Thursday, June 6, 2019

PREVIEW: Return of Biffle, Stenzel, and Minor, plus Chastain's big move top entry list storylines

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

There are 33 drivers entered for 32 spots in Friday’s return of the Truck Series, meaning one team will miss the show.

MISSING: #1-Beaver Motorsports
Bayley Currey is not entered this week after the #1 team withdrew in Charlotte.

TEAM UPDATE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
In place of his traditional white-and-blue scheme, popular owner-driver Jordan Anderson will bring his black “007” truck to the track this week. and Lucas Oil remain as sponsors.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Returning from his own withdrawal at Charlotte is Norm Benning, with sponsorship from H&H Transport on his #6 Chevrolet. Benning eyes his 205th series start and his 19th at Texas, where his best finish is a pair of 17th-place runs in 2010 and 2017.

MISSING: #7-All Out Motorsports
Korbin Forrister and the All Out #7 team are not entered this week, following their most recent 25th-place showing in Charlotte.

Camden Murphy was originally slated to run this truck after running Rick Ware's #17 in the XFINITY Series. That changed by Wednesday with Tony Mrakovich now driving. Mrakovich had previously attempted to qualify his own #43 truck, but DNQ'd at Martinsville and withdrew from Dover.

NEW TEAM: #25-Ted Minor
Ted Minor looks to rejoin the Truck Series for the first time since Phoenix in the fall of 2017, when he finished 31st for the late Mike Mittler. This time around, he is the latest driver to start his own team, campaigning a #25 sponsored by Xtreme Air, Phoenix Roofing, and Prestige Plumbing. As of this writing, it has not been confirmed whether the truck will be a Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Scott Stenzel announced he will be returning to the Truck Series for the first time since his last-place finish in Las Vegas for Copp Motorsports. This time around, he replaces Josh Bilicki in Josh Reaume’s second truck, the #34. As at Vegas, Stenzel will be sponsored by his own mattress company Personal Comfort.

RETURNING: #38-Niece Motorsports
Team owner Al Niece brings back his third truck this week, which T.J. Bell was originally listed to drive. That changed significantly with news Tuesday that Ross Chastain will no longer pursue the 2019 XFINITY Series Championship and instead go for the title in the Truck Series. There’s one significant catch – Chastain’s win at Kansas will not count, as NASCAR rules require he start from zero points. The story is now this – Chastain must win again one of these following eight races to qualify for the Playoffs. Chastain finished 7th at Texas two months ago, his best run to date at the track.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Chastain will drive Niece’s #38 and not the #45 he has piloted up to this point, including his win in Kansas. The preliminary entry list instead showed Kyle Benjamin as this week’s driver with International Cellulose as the sponsor. Benjamin’s only two Truck Series starts were both Martinsville races last year, where he finished 2nd and 5th for DGR-Crosley.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Welcome back Greg Biffle, who as announced earlier this year will make his first start in NASCAR’s top three series since November 20, 2016 at Homestead, and his first in Trucks since November 19, 2004 – also at Homestead – when he finished 8th for Tom Mitchell. Biffle takes the place of last week’s Cup winner at Pocono Kyle Busch, who will focus on Sunday’s race in Michigan.

MISSING: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy Hill and his family-run team are not entered this week following Hill’s 16th-place showing in Charlotte.

MISSING: #92-RBR Enterprises
Also not entered is the Ricky Benton-prepared #92 Ford, which Timothy Peters failed to qualify the team’s last time out in Charlotte.

MISSING: #97-JJL Racing
Jesse Little is not in Texas, either, weeks after his 14th-place showing in Charlotte.


Saturday, June 8, 2019
XFINITY Race 13 of 33
LTi Printing 250 at Michigan
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 39 drivers entered in Saturday’s XFINITY race at Michigan, meaning one team will miss the show.

TEAM UPDATE: #4-JD Motorsports
With Ross Chastain’s announcement that he will pursue the 2019 Truck Series Championship, it is likely there will be a new driver in the #4. As of this writing, Chastain is still entered in the car. UPDATE: Chastain is listed to drive Saturday with a new-look blue car sponsored by Contec. The driver's streak of starting every top three race (36 races total) will thus end on Sunday's Cup race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton is back with JR Motorsports for the third time this season and first time since Charlotte, where he ran 7th. This time, his sponsor is LS Tractor. Burton takes the place of Cup rookie Ryan Preece, who ran a strong 4th in Pocono.

MISSING: #10-Kaulig Racing
Matthew Kaulig has elected not to bring his second Chevrolet to Michigan this week, the car Austin Dillon steered to a 10th-place finish in Pocono.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Cup veteran Paul Menard will make his first XFINITY start of the season in the return of Penske Racing’s #12 for the first time since Texas. The #12 team has had a surprisingly difficult start to the 2019 season, failing to finish both of their races this year with Brad Keselowski for finishes of 37th at Daytona and 36th in Fort Worth. Menard will carry sponsorship from Menards and Richmond.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsport Business Management
On Wednesday, Tyler Hill was swapped in for his brother Timmy in the MBM Toyota. Timmy then moves back to the team's #13 in place of John Jackson, who was on the preliminary list but is now not entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
There was originally no driver listed for this car. Camden Murphy, who ran it last week, was slated to run the Truck race for NEMCO, but that changed by Wednesday. The driver will now be Bayley Currey after he was swapped from Ware's #52 Cup car for Josh Bilicki (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Riley Herbst is set to make his third XFINITY start of the year and first since his 15th-place showing in Dover. He takes the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, 22nd at Pocono, and carries returning sponsorship from Monster Energy. Herbst has a pair of ARCA Menards Series starts at Michigan with finishes of 16th in 2017 and a runner-up to Sheldon Creed just last year.

RETURNING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Joe Graf, Jr., currently 5th in the ARCA Menards Series standings, eyes his first start in any of NASCAR’s top three series this weekend. Graf finished 5th in last year’s ARCA race at Michigan, three spots behind Herbst. This week, he’s the listed driver of RCR’s #21, a car we last saw with Kaz Grala behind the wheel in Dover. “Eat Sleep Race” is the listed sponsor of the Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon was originally listed as back in his #74, but that changed by Wednesday as Kyle Weatherman will now run double-duty in Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Revealed on Friday, Landon Cassill will drive in place of Morgan Shepherd, reprising his role from Charlotte.

Alex Labbe was slated to reunite with team owner Mario Gosselin this week, taking the place of Ronnie Bassett, Jr. in the #90 Chevrolet. That changed by Wednesday as Dillon Bassett wil run in his brother's place.

After failing to finish his last five races, “start-and-parking” in four of them, Josh Bilicki has finally landed not one, but two sponsors. Both Ziegler Auto Group and Marriott Companies will back his #93 Chevrolet. As of this writing, teammate Jeff Green’s #38 is yet unsponsored.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins regains the #99 Toyota from Todd Peck, who finished 27th in Pocono. Martins carries returning sponsorship from Diamond Gusset Jeans, indicating he’s likely to run the same car Matt Mills ran in Pocono as a backup, finishing 30th.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Paul Menard

Sunday, June 9, 2019
CUP Race 15 of 36
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Garrett Smithley

There are just 36 teams entered in Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan, another record-setting short field for the Cup Series. The last time just 36 drivers took the green flag at Michigan was on August 16, 1981.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Premium Motorsports
The aforementioned shift of Ross Chastain to the Truck Series championship has brought Garrett Smithley back to the scene of his brief Cup debut last year, when his ride in StarCom Racing’s #99 ended after early transmission woes following just one lap. Then as now, Victory Lane Quick Lane Oil Change is the sponsor of his ride. It will be Smithley’s first Cup start since Texas when he made his third and most recent start in Spire Motorsports’ #77, yielding a season-best 32nd.

MISSING: #27-Premium Motorsports
Jay Robinson’s team has elected not to bring the #27 team, which Reed Sorenson has driven in seven races this year, most recently his 28th-place showing last week in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Cody Ware was originally listed to return to the #51, moving Bayley Currey back to the #52 in place of J.J. Yeley, who isn’t entered. That changed by Wednesday with the #51 going to Kyle Weatherman, who will make his first Cup start of the season. Weatherman will run the P-40 car in its third straight race but with the original RWR numbers on the doors. In place of Currey in the #52 is Josh Bilicki, also making his first Cup start of the season and first since last summer at Watkins Glen.

Today in LASTCAR history (June 6, 1997): Terry Cook picks up the first last-place finish of his Truck Series career in the Pronto Auto Parts 400K at Texas when his #88 PBA Tour Chevrolet loses an engine after 11 laps. The finish came in just the seventh of Cook’s 314 series starts and in just the second season for upstart ThorSport Racing, now a fixture on the tour.

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