Thursday, May 23, 2019

PREVIEW: Rare car numbers add statistical significance to Charlotte entry lists

Saturday, May 25, 2019
XFINITY Race 11 of 33
Alsco 300 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

The XFINITY Series returns for the first time since Dover at the beginning of the month. There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will miss the show. UPDATE: Make that 40 drivers following the late addition of Means Racing's #52 by Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton is set to make his second XFINITY Series start of the season, and first since a 5th-place finish in Texas. Then as now, his sponsor will be longtime Burton family backer State Water Heaters. Burton takes the place of Zane Smith, 9th at Dover.

RETURNING: #10-Kaulig Racing
The second Kaulig entry returns to the series this weekend for its fifth start of the year and first since Ross Chastain’s 30th-place run in Talladega. The driver this time is Austin Dillon, who turned in the car’s best finish of 2019 in Las Vegas – a 4th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Joe Nemechek makes his first XFINITY Series attempt in exactly a year, dating back to an 18th-place run in this race for JD Motorsports. This time around, he takes John Jackson’s place in MBM’s #13 Toyota – his first time driving for team owner Carl Long. The rest of MBM’s driver lineup remains the same this week with Joey Gase (#35), Chad Finchum (#42), and Timmy Hill (#66). Hill welcomes back returning sponsorship from, which joined him last fall on the Roval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Camden Murphy looks to make only his second XFINITY Series start and first since a 26th-place showing in his series debut at Bristol in 2016. Just like that night, he will drive for Rick Ware. Murphy takes the place of Bayley Currey, who will instead drive Ware’s #52 Cup entry on Sunday. UPDATE: As of late Wednesday, Murphy's return to the series will have to wait - Currey will run double-duty for Ware. According to Currey, the run will be a combined effort between the Ware team and Mike Harmon Racing. The car carries numbers in the Harmon team's font.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt and his ubiquitous iK9 sponsorship return to the #18 team this week, taking the place of 15th-place Dover finisher Riley Herbst. It will be Earnhardt’s fifth XFINITY Series start of the season and first since a 26th-place finish in Talladega.

TEAM UPDATE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Conspicuously absent from the preliminary entry list was Jimmy Means Racing and driver David Starr. A Means-prepared #52 has not missed an XFINITY Series race since the 2013 finale at Homestead, where the team likewise wasn’t entered. UPDATE: David Starr and the Means Racing team will be at the race on Saturday with new sponsorship from The team was added back onto the list by Wednesday.

NEW TEAM: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Brandonbilt Motorsports fields two cars for the first time this weekend, adding the #68 to their flagship #86. The addition comes as Mason Diaz rejoins the team to drive the #86 with sponsorship from Solid Rock Carriers and The Sign Shop, just as he had in Richmond. Unlike that night, where Brandon Brown had to drive in place of Josh Bilicki for RSS Racing, Brown will drive the new #68 with sponsorship from Vero. If Brown qualifies, it will mark the first XFINITY start for car #68 since July 1, 2011, when Carl Long made his final start for the short-lived Fleur-de-lis Motorsports at Daytona.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
In addition to the assistance given to Rick Ware's #17 (see above), Camden Murphy - displaced by Bayley Currey in the #17 - has practiced the #74 in place of Harmon. Harmon is still the listed driver for Saturday.

TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Landon Cassill has been practicing Morgan Shepherd's #89 on Thursday, picking up a strong 9th in the second session. Shepherd is still the listed driver for Saturday.

Charlotte will also see brothers Dillon Bassett and Ronnie Bassett, Jr. run against each other in the same XFINITY race for the first time. Dillon takes the #90, bumping Ronnie to the returning #92, a third DGM entry last seen at Richmond. Dillon finished 15th in his lone series start that night, matching the best of Ronnie’s three starts this year. Both cars will be sponsored both by Bassett Gutters and Moore as well as American Wood Reface. Josh Williams remains the driver of DGM’s #36.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jairo Avila, Jr. makes his second XFINITY start of the season and first since a 25th-place finish in Las Vegas. He takes the place of Tommy Joe Martins, 21st in Dover.

CUP INVADERS: #10-Austin Dillon

Sunday, May 26, 2019
CUP Race 13 of 36
60th Annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Kevin Harvick

There are exactly 40 entrants for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the fourth full field of 2019 and the third in the last four races.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #15-Premium Motorsports
On Wednesday came the announcement that Ross Chastain has picked up new sponsorship for the Coca-Cola 600. Cross Country Adjusting will back the #15 Chevrolet this Sunday.

MISSING: #31-Richard Childress Racing
Tyler Reddick turned heads in just his second Cup start, finishing 9th under the lights in Kansas. This week, he focuses on the XFINITY race on Saturday, and the #31 is not entered in Sunday’s main event.

MISSING: #46-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
As of this writing, Carl Long’s MBM effort has only entered one of its two Cup cars from Kansas and the Monster Energy Open. Joey Gase makes the move from the #46, not entered this week, to take Timmy Hill’s place in the #66. Hill will instead focus on Saturday’s XFINITY race in MBM’s other #66.

TEAM UPDATE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware will enter all three of their cars from the Open, including B.J. McLeod’s Tuskegee Airmen tribute car #53. As reported last week, the entry is the first for the #53 in a Cup points race since April 30, 1995, when Ritchie Petty missed the field for the Winston Select 500 at Talladega. If the car starts, it will be the number’s first green flag in a points race since Petty’s 41st-place finish in the Pepsi 400 on July 2, 1994.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Parker Kligerman and the Gaunt Brothers team rejoin the Cup tour for the first time since his 27th-place showing in Talladega. No sponsor is yet listed for the #96 Toyota.

Friday, June 7, 2019
TRUCKS Race 9 of 23
Rattlesnake 400 at Texas
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Peck

The Truck Series takes the week off and will return in two weeks at Texas.

Today in LASTCAR history (May 23, 1965): Junior Spencer picks up the first last-place finish of his Cup Series career when his #17 1964 Ford suffers an oi leak after 9 laps of the World 600. Spencer, a native of Hamlin, West Virginia, was making his ninth of 25 career Cup starts, and his first at Charlotte. Though he started just 21 of 55 races in the ’65 season, he finished inside the Top 10 seven times, including a career-best 5th at the (Birmingham) Fairgrounds Raceway on June 6.

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