Thursday, September 20, 2018

PREVIEW: A number of returning faces dot the Richmond entry lists

PHOTO: @RyanSiegRacing
Friday, September 21, 2018
XFINITY Race 27 of 33
Round of 12, Race 1 of 3 250 at Richmond
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

One week after the entry list just barely reached 40 starters, there are 41 drivers entered for 40 spots this week, meaning one will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
Welcome back Quin Houff, who returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since last fall at Kansas, his final race with Rick Gdovic’s shuttered Precision Performance Racing team. Houff brings with him returning backing from the initiative, and takes the place of Landon Cassill in Johnny Davis’ #4. Ross Chastain, last week’s winner, remains in the Chip Ganassi #42 for the first race of the Playoffs.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
As of this writing, Carl Long is the listed driver of the #13, though he has been swapped out as a placeholder multiple times in recent weeks. Las Vegas saw Stan Mullis behind the wheel for the third time in 2018, yielding a 37th-place finish. UPDATE: Timmy Hill will drive the car in Mullis' place. Long will drive the #66. Mullis is not entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
After two successful races at Mid-Ohio and Road America, Katherine Legge is back to make her oval-track debut in NASCAR. She takes the place of B.J. McLeod in Johnny Davis’ #15, the same team she drove for in both races.

MISSING: #26-Tullman Walker Racing
Max Tullman’s team rebounded from a crash in Iowa to finish 23rd in Las Vegas, a new team-best. Neither Tullman nor the Tullman Walker team is entered this week.

NEW TEAM: #27-TGT Motorsports
Florida native Cody Lane has been absent from NASCAR’s top three series since 2015, when he attempted his only Truck Series start at Bristol, but missed the cut. Then as now, he returns to action with an independent team, running the #27, and looking to make his way into his first XFINITY Series race. What's more, the preliminary lust shows him entered in a 2011 Chevrolet, by far theboldest car in the field. Lane has five ARCA Racing Series starts to his credit with a best finish of 14th at Winchester in 2013.

TEAM UPDATE: #55-JP Motorsports
As of this writing, Stephen Leicht is listed as a possible placeholder for the #55 from JP Motorsports. With the Truck Series off for the week, Bayley Currey is likely to drive for a fourth-consecutive race following a 24th-place run in Las Vegas, his second-best of the season. UPDATE: Currey is again driving the #55.

DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Ty Majeski returns for his eighth XFINITY start of the year and first since Road America, where he ran 28th. It will be Majeski’s first series start at Richmond. He takes the place of Chase Briscoe, who suffered a devastating crash on the backstretch in Las Vegas, and is not racing this weekend.

MISSING: #72-Motorsports Business Management
John Jackson kept field at 40 in Las Vegas when Carl Long entered his part-time fourth car, bringing home a 38th-place finish. Neither Jackson nor the #72 are entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
One week after K&N Pro Series West driver Cole Rouse took home a 21st-place finish in his first national touring series start, Matt Mills will drive B.J. McLeod’s flagship entry. Mills returns to the series for the first time since Michigan, where a mid-race accident left him 36th in his final start for JD Motorsports. Mills’ only previous Richmond start came in the spring of last year, when he steered McLeod’s #8 to a 31st-place finish.

RETURNING: #88-JR Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was still under contract with sponsor Hellmann’s Mayonnaise to run this race at the time he announced his retirement in 2017. Thus, on top of his announcer duties for NBC Sports, he will climb back behind the wheel for the first time since his final Cup start last fall in Homestead. Junior led 128 laps here in the spring of 2016 en route to victory, and last fall ran 7th. JR Motorsports worked out a deal with Penske Racing to get T.J. Majors to spot for him, but former crew chief Steve Letarte will stay in the booth. Mike Bumgarner is listed as the crew chief.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Morgan Shepherd is back on the entry list after he did not enter the #89 in Las Vegas. Shepherd is a past series winner at Richmond, taking the checkers over Tommy Ellis on September 10, 1983, and has made 23 starts in the series at “The Action Track.”

It was announced earlier this week that Mason Diaz will make his XFINITY Series debut, just under a year since he ran 23rd in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville. Most recently, Diaz competed in a pair of late model races at Hickory on August 4, finishing 14th in Late Model Stocks and 22nd in Super Late Models. Solid Rock Carriers, which backed his CARS efforts, will sponsor the #90 this week as he takes the place of Josh Williams, who ran 20th in Vegas.

Saturday, September 22, 2018
CUP Race 28 of 36
Round of 16, Race 2 of 3
Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Landon Cassill

There are exactly 40 entrants for the 40-car starting lineup, the sixth-consecutive full field of the 2018 campaign. Just 38 took the green here in the spring.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
Two-time Richmond fall winner Matt Kenseth returns to the #6 this week in place of Trevor Bayne, who survived Las Vegas to earn a 13th-place finish. It will be Kenseth’s 11th start of the season and first since Indy, where he ran 12th. Roush team backers Performance Plus Motor Oil will be the listed sponsor.

MISSING: #7-Premium Motorsports
Jay Robinson has not entered their second “open” car piloted by Reed Sorenson at Las Vegas to a 31st-place finish. The car had been entered in 11 of the last 13 races and was withdrawn twice in that span. Jeffrey Earnhardt’s 11th-place showing at Daytona in July remains the team’s only run better than 28th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Front Row Motorsports
Welcome back Alon Day, the Israeli star of NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series. Just over a year since his Cup debut at Sonoma where he ran 32nd, Day rejoins what was BK Racing for his first oval-track start in Cup competition. Previous to this, he has run both Loudon and Homestead in the Truck Series in 2016, finishing 24th and 26th, respectively. Best Billy Sticks is the listed sponsor for the Bob Jenkins-owned effort.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
RETURNING: #52-Rick Ware Racing
B.J. McLeod moves from the #51 Ford to the #52 Chevrolet, making way for XFINITY Series regular Cole Custer. We haven’t seen Custer in the Cup Series since Pocono in June, when he piloted the #51 to a 26th-place finish. Both his and McLeod’s cars are both backed by Jacob Companies. UPDATE: Gray Gaulding will take McLeod's place in the #52 for his first Cup start since Bristol, and welcomes sponsorship from Live Casino. Custer's run in the #51 will be his last Cup start of 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-StarCom Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #00-StarCom Racing
As at Daytona this past July, Landon Cassill moves from the Chartered #00 to the “open” #99 this week (taking the place of Kyle Weatherman) to make way for Joey Gase. Gase brings with him returning sponsor Eternal Fan, which has partnered with the Richmond Raceway in its recent upgrade.

Saturday, October 13, 2018
TRUCKS Race 19 of 23
Round of 8, Race 3 of 3
Talladega 250 at Talladega
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Norm Benning

The Truck Series returns three weeks from Saturday for “Truckadega,” where two drivers will be eliminated from Playoff contention.

Last week’s Cup Series playoff opener saw a number of tire issues which led to crashes. While the sheer number of crashes caused by tires is inseparable statistically, there are five last-place runs that specifically cited a “tire” or “tires” as the cause. A single “tire” was to blame for Joe Staton’s #94 Nash falling out at Darlington on May 10, 1952, Jimmie Lewallen’s #5 Mercury at Columbia (SC) Speedway on March 26, 1955, and Pepper Cunningham’s #6 Chrysler at Langhorne on April 24, 1955. “Tires” in the plural occurred two other times, capturing Joe Gillow’s Ford at New York’s Wine Creek Race Track on July 4, 1952 and Possum Jones’ #05 Pontiac at Columbia on August 8, 1963. These are separate and apart from the “no tires” reason listed by a frustrated Joe Frasson at Bristol on August 29, 1976.

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