Thursday, March 28, 2019

PREVIEW: Two new teams set to shake things up on Texas entry lists

PHOTO: @XfinityRacing
Saturday, March 29, 2019
TRUCKS Race 5 of 23
Vankor 350 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bo LeMastus (November 2018)

There are 33 trucks entered for 32 spots, meaning one team will miss the show. Eight teams entered at Martinsville are not among them. UPDATE: Make that 34 entries woth the addition of the #1.

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-Beaver Motorsports
Travis Kvapil finally made his 2019 debut with a 28th-place finish after early issues at Martinsville. Neither driver nor the Mark Beaver team are entered this week. UPDATE: The team is now entered and Bayley Currey will become the fifth driver to run all three races this weekend.

MISSING: #56-Hill Motorsports
RETURNING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek’s team has two trucks entered this week, bringing back the #87 that was withdrawn at Martinsville. Nemechek himself will drive the flagship #8, taking the place of Austin Dillon, who ran 13th at Martinsville. The #87, which Nemechek was to drive last week, will instead go to Timmy Hill, who joins Kyle Busch, Garrett Smithley, Bayley Currey, and Ross Chastain in attempting all three Texas races this weekend. Hill qualified his new #56 team on time last week en route to a 21st-place finish. The Hill Motorsports effort, not entered this week, will next attempt Dover.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb returns to her #10 Chevrolet in Texas, one week after Juan Manuel Gonzalez failed to qualify for his series debut.

MISSING: #11-Rette Jones Racing
At Martinsville, Spencer Davis picked up a 20th-place finish in his first start of 2019, but neither driver nor team are entered this week.

MISSING: #19-Bill McAnally Racing
Derek Kraus ran 18th in his own return at Martinsville, but the McAnally effort is also not among those entered.

MISSING: #27-ThorSport Racing
Also missing are Myatt Snider and ThorSport’s #27, 6th-place finishers last Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
RETURNING: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Like NEMCO, Josh Reaume fields two trucks this week, including a second entry he withdrew at Martinsville. Reaume himself retakes the #33 from Daniel Sasnett, who is not entered after a 30th-place showing in his series debut. Jesse Iwuji returns for the first time since he reported for service immediately following the race in Las Vegas. He will again pilot the #34 Fueltrax Chevrolet he steered to a 26th-place finish that night.

RETURNING: #42-Chad Finley Racing
The Finley team returns to action for the first time since their hauler accident in Atlanta and subsequent withdrawal from Las Vegas. Behind the wheel is Garrett Smithley, a late driver swap with his friend Robby Lyons. If he qualifies, it will be Smithley’s first Truck Series start since July 7, 2016, when he finished 21st for SS-Green Light Racing.

MISSING: #43-Tony Mrakovich Racing
Tony Mrakovich’s scrappy underdogs are not among this week’s entrants following their DNQ in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Neice Motorsports
Angela Ruch rejoins the Truck Series circuit for a third time in 2019 following finishes of 8th and 16th for NEMCO Motorsports. This time around, she drives for Al Niece, taking the place of 24th-place Martinsville finisher Reid Wilson, who is not entered.

MISSING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
KBM has not entered the #46 this week. Raphael Lessard, also not entered, ran 14th in the truck last Saturday.

TEAM UPDATE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
While Kyle Busch remains the listed driver for Friday’s race, Greg Biffle tweeted on Wednesday night that he will also be practicing the #51 Toyota in the lead-up to the race. Biffle won the 2000 race at Texas from the pole during his start with Jack Roush. UPDATE: On Thursday came news that Biffle will drive the KBM #51 when the Truck Series returns to Texas this June.

Anthony Alfredo returns to action this week, taking the place of team part-owner David Gilliland, 12th in Martinsville. Alfredo carries sponsorship from Ceco Building Systems and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, and will have driven each of DGR-Crosley’s three trucks in 2019.

MISSING: #63-Copp Motorsports
D.J. Copp’s season-long tribute to the ailing Mike Mittler will not make a stop this weekend in Texas, one week after Dawson Cram failed to qualify his own #63 machine.

MISSING: #80-Jacob Wallace Racing
The Jacob Wallace effort is also not among the entered after they withdrew at Martinsville.

MISSING: #92-RBR Enterprises
Austin Theriault earned a 22nd-place finish at Martinsville, but neither driver nor team are among those in Texas.

Rejoining the circuit is Jesse Little and the JJL Racing team, back in action for the first time since a season-best 19th in Las Vegas. Parker FiberNet is the listed sponsor of the #97 Ford.

CUP INVADERS: #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, March 30, 2019
XFINITY Race 6 of 33
My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots in Saturday’s return of the XFINITY Series, meaning that two teams will miss the show. Depending on weather, the battle for the final two spots could come down to two small teams and two new fully-funded rides.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton moves from last week’s Cup effort for Rick Ware Racing into the XFINITY team from JR Motorsports. Burton, sponsored by longtime family backer State Water Heaters, eyes his first XFINITY start since last summer at Chicagoland, and takes over for Ryan Preece, 8th the last time out in Fontana.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Fresh off a dominant win in Martinsville, Brad Keselowski and the #12 team are back for their first XFINITY race since a frustrating roof hatch issue in the Daytona opener. Keselowski’s two wins and only pole in the series at Texas have come in the fall race. He finished last in the spring race in 2007.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
For the first time, brothers Timmy and Tyler Hill will have the chance to race against each other in a NASCAR national touring series race. Tyler takes Timmy’s seat in the #66 while Timmy takes John Jackson’s ride in the #13.

RETURNING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
As announced in February, Kaz Grala has landed a part-time XFINITY schedule with Richard Childress Racing, which brings back RCR’s #21 for the first time since Daniel Hemric closed out 2018 at Homestead. Grala reunites with dessert maker Hot Scream, which backed some of the driver’s most recent starts with Fury Race Cars LLC. The upstart Fury team has yet to make a race attempt in 2019.

NEW TEAM: #81-XCI Racing
Also returning to action is Jeffrey Earnhardt and his omnipresent sponsors iK9 and Xtreme Concepts, Inc. The sponsors will back the new #81 Toyota Supra under the XCI Racing banner, a car fielded in partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing, and will also attempt some Cup races this year. Earnhardt, who ran the season’s first two rounds in Gibbs’ #18 with a season-best 6th in Atlanta, looks to give car #81 its first XFINITY start since November 12, 2012, when Jason Bowles finished 29th at Homestead.

Ronnie Basset, Jr. returns for the first time since his debut at the ISM Raceway as driver of Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet, sponsored by Bassett Gutters and More. Bassett hopes for a smoother weekend after crashing out in Phoenix and driving a backup car, and the #90 team looks to bounce back after having to park a Jimmy Means Racing backup in Fontana.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Brad Keselowski, #18-Kyle Busch

Sunday, March 31, 2019
CUP Race 7 of 36
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Martin Truex, Jr.

There are 40 drivers entered for 40 spots this week, setting up what could be the first full Cup Series field since the Daytona 500 after five straight fields of 38 or fewer starters. UPDATE: Make that six straight as the #97 has withdrawn.

RETURNING: #27-Premium Motorsports
Reed Sorenson returns for his third Cup Series start of the season and second in three rounds as driver of Jay Robinson’s #27 Chevrolet. The team, which last appeared at Fontana, has new sponsorship from Soloman Plumbing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
On Friday, B.J. McLeod was swapped into the #51 for the first time since Daytona, taking the place of Cody Ware.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Bayley Currey returns to the Cup Series for the first time since his series debut at the ISM Raceway earlier this month. He takes the place of Jeb Burton, who exited early with brake issues and finished 35th in Martinsville. Currey will also run in Saturday’s XFINITY race in Ware’s #17 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long has brought his Cup car along with his XFINITY effort, looking to start the race that NASCAR’s sealed engine rule prevented him from running last fall. Then, as now, Timmy Hill is the driver, taking the place of Joey Gase, 35th his last time out at Fontana.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Like Timmy Hill, Garrett Smithley rounds out his triple-header weekend with sponsorship from Trophy Tractor on the Spire #77 Chevrolet. Smithley takes the place of D.J. Kennington, who ran 32nd at Martinsville.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman and the Gaunt Brothers rejoin the Cup circuit for the first time since their 31st-place showing in Las Vegas. Kligerman’s third and most recent Cup start at the track came last fall, when he ran 31st.

WITHDREW: #97-Obaika Racing
In a Chevrolet, not the Toyota from their Daytona press conference, Victor Obaika’s team seeks to make their season debut at the same track they ran last November. No driver was yet listed at the time of this writing, though David Starr, their pilot here last fall, will be competing for Jimmy Means in Saturday’s XFINITY race. UPDATE: The team has withdrawn as of Thursday.

This day in LASTCAR History (March 28, 1987): Mark Martin picks up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Country Squire 200. Making just his fifth series start, Martin started 29th in the #31 Fat Boys Bar-B-Q Ford fielded by Bruce Lawmaster, but fell out after just six laps with a broken oil pump. Martin would score just five last-place finishes in his XFINITY career, the last of which on October 3, 1998 at Charlotte.

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