Friday, June 12, 2020

PREVIEW: Four Truck Series underdogs finally able to take the green flag during big Homestead weekend

PHOTO: @DavidMarrr
Saturday, June 13, 2020 (3:30 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 9 of 33
Hooters 250 at Homestead
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Ray Black, Jr. (300-mile race)

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, the fourth-straight race to see that many starters in the series. There has yet to be a full 40-car list for an XFINITY Series race since NASCAR’s temporary field increase from 36 to 40 in May.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Back in March, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was edged by Denny Hamlin for the victory in Homestead’s opening round of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. This time around, Junior will not be competing against Hamlin, but will run his Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Chevrolet for the first time since last fall at Darlington. He takes the place of Daniel Hemric, who ran 4th at Atlanta, and will return to the #8 in Sunday’s second XFINITY race (see below).

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger will not run on Saturday following his win at Atlanta, but will compete along with the #16 Kaulig team in Sunday’s second part of the doubleheader (see below).

RETURNING: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Also rejoining the circuit is Sam Hunt Racing, whose driver Colin Garrett last took to the track at Darlington with a 37th-place finish. The #26 Rosie Network Toyota has Bryan Smith as the crew chief.

Caesar Bacarella rejoins the circuit for the first time since his 29th-place finish at Daytona in February, and will again run Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Alpha Prime and Maxim. This moves Alex Labbe once again to the team’s #36, taking the place of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Kyle Weatherman returns to the series in place of Joe Nemechek in the second Chevrolet. Weatherman last ran in the series at Fontana in the #74.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Welcome back Stefan Parsons, who will make his first start of the season and first in the series since a 23rd-place finish last November at Texas. Parsons impressed in his series debut last year, taking 12th as a last-minute replacement for Cody Ware in the McLeod #99. Saturday will mark his 7th series start, and will be followed by an 8th on Sunday. He takes the place of Mason Massey, who ran 23rd last week in Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
For the first time since the end of his three-race stint with Jimmy Means Racing at Fontana (and subsequent DNQ for McLeod at Phoenix), J.J. Yeley is back in the XFINITY Series. This time, he takes the place of Garrett Smithley, who isn’t entered, and take the controls of Bobby Dotter’s #07 Chevrolet.


Saturday, June 13, 2020 (7:30 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 5 of 23
Baptist Health 200 at Homestead
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Anthony Alfredo

After back-to-back races where seven drivers were sent home without a chance of attempting the race, exactly 40 drivers were entered for as many spots, meaning all entrants would start. While one team since withdrew for a grid total of 39, four underfunded teams will each make their first start of the season.

WILL START: #6-Norm Benning Racing
First of the four underdogs who will take their first green flag of the year at Homestead is Norm Benning, who has not started a Truck Series race since last October at Martinsville, where he was collected in a late accident and finished 24th. Benning has not started the Truck Series race at Homestead since 2017, when he finished 25th.

MISSING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
John Hunter Nemechek is not entered following a 24th-place finish at Atlanta following an early incident on pit road.

MISSING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
MISSING: #17-DGR-Crosley
MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
These three teams, which were unable to qualify for Atlanta once the entry list was posted, were not entered at Homestead. Included is the #17, which was only entered at Atlanta with David Ragan, and Trey Hutchens and Parker Kligerman, who were entered at both Charlotte and Atlanta.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
It’s been a rough two weeks for Bryan Dauzat and the Jim Rosenblum team, who nearly finished last at both Charlotte and Atlanta, and left the latter with a damaged #28 Chevrolet. As the team completes repairs, they will not attempt Saturday’s race.

WILL START: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Reaume will see his second truck in the field for the first time since Josh Bilicki’s last-place run in Las Vegas, giving Bryant Barnhill his first green flag of 2020. Barnhill’s third and most recent start came last summer at Pocono, where he ran 27th in Reaume’s #32 after handling issues. This will be Barnhill’s first start at Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #83-CMI Motorsports
T.J. Bell will drive for Al Niece in the #40 this week, taking the place of Ryan Truex, who is not entered after a 13th-place showing in Atlanta. Bell last drove for Niece last year at Michigan, where he piloted the #38 Chevrolet to a 29th-place finish, leading a lap before clutch issues. Bell drove Ray Ciccarelli’s #83 truck last week. Ciccarelli was slated to drive the #83 this week, but that has since changed (see below).

MISSING: #42-Niece Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #44-Niece Motorsports
Al Niece has also scaled back from four trucks to three, leaving the #42 at the shop. Ross Chastain, who drove that truck to a 6th-place finish at Atlanta, will slide over to Niece’s #44, taking the place of Jeb Burton, who ran 16th at Atlanta, but isn’t entered. The red watermelon scheme will return as Chastain races in his home state.

DRIVER CHANGE: #49-CMI Motorsports
WITHDREW: #83-CMI Motorsports
The preliminary entry list showed Ray Ciccarelli fielding two trucks in Saturday’s race with himself taking over for T.J. Bell in the #83 and Bayley Currey remaining in the #49. That changed after a comment Wednesday that Ciccarelli would potentially close his team at the end of 2020 in protest of NASCAR’s ban on the Confederate flag. Ciccarelli’s #83 was then withdrawn on Thursday, and Currey tweeted that same day he would not run the #49 and had parted ways with the team. Ciccarelli will run the #49 in his place.

WILL START: #55-Long Motorsports
Dawson Cram will make his first start of the season, and his fifth in the series, his first since a career-best 13th last fall at Martinsville driving for Josh Reaume. In so doing, Cram will run the oldest truck in the field, a 2018 Chevrolet. Team owner Boyd Long will have his first start since 2017 with Ted Minor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill will make his first series start of 2020, and like other season debuts, last took the green flag at Homestead. Last November, Hill finished 23rd, completing a four-race part-time schedule where he completed all but 28 laps. Tyler takes the place of his brother Timmy, who ran 22nd last week in Atlanta.

MISSING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
Jesse Little finished 35th last week in Atlanta, but will not run this week’s Truck Series race. He will instead run both XFINITY races as part of his full-time ride with JD Motorsports.

WILL START: #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports
Last of the underfunded teams making their debut at Homestead is Tim Viens in his Trump / Pence 2020 paint scheme on the Mike Affarno-owned #03 Chevrolet. It will be Viens’ fifth series start and first since Las Vegas in the fall of 2016, when he ran 29th for Mike Harmon. For Affarno, it will be his first start as an owner since last year’s Dirt Derby at Eldora, where Jake Griffin finished 26th. Driver and team will be making their first series start at Homestead.

CUP INVADERS: #24-Chase Elliott, #51-Kyle Busch

Sunday, June 14, 2020 (12:00 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 10 of 33
Contender Boats 250 at Homestead
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are 38 drivers entered for the “Dash 4 Cash” race at Homestead, one more than the Saturday race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Daniel Hemric will return to the #8 after Junior’s run Saturday, carrying returning sponsor Poppy Bank.

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger will look for his second victory in three races after skipping the Saturday event.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Carson Ware will make his second series start and first since his 22nd-place finish in his debut at Bristol. He will take then place of J.J. Yeley, who isn’t entered in this second XFINITY race.


Sunday, June 14, 2020 (3:30 P.M. Eastern)
CUP Race 12 of 36
Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Larson

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s race following the withdrawal of two teams.

WITHDREW: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
Late on Thursday, Tommy Baldwin withdrew their entry and will not run for the first time since the second Darlington race . Reed Sorenson was slated to be the driver for a third-straight race. At Martinsville, the #7 fell out after the halfway point with electrical issues.

GIVE A CALL: #21-Wood Brothers Racing
Near the Stuart, Virginia birthplace of his team, Matt DiBenedetto enjoyed far and away his best run at Martinsville, running in the Top 10 nearly all night before finishing 7th. Prior to that, he’d run no better than 16th at the track, which came in 2019. And, before that season, he’d run no better than 29th. It was the best finish by the Wood Brothers at Martinsville since April 10, 2005, when Ricky Rudd also ran 7th. The team has not won at the tiny track since 1973, when the late David Pearson won from the pole.

GIVE A CALL: #32-Go FAS Racing
Among the many great stories from Wednesday’s race, congratulations to Corey LaJoie, who for the second-straight Martinsville race finished in 18th, driving the #32 Keen Parts / Ford. Prior to those two Martinsville races, he’d finished no better than 28th there. LaJoie charged up from the 25th spot at the start and threatened for a Top 10, even lapping Denny Hamlin after their spat on Twitter. This week, LaJoie carries another distinctive paint scheme on his #32 with Storm Tight Windows as sponsor.

GIVE A CALL: #34-Front Row Motorsports
Michael McDowell was in and around the Top 10 for much of Wednesday’s Martinsville race before he ultimately finished 14th. The 14th spot remains McDowell’s best finish of the season, tied with both the Daytona 500 and the other short track race at Bristol. Prior to Wednesday, the Martinsville track, which saw McDowell make his series debut in 2008, had seen him finish no better than 18th, which came way back in 2016.

GIVE A CALL: #43-Richard Petty Motorsports
Bubba Wallace’s 11th-place finish featured a two-tire call that netted him 5th in Stage 1, then a spirited charge in the final laps where he was literally knocking on the door of 10th-place Jimmie Johnson. After finishing 34th in his first two Martinsville starts, Wallace has improved in every start there since, taking 17th, then 13th before his run Wednesday. Two of his three best finishes this season have come on the short tracks, trailing only his season-best 6th at Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Josh Bilicki returns to Cup for the first time since Atlanta, and this time runs Rick Ware’s #53 in place of the #27 from his previous start. Bilicki has just one previous Cup start at Homestead, which came in last year’s finale, where he ran 36th in the Ware #52.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
WITHDREW: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
For the second-straight race, B.J. McLeod has withdrawn his own #78 from the field. However, unlike Martinsville, he will be in Sunday’s show as he takes the controls of Spire Motorsports’ #77 Chevrolet. He takes the place of Garrett Smithley, who finished 36th after early brake troubles in Martinsville. Smithley is not entered in Sunday’s race.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 12, 2005): On this date in 2005, the NASCAR Busch Series was at the Nashville Superspeedway, which was recently announced as the latest addition to the 2021 Cup Series schedule. In that race, the Federated Auto Parts 300, Brandon Miller started outside-pole in Richard Childress Racing’s #21 Reese’s Chevrolet. His day ended after just 33 laps. On Lap 21, 4th-place qualifier Aaron Fike spun Miller entering Turn 4, putting him into the outside wall. It was Miller’s only last-place finish in fourteen series starts.

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