Thursday, April 11, 2019

PREVIEW: Three newcomers, a returning veteran, and a tribute to Sam Bass add color to Richmond lineups

PHOTO: @1eternalfan

Friday, April 12, 2019
XFINITY Race 8 of 33
ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning that two teams will miss the show.

RETURNING: #10-Kaulig Racing
Welcome back Elliott Sadler, who four months after retiring from NASCAR competition will attempt Friday’s race at his home track. Sadler drives the second Kaulig Racing car, a car we last saw finish 4th in Las Vegas with Austin Dillon behind the wheel. Sadler has yet to score a victory in his 31 XFINITY starts at Richmond, but has finished no worse than 7th in each of his last six series starts here.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long shuffles his driver lineup again this week, moving Timmy Hill from the #66 he steered to an impressive 17th-place run in Bristol to the #13 that finished last with John Jackson. While the preliminary entry list did not show a replacement for Hill in the #66, it has since been confirmed that Colin Garrett will drive with sponsorship from Racing For Heroes. The 18-year-old Garrett, currently 4th in the K&N Pro Series East standings, seeks his first XFINITY Series start, and the opportunity to do so at his home track.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Set to make his XFINITY Series debut this week is Tyler Matthews, who made three Truck Series starts for MDM Motorsports and Copp Motorsports, most recently a last-place run in Kentucky last summer. Matthews takes the place of B.J. McLeod, who moves back to his own #99 team this week (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Riley Herbst returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his series debut last summer at Iowa, where he ran 6th. Then as now, he drives the #18 from the Joe Gibbs Racing stables, taking the place of Bristol’s 10th-place finisher Harrison Burton. Monster Energy will sponsor the Herbst effort.

RETURNING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
After a frustrating end to his first XFINITY start for Richard Childress Racing, Kaz Grala is back for his second race of the season in the Hot Scream #21 Chevrolet. Grala finished 30th in his lone series start at Richmond in this race last year, one of his last before the JGL Racing team closed its doors.

Mario Gosselin’s team shakes up their lineup this week, and in so doing brings their third car, the #92 Chevrolet, back to the circuit for the first time since a DNQ in last year’s Homestead finale. Then as now, Josh Williams will drive the #92, moving over from his most frequent ride in the #36. According to Jayski, the reason for the change is funding as sponsor All Sports Coffee defaulted on payment. In Williams' place in the #36 is a returning Donald Theetge, who we last saw collected in an accident in Las Vegas a month ago. The #90 which Theetge drove in Vegas will instead go to Dillon Bassett, brother of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., who made a pair of starts for DGM this spring. Dillon, who won in just his eighth K&N Pro Series East race at the Motordrome Speedway in 2015, was 8th in the series standings the last two years.

DRIVER CHANGE: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
After a strong start to the 2019 season with an unsponsored car, placing him 14th in the series standings 180 markers out of the lead, Brandon Brown will not drive the #86 this week. As announced earlier this spring, Mason Diaz will return to the site of his XFINITY Series debut last September, when he ran 19th for DGM Racing. Solid Rock Carriers continues their sponsorship of Diaz with the #86 team.

It wasn't until Wednesday that Brandon Brown landed a ride in Friday's race. Brown will keep his Playoff run alive thanks to Josh Bilicki, who steps aside to let Brown run the #93.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
With Tyler Matthews driving his car #15 for JD Motorsports, B.J. McLeod moves to his own #99, taking the place of Tommy Joe Martins, 26th in Bristol. McLeod himself ran 18th in the #15 last Saturday.

Saturday, April 13, 2019
CUP Race 9 of 36
Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Reed Sorenson

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the eighth consecutive short field in 2019. It’s the fewest starters for a Cup race at Richmond since March 6, 1994, when 37 drivers took the green flag – after 46 cars attempted to qualify. Among those sent home from that race was Loy Allen, Jr., his first of 12 DNQs that season, and just two weeks after starting from the pole in the Daytona 500.

MISSING: #27-Premium Motorsports
The #27 Chevrolet that Jay Robinson’s team withdrew along with Reed Sorenson at Bristol is not entered this week in Richmond.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
For the second straight week, Cody Ware was on the preliminary entry list as driver of the #51 but has been swapped out. Jeb Burton returns to the Ware team for the first time since he drove the #52 at Martinsville. He takes the place of Gray Gaulding, who ran 36th after engine trouble in Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE & PAINT SCHEME: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Easily the most head-turning paint scheme this weekend will belong to Joey Gase, who returns to action for the first time since Fontana as driver of Carl Long’s Cup car. After approval by NASCAR, the #66 Eternal Fan Toyota will be covered with the artwork of the late Sam Bass, the prolific motorsports artist who passed away on the eve of this year’s Daytona 500. Much of the artwork displayed on Gase’s ride is from Bass’ many program covers used at the Richmond Raceway, including his iconic debut of the Stavola Brothers’ Miller High Life paint schemes for Bobby Allison and Bobby Hillin, Jr., the first Cup paint schemes Bass designed in 1988.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Superior Essex, a brand that in recent years has sponsored many of J.J. Yeley’s racing efforts, will rejoin Derrike Cope’s team as sponsor for the first time since last year’s spring Bristol race. Landon Cassill, 26th in Bristol, remains the driver.

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

We’re now less than a month away from the return of the Truck Series in Dover. Among the expected entrants is Hill Racing’s #56, which Timmy Hill qualified on time for the team’s debut in Martinsville.

Today in LASTCAR history (April 11, 1998): Dennis Setzer picks up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Galaxy Food Centers 300, the 42nd and final XFINITY race held on the historic Hickory Motor Speedway. Setzer was making a one-off start for team owner James Finch in the #4 Lance Snacks Chevrolet, a car driven for much of the year by Jeff Purvis. After qualifying 15th in the field of 31, Setzer was collected in a multi-car pileup after 59 laps. Later that month, Setzer would make his Cup Series debut in a second car from the Bill Elliott Racing stables. His #89 McDonald’s McRib Ford Thunderbird ran 19th in the DieHard 500 at Talladega.

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