Thursday, October 1, 2020

PREVIEW: Brendan Gaughan's final NASCAR start among storylines for Talladega's "White-Knuckle Weekend"

PHOTO: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Saturday, October 3, 2020 (1:00 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 19 of 23
Round of 10: Race 3 of 3 
Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Mason Massey

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots in Saturday’s Truck Series race, up two entries from last week in Las Vegas.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning returns to action this week after skipping the Las Vegas event, and on Saturday will make his 10th series start at Talladega. Last year, he finished 18th, which is tied for his third-best finish in the event.

RETURNING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek will pull double-duty in both the Truck and XFINITY Series on Saturday, starting with the return of his #8 Ford for the first time since Bristol, where Camden Murphy finished 19th. The NEMCO team failed to qualify for this year’s other superspeedway race at Daytona, where John Hunter Nemechek drove, but will not have that issue this time around.

RETURNING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Also returning from a one-week hiatus is Codie Rohrbaugh, who nearly pulled the upset at Daytona in February en route to a career-best 3rd-place finish. More recently, he finished 6th on the short track at Richmond.

MISSING: #11-Spencer Davis Motorsports
Not among the entrants is Spencer Davis, who ran 19th in Las Vegas last week.

Curiously, Korbin Forrister is entered in the #17 team that acquired his Owner Points from the All Out Motorsports team earlier this month. Forrister’s first run with DGR-Crosley sees him take the place of Dylan Lupton, who was switched in for David Ragan last week in Las Vegas and took a 14th-place finish.

Bryan Dauzat is back in action this week as the Jim Rosenblum team returns for the first time since the Kansas double-header, where they finished last in the second round. Peter Navarra Landscape has joined the FDNY effort as an associate sponsor.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Also among the superspeedway ringers is Canadian driver Jason White, who finished 10th in this year’s Daytona opener in just his fourth series start. This time, he drives Josh Reaume’s #00 Powder Ventures Chevrolet in place of Reaume himself, who moves to the #33. Reaume takes the place of Jesse Iwuji, who finished 31st in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
Bayley Currey returns to Truck Series competition for just the sixth time this year and first time since Darlington, where he finished a season-best 12th. This time, he takes the place of Ryan Truex in Al Niece’s #40 Chevrolet. It will be Currey’s first Truck Series start at Talladega. He will then run double-duty with the XFINITY race for Mike Harmon Racing (see below).

MISSING: #42-Niece Motorsports
Al Niece’s part-time #42 team is not entered following Conor Daly’s 18th-place run in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Natalie Decker was entered in Saturday’s race after she wasn’t medically cleared to start last week’s event in Las Vegas, resulting in a last-place finish. As of this writing, further information has not yet been disclosed. UPDATE: Revealed on Thursday, Decker will not run Saturday as Kaz Grala runs in her place.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Trevor Bayne will go superspeedway racing again this Saturday, taking the place of Travis Pastrana, who took 21st in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
As at Daytona, where he finished 26th, Gus Dean will drive Timmy and Tyler Hill’s #56 Chevrolet this week with Mashonit as sponsor. Tyler ran the truck last week in Vegas, where he ran 17th.

WITHDREW: #83-CMI Motorsports
While both of Ray Ciccarelli’s trucks were originally entered in this weekend’s race, the second truck to be driven by Tim Viens was since withdrawn on Wednesday.

RETURNING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
The former JJL Racing team returns for the first time since the Kansas double-header, and for the fourth time this year will see Robby Lyons behind the wheel with Sunwest Construction as sponsor. Lyons has run this event just once before, when he finished 14th two years ago for Reaume Brothers Racing.


Saturday, October 3, 2020 (4:30 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 28 of 33
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Race

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, up one entry from last week in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
As announced on September 24, Ryan Vargas will carry sponsorship from the popular social media app TikTok this Saturday, bringing much-needed funding to Johnny Davis’ underdog team. Vargas takes the place of B.J. McLeod, who will not race this week and instead focuses on his own XFINITY team. This will be Vargas’ seventh series start and first in an XFINITY race at Talladega.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
MBM has swapped two of their three drivers this week as Chad Finchum moves to the #13 and Timmy Hill runs the #66.

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Superspeedway racing means Matthew Kaulig’s team has loaded up the field with all three of his cars, including the returning part-time #16 with A.J. Allmendinger behind the wheel. Allmendinger will be one to watch after contact from teammate Ross Chastain cost him a chance at victory last month in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Joe Nemechek’s double-header on Saturday will include a return to Mike Harmon’s #47 for the first time since Atlanta, where he ran 32nd. He also finished 15th in this year’s Daytona opener. Nemechek takes the place of Kyle Weatherman, who finished last with a strange steering problem at Las Vegas. Both MHR cars were also late entries, bringing the field from 35 drivers to 37.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #51-Jeremy Clements Racing
After running last week without a sponsor after backed out, has jumped on board the #51 this week to back Jeremy Clements. This will be Clements’ 11th series start at Talladega, where he has a best finish of 4th in 2016.

TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
While Mike Harmon had originally been listed as the driver of his own #74, by Wednesday, it was Bayley Currey back behind the wheel once more. Currey will thus make his first XFINITY start at Talladega as part of a Saturday double-header.

DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Josh Bilicki returns to the #99, moving Vinnie Miller from the #99 to the #78 in place of Stefan Parsons, who isn’t entered. Gravely will sponsor Bilicki this week while Koolbox will again back the Miller effort.

Caesar Bacarella continues his superspeedway schedule as he takes the place of Dexter Bean, who ran 29th in Las Vegas. AP Sport Regimen and Mr. Olympia are the listed sponsors of his Mario Gosselin-owned Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Not among this week’s entrants is Gray Gaulding, who ran this #07 just last week in Las Vegas for a 24th-place finish. Taking the wheel this time around is Garrett Smithley, who has equally solid finishes at Talladega. In four previous starts, he’s only once finished worse than 12th with a best of 10th two years ago, all for Johnny Davis’ team JD Motorsports.


Sunday, October 4, 2020
CUP Race 31 of 36
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
YellaWood 500 at Talladega
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Spencer Boyd

There are 39 drivers entered in Sunday’s main event, the same number as last week in Las Vegas. This marks the 15th short field in 31 races this season and the fourth in the last five races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #27-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Welcome back to Justin Haley, who for the first time since his upset victory at Daytona last year will run a Cup Series points race in the Spire #77. This will also be his first start in the car since this year’s All-Star Race in Bristol. Haley takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who was set to take the place of Gray Gaulding in the #27. However, that changed by Wednesday as Cody Ware took Yeley’s place. Sunday will mark Ware’s first Cup start in over a year, dating back to August 11, 2019 at Michigan. Ware will drop to the rear before the start on Sunday due to the driver change with Yeley.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
The Patriots of America PAC will see their Trump 2020 logos on a different team this week as the scheme seen as recently as last Sunday on Corey LaJoie’s #32 Go FAS Racing Ford will now be on Timmy Hill’s #66. The effort will be in conjunction with Go FAS, meaning that Hill will run a Ford instead of one of MBM’s Toyotas. Schluter Systems is instead listed as LaJoie’s sponsor for Sunday. Hill, who will also run the #66 in Saturday’s XFINITY race, finished 33rd in the June race at Talladega.

MISSING: #49-Motorsports Business Management
Despite this team attempting the Daytona 500 in February, the second MBM car has not been entered this week following Chad Finchum’s last-place finish in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
After he was denied making his Cup debut in the June race at Talladega, James Davison will make his 11th career Cup start this Sunday, taking the place of Josh Bilicki in the #53 Chevrolet. Bilicki, who ran 36th after suspension issues in Vegas, will instead run Saturday’s XFINITY race for B.J. McLeod (see above).

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
The man of the hour on Sunday will be popular veteran Brendan Gaughan, who announced prior to this season that this very race would be his last as a driver in NASCAR’s top three series. It’s perhaps appropriate it would be this event, not only for battling for the lead late in the 2019 running, but that his career-best Cup finish came in the 2004 race, where he took 4th with Jasper Motorsports. Most recently for both Gaughan and the Beard team, the duo turned in a strong 8th-place finish under the lights in Daytona. They took 21st in the June Talladega race.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 1, 1967): Harold “Frog” Fagan of Willowdale, Ontario scored the first last-place finish of his Cup Series career in the Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro when his #75 1966 Ford fielded by Bob Gilreath dropped out with engine failure after 16 laps. Fagan started last in the 35-car field in what was his fourth of 20 career series starts. Interestingly, he wasn’t the only Canadian in the field – Don Biederman took 28th in Ron Stotten’s #94 1966 Chevrolet.

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