Thursday, February 7, 2019

PREVIEW: A long and wild offseason culminates with late-breaking entry list stories at Daytona

PHOTO: @GoFasRacing32
Sunday, February 10, 2019
CUP Exhibition Race
Advance Auto Parts Clash
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jamie McMurray

As reported on December 13, this year’s running of the Clash has been expanded to former Daytona 500 winners, which made both Jamie McMurray (2010) and Ryan Newman (2008) eligible and increased the field from 18 to 20 cars.

#1-Kurt Busch
#2-Brad Keselowski
#3-Austin Dillon
#4-Kevin Harvick
#6-Ryan Newman
#9-Chase Elliott
#10-Aric Almirola
#11-Denny Hamlin
#12-Ryan Blaney
#14-Clint Bowyer
#18-Kyle Busch
#19-Martin Truex, Jr.
#20-Erik Jones
#21-Paul Menard
#22-Joey Logano
#40-Jamie McMurray
#41-Daniel Suarez
#42-Kyle Larson
#48-Jimmie Johnson
#88-Alex Bowman

Thursday, February 14, 2019
CUP Exhibition Races
Gander RV Duel at Daytona, Races 1 and 2
2018 Last-Place Finishers: Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson

It was estimated that around 44 drivers are entered for next Sunday’s Daytona 500, but the preliminary list showed 42 cars yesterday, missing the declared #7 of the NY Racing Team and the #97 of Obaika Racing. Regardless of count, the front row will be set after two rounds of single-car qualifying this Sunday, February 10.

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-Chip Ganassi Racing
On December 4, two days after it was announced he would no longer be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, Kurt Busch was confirmed as the new driver of Chip Ganassi Racing’s #1 Chevrolet in 2019 with Monster Energy as sponsor. Busch replaces Jamie McMurray, who had driven the #1 for nine full seasons dating back to his victory in his first-ever race for them in the 2010 Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
Ryan Newman ended his fifth full season as driver of Richard Childress’ #31 Chevrolet last season, and in September was announced as the new driver of Roush-Fenway Racing’s #6. Newman takes the place of Matt Kenseth and Trevor Bayne, who ended up sharing the ride last year following ongoing struggles with performance. Kenseth reported late last year he has no plans to race, while Bayne’s plans are also unknown. Oscar Meyer is among the sponsors signed with Newman for 2019.

RETURNING: #7-NY Racing Team
Jonathan Cohen's single-car effort is reportedly back for 2019, but as of this writing, it is unclear if it will be a full or part-time effort. J.J. Yeley, who drove for Cohen in the past, appeared at Media Day wearing a Steakhouse Elite uniform with NY's logos and the #7 on its design. The team was not shown on the preliminary entry list. UPDATE: As of Friday, the team's hauler has not yet arrived at the track.

DRIVER AND NUMBER CHANGE: #8-Richard Childress Racing
Taking Ryan Newman’s place in the #31 is Rookie of the Year candidate Daniel Hemric, who not only made the XFINITY Series Championship 4 the last two years, but also turned in a strong performance in just his second Cup race last fall on the Roval. On December 14 came the surprising news that the #31 team would now be the #8 team, keeping the number Hemric drove during his limited Cup season (BUT the #31 returns as an “open” car, see below). Both he and teammate Austin Dillon will run gold paint schemes in the Daytona 500 to kick off the 50th anniversary season for Richard Childress Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Daniel Suarez’ two-year tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing has ended, as November 7 saw the announcement that Martin Truex, Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn will move from the closed Furniture Row Racing to take over the #19 team. On January 4, Bass Pro Shops announced they would be continuing their sponsorship of Truex, increasing their commitment to 24 of 36 points races. Auto-Owners Insurance followed Truex over as well, announcing on January 8 they would back another eight races. Despite unconfirmed rumors of Truex keeping car #78, the car will retain #19.

NEW TEAM: #27-Germain Racing
On February 5 came news that Bob Germain’s team will field a second car alongside Ty Dillon’s flagship #13 GEICO Chevrolet. Rejoining the team is Casey Mears, who Dillon replaced in 2017. Mears eyes his first Cup start since the 2016 finale at Homestead, and his first in any of NASCAR’s top three series since the XFINITY Series’ Homestead round in 2017, when he drove for Biagi-DenBeste. Mears’ #27 is a collaborative effort with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson, who fielded the #15 and #7 Chevrolets at the end of last season.

“NEW” TEAM: #31-Richard Childress Racing
While the #31 is not a new feature in the Cup Series field, the Charter swap with Richard Chidress Racing’s #8 has turned the team into an “open” entry for this year’s Daytona 500. Not originally slated to enter, it was revealed February 1 that defending XFINITY Series champ Tyler Reddick will attempt to make his Cup debut in the car, running alongside Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric. Symbicort will sponsor the #31.

With Matt DiBenedetto moving to the Leavine Family Racing #95 (see below), taking his place in the #32 is Corey LaJoie. The announcement, which came at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on December 20, included Schluter Systems following LaJoie as sponsor from his previous ride at TriStar Motorsports. After two different paint schemes were hinted at over the offseason, David Marrero's latest scheme was unveiled on February 6, featuring Old Spice as sponsor and LaJoie's face occupying the hood and front valence.

NEW TEAM: #36-Front Row Motorsports
After acquiring the Charter from the now-defunct BK Racing last August, news broke on November 27 that Front Row would return to a three-car lineup for the first time since 2015. Driving the third car will be XFINITY Series full-timer Matt Tifft, who will compete for Rookie of the Year and drive his third different manufacturer in as many years. The car will run #36, a number we haven’t seen on the circuit since Tommy Baldwin Racing shuttered their second car at the end of 2014. Tifft also pointed out he used to race for Ken Schrader, and was pleased he could run one of Schrader’s former numbers from MB2 Motorsports.

NEW SPONSOR: #38-Front Row Motorsports
Select Blinds was revealed as David Ragan’s new backer for Daytona, the first of a four-race deal for 2019.

RETURNING: #40-Chip Ganassi Racing
Following the announcement that he would not drive the #1 in 2019, Jamie McMurray’s plans were yet unknown at the time. By December 12, it was confirmed he would drive in the Clash and the Daytona 500 in a one-off effort, then serve as an analyst for FOX Sports. McMurray will drive car #40, formerly the flagship number of the Ganassi team at the time McMurray made his Cup debut relieving Sterling Marlin in 2002. A render showed Advent Health as the sponsor for the Clash, then longtime partners Bass Pro Shops, Cessna, and McDonald’s on board for the 500. To ensure that McMurray makes his final 500, Spire Motorsports, which acquired the #78’s Charter, has made a partnership with the Ganassi team, securing McMurray what would have been Furniture Row Racing’s spot in the garage.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Stewart-Haas Racing
The long-rumored announcement that Kurt Busch would be parting ways with Stewart-Haas Racing after five full seasons was finally confirmed on December 2, shortly followed by his move to Chip Ganassi Racing’s #1. Taking Busch’s place in the #41 is Daniel Suarez, an announcement which finally came on January 7, Suarez’ 27th birthday. Arris follows the driver over from Joe Gibbs Racing in addition to the team’s Haas backing.

NEW SPONSOR: #43-Richard Petty Motorsports
With Click ‘n Close ending its partnership with Bubba Wallace, who drove the sponsor’s logos to a runner-up finish in last year’s Daytona 500, new backer AfterShokz, a headphone manufacturer, will back the #43 Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-JTG-Daugherty Racing
On September 28, it was announced that Ryan Preece would return to the Cup Series for the first time since a limited run with Premium Motorsports in late 2015. This time, with a pair of XFINITY Series wins for Joe Gibbs Racing, under his belt, he goes full-time and will make a bid for Rookie of the Year. He climbs aboard the #47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet which for the previous six seasons was driven by A.J. Allmendinger. On December 19 came news that Allmendinger will be a commentator for NBC Sports’ motorsports coverage in 2019.

SPONSOR AND CREW CHIEF CHANGE: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
2019 marks a new era for seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Two founding elements of his Cup career, sponsor Lowe’s and crew chief Chad Knaus – have both moved on. Lowe’s is no longer sponsoring any Cup teams, and Ally Bank announced their partnership before the start of last fall’s race in Martinsville. Kevin Meendering is now Johnson’s crew chief as Knaus has been swapped to William Byron’s #24. Johnson’s new paint scheme, revealed on “Good Morning America” (and “leaked” on several of Johnson’s Instagram posts), has something old and something new, retaining the yellow door and roof numbers with new fuschia accents.

TEAM UPDATE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
TEAM UPDATE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Bob Pockrass broke news on December 21 that Rick Ware’s team will go from one to two Cup Charters in 2019 (acquiring TriStar Motorsports’ #72 from Front Row Motorsports in addition to their existing Charter from Richard Petty Motorsports), and will also return to the XFINITY Series with a single-car effort. Ware debuted their second Cup car, the #52, last summer at Sonoma and ran it part-time for the balance of the schedule. The team has also acquired Cup chasses from Leavine Family Racing (which this year makes the swap from Chevrolet to Toyota) and Front Row Motorsports. Driving the #51 at Daytona is Cody Ware, who will start his first-ever Daytona 500 following his plate debut last fall at Talladega. Jacob Companies, which backed Ware’s team for much of last year, will sponsor Cody’s car. Winn-Dixie is the listed sponsor for the #52, with B.J. McLeod as the listed driver. UPDATE: As of Thursday, the rides are swapped - McLeod is in the 51 with Cody Ware in the 52.

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Brendan Gaughan and the Mark Beard team are back to start their 2019 restrictor plate campaign with returning sponsors Beard Oil Distributing and South Point Hotel and Casino. Gaughan was running inside the Top 10 late in last year's 500 before he was involved in a multi-car crash. Then, as now, the team does not have a Charter.

RETURNING: #71-Tommy Baldwin Racing
After selling his Cup Series assets to Jay Robinson’s Premium Motorsports and turning his attention to the Truck Series, Tommy Baldwin is back in Cup competition, albeit on a part-time basis. Baldwin’s team broke the news on November 26, but did not announce a driver or manufacturer. That changed on January 16, when it was announced that Ryan Truex would drive for TBR in the Daytona 500, and that the car would run #71 in place of the #7 in years past. If he would qualify, it would be Truex’s first Cup start since September 14, 2014 at Chicagoland and his first-ever Daytona 500 (he failed to qualify for the 2014 running). Accell Construction, Inc., a longtime Baldwin backer, returns as sponsor.

STATUS UNKNOWN: #72-TriStar Motorsports
After Corey LaJoie moved to the #32 team, and Cole Whitt, who called it a career last fall at the ISM Raceway, there has since been no new information on TriStar's status for 2019. The team’s Charter, leased from Front Row Motorsports, has since been acquired by Rick Ware Racing for the #52 team (whose Daytona car resembles TriStar's Talladega car from last fall). The team's hauler is currently being used by Tommy Baldwin Racing.

NEW TEAM: #77/40-Spire Motorsports
On December 4, it was announced that Spire Sports & Entertainment had acquired the Charter from the closed Furniture Row Racing, and would field the #77 car in 2019. Spire’s business includes working with sponsors and drivers, yet neither sponsor nor driver were announced at the time the news broke. It was revealed on January 18 that Spire’s Charter would be leased to Chip Ganassi’s #40 to get Jamie McMurray a guaranteed starting spot, but that the #77 would return the following week in Atlanta. Who will drive that weekend is yet unknown, but it was reported January 22 that ARCA and XFINITY Series part-timer Quin Houff will make his Cup debut in the #77 at the ISM Raceway this spring, the first race of a new deal.

TEAM CLOSED: #78-Furniture Row Racing
On September 4, 2018 came the shocking news that Barney Visser would be closing 2017 championship team Furniture Row Racing at the end of the year, citing rising costs and a lack of sponsorship. Thus ended a dramatic 12-year rise through the ranks of XFINITY and Cup Series racing for the Denver-based team. While driver Martin Truex, Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn have since moved to Joe Gibbs Racing (see above), some of Furniture Row’s employees would work for Visser’s companies Visser Precision and Falci Adaptive Motorsports.

Matt DiBenedetto took the biggest leap of all when he parted ways with Archie St. Hilaire’s Go Green Racing late last year, closing out two seasons together. On October 10, that gamble was rewarded with a ride in the Leavine Family Racing team’s #95, the car vacated after Kasey Kahne’s critical heat exhaustion forced him into retirement last September. Regan Smith closed out the year in Kahne’s absence. The team also welcomes the technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing that was previously affiliated with Furniture Row Racing. The team thus swaps manufacturers from Chevrolet to Toyota. Procore remains as sponsor, committing to a 12-race deal on January 15, and the team revealed December 5 that they will change the look of their car number for the second time in as many years.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
The Gaunt Brothers are back, revealing a black hauler and a white car in their shop. In place of D.J. Kennington, who has been the team's go-to driver at Daytona, reporter and journeyman Parker Kligerman is expected to rejoin the program. Kligerman finished 29th in his lone Daytona 500 start in 2014, driving a backup car for the shuttered Swan Racing. Sponsorship info has not been revealed.

NOT ENTERED: #97-Obaika Racing
On December 3, Victor Obaika confirmed our report from the ISM Raceway that his single-car operation would go full-time Cup racing in 2019. He added that Tanner Berryhill, who had driven the season’s final two rounds at ISM and Homestead, would drive the car in 2019, perhaps as a Rookie of the Year candidate (despite a single points-race attempt for Identity Ventures Racing in 2015). The team made a late appearance at the Hall of Fame on February 6, revealing that Obaika's Vroom! Brands will sponsor Berryhill's Daytona car as well as sports media firm Wave TV. The team was not shown on the preliminary entry list. UPDATE: As of the Friday, Obaika's hauler is absent at Daytona, and the team has reportedly not been entered in the race.

STATUS UNKNOWN: #99-StarCom Racing
There has been no news of StarCom's second car, which ran most recently at Homestead.

TEAM UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
On December 17 came news that Derrike Cope’s team StarCom Racing had purchased its Charter from Richard Childress Racing, and would continue to have Landon Cassill as driver of the #00 Chevrolet. The team also unveiled a new black, white, and yellow scheme designed by Ryan Daley which will run in future races. For Daytona, Permatex will back the #00 Chevrolet. The brand had previously sponsored the ARCA Racing Series, and once backed Clark Dwyer’s Cup ride for U.S. Racing at Michigan on August 12, 1984, where Dwyer finished last with engine problems.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
STATUS UNKNOWN: #??-Motorsports Business Management
On December 8 came news that Carl Long’s Motorsports Business Management team would field two cars in the Daytona 500 with one of them going to Timmy Hill. On January 16, Joey Gase was revealed as driver of the second MBM car, including the Daytona 500. Over the offseason, the team had already revealed they had increased its support from Toyota through their in-house engine department debuted last fall at Kansas. Despite the addition of this second car, it’s uncertain if they will run more than one Cup car the rest of the year, and may only do so part-time - MBM reported they would focus more on the XFINITY Series for the rest of 2019 (again with Gase driving). Fluidyne joined the team’s effort on December 22. Reports later indicated that Gase would drive the only MBM car at Daytona, the #66 with Medic Air Systems, Inc. and Fan Memories as sponsors.

A.J. Allmendinger
Trevor Bayne
Matt Kenseth
Regan Smith

On top of being determined by a random draw, winning the pole for the Clash has been no guarantee of success in the main event. In fact, three times the polesitter has finished last in the event. In 1990, Jimmy Hensley faltered from the start in Dick Moroso's #20 Crown Petroleum Oldsmobile, finishing one lap down. The next year, defending 500 winner Derrike Cope crashed his #10 Purolator Chevrolet just past the halfway point. Most recently in 2003, Geoffrey Bodine took brother Brett's #11 Hooters Ford for a spin, then pulled off the track after three laps with suspension issues.

No comments: