Thursday, April 4, 2019

PREVIEW: Cup field at Bristol the smallest since 1996

PHOTO: @mattdracing
Saturday, April 6, 2019
XFINITY Race 7 of 33
Alsco 300 at Bristol
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeremy Clements

There are 37 drivers for 38 spots in this Saturday’s return to Thunder Valley, the fourth short field in seven races this season.

PAINT SCHEME: #2-Richard Childress Racing
Tyler Reddick carries a distinctive new look on his Chevrolet this week as Dolly Parton and her Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge are the sponsors this week on a pink-and-white paint scheme. Reddick arrives in Bristol as the points leader on the heels of three consecutive top-five finishes, including a season-best runner-up last week in Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Zane Smith returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 24th-place finish in his series debut at Las Vegas, taking the place of Texas 5th-place finisher Jeb Burton. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is again listed as the sponsor for his Chevrolet.

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
With no Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s “Dash 4 Cash” race, Brad Keselowski and the #12 Penske Racing entry are not entered. Keselowski finished 36th last week after an early crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s MBM team swaps drivers this week with Timmy Hill moving from the #13 to the #66, taking the place of his brother Tyler Hill, who ran 28th in Texas. Taking Timmy’s place in the #13 is John Jackson, who we last saw run a season-best 30th in Fontana.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
For the first time since Daytona, Bayley Currey will not be the driver of Rick Ware’s #17 Chevrolet. Currey, who failed to qualify last week in Texas, will remain in Ware’s #52 Chevrolet on the Cup side. In Currey’s place in the #17 will be Kyle Weatherman, who drove two Cup races for Ware and another seven last year for StarCom Racing. Interestingly, this will be Weatherman’s first XFINITY Series start. UPDATE: East Carolina University, which had signed with Ware in the past to be on the team's #51 Cup car, will be on the #17.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Saturday will also see Harrison Burton’s first XFINITY Series start, taking the place of Kyle Busch in the #18 Toyota. DEX Imaging, Burton’s sponsor for his 2017 K&N East Series Championship, backs the effort. Burton won the East race here in 2017, and finished 18th in his lone Truck Series start at Bristol.

MISSING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Last week's strong run for Kaz Grala ended with a swipe at the Texas wall with five laps to go, leaving him 18th. Bristol is not a scheduled start for both driver and team, and neither are entered this Saturday.

Peg Leg Porker barbecue of Nashville tweeted yesterday they will be backing Josh Williams, four years after sponsor and driver met, and one week after Williams' career-best 14th-place run in Texas. Peg Leg specializes in barbecue, bourbon, and a recent concoction that mixes Mountain Dew into a new sauce.

MISSING: #81-XCI Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt and the XCI Racing entry are not in the race after finishing 8th in the team’s debut in Texas.

Alex Labbe rejoins Mario Gosselin’s team for the first time since a 19th-place finish in Atlanta earlier this year. He takes the place of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., who earned a career-best 15th in just his second series start at Texas. Labbe finished 11th and 23rd in the two Bristol races last year.

Sunday, April 7, 2019
CUP Race 8 of 36
Food City 500 at Bristol
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Ross Chastain

Following Premium Motorsports’ withdrawal of the #27 to be driven by Reed Sorenson, there are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots. This marks the seventh-straight short Cup field in 2019, and the fewest starters in a Cup race at Bristol since March 31, 1996 – a race that had 43 entrants.

PAINT SCHEME: #4-Stewart-Haas Racing
For the first time since October 31, 2010 at Talladega, when they sponsored Elliott Sadler, Hunt Brothers Pizza will by the primary sponsor on a Cup Series entry. The pairing continues Hunt's longtime partnership with Kevin Harvick, who the company previously sponsored in both the XFINITY and Truck Series.

WITHDREW: #27-Premium Motorsports
Reed Sorenson and the #27 team were both on the preliminary entry list, but are not making the trip to Bristol, one week after a 34th-place finish at Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Cody Ware rejoins the #51 team for the first time since a difficult afternoon in Martinsville, and will make his first Cup start at Bristol. The team came home 31st last week in Texas with B.J. McLeod. UPDATE: As of Thursday, Gray Gaulding will drive this car, pulling double duty in his first Cup start since last fall at Richmond in the Ware #52.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
While Timmy Hill is running the XFINITY race for MBM, Joey Gase will run double-duty this weekend in his return to the #66 Cup team. Hill finished 38th in last week’s Cup race. Gase has not started a Cup race at Bristol since the summer of 2017, when he ran 34th for BK Racing. UPDATE: Timmy Hill will drive the #66 this Sunday and run double duty. Gase will only run XFINITY on Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Quin Houff returns to the Cup Series for the first time since his series debut at Phoenix, taking the place of Texas 32nd-place finisher Garrett Smithley. Houff earned a 15th-place run at Bristol during his only XFINITY start here in 2017, driving for Precision Performance Motorsports. The sponsor will be FALCI Adaptive Motorsports, the current effort of former Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser.

PAINT SCHEME: #95-Leavine Family Racing
Matt DiBenedetto's Toyota carries a new look this week as it promotes the new online NASCAR Heat Pro League.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Only Carl Long’s team flies the flag for open teams this week. Parker Kligerman and the Gaunt Brothers team are not headed to Tennessee. Kligerman ran 27th last week in Texas.

MISSING: #97-Obaika Racing
Also not entered is Victor Obaika’s #97, which was withdrawn prior to last week’s action in Texas.

Friday, May 3, 2019
TRUCKS Race 6 of 23
JEGS 200 at Dover
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Peck

The wait is on as the Truck Series takes the next month off, returning to lead off a triple-header in Dover.

Bobby Hamilton rolls off the grid in the 1993 Food City 500.
PHOTO: ESPN, Video posted on YouTube by BigTNASCAR
Today in LASTCAR history (April 4, 1993): The tragic Food City 500 run the Sunday following the passing of Alan Kulwicki saw Rusty Wallace win in dominant fashion, completing a Polish Victory Lap in honor of his fallen competitor. The early laps also saw the late Bobby Hamilton score the first last-place finish of his Cup career when the engine let go on his #68 Country Time Ford after 27 laps. Hamilton, who was released by TriStar Motorsports two races later, would not finish last in Cup again until the 2000 Daytona 500.

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