Thursday, August 15, 2019

PREVIEW: Bristol sees a multitude of Truck and XFINITY teams rejoin the circuit

PHOTO: TriMaxx Graphics
Thursday, August 15, 2019
TRUCKS Race 17 of 23
UNOH 200 at Bristol
Round of 8 – Race 1 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

There are 36 drivers entered for 32 spots in Thursday’s opener at “Thunder Valley,” meaning four teams will miss the show (following the withdrawal of Norm Benning). It’s the most entrants for a Truck Series race since Charlotte in May, where 38 drivers entered before two withdrew.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb will not be entering the #0 truck at Bristol, one week after Daniel Sasnett wrecked during his qualifying lap. Sasnett’s #0 was originally planned to be Cobb’s truck for Bristol and Mosport, but those plans have likely changed. Cobb is still entered in her #10, but it is not yet clear which of her remaining trucks she will drive.

WITHDREW: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Following his last-place finish at Michigan, Benning has withdrawn from this week's race. He is expected to run the following Sunday in Mosport, again running the truck he ran at Eldora.

MISSING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens returned to the circuit last week with a 16th-place finish in his own equipment. The team is not entered for this Thursday’s race.

One to watch on Thursday will be Dylan Lupton, who has finished strong in his previous starts for DGR-Crosley. This week, he takes the place of Anthony Alfredo in the #15, which was collected along with his teammates in a late-race accident, leaving Alfredo 26th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young's Motorsports
Spencer Boyd was entered in this truck, but by Tuesday was once again out, and will again be replaced by Landon Huffman, who filled in for Boyd at Eldora. Boyd made his Cup debut just last Sunday with Rick Ware Racing.

Current K&N Pro Series East championship leader Sam Mayer will run double-duty between the East Series and his first national series start in Trucks. The 16-year-old from Franklin, Wisconsin will drive GMS Racing’s #21, a team we haven’t seen on the circuit all year following Johnny Sauter’s release at the end of 2018. Manpower is the listed sponsor.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Brennan Poole and the On Point team are back in action for the first time since Kentucky, where Poole steered his Toyota to a 15th-place finish. Poole has five XFINITY starts at Bristol, including a track-best 6th in his most recent start in the summer of 2017. However, if he qualifies, this will be his first Truck start at the track.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Ryan Sieg is going Truck Series racing for the second time this year and first since his 16th-place showing at Dover back in the spring. Then as now, he drives in place of Josh Reaume in the #33 Chevrolet, this time sponsored by Cook’s Comfort System. Reaume finished 18th with this team last week in Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
XFINITY Series regular Chad Finchum was slated to make his Truck Series debut with the #34 team, taking the place of 21st-place Michigan finisher Jesse Iwuji. However, that plan apparently changed by Tuesday as J.J. Yeley was listed to drive the Colonial Countertops Chevrolet, leading off a triple-header weekend for the Arizona native. If he qualifies, it will be Yeley’s first Truck start since last year at Pocono, when he drove this same team to a 31st-place finish.

MISSING: #38-Niece Motorsports
At both Pocono and Michigan, T.J. Bell was entered at the last minute in Al Niece’s part-time #38 Chevrolet. However, with a large entry list, it’s unlikely that will happen this week. Bell finished 29th at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Angela Ruch returns to action for her seventh series start of the year and first since Texas in June, where crash left her 29th in the running order. She takes the place of Bayley Currey, a career-best 6th at Michigan following his first top-ten finish since his second career start at Phoenix in the fall of 2017. This week, Currey will instead run both XFINITY and Cup (see below).

RETURNING: #46-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Raphael Lessard returns to action for the fourth time in 2019 and first since Iowa, where he ran 9th for DGR-Crosley. This time, he moves back to Kyle Busch Motorsports and their part-time #46 team, last seen at Gateway where Chandler Smith finished a team season-best 4th. Spectra Premium will back Lessard’s effort.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli has not entered his #49 Chevrolet, one week after earning his first career top-ten finish at Michigan with a 9th-place showing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
The aforementioned Chandler Smith will also be running this Thursday, taking the place of 13th-place Michigan finisher Brandon Jones. On top of his 4th-place finish at Gateway, Smith won the pole in Iowa and led 55 laps before he finished 8th. iBUYPOWER, his backer at Gateway, will again sponsor the Toyota.

RETURNING: #56-Hill Motorsports
The Hill brothers are back for the first time since their season-best 11th-place showing at Kentucky, and Timmy Hill will drive the Southern Freight Services Chevrolet for the first time since Chicagoland. Timmy has five Cup starts at Bristol and another 12 in XFINITY, but he has never before raced a truck at Bristol. Timmy is also entered in Friday’s XFINITY race (see below).

RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield also rejoins the Truck Series, eyeing his third series start of the year and first since a 16th-place finish at Kentucky. Rackley Roofing continues as sponsor as Greenfield looks to make this race for a sixth time and third year in a row. His track-best finish was a 16th for Rick Ware Racing in 2010. Greenfield's blue truck will also carry a decal celebrating Darrell and Stevie Waltrip's 50th wedding anniversary.

RETURNING: #74-Lou Goss Racing
Lou Goss will drive his own truck for the first time since his brief debut at Gateway. William Soquet, our Guest Contributor for the ARCA Menards Series, had the opportunity to speak with Goss, who said the #74 that Darwin Peters, Jr. ran at Eldora was not the former Harmon truck Goss acquired over the offseason, but another truck Peters entered using Goss' Owner Points. The Bristol truck, however, will be the Gateway truck with A&A Haulers and Kramer Service Group remaining as sponsors.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Bristol mainstay Charlie Henderson brings his Food Country USA Chevrolet back to “Thunder Valley” with Parker Kligerman behind the wheel. Henderson and Kligerman haven’t started a Truck Series race since Atlanta, where they ran 20th.

MISSING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek has not entered his second truck, which ran 31st at Michigan with Camden Murphy. Murphy is also not entered in this race, and will instead run XFINITY on Friday (see below).

RETURNING: #92-RBR Enterprises
Ricky Benton’s team has made just one start all year – Martinsville, where Austin Theriault finished 22nd, two laps down. The team missed the cut in their two other attempts, failing to qualify at both Daytona and Charlotte. Timothy Peters, who ran the Charlotte truck, is entered this week in RBR’s Ford sponsored by BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors and NAPA Filters.

RETURNING: #97-JJL Motorsports
The reunion continues as Jesse Little rejoins the circuit for the first time since Gateway, where he ran 21st. The JJL team has picked up new sponsorship from Visit Kingsport, the tourism board for Kingsport, Tennessee. Little has three Bristol starts in this series with a best of 13th two years ago.


Friday, August 16, 2019
XFINITY Race 22 of 33
Food City 300 at Bristol
2018 Last-Place Finisher: J.J. Yeley

There are 42 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning four teams will miss the race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
The red-and-gold paint scheme returns for JD Motorsports’ #4 Chevrolet, one week after Lawson Aschenbach’s dizzying paint scheme wound up 28th after a late crash at Mid-Ohio. Landon Cassill will drive as part of a double-duty effort with Cup, making his eighth XFINITY start of the year and first since Loudon, when he drove Morgan Shepherd’s #89 to a 37th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
The first of four team driver swaps this week comes from B.J. McLeod’s effort, where Vinnie Miller moves from the #5 back to the #78 after a 25th-place finish in Mid-Ohio. Miller takes over for Scott Heckert, who drove the #78 to a 29th-place finish after a late crash. The swap allows Matt Mills to return to the #5 for the first time since Iowa, where he ran 18th. Mills finished 21st in the spring Bristol race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Jeb Burton eyes his fourth XFINITY start of the season and first since Michigan in June, where he ran 9th. Burton has finished no worse than that run all season, peaked with a 5th-place run at Texas. As at Michigan, LS Tractor will sponsor the #8 Chevrolet. He takes the place of Regan Smith, who finished 21st at Mid-Ohio.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
Now 5th in this year’s ARCA Menards Series standings, Joe Graf, Jr. will drive for a second different XFINITY team this year. After two previous starts with Richard Childress Racing’s part-time #21, he will instead drive Kaulig Racing’s part-time #10 that ran 3rd last Saturday with A.J. Allmendinger. Graf’s sponsorship from follows him as sponsor.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Roger Penske’s #12 Ford Mustang is on the entry list, and as in its previous six starts, that means another Cup driver is in the field. This time, it’s Joey Logano, who last ran the series at Chicagoland, finishing runner-up to Cole Custer.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
After running both road courses in the #66, Tommy Joe Martins switches to the #13, and Chad Finchum takes his place in the #66. Martins finished well ahead of Finchum last week, running 18th to Finchum’s 35th.

RETURNING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware hasn’t fielded his XFINITY car since Iowa, where Mark Meunier’s accident caused them to miss the cut. The team has returned this week with Bayley Currey running double-duty. It was Currey who gave the team its most recent start at Loudon, where he finished 35th. UPDATE: On Thursday, Currey was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for violating their substance abuse policy. Kyle Weatherman will be the replacement driver. UPDATE 2: Joe Nemechek was instead tabbed the relief driver in place of Weatherman.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Another Cup regular in the field is Kyle Busch, who has won three of his five XFINITY starts this year and likely would have won his last time out at Watkins Glen before his suspension failed in Turn 5. Busch takes the place of Jack Hawksworth, who enjoyed an excellent debut at Mid-Ohio, starting outside-pole, leading five laps, winning Stage 2, and finishing 15th.

RETURNING: #28-H2 Motorsports
Shane Lee and Matt Hurley’s team rejoin the XFINITY Series for the first time since Iowa in July, where they ran a season-best 7th in their sixth and most recent start. Lee has one XFINITY start at Bristol with Richard Childress Racing in the spring of last year, where he ran 14th.

J.J. Yeley moves from the #38 that ran next-to-last in Mid-Ohio to the #93 for the second leg of his triple-header at Bristol. Taking over the #38 this week is Camden Murphy, who comes over from NEMCO’s #87 truck that wasn’t entered this week. Murphy’s fifth and most recent XFINITY start of the year came in Iowa in July, where he ran a season-best 24th.

MISSING: #42-Motorsports Business Management
NEW TEAM: #61-Motorsports Business Management
MBM has made a curious choice this week in Bristol, not entering the #42 that has run every race this season and finished 27th with Timmy Hill last week in Mid-Ohio. Hill will instead run a new car number for the team, the #61. We last saw this number take the green with upstart Fury Race Cars LLC with Kaz Grala behind the wheel. UPDATE: This #61 is the Hattori Racing Enterprises team that failed to qualify at Daytona. Timmy Hill drives in place of Austin Hill, meaning the rear window decal doesn't need to be changed.

DRIVER CHANGE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #86-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Another driver swap sees Brandon Brown return to his #86 in place of Will Rodgers, who is not entered after a strong 12th-place showing in Mid-Ohio. Brown struggled through at least two accidents before a 24th-place finish. Taking Brown’s place in the part-time #68 is Mason Diaz, who finished 36th in his series debut at Richmond, then 30th at Charlotte.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
After two straight weeks of road racers Dan Corcoran and Aaron Quine running his Chevorlet, Mike Harmon was set to return to the seat of his #74 Chevrolet for his 14th series start at Bristol. That changed by Tuesday, when Tyler Matthews, who formerly drove for JD Motorsports, was tabbed to drive in Harmon's place. There is no word as yet if Matthews or another road course ringer will run the car next week in Road America.

The end of Jeffrey Earnhardt’s partnership with iK9 last week has extended into XCI Racing’s part-time XFINITY effort, which returns to action this week. In Earnhardt’s place is Cup regular Erik Jones. Jones hasn’t started an XFINITY Series race since November 11, 2017 at Phoenix, when he won the pole and finished 3rd for Joe Gibbs Racing.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Morgan Shepherd looks to make his 11th XFINITY start of 2019 and first since Iowa in July, where he ran 36th. If he qualifies, it will be Shepherd’s 33rd series start at Bristol, a track where he’s won three poles and four races.

Chris Dyson’s XFINITY debut at Mid-Ohio came to an abrupt end on an early restart when he rear-ended Cole Custer, crumpling his Thetford-sponsored #90 Chevrolet. This week, the branding on the Mario Gosselin car is again Bassett Gutters and More. While Dillon Bassett was on the preliminary entry list, it will instead be older brother Ronnie Bassett, Jr. in the car this week. Ronnie’s eighth and most recent series start came at Kentucky, where he ran 29th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Patrick Gallagher enjoyed a quiet run in his XFINITY debut at Mid-Ohio, finishing 23rd as he became the first driver one lap down in the race’s final moments. This week, C.J. McLaughlin will run the #99, rejoining the XFINITY circuit for the first time since Loudon, where he ran 28th for RSS Racing in the #39 Chevrolet. Then as now, the sponsor is Sci Aps.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Joey Logano, #18-Kyle Busch, #81-Erik Jones

Sunday, August 17, 2019
CUP Race 24 of 36
Bass Pro Shops / NRA Night Race at Bristol
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Gray Gaulding

There are 39 drivers entered for Saturday’s 40-car main event, marking the sixth straight short field and 19th out of the 24 races this season.

TEAM UPDATE: #38-Front Row Motorsports
News broke on Wednesday that David Ragan will retire from full-time competition at the end of this season to spend more time with his family. Ragan has run every Cup race since his 5th-place finish in the 2007 Daytona 500, earning two wins and two last-place finishes. Ragan has made 25 Cup starts at Bristol alone with a best finish of 10th in the 2008 night race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
The entry list story on the Cup side has to be Rick Ware Racing, which expands from three to four cars for the first time and has different drivers in each. Last week, Cody Ware finished 36th in the flagship #51, the last car under power. This week, B.J. McLeod will run double-duty with his XFINITY ride for JD Motorsports, and welcomes new sponsorship from Pinnacle Sports & Entertainment.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Bayley Currey’s double-duty weekend with the XFINITY Series continues on Saturday, where he takes the place of 32nd-place Michigan finisher Austin Theriault. Belmont Classic Cars rejoins the Ware team as sponsor, as they had with B.J. McLeod’s last-place run at Dover earlier this year. This time around, the car will be a soft cream color with brown accents. Currey ran another Belmont-sponsored Ware car in his first Cup start at Bristol earlier this year, where he ran 31st, 12 laps down. UPDATE: On Thursday, Currey was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for violating their substance abuse policy. Kyle Weatherman will be the replacement driver.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Spencer Boyd struggled in his Cup debut last week, ultimately eliminated in an accident that left him in last place. Josh Bilicki takes the controls of the part-time #53 team this week with AQRE as a team sponsor for a third straight race. Bilicki’s most recent start was when AQRE debuted as sponsor for the #52 at Watkins Glen, yielding a 32nd-place showing for his best of 2019. This will be Bilicki’s first Cup start at Bristol.

NEW TEAM: #54-Rick Ware Racing
Rounding out the Ware quartet is triple-duty driver J.J. Yeley, who brings car #54 back to the Cup Series for the first time since the 2003 season finale at Homestead, the last start for Sam Belnavis’ short-lived BelCar racing team. Yeley carries sponsorship from legendary metal band Slayer. The driver is currently taking a poll on which of the band’s songs to be played during his part of driver introductions.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Last week, Reed Sorenson practiced and qualified the Spire Motorsports car at Michigan while Garrett Smithley was running the XFINITY race at Mid-Ohio. This week, Sorenson is the entered driver of the #77 with returning sponsor as sponsor.

Today in LASTCAR history (August 15, 1993): Rich Bickle picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Cup Series career when his #45 Terminal Trucking Ford lost the engine after 10 laps of the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan. The finish, which came in Bickle’s 12th series start, saw him qualify 36th in the 41-car field. Another eleven drivers failed to qualify for the race, including James Hylton in a Pontiac sponsored by Rumple Furniture, future Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. in a Wayne Spears #76 Chevrolet, and Jeremy Mayfield in the Sadler Brothers’ #95 Shoney’s Ford.


Unknown said...

The 74 that Jr. Peters ran at Eldora was still a former Harmon truck though, owned by Trevor & Allen Collins, running Lou's number. Both Collins and Goss got their trucks from Harmon over the last couple years...

Brock Beard said...

Was that at all affiliated with TJL Racing? I know that Peters was the crew chief for Harmon at Atlanta when Harmon was in a TJL truck (when they were separate from Mark Beaver's #50 team).