Monday, September 18, 2017

CUP: Ray Black, Jr. wins tight last-place battle in Chicagoland’s third-straight Cup race without a single DNF

PHOTO: @RickWareRacing
Ray Black, Jr. picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his #51 ScubaLife Chevrolet finished under power, 16 laps down, after 251 of 267 laps.  The finish came in Black’s series debut.

Black, who earned his first XFINITY last-place finish at Talladega in May, has since made eight more starts in NASCAR’s second-tier division with a new career-best finish of 12th at Daytona in July.  The Commercial Diving Academy, which sponsored Black in the past, tapping into the driver’s passion for scuba diving in his native Florida, has also returned as the team’s sponsor, this time through the school’s underwater welding program.  While Chicagoland would see Spencer Boyd drive in place of Black in SS’s #07 Chevrolet for a second-straight XFINITY race, Black soon found another opportunity for the weekend – the chance to make his Cup Series debut.

For Sunday’s race, Black reunited with team owner Rick Ware, who gave Black his first XFINITY Series start at Texas in 2015.  The Ware team announced the partnership last Friday as an eleventh-hour entry, thus bringing the field from 39 cars on Monday to a full field by the opening practice.  The XFINITY Series driver’s Cup car would be black with the familiar ScubaLife branding from many of his Bobby Dotter-prepared cars, complete with blue waves on both doors.  Black would drive the car at Chicagoland, then rejoin the team again at Texas in November.

Black was slowest in Friday’s opening practice, his best of 18 laps a mere 165.654mph, nearly a second off the pace of second-slowest Timmy Hill and more than three seconds off the pace of session leader Kyle Busch.  He again anchored Happy Hour on Saturday, slipping to 165.315mph, four-tenths off the next-fastest Jeffrey Earnhardt and just under three seconds off Martin Truex, Jr.’s leading time.  His best lap ended up coming in qualifying – 170.218mph. Though eight-tenths off the next-slowest car of Timmy Hill and just under three seconds off Kyle Busch’s pole lap, Black would start his first race 39th in the field of 40.

Starting last on Sunday was Brett Moffitt, who returned to the Cup Series for the first time since his 32nd-place run last month at Michigan.  Moffitt rejoined BK Racing, which didn’t have drivers listed for either of its cars in the preliminary entry list, alongside Corey LaJoie in the #23.  Moffitt didn’t complete a lap in qualifying, so his #83 JAS Expedited Trucking Toyota started shotgun on the field.  He was joined at the rear by his teammate LaJoie, who was set to roll off 33rd but whose crew had made unapproved adjustments.

The race unfolded much like Michigan in June with a tight last-place battle among several tail-end cars.  Black had taken the last spot by Lap 10, and was soon in danger of losing a lap to the leaders.  The first driver to join him at the rear was playoff contender Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose #17 Fastenal Ford clipped the Turn 2 wall early, then was forced to make a pit stop for tire issues around Lap 33.  Stenhouse then was assessed a commitment cone violation for his sharp angle entering pit road, and returned to the race two laps down.

Green-flag pit stops followed soon after Stenhouse’s stop, and last place then fell to Gray Gaulding.  Gaulding, back with Premium Motorsports for the first time since the Bristol night race, drove Reed Sorenson’s “throwback” car from Darlington, the Bud Moore-styled numbers changed from #15 to #55.  The car also carried a large hood logo recognizing the U.S. First Responders Association.  By Lap 62, Black re-took last from Gaulding, and he was six laps behind the leaders near the end of Stage 1.  On Lap 123, during Stage 2, Black was still last, and had lost another two laps for a total of eight.

By Lap 140, all 40 drivers were still on the track, and the teams at the back of the field remained evenly matched.  On this particular circuit, Black was eight laps behind, one lap behind the next five drivers: 38th-place Gaulding, 37th-place Timmy Hill in Carl Long’s #66 U.S. Chrome Chevrolet, 36th-place Cole Whitt in TriStar Motorsports’ unsponsored #72 Chevrolet, and 35th-place Corey LaJoie.  Not long after, it appeared that Black made an extended stop on pit road or in the garage, as he jumped from eight laps behind to eleven, gapping the group behind him.  From there until the finish of the race, Black would maintain this three-lap advantage, preventing another change for last place.  He ultimately edged both Hill and Gaulding by those three circuits.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were Brett Moffitt, one lap ahead of Gaulding, and LaJoie, another circuit ahead of Moffitt.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the incredible third consecutive year that the entire starting field for the Cup Series race at Chicagoland finished under power.  In 2015, last-placer Austin Dillon completed 198 of 267 laps, followed by 2016’s run by Joey Gase, where he turned 254 of 270.
*Black is also the second driver to finish last in his Cup debut this year, joining Cody Ware at Atlanta.  Ware also drove the #51 Chevrolet that day, which is owned by his father.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #51-Ray Black, Jr. / 251 laps / running
39) #66-Timmy Hill / 254 laps / running
38) #55-Gray Gaulding / 254 laps / running
37) #83-Brett Moffitt / 255 laps / running
36) #23-Corey LaJoie / 256 laps / running

2017 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Circle Sport with The Motorsports Group (5)
2nd) BK Racing, Rick Ware Racing (3)
3rd) Hendrick Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing, Premium Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (2)
4th) Chip Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports (1)

2017 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (8)
3rd) Ford (6)

2017 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP



XFINITY: Matt Mills finishes last at Chicagoland when JD Motorsports’ No. 15 withdrawn, re-entered, then parked

PHOTO: NBCSN, Screenshot by Timecard100
Matt Mills picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s TheHouse.com 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his unsponsored #15 teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 3 of 200 laps.  The finish came in Mills’ third series start.

Mills has been racing since 2009, when he won rookie of the year in a go-kart circuit.  He again earned rookie honors in asphalt modifieds and earned his first victory in 2013.  From there, the kid from Lynchburg, Virginia eyed a move to NASCAR through ARCA and the K&N Pro Series West before ultimately making his national series debut in the Truck Series race at Bristol on August 17, 2016.  That night, driving for SS-Green Light Racing, Mills started 31st in the 32-truck field and finished 27th.  He’s since improved on that twice over just this year, finishing 17th on two occasions with Faith Motorsports.

With continuing sponsorship from Thompson Electric, Mills made his XFINITY Series debut this year at Phoenix, taking over for Jeff Green in B.J. McLeod’s #8 Chevrolet.  Mills started 24th and finished 30th that day, which as of this writing stand as his career-best in the series.  His next start came with McLeod the next month at Richmond, where he came home two laps down in 31st.  Chicagoland would mark his first XFINITY start since then, and his first in NASCAR’s top three series since a “start-and-park” run for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing at Pocono – but he wasn’t on the preliminary entry list.

Saturday’s opportunity would come from Johnny Davis’ team JD Motorsports – specifically, the #15 Chevrolet, a “start-and-park” fourth team which Davis has had on hand since the July race at Daytona.  Prior to Saturday’s race, the car had made just four starts, all of them with Reed Sorenson resulting in 38th and 39th-place finishes after 23 laps or fewer.  The car failed to qualify at both Bristol and Darlington (the latter due to transmission issues), and was withdrawn another four times.

In fact, when the preliminary entry list was first posted, the car was already one of three already withdrawn (joining the #24 for JGL Racing and the #96 for GMS Racing).  First tabbed to drive the car was JD Motorsports’ own Garrett Smithley, who was being moved out of his #0 so Vinnie Miller could make his series debut.  The initial withdrawal of the #15 may have been because of the deal Smithley received to drive Motorsports Business Management’s #40 O.C.R. Gaz Bar Toyota in place of team owner Carl Long.

However, in a week that saw the entry list shrink as small as 37 cars, then grow back to 39 with the late additions of Mike Harmon and Morgan Shepherd, the opportunity was once again there to fill the field.  While some anticipated the return of MBM’s #72 Chevrolet, which served that role at Loudon with driver John Jackson, or Mike Harmon’s second entry, the #17 Dodge from Road America, the #15 was instead “un-withdrawn,” ensuring a full field of 40.  With Smithley already signed to drive the #40, however, the driving duty fell to Mills.  His red Chevrolet would have white numbers on the doors and roof, a departure from the yellow numbers used on Davis’ #15 previously.

Mills didn’t participate in Friday’s opening practice, and started but failed to complete a lap in Happy Hour after he got loose in Turn 2 and slapped the wall with the right-rear.  His first completed lap of the weekend came in qualifying, where he ran a lap of 152.203mph.  Though more than two seconds off the pace of the next-slowest car of Mike Harmon, the 40-car entry list guaranteed that Mills would start Saturday’s race.  That race didn’t last long, however, as Mills pulled his #15 behind the wall under green on Lap 4.

Finishing 39th was Jeff Green, who missed out on his 98th series last-place finish by five laps.  With seven races to go, Green retains a three-finish lead over Jordan Anderson, who hasn’t run an XFINITY Series race since June, and is still on track to break a tie with the late J.D. McDuffie for most LASTCAR titles by a single driver in NASCAR history.  Morgan Shepherd next pulled off in his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet, followed by MBM teammates Garrett Smithley and the #13 O.C.R. Gaz Bar Dodge of Timmy Hill.

For more on Matt Mills, check out his website at http://www.mattmillsracing.com/

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first last-place finish for car #15 in an XFINITY Series race since July 23, 2016, when Todd Peck’s #15 Keen Portable Buildings / Momo Ford had engine problems on the first lap of the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis.  The number had never before finished last in an XFINITY Series race at Chicagoland.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #15-Matt Mills / 3 laps / vibration
39) #93-Jeff Green / 8 laps / brakes
38) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 23 laps / handling
37) #40-Garrett Smithley / 24 laps / engine
36) #13-Timmy Hill / 33 laps / vibration

2017 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) RSS Racing (14)
2nd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Shepherd Racing Ventures (2)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, JD Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, King Autosport, Motorsports Business Management, Richard Childress Racing, SS Green Light Racing (1)

2017 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (24)
2nd) Dodge, Toyota (1)

2017 LASTCAR XFINITY SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

TRUCKS: Mike Senica finishes last at Chicagoland uncontested, but Bottom Five becomes a battle

PHOTO: Robert Taylor
Mike Senica picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s TheHouse.com 225 at the Chicagoland Speedway when his unsponsored #57 Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet fell out with rear gear trouble without completing any of the 225 laps.

The finish, which came in Senica’s fifth series start, was his second of the year and first since Pocono, four races ago.  With seven races to go, Senica joins what is now a four-way tie for the 2017 LASTCAR Truck Series lead, and is tied with Tommy Regan for the third seed.  The LASTCAR title leader is now Joe Nemechek, who takes the lead for the first time in 2017 on a Bottom Ten tiebreaker with Todd Peck, 8-7.  Nemechek, a two-time LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, looks to become the first driver in NASCAR history to claim LASTCAR titles in both Cup and Trucks.

The 51-year-old wrestler turned racer has remained with Norm Benning Racing since his Pocono last-place finish.  He ran 27th of 30 at Michigan, failed to qualify for the first time at Bristol, then ran third from last once more at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.  As at Pocono, Senica would run double-duty with the ARCA Racing Series and the Truck Series.  His weekend thus began in Wayne Hixon’s #3 Bell Plantation Chevrolet on Thursday night in ARCA’s Scott 150 on the 1.5-mile track.  That night, Senica started 26th in the 31-car field and finished 23rd, flagged off the track after 32 laps for running too slow.

Speed has remained an issue for Senica, despite his clear “start-and-park” duty for Norm Benning.  After he didn’t participate in Thursday’s opening practice, he turned a single lap in Happy Hour of just 123.873mph.  The lap was more than eight seconds slower than the next-slowest truck of Tommy Regan and nearly 13 seconds off the top speed by Johnny Sauter.  In qualifying, Senica picked up just over a second, securing the 32nd and final starting spot with a lap of 127.920mph.  Even then, he was still nearly seven seconds off the next-slowest truck of Jennifer Jo Cobb.

When the race started, it appeared that Senica’s did not as the NASCAR.com Leaderboard did not indicate a gap from the leader back to the #57, still classified last.  On Lap 2, Gray Gaulding in Premium Motorsports’ new second truck, the #15 Chevrolet, slowed to a crawl on the apron of Turns 1 and 2.  The caution wasn’t thrown until the next time by, at which point the #15 had barely made it to Turn 3.  From that point, FOX Sports 1’s broadcast would show Gaulding’s #15 in last behind Senica, an error that wasn’t corrected until the end of Stage 1.

While Senica never gave up last place that night, the rest of the Bottom Five changed through the first 100 laps.  It all began with another six drivers who appeared to have parked within the first 12 laps.  The first of these was Jennifer Jo Cobb, who was selected as one of the six drivers to carry a Nickelodeon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint scheme.  Under the Gaulding caution, she pulled her orange #10 “Rebel Road” Chevrolet behind the wall, dropping her to 30th ahead of Gaulding and Senica.  She was joined on Lap 7 by Joe Nemechek in an all-black #87 D.A.B. Constructors Chevrolet, then three laps after by B.J. McLeod in Mike Mittler’s second truck, the #36 MB Motorsports Chevrolet.  On that same tenth lap, the caution fell for McLeod’s teammate Kevin Donahue, whose #63 Chevrolet hit the wall in Turn 2, placing him 27th.  The next time by, Mike Harmon pulled his #74 Chevrolet in, edging Tommy Regan, who parked Cobb’s #0 Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet.  At this point, everyone from 25th on back looked to be done for the day with only Donahue’s #63 out from a crash.  By Lap 16, the order of the “behind the wall gang” was as follows:

32) #57-Mike Senica / 0 laps / OUT
31) #15-Gray Gaulding / 1 lap / OFF
30) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 3 laps / OFF
29) #87-Joe Nemechek / 7 laps / OUT
28) #36-B.J. McLeod / 10 laps / OUT
27) #63-Kevin Donahue / 10 laps / OUT
26) #74-Mike Harmon / 11 laps / OFF
25) #0-Tommy Regan / 11 laps / OUT

A few laps later, the three drivers listed as “off” returned to the track.  The first of these was Mike Harmon, who by Lap 17 was back out, six laps down.  He ended up turning just one circuit, moving him ahead of Tommy Regan before he cited transmission problems for his DNF.  The next was Gray Gaulding, who found himself in a similar position with Premium Motorsports at Kentucky after his #55 Cup car broke down on the opening lap.  There, as here, Gaulding returned to the track several laps down on the 61st circuit, allowing him to jump seven spots before fuel pump issues left him 25th.  Not long after, Jennifer Jo Cobb also came back on track, dropping Joe Nemechek to 31st.  In the end, she passed the entire group and edged Gaulding for 24th by two laps.

All this left Nemechek, McLeod, Donahue, and Regan – who didn’t return – to fill out the Bottom Five.

LASTCAR STATISTICS
*This marked the first time in two consecutive Truck Series last-place finishers failed to complete the opening lap since July 7, 2016, when Brandon Brown’s engine failure at Gateway was followed by Caleb Roark’s electrical issue at Kentucky.  As of this writing, it has never happened in three straight Truck Series races.
*This marked the first last-place finish for truck #57 in a Truck Series race at Chicagoland.

THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #57-Mike Senica / 0 laps / rear gear
31) #87-Joe Nemechek / 7 laps / vibration
30) #36-B.J. McLeod / 10 laps / electrical
29) #63-Kevin Donahue / 10 laps / crash
28) #0-Tommy Regan / 11 laps / engine

2017 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Norm Benning Racing (4)
2nd) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (3)
3rd) Copp Motorsports, NEMCO Motorsports (2)
4th) Halmar Friesen Racing, Henderson Motorsports, MB Motorsports, MDM Motorsports, TJL Motorsports (1)

2017 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (16)

2017 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP

Friday, September 15, 2017

Entry List Storylines: Chicagoland

PHOTO: @CSTMG3330
CUP SERIES
Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland

Based on the preliminary entry lists, Chicagoland was set to mark the first time in 2017 where all three of NASCAR’s top divisions would have short fields.  By Thursday, late additions came to the rescue for all three.

The preliminary list for Sunday’s Cup playoff opener showed 39 cars for 40 spots, which was increased back to 40 by the addition of Rick Ware Racing’s #51 Chevrolet.  Driving for Ware this week is XFINITY Series regular Ray Black, Jr., who after 31 Truck Series starts and 51 in XFINITY will make his Cup debut.  Black finished 28th in last year’s XFINITY race at the 1.5-mile oval, but will not run double-duty with the SS-Green Light team on Saturday as Spencer Boyd will drive the #07.

Both of BK Racing’s cars made the preliminary entry list, but the drivers weren’t updated until Tuesday.  Corey LaJoie returns to the #23 for the first time since Darlington to make his first NASCAR start at Chicagoland.  While his XFINITY ride for JGL Racing was withdrawn (see below), LaJoie’s Cup ride will carry sponsorship from Jewel Osco.  Driving the #83 at BK is Brett Moffitt, who we haven’t seen in Cup since his 32nd-place finish last month at Michigan.  Moffitt has one Cup start at Chicagoland in 2015, when he finished 31st for Front Row Motorsports.

Moffitt takes the place of Gray Gaulding, who after a two-race stint with BK at Darlington and Richmond will return to Premium Motorsports for the first time since Bristol. Gaulding’s #55 Toyota will be sponsored by the U.S. First Responders Association, and he will also run for Premium in Friday’s Truck Series race (see below).  Reed Sorenson remains in Premium’s #15 Low T Centers Chevrolet for Sunday, a track where his best series finish was a 7th in 2006. Sorenson drives in place of Derrike Cope, who parted ways with Premium after Richmond.

Timmy Hill will drive for Motorsports Business Management at Kansas with U.S. Chrome as sponsor for the #66 Chevrolet.  It will be Hill’s first Cup start at Chicagoland since 2015, when he ran 41st for Premium Motorsports, and his first with U.S. Chrome at the track since 2013, when he drove for Go FAS Racing.

Congratulations to Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing, whose series of strong runs have been rewarded with not one, but two new sponsor announcements.  Debuting on the car this week is Devour Frozen Meals (whose tagline is the cheeky “Food You Want To Fork”), followed by a multiple-race sponsorship from Procore starting next Sunday in New Hampshire.  McDowell is still looking for a strong run at Chicagoland, where his best finish in six starts was a 32nd in 2014, and where last year a flat tire on his #95 drew a controversial late-race caution.

With The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the title brand for Sunday’s race, there will also be a collection of special paint schemes with the stylized characters.  Among them will be Matt DiBenedetto’s #32 Incredible Bank Ford and Jeffrey Earnhardt’s #33 Hulu Chevrolet.

XFINITY SERIES
TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland

As of this writing, the XFINITY Series entry list stands at 40 cars, narrowly averting the first short field in 2017.  Monday’s preliminary list promised to be even shorter following a season-high three preliminary withdrawals from a list of 40.  On top of GMS Racing’s #96 for Ben Kennedy (the team’s third withdrawal of the season) and JD Motorsports’ “start-and-park” #15 for Garret Smithley (the team's sixth withdrawal, see below), Chicagoland saw the first withdrawal of the season for JGL Racing’s #24, which had up to this point run every race this season.  Corey LaJoie, originally slated to drive for JGL this Saturday, will instead focus on Sunday’s Cup race for BK Racing.

Bringing the entry list from 37 to 39 were the late additions Tuesday of owner-drivers Mike Harmon for Veterans Motorsports, Inc. in the #74 Dodge as well as Morgan Shepherd in his #89 Visone RV Motorhome Parts Chevrolet.  Harmon’s best finish in 10 XFINITY starts at Chicagoland was a 22nd-place run in 2003.  He will also run Friday’s Truck Series race (see below).  Shepherd’s best in eight starts were a pair of 25th-place runs in 2010 and 2011.

Getting the list to 40 cars took until just yesterday, when JD Motorsports re-entered the withdrawn #15 with Matt Mills driving. Garrett Smithley, originally slated to run the #15 before it withdrew, will instead drive a one-off in MBM's #40 Toyota alongside Timmy Hill in the #13. Driving in place of Smithley in the JD #0 is first-year K&N Pro Series East and ARCA driver Vinnie Miller, making his series debut. Smithley is expected to return to the #0 next week.

Welcome back Chris Cockrum and Jeff Spraker’s #25 Advanced Communications Group Chevrolet, a driver and team we haven’t seen in the series since their 26th-place finish at Daytona in July.  Cockrum’s speedway-exclusive schedule carries him into his first series start at Chicagoland.  Also making his first Chicagoland start in the series is Canada’s Mario Gosselin, who is currently listed as the driver of his own #90 Chevrolet for his first start since Indianapolis.

Following finishes of 28th, 29th, and 12th during last month’s three road courses, Josh Bilicki makes his first oval-track start in the series since Michigan in B.J. McLeod’s #78 Prevagen Chevrolet.  McLeod himself, replaced by Ray Black, Jr. at Rick Ware Racing in Cup, will return to his own #8 Chevrolet, leaving Tommy Joe Martins without a ride following his 29th-place run at Richmond.

Road America winner Jeremy Clements has been solid at Chicagoland in recent years, finishing inside the Top 20 in four of his last five starts, including a track-best 13th in 2014.

The Nickelodeon / Ninja Turtle group in XFINITY includes Matt Tifft (#19) and Darrell Wallace, Jr. (#98).  Wallace’s “Green Slime” scheme will be on Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s Ford.  Wallace’s best finish in three XFINITY starts at Chicagoland was a 3rd in the fall of 2015, when he trailed Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Contesting Saturday’s win will be Cup Series regulars Austin Dillon (#2), Ty Dillon (#3), Daniel Suarez (#18), Erik Jones (#20), Ryan Blaney (#22), and Kyle Larson (#42).

TRUCK SERIES
TheHouse.com 225 at Chicagoland

30 trucks made Monday’s preliminary list for Friday’s first race of the weekend, but Tuesday’s addition of two trucks has now set a full field of 32.  Joining the preliminary list are Ted Minor, who we last saw finish 27th at Iowa in June, back behind the wheel of his #14 Edge-Guard Chevrolet, and Mike Harmon’s #74, which returned to battle two weeks ago at Mosport, with Harmon himself making his first Truck start since Eldora.  Weeks ago, Mike Affarano was originally slated to make his return to the series for the first time since 2015, but he has since decided not to enter his #03 Chevrolet.

Friday will see Kevin Donahue’s first Truck Series start since he ran 28th at Iowa in June (driving the #63 Mittler Brothers Chevrolet alongside B.J. McLeod in the #36), Myatt Snider’s first start with KBM since his 16th-place run at Kentucky, and will also see Regan Smith and Ricky Benton’s #92 Ford make their first start since a 14th-place finish at Bristol.  Justin Fontaine returns to the series for the first time since Pocono, this time driving Al Niece’s #45 Chevrolet.

Five trucks are missing from Mosport.  Tim Self’s #22 isn’t in the field, so driver Austin Wayne Self will return to Martins Motorsports’ #44 which was withdrawn in Canada.  Bolen Motorsports’ #66 is missing for the third time in four races despite finishing 15th their last two times out.  MDM Motorsports’ #99 is not entered for just the third time this year and the first since Pocono.  The other missing trucks are Charlie Henderson’s #75 and Gaunt Brothers Racing’s #96.

For the first time in their three years in the series, Premium Motorsports will enter two trucks in the same race.  Joining Wendell Chavous, who makes his Chicagoland debut in Jay Robinson’s primary #49 is Cup rookie Gray Gaulding, who will pull double-duty for the same team in Cup and Trucks.  On Friday, Gaulding will drive a #15 Chevrolet.  It will be Gaulding’s first Truck Series start since October 31, 2015, when he finished 21st for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Martinsville.

Chicagoland is also expected to be the last race missed by Stewart Friesen as his Halmar Friesen Racing team finishes its support transition from Tommy Baldwin Racing to GMS Racing.

As he did at Pocono, Mike Senica will pull double-duty between ARCA and the Truck Series, driving for Wayne Hixson in the former and Norm Benning in the latter.  At Mosport, Senica continued his bid to climb the LASTCAR rankings as clutch issues parked him after two laps, ranking him just ahead of Joe Nemechek and Tommy Regan.  Both Nemechek and Regan are entered again for Friday in the same #87 and #0, respectively.  The 2017 LASTCAR lead remains with Todd Peck, who isn’t entered, by virtue of a bottom-five tiebreaker with Nemechek and Regan.

Finally, kudos to both NEMCO Motorsports and particularly Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, which both secured wraps for the Nickelodeon / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles weekend. John Hunter Nemechek's #8 will run a green paint scheme while Jennifer Jo Cobb's #10 will be bright orange.