Thursday, November 5, 2020

PREVIEW: Final starts for Germain, Leavine, Bowyer, and Johnson headline Phoenix season finales

The last Cup Series entry from Germain Racing being prepared at the shop.
PHOTO: @GermainRacing

Friday, November 6, 2020
TRUCKS Race 23 of 23
Championship Race
Lucas 150 at Phoenix
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joe Nemechek

#2-Sheldon Creed
#21-Zane Smith
#23-Brett Moffitt
#98-Grant Enfinger

Championship Weekend in Phoenix will see just 33 drivers entered for 40 spots, the shortest field the series has seen since Gateway on August 30.

After 22 races, the 2020 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship will come down to three drivers with two last-place finishes apiece. Norm Benning, who isn’t entered, has locked-up the most Bottom Five finishes for 2020 and can only lose the title if either Johnny Sauter or Tanner Gray are classified last at Phoenix. Bryant Barnhill, who also has two last-place finishes, is not entered and is thus eliminated.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
As mentioned above, Norm Benning is not entered for the first time since the fall race at Las Vegas. This comes after he finished under power in three of his four most recent starts, finishing between 22nd and 26th each time.

MISSING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh is not entered for the third time in the last four races, and will close his season with three top-ten finishes with a career-best 3rd in the Daytona opener.

RETURNING: #17-DGR-Crosley
Dylan Lupton will make his third Truck Series start of the year and first since two rounds ago in Texas, where he ran 8th. That race was also the #17 team’s most recent start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Akinori Ogata has made multiple NASCAR runs in recent Phoenix weekends, and will this weekend return to the Truck Series, taking the place of last week’s 22nd-place finisher B.J. McLeod in Josh Reaume’s #33. Shinano Pneumatic Tools is the listed sponsor.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
MISSING: #83-CMI Motorsports
Both of Ray Ciccarelli’s trucks are not entered in this weekend’s finale, including Tim Viens’ #49, which withdrew at Martinsville, and Ciccarelli’s #83, which recovered from a spin to finish 25th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill will close out Hill Motorsports’ successful 2020 campaign, taking the place of brother Timmy, who ran 14th in Martinsville. Tyler’s 11th and most recent Truck start of 2020 came in Texas, where ran a season-best 11th.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Clay Greenfield is not entered following a solid 21st-place finish in Martinsville.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is likewise not entered after he climbed from last on the grid in Martinsville to finish 24th.

RETURNING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
Rejoining the action this week is the former JJL Racing team with Robby Lyons driving and Sunwest Construction as sponsor. We last saw Lyons at Talladega, where he ran 26th.


Saturday, November 7, 2020
XFINITY Race 33 of 33
Championship Race
Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Landon Cassill

#7-Justin Allgaier
#11-Justin Haley
#22-Austin Cindric
#98-Chase Briscoe

With Timmy Hill’s 17th-place finish last week in Martinsville, Stephen Leicht locked-up the 2020 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship despite not running last Saturday’s race. Hill ended up securing a title of his own on Sunday (see below).

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, down two entries from last week in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Daniel Hemric takes one more shot at trying to score his first-ever NASCAR victory in 2020 as he takes the place of Jeb Burton, who ran 4th in Martinsville. Poppy Bank returns as Hemric’s sponsor.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger is not entered after an unscheduled pit stop dropped him to 26th in Martinsville.

MISSING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Rick Ware’s team is not entered after strong runs on the Roval and Martinsville, but this week announced that they will be running two XFINITY cars in 2021 in addition to their four-car Cup lineup. J.J. Yeley, who finished 14th for Ware at Martinsville, moves to MBM’s #61 in place of Chad Finchum, who’s not entered. Curiously, Finchum’s sponsor Smithbilt Homes will back Yeley’s run.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Also returning to the MBM team is Stan Mullis, who on Saturday will make his first start of the season and first in XFINITY since September 2019 at Richmond. Sharelife Vacations, which backed Chad Finchum’s Cup ride in the MBM #49, will back Mullis on race day.

Following Josh Reaume’s last-place finish with the team in Martinsville, C.J. McLaughlin will run the #93 this weekend. McLaughlin makes just his fourth start of the year and first since Texas two rounds ago, where he ran a season-best 20th for B.J. McLeod.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Also returning from Texas is Jesse Iwuji, who brings with him sponsorship from TrueCar Military to McLeod’s #99 Chevrolet. Iwuji takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who ran 24th at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
David Starr will close out the season for SS-Green Light Racing’s #07, taking the place of Gray Gaulding, whose Martinsville run was frustrated by electrical issues in the race’s early laps. Starr will thus run on the same weekend as his former Cup ride at Leavine Family Racing, which will make its final start on Sunday (see below).


Sunday, November 8, 2020
CUP Race 36 of 36
Championship Race
Season Finale 500 at Phoenix
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Elliott

#2-Brad Keselowski
#9-Chase Elliott
#11-Denny Hamlin
#22-Joey Logano

Timmy Hill secured the 2020 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship last week in Martinsville after Garrett Smithley fell out first. Ryan Preece can still tie Hill for the most last-place finishes if he runs 39th on Sunday, but Hill has locked-up the Bottom Five tiebreaker of 16-6.

There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots, bringing the season total to 17 short fields out of 36 races in 2020.

DRIVER SWAP: #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #77-Spire Motorsports
Garrett Smithley and Josh Bilicki swap rides this weekend with Smithley moving to the #7 with a returning Victory Lane Quick Oil Change as sponsor, and Bilicki running the Chevrolet for Spire. Smithley and the #77 finished last at Martinsville.

FINAL START: #13-Germain Racing
FINAL START: #95-Leavine Family Racing
Phoenix marks the final start for two of the Cup Series’ few remaining single-car teams, both in business for at least a decade, and each without a win in a Cup points-paying race. For Bob Germain, this will be the #13 GEICO Chevrolet team’s 425th start in Cup, while Bob Leavine’s #95 Rheem / Smurfit Kappa Toyota will make their 256th. Both teams’ Charters have already been sold for 2021.

RETIREMENT: #14-Stewart-Haas Racing
RETIREMENT: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
Sunday will also see the final Cup start for two of the series’ most unique personalities. For Clint Bowyer, this will be his 541st and final series start, closing a career with 10 series wins before he joins the FOX broadcast booth next season. As for Jimmie Johnson, this is his 686th Cup start and his last at least a full-time driver. The seven-time series champion whose 83 wins tie him with his hero Cale Yarborough, will move to the IndyCar Series with Chip Ganassi next season. While Bowyer will run his familiar Rush Travel Centers scheme this week, Johnson will run a special silver-painted #48 reminiscent of Jeff Gordon’s final ride in the #24 five years ago.

TEAM UPDATE: #27-Rick Ware Racing
The preliminary entry list showed Cody Ware in the #27, but this has since been updated to show J.J. Yeley once again behind the wheel.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (November 5, 1978): John Kennedy picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career when his #0 Spohn’s Body Shop Ford did not start the Dixie 500 at Atlanta. Kennedy was set to start 39th in the 40-car field, one spot ahead of Ronnie Thomas.

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