Friday, May 4, 2018

PREVIEW: Several changes in Trucks, controversy in XFINITY, and a second StarCom car in Cup at Dover

PHOTO: @j66anderson
Friday, May 4, 2018
TRUCKS Race 5 of 23
Dover 200 at Dover
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Camden Murphy

The Truck Series returns to action for the first time in more than a month. Once again, they have more entries than starting spots – 33 for 32 – meaning one truck will miss the show. With the large time gap, and the most recent round in Martinsville favoring first-time starters, there are many team and driver changes for this week’s race. UPDATE: Make that 32 for 32 with the withdrawal of the #1 (see below).

WITHDREW: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing was set to bring back their second truck for the first time since Las Vegas with Atlanta driver Joey Gase, who ran 27th last Sunday at Talladega for StarCom Racing. On Thursday, the team withdrew. Cobb herself will again run the primary #10. Both trucks are listed with as sponsor.

Following Mike Senica’s rough outing at Martinsville, Ray Ciccarelli will drive for Tracy Lowe’s team. Ciccarelli looks to make his first Truck Series start since his last of six races run in 2017, a last-place performance at Homestead in Cobb’s #10. Senica does not have a ride this weekend. UPDATE: And as of Friday, Ciccarelli doesn't have one, either. Chris Knight reported the team has withdrawn, leaving 32 trucks for 32 spots.

TRIBUTE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
After the tragic accident following last week’s ARCA Racing Series race at Talladega, Jordan Anderson will carry James Hylton’s name on the roof rails of his #3 this week in Dover. Knight Fire Protection will sponsor the truck’s hood. Among the other teams carrying Hylton tributes is JD Motorsports, which has both father and son on the roof rails of at least one of their four XFINITY cars, as does Jimmy Means Racing's #52.

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Welcome back Korbin Forrister and All Out Motorsports, both of which we haven’t seen in the Truck Series since Atlanta. The #7 team had a good start to 2018, finishing 16th in both Daytona and Atlanta, and completing all but one lap run all season. Forrister’s most recent Dover race in the series came in 2015, when he ran 17th for Christopher Long.

Joe Nemechek in for his son John Hunter, who’s again running XFINITY for Chip Ganassi this Saturday. Carrying sponsorship from ACME Grocery Store, the older Nemechek has never made a Truck Series start at Dover, though he won an XFINITY race there from the pole in 2003.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Reed Sorenson returns to the Truck Series for the first time since the 2016 Homestead finale, taking the place of Robby Lyons in Jay Robinson’s #15. Sorenson ran his only six Truck starts for Robinson that season, earning a season-best 18th at Pocono and Talladega. If he qualifies, this will be Sorenson’s first Truck start at Dover, where he has 13 XFINITY starts and 19 in Cup. Sorenson will be running double-duty this weekend as he will also drive Robinson’s #55 VIP Racing Experience Toyota in Sunday’s Cup event.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
The #20 team tweeted on Monday that Tanner Thorson will make his Truck Series debut this weekend, driving with sponsorship from GoShare. The 22-year-old form Minden, Nevada made a single K&N Pro Series East start at Bristol, finishing 23rd for owner Logan Yiengst. This Friday, Thorson takes the place of Reid Wilson, who finished 16th in his own series debut at Martinsville, and Tyler Young, listed as the team’s driver on the preliminary entry list.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #22-Niece Motorsports
On Monday, driver Austin Wayne Self revealed the team has a new partner, backpack company Flying Circle, and associate backing from Krew Market. Self’s season-best finish is a 15th at Atlanta, and he looks to improve on a last-place finish in his only other Dover start in 2016.

MISSING: #35-NextGen Motorsports
NextGen Motorsports withdrew their #35 from Martinsville, and are not entered this weekend. Also missing is their driver, 2003 series champion Travis Kvapil.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
Welcome back Todd Peck, who looks to make his first Truck Series start of 2018. Peck ran ten Truck races last year for MB Motorsports and Copp Motorsports. This time around, he drives for Mark Beaver, taking the place of Martinsville driver Dawson Cram. Fluidyne is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Veteran driver David Gilliland returns to Truck competition since he won the pole and finished 21st in this year’s Daytona opener. This time, he moves from Kyle Busch’s #4 to the #54, taking the place of Kyle Benjamin, who ran Martinsville. Frontline Enterprises and Crosley Brands will back the effort. His son Todd will drive the #4 with sponsorship from Pedigree.

MISSING: #57-Norm Benning Racing
While Norm Benning will drive his #6 this weekend (with Zomongo as sponsor), his second truck, the #57, has not been entered. The truck arrived in the series’ most recent race at Martinsville with Jeff Zillweger, but the team withdrew.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
2017 last-placer Camden Murphy returns to the #63 team this weekend, taking the place of Kevin Donahue. It will be Murphy’s first attempt of the 2018 season, following an 11-race stint last year. His best finish in that stretch was a 17th last fall in Las Vegas.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman and Henderson Motorsports return to the circuit for the first time since a strong 11th-place run at Atlanta. Kligerman has made four Truck starts I the series with a best of 2nd in 2012, when he drove for the now-closed Brad Keselowski Racing. Fellow broadcaster Todd Bodine won that race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Bayley Currey is back with Copp Motorsports for the first time since his 20th-place showing this year in Las Vegas, and so is sponsorship from Currey, who takes the place of Kyle Donahue, has tweeted that he will again run the #83 at Kansas and Texas.

MISSING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
The second NEMCO truck most often driven by Joe Nemechek, and withdrawn from its most recent entry at Martinsville, has not been entered. The older Nemechek will instead drive the #8.

MISSING: #92-Ricky Benton Racing
Benton’s team, which ran a strong 7th with Timothy Peters at Martinsville, is not entered this week following Peters’ Cup debut with them last week in Talladega, where he ran 23rd.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Rejoining the circuit is Jesse Little, who is back in his family’s #97 Ford for the first time since he ran a strong 8th in Atlanta. Past performance indicates this could be a small team to watch once again. Primary sponsorship was revealed Friday as PFC Brakes and Penske Racing Shocks.

MISSING: #99-MDM Motorsports
Robert Huffman’s MDM Motorsports is not entered once again following Tyler Matthews’ 21st-place run in their most recent start at Martinsville.

MISSING: #04-Roper Motorsports
Also not entered is upstart team Roper Racing, which along with driver Cory Roper made their Truck Series debut at Martinsville. Roper finished a strong 13th that day, hopefully opening the possibility of future races.

Kyle Busch is not entered as a driver.

Saturday, May 5, 2018
XFINITY Race 10 of 33
OneMain Financial 200 at Dover
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are once again 41 entries to attempt Saturday’s 40-car field, meaning one driver will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
Jeb Burton rejoins the #3 for the first time since Richmond, taking the place of Shane Lee in the flagship RCR car. Burton brings with him longtime family supporter State Water Heaters in what will be his first XFINITY start at Dover since a 13th for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2016.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins and B.J. McLeod both put themselves in position for surprising Top Tens at Talladega before fuel mileage and an ill-timed caution took them from contention. While McLeod remains in the #78 this week, Ray Black, Jr. will run the #8 with sponsorship from “Powered by Zomongo and Scubalife.” We last saw Black in XFINITY at Daytona, where he failed to qualify McLeod’s third car, the #99.

RETURNING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Welcome back Carl Long’s original second car, this week a yet-unsponsored Toyota (originally listed as a Dodge) with Timmy Hill driving. This marks the first time that MBM will field three machines since they ran the #72 as a “start-and-park” effort last fall in Kentucky. This time, the MBM trio will be #13, #40 (Chad Finchum), and #66 (Carl Long, see below).

Last Saturday, Spencer Gallagher scored his first win in NASCAR’s top three series with a last-lap move at Talladega. But on Wednesday, it was announced Gallagher had come up positive on NASCAR’s drug testing policy. As Gallagher as agreed to participate in NASCAR’s “Road to Recovery” program, driving the car this week will be Johnny Sauter, who goes double-duty woth GMS' truck on Friday.

UPDATE: #39-RSS Racing
Spencer Gallagher’s penalty is RSS Racing’s gain as Ryan Sieg, who finished 6th at Talladega, will take Gallagher’s spot in this weekend’s “Dash 4 Cash” event. Sieg’s #39 will welcome back sponsorship from Lombard Brothers Gaming, who weren’t able to have their logo on the car at Bristol due to a wreck in qualifying.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Jimmy Means’ team has continued to bring in a number of sponsors this year. ATS Security & Fire Alarm Systems joins driver David Starr this weekend with existing backer Whataburger putting their logo on the read decklid.

DRIVER CHANGE: #55-JP Motorsports
Following Jennifer Jo Cobb’s one-off with the team at Talladega, Stephen Leicht returns to the #55 this week alongside teammate Josh Bilicki. Jani-King is again the sponsor for the Toyota. It will be Leicht’s first XFINITY start at Dover since September 22, 2007, his last of three series starts in Yates Racing’s #90 CitiFinancial Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
With Timmy Hill slated to run the #13, the #66 will be driven by Carl Long with sponsorship from the Chris Kyle Memorial. Long, who turned 50 last September, is set to make his first XFINITY start since last fall at Phoenix, where he ran 36th. UPDATE: The car was originally listed as a Toyota, but is now a Dodge. Teammates Finchum and Hill will run Toyotas.

MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
While Mike Harmon Racing didn’t have a driver listed on the preliminary list for both Trucks and XFINITY, Harmon himself will drive in each. Past XFINITY sponsors Koolbox and Horizon Transport will back his truck. On the XFINITY side, the team will again campaign the Chevrolet after fielding Dodges the last three rounds. UPDATE: The team instead fielded the Dodge once again, and put Cody Ware behind the wheel. Unfortunately, Ware crashed in Friday's practice.

For the second time in three races, Brandon Brown swaps into Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet, taking the place of Josh Williams, who went double-duty with ARCA and XFINITY in Talladega. It will be Brown’s third Dover start, following finishes of 17th and 25th in the two races last year.

MISSING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi DenBeste
Neither the Biagi-DenBeste #98, nor driver Chase Briscoe, are entered in this Saturday’s race. The pair ran 16th last week in Talladega.

Dover is a “Dash 4 Cash” event, so no Cup regulars are participating for a fourth-straight XFINITY Series race.

Sunday, May 6, 2018
CUP Race 11 of 36
AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

With just one new team arriving to take the place of three other teams focused largely on restrictor-plate races, there are just 38 entries for Sunday’s Cup event, the ninth short field of 2018. It will be the fewest cars to start a Cup race at Dover since June 6, 1993, when 38 took the green in the Budweiser 500, won by Dale Earnhardt.

DRIVER CHANGE: #00-StarCom Racing
After a one-week hiatus, Landon Cassill is back behind the wheel of Derrike Cope’s #00 Chevrolet, and he has again brought sponsorship, this time from RNH Electric. Cassill has 15 previous Dover starts with a best finish of 19th when he drove for Front Row Motorsports in 2016.

After two weeks of being listed as Gray Gaulding’s sponsor, only for the team to run different sponsors, no brand was listed for the #23 on the preliminary entry list. The team is still entered in the race, continuing their full-season effort after bankruptcy proceedings.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
As in recent weeks, the preliminary entry list showed Cole Custer driving the #51 with Haas Automation on a Chevrolet (instead of a Stewart-Haas Ford, as in his debut at Las Vegas). Instead, welcome back Cody Ware, back in Cup for the first time since last September at Loudon. Ware, who ran a series-best 35th in this race last year, takes the place of Timmy Hill, who lost an engine late in the race at Talladega, leaving him 36th. Keens Buildings returns as primary sponsor for a second-straight race.

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Sticking with plate races for now with Brendan Gaughan, who hit the wall with a blown tire on final lap at Talladega for a 22nd-place run.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Corey LaJoie returns for his second-straight concrete track start following his return to action at Bristol. LaJoie’s lone Cup start at Dover came last fall, when he ran 34th for BK Racing in the Fresh Beards #23. No sponsor is yet listed for his #72.

MISSING: #92-Ricky Benton Racing
Timothy Peters finished 23rd in his Cup debut last Sunday, but Ricky Benton Racing appears to be sticking to the same restrictor plate schedule as Beard Motorsports’ #62, as they are not entered this Sunday.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #95-Leavine Family Racing
Kasey Kahne's #95 has a new look this week, running a bright yellow scheme. The car will be sponsored by Ollie's Bargain Outlet, which also backed Dave Blaney's drive in the 2004 running of thos race, among others. Kahne, then a rookie, nearly won his first Cup race that day before a late-race crash.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Also not entered are the Gaunt Brothers, following D.J. Kennington’s 20th-place run at Talladega. Unlike other part-time teams in 2018, this program has branched out onto other tracks, including Bristol and Martinsville. In their most recent two starts, however, the team has lacked primary sponsorship.

NEW TEAM: #99-StarCom Racing
The second StarCom entry, an “open team” originally rumored to debut last month at Texas, will instead make its first race at Dover. Ironically, this was the same track where the now-chartered #00 team was supposed to debut last fall before a similar delay. Derrike Cope will make his 2018 debut at the scene of his most recent Cup victory in 1990, and will carry the black-and-gold StarCom Fiber colors alongside teammate Landon Cassill in the #00. It will be Cope’s 27th Cup start at Dover, and his first at the track since a last-place run for Raynard McGlynn in 2006.

As the youngest of NASCAR’s top three series, the Truck Series still has fifteen available truck numbers that have never once finished last. Perhaps the most notable of these is the #30, most readily identified with Germain Racing and Todd Bodine. Not only did the number not finish last during Bodine’s time driving the number, it never finished next-to-last. The two worst showings were both 34th-place runs (out of 36 trucks). The first of these was Loudon on September 18, 2004, when electrical issues stopped him after 57 laps. The other on June 24, 2005 came at Milwaukee, this time ignition trouble after 140 of the 200 laps.

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