Thursday, November 15, 2018

PREVIEW: Driver changes, beginnings, and endings fill Homestead entry lists

PHOTO: Ryan Daley Designs
Friday, November 16, 2018
TRUCKS Race 23 of 23
Championship Round
Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Ray Ciccarelli

#16-Brett Moffitt
#18-Noah Gragson
#21-Johnny Sauter
#24-Justin Haley

There were originally 31 drivers entered for 32 spots, once again threatening the first short field for the Truck Series since Talladega last fall. But a 32nd entry was found by Wednesday. UPDATE: And now a 33rd entry by Friday, meaning one team will miss the show.

RETURNING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb brings both her trucks to the Homestead finale, and has brought back Ray Ciccarelli and sponsor CMI Installations to run the #0 Chevrolet. UPDATE: 11 Health will sponsor the truck. We last saw Ciccarelli at Martinsville last month, where he failed to qualify.

TEAM UPDATE: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek confirmed at the ISM Raceway that his team is still looking for a driver to run for him as son John Hunter continues his rise in the XFINITY Series. The elder Nemechek confirmed his team is capable of fielding two competitive trucks in 2019 and has experienced personnel to develop talent, but needs a commitment from a corporate sponsor to make it happen.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
Reid Wilson will drive his fourth different truck in as many attempts in 2018. After qualifying in two different Randy Young entries at Martinsville and Iowa, then failing to qualify for All Out Motorsports at Texas earlier this month, Wilson will take Stefan Parsons’ place in Premium Motorsports’ #15 Chevrolet. OEM2 will be the sponsor. As Parsons confirmed last week, this #15 is a collaborative effort between Premium owner Jay Robinson and both Mike Harmon and Mark Beaver, whose #74 and #50 trucks have been absent in recent weeks.

MISSING: #19-Bill McAnally Racing
Derek Kraus was one of last Friday’s biggest stories when he steered Bill McAnally’s first Truck Series entry since 2001 to an 8th-place finish. The McAnally team isn’t entered this week, and plans for the 2019 season are yet unconfirmed.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
The On Point team rejoins the Truck Series this week, and Jeb Burton comes back for the first time since his 15th-place finish for them last month in Martinsville. Ultimate Headers will back the #30 Toyota this week. Burton has two Truck Series starts at Homestead with a best of 3rd, but hasn’t run this race since 2014.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Robby Lyons seeks his 9th Truck Series start of the season and his first since a 14th last month in Talladega. He takes the place of NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver Jason White, who ran 26th in his bid to gain NASCAR approval to run Daytona next year. Lyons ran 24th in this race last year for Premium Motorsports.

RETURNING: #35-NextGen Motorsports
Brennan Poole rejoins the Truck Series for his and the NextGen team’s second start of the season. Poole, who finished 15th at Texas two weeks ago, finished 6th in last year’s XFINITY finale at Homestead, his last start in the series to date.

UPDATE: #38-Niece Motorsports
Al Niece has just two of his three entries headed to south Florida this week. Left in the shop is the #38, which Landon Huffman steered to a 25th-place finish at the ISM Raceway. Huffman is likewise not entered. CORRECTION - The #38 is again entered, this time with Ross Chastain, who will pull triple duty.

MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Christian Eckes closed out his 2018 campaign with a 9th-place finish at the ISM Raceway. Both he and the #46 KBM entry aren’t on this week’s list.

RETURNING: #50-Beaver Motorsports
Mark Beaver is back in the Truck Series for the first time since Travis Kvapil's entry was withdrawn at Las Vegas in September, and will run its first race since Mosport. Mike Harmon, who has helped field the #15, will be the driver. SobrietyNation, sponsor of Premium Motorsports' #49, is also the listed sponsor for the #50 Chevrolet. UPDATE: Camden Murphy takes the place of Harmon.

MISSING: #63-MB Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji gained valuable track time last week at the ISM Raceway for his first oval track start in NASCAR’s top three series, finishing 27th. Both he and Mike Mittler’s #63 Chevrolet are not entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #83-Copp Motorsports
Dawson Cram quietly turned in a career-best 16th-place finish last week at the ISM Raceway, climbing from 29th on the grid. It was only Cram’s third career start. Taking over the controls this week is Todd Peck with longtime sponsor Pulse Transport on the #83. It will be Peck’s fifth Truck Series start of the year and his first since Michigan in August, where he ran 26th for Premium Motorsports.

Jesse Little and sponsor Skuttle-Tight rejoin the circuit for the season finale, looking to close out their fourth partial schedule in Truck Series competition. The year has seen Little earn five of his six career top-ten finishes, including a career-best 6th at Iowa. He very nearly improved on that two weeks ago in Texas, where he ran 7th.

MISSING: #99-MDM Motorsports
Chase Purdy isn’t entered this week, and neither is Matthew Miller’s #99 Chevrolet, which Purdy steered to a 13th-place finish at the ISM Raceway.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Also returning for the first time since Texas is part-timer Cory Roper, who will make his sixth Truck Series start. Roper’s best finish of the year stands a 13th-place run in his series debut at Martinsville this past spring.


Saturday, November 17, 2018
XFINITY Race 33 of 33
Championship Round
Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

#9-Tyler Reddick
#20-Christopher Bell
#21-Daniel Hemric
#00-Cole Custer

There are 45 drivers entered for this Saturday’s XFINITY Series finale, meaning that five teams will miss the show.

TEAM UPDATE: #1-JR Motorsports
Elliott Sadler closes put his final year driving full-time in NASCAR, but this time not as one of the Championship Four.

TEAM UPDATE: #4-JD Motorsports
Saturday's race will mark the last time Ross Chastain drive Johnny Davis' #4 Chevrolet, following news last week at the ISM Raceway that Chastain will run Chip Ganassi's #42 Chevrolet full-time in 2019. Chastain drove for Davis the last four straight seasons.

TEAM UPDATE: #8-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins will again run the #8 Chevrolet this Saturday, per his press release late Wednesday. It will be Martins' first series start at Homestead, and he looks to close out his team-best performance in 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill is in for brother Tyler Hill in the #13, and is listed as a Toyota instead of Dodge. The Dodge will change numbers to the #40 (see below). Tyler’s 31st-place run at ISM will make him the last XFINITY Series driver to make his debut in a Dodge – for now.

Homestead marks the final XFINITY start for Talladega winner Spencer Gallagher, who remarked at ISM that he and the GMS team have big plans for 2019 and beyond.

RETURNING: #26-Tullman Walker Racing
Despite earlier announcing that Kansas would close the team’s 2018 schedule, Max Tullman and his team are back to attempt the season finale at Homestead. Eskata and Zoomi return as sponsors of the #26 Ford.

The Sieg family brings their part-time fourth car, the #37, back to the track for only the second time in 2018, the first time since Kansas last month. All three of the team’s drivers will swap rides as a result. Jeff Green moves from the #93 to the #37. J.J. Yeley moves from the #38 to the #93 vacated by Green. Ryan Sieg moves from the #39 to the #38 vacated by Yeley. The game of musical chairs ends with the flagship #39, which Angela Ruch will drive in her third XFINITY start of the season. Green said at ISM he would like to run 10-12 full races in 2019, but needs a sponsor to make it happen.

DRIVER SWAP: #40-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long was originally listed for Akinori Ogata in the #66, one week after Ogata managed to hang on after a first-lap accident to finish 33rd. However, by Wednesday Long was instead in Chad Finchum's #40 with Finchum sliding over to the #66 Chevrolet. While the #40 was originally listed as a Toyota, it will instead be the team's blue "Zombie" Dodge Challenger that Tyler Hill ran as #13 last week. Due to rule changes, Homestead will be the final race Dodge will be eligible to run. A thank you message to Dodge is on the hood.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #51-Jeremy Clements Racing
Owner-driver Jeremy Clements welcomes a new primary sponsor to his #51 team. The list shows Fly and Form as the primary sponsor ahead of longtime backers Clements has 10 previous XFINITY starts at Homestead, including every race run here since 2007 with the exception of 2009. His best finish was a 13th in 2014.

DRIVER CHANGE: #60-Roush-Fenway Racing
Roval winner Chase Briscoe returns to the XFINITY Series, taking the place of Ty Majeski, who isn’t entered. Nutri Chomps will back Briscoe’s first series start since Kansas, where he ran the #98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi DenBeste.

RETURNING: #61-Fury Race Cars, LLC
Welcome back Kaz Grala and feel-good story Fury Race Cars, neither of which we’ve seen on the circuit since the Roval in September, where they ran 8th. Grala welcomes back returning sponsorship from NETTTS along with associate backing from Hot Scream. It will be Grala’s first XFINITY start at Homestead, a track where he ran 13th for GMS’ Truck Series team last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Homestead is the site of Tim Veins’ only XFINITY Series start, which came driving for Mike Harmon in 2015, a 33rd-place finish as his result. Veins is again entered in Harmon’s Chevrolet, this time with as his sponsor along woth the car also has blue door numbers in place of tue typical red. Harmon ran 32nd last week at ISM.

RETURNING: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Brandon Brown eyes his seventh XFINITY Series start and his first attempt with his family’s #86 team since they withdrew at Road America. This time around, Brown is sponsored by the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, which also backed his last two XFINITY starts for DGM Racing at Dover and Texas. Texas saw him match his season-best finish of 18th from Darlington.

TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
JD Motorsports continues to pitch in for Morgan Shepherd, preparing his #89 VisoneRV Chevrolet for this week at Homestead. Shepherd had also transferred a set of his scuffed tires to JD’s team last week at ISM, the gold rims of the #89 visible on B.J. McLeod’s #01 Chevrolet. Shepherd has three XFINITY starts at Homestead, but none since 2011, where he finished 43rd and last. Qualifying will prove critical this Saturday, and even more so when the field reduces from 40 to 38 cars in 2019.

Caesar Bacarella looks for his fifth XFINITY start of 2018 and his first since running 23rd at Indianapolis. Though he has driven for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in each of his six previous starts, this week he joins Mario Gosselin’s team, DGM Racing. Bacarella’s sponsors Alpha Prime and MAXIM follow him over as he takes the place of Canadian Donald Theetge, 25th at ISM.

Along with Bacarella, the Gosselin team brings back their second car, the #92 Chevrolet, for the first time since it was withdrawn at Darlington. As it was that week, Josh Williams is the listed driver with Sleep Well and Star Tron as sponsors. The car has just one previous start this year, a 36th-place showing at Iowa when Dexter Bean was driving.


Sunday, November 18, 2018
CUP Race 36 of 36
Championship Round
Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead
2017 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

#4-Kevin Harvick
#18-Kyle Busch
#22-Joey Logano
#78-Martin Truex, Jr.

There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s race. This marks the 20th short field in 36 points races in 2018 and the second in a row.

TEAM UPDATE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
One year ago, Matt Kenseth came to Homestead in a throwback paint scheme for his final start with Joe Gibbs Racing. Though he had no plans to drive in 2018, he now comes back to the same race, and again has no plans to drive in 2019. He arrives fresh off the #6 team’s first top-ten finish of the year, a hard-fought 7th at the ISM Raceway.

MISSING: #7-Premium Motorsports
Jay Robinson has elected not to bring his second car, the #7 Chevrolet, to the track this week, one week after D.J. Kennington earned a 27th-place finish in his return to the ISM Raceway. Kennington will not run Sunday’s race either, and will instead continue to run Robinson’s #49 Chevrolet in Friday’s Truck Series race.

TEAM UPDATE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Daniel Suarez will make his final Cup start for Joe Gibbs this Sunday following official word that Martin Truex, Jr. will take over the ride next season. Suarez' plans for 2019 are still to be determined.

TEAM UPDATE: #47-A.J. Allmendinger
Sunday could mark the close of A.J. Allmendinger's Cup career, one which dated back to the founding of the now-shuttered Red Bull Racing in 2007. As of this writing, no plans for next season have been announced. Ryan Preece will drive the #47 in 2019.

TEAM UPDATE: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
Sunday marks the final time Jimmie Johnson has Chad Knaus on the pit box, and his final race with Lowe’s as a sponsor. One week after finishing 15th in the 2001 “Power of Pride” paint scheme, Johnson will drive a second “throwback” scheme to his 2002 rookie season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
B.J. McLeod was announced Wednesday to step in for Cody Ware in the #51 Jacob Companies Ford. Ware finished 28th last Sunday at ISM in Premium Motorsports’ backup #7 car – Reed Sorenson’s ride from Texas – which may account for why the #7 is not entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #72-TriStar Motorsports
On Monday came the official word from TriStar that last week’s race at the ISM Raceway was Cole Whitt’s 161st and final Cup start. Whitt entered the 2018 season on a scaled-back schedule as he shared his ride with Corey LaJoie, and closes out his career with just three last-place finishes – one each in 2014, 2015, and 2016. LaJoie takes over the controls with Schluter Systems as sponsor. He enters the season finale with a one-finish lead in the LASTCAR Cup Series Championship, and will take the title if runner-up Timmy Hill doesn’t finish last in MBM’s #66.

TEAM UPDATE: #78-Furniture Row Racing
One of the Championship Four, Martin Truex, Jr. looks to close out Furniture Row Racing's final race with their second-straight championship. When asked at ISM about what scheme the team will run on Sunday, Truex confirmed it would be something different, but not the brown-and-black 2005 scheme from the team's debut in XFINITY and Cup.

TEAM UPDATE: #97-Obaika Racing
Tanner Berryhill was announced Wednesday that he will once again drive the #97. Berryhill finished 31st in his Cup Series debut at ISM following a spin and a late part failure that sent his #97 Toyota into the wall late in the race. The car run this week will likely be J.J. Yeley’s #23 Steakhouse Elite Toyota, Yeley’s backup car at ISM which was transferred from BK Racing’s hauler to Obaika’s during the ISM race weekend.

RETURNING: #99-StarCom Racing
StarCom Racing will close out their 2018 campaign with both its cars on the track. Returning is the #99 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Weatherman, who spotted for Landon Cassill last Sunday. Both Weatherman and Cassill’s cars will carry vibrant neon-hued paint schemes for the season finale. Weatherman’s sponsor will be International Marine and Native Boatworks while Cassill’s is Local Knowledge TV. Cassill's scheme, designed by Ryan Daley, includes associate backing from Evnirude Outboards, longtime backers of the Mueller Brothers #89 team and the late Jim Sauter. The sponsor was last a primary for Sauter and Mueller on August 15, 1993 at Michigan.

This past Monday, we lost "The Silver Fox," David Pearson. The pride of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pearson scored 105 Cup Series victories, second only to his friendly rival Richard Petty. In 574 career Cup starts, Pearson finished last just seven times. The first, chronicled here two years ago, was a crash at Bristol on July 25, 1965. His final occurred at historic Darlington, a track where he'd won 10 times. During the Southern 500 on September 1, 1985, Pearson started outside-pole alongside Bill Elliott, who would go on to claim NASCAR's first "Winston Million" that afternoon. Early engine trouble stopped his #21 Chattanooga Chew Ford after 17 laps. Pearson was 83.

No comments: