With the release of the Truck Series and XFINITY Series entry lists, this week’s weekend preview will feature updates since the announcements from our previous feature
Friday, February 16, 2018
TRUCKS Race 1 of 23
NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Tommy Joe Martins
The current entry list shows 36 trucks for 32 spots, meaning that four teams will miss the show. This is six fewer than this race last year, when 42 drivers arrived to attempt the field.
DRIVER CHANGE: #1-TJL Motorsports
Jordan Anderson, who drove for TJL last year, has entered his own team, the #3 of Jordan Anderson Racing. In his place will be J.J. Yeley with backing from the Motorsports Safety Group. UPDATE: B.J. McLeod qualified the #1 in place of Yeley.
DRIVER LINEUP: #4, #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
David Gilliland leads off Kyle Busch Motorsports’ team at Daytona, driving the #4 Toyota sponsored by Pedigree. Driving the #51 will be Dawsonville, Georgia’s Spencer Davis, looking to make his series debut in the #51 JBL / Sirius XM Toyota. The team’s third truck, the #46, isn’t entered at Daytona.
RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning is back in his #6 Chevrolet, and eyes his first Daytona start since 2015, when he finished 14th.
NEW TEAM: #7-All Out Motorsports
The first of nine new Truck Series teams slated to make their debut in 2018 is All Out Motorsports, owned by Doug George. Driving the #7 Tru Clear global Toyota is Korbin Forrister, who rain a pair of races last year for SS-Green Light Racing with a best finish of 31st at Michigan.
RETURNING: #8, #87-NEMCO Motorsports
While John Hunter Nemechek prepares to share a ride with Kyle Larson in the XFINITY Series, he is once again running his #8 Chevrolet in the Trucks alongside his father Joe in the #87. Both trucks will carry sponsorship from Fleetwing.
RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Owner-driver Jennifer Jo Cobb is back at Daytona in her #10 Chevrolet with Think Realty as sponsor. Cobb ran 18 of 23 races last year, but didn’t start any of the opening three rounds. Like Norm Benning, the last time she took the green at Daytona was in 2015, when she finished 18th.
RETURNING: #28-FDNY Racing
Jim Rosenblum’s FDNY Racing has traditionally run the plate races, Charlotte, and Pocono exclusively. This year, they return to Daytona, looking to bounce back from a DNQ last year. Just like last year, the team has tabbed Bryan Dauzat to drive the #28 FDNY / American Genomics Chevrolet. Dauzat, age 58, finished 33rd in last Saturday’s ARCA race. UPDATE: It has since been reported that Friday will be Rosenblum's final NASCAR start as an owner, closing a career dating back to 1983.
NEW TEAM: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
While the entry list shows Maury Gallagher as the team owner of Josh Reaume’s #33 R-Coin Chevrolet (following the #33 that Kaz Grala drove for GMS last year), the truck will actually mark the debut of a two-car team, Reaume Brothers Racing. Reaume makes the move from Beaver Motorsports’ #50, which he drove for most of last season. A second truck, the #34, will join the effort later this season.
RETURNING: #47-Chris Fontaine
Restrictor-plate specialist Chris Fontaine returns to the superspeedway with longtime sponsor Glenden Enterprises on his Chevrolet (after running Toyotas last season). Fontaine finished 22nd in this race last year.
RETURNING: #50-Beaver Motorsports
Mark Beaver’s single-truck team ran 24th last year with 2003 series champion Travis Kvapil, and the pair have returned to Daytona this year. With Josh Reaume tending to his own team, it’s likely Kvapil will run more races than the five he did in 2017. The team's Daytona sponsor is Rhino Rush Energy Drink.
NEW TEAM: #54-DGR-CROSLEY
David Gilliland’s two-truck effort also makes its debut at Daytona with support from Kyle Busch for the team’s Toyotas. The #54 hits the track first with ARCA Racing Series regular Bo LeMastus slated to make his NASCAR debut. The 55-year-old LeMastus from Louisville, Kentucky finished 31st in last Saturday’s ARCA opener. The team's #17 truck is expected to join the effort later in 2018.
RETURNING: #63-MB Motorsports
Mike Mittler remains the series’ longest-running Truck Series owner, and has again fielded a #63 Chevrolet for ARCA legend Bobby Gerhart. Gerhart, who was shuffled out late in the ARCA race for a 12th-place finish, will carry longtime sponsor Lucas Oil on the truck.
RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield is back in his own #68 AMVETS / Please Stand Chevrolet, looking to replicate his successful 8th-place run in his most recent start last fall at Talladega.
RETURNING: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
The Chevrolet fielded by XFINITY Series owner-driver Mike Harmon is entered, and Cody Ware was announced as driver on Wednesday.
RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Driver turned broadcaster Parker Kligerman showed flashes of brilliance last year in his limited Truck Series and XFINITY Series efforts. At Daytona, he rejoins Charlie Henderson, the longtime NASCAR team owner who earned his first Truck Series win - and his first NASCAR victory since 1989 - with Kligerman behind the wheel at Talladega. The driver now aims for his second-straight plate race win.
DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
D.J. Copp enters his second season as a Truck Series team owner and has put Scott Stenzel behind the wheel of his #83 E2 Northeast Motorsports Chevrolet. Stenzel looks to make his first Truck Series start since 2014, when he ran seven races for MB Motorsports.
DRIVER CHANGE: #02, #20-Young's Motorsports
Randy Young and Bryan Hill's twin white Chevrolets are back. The team has brought aboard Scott Lagasse, Jr. for another of his yearly attempts to run in the Truck and/or XFINITY opener. Sponsorship for Lagasse's #20 comes from the American Cancer Society. Austin Hill is entered as his teammate in the #02 GoShare.co Chevrolet.
MISSING: #99-MDM Motorsports
One of the most notable teams missing from this year’s list is MDM Motorsports, which broke through with their first win (though encumbered) with Darrell Wallace, Jr. at Michigan. This team was one of many collected in the Lap 2 accident that marred the start of the 2017 race, handing them a last-place finish. The team is expected to return this year, according to the current Owner Points chart.
MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
MISSING: #36-MB Motorsports
MISSING: #57-Norm Benning Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb has not, as yet, entered her second truck, the #0, which made 12 races this year. Also missing are the second entries belonging to MB Motorsports (#36) and Norm Benning Racing (#57), which were also used to help fill fields last year. The missing #57 is curious as last year’s driver Mike Senica has made several Twitter posts, including him in a new driver’s uniform.
CUP INVADERS: #4-David Gilliland
Saturday, February 17, 2018
XFINITY Race 1 of 33
PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona
2017 Last-Place Finisher: David Starr
The preliminary entry list shows 46 drivers for 40 spots, meaning that six drivers will go home after time trials. That’s a two-car increase from the 2017 running, which had two withdrawals to get it down to 44.
RETURNING: #15-JD Motorsports
After it was originally announced that JD Motorsports would not be entering their fourth car, the #15, until next week at Atlanta for Matt Tifft, the car is entered this weekend with NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek behind the wheel. Nemechek drove for JD in the last two races of 2017, finishing 35th at Phoenix in the #15 and 27th at Homestead in the #01. Flex Tape will sponsor the car.
RETURNING: #25-ACG Motorsports
Chris Cockrum is back along with the Advanced Communications Group team led by Jeff Spraker. Cockrum eyes his first XFINITY Series start since last September at Chicago, where he finished 30th. He ran 28th in this Daytona race last year.
UPDATE: #35-SS Green Light Racing
Joey Gase’s return to the XFINITY Series will be under the Go FAS Racing banner, but it will be fielded by SS Green Light Racing, which also is entering Spencer Boyd’s #76 Grunt Style Chevrolet. A similar arrangement was done between SS Green Light and B.J. McLeod Motorsports last year, when they coordinated the #99 Chevrolet driven by David Starr.
NUMBER CHANGE: #36, #90-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin’s DGM team (King Autosport) retains a two-car lineup in 2018 with the former #92 now the #36 to be driven for the entire XFINITY season by defending NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Alex Labbe. Labbe has three XFINITY starts to his credit, most recently at Charlotte last May, where he ran 33rd. Most importantly, he has the Owner Points of the ##3 from Richard Childress Racing. He’ll be teamed at Daytona with Josh Williams, last year’s driver of the Gosselin #92, who this year drive the primary #90.
UPDATE: #38, #39, #93-RSS Racing
The rest of the RSS Racing trio was revealed this week. Jeff Green, already announced to make his return to the team, will once again drive the #38 Chevrolet he and Gray Gaulding helped debut last fall. At Daytona, the car will carry sponsorship from Night Owl Contractors, Inc. Driving the #39, once the team’s primary car, will be J.J. Yeley, who makes the move from TriStar Motorsports and attempts double-duty with the Truck Series. And, no, there will be no “start-and-parking” at Daytona – all three will attempt the full race.
NUMBER CHANGE: #40, #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s XFINITY Series team returns to action in 2018 with both of its cars. The #13 is now the #66, matching the team’s Cup Series car number, and will have Timmy Hill driving at Daytona. The #40, running the same number as last year, will see Chad Finchum behind the wheel, and has Owner Points from the #48 of Chip Ganassi Racing, Brennan Poole’s old ride.
SPONSOR UPDATE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Whataburger, one of David Starr's sponsors from last year, has signed with his new ride for Jimmy Means at Daytona.
RETURNING: #54-NXT Motorsports
The new NXT Motorsports team (formerly NextGen Motorsports, which debuted late last season), has tabbed Gray Gaulding to attempt double-duty with the 500. The Toyota will be sponsored by VSI Racing.
RETURNING: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Amid the many team and driver changes over the offseason, both owner-drivers – Mike Harmon and Morgan Shepherd – are back again in 2018.
MISSING: #14-TriStar Motorsports
Now starting their second Cup Series season, TriStar Motorsports has suspended operations of their XFINITY Series team after eight seasons and a best finish of 4th by Jason Keller at Talladega in 2010. The Owner Points have moved to the new #55 team of JP Motorsports, which obtained several Toyotas from TriStar.
MISSING: #33-Richard Childress Racing
The Owner Points of this team moved to the #36 of Alex Labbe for DGM Racing.
MISSING: #48-Chip Ganassi Racing
The Owner Points of this team moved to the #40 of Chad Finchum for Motorsports Business Management.
CUP INVADERS: #3-Austin Dillon, #18-Daniel Suarez, #22-Joey Logano, #42-Kyle Larson, #88-Chase Elliott, #98-Aric Almirola
Sunday, February 18, 2018
CUP Race 1 of 36
Daytona 500 at Daytona
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Matt Kenseth
Still 40 cars for 40 spots – barely. TriStar Motorsports struggled to get their #72 for Corey LaJoie to the garage in time for sign-in day, and according to Bob Pockrass, arrived overnight just hours before the Saturday morning deadline.
DRIVER UPDATE: #23-BK Racing
The all-white #23 Toyota was unloaded in the Daytona infield without a driver’s name above the door, but on the night before his 20th birthday, Gray Gaulding was tabbed to drive. He arrived at the track in his uniform from last fall and prepared to drive. The team has remained on the edge all week – the car didn’t practice until the final two minutes of the opening session, couldn’t get through the engine phase of technical inspection and couldn’t qualify, sending him last in his Duel. Hours before the Duels, it was announced that BK Racing had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but is still looking ti keep the team going through its reorganization.
STILL MISSING: Landon Cassill
The second-most surprising spectator of this year’s SpeedWeeks behind Austin Theriault, the defending ARCA Racing Series Champion.
LASTCAR STAT OF THE WEEK
Car #66 holds the record for the most last-place finishes in Cup Series history with 51, five more than any other number. The most recent came with Timmy Hill at Dover last fall. The number’s first last-place run at Daytona came in the 1978 Daytona 500, when Harry Gant lost the engine after the opening lap. It was the first of Gant’s ten career Cup last-place finishes. Mark Thompson runs the number in the Daytona 500 this Sunday.