Thursday, June 21, 2018

PREVIEW: Bayne's return, a second Ware car, and a new Truck team headline weekend in Sonoma and Gateway

PHOTO: @CodyShaneWare
Saturday, June 23, 2018
TRUCKS Race 10 of 23
Villa Lighting Delivers the Eaton 200 at Gateway
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jennifer Jo Cobb

There are 34 trucks entered for 32 spots in Saturday’s stand-alone event, meaning that two trucks will miss the show.

MISSING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
Overheating issues ended Reid Wilson’s return to Truck Series competition in Iowa, leaving him just 28th at the finish. This week, Young’s Motorsports scales back from three trucks to two, leaving the #12 in the shop and Wilson without a ride.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
One week after he missed the show with Mike Harmon's team, Bryant Barnhill looks to make his debut at Gateway, this time in Jay Robinson's #15. He takes the place of Bobby Reuse, who finished 25th in Iowa. Barnhill will likely make that debut as the  #15 is well ahead of the #74 in Owner Points.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Following Tanner Thorson’s 13th-place showing in Iowa, Tyler Young was the listed driver of the Young’s #20 Randco / Young’s Building Systems Chevrolet. Young was then replaced by 18-year-old late model driver Tate Fogelman. Son of XFINITY and X-1R Pro Cup veteran Jay Fogelman, Tate won his first late model race at Hickory last year in a Sam Ard throwback scheme.

NEW TEAM: #42-Chad Finley Racing, Inc.
The Truck Series welcomes its newest team as Chad Finley makes his return to the circuit in the #42 Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet. The truck's team is listed under Finley's name, though initial records incorrectly listed it under the shuttered Martins Motorsports. Finley has not made a Truck Series start since September 19, 2015, when he finished 21st for team owner Mark Rette. Finley’s most recent start in any circuit was earlier this month at Michigan, when he finished 23rd in the ARCA Racing Series.

TEAM UPDATE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
As of this writing, no driver is listed in place of Ross Chastain, who finished 30th after an early exit at Iowa. UPDATE: Chastain will once again drive the #50 with the VIP Racing Experience as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Fresh off finishing 6th in his XFINITY debut at Iowa, Riley Herbst drives in place of Harrison Burton in KBM’s #51. Advance Auto Parts follows him as sponsor. It will be Herbst’s first start at the Gateway track.

Bo LeMastus, the original scheduled driver for Iowa before David Gilliland took the wheel, was again listed this week. By Wedbesday, Bob Pockrass revealed that  Zane Smith, currently 2nd in the ARCA standings with three wins, would be making his series debut.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
Kyle Donahue returns to Mike Mittler’s team, taking the place of last week’s last-placer J.J. Yeley. The younger of the two Donahue brothers finished 16th in this race last year, tying a career-best he earned at Martinsville. UPDATE: Kevin Donahue will drive in place of his brother, moving over from the #83.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
One week after Bryant Barnhill failed to qualify for his series debut, Mike Harmon climbs back behind the wheel of his #74 Chevrolet. In doing so, Harmon eyes his first Truck Series start at Gateway since 2010, when he finished 33rd (out of 36) driving for Chris Lafferty. Barnhill has moved to the #15 (see above). UPDATE: B.J. McLeod, originally listed for the #51 Cup Series ride, will drive in place of Harmon in the #74.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Older brother Kevin Donahue rejoins D.J. Copp’s effort this week, taking the place of Bayley Currey, whose 24th-place showing at Iowa was his best of the year since a 20th-place showing in Las Vegas. Kevin Donahue also raced in this event last year, finishing 26th in a second Mike Mittler truck. UPDATE: Tyler Matthews will drive in place of Donahue in the #83, making his first Truck start since Martinsville. Kevin moves to the #63, taking the place of his brother (see above).

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper and his Roper Racing team aren’t entered in this week’s race, one week after finishing 18th on the short track. According to the team’s Facebook, their partial schedule will pick up at Bristol in two months.

Sunday, June 24, 2018
CUP Race 16 of 36
Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Following the withdrawal of the #7 team, there are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s field, the same number as last year. It remains the third consecutive short field in 2018 and the 13th of 16 races this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
After four rather lackluster outings with Matt Kenseth, the struggling #6 team brings back Trevor Bayne to make his first Cup start since Dover with AdvoCare Rehydrate as the sponsor. Bayne will drive the next two rounds in Chicagoland and Daytona while Kenseth will run 10 of the remaining 16 races after that, starting with Kentucky. Bayne returns at one of his most challenging tracks. In his three previous starts there, he’s finished 23rd, 25th, and 27th, but in those starts has completed all but one lap.

WITHDREW: #7-Premium Motorsports
For the third-straight race, the #7 team was to be fielded by Premium Motorsports, and not Johnathan Cohen’s NY Racing Team. As in the same previous three races, Premium’s #55 team is not entered. In place of D.J. Kennington, who finished 34th with the team in the rain-shortened Michigan race, Premium has entered Reed Sorenson to drive. Sorenson’s fourth and most recent Sonoma start came in 2014, when he finished 32nd for Tommy Baldwin Racing. By Tuesday, however, Sorenson and team had withdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Though entered on the preliminary list, Ross Chastain will not drive the #15 Chevrolet for the first time since the Daytona 500. In those 14 races, Chastain has finished better than he qualified every time with the exception of his last-place finish at Bristol. In his place comes Mid-Ohio XFINITY Series winner Justin Marks, who made his Cup debut at Sonoma in 2013. Announced on May 17, Marks will run both Sonoma and the Charlotte “Roval” with sponsorship from Sufferfest Beer Company.

TEAM UPDATE: #23-BK Racing
For the first time in five races, BK Racing has a primary sponsor, and for the first time since that Dover race, it’s Earthwater. The brand first sponsored the team in this race last year, when Alon Day made his series debut. The brand returns with a new black scheme in place of the white-and-green scheme from early this season. The driver is once again Gray Gaulding, who will make his first Cup start on a road course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
The Ware team was founded on road racing, and it's perhaps appropriate they have one of the only "road ringers" in the field. While B.J. McLeod was entered to make his Sonoma debut, by Tuesday he was replaced by Trans-Am racer Chris Cook. Cook helped Bill McAnally's K&N West Series trio get some laps on June 7 and will now pilot the #51. It will be Cook's first Cup start since 2012, when he drove for Humphrey-Smith Racing at Watkins Glen. His best finish was 27th at Sonoma in 2011 for Front Row Motorsports, when he drove in place of Tomy Drissi. Shockwave is the listed sponsor.

NEW TEAM: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware Racing’s second team, originally scheduled to debut in last month’s Coca-Cola 600, will make its season debut this Sunday with Cody Ware driving. It will be Ware’s second Cup start of the season, his first since last month at Dover, and his first at Sonoma after he failed to qualify for the 2016 running with Premium Motorsports. The #52 carries full primary sponsorship from Sacramento-based SBC Contractors, which backed Kevin O’Connell at Sonoma last year and Josh Wise the year before. Bubba Burger, a longtime backer of the Ware effort, has returned as an associate.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Following Corey LaJoie’s 27th-place finish last week in Michigan, Cole Whitt returns for his first Cup start since Pocono in the TriStar #72. While LaJoie has no Sonoma starts, Whitt has four, and at times has exceeded the limits of his equipment. His track-best finish of 21st came with TriStar last year. His worst finish of 34th began with a solid mid-pack run. And the year before that, he finished 22nd for Front Row Motorsports. Whitt has also completed every lap of those four starts.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman never got the chance to run a Cup race at Sonoma. Five years ago, his ride at Swan Racing closed down two months before the race. This week, he’ll get his chance in his first start for the Gaunt Brothers since his series return in the Coca-Cola 600. The driver and broadcaster’s most notable road course result came in his most recent XFINITY Series start last summer at Road America, where he drove Precision Performance Motorsports to their only top-ten. It will also mark the Gaunt Brothers’ first start at Sonoma.

MISSING: #99-StarCom Racing
StarCom Racing will bring just one of their two cars to Sonoma, one week after a disappointing last-place finish by Garrett Smithley. According to the team, both car and driver will return to the circuit at a date to be determined.

DRIVER CHANGE: #00-StarCom Racing
Welcome back road racer Tomy Drissi, whose fourth and most recent Cup start came in this race in 2014, driving for Identity Ventures Racing (before it was merged into Premium Motorsports). While Drissi’s business in movie promotions has seen him pilot cars sponsored by “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Wolverine,” and “Hercules” in his previous three Cup starts, his car this week is listed with Go Share as the backer. Go Share has previously backed Young's Motorsports in the Truck Series.

Saturday, June 30, 2018
XFINITY Race 15 of 33
Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Matt Mills

The XFINITY Series takes a week off and returns at the start of next month for the triple-header at Chicagoland.

Friday marks the 10th anniversary of Brian Simo’s last-place finish in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma. Though his transmission let go 20 laps into the race, Simo qualified for the event against tremendous odds. The road course ringer was one of 47 drivers entered to attempt the 43-car field. He had to do so in an outdated first-generation “Car of Tomorrow” fielded by a fledgling Front Row Motorsports team that had never before started a race in Sonoma.

In qualifying, Simo ended up turning a lap of 90.135mph (1:19.481), good enough for 41st on the time sheets. Among the six drivers he outpaced were four “go-or-go-homers” who ended up failing to qualify. This included not only West Coast part-timer Brandon Ash, but the fully-funded rides of J.J. Yeley (Hall of Fame Racing, aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing), Scott Riggs (HAAS-CNC Racing, merged into Stewart-Haas the following year), and Chip Ganassi’s #40 with three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.


Unknown said...

Though it’s hard to believe, Harmon’s 74 truck has actually attempted every race to this point of the season. (Along with Morgan Shepherd on the Xfinity side, equally surprising in my opinion)

Like Shepherd though, the 74 truck has DNQ’d five races this year, which obviously means a lot more for the trucks, five races being half the schedule including Gateway.

Though the point stands: The 15 is safe on Owner Points. xV

Since I’m commenting, gonna give Last Place Predictions. :P

Trucks: 0 - Camden Murphy, 8 Laps, Electrical

Cup: 21 - Paul Menard, 50 Laps, Crash

Brock Beard said...

You're correct - different drivers those two rounds. Thanks.