Thursday, October 25, 2018

PREVIEW: Dirt trackers, K&N East drivers, and returning veterans pepper Martinsville entry lists

PHOTO: Autoweek, @AutoweekUSA
Saturday, October 27, 2018
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Round of 6, Race 1 of 3
Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Chris Windom

There are 35 drivers entered for Saturday’s return of the Truck Series, meaning three teams will miss the show.

Sheldon Creed takes the place of Spencer Gallagher with AM Ortega and United Rentals as sponsors. Martinsville will mark Creed’s first Truck Series race on pavement after starting the last three Eldora races with three different teams, finishing 16th for SS-Green Light Racing in 2016, 27th for Bryan Hill in 2017, and 15th for MDM Motorsports this past summer.

MISSING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister and the All Out team aren’t entered this week following back-to-back top-fifteen finishes of 13th at Las Vegas and a 15th at Talladega.

MISSING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Randy Young’s team scales back to two trucks this week, leaving the #12 Chevrolet at the shop. Tanner Thorson, who had early suspension trouble at Talladega, leaving him 31st, moves from the #12 to the #20, taking the place of Max Tullman, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #49-Premium Motorsports
Welcome back Brad Foy, who eyes his first Truck Series start after two unsuccessful attempts at Martinsville with Jennifer Jo Cobb’s team in 2015 (when he withdrew due to engine trouble), and narrowly missed the cut in 2016. Foy takes Jamie Mosley’s place in the #15, two weeks after Mosley failed to qualify. D.J. Kennington replaces the now-retired Wendell Chavous, 5th at Talladega, in the #49 Chevrolet. Both Foy and Kennington look to make the most of their starts as Premium Motorsports announced on October 18 that they will be shutting down their Truck Series operation at season’s end.

RETURNING: #17-DGR-Crosley
Kyle Benjamin returns to the Truck Series for the first time since the spring race, when he finished a close runner-up to John Hunter Nemechek. This time, he moves from DGR-Crosley’s #54 from the spring to the returning #17, which hasn’t hit the track since Las Vegas.

GMS Racing brings the #23 Chevrolet back to the Truck Series for the first time since Chase Elliott took it to victory lane at Martinsville on April 1, 2017, making theirs a four-truck operation for Saturday. Driving the #23 with sponsorship from is Timothy Peters, who took the win two weeks ago at Talladega in GMS’ #25. This week, the #25 goes to dirt tracker Tyler Dippel, back for the first time since he ran 13th in his debut at Eldora, with the America First Super PAC and Turning Point USA as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
Jeb Burton looks to make his first Truck Series start of the season and his first since this race last year, when he ran 26th for Bryan Hill. He takes the place of Scott Lagasse, Jr., 18th at Talladega, and will carry sponsorship from and Recall that Burton’s best series finishes at Martinsville were a pair of 3rd-place runs in both 2013 races, when he drove for the now-shuttered Turner Motorsports. He will also pull double-duty in a return to the Cup Series (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Welcome back Chad Finley, who we last saw finish 30th at Bristol in his second start driving his own #42 Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet. This time around, Finley takes the place of Robby Lyons in Josh Reaume’s primary truck, and will join Jeb Burton in carrying sponsorship (along with Airlift). It will be Finley’s first series start at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #38-Neice Motorsports
Al Niece’s third truck returns for the first time since Las Vegas, and for the fourth time in as many starts this year will have a new driver behind the wheel. This time, it’s Landon Huffman, who eyes his first series start of the year. Huffman made two starts in 2017, finishing 20th at Bristol for MB Motorsports and 17th for D.J. Copp in this same race last year. will sponsor the truck.

RETURNING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
17-year-old Christian Eckes returns for his third start of the season, his first since he led 34 laps at Gateway in June only to be eliminated in an accident. Eckes has led laps in both his starts this year, and on Saturday looks to make his Martinsville debut with Craftsman as sponsor.

MISSING: #47-Chris Fontaine, Inc.
Chris Fontaine looks perhaps to Daytona in 2019 after one of the oldest trucks still operational in the series was destroyed in a hard wreck at Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Harrison Burton takes the wheel in place of David Gilliland and will carry Morton Buildings as sponsor. It will be Burton’s fourth start of the season and first since Mosport, when he ran a season-worst 13th. Burton has completed every lap of his four previous starts, including the spring race at Martinsville, where he ran 8th.

In the lead Gilliland truck is Tyler Ankrum, who makes his series debut on Saturday with May’s Hawaii as sponsor of the #54. Ankrum, age 17, is this year’s K&N Pro Series East champion with four wins in DGR-Corsley’s #17 Toyota. He takes the place of Bo LeMastus, who was collected in the Lap 59 pileup that collected Fontaine and finished 29th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #63-MB Motorsports
Kyle Donahue looks to make his fourth start of 2018, his most Truck Series starts in a single season. As at his most recent start in Texas, Donahue drives the #63 from Mike Mittler’s MB Motorsports, taking the place of Bobby Gerhart, 23rd after electrical issues in Talladega.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Clay Greenfield isn’t entered this week after finishing last at Talladega with suspension trouble.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Dawson Cram rejoins the Truck Series circuit for the first time since the spring race at Martinsville, when he finished 17th for Beaver Motorsports. That finish still stands as the season-best for Mark Beaver’s effort, which has been absent from the series since they withdrew last month in Las Vegas. Cram takes the place of Joey Gase, who failed to qualify at Talladega, and carries sponsorship from RGS Products and THP.

MISSING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek and the second NEMCO entry, #87, are not entered this week, following a 30th-place run at Talladega after qualifying 7th.

RETURNING: #99-MDM Motorsports
Following Tyler Ankrum from the K&N Pro Series East into the Truck Series is Mississippi’s Chase Purdy, 4th in last year’s standings, and 4th in this year’s ARCA Racing Series Championship. Ankrum, a member of the “NASCAR NEXT” program, carries Bama Buggies as sponsor on Matthew Miller’s #99, a truck we haven’t seen on the track since Sheldon Creed’s 15th-place run in Eldora. Tyler Matthews drove the #99 to a 21st-place finish when the series last ran at Martinsville.

Sunday, October 27, 2018
CUP Race 33 of 36
Round of 8, Race 1 of 3
First Data 500 at Martinsville
2017 Last-Place Finisher: A.J. Allmendinger

There are 40 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the 15th full field in 33 races this season and ninth in the last ten.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
Matt Kenseth swaps in for Trevor Bayne once more, carrying Wyndham Rewards as sponsor of the #6 Ford. It will be Kenseth’s 13th start of the season and the 662nd of his career. The veteran was quoted earlier this month that he currently has no plans to drive Cup beyond his final two starts in the #6 next month in Phoenix and Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #7-Premium Motorsports
Hermie Sadler and his sponsorship from the Virginia Lottery have been a frequent visitor to the Martinsville Speedway – fourteen times, in fact, most recently last fall driving to a 34th-place finish for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Then, as now, Sadler drives the #7 car, now under the Premium Motorsports banner, taking the place of Reed Sorenson, who fought handling issues at Kansas.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #23-Front Row Motorsports
Adirondack Tree Surgeons rejoins J.J. Yeley and Bob Jenkins’ #23 Toyota for the first time since the Roval. The sponsor also backed Yeley’s run in Premium Motorsports’ #55 this past spring at Martinsville, where he ran 31st.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Originally, Rick Ware Racing had no driver listed in the #51 Jacob Companies Ford, which was a Chevrolet last week driven by B.J. McLeod, who finished 33rd, 17 laps down. By Wednesday, it was revealed that Jeb Burton would drive the car, making his first Cup start since August 1, 2016 at Pocono, when he ran 36th in the #32 of Go FAS Racing. Sunday will be Burton's first Cup start at Martinsville since this same race in 2015, when he ran 27th during the closing stages of his difficult rookie campaign for BK Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
Cole Whitt climbs back aboard the #72 for the first time since his 20th-place showing on the Roval, bringing with him sponsorship from Moen. He takes the place of Corey LaJoie, who retains a one-finish lead in the 2018 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship over Timmy Hill, who is again entered Sunday in Carl Long’s #66 Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
D.J. Kennington rejoins the #96 team for the first time since Daytona in July, taking the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt. Kennington ran 28th in the spring race at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-StarCom Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #00-StarCom Racing
Landon Cassill moves from the #00 to the #99 this week, taking the place of Kyle Weatherman, who isn’t entered following a 35th-place finish due to transmission issues in Kansas. In place of Cassill in the #00 is Joey Gase, who returns with sponsorship from Donate Life and a paint scheme similar to Premium Motorsports’ #55 car earlier this year at Fontana.

Saturday, November 3, 2018
XFINITY Race 31 of 33
Round of 8, Race 2 of 3
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas
2017 Last-Place Finisher: John Jackson

The XFINITY Series returns next week in Fort Worth for the first of three consecutive triple-header weekends to close out the 2018 campaign.

With all the close racing and chaos of a typical race at the Martinsville Speedway, it’s rare that a driver finishes last after leading any laps. It’s happened just four times in track history. The first of these wasn’t until September 22, 1996, when Rusty Wallace started outside-pole and led 35 laps before his #2 Miller / 25 Years of Racing Ford fell out with a busted water pump after 148 laps of the Hanes 500. To this day, it remains the most laps led by a Martinsville last-placer.

No comments: