Thursday, March 5, 2020

PREVIEW: Two XFINITY Series debuts offset two Cup invaders at Phoenix

Corey LaJoie's new Motortrend paint scheme this week.
PHOTO: Brock Beard
Saturday, March 7, 2020
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
LS Tractor 200 at Phoenix
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

There are 39 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning three teams will miss the show.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Penske Racing brings back their part-time #12 team for the first time since last September at Darlington, where Ryan Blaney won the pole and finished 3rd. This time, it’s teammate Brad Keselowski behind the wheel with XPEL as sponsor. Keselowski has two XFINITY wins at Phoenix, most recently this race in 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
As previously announced, Colby Howard will make his XFINITY Series debut this Saturday, driving for Johnny Davis with Project Hope Foundation as sponsor. Phoenix was also the site of Howard’s Truck Series debut last fall, where he ran 21st for Young’s Motorsports. Howard takes the place of Robby Lyons, who was running last in the early laps at Fontana before he climbed to 23rd at the finish.

DRIVER SWAP: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Due to an arrangement after his qualified car at Daytona was sold to Ross Chastain, Jeff Green will make a full-race run this Saturday at Phoenix, carrying the same C2 Freight Resources sponsorship. He drives the #93 that Myatt Snider finished 11th with last week in Phoenix. This week, Snider returns to RCR’s #21 Tax Slayer Chevrolet, taking the place of Anthony Alfredo, who enjoyed a sterling 6th-place finish in his series debut.

Also rejoining the circuit this week is the third Mario Gosselin car, the #36, which this week will be driven by Alex Labbe with sponsorship from Larue Industrial Snow Blowers. Last week in Fontana, Labbe overcame an engine failure in opening practice to finish 13th, three spots behind teammate Josh Williams in the #92. This week, Labbe’s #90 will be driven by Dillon Bassett, who along with brother Ronnie begin their second part-time schedule with the team. Bassett Gutters & More will again be the sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
After both teams changed drivers late in the week for Fontana, Joe Nemechek is again listed in the #47, taking the place of Bayley Currey, who moves to the #74 in place of Kyle Weatherman, who ran 34th. Mike Harmon was originally listed in the #74 again this week, but Currey was revealed to be the driver on Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Phoenix also sees the series debut of Kody Vanderwal, a two-time race winner at Tuscon in the ARCA Menards Series West (formerly K&N Pro Series West). The Colorado native takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who ran 25th in Fontana to close out his three-race drive in place of a departing David Starr. No sponsor is listed for the team, which has seen Circle Track Warehouse and Franklin Signs put their logos on the #52 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
There’s no bounty on the XFINITY Series side as Kyle Busch makes his first series attempt of the season in an expansion team from the JGR stables. Twix sponsors the Toyota to promote its new Cookies & Cream flavor. This marks the first time Gibbs has fielded the #54 since November 21, 2015, when Busch won the pole for the Homestead finale, but finished 30th after a crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill will run double-duty this week, competing in both races for MBM. He takes the place of Austin Hill, who was running as high as 8th at Fontana before a pit road penalty left him a disappointing 16th. No sponsor is listed for Hill this week, though the car is still listed with Shigeaki Hattori of Hattori Racing Enterprises as owner.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
After a 29th-place finish in Fontana by Josh Bilicki, Mason Massey returns from a week off to take another spin in B.J. McLeod’s #99. Massey does not yet have a sponsor listed. UPDATE: Make that J.J. Yeley in the #99, coming over from Jimmy Means Racing.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Brad Keselowski, #54-Kyle Busch

Sunday, March 8, 2020
CUP Race 3 of 36
Fan Shield 500 at Phoenix
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Michael McDowell

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s race, marking the second-straight short field in the 2020 season.

Corey LaJoie carries a new paint scheme this week with Motortrend as the sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Although Garrett Smithley indicated he would run for Ware this Sunday, it is B.J. McLeod as the listed driver in his place. If so, it would be McLeod’s first start since Daytona, where he ran 38th after splitter damage in a backstretch spin midway through the event. No sponsor is yet listed on McLeod’s Chevrolet.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Pit Boss Grills has joined Timmy Hill as sponsor of the #66 this week, complete with a new black-and-white paint scheme.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Phoenix will mark the first race for Daniel Suarez’ newest sponsor CommScope.

Saturday, March 14, 2020
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Georgia 200 at Atlanta
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joe Nemechek

The Truck Series returns a week from Saturday as NASCAR heads to Atlanta.

Today in LASTCAR History (March 5, 2006): Stacy Compton picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Telcel-Motorola 200 Presented by Banamex at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez when his #59 Kingsford Sure Fire / Bush’s Beans Ford had engine trouble after 3 laps. The finish came in Compton’s 141st series start during his fifth and final full-time season. This was also the second of four XFINITY races held on the Mexico City road course, and was won by then-Cup Series rookie Denny Hamlin.

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