Thursday, June 28, 2018

PREVIEW: Hattori and Fury teams return while other changes abound on Chicagoland entry lists

PHOTO:, @Hattori_Racing
Friday, June 29, 2018
TRUCKS Race 11 of 23
Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Mike Senica

Friday’s race sees 33 drivers entered for 32 spots, meaning that one team will miss the race. There are several driver and team changes this week as the series runs alongside the XFINITY and Cup Series. UPDATE: Make that 32 teams for 32 spots following the withdrawal of Mike Affarano (see below).

RETURNING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister’s partial schedule continues this Friday as he returns to the circuit for the first time since a 22nd-place showing in Texas. If he qualifies, it will be Forrister’s first Truck Series start at Chicagoland since 2015, when he finished 27th for team owner Christopher Long.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Ross Chastain is set for a triple-header weekend in Chicago, taking the place of Bryant Barnhill in the #15 Chevrolet. On the Truck side, Chastain moves over from the #50 he’s piloted in recent weeks for Beaver Motorsports. Sunwest Construction is the sponsor. Robby Lyons had again been on the preliminary entry list for the #15, but the change was made by Wednesday. UPDATE: Lyons tweeted on Thursday that he has been recuperating from a concussion-related illness for the last month, but expects to return at a date to be determined.

TEAM UPDATE: #16-Hattori Racing Enterprises
Troubling news of sponsor issues threatened Brett Moffitt’s championship run, leaving his run in Chicagoland in doubt. However, the team was still entered on the preliminary list, and by Wednesday reported the team has a new sponsor for the event., which has backed both Front Row Motorsports in Cup and MB Motorsports and Copp Motorsports in the Trucks, has signed with the team. Moffitt comes into the race 3rd in points.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Tate Fogelman had a rough outing in Gateway, crashing out of his series debut. Tyler Young had once again been listed as the team’s driver in Chicagoland, but by Wednesday, the ride has gone to Max Tullman. The 19-year-old Pennsylvania driver has split time in the ARCA Racing Series and K&N Pro Series East this season with a best run of 6th in the ARCA rounds at Daytona and Talladega. Most recently, he finished 19th in last week’s ARCA event at Gateway, driving for Mason Mitchell.

MISSING: #42-Chad Finley Racing, Inc.
Chad Finley turned heads in his return to Truck Series competition as both owner and driver, steering his #42 Chevrolet to a career-best 6th. Both driver and team are not entered in this week’s race, and future plans are still to be determined.

MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Also missing from this week’s race is KBM’s #46 Toyota along with Christian Eckes, who won Stage 2 in Gateway before a crash left him a disappointing 28th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #50-Beaver Motorsports
With Ross Chastain making the jump to Premium Motorsports’ #15 on Friday, the #50 will this week see a longtime ARCA Racing Series competitor try for his first-ever NASCAR start. Brian Kaltreider is 44 years old, and has been running the ARCA circuit on a part-time basis since 2001, most often his home track in Pocono. His best finish in the series is a pair of 14th-place runs there in 2008 and 2016. He has run at Chicagoland only once, on September 9, 2006, when a first-lap accident left him last in the 41-car field.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Making his third Truck Series start of the year is Brandon Jones, who takes the place of Riley Herbst, a strong 8th back at Gateway. Jones has also run strong in his partial campaign, finishing 9th at Kansas and a season-best 3rd in Charlotte. He’ll continue to run the XFINITY Series with Joe Gibbs Racing in the #19 Toyota. In his previous two XFINITY starts at Chicago for Richard Childress, he finished 10th and 12th.

Zane Smith finished a strong 5th in his Truck Series debut at Gateway. This week, he’s swapped out for Bo LeMastus, who returns to the driver’s seat for the first time since Texas. LeMastus was most recently swapped out at Iowa for team co-owner David Gilliland.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
Another underdog story at Gateway involved Mike Mittler’s MB Motorsports, whose driver Kevin Donahue earned a solid 12th-place run under the lights. The team has exited early from most of its starts this year, especially when they have put J.J. Yeley behind the wheel. Yeley is driving the #63 again this week, but it is yet unknown how long the truck will run on Friday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
B.J. McLeod failed to qualify at Gateway, and Mike Harmon is back driving his #74 Chevrolet this week. Harmon has five Chicagoland starts in the series, most recently last September, when he finished 27th after early transmission issues. UPDATE: Team backer Troptions assumes a larger sponsorship role this week with logos on the hood and quarter panels.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Bayley Currey aims for his seventh Truck Series start of 2018, taking the place of Tyler Matthews in D.J. Copp’s #83 Chevrolet. Currey last took the green in Iowa, finishing 24th, his second-best finish of the year behind a 20th in Las Vegas.

MISSING: #97-JJL Motorsports
Taking the week off is Jesse Little, whose JJL Motorsports team acquired sponsorship from Rustic Rub Company at Gateway and sped to a 7th-place finish, the team’s fourth top-ten run in five starts this year.

WITHDREW: #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports
Welcome back Mike Affarano, who we haven’t seen start a Truck Series race since a 30th-place showing at Iowa on June 19, 2015. Calumet City Auto Parts and Stop Bullying are listed as the sponsors on his Chevrolet. According to Mark Kristl, who saw Affarano earlier this year, the driver had planned on going full-time starting at Iowa two weeks ago, but now has a race-ready truck for this Friday. Kristl also reported Affarano will at least be attempting Eldora next month with Jon Provenzano behind the wheel. UPDATE: Affarano withdrew his entry on Friday after his transporter broke down on the way to the track.


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

The XFINITY Series returns from a one-week hiatus to participate in the upcoming triple-header weekend in Chicagoland. Currently, 42 drivers are entered to attempt the 40-car field, meaning that two will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
Jeb Burton returns for his third XFINITY start of the season, and father Ward Burton tweeted that he will be in attendance to cheer on the #3 Chevrolet. The younger Burton takes the place of Shane Lee, who ran 16th in the most recent XFINITY round in Iowa.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
The game of musical chairs at Penske Racing continues this weekend. Austin Cindric moves from Penske’s #22 to a #12 car that was last seen on the track at Pocono, where Cindric finished 4th. Taking Cindric’s place in the #22 is Cup regular Paul Menard, who last took the green in the series at Michigan, finishing 5th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s team remains at three cars this week. Alongside Chad Finchum in the #40, Carl Long takes Timmy Hill’s place in the #13. It will be only Long’s second XFINITY start as a driver this season, following a 39th-place showing in Dover. Hill, who finished 37th at Iowa, takes the place of 33rd-place Iowa finisher Stan Mullis in the #66.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Cup Series regular Daniel Suarez in place of Riley Herbst, who in addition to his good finish in the Truck Series at Gateway ran 6th in his XFINITY debut at Iowa. It will be Suarez’ first XFINITY start since this year’s Daytona opener, where he finished 8th.

The preliminary entry list showed Trans-Am racer Chris Cook and his sponsor Shockwave as entered in GMS Racing’s #23 Chevrolet this weekend. This was changed soon after with Chase Elliott once again driving, taking the place of Gateway winner Justin Haley, who ran 12th at Iowa.

RSS Racing returns to its original lineup with J.J. Yeley back in the #38 and Jeff Green in the #93. At Iowa, Yeley finished last in the #93 while Green ran more than half the distance in the #38 before a broken driveshaft left him 35th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
One week after his pole at Sonoma, Cup regular Kyle Larson is back, taking the place of John Hunter Nemechek in the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet. It will be Larson’s third XFINITY start of the year and first since Las Vegas, where he won from the outside-pole.

DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Chase Briscoe, who didn’t race in Iowa, takes Ty Majeski’s place in the #60. Majeski finished 7th at Iowa, not only a career-best, but his first top-ten run since last fall at Homestead.

TEAM UPDATE: #61-Fury Race Cars LLC
The scheduled four-race stint for Kaz Grala and upstart Fury Race Cars LLC continues into a fifth round this Saturday as they look to keep the momentum going. Kiklos, which backed Grala’s Truck Series win at Daytona, will back the effort along with the IT Coalition.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Welcome back Scott Heckert, who hasn’t run an XFINITY Series race since Road America, two years ago. Then as now, Heckert drives for B.J. McLeod, this time in the team’s flagship #78 Chevrolet, taking the place of Tommy Joe Martins. While Martins is not entered, McLeod remains in JD Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet for a second-straight race.

RETURNING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi DenBeste
Cup regular Kevin Harvick will certainly be a favorite for the win on Saturday as he rejoins the #98 team for his fourth XFINITY start of the year, he first since an 8th-place showing at Michigan.

CUP INVADERS: #18-Daniel Suarez, #22-Paul Menard, #23-Chase Elliott, #42-Kyle Larson, #98-Kevin Harvick

Sunday, July 1, 2018
CUP Race 17 of 36
Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Ray Black, Jr.

There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots, the fourth consecutive short field this season and the 14th of 17 races run this season. There are relatively few driver and team changes this week, many of them due to the return to oval racing after a road course event in Sonoma.

RETURNING: #7-Premium Motorsports
Premium Motorsports tweeted a short video of the team preparing a black #7 Chevrolet at the shop, likely the same car that is entered for Reed Sorenson this Sunday. Driver and team had withdrawn from Sonoma a week earlier. Once again, the team is not officially entered under the NY Racing Team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Ross Chastain regains his Cup Series ride this Sunday, taking the place of road racer Justin Marks, who ran 28th at Sonoma. It will be Chastain’s first Cup start at Chicagoland, a track where his best of five previous XFINITY starts was a 16th in 2015 for JD Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Road racer Chris Cook turned in a 31st-place finish for the Rick Ware team in Sonoma, and the #51 remains a Ford this week. While Cole Custer was on the preliminary entry list, he has since been swapped out for B.J. McLeod, who will also be running the XFINITY Series race. It will be McLeod’s fourth Cup start of the year and his first since a 37th at Michigan.

MISSING: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Cody Ware struggled with a faulty fuel pump at Sonoma, leaving him just 36th at the finish. Both he and the second Ware car aren’t entered this week, but are planning to run future races on dates to be announced.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Rejoining the Cup circuit is Carl Long’s Motorsports Business Management, whose driver Timmy Hill will also run double-duty between Cup and XFINITY. His Cup ride will again be the #66 Toyota with as sponsor. Hill eyes his seventh Cup start of the year and first since Michigan, where he ran 35th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Cole Whitt walked away uninjured after the #72 banged a concrete wall in Sonoma, leaving him 35th. Corey LaJoie takes his place this week, set to attempt his eighth start of the year and first since a 27th-place showing at Michigan. LaJoie’s best finish of the year remains his 24th-place at Chicago’s sister track in Kansas.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
The Gaunt Brothers aren’t entered in this weekend’s race, and neither are the team’s drivers Parker Kligerman and D.J. Kennington. Kligerman came home under power with a respectable 23rd-place finish last Sunday in his first start on the Sonoma road course.

RETURNING: #99-StarCom Racing
Kyle Weatherman returns to the Cup circuit for the first time since his two-race stint last fall for Rick Ware Racing, when he finished 35th at Martinsville and 34th at Phoenix. This time around, he drives for Derrike Cope’s StarCom Racing in the #99 last driven by Garrett Smithley at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #00-StarCom Racing
One week after Tomy Drissi’s road race effort yielded a 32nd-place finish, Landon Cassill returns to the #00 Chevrolet. Cassill finished 32nd his last time out in Michigan. Both he and teammate Weatherman will run with StarCom Fiber as sponsor in inverted gold-and-black paint schemes. As team owner Derrike Cope reported at Sonoma, the team is already preparing for Daytona the week after, where they will have ECR engines at their disposal.

Sunday’s Cup Series race at Chicagoland is a LASTCAR curiosity. For the last three consecutive runnings, not a single driver has fallen out, including last-place finishers Austin Dillon, Joey Gase, and Ray Black, Jr. The same thing very nearly happened earlier this year at Kansas, where Timmy Hill and B.J. McLeod ran laps down at the back of the field. That all changed with a series of accidents and restarts in the final laps, handing Ty Dillon the position. Will we see the same thing this Sunday? Or will the streak continue?

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