Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
Cup Series Qualifying will not be a formality this weekend as 41 teams have arrived to attempt the 40-car field for the final race in the Round of 12. The 41st car belongs to StarCom Racing, whose postponed debut at Dover has finally arrived. Cope finished 39th here in the spring for Premium Motorsports, and this week will give car #00 its first Cup Series start since 2011 – if he qualifies on time.
Two Open Teams from Talladega aren’t entered this week: Tommy Baldwin Racing’s #7 and Beard Motorsports’ #75. After running exclusively on the plate tracks in 2017, the Beard team and driver Brendan Gaughan have much to be proud of in their first season, having finished no worse than 26th, scored a season-best of 7th at Daytona, and Gaughan leading his first Cup laps since 2004. In their place are the two teams which skipped Talladega, and have returned as two of the four drivers who will put StarCom Racing to the test in qualifying:
The first is Motorsports Business Management, returning to the track that saw their Cup effort’s debut back in May. Timmy Hill will be behind the wheel of the #66 O.C.R. Gaz Bar Chevrolet following a 33rd-place performance his last time out at Charlotte. He will also run the MBM’s #13 on the XFINITY Series side, where his teammate will be Bobby Dale Earnhardt, who himself will run double-duty between XFINITY and ARCA. (UPDATE: MBM withdrew Hill's Cup entry on Friday, locking StarCom Racing into its first race.)
The second is Rick Ware Racing, which did not start a single restrictor-plate race in 2017 after they came up short in the Can-Am Duels in February. The team made the show in Kansas in May, one of 24 starts in 31 races, and Timmy Hill finished 28th, eight laps down. With Hill driving for MBM, Ware's driver has yet to be announced. (UPDATE: B.J. McLeod returns to the driver's seat for the first time since Charlotte two weeks ago.)
Premium Motorsports’ Open team, the #55 Toyota driven to a 33rd-place finish last week with D.J. Kennington, will this week be driven by Gray Gaulding. Gaulding, who earned a career-best 9th-place finish last Sunday with BK Racing, will carry sponsorship from the local Harrah’s North Kansas City casino, which backed one of Premium’s cars in the last two races here. The Chartered #15 Chevrolet, which saw Mark Thompson’s unheralded Cup return last week, will return to Reed Sorenson with sponsorship from Low T Centers.
The final Open team is BK Racing’s #83 Toyota, the team which carried Gaulding to his strong run last Sunday. Rejoining the team this week is Brett Moffitt, who eyes his seventh Cup start of 2017 and his first series race at Kansas since a 32nd-place run for Front Row Motorsports in 2015. Sponsoring Moffitt’s ride is EarthWater, the brand we last saw with the team in June for Alon Day’s series debut at Sonoma. BK’s Chartered #23 Toyota returns to Corey LaJoie, who after a driver change, sat out last week at Talladega.
Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas
41 teams are also entered for Saturday’s XFINITY race, the second-straight round where at least one car will be sent home after qualifying. Missing from the Charlotte entry list are Penske Racing’s #12 Ford with Sam Hornish, Jr., and King Autosport’s second car, the #92 Chevrolet, with Dexter Bean. Both Obaika Racing’s #77 and GMS Racing’s #96, withdrawn before track activities at Charlotte, are this week not entered at all.
As on the Cup side, the XFINITY Series will also welcome a new team: the #55 March Network Toyota fielded by Jennifer Brown. The team's first driver is to be announced. (UPDATE: Josh Berry will drive, looking for his first XFINITY start in just over a year.)
Also returning for the first time since last month at Kentucky is Precision Performance Motorsports' #46 beatincancerwithduke.org Chevrolet and driver Quin Houff. Houff’s season-best finish remains his 12th-place run at Iowa, second only to last week’s Truck Series winner Parker Kligerman’s 10th-place showing at Road America. It will be both driver and team’s first XFINITY start at Kansas.
Truck Series owner-driver Jennifer Jo Cobb makes her first XFINITY Series race of the year, this time driving B.J. McLeod’s #78 Mark One Electric Chevrolet. All five of Cobb’s most recent XFINITY Series starts came in this same fall race at Kansas, each one-off start with the same Mark One sponsorship. Her best finish at the track was a 22nd in 2012. It will be Cobb’s first start for McLeod after driving her own equipment and for Rick Ware since mid-2011. McLeod himself will drive his #8 Chevrolet with sponsorship from JW Transport, LLC.
After surviving with a 13th-place finish in last Saturday’s Truck race at Talladega, Spencer Boyd returns to SS-Green Light Racing’s #07 for his fifth XFINITY start of 2017 and his first since a 28th-place run at Chicagoland. Sponsorship will come from GruntStyle.com, just as it has in his other NASCAR starts, including his lone Kansas start in Trucks earlier this year, when he ran 20th for Rick Ware. On Thursday, it was reported that Boyd will drive for SS-Green Light full time in the 2018 XFINITY season, piloting car #76.
News also broke on Thursday that Joey Gase will paet ways with Jimmy Means Racing at the end of this season, closing a partnership that covered seven seasons and yielded Means' first top-five finish as an owner. This week, Gase returns to the scene of his 2nd Cup start at a track where his best XFINITY finish was 19th in 2012.
Following his 76th birthday on October 12, Morgan Shepherd is entered in his #89 Visone RV Chevrolet, looking to make his first start at the track since this same race in 2015, when he ran 35th. His best series finish at the track came in 2008, when he ran 24th.
Two weeks after scoring his 100th XFINITY Series last-place finish, Jeff Green will make his second-straight start in RSS Racing’s #38 Chevrolet. Gray Gaulding, who took over Green’s #93 at RSS at Charlotte, will again drive that car as part of a double-duty weekend. Ryan Sieg will make his fourth XFINITY Series start at Kansas on Saturday, a track which saw him finish 8th in this race two years ago.
Next Race: Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville
Saturday, October 28, 2017
I find it funny how in a year where only two new teams have entered all year since February, both of them are gonna end up making their debut at Kansas Speedway. Pretty coincidental.
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