Friday, June 1, 2018

PREVIEW: The withdrawal, then re-entry of Yeley's new ride an intriguing Pocono storyline

PHOTO: @teamBJMcLeod
Saturday, June 2, 2018
XFINITY Race 12 of 33
Pocono Green 250 at Pocono
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 41 drivers entered for the 40-car field, meaning that one driver will miss the race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Richard Childress Racing
Shane Lee returns for his third XFINITY Series start, following a 14th-place run at Bristol and a 15th at Talladega. He takes the place of Ty Dillon, who ran 4th last week. Lee has four ARCA starts at Pocono with a best finish of 4th for former Truck Series driver Kevin Cywinski on July 29, 2016. He finished 28th and 13th in the two ARCA races last year, driving for Kerry Scherer.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Matt Mills eyes his fifth start of 2018, his first attempt since his DNQ at Texas brought to an end a four-race stint for Johnny Davis’ JD Motorsports. He takes the place of Joe Nemechek, who has run the #15 in the five races since with a best finish of 18th just last Saturday in Charlotte. Mills’ only previous start at Pocono was July 29, 2017, when he finished 27th in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s second Truck Series entry.

DRIVER CHANGE: #22-Penske Racing
Current Wood Brothers Racing driver Paul Menard returns for his first XFINITY Series start since last September at Richmond. This time around, he takes the place of Charlotte winner Brad Keselowski in the #22 LTi Printing Ford. Menard finished 31st in this race last year, when he was driving for Richard Childress. Menard joins Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott as the three Cup regulars in the field.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
Pocono marks the seventh start of 2018 for John Hunter Nemechek, his first in the XFINITY Series since a 14th-place showing at Dover. He takes the place of Jamie McMurray, who was eliminated in a crash at Charlotte for a 31st-place showing. Nemechek has three Pocono starts in the Truck Series, improving each time: a 13th in 2015, 9th in 2016, and 4th last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
With the #98 team not entered this week (see below), Chase Briscoe returns to the #60 team, taking the place of Ty Majeski, 22nd at Charlotte. It will be Briscoe’s seventh start of 2018, and his first in the #60 since a 26th-place showing in Richmond. Briscoe ran 11th last week in Charlotte.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod scales back from three cars to only two, and retakes the seat of the #78 Chevrolet from Ray Black, Jr., who isn’t entered this week. Tommy Joe Martins remains in the other McLeod entry, the #8 Chevrolet, but this week runs a steel-bodied car after his composite ride was damaged at Charlotte. McLeod finished 22nd and 26th in his last two runs here. Martins finished 29th in the #78 here last year.

MISSING: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste
After running four of the last six races, the Biagi-DenBeste #98 isn’t entered this week. Chase Briscoe, who finished 11th with the team in Charlotte, will drive Roush-Fenway Racing’s #60.

MISSING: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod parked this #99 car at Charlotte when a vibration made him concerned he would wreck this newest car in his fleet. The team is not entered this week, but McLeod is, returning to his #78 in place of Ray Black, Jr.

CUP INVADERS: #18-Kyle Busch, #22-Paul Menard, #23-Chase Elliott

Sunday, June 3, 2018
CUP Race 14 of 36
Pocono 400 at Pocono
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Cody Ware

For the first time in two races, but for the 11th time in 14 rounds, the Cup Series field falls short of a “full” 40.

WITHDREW: #7-NY Racing Team
RETURNING: #7-Premium Motorsports
In a bizarre turn of events, on Thursday Jonathan Cohen withdrew J.J. Yeley's #7, which made its season debut last week in the Coca-Cola 600. The driver and sponsor were immediately re-entered, but with Premium Motorsports as the owner. The car's manufacturer changed from Chevrolet to Toyota, perhaps indicating that Yeley will drive the withdrawn #55 (see below) rather than Cohen's Chevrolet. While this is a lateral move since Cohen's NY Racing Team has re-started in-house at Premium, this also means that Premium team owner Jay Robinson - not Cohen - will recieve Yeley's Owner Points at Pocono. These points will be in addition to Danica Patrick's run for Premium in the Daytona 500, when Premium last entered the #7. As part of the change, a Premium crew will service the car, including crew chief Todd Parrott, who takes the place of Cohen's Jeff Spraker. UPDATE: The #7 is a Chevrolet, not a Toyota. As part of it being a Premium car, the #7 mow carries some of the team's associate sponsors, including the Low T Center and Champion Machinery.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
In place of B.J. McLeod, 33rd in Charlotte, another XFINITY Series regular will pull double-duty this weekend. Welcome back Cole Custer, who made his Cup debut with the Ware team in Las Vegas, finishing 25th. The car will again be a Ford sponsored by HAAS-CNC as well as recent Ware sponsor Prefund Capital.

WITHDREW: #55-Premium Motorsports
Reed Sorenson was slated to return for his eighth start of 2018, and his first since a season-best 27th-place showing in Kansas. He was set to take the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, who returned to action in the Coca-Cola 600 and served up a 30th-place finish. However, Sorenson's Toyota was withdrawn on Thursday. TheRacingExperts reported Earnhardt will run the #55 again in future races to be determined.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s Motorsports Business Management will not enter the #66 Toyota that Timmy Hill drove to 32nd-place finish in last week’s Coca-Cola 600. Instead, the team will focus on their XFINITY Series effort, where Hill will drive the #66 Toyota in Saturday’s race alongside Chad Finchum in the #40.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Cole Whitt gears up for his first Cup start since Talladega, four rounds ago, as he again trades off with Corey LaJoie in the #72 Chevrolet. Whitt has finished under power in all seven of his previous starts this season with a best of 19th in Texas, and a 21st his last time out in Alabama. The team finished 26th last Sunday with LaJoie.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
The Gaunt Brothers Racing team will not be making the trip north to Pennsylvania, even after they left Charlotte with their car intact and Parker Kligerman 27th in his return to Cup competition. The team appears to still be expanding their part-time effort despite a lack of primary sponsorship.

RETURNING: #99-StarCom Racing
StarCom Racing returns to a two-car operation for the first time since Dover as Derrike Cope returns to action in the #99 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, alongside Landon Cassill in the #00. This will be Cope’s 29th Cup start at Pocono, tied with Charlotte for his second-most at any track (his most is 33 at Michigan). His best finish at the track were a pair of 10th-place runs in 1991 and 1996. His 33rd-place showing in this race last year was his best at this track since 1998.

Friday, June 8, 2018
TRUCKS Race 8 of 23
Rattlesnake 400 at Texas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Tommy Regan

One more week until the Truck Series returns to action in Texas. The Trucks will also run Pocono, but not until July 28.

Unlike other forms of motorsports, spinning out doesn’t by itself end your day in NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson both recovered from spins last Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600. But, delineated from “crash,” there are three occasions in Cup Series history where a spin by itself caused someone to become the first retiree. Another layer to the mystery was that two of these are categorized as “spin out,” and the other as “spin.”

On top of this, both the lone “spin” and one of the “spin outs” occurred at the Bridgehampton Raceway, a second road course in upstate New York. On July 21, 1963, Jimmy Pardue started 16th in a field of 17, and made it 24 laps before his #54 Pontiac lost control. The same thing happened on Lap 2 of the July 12, 1964 race to Doug Moore, this time on the second lap. Whether or not both cars became stuck in a run-off area or damaged their only tires has been lost to history.

The other “spin out” occurred to Al Terrell on Lap 5 of his qualifier for the 1963 Daytona 500. Terrell actually spun with Frank Graham, and both drivers pulled out of the race for merely spinning. Whether this was done to save both cars for the 500 isn’t clear. While Graham qualified for the 500 and finished 34th (out of 50), Terrell failed to make the field. Those four laps, ended in a spin, turned out to be the only ones Terrell competed in competition. He never made another start.

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