Saturday, April 26, 2014

N’WIDE: Jimmy Weller Stops TriStar’s Last-Place Streak At Twelve

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Jimmy Weller picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Friday’s ToyotaCare 250 at the Richmond International Raceway when his #55 Genmak Geneva Liberty Steel Chevrolet fell out with engine trouble after he completed 1 of the race’s 250 laps.  The finish came in Weller’s Nationwide Series debut.

Weller’s finish, the first for VIVA Motorsports, proved a surprising LASTCAR upset.  It ended TriStar Motorsports’ record-setting streak of twelve consecutive last-place finishes, among them Jeff Green and Blake Koch’s finishes in the first seven races of 2014.  However, TriStar still holds an equally-incredible streak of twenty-nine consecutive bottom-five finishes.  A TriStar car hasn’t missed the Bottom Five since last July’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona.

Last year, Weller made his first five starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he scored his first last-place finish last fall at Martinsville.  This year, he drove for Bobby Dotter’s SS Green Light Racing in the season-opening race at Daytona, where he picked up a career-best 9th-place finish.

Meanwhile, VIVA Motorsports, a part-time Nationwide Series team driven by car owner Jamie Dick, was entering its fourth season on the tour.  Dick had finished a career-best 12th at Talladega last spring, but endured a difficult start to 2014 with no finishes better than a 23rd at Bristol.  Heading into Darlington, VIVA formed an alliance with SS Green Light Racing, which had also fielded trucks for Dick in 2009.  The merged team came to Darlington with a flat white Chevrolet and, with Todd Bodine behind the wheel, came home 28th.

For Richmond, Weller was tabbed to drive the #55 for his first NASCAR start since the Truck Series season opener.  In the opening practice, Weller was 37th-fastest of 38 cars.  He improved to 36th of 40 in Happy Hour, then timed in 34th for the race itself with a lap of 118.146 mph.  Forty drivers showed up for as many spots, so no drivers were sent home.

After completing just one lap of Saturday night’s rain-delayed race, however, Weller pulled behind the wall.

Seconds later, on Lap 3, Kevin Lepage checked-up to avoid the slowing Tanner Berryhill on the backstretch.  When the rest of the field moved low, Lepage’s #87 JD Motorsports Chevrolet was turned head-on into the inside wall by one of the yellow JGL Racing Dodges.  Only under the ensuing caution did both Jeff Green in TriStar’s #10 and Matt DiBenedetto in The Motorsports Group’s #46 both pull behind the wall on consecutive laps.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was rookie Tommy Joe Martins, picking up his third bottom-five finish in five starts.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This is the first last-place finish for the #55 in a Nationwide Series race since June 25, 2011, when Brett Rowe’s Imperial Bedding Company Chevrolet fell out with brake problems after 2 laps of the Bucyrus 200 at Road America.  The number had never before finished last in a Nationwide race at Richmond.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #55-Jimmy Weller / 1 lap / engine
39) #87-Kevin Lepage / 2 laps / crash
38) #10-Jeff Green / 5 laps / vibration
37) #46-Matt DiBenedetto / 6 laps / electrical
36) #76-Tommy Joe Martins / 11 laps / suspension

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Blake Koch (4)
2nd) Jeff Green (3)
3rd) Jimmy Weller (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (5)
2nd) #91-TriStar Motorsports (2)
3rd) #55-VIVA Motorsports / SS Green Light Racing (1)

LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (7)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)

3 comments:

Brandon Ogarek said...

Brock, according to Weller's twitter, the car had problems shifting at the green flag and the engine was damaged as a result.

Matt Papa said...

Plus, you could tell something was wrong with his car as it was very slow at the start, and he ultimately was over 10 seconds off the pace after lap 1. It wasn't a start-and-park.

Brock Beard said...

Thank you for that information; I was not aware Weller was on Twitter. This is why I prefer to say a driver "pulled behind the wall" when I don't have that information on hand.