Thursday, August 29, 2019

PREVIEW: Throwback Weekend sees several teams swap drivers along with paint schemes

PHOTO: Karyn Marinella, @KarynMarinella
Saturday, August 31, 2019
XFINITY Race 24 of 33
VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Austin Cindric

For the second time in three years, LASTCAR will be covering the back of the pack action live from the Darlington Raceway, concluding a road trip from last week’s Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There are 39 drivers entered, meaning one team will fail to qualify. UPDATE: Make that 38 as the withdrawal of H2 Motorsports locks the remaining entrants into the field.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #15-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #01-JD Motorsports
It’s a game of musical chairs for Johnny Davis’ team. Ryan Vargas isn’t entered after his 18th-place finish in Road America, and B.J. McLeod takes his place in the #4 with a Bobby Labonte / Slim Jim throwback scheme. Stephen Leicht moves from the #01 to the #15 vacated by McLeod, and will honor Ricky Craven and his Budweiser scheme. Landon Cassill’s double duty will be in the #01 left open by Leicht, one week after he was not entered at Road America.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
McLeod’s own XFINITY team also swaps drivers with Vinnie Miller returning to the #78 Pit Viper Sunglasses Chevrolet in place of Ryan Ellis, who isn’t entered. Miller’s move allows Matt Mills to return to the #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s return to NASCAR competition will go on as scheduled, just days after he and his family survived their private plane crash outside of Bristol. Taking over for Regan Smith, who ran 13th at Road America, Earnhardt will run the previously announced Ed Negre throwback resembling the car Earnhardt’s father drove in his Cup debut in 1975. Hellman’s Mayonnaise is the primary sponsor.

MISSING: #10-Kaulig Racing
The second Kaulig entry that slid to a disappointing 24th-place finish after A.J. Allmendinger won the pole at Road America is not entered this week.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Rejoining the list is the part-time Penske entry, this time with Cup regular Ryan Blaney aboard. BodyArmor will sponsor the Mustang.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Another driver rotation comes at MBM. Road racer Dick Karth finished 30th in his series debut at Road America, but will not run this week as Chad Finchum takes his place in the #61 Toyota. Finchum moves over from the #13, which will be driven by Tommy Joe Martins, who last week ran the #66. Driving Martins’ #66 will be a returning Timmy Hill, his first XFINITY start since his breakthrough 7th-place showing at Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
The preliminary entry list shows the #17 entered without a driver listed, just as it was at Road America. Last week, it was Aaron Quine who was named the team’s driver, but the car was withdrawn. UPDATE: Joe Nemechek will run double duty as he was added to run the car by Thursday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Denny Hamlin joins Dale Jr. in making his first XFINITY start of the season, taking the place of 27th-place Road America finisher Matt DiBenedetto. Sport Clips rejoins Hamlin for his yearly double-header at Darlington.

MISSING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Kaz Grala finished a strong 5th last week in his fifth race of the season with HotScream as sponsor. Future plans for the season are still ongoing, pending sponsorship.

WITHDREW: #28-H2 Motorsports
Shane Lee was originally entered in Saturday’s race, making his eighth start of the year with the new Matt Hurley team in the #28 Toyota. Those plans changed on Wednesday when Chris Knight reported Lee had been released from the team, citing performance. A new driver is still to be announced. UPDATE: The team has withdrawn as of Thursday, a shame as were going to run a tribute scheme to Hut Stricklin's Stavola Brothers car that nearly won the 1996 Southern 500.

J.J. Yeley moves from the Sieg team’s #38 to the #93 in place of Josh Bilicki, who ran 20th at Road America and was still testing at the track on Thursday. Driving in Yeley’s place in the #38 is Camden Murphy, whose 5th and most recent series start came in the RSS #93 at Iowa, finishing 24th.

MISSING: #43-Pardus Racing, Inc.
Preston Pardus is not entered this week after both driver and team made their debut at Road America, qualifying a strong 15th but falling out early with suspension issues, finishing 36th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
One week after Nicolas Hammann drove his car to a strong 15th-place finish, besting the team’s season-best of 23rd at Talladega, Mike Harmon will once again drive his #74 for “Throwback Weekend.” Harmon’s black Chevrolet features a foil silver stripe on each side, resembling the #24 he ran on the short tracks earlier in his career.

RETURNING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Morgan Shepherd rejoins the circuit for the first time since his DNQ at Bristol, and as that day runs his first Darlington “Throwback Scheme” honoring his first Cup victory at Martinsville in 1981.

Alex Labbe returns from a challenging Pinty’s race at Mosport where his Ford suffered engine trouble to drive Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet in place of Dexter Bean, 32nd in Road America. Labbe eyes his sixth series start of the year and first since Watkins Glen, when he ran a season-best 16th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Loris Hezemans came close to scoring a top-twenty finish in his first career NASCAR start outside of Europe, but was eliminated in the last-minute chaos, bumping him to 22nd. Taking his place this week is a returning Stefan Parsons, who followed up his strong 12th-place run in Daytona with a 21st at Iowa, his most recent start.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Ryan Blaney, #18-Denny Hamlin

Sunday, September 1, 2019
CUP Race 25 of 36
Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Gase

The Bowmanville to Darlington adventure concludes with the 70th Annual Southern 500 during “Throwback Weekend.”

There are just 39 drivers entered for Sunday’s Labor Day Classic, marking the 20th short field in 2019 and the seventh in a row.

DRIVER CHANGE: #27-Premium Motorsports
Welcome back Joe Nemechek, who while focusing on his Truck Series team NEMCO Motorsports has not qualified for a Cup Series race since March 1, 2015, a one-off at Atlanta which came about when Front Row Motorsports needed a replacement driver for David Ragan, who was driving in relief of an injured Kyle Busch. It will be Nemechek’s 29th Cup start at this track, where his best series finish was a 6th in the 1999 Southern 500, twenty years ago. Nemechek takes the place of Quin Houff, who finished 27th when the series last ran under the lights at Bristol. Houff is not entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Rick Ware Racing
J.J. Yeley will pull double duty this weekend, moving from Rick Ware’s newest team, the #54, to the #52, running a simple white tribute scheme to Daytona Beach-Road Course winner Bill Blair. Yeley takes the place of Kyle Weatherman, the last-minute relief driver to a suspended Bayley Currey. Taking Yeley’s place in the #54 will be Garrett Smithley, his first start for Ware and first in a Cup race since Michigan last month, where he ran 35th for Spire Motorsports.

MISSING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Noticeably absent is the third of Ware’s quartet, previously driven by Josh Bilicki at Bristol. The list indicates that Bilicki’s sponsor AQRE will instead be on Smithley’s #54, and is a throwback scheme to Lennie Pond.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Welcome back Joey Gase and the MBM Cup Series team, back in action after an extended absence. For the team, it will be their first Cup start since this year’s Coca-Cola 600, where Gase finished 32nd. For Gase, it will be his first series start since Daytona in July, when he ran 27th in a one-off for Rick Ware.

Friday, September 13, 2019
TRUCKS Race 19 of 23
World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas
Round of 8 – Race 3 of 3
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Tanner Thorson

The Truck Series returns for the Round of 8 cutoff race in Las Vegas.

Today in LASTCAR history (August 29, 1970): Longtime independent campaigner Dave Marcis picks up the very first last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Halifax County 100 at South Boston Speedway after his #33 1969 Chevrolet, fielded by Wayne Smith, fell out after only three laps. The official reason listed was “quit.” Marcis would continue to run in Cup until his final start in the 2002 Daytona 500, but would only finish last eight more times. Just one of those – his last at Pocono on July 26, 1998 – came after 1993.

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