Friday, March 9, 2018

PREVIEW: A driver-sponsored car and a returning team stand out on ISM Raceway entry list

PHOTO: @GauntBrosRacing
Saturday, March 10, 2018
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
DC Solar 200 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jordan Anderson

There are exactly 40 drivers entered to attempt this Saturday’s 40-car field, meaning that all entrants will start the race.

DRIVER SWAP: #0, #15-JD Motorsports
Johnny Davis has once again changed his driver lineup for this weekend with Garrett Smithley moving from the #15 to the #0 and Matt Mills from the #0 to the #15.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
In the first of several Cup drivers swaps in the XFINITY Series, Ty Dillon returns to the seat of the #3 in place of brother Austin, 12th in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
Brad Keselowski goes from the broadcast booth to the driver’s seat, replacing teammate Ryan Blaney, who ran 4th last week.

DRIVER SWAP: #38, #93-RSS Racing
Per the RSS team's Twitter on Tuesday, Jeff Green and J.J. Yeley have swapped rides. Yeley will drive the #38 with returning sponsorship from Superior Essex. Green will move to the #93. Ryan Sieg remains in the team's primary car, the #39.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
Jamie McMurray will make his first XFINITY Series start since 2013 as he takes the place of teammate Kyle Larson in the #42 DC Solar Chevrolet.

UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
In addition to landing sponsor Koolbox for this weekend, Harmon's team tweeted Thursday that he has signed a multi-race deal with Horizon Trabsport to back both his XFINITY and Truck Series efforts.

MISSING: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
After back-to-back withdrawals without drivers listed, B.J. McLeod has not entered his third car, the #99 Toyota, this weekend.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Ty Dillon, #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Brad Keselowski, #42-Jamie McMurray

Sunday, March 11, 2018
CUP Race 4 of 36
Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

There are 37 drivers entered to make the 40-car field, marking the third-consecutive short Cup field this season. It’s the shortest Cup field at Phoenix, breaking the previous record of 39 set in the last two spring races. This track once hosted as many as 44 starters in the 1995 and 1996 runnings.

UPDATE: #32-Go FAS Racing
After driver Matt DiBenedetto tweeted on Tuesday morning that his #32 didn’t have a sponsor for Sunday’s race, several drivers including Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Darrell Waltrip pledged funds to the team. According to Chris Knight, all three, along with SS Green Light Racing sponsor Grunt Style, will be associate sponsors on the #32. The team's press release indicated Zynga Poker then signed as primary sponsor, Enlisted Nine Fight Company as secondary, and Pit Stops For Hope as another associate backer. All will have a place on a white Ford with black numbers the team prepared for Sunday. DiBenedetto looks for a good run on Sunday to follow-up his solid 22nd-place performance in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
After fielding cars for the Cup debuts of XFINITY regulars Harrison Rhodes (Atlanta) and Cole Custer (Las Vegas), Ware originally listed Justin Marks, the 12th-place finisher in this year’s Daytona 500. On Wednesday, that changed to Timmy Hill, who made nine starts for Ware in the first 12 races of 2017 before moving to Motorsports Business Management. As of this writing, the #51 does not have a sponsor. UPDATE: By Saturday, the car carried primary sponsorship from Custom Aircraft Cabinets, Inc.

MISSING: #55-Premium Motorsports
Both the second Premium Motorsports car and driver Joey Gase, who last week climbed from last on the grid to 32nd, are not entered this week. Gase will continue his XFINITY effort on Saturday, driving Go FAS Racing’s #35 Donate Life Arizona / Sparks Chevrolet. Premium’s primary #15 LowT Center Chevrolet will again be driven by Ross Chastain following finishes of 30th and 29th in the last two races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Following back-to-back 28th-place runs by Cole Whitt, Corey LaJoie returns to TriStar for the first time since his last-place finish in the Daytona 500. LaJoie finished 38th and 31st in last year’s Phoenix races driving for BK Racing.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Gaunt Brothers Racing returns for the first time since their 24th-place performance in the Daytona 500 for their Cup effort’s first non-superspeedway start. The team’s driver, D.J. Kennington, will return to the scene of his Cup debut in November 2016, when he ran 35th for Premium Motorsports. Then as now, the sponsor on his Toyota will be Northern Provincial Pipelines.

UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Jayski reported on Wednesday that VRX Simulators, which joined the #00 team in the Daytona 500, has extended its partnership with driver Jeffrey Earnhardt through this weekend's race at ISM Raceway, as well as next week in Fontana.

Saturday, March 24, 2018
TRUCKS Race 4 of 23
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Bryce Napier

The Truck Series is off for two weeks and will rejoin the circuit in Martinsville at the end of the month.

The only time a NASCAR driver finished last because of a “fuel leak” occurred August 11, 1963, when owner-driver Lewis V. “Possum” Jones suffered that issue during the Wester North Caorlina 500 at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. The 29-year-old Jones, then competing in his eighth partial season on the tour, lined up 13th in the 27-car field, but fell out after just eight laps. It was the second and final last-place run of Jones’ career, which ended two years later. As of this writing, car #05 hasn’t finished last in a Cup race since October 19, 1980, when Bill Elswick’s #05 Performer Boats Oldsmobile crashed nine laps into the American 500 at Rockingham.

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