2011 Ride: Nos. 71, 77 TRG Motorsports Chevy/Ford
2011 Primary Sponsors: Super Eco-Fuel Saver, Interstate Moving Services, Children’s Tumor Fund/Special Ops Warrior Fund, RB Enterprises, HOD, School Media
2011 Owner: Kevin Buckler
2011 Crew Chiefs: Jay Guy (February – March), Paul Clapprood (March – April), Doug Richert (April – November)
2011 Stats: 30 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 4 DNFs, 3 DNQs, 33rd in points
High Point: It’s difficult to find a high point in the season for a rookie driver who clearly struggled in inferior equipment. Lally was 19th at Talladega in the spring, ending the race on the lead lap in his lone top-20 performance on an oval. Overall, he did pull a yeoman’s effort in keeping the No. 71 car inside the Top 35 in owner points for most of the year. He also won the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Award, a reward for his cumulative efforts, although it was an uncontested race he would have lost to Daytona 500 victor Trevor Bayne if that youngster declared his eligibility.
Low Point: After failing to qualify for the second-to-last race of the season at Phoenix, Lally was replaced at Homestead by Mike Bliss in a move that led to the rookie’s departure from the team. Lally also failed to make three races in 2011.
Summary: TRG Motorsports, which has operated partially as a start-and-park team in the past, found funding to let Lally run full races at most events in 2011. However, the team didn’t get the results they expected. Lally started the season with six finishes of 30th or worse before recording his top result of the year, 19th at Talladega. Lally’s best non-plate track result was 21st at Watkins Glen in August.
In the rookie’s defense, the underfunded effort shuffled crew chiefs twice, then made a manufacturer change midseason from Chevy to Ford after Texas in April. Instability clearly affected a freshman learning the ropes; the No. 71 didn’t qualify for races at Darlington, Charlotte and Phoenix with Lally behind the wheel.
Down the stretch, with owner Kevin Buckler frustrated over a lack of progression, the driver was ultimately bumped to a second car, making way for Hermie Sadler and then replaced for the last race of the season by Bliss. Bliss finished one lap down in 21st, marking the team’s best placement at a non-restrictor plate oval this season, and just like that Lally was gone from the No. 71.
Team Ranking: First of one at TRG Motorsports, which is a single-car team that occasionally pulls out a backup to start-and-park.
Off-Track News: Lally won the 2011 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in the GT class. It was his third career victory in the event.
2012 Outlook: Lally’s stay in Sprint Cup proved to be a short one. He will head back to the Grand-Am Series to drive for Magnus Racing in the GT class in 2012.
2010 Frontstretch Grade: D+
2011 Grade: D
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