Friday, May 18, 2018

PREVIEW: As new teams join the Truck Series, a small field prepares for All-Star Saturday

PHOTO: Ryan Daley, @StarcomRacing
Friday, May 18, 2018
TRUCKS Race 7 of 23
North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Peck

Following three withdrawals, there are 35 drivers entered for 32 spots, meaning that three will miss the show.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Charlotte has traditionally had some of the largest entry lists of the season, and 2018 is no exception. As a result, two “start-and-park” efforts aren’t entered. First of them is Jennifer Jo Cobb’s second truck, driven to a 31st-place finish last week by Joey Gase.

WITHDREW: #1-TJL Motorsports
One week after his last-minute drive for TJL resulted in a 29th-place finish at Kansas, Camden Murphy will not be driving Tracy Lowe’s #1 Chevrolet this week as he moves to MB Motorsports’ #63. The team did not have another driver listed before it was withdrawn on Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch Motorsports returns to a four-truck effort this weekend, and all but Kansas winner Noah Gragson’s #18 will have different drivers. Replacing Kyle Busch in the #4 is Todd Gililand, back in the series for his third start of the season and his first since a 10th-place showing in Dover. Pedigree will sponsor the truck. Busch moves to the #51 (see below).

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
All Out Motorsports returns with designs on their fourth Truck Series start this year, their first since Korbin Forrister’s 21st-place run at Dover. Forrister’s truck is entered with “Now Matters More” in the sponsor slot. Forrister has not made a Truck Series start at Charlotte since 2015, when he finished 29th for Christopher Long.

NEW TEAM: #17-DGR-Crosley
DGR-Crosley expands to two trucks for the first time in 2018. The team brings driver Bo LeMastus over from the primary #54 Toyota to get it into its first race. LeMastus’ run leaves the #54 open for Chris Eggleston, who eyes his series return (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
After Darrell Wallace, Jr. finished 14th in Kansas, Daniel Hemric takes a turn in the #20 Chevrolet for his first Truck Series start since the 2016 finale at Homestead. Overkill Motorsports and Death Wish Coffee join the effort.

MISSING: #36-MB Motorsports
The second “start-and-park” missing from this week’s list is the second Mike Mittler truck, driven last week by Bayley Currey. Currey moves to the sister team, Copp Motorsports, to drive the #83 Ingersoll-Rand Chevrolet (see below).

RETURNING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
KBM’s #46 team returns to the Truck Series for the first time since Todd Gilliland’s 5th-place run at Martinsville last fall. With Gilliland in the #4 this week, Brandon Jones will drive the Mobil 1 Toyota, moving over from the #51 team. Jones finished 9th last week in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
On Friday, Timmy Hill was entered in place of Jamie Mosley, who finished 28th in his series return last week in Kansas. Hill eyes his first Truck Series start sinfe 2016 at Kentucky, when he drove for Premium Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
With Gilliland in the #4 and Jones in the #46, the #51 is freed up for – who else – Kyle Busch. Busch, who was defeated by teammate Noah Gragson last week, is the lone Cup full-timer in Friday’s race. CESSNA returns as sponsor.

With Bo LeMastus in DGR-Crosley’s new #17, it’s time to welcome back Chris Eggleston to the Truck Series. Eggleston last ran a truck race on July 11, 2014, when he finished 19th at Iowa for SS-Green Light Racing. Over the following three years, Eggleston moved to the K&N Pro Series West, where he and Bill McAnally Racing enjoyed tremendous success. Teamed with Todd Gilliland, Eggleston won eight races and the 2015 title. He now returns for his first Truck Series start at Charlotte since 2011, when he ran 29th for Steve Urvan. Sponsorship comes from Globe Sprinkler and H2O Fire Protection.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
One week after Kevin Donahue scored his first last-place finish in Kansas, Camden Murphy moves from TJL Racing’s #1 to take his place. With returning sponsorship from, Murphy looks to make his first Truck Series start at Charlotte. UPDATE: J.J. Yeley was entered in Murphy's place on Friday.

WITHDREW: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Friday was to see the return of Clay Greenfield, who we last saw finish 28Th in Atlanta for TJL Racing. He was entered in his family’s #68 AMVETS Chevrolet for the first time since the Daytona opener, where he started 3rd and enjoyed a career run before a wreck left him 22nd. The team withdrew on Wednesday. As it happens, Greenfield has just one Truck Series start at Charlotte – May 18, 2012, when he finished last.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
With news of his upcoming Cup return next week in the Coca-Cola 600, Parker Kligerman is back in action on the Truck Series side, looking to make his fourth start of 2018 and first since a 28th-place run at Dover. Kligerman’s best of four Charlotte starts was his first in 2011, when he finished 8th for Brad Keselowski Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Moving from the “start-and-park” #36 to the #83 is Bayley Currey, replacing Kyle Donahue. Ingersoll-Rand is the listed sponsor for the effort. It will be Currey’s first Truck Series start at Charlotte.

WITHDREW: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
A third withdrawal came Friday as NEMCO pulled their second truck for Joe Nemechek.

RETURNING: #92-RBR Enterprises
Ricky Benton’s team rejoins the circuit this week with Timothy Peters, a first for both driver and team since Peters’ Cup debut with Benton at Talladega. Peters has 12 prior Charlotte starts in the Truck Series. In his last four, he’s finished no worse than 7th, including a pair of track-best 5th-place runs in 2014 and 2017.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Jesse Little’s part-time effort roars into Charlotte following finishes of 8th in Atlanta and 9th at Dover. It will be the youngster’s first Truck Series start at the track.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Monster Energy Open at Charlotte
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Corey LaJoie

There are 21 drivers entered in this Saturday’s Open race to qualify for the All-Star main event. It’s the fewest starters in this event since the inaugural Atlanta Invitational in 1986, where only 14 drivers were invited to start. The previous record was 22 in 2012. Four of the following drivers will transfer: the three winners of each stage (Lap 20, Lap 40, and Lap 50), plus the All-Star Fan Vote winner. The other 17 will fail to qualify. Many of those will use this as a test session for next week’s Coca-Cola 600.

#9-Chase Elliott
#10-Aric Almirola
#13-Ty Dillon
#15-Ross Chastain
#19-Daniel Suarez
#20-Erik Jones
#21-Paul Menard
#23-Gray Gaulding
#24-William Byron
#32-Matt DiBenedetto
#34-Michael McDowell
#37-Chris Buescher
#38-David Ragan
#43-Darrell Wallace, Jr.
#47-A.J. Allmendinger
#51-B.J. McLeod
#55-Reed Sorenson
#66-Timmy Hill
#72-Corey LaJoie
#88-Alex Bowman
#00-Landon Cassill

Ross Chastain, William Byron, Darrell Wallace, Jr., and Harrison Rhodes are set to make their first-ever starts in the All-Star Open. Rhodes, the only driver on this list who didn’t run Kansas last Saturday, makes his first Cup start since Richmond, where he ran 36th in Rick Ware’s #51. UPDATE: B.J. McLeod is entered in the #51, meaning all Kansas entrants are in the race (McLeod makes his All-Star debut). Premium Motorsports and StarCom Racing have only entered one of their two eligible teams (see below). CORRECTION: Premium has entered their second car, the #55 Toyota, with Reed Sorenson. Landon Cassill, in StarCom’s #00, welcomes new sponsorship from Dairi-O, which will also back the team in the Coca-Cola 600. Timmy Hill has new backing from Sentinal ONE on Motorsports Business Management’s #66 Toyota, including a brand new wrap for the car. William Byron debuts new sponsorship from Hertz Car Rentals on his #24, the beginning of a two-year part-time sponsorship deal. As of this writing, Gray Gaulding does not have a sponsor listed on the #23 Toyota for BK Racing, just as they didn’t in Kansas. Cole Whitt is not entered as Corey LaJoie remains in the #72 for TriStar Motorsports.

#8-Richard Childress Racing
#62-Beard Motorsports
#92-RBR Enterprises
#96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
#99-StarCom Racing

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Matt Kenseth

There are 17 drivers qualified for the 2018 All-Star Race. Joining these 17 will be the three stage winners from the Monster Energy Open and the All-Star Fan Vote winner for a starting field of 21. Despite the record small field for the Open, Saturday will be the biggest All-Star field since 2014, when 22 took the green.

#1-Jamie McMurray
#2-Brad Keselowski
#3-Austin Dillon
#4-Kevin Harvick
#6-Matt Kenseth
#11-Denny Hamlin
#12-Ryan Blaney
#14-Clint Bowyer
#17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
#18-Kyle Busch
#22-Joey Logano
#31-Ryan Newman
#41-Kurt Busch
#42-Kyle Larson
#48-Jimmie Johnson
#78-Martin Truex, Jr.
#95-Kasey Kahne

The biggest standout on the list is Matt Kenseth, whose deal to run Roush-Fenway’s #6 has included the All-Star Race, which he won in 2004. Roush Industries is the listed sponsor of Kenseth’s car, which will be a throwback scheme to Mark Martin's Eagle One Ford that won the 1998 All-Star Race. Other notable sponsors on the preliminary list are the “Stewart-Haas Racing Fan Club” for Clint Bowyer’s #14 Ford, Hawk and Carlisle on Joey Logano’s #22 Ford, and Dumont Jets for Kasey Kahne’s #95 Chevrolet. Kahne's car will also be a throwback to his 2008 All-Star paint scheme for Gillett-Evernham.

Saturday, May 26, 2018
XFINITY Race 11 of 33
Alsco 300 at Charlotte
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Stephen Leicht

The XFINITY Series returns next week in the lead-up to the Coca-Cola 600.

Kaz Grala tweeted on Tuesday night that his contract with JGL Racing will not be honored for the rest of 2018. His best finish of what was supposed to be a full-time ride was a 4th at Daytona. A new driver has yet to be announced. UPDATE: Reports indicate that JGL will shut down the #24 for the time being, the second time JGL has done so in as many years.

NEW TEAM: #61-Fury Race Cars
Grala did not stay out of a ride for long. On Friday, Fury Race Cars announced they will field a #61 Ford for Grala in the next four races, starting with Charlotte. The Mooresville-based Fury team is new to the XFINITY Series, but by no means are they a start-up. Fury, whose crew includes former DEI crew chief Tony Eury, Jr., have been building short track stock cars and modifieds since 2016.

In 10 of 32 runnings, the All-Star Open’s last-place finisher failed to complete a single lap. Four times in a row from 1991 through 1994, the last-place finisher didn’t start the race. Four other times, the last-place finisher took the green, but failed to complete the opening lap due to crashes or mechanical issues. Delma Cowart was disallowed from starting the 1997 running for allegedly not going through inspection. Just as perplexing was 2002, when Frank Kimmel was apparently entered in Travis Carter’s #26 Ford, didn’t turn a lap in qualifying and was withdrawn, but for some reason is still classified last in the final running order.

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