Thursday, February 18, 2021

PREVIEW: Multiple drivers making their series debuts on the Daytona Infield Road Course

PHOTO: @RyanVargas_23

Friday, February 19, 2021
TRUCKS Race 2 of 23
BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 at Daytona Infield Road Course
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Roger Reuse

It’s unfortunate that NASCAR has cancelled practice and qualifying for all but a handful of tracks in 2021. Both the Truck Series and XFINITY Series had more than 40 entries, forcing the extra teams to withdraw. On the Truck side, there were 42 teams entered until CMI Motorsports pulled both their entries from the lineup (see below). The result is a list six entries shorter than last week’s opener.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
WITHDREW: #83-CMI Motorsports
For the second-straight year, Jordan Anderson was edged for the win at Daytona by a ThorSport entry in a photo finish. After finishing 35th in the inaugural race here last August, he will not run the road course on Friday. Rejoining the team is Bobby Reuse, whose ride with Clay Greenfield Motorsports was withdrawn last year. Reuse’s most recent start was in 2019 at Mosport, where he and brother Roger Reuse ran two Jordan Anderson-prepared trucks. Roger had also been entered in this race for CMI Motorsports, looking to bounce back from his first-lap clutch issues in the 2020 running. Unfortunately, his #49 was withdrawn along with teammate Tim Viens in the #83.

Camden Murphy returns to the Truck Series for the first time since last summer at Bristol, when he made his lone series start of the year, finishing 19th. Then as now, Murphy drives for Joe Nemechek, who failed to qualify last week in Daytona.

MISSING: #11-Spencer Davis Motorsports
Spencer Davis is not entered after he failed to qualify on the Daytona oval.

Riley Herbst makes his first Truck Series start in just over a year, dating back to when he won the pole for the 2020 Daytona opener and finished 12th for Kyle Busch Motorsports. This time, he takes the wheel of the Team DGR #17, taking the place of team owner David Gilliland. Herbst comes into this race after finishing 26th in last week’s XFINITY Series opener.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
Bryan Dauzat is not entered after he parlayed pit strategy to lead two laps in last Friday’s opener, then finished on the lead lap in 19th. This was Dauzat’s best series finish since 2019 at Talladega, when he ran 17th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
The preliminary entry list had no driver listed in place of Jesse Iwuji, who failed to qualify last week. By Wednesday, it was revealed that 21-year-old ARCA Menards West Series driver Lawless Alan of Van Nuys, California, who makes his first start in any of NASCAR’s top three series. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Also making his NASCAR debut is 17-year-old late model driver Jett Noland of Orlando, Florida, kicking off a partial schedule in 2021. Hype Motorsports is the listed sponsor. Noland takes the place of James Buescher, who was finished last at Daytona after he was collected in the multi-truck pileup on the initial start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
The third driver making his debut on Friday is Parker Chase, who just three days before his 20th birthday will take the wheel of KBM’s #51 Vertical Bridge Toyota. Chase, a native of New Baunfels, Texas, has a pronounced road racing background, having competed in the last two runnings of the 24 Hours of Daytona on this same course. He also ran 10th in the ARCA road race here last summer while driving for Chad Bryant. Chase takes the place of Drew Dollar, who ran 10th last week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy Hill returns to drive his own Chevrolet for the first time since last fall at Martinsville, where he closed out a solid 2020 season with a 14th-place finish. He takes the place of Gus Dean, who finished next-to-last in the opener after he was collected in the James Buescher wreck.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Clay Greenfield is not entered after he failed to qualify last week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman narrowly missed the cut last week, turning the fastest lap of the ten drivers who DNQ’d. This week, the Henderson team is locked into the field, and Sam Mayer will drive the #75 Chevrolet. Mayer, last summer’s winner at Bristol, most recently took the green flag in the Phoenix finale, where he ran 17th for GMS Racing.

MISSING: #96-Peck Motorsports
Todd Peck is not entered after he failed to qualify at Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #98-ThorSport Racing
For the first time since 2016, Grant Enfinger is not entered in this week’s Truck Series race. After the team’s reorganization last year, his #98 Toyota will be driven by former KBM driver Christian Eckes, who scored seven top-five finishes in 2020, including three runner-up finishes in four races between Texas, Kansas, and Michigan. He continues his search for his first victory this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
While Kris Wright was originally reported to be in the #02 again this week, his name was left off the preliminary entry list. By Wednesday, Kaz Grala was instead tabbed to drive, one week after his first Daytona 500 start. It was at this Daytona road course that Grala made his Cup debut, taking the place of a Austin Dillon after a positive COVID-19 test. Wright will instead turn his focus this week to the XFINITY Series (see below).


Saturday, February 20, 2021
XFINITY Race 2 of 33
Super Start Batteries 188 at Daytona Infield Road Course
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Justin Haley

The entry list stood at 44 drivers entered for 40 spots, down just one entry from the opener, but the lack of qualifying led to four teams withdrawing (see below). The remaining 40 drivers will take the green flag on Saturday.

TEAM UPDATE: #6-JD Motorsports
Following his 18th-place finish in last week’s Daytona opener, Ryan Vargas revealed this past Monday that he had no sponsor yet signed for this week’s race. That changed by Wednesday as Alvin Kamara, running back for the New Orleans Saints, signed up to promote his own business, The Big Squeezy. This will be Vargas’ first start on the Daytona infield course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Josh Berry enjoyed a strong run for part of last week’s race before a wreck left him a disappointing 27th. This week, the #8 will go to Miguel Paludo, who makes his return to the XFINITY Series for the first time since August 11, 2012, when he finished 13th at Watkins Glen for the now-shuttered Turner Motorspors. Paludo shares sponsorship from Brandt with full-timer and teammate Justin Allgaier.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
As of this writing, Carl Long’s #13 team has no driver listed in place of Chad Finchum, who ran 30th last week. The first print of the starting lineup still showed “TBA” rolling off 40th. UPDATE: David Starr will drive, making his first start of the season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing
Also without a driver listed was the #23 team fielded by RSS Racing and the Reaume Brothers, set to start 21st on Saturday. The team finished a strong 10th last week with a returning Jason White. Natalie Decker has since been added as the driver, set to make her first XFINITY Series start.

MISSING: #25-ACG Motorsports
Chris Cockrum was the highest-ranked of the five teams who were sent home by the rain last week. ACG Motorsports is not entered this time around.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Brandon Gdovic turned in a strong 8th-place finish last week on Daytona’s oval – an impressive performance in his first XFINITY oval start since November 2016 at Phoenix. While his two other starts since then were both on road courses, Gdovic is not entered this week. Into the seat comes Kris Wright, last week’s driver of Young’s Motorsports’ #02 Chevrolet in the Truck Series. Wright finished 12th last Friday and will make his XFINITY Series debut.

WITHDREW: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Among the four teams forced to withdraw this week after the rain fell is Jordan Anderson’s new XFINITY Series effort. As Anderson tweeted last week, this means his team won’t be able to attempt another race until May.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Records Racing Team
The Daytona opener saw last-minute replacement Danny Bohn finish 19th in his XFINITY Series debut, the last driver on the lead lap. Cleared to run the road courses where he ran so strong last year for SS-Green Light Racing, Jade Buford is back behind the wheel of the #48 Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Saturday will see the NASCAR debut of 18-year-old Ty Gibbs, an eight-time winner in the ARCA Menards Series who came home 5th in points last year, and 4th in last week’s ARCA opener for 2021. Gibbs takes the place of Ty Dillon, who after his Daytona 500 DNQ led two laps in the XFINITY race, and rebounded from a multi-car wreck to finish 14th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Also among the road racing contingent this week is Stephen Leicht, who like Jade Buford ran solidly in MBM’s road course races last year. He takes the place of Robby Lyons, who ran 25th last week on the oval.

WITHDREW: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. and his family team withdrew, and will join Jordan Anderson and the others in the long wait until May.

WITHDREW: #91-DGM Racing
The lack of qualifying also threatened the return of Preston Pardus, who has consistently outperformed in these first few NASCAR starts for DGM Racing. While his entry in Mario Gosselin’s own #91 was scrubbed, he will instead run the flagship #90 in place of Caesar Bacarella, who was a solid 12th last week. Sponsorship from Chinchor Electric and Danus Utilities continue with the Pardus effort. Recall that Pardus most recently ran on this course in January, when he nearly won a Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race before a last-minute four-wide pass entering the tri-oval.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
WITHDREW: #03-Our Motorsports
Also saved by a last-minute driver change is the return of Andy Lally, who has become a regular threat on the road courses. Lally had been slated to run Chris Our’s second team, which was among those sent home by the rain with Tyler Reddick last week. With the #03 withdrawn, Lally was moved to B.J. McLeod’s #99, which had no driver listed in place of 13th-place Daytona finisher Stefan Parsons.


Sunday, February 21, 2021
CUP Race 2 of 36
O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona Infield Road Course
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Brendan Gaughan

There are exactly 40 drivers entered for as many spots – down four entries from last week’s Daytona 500 – meaning no drivers will fail to qualify.

MISSING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #53-Rick Ware Racing
After his valiant effort to race Carl Long’s second Ford into the Daytona 500 field ended with a tangle between himself, Brad Keselowski, and fellow “open” driver Noah Gragson, Garrett Smithley moves from the MBM #13 to Rick Ware’s #53, taking the place of 20th-place finisher Joey Gase, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
The second race of the season is the first Cup start of the year for James Davison, who started his first 15 Cup races last year. This time, Davison drives the #15 team raced last week by Derrike Cope before an unfortunate last-place finish. While Cope’s entry was a second StarCom car, this Chevrolet is expected to be from Rick Ware’s own shop.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Much has changed since A.J. Allmendinger last took the green flag of a Cup Series race at Homestead on November 18, 2018. He’s since found a home in the XFINITY Series and with upstart Kaulig Racing, which has become a force to be reckoned with on both the superspeedways and road courses. Allmendinger returns to run double-duty for the team, combining his full-season effort in XFINITY with a road racing effort in the #16 Cup car. He takes the place of Kaz Grala, whose first Daytona 500 came to an end in 28th place due to a fire caused by a leaky brake line. Ellsworth Advisors sponsors Allmendinger.

MISSING: #33-Penske Racing
MISSING: #36-Front Row Motorsports
MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Three of the “open” teams entered in last week’s Daytona 500 are not on this week’s entry list. Austin Cindric finished 15th despite his involvement in the last-lap crash, but was running 5th for much of the closing stages. David Ragan’s run was cut short in the Lap 14 melee, leaving him 37th. Noah Gragson failed to qualify after a crash in his Duel race, and the Beard Motorsports team has elected not to run the road race, which they finished last in during the 2020 running.

TEAM UPDATE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
TEAM UPDATE: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
These two “open” entries who both fell short of making the 500 in Duel Race 1 will both make their 2021 debut on Sunday, and with the same drivers behind the wheel. Timmy Hill will round out a triple-duty weekend in the MBM #66 while Ty Dillon will again run for the Gaunt Brothers, looking to improve on his run for 23XI in the Busch Clash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Justin Haley, the last-place finisher of the 2020 XFINITY race here, takes the place of 8th-place finisher Jamie McMurray in his return to Spire Motorsports. Haley last ran Cup last fall at Talladega, where he finished 11th with the same team. AirMed Care Network is the listed sponsor for the team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Sunday will mark the Cup Series debut for Scott Heckert, whose most recent NASCAR start was also at this track in last year’s XFINITY race. That day, he finished 19th for B.J. McLeod, who he drives in place of Sunday for McLeod and Matt Tifft’s team Live Fast Motorsports. McLeod finished 23rd last week.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (February 18, 1996): Dick Trickle finished last in the Daytona 500 after his #63 Purina Hi Pro Ford lost an engine after 9 laps. Trickle raced Brittan Schnell’s car into the show to start 28th, but would end up 43rd. This marked the second time in four runnings of the 500 that Trickle finished last for this reason, and was the 5th of his Cup career.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

David Starr will drive the #13 in the Xfinity Series.