece has yet to finish worse than 11th all year. Taking the place of Taylor Gray, who ran 16th in Bristol, Preece is sponsored by RaceChoice and Tavern on the Trax.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young's Motorsports
After last week’s XFINITY effort at Texas was hampered by nose damage on the initial start, Parker Retzlaff seeks his Truck Series debut following his otherwise impressive half-dozen races in XFINITY. Retzlaff takes the place of Bristol’s 29th-place finisher Leland Honeyman, who made his series debut in the #20 Chevrolet.

Another driver and team returning for some superspeedway racing is Jim Rosenblum’s FDNY Racing, which puts Bryan Dauzat and the #28 Chevrolet on the entry list for the first time since Pocono, where they DNQ’d. The team seeks their first start since this year’s Daytona opener, where Dauzat qualified and finished 23rd.

DRIVER CHANGE: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes returns to drive his #32 Chevrolet for the first time since Kansas, taking the place of 31st-place Bristol finisher Connor Mosack. Holmes, who finished 17th his last time out, made his first Talladega Truck Series start last year. That day, he led twice for 11 laps and came home a solid 15th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Canada’s Jason White reunites with the Reaume Brothers team for his first attempt since his 20th-place run in this year’s Daytona opener. He takes the place of Chris Hacker, whose suspension issues at Bristol left him 33rd.

MISSING: #35-McAnally-Hilgeman Racing
Not among this week’s entries is Jake Garcia, who ran 22nd at Bristol in the part-time third entry from the McAnally stable.

The preliminary entry list indicated AM Racing would bring back their second entry, the #37, with a driver to be announced. However, that entry was withdrawn by Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
One month after she ran out of time getting NASCAR to approve her sponsor Diesel Beverages for a XFINITY run at Daytona, Natalie Decker has now obtained that approval, and the brand will be on the Reaume team’s second truck for Talladega. Decker takes the place of team owner Josh Reaume, who received medical attention after his early crash with Rajah Caruth at Bristol. Decker seeks her 33rd Truck Series start and first since October 30, 2020, when she drove for Al Niece at Martinsville, taking 27th.

RETURNING: #46-G2G Racing
One team co-owner who is running as a driver this week is Tim Viens, who brings G2G Racing back for the first time since Kansas, where Brennan Poole finished 34th. Viens carries sponsorship from Turning Point USA on his #46 Toyota. Viens seeks his first Talladega Truck Series start and his first start in the series since October 25, 2020 at Texas, where he finished last after a crash.

RETURNING: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Like Jennifer Jo Cobb, Clay Greenfield is returning for the first time since Nashville as the Cook Racing Technologies effort seeks its first start of the year following two previous DNQs. Greenfield’s most recent Truck start came here last year, when he ran 23rd for Spencer Davis Racing.

MISSING: #90-Terry Carroll Racing
Justin S. Carroll is not entered, and his pursuit of a first Truck Series start continues after a fifth DNQ of 2022 in Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young's Motorsports
Bristol marked the final NASCAR start for Jesse Little, who piloted Randy Young’s #02 to a 25th-place finish. Taking his place this week is a returning Kaz Grala, who rejoins the team for the first time since his 18th-place showing in Kansas. Grala has not run this race since 2020, when he finished a strong 9th for Niece Motorsports. His only other Truck start here was in 2017, when he ran 29th for GMS Racing.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper was likewise on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s race, but was withdrawn by Wednesday.


Saturday, October 1, 2022 (4:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 28 of 33
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
Sparks 300 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: David Starr

After multiple withdrawals, there are 38 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning none will fail to qualify.

PAINT SCHEME: #4-JD Motorsports
For the third time this season and second race in a row, Alka-Seltzer will sponsor Bayley Currey’s #4 Chevrolet at Johnny Davis’ team. This week, there’s an added twist as he will run a “throwback” paint scheme to Terry Labonte’s yellow Busch Series car from 1997.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
RETURNING / WITHDREW: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Derek Griffith returns to the Sam Hunt team for his fifth XFINITY race of the year and first since Kansas, where he ran 27th. He takes the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, who finished last after a hard crash in Texas. Earnhardt was originally slated to run the second Emerling-Gase Motorsports entry, the #53, which hasn’t been entered since Shane Lee’s 14th-place performance in the spring race at this same Talladega track. But with weather expected from Hurricane Ivan, those plans changed to putting Earnhardt in Emerling-Gase’s flagship #35, taking the place of the originally listed Joey Gase. Gase, who finished 25th last week in Texas, moves to the #5 from B.J. McLeod Motorsports in place of 16th-place Texas finisher Matt Mills, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Another distinctive paint scheme belongs to a returning Ryan Vargas as Reddit’s r/NASCAR page sponsors the #6 Chevrolet with added support from the National Craniofacial Association (FACES). Included on the scheme are nearly 1,400 r/NASCAR usernames on the rear bumper. Vargas, who’s back in a XFINITY car for the first time since his 33rd-place showing in Kansas, takes the place of Brennan Poole, who ran 31st in Bristol after a crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Talladega marks the return of Timmy Hill to MBM’s #13 entry for the first time since his career-best runner-up finish to Jeremy Clements under the lights at Daytona. Taking the place of Akinori Ogata, who finished 35th in Texas, Hill carries sponsorship from Buffalo Wild Wings along with returning backer Coble Enterprises.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
While he won’t be running against his son John Hunter Nemechek, as was planned last month before the rains at Daytona, Joe Nemechek will again seek his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start of 2022 in the #24 Fleetwing Toyota. This race in 2020 was Nemechek’s most recent start, when he finished a solid 16th for Mike Harmon Racing. UPDATE: This team has withdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji is listed in place of Kyle Weatherman, who finished 22nd last week in Texas. This would be Iwuji’s first-ever XFINITY Series race at Talladega, though he has run both this year’s races at Daytona, site of his career-best 11th last month.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Howie DiSavino III rejoins Alpha Prime for the first time since his 28th-place performance at Kansas, this time with the Travis Mills Foundation as sponsor. DiSavino takes the place of team co-owner Tommy Joe Martins, who claimed a solid 14th in Texas. This would be DiSavino’s first Talladega start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Caesar Bacarella continues his near-exclusive superspeedway schedule as he climbs aboard the second Alpha Prime Chevrolet in place of Stefan Parsons, who was 13th in Texas. This would be Bacarella’s sixth XFINITY start at Talladega, a track where he ran a best of 13th in this race two years ago.

RETURNING / DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
After Brennan Poole moved to JD Motorsports at Texas, Mike Harmon Racing withdrew. The team is again entered this week, but as of this writing has no driver listed. UPDATE: Mike Harmon drives his own car with Alabama Racing Pioneers as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
Current ARCA Racing Series point leader Nick Sanchez enjoyed a career run last week in Texas, threading his way through the day’s biggest wreck to battle inside the Top Five before earning a career-best 11th. This week, Parker Kligerman takes a turn behind the wheel of the #48 in what will be his first XFINITY start since he was 37th on the Indianapolis road course earlier this year. Kligerman, a Talladega winner on the Truck side, has not run a XFINITY car at Talladega since 2013, when he finished 6th for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

TEAM UPDATE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Defending Talladega winner Brandon Brown will again run the #68 this week with returning sponsorship from Zero FG Energy in what is now his final start with the Brandonbilt Motorsports team. Brown revealed on Monday that he will no longer run the #68 car next season.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. returns to the circuit seeking his first Talladega start in the #77 Chevrolet. Ronnie qualified the car his last time out at Bristol and finished in 28th. UPDATE: This team has withdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod will run double-duty this week as he pilots his own #78 entry in place of Garrett Smithley, who took 23rd last week in Texas. 

MISSING: #92-DGM Racing
Alex Labbe is not entered this week following his 17th-place performance in Mario Gosselin’s part-time #92 entry. Josh Williams remains in the #36 with which he ran 26th after crash damage, carrying sponsorship from his longtime backers Star Tron and Alloy Employer Services.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Our Motorsports
Blaine Perkins returns to the site of his surprising Stage 2 victory last year, this time in Our Motorsports’ #02 instead of the #23 currently piloted by Anthony Alfredo. Perkins, who runs Saturday’s race after piloting CR7 Motorsports’ Truck Series effort in the morning, takes the place of Parker Retzlaff, who ran 21st after his early issues at Texas.


Sunday, October 2, 2022 (2:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 31 of 36
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
YellaWood 500 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Justin Allgaier

For the first time in five races, there are more than 36 entries - but only 37 for 40 spots, marking the 30th short field in 31 races this year. The 37-car grid is the second-smallest for a Cup race at Talladega – just one more car than the 36-car field of the strike-marred 1969 inaugural.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
J.J. Yeley will pull double-duty this weekend with Motorsports Business Management’s #66 entry on the XFINITY side as he pilots RWR’s #15 Ford in place of 23rd-place Texas finisher Garrett Smithley. This will be Yeley’s 16th Cup start at Talladega, a track where he finished 11th in 2006 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
RETURNING / DRIVER SWAP: #62-Beard Motorsports
Daniel Hemric runs double-duty for Kaulig Racing this week as he pilots the #16 Chevrolet for the first time since his 23rd-place showing in the Southern 500. He takes the place of Noah Gragson, who rejoins Beard Motorsports for what may be the final time before his full-time 2023 effort with Petty-GMS Racing. UPDATE: On Thursday, Alex Blwman indicated he wasn't cleared to run Sunday due to concussion-like symptoms. Noah Gragson will run in his place, opening the #62 for defending last-place finisher Justin Allgaier.

TEAM UPDATE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
As of this writing, Cody Ware is still entered in the #51 following his brutal wreck at Texas.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 29, 1974): Ferrum, Virginia’s Paul Radford picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville when his #90 Truxmore Industries 1972 Ford fielded by Junie Donlavey lost the engine after 20 laps. The 42-year-old Radford was one of six local NASCAR Modified and Sportsman Series drivers entered in the race. Taking the place of Charlie Glotzbach earlier that month, Radford qualified a strong 9th on Friday, then won Saturday’s Modified race by passing Satch Worley with 16 laps to go. This race, which saw Canadian driver Earl Ross score his only win, would be Radford’s only Cup Series start.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

CUP: Kyle Busch’s crash the first of many in brutal Texas race


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Kyle Busch picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota crashed after 48 of 334 laps.

The finish, which came in Busch’s 636th series start, was his second of the year and first since Pocono, nine races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 37th for the #18, the 179th for Toyota, and the 636th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 52nd for the #18, the 385th for Toyota, and the 1,307th from a crash.

Since his most recent feature at this site, where he and teammate Denny Hamlin were disqualified following their 1-2 finish at Pocono, Kyle Busch has finally announced his plans for 2023 – a move to Richard Childress Racing’s #8 team was revealed on September 13 – while enduring a wildly inconsistent stretch run on the track. Finishes of 11th at Indianapolis, 9th at Richmond, and 10th at Daytona were offset by a 36th-place crash at Michigan and a 32nd at Watkins Glen. 

When the Playoffs began, Busch’s luck turned bad at the worst possible time. After leading 155 laps of the Southern 500, he blew the engine coming to the final restart, then ran 26th at Kansas before another engine let go at Bristol. Quite suddenly, Busch arrived at Texas as one of the first four drivers eliminated from the Playoffs.

Once again, only the 36 Chartered entries occupied the Texas garage area, resulting in the smallest field to ever start a Cup points-paying race there. Of these, Busch ranked 15th in practice and qualified 18th with a lap of 187.240mph (28.840 seconds). 

Cody Ware’s #51 Nurtec ODT Ford was the only car to not log a lap in qualifying, the team making repairs after Ware spun into the inside wall off Turn 2 during practice. He’d incur a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments, to be joined by 31st-place Justin Haley in LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet and 34th-place B.J. McLeod in the #78 Boss Truck Stops Ford. Like Ware, Erik Jones spun in practice – his off Turn 4 – but his #43 Focus Factor Chevrolet didn’t incur a tail-end penalty for any repairs.

The hottest Cup race in the Texas track’s history began with Haley’s penalized car last across the stripe, 3.176 back of the lead and just a few hundredths behind McLeod. By the end of the first lap, Haley passed McLeod, who was 4.105 seconds back of the lead and just 0.176 back of new 35th-place runner Landon Cassill in the #77 WearMe Chevrolet. McLeod reeled in Cassill through Turns 1 and 2, but by Lap 5 had lost three-tenths to him when he was told of a car slowing up front. On Lap 7, Cody Ware’s #51 plummeted back to 36th in the high line as McLeod moved to 35th. As the run continued, Cassill opened up more than one second’s advantage over 35th-place McLeod as he caught and passed Ware’s teammate Garrett Smithley in the #15 Trophy Tractor Ford. Cassill dropped Smithley to 34th on Lap 12 with both McLeod and Ware catching him. Ware’s laps were trending toward 31 seconds, so team told him to aim for a 30.80-second lap.

But on Lap 14, 17th-place runner Bubba Wallace pitted his #45 MoneyLion Toyota out of 17th, citing issues with his steering feeling heavy. Mindful of the same issue that put them behind last week in Bristol, the crew changed four tires and sent him back out nearly two laps down, taking last on Lap 16. Wallace said his steering was still very stiff, but his fresh tires and fast car allowed him to climb past Ware, McLeod, and Smithley by Lap 22. On Lap 38, Wallace had a close call when Ty Dillon and Chase Briscoe were locked in a side-by-side battle for position and bounced off each other in Turn 2. Wallace cut low and cleared both cars, then by Lap 39 had put Ware back to last place when the caution fell for Martin Truex, Jr., whose #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota spun into the infield grass off Turn 4. Under caution, Ware reported his car was extremely free as the tires’ grip fell off during the run.

On the Lap 45 restart, Truex cleared minimum speed without serious damage while last-place running Ware set his sights on teammate Smithley, who was now in 35th and on his same lap. On Lap 49, Ware had just passed Smithley, putting the #15 to last for the first time in the race, when both cleared a car stopped in the middle of the track off Turn 4. This was Kyle Busch, who was running 4th and trying to run the high line to battle teammate Denny Hamlin. But according to Busch, the traction compound in the high lane proved slicker than expected, and he spun 180 degrees and hit the wall with the left-rear corner, then the left-front. After dropping the window net, Busch made it to pit road, taking the last spot on Lap 50, but almost immediately pulled behind the wall, out of the race.

The ensuing stretch saw the racing turn as brutal as the weather. The hardest wreck belonged to Cody Ware, who on Lap 168 snapped loose in Turns 3 and 4 and slammed the outside wall nearly head-on. Ware’s car then skidded to a stop on pit road, nearly hitting a 90-degree barrier at the entrance to the garage. After a few tense moments, Ware climbed from the car, but fell soon after, requiring immediate medical assistance. Ware was transported by ambulance to the infield care center. Rick Ware Racing confirmed Ware had been checked and released from the infield care center during a later red flag for a lightning hold with 114 to go.

Cole Custer took 35th after he lost a tire on his #41 Autodesk / Ford and hit the outside wall with the right-front corner. Custer’s wreck saved Christopher Bell, whose #20 Rheem / Smurfit Kappa Toyota cut down a right-rear tire at the same instant. But later in the race, Bell lost another tire and this time hit the wall. The car suffered heavy damage to the right-front suspension, and the crew’s ten minutes of repairs expired with the wheel still removed. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Chase Elliott, whose #9 NAPA Auto Parts / Valvoline Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars. He was still leading on Lap 184 when the right-rear tire blew exiting Turns 3 and 4, putting him into the wall. He skidded to a stop in the infield grass and climbed from the car, apparently without serious injury.

J.J. Yeley's Interstate Batteries Chevrolet after his crash at Texas in 2007.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #18 in a Cup Series race at Texas since April 15, 2007, when J.J. Yeley picked up the first last-place finish of his career after a Lap 1 tangle with David Ragan and Ricky Rudd. Yeley was also running for Joe Gibbs Racing with Interstate Batteries as sponsor.
*Busch is now the fifth consecutive past Cup Series champion to finish last in a Cup race, following Martin Truex, Jr. (Bristol, 2017 champion), Kevin Harvick (Kansas, 2014), Chase Elliott (Darlington, 2020), and Kyle Larson (Daytona, 2021).

36) #18-Kyle Busch / 48 laps / crash
35) #41-Cole Custer / 77 laps / crash
34) #20-Christopher Bell / 136 laps / dvp
33) #51-Cody Ware / 166 laps / crash
32) #9-Chase Elliott / 184 laps / crash

1st) Live Fast Motorsports (6)
2nd) Joe Gibbs Racing (5)
3rd) Hendrick Motorsports (4)
4th) Spire Motorsports (3)
5th) Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Trackhouse Racing (2)
6th) 23XI Racing, Kaulig Racing, NY Racing Team, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing, Team Hezeberg (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (12)
2nd) Toyota (6)