Thursday, February 27, 2020

PREVIEW: Multiple tributes - but only a handful of team changes - highlight Fontana entry lists

PHOTO: @blaney
Fontana marks the first race of the season for our trackside last-place coverage, and my first time being credentialed at the track. Stay tuned to this website and my Twitter @LASTCARonBROCK for updates throughout the weekend. And if you’d like to ride along with us, click here to join any level of my Patreon and get your name on our car magnet. You’ll also be entered in a drawing to win it after the race!

Saturday, February 29, 2020
XFINITY Race 3 of 33
Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Caesar Bacarella

There are 36 drivers entered for as many starting spots, meaning no teams will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Myatt Snider moves from the #21 to the #93, taking the place of Joey Gase, who isn’t entered in Saturday’s ace. Snider finished 16th last Sunday following his late-race incident with Noah Gragson, three spots ahead of Gase in 19th. Taking Snider’s place in the #21 is Anthony Alfredo, who will be sponsored by Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup and Ralph’s Supermarkets. This will be Alfredo’s first XFINITY Series start, and his first in NASCAR’s top three series since his first-lap engine failure at Homestead last fall.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Back in the #61 for the first time since Daytona is Austin Hill, who takes the place of Timmy Hill, 26th last Sunday in Vegas. Timmy Hill will instead focus on Sunday’s Cup Series race, where he again runs MBM’s #66.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Team owner Mike Harmon takes the place of Kyle Weatherman, who isn’t entered this week after a 30th-place showing in Vegas. It will be Harmon’s first series start since the Daytona opener, where he ran 16th behind teammate Joe Nemechek in 15th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
After Mason Massey finished 29th in his series debut last week in Las Vegas, Josh Bilicki – the last-place finisher of the Truck Series race the night before – will take his place in the #99 Toyota.

Sunday, March 1, 2020
CUP Race 3 of 36
Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Clint Bowyer

There are 38 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning no teams will fail to qualify. On this second leg of the “West Coast Swing,” it is also the exact same roster of 38 drivers and teams that ran last Sunday in Las Vegas.

TRIBUTE: #12-Penske Racing
TRIBUTE: #24-Hendrick Motorsports
TRIBUTE: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Rumors swirled on Monday that William Byron would run a paint scheme honoring the life of Kobe Bryant, whose public memorial service was held at the Staples Center that same day. By Tuesday, it was revealed both Byron and Ryan Blaney will run purple-and-gold schemes in Sunday’s race. Blaney’s has its origins with sponsor BodyArmor, which had both Blaney and Bryant represent the brand. In addition, Daniel Suarez will wear special Kobe-themed gloves and shoes in the race, designed by local artist Kickstradomis.

TRIBUTE: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
There will also be several tributes to Jimmie Johnson as he runs his last race at the scene of his first Cup victory in 2002. Among these are a mural painted on the property and his wife and two children serving as the honorary starters

Saturday, March 14, 2020
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Georgia 200 at Atlanta
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joe Nemechek

The Truck Series returns in three weeks to join the upcoming action at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Today in LASTCAR History (February 27, 1994): The late Billy Standridge scored his first career Cup Series last-place finish on this day when his #47 Johnson Racing Ford was involved in a multi-car accident with Rich Bickle and Bill Elliott after 55 laps of the Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham. This also happened to be Standridge’s Cup Series debut, one week after the Daytona 500 marked his fourth DNQ. Standridge made 23 Cup Series starts in all, capped by the 1998 season, when he qualified his car into all four Winston Cup superspeedway races.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

CUP: Timmy Hill’s last-place run in Vegas follows a memorable week in Daytona

PHOTO: Matt Miller, @MGMiller17
Timmy Hill picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #66 Manscaped / Toyota fell out with rear end trouble after 175 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 94th series start, was his first of the season and first in the series since November 11, 2018, when an oil leak ended his run at Phoenix, 39 races ago. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 57th for the #66, the 60th from rear end trouble, and the 159th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 68th for the #66, the 107th from a broken rear end, and the 327th for Toyota.

After nearly a decade of competing part-time in all three of NASCAR’s top three series, Hill turned out to be one of the biggest stories of SpeedWeeks 2020. The offseason saw the 27-year-old Maryland driver pick up new sponsorship from, allowing him to run double-duty at Daytona in both the XFINITY Series and in Cup. He would run both races for Motorsports Business Management, whose team owner Carl Long looked to field multiple cars in both series.

Both were chances Hill eagerly anticipated - on the XFINITY side, he had never finished worse than 23rd in eight previous Daytona starts, and was vying for a Top Five there last July before an accident left him 20th. But Hill had never made a Cup start in either Daytona race. His lone attempt at the Daytona 500 came in 2017, when his Rick Ware Racing entry fell short of racing into “The Great American Race.”

The week proved a success for both driver and team, though not without challenges. In Saturday’s XFINITY race, Hill qualified the team’s Supra 26th on the grid, though he would race without his crew chief Sebastian LaForge. According to the team, a hired paint shop put a narrow strip of body filler around the headlights without telling anyone at MBM. When NASCAR discovered this during inspection, they suspended LaForge for six races, fined the team $50,000, and docked MBM 75 owner points. With the Bondo stripped away, Hill was allowed to race, and charged to a 3rd-place finish – his new career best. LaForge, watching intently from outside the XFINITY garage, celebrated with his teammates after the race.

For the even bigger goal of the Daytona 500, Hill would drive a Ford in place of MBM’s typical Toyotas, and a Roush-Yates engine was under the hood. While Hill narrowly missed locking himself into the 500 field on speed, he had a good enough car to race for the spot in Duel Race 2. For much of that Thursday night, Hill raced side-by-side with J.J. Yeley, knowing that only one of them would earn a spot in the race. In the end, Yeley wrecked on the backstretch, and Hill squeezed by, finishing 16th. Locked into his first Daytona 500 field, Hill became the week’s media darling with several interviews. He also completed all 200 laps, only to be wrecked in overtime for a 27th-place finish.

Hill would run triple-duty in Las Vegas, combined with his first Truck Series start of the year in the #56 team co-owned by his brother Tyler. After Gus Dean finished 26th in Hill’s truck at Daytona, Hill himself worked his way toward the front, only to overheat in the final laps. Multiple stops dropped Hill off the lead lap, and he ended up pulling into the garage just short of the finish. Rain then washed out qualifying for both the XFINITY and Truck Series race, where Hill was locked into each. His #61, a Toyota Camry, would start 29th in the Saturday race. The #66 Toyota Cup car, ranked lowest in Owner Points among “open teams,” secured the 38th and final spot for Sunday. After just 50 laps on Saturday before rain stopped the day’s action, Hill prepared to run the two races on Sunday.

The Cup race came first, where five drivers dropped to the rear. Headlining the group were three Toyota drivers again caught for illegal body modifications – specifically, an unapproved piece below the Toyota crest on the front of each car. The cars of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Christopher Bell were all penalized for the modification while Martin Truex, Jr. and Erik Jones, both teammates of Hamlin and Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing, did not. Also sent to the rear were Garrett Smithley, whose first turn of the season in Rick Ware Racing’s unsponsored #51 Chevrolet began with the car failing pre-race inspection three times, and Brennan Poole, whose Premium Motorsports team had to change engines on his #15 Goettl Chevrolet.

Coming down the backstretch to take the green, wisps of smoke appeared behind the #96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota of Daniel Suarez. Just over a week after he failed to make the Daytona 500 following a crash in his Duel, his car sputtered and slowed in Turns 3 and 4, falling out of line and creeping toward the starting line as the rest of the field took off. The caution fell as Suarez lost a lap, then was pushed back to pit road. The crew prepared a battery swap, examined the digital screen readouts and the ECU, then managed to get him back on track just under three laps down.

Next to take the last spot was Garrett Smithley, whose penalized #51 now had a serious overheating problem. The driver made at least two pit stops in the first 14 laps, reporting a water temperature of 247 degrees. The crew pulled all the tape of the grille and sent him back on track, now the last-place runner after 15 laps. Due to a handling issue on top of everything else, Smithley was visibly off the pace as the leaders put him another lap down.

Michael McDowell was the race’s newest challenger when his #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford became the first car to pull into the garage. The Front Row Motorsports team reported a stuck throttle, requiring several laps for repairs. McDowell dropped to last place on Lap 38, and was in position to not only score his fourth last-place finish in a Cup Series race at Las Vegas, but also break his tie with Joe Nemechek for the most last-place finishes in Cup Series history. McDowell returned to the track on Lap 50, now eighteen laps behind the leaders. Though McDowell remained in last place for much of the race, he gradually closed the thirteen-lap gap on 37th-place Smithley. By Lap 100, the two were 11 laps apart. They were nine apart after 151 laps.

It was during this stretch run that two different Toyotas looked to spoil the party. First was Christopher Bell, who after an incredible save in Turn 4 slammed the backstretch wall laps later with the right-front of his #95 Rheem Toyota. The Leavine Family Racing team managed to keep Bell from losing more than five laps, and somehow completed their repairs with ten seconds left on the six-minute “Crash Clock.” Bell missed the Bottom Five with a 33rd-place finish. Next was Martin Truex, Jr., who after running 2nd to Chase Elliott lost track position for an unscheduled second stop for loose wheels. Truex’s #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota clipped the wall on Lap 174, then lost a right-front and hit it much harder. Truex, too, cleared the “Crash Clock” and even stayed on the lead lap, ultimately taking 20th.

Hill, meanwhile, lost his first lap shortly after Suarez and Smithley, and was again trying to hold his line as the leaders raced all around him. Hill himself later tweeted that his car was leaking fluid around the halfway mark, then was black-flagged by NASCAR on Lap 185. Already nine laps down, Hill pulled down pit road, then back to the garage. On Lap 193, NASCAR officials reported Hill was the first driver out of the race, citing rear end trouble. Hill took the last spot from McDowell on Lap 198, averting the record run. McDowell climbed to 36th with Smithley taking 35th. Between the pair and Hill came Ryan Preece, who inherited the 2nd spot in the race’s final laps, only to lose the engine on his #37 Natural Light Seltzer Chevrolet. Rounding out the group was Reed Sorenson, 14 laps down in his return to Spire Motorsports’ #77 Chevrolet.

*This marked the second-consecutive last-place finish for the #66 in the spring Cup Series race at Las Vegas. It comes just under one year since “The Lastover,” where Joey Gase famously swept both last-place finishes while the MBM team tried to find a missing crew member.

38) #66-Timmy Hill / 175 laps / rear end
37) #37-Ryan Preece / 222 laps / engine
36) #34-Michael McDowell / 245 laps / running
35) #51-Garrett Smithley / 252 laps / running
34) #77-Reed Sorenson / 253 laps / running

1st) Hendrick Motorsports, Motorsports Business Management (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Toyota (1)


XFINITY: Battered Daniel Hemric manages to squeak past Landon Cassill before the rain in Vegas

PHOTO: Cindy Shepherd
Landon Cassill picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday (and Sunday’s) Boyd Gaming 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 31 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Cassill’s 141st series start, was his first since last fall at Phoenix, three races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 14th for the #89, the 139th from a vibration, and the 542nd for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 36th for the #89, the 213th from a vibration, and the 1,705th for Chevrolet.

Las Vegas marked the 2020 season debut of both Cassill and Morgan Shepherd’s single-car operation. It was also their first start since a breakout performance under the lights at Homestead last fall, where the team made a rare full-race attempt. Thank to support from longtime team backers Dale and Sandra Dietrich, who paid the team’s tire bill, Cassill finished 15th, and even edged race winner Tyler Reddick to the finish line to stay just one lap down.

At the time of the Homestead race, Cassill had planned on helping Shepherd continue to build his program in 2020 while also competing full-time for StarCom Racing in the Cup Series. That changed over the offseason, when Cassill was replaced by Quin Houff in StarCom’s #00, leaving him without a Cup ride. The Shepherd team didn’t attempt the Daytona opener, but planned to run the rest of the season – a year where a further field reduction to just 36 grid spots threatened to make things even more difficult for small teams like his.

Fortunately, exactly 36 drivers were entered in Saturday’s race, and when qualifying was rained out, his #89 secured the final starting spot. The car also carried several new associate sponsors which joined since the end of last season – David’s Electric, Carolina Fire Protection, Inc., and Rollin’ Smoke Barbecue, plus a decal promoting Friday’s Strat 200 Truck Series race. The new logos didn’t get much airtime in practice as Cassill was one of three drivers who didn’t turn a lap in the lone session, but he would start the race.

With rain fast approaching the race track Saturday afternoon, Cassill was joined at the back by two cars sent to the rear of the field – polesitter Myatt Snider, sent to a backup after a spin in practice tore the splitter off his #21 Tax Slayer Chevrolet, and Robby Lyons in the #15 Sunwest Construction Chevrolet. The broadcast also showed other small teams falling to the rear, including the #74 Finlay Cadillac Chevrolet driven this week by Kyle Weatherman and the #66 MBM Motorsports Toyota Camry of Stephen Leicht.

Leicht, making his own season debut, was last across the stripe, 5.6 seconds back of the lead. He was also the first driver to be lapped when the leaders whistled past on the high side on Lap 11. Leicht was still running last on Lap 20 when trouble broke out up front. Daniel Hemric, still another driver returning to the circuit for the first time in 2020, had worked his way up to 4th in JR Motorsports’ #8 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet. That time by, he was holding off Austin Cindric when the #8 broke loose in Turn 4. The car wobbled down the track, then slid up and slammed the outside wall with the right side. This crash became NASCAR’s competition caution, which had originally been set for Lap 20.

On Lap 23, Hemric returned to the track just as the field took the green flag but was now laps down and behind Leicht for last place. He pitted again on Lap 25, apparently clear of the Crash Clock, and now five laps down. Cassill, meanwhile, was running on the lead lap in 33rd, but then pulled down pit road with 12 laps to go in Stage 1. The car then pulled behind the wall, done for the afternoon. By the time the rain hit after the end of Stage 1, then stopped the race on Lap 50, Hemric had climbed past Cassill into 35th – Cassill 16 laps down to Hemric’s 13. Neither driver would return for the race’s completion on Sunday evening, and they would take the final two positions.

The rest of the Bottom Five was filled out after the Cup Series race. The lapped Stephen Leicht continued on in the early laps, pulling to the apron for the Lap 55 restart, then exited past the halfway mark. Finishing 33rd was B.J. McLeod, who lost several laps of his own in the #0 JD Motorsports Chevrolet, then fell out with ignition issues. Rounding out the group was Tommy Joe Martins, who bounced back from a DNQ in Daytona to qualify his own XFINITY car for the first time in 2020. Martins was headed for a mid-pack finish when he was forced to make an extended stay in the garage area. The engine then let go near the end, triggering a small fire behind the right-front tire.

Although the field was set by points, an offseason Owner Point swap following the closure of Stewart-Haas Racing’s second team meant J.J. Yeley lined up 5th in the #52 Franklin Signs Chevrolet owned by Jimmy Means. He even moved up to 3rd for the initial start after Snider’s penalty dropped the polesitter to the back. It was the best-ever start by a Jimmy Means-owned car in 900 combined NASCAR national touring series starts. Means’ Cup car had a best of 12th at the Nashville Fairgrounds in 1978, then again at Atlanta in 1994. The XFINITY team had never started better than 17th, which came at Daytona in July 2009.

36) #89-Landon Cassill / 31 laps / vibration
35) #8-Daniel Hemric / 34 laps / suspension
34) #66-Stephen Leicht / 101 laps / suspension
33) #0-B.J. McLeod / 132 laps / ignition
32) #44-Tommy Joe Martins / 144 laps / engine

1st) Shepherd Racing Ventures, SS-Green Light Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (2)


TRUCKS: Josh Bilicki’s handling woes give truck #34 first last-place finish since 2002

PHOTO: Sebastian LaForge, @WookieAutomoTV
Josh Bilicki picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career in Friday’s Strat 200 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #34 Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet fell out with handling issues after 3 of 134 laps.

The finish came in Bilicki’s 6th series start. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 4th for the #34, the 18th from handling issues, and the 385th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 47th for the #34, the 122nd from handling woes, and the 1,704th for Chevrolet.

It was with this same Reaume Brothers Racing team that Bilicki, the road course racer turned NASCAR journeyman, made his first Truck Series starts just last year. His series debut came last spring at Kansas, where he finished a season-best 18th. After failing to qualify at Charlotte, he followed this run with two more Top 20 performances, running 19th at Chicagoland and 20th in Kentucky. Electrical issues in the Homestead finale ended the streak with a 30th-place finish.

Over the offseason, Bilicki has shored up his business relationship with sponsor Insurance King, which has backed a number of the driver’s races in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series. Among the perks is a former show car trailer from Gray Gaulding’s tenure with SS-Green Light Racing, which was redecorated as the #53 Bilicki has run in Cup for Rick Ware Racing. The sponsor was again with him last week in Daytona, where in the XFINITY race, he ran 21st for team owner B.J. McLeod.

However, at Las Vegas, Bilicki’s first Truck Series start of the season would come in a #34 Chevrolet with no primary sponsorship, and he’d face some difficulties on the track. This came after a rollercoaster week for the Reaume team in Daytona, where the #34 was forced to withdraw after a part failure in practice, teammate Angela Ruch’s #00 was destroyed in a mid-race accident, but Canadian racer Jason White earned a career-best 10th-place finish in the #33.

Bilicki was one of 35 drivers entered for Friday’s 32-truck field. He turned just one lap in opening practice and was ranked next-to-last, besting only Bayley Currey, who didn’t complete a lap in Ray Ciccarelli’s #49 Springrates Chevrolet. The truck struggled for speed even more in qualifying as Bilicki put up the slowest completed lap at just 144.768mph (37.301 seconds), more than seven full seconds off the pole speed. Still, the #34 team’s rank in Owner Points secured Bilicki the 32nd and final starting spot. Sent home were three trucks in the 31-32 second range: Currey’s #49, Korbin Forrister in the #7 All Out Toyota, and Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #10 Chevrolet. Cobb has yet to qualify for a race in 2020.

Prior to the start, Bilicki was joined at the back by Cory Roper for an engine change on his #04 Carquest Ford, plus unapproved adjustment penalties for the #00 DWF Flooring & Cabinets Toyota of Angela Ruch, who spun coming off pit road for her qualifying lap, Stefan Parsons, a late driver swap on Thursday into Ray Ciccarelli’s #83 Springrates Chevrolet, and Matt Crafton in the #88 Black Label Bacon / Menards Ford.

Friday’s race had barely started when, for the second-straight race, Derek Kraus found trouble early, dropping him to last place. This time, the incident was on Lap 2, when his #19 ENEOS / NAPA Filters Toyota spun in Turn 4 and made contact with the right-rear of his truck. Two laps later under the caution, NASCAR officials reported Bilicki had pulled his #34 behind the wall. Scoring, however, showed the Kraus first lose the last spot to Tate Fogleman, who lost two laps in his #02 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet. On Lap 6, Fogleman was then shown in 31st, one lap down, as Bilicki took over the last spot, two circuits back.

While the position would not change again, it was not until Lap 96 – 38 laps to go – when NASCAR officials confirmed Bilicki was out of the race with handling issues.

It took nearly the rest of the race to complete the Bottom Five. Taking 30th and 31st were Raphael Lessard in the #4 Mobil 1 Toyota and last week’s Daytona winner Grant Enfinger in the #98 Protect The Harvest / Curb Records Ford, who brought out the night’s final caution when they spun out racing for position. Finishing 29th was Stefan Parsons, whose turn for Ciccarelli saw him charge into the Top 15 before persistent engine issues which forced several unscheduled stops, leaving them 22 laps down. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Timmy Hill, who parlayed pit strategy to restart among the leaders late in the race, only to lose several laps with unscheduled stops of his own. Hill’s overheating issues on the #56 Hill Motorsports Chevrolet dropped him at least thirteen laps down. When it was clear Parsons couldn’t drop Hill another spot, Hill elected to pull his truck into the garage on Lap 125.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #34 in the Truck Series since November 15, 2002, when the Safelite Auto Glass Chevrolet of Eric Jones (part-time racer from Iowa, no relation to the current Cup Series driver of the #20 Toyota) fractured an axle after 2 laps of the Ford 200 at Homestead. The number had never finished last in a Truck Series race at Las Vegas.
*Handling woes are also a relatively rare reason for a last-place finish in the Truck Series. The most recent time this happened was on August 15, 2015, when Justin Jennings’ run in the #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Chevrolet ended after 6 laps of the Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan.

32) #34-Josh Bilicki / 3 laps / handling
31) #98-Grant Enfinger / 89 laps / crash
30) #4-Raphael Lessard / 90 laps / crash
29) #83-Stefan Parsons/ 112 laps / running
28) #56-Timmy Hill / 113 laps / overheating

1st) Niece Motorsports, Reaume Brothers Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (2)


Thursday, February 20, 2020

PREVIEW: Full-time teams take center stage on Las Vegas entry lists

Joey Gase will recognize the Nevada Donor Network in XFINITY and Cup this weekend.
PHOTO: @RSS383993 and The Decal Source

Friday, February 21, 2020
TRUCKS Race 2 of 23
Strat 250 at Las Vegas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Scott Stenzel

There are 35 drivers entered for 32 spots, meaning three trucks will fail to qualify.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning is not entered in his #6 Chevrolet after he was the slowest driver to fail to qualify in Daytona.

MISSING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
MISSING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
As reported last week in Daytona, neither of the two NEMCO Motorsports entries are entered this week, just days after both trucks surprisingly failed to make Friday’s season opener.

RETURNING: #11-Rette Jones Racing
Spencer Davis returns driving the #11 Toyota with Hearn Industrial as sponsor. Davis made four Truck starts last year, three of them with Rette, including his season-best 8th-place run in Kentucky.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
Jim Rosenblum’s team not entered after their truck was heavily damaged in a late wreck with Tate Fogleman.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Reaume moves from the #34, withdrawn last week after engine trouble, to his team’s primary #33. Into the #34 comes Josh Bilicki, who comes over from his XFINITY run last week in Daytona for B.J. McLeod. Bilicki seeks his first Truck Series start since last fall’s Homestead finale, where he ran 30th with electrical issues. No sponsor is yet listed for either truck.

DRIVER CHANGE: #49-CMI Motorsports
NEW TEAM: #83-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli moves from his team’s primary #49, which failed to qualify in Daytona, to a new second team, the #83. A source indicated D.J. Copp is not a part of the #83 effort, one year after he most recently entered the former MB Motorsports team in a Truck Series race, but that Copp and Ciccarelli “will be working closely with one another at some point this year.” Taking Ciccarelli’s place in the primary #49 is Bayley Currey, who made three Truck starts last year, but none since Michigan in August. Both black Chevrolets are sponsored by Springrates – Currey’s #49 with white numbers while Ciccarelli’s #83 has yellow ones. UPDATE: On Thursday, Stefan Parsons was swapped into the #83 in place of Ray Ciccareli.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch returns to continue his undefeated streak in the series from last year, taking the place of Riley Herbst in the #51 Toyota. CESSNA returns as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
After a career week in Daytona, Timmy Hill will this week drive his team’s #56, taking the place of Daytona starter Gus Dean, 26th in the opener. Hill will attempt triple-duty along with runs in XFINITY and Cup for Motorsports Business Management (see below).

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield is not entered after his Jeff Hammond-led team weren’t able to make the cut in Daytona.

MISSING: #96-Peck Motorsports
Todd Peck is likewise not entered after his Daytona DNQ.

MISSING: #97-Diverisifed Motorsports
Also missing is Jesse Little, who avoided several of the night’s accidents before he was collected in one on Lap 99, leaving him in 24th. Little remains in his full-time XFINITY Series ride for JD Motorsports this weekend, again driving car #4.

MISSING: #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports
Tim Viens, who made appearances at Daytona despite his truck withdrawing from the event, is not entered along with the Mike Affarano team.

CORRECTION: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper’s Carquest Auto Parts sponsor mentioned in last week’s article did not run on the truck at Daytona, and will instead debut as primary backer this Friday in Las Vegas.


Saturday, February 22, 2020
XFINITY Race 2 of 33
Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

There are exactly 36 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning no drivers will be sent home.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Daniel Hemric will make his first start of the season, taking the place of Jeb Burton, eliminated in a late wreck at Daytona that left him 23rd at the finish. This will be Hemric’s first start since he clinched Cup Series Rookie of the Year last fall at Homestead, driving the #8 Chevrolet now piloted by new rookie Tyler Reddick. South Point Hotel & Casino – of Brendan Gaughan fame - is the sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Stephen Leicht, released from JD Motorsports for David Starr, makes his season debut in the #13. This bumps Chad Finchum from the #13 to the #66, and bumps Timmy Hill from the #66 to the #61, taking the place of Austin Hill, who isn’t entered.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Matthew Kaulig’s part-time third team is not entered after the team’s disastrous afternoon in qualifying at Daytona. A.J. Allmendinger is likewise not entered in Saturday’s race.

MISSING: #25-ACG Motorsports
Chris Cockrum is not entered after his mid-race crash at Daytona.

MISSING: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Colin Garrett is not entered after his Toyota-backed Supra failed to make the cut at Daytona.

MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin’s #36 appears to have scaled back to a part-time effort as the car is not entered this week. Alex Labbe, who drove the #36 to a strong 10th-place finish, moves to the team’s #90, taking the place of Caesar Bacarella, who isn’t entered after a 29th-place finish.

MISSING: #38-RSS Racing
The entry Kaulig Racing bought to keep Ross Chastain in Saturday’s race is not entered this week, and Jeff Green will work behind the scenes for the Sieg team. The team has scaled back from “start-and-parking” in non-superspeedway races, and is expected to return at Talladega in April at the earliest.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
The preliminary entry list showed no driver listed for the #74 driven at Daytona by Mike Harmon, who scored a strong 16th-place finish behind teammate Joe Nemechek. Finlay Cadillac is the listed sponsor of the #74 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Landon Cassill is back in his west coast swing driving for Morgan Shepherd. This is Cassill’s first NASCAR start since his final Cup run for StarCom Racing, and his first series start since his breakout performance last fall at Homestead, where tire money from longtime backers Dale & Sandra Dietrich culminated in a 15th-place finish. VisoneRV returns as sponsor once again.

Joey Gase takes the place of C.J. McLaughlin, and brings with him sponsorship from his Sunday backer Nevada Donor Network. Interestingly, the rendering of the car showed the RSS Racing door and roof numbers replaced with a font style similar to that currently used by Rick Ware Racing. According to the press release, the scheme will be run in honor of the late Montana Amato, an organ donor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Mason Massey makes his XFINITY Series debut this week, one year after he made his first seven Truck Series starts for Reaume Brothers Racing with a best season finish of 17th at Pocono. Gerber Collision & Glass is the listed sponsor. Massey takes over for Josh Bilicki, who this week drives for the Reaume Brothers (see above).


Sunday, February 23, 2020
CUP Race 2 of 36
Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, meaning all drivers will qualify. It also marks the first short field of the season, one week after three drivers were sent home before the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
Leading all stories this week is the injuries sustained to Ryan Newman in his scary crash while battling for the win of the Daytona 500. On Monday night, Newman remained in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries. On Tuesday, he was able to speak with his family and doctors. And on Wednesday, he walked out of the hospital under his own power. The preliminary entry list showed “TBA” in place of the driver. Newman has not been cleared to run on Sunday, putting an end to his consecutive start streak of 649 races dating back to the 2002 Daytona 500. Driving in his place Sunday is Ross Chastain, who last week drove for Spire Motorsports (see below).

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Neither Justin Haley nor the RCR-backed Kaulig Racing entry are in this Sunday’s field, one week after Haley recovered from a spin in the day’s biggest pileup to finish 13th. Haley will instead focus on his full-time XFINITY effort, driving Kaulig’s #11.

MISSING: #27-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Jay Robinson’s second car not entered after Reed Sorenson’s late crash in the 500. Sorenson moves back to the #77 from Robinson’s partners at Spire Motorsports, taking the place of Ross Chastain, who was on Wednesday named the relief driver for Ryan Newman (see above). As in 2019, it’s likely the car Sorenson drives this week will not have the support from Chip Ganassi Racing that Chastain enjoyed last week and Jamie McMurray did in 2019. The car has no listed sponsor.

MISSING: #36-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
RETURNING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
David Ragan is not entered after his sterling 4th-place finish in the Daytona 500, his first top-five finish since 2015, and best finish at Daytona since his win there in July 2011. Ragan’s car is also not entered - the Charter used to enter his #36 reverts back to its original owner, Rick Ware’s #53, which this week is driven by Joey Gase with matching XFINITY Series sponsorship from the Nevada Donor Network. Gase makes the move from the #51, which this week is driven by Garrett Smithley, his first start of the year. Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Trophy Tractor will sponsor the Smithley effort for an “expanded schedule” in 2020. Smithley’s most recent Cup start was last fall at Phoenix, where he ran 31st.

MISSING: #49-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum’s car that DNQ’d at Daytona is not entered this week, but Timmy Hill will still drive MBM’s primary #66 on Sunday. Like many drivers not entered in Sunday’s race, Finchum will focus on the XFINITY Series – his ride will be MBM’s #66 (see above).

DRIVER SWAP: #52-Rick Ware Racing
MISSING: #54-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware has also not entered his fourth “open” car, and J.J. Yeley moves from that machine to the #52, taking the place of B.J. McLeod, who isn’t entered after a mid-race spin left him 38th in the Daytona 500.

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Brendan Gaughan is not entered after he, like Justin Haley, recovered from involvement in the late-race pileup to charge back into the lead pack. Making his final Daytona 500 start, Gaughan left the track with a 7th-place finish – his third top-ten since he joined Mark Beard’s effort to run the superspeedways exclusively. Expect driver and team to return to action on the Cup side in Talladega in April.

Today in LASTCAR History (February 20, 1999): Kerry Earnhardt picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Alltel 200 at the North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham) when his #40 Channelock Chevrolet fell out with handling issues after 56 laps. Earnhardt qualified seventh for what was his fifth series start.