Sunday, October 16, 2016

CUP: Open Team Roundup - Kansas (October)

SOURCE: Getty Images

#21 Wood Brothers Racing
Driver: Ryan Blaney
Started 17th, Finished 14th

For the first time since New Hampshire last month, an Open team finished inside the Top 15, and for the first time since then, that driver was Ryan Blaney.  Starting 17th on the grid, Blaney returned to competitive form, hanging around the Top 20 for most of the day.  When Brad Keselowski wrecked spectacularly down the front stretch on Lap 190, the Wood Brothers decided to keep their driver out, handing him 5th on the grid for the restart.  Blaney slipped back to 10th, pitted for fresh tires, and held on in the final laps for his third Top 15 of the Chase.  Blaney will continue to pursue his first career win next Sunday at Talladega, where he finished 9th in May.

#55 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Cole Whitt
Started 36th, Finished 33rd

For the third time this year, Premium Motorsports teammates Cole Whitt and Reed Sorenson swapped rides.  Whitt traded car numbers, but not cars: he climbed aboard the black-and-red Chevrolet which he raced to a 36th-place finish at Chicagoland, Becker Trailers replacing Moen as sponsor.  Like Blaney, Whitt returned to his early-season form, battling for a lead-lap finish.  He went down a lap on the 20th circuit, got the Lucky Dog on Lap 45, and on Lap 95 had climbed to 28th, still on the lead lap.  Only in the final stages did Whitt slip in the order, losing five laps, but remaining second among the Open teams.  If Whitt makes his eighth start at Talladega next week, he will look to improve on an 18th-place run in the spring that threatened to be his first Top Ten before he was caught up in Kevin Harvick’s last-lap wreck.

#98 Premium Motorsports
Driver: Reed Sorenson
Started 39th, Finished 34th

Driving the all-black #98 Toyota with sponsorship from Harrah’s North Kansas City (a strange addition given that the race was sponsored by its own trackside Hollywood Casino), Sorenson came home one lap and one position behind his teammate.  Sorenson did not compete in this spring’s race at Talladega, where Michael Waltrip finished a solid 12th, but Sorenson did finish 22nd for Premium during July’s race at Daytona.

#30 The Motorsports Group
Driver: Josh Wise
Started 40th, Finished 39th

Once again, Josh Wise started shotgun on the field, and while he avoided a last-place finish, he left Kansas with his second DNF in three races.  On Lap 18, Wise became the second driver to be lapped (after Joey Gase in the #32 for Go FAS Racing).  An apparent unscheduled stop on Lap 21 dropped him down another two, and he trailed by three as he continued on.  Six laps down on Lap 115, Wise slapped the wall in Turn 4, drawing the fourth caution of the afternoon.  Though Wise was uninjured and managed to drive to the garage, The Motorsports Group (TMG) was done for the day.  Next week, Wise looks to give TMG its first-ever restrictor-plate start.  Three of the team’s four DNQs this season (excepting Indianapolis) came on the superspeedways.

UPDATE: The Motorsports Group withdrew on Monday.




#26 BK Racing
#35 Front Row Motorsports
#40 Hillman Racing
#59 Leavine Family / Circle Sport Racing
#93 BK Racing

None of the other part-time Open teams attempted the race in Kansas.  Next week at Talladega, however, Roush-Fenway Racing will enter a fourth car, #99, for XFINITY Series driver Ryan Reed to attempt his Cup debut.  Also listed is Front Row Motorsports’ #35, driven by David Gilliland during the season’s previous three restrictor-plate races.

UPDATE: Also returning is BK Racing's #93 with Matt DiBenedetto as Jeffrey Earnhardt will run a specaial Dale Earnhardt tribute in the Chartered #83. Bobby Labonte will once again drive Go FAS Racing's Chartered #32.

1 comment:

Roman Nodonyet said...

Looks like TMG isn't going to take a crack at 'Dega (good call in my opinion - better to allocate resources to weekends where they won't have to beat multiple other open teams at a track type where they've never beaten any of them). BK has posted the 93 with DiBenedetto and Jeffrey Earnhardt in the 83.