Thursday, March 7, 2019

PREVIEW: Two Cup Series debuts headline entry lists at the ISM Raceway

PHOTO: The Decal Source, @P1_Houff
Saturday, March 9, 2019
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
iK9 Service Dog 200 at ISM Raceway
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 37 drivers entered for 38 spots this week, down one car from last week in Las Vegas. This would mark the second short field of the 2019 season and first since Atlanta. Both the #13 and #17 did not have a driver named on the preliminary list, but Stan Mullis and Bayley Currey are back to run them, as in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Ryan Truex returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since last fall at Homestead, where he closed out his first full season of series competition driving for Kaulig Racing. This time around, Truex takes Zane Smith’s place in Dale Jr.’s #8 Chevrolet, one week after Smith finished 24th in Las Vegas.

MISSING: #10-Kaulig Racing
Speaking of Kaulig Racing, the team once again leaves the #10 team at the shop, and Austin Dillon is not entered to run double-duty following his 4th-place finish for the team in Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Tyler Hill returns to the site of his XFINITY Series debut last fall, taking the place of brother Timmy Hill in Carl Long’s #66 Toyota. Tyler recovered from a late spin in 2018 to finish 31st in the next-to-last race run by Long’s “Zombie Dodge.”

Ronnie Bassett, Jr., your winner of the 2017 K&N Pro Series East opener in New Smyrna, will make his NASCAR national touring series debut, taking the place of next-to-last-place finisher Donald Theetge in Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet. Sponsored by Bassett Gutters and More, Bassett has a single start at the ISM Raceway in 2015, when he finished 10th on the West tour.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins is back in action this week, taking the place of Jairo Avila, Jr. in the #99 Toyota. Diamond Gusset Jeans returns as sponsor. Martins’ best finish in three series starts at ISM came in this race last year, when he finished 27th.

CUP INVADERS: #18-Kyle Busch

Sunday, March 10, 2019
CUP Race 4 of 36
Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Corey LaJoie

There are 36 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking not only the third-straight short field in 2019, but the first of the year without a single “open” entry.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Not only will Bayley Currey make his third-straight start in the #17 on the XFINITY Series side, but he will also make his Cup debut in Ware’s #52 Mtel-One Ford, driven to a 37th-place finish last week by B.J. McLeod. Currey, who has volunteered as a pit crew member between driving duties, has a pair of lower series starts at the ISM Raceway: he gave D.J. Copp his first Truck Series top-ten with a 10th in 2017, and last fall ran 30th for JP Motorsports’ XFINITY program.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Engine troubles sidelined Joey Gase after just 10 laps last Sunday in Vegas, and both driver and team aren’t entered on the Cup side this weekend. Radio communications indicated the two will return to action next week in Fontana. Gase will still be in Saturday’s race, running MBM’s #35.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Quin Houff makes his previously-announced Cup series debut with Spire Motorsports and returning backing from Rim Ryderz – already the third different car number the sponsor has backed in 2019. Houff has made 10 XFINITY Series starts with a best of 12th at Iowa in 2017, driving for the now-absent Precision Performance Motorsports. He ran 29th here last fall for JD Motorsports.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman is without a ride this weekend as he and the Gaunt Brothers, the only “open” team to have attempted and started every race in 2019, are not entered in Phoenix.

Saturday, March 23, 2019
TRUCKS Race 4 of 23
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Mike Senica

After three tripleheader weekends, the Truck Series takes the next two weeks off and returns for the first short track weekend of 2019 in Martinsville.

Only once has the last-place finisher of the XFINITY Series race at the ISM Raceway completed more than 24 laps. Curiously, it was also the first series race run at the track. On November 6, 1999, Phil Parsons picked up the 5th last-place finish of his XFINITY career when his #10 Alltel Chevrolet completed 139 of 200 laps of the Outback Steakhouse 200 before engine trouble. He was one of only four retirees of a race slowed by just one caution – a wreck between 42nd-place finisher Bobby Hillin, Jr. and 39th-place Chad Chaffin. The race was won by Jeff Gordon – his first since he left Bill Davis Racing to go full-time Cup at the end of 1992.

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