Friday, February 12, 2021

PREVIEW: Record entry lists promise strong fields for Daytona's Truck, XFINITY openers

PHOTO: Norm Benning Racing Facebook

Friday, February 12, 2021
TRUCKS Race 1 of 23
NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Ty Majeski

Qualifying for the season-opening Truck Series race will be quite the show as 46 trucks are entered for 36 spots, meaning ten teams will fail to qualify. It is the largest entry list for this event since 2011, when 46 drivers were also entered.

The former DGR-Crosley team – now branded as “Team DGR” – welcomes Rookie of the Year challenger Hailie Deegan to her first full-season effort in NASCAR’s top three series. The ARCA West Series standout was announced as this team’s driver before she even completed her series debut last year at Kansas. She will campaign the #1 in a new third entry to join returning teammates Tanner Gray (#15) and David Gilliland (#17). Gilliland runs Daytona in place of Dylan Lupton, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-Kyle Busch Motorsports
After a difficult rookie season in Cup, John Hunter Nemechek makes his return to the Truck Series, and lands one of the strongest entries in the field – the #4 Toyota from KBM. He takes the place of Raphael Lessard, who moves to GMS Racing this year in the #24 Canac Chevrolet. Lessard himself takes the place of Sam Mayer, who is not entered this week and will share JR Motorsports’ #8 entry in the XFINITY Series later this year (see below).

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning returns to the track after he didn’t make the trip west to the 2020 finale in Phoenix, where he still clinched his first LASTCAR Truck Series Championship. He’s since picked up new sponsorship from MDF – A Sign Co. and Brenner Contracting – and his black truck now features a red-and-yellow accent on each door. Thanks to his “Racing With The Ultimate Underdog Campaign,” Benning received several $50 donations from fans to have their names written on decals on his truck's rear deck.

RETURNING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
NEMCO Motorsports made just six starts in all of last season, and faced a serious setback when Joe Nemechek was involved in a multi-truck accident at Talladega. But the team has rebuilt and returned to the superspeedway, where Nemecehek will again drive his #8 Ford.

RETURNING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
It was in this race last year that Codie Rohrbaugh nearly pulled a move reminiscent of the late Ron Bouchard, attempting an inside pass from third on race leaders Grant Enfinger and Jordan Anderson. This year, Rohrbaugh and his Grant County Mulch team return with eyes on even more, making their first start since last fall at Martinsville.

TEAM UPDATE: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
After years of struggling for funding with her initiative on her trucks, Jennifer Jo Cobb has received full-time backing from Fastener Supply Company, and will debut a new paint scheme this week. FSC joined Cobb’s team at Homestead last year, and remained on board for the rest of the season. 

RETURNING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
After a 25th-place finish in his series debut for GMS Racing last year, Kris Wright has secured a full-time ride with Randy Young’s team, taking the controls of the #02 Chevrolet. First National Bank will sponsor the effort on Friday. Wright takes the place of Tate Fogleman, who moves to Young’s returning #12 team, which will also be a full-time effort this year. Solid Rock Carriers continues their sponsorship of Fogleman.

DRIVER SWAP: #18-Kyle Busch Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
In addition to the arrival of John Hunter Nemechek, KBM has changed their driver lineup in their other two entries. Shaken out of the group is Christian Eckes, formerly of the #18, which now goes to Chandler Smith. Smith, who ran the #51 last year, will hand the wheel to Drew Dollar, fourth in last year’s ARCA Menards Series standings. Dollar’s Truck Series debut will be sponsored by JBL.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Chase Purdy and his Bama Buggies sponsorship will move to the frequently unsponsored #23 team at GMS, which Brett Moffitt nearly steered to a championship in 2020 before a late caution at Phoenix. Moffitt, who will go full-time for Our Motorsports in the XFINITY Series (see below), has also signed with Al Niece to replace Trevor Bayne in the #45 Chevrolet. Circle B Diecast will back Moffitt in Daytona.

NEW TEAM: #25-Rackley W.A.R.
RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Following the model of Matthew Kaulig and his Leaf Filter Gutter Protection company in the XFINITY Series, Curtis Sutton at Rackley Roofing has elected to start a team of his own. Partnered with former Truck Series driver Willie Allen, owner of W.A.R. Shocks, Sutton has moved his sponsorship from Clay Greenfield’s #68 team to a new organization called “Rackley W.A.R.” Driving the team’s #25 is veteran Timothy Peters, who finished 7th in a one-off driving Stewart Friesen’s truck in Kansas, and will attempt the full season. Greenfield’s #68 is also entered with Rackley backing them.

Jim Rosenblum continues to make ends meet in the Truck Series, one year after the team made seven starts with 60-year-old Bryan Dauzat. Dauzat is again the driver of the red #28, which he steered to an 18th-place finish in this race in 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Canadian driver Jason White returns to the scene of his first career top-ten finish, when he scored a 10th-place finish in the 2020 running, and races for the same Reaume Brothers team. He takes the place of Akinori Ogata, who isn’t entered.

RETURNING: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
MISSING: #00-Reaume Brothers Racing
Joining White on the entry list is teammate Jesse Iwuji, who last ran in the series in Las Vegas last September, and made his first four XFINITY Series starts last year. Iwuji aims to make his first series start at Daytona. Not joining the Reaume effort this week is the #00, which Reaume himself finished last with in each of 2020’s final two races (thus preventing the streak from reaching three). That team is slated to return for the dirt races at Bristol and Knoxville, where Jake Griffin will drive.

TEAM UPDATE: #42-Niece Motorsports
In seven Truck Series starts last year, Carson Hocevar finished inside the Top 20 three times, including a season-best 12th at Dover. He has now landed the ride full-time for 2021, bringing the Al Niece team to three full-time efforts.

RETURNING: #44-Niece Motorsports
Al Niece will also bring back the #44 for Daytona, which 2012 XFINITY Series race winner James Buescher will drive. FHE FracLock will sponsor Buescher, the same company that backed him in his series return last fall at Texas, where he ran a strong 15th.

RETURNING: #49-CMI Motorsports
RETURNING: #83-CMI Motorsports
Despite the team’s original statement to the contrary, Ray Ciccarelli will continue to field his two-truck effort in 2021. Ciccarelli himself will run the #49 with Tim Viens in the #83, the same lineup in CMI’s most recent entries at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Gus Dean continues his series of superspeedway stints for Timmy and Tyler Hill’s team, where he ran 26th at Daytona and 30th at Talladega last year. Dean takes Tyler’s place in the #56 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman and the Charlie Henderson team return to action for the first time since last fall at Martinsville, and look to start Daytona for the first time at Daytona since 2018. Kligerman finished 28th that day.

RETURNING: #96-Peck Motorsports
Todd Peck returns to Daytona with his family’s #96 Holla Vodka Chevrolet, which failed to qualify for the 2020 running. Peck seeks his first series start since August 11, 2018 at Michigan, where he ran 26th for Premium Motorsports.

MISSING: #97-Diversified Motorsports Enterprises
Robby Lyons and the former JJL Racing team are not entered after the pair finished 29th in the Phoenix finale. Lyons will instead attempt the XFINITY Series race for Motorsports Business Management (see below).

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Owner-driver Cory Roper returns to the Truck Series for the first time since the Daytona Infield Road Course event last August, where he ran 26th, and looks to follow-up his 14th-place finish in this race last year. Alliance Aviation returns as sponsor.


Saturday, February 13, 2021
XFINITY Race 1 of 33
Racing Experience 300 at Daytona
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Joe Graf, Jr.

There is also a large influx of XFINITY Series teams in this year’s Daytona entry list – 45 drivers for 36 spots, meaning nine will fail to qualify. It is the largest entry list for this event since 2018, when 46 cars were entered.

RETURNING: #2-Richard Childress Racing
MISSING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
NUMBER CHANGE: #23-Reaume Brothers Racing (former #93-RSS Racing)
Last year, Myatt Snider ran the full season in a combined effort between RCR’s #21 Chevrolet and RSS Racing’s second entry, the #93 Chevrolet. This year, Snider will run full-time in RCR’s returning #2, bringing his TaxSlayer sponsorship with him. The #93 team passed to Josh Reaume late last year, and the Reaume Brothers Racing entry was renumbered to the #23 for 2021. Driving that car this week is Jason White – no, not the Canadian entered in Friday’s Truck Series race, but the Virginian with 209 starts across NASCAR’s top three series, but none since 2014. A-Game is the listed sponsor of White’s pink-and-blue car, which was listed as a Chevrolet but will instead be a Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Last year, Landon Cassill had lost his Cup ride at StarCom Racing, and was helping out Morgan Shepherd’s single-car operation. Shepherd’s team then suspended operations once the pandemic struck in March. While the #89 plans to return without “start-and-parking,” they are not entered this week in Daytona. Cassill has since reunited with Johnny Davis as the full-time driver of the #4 Chevrolet, and carries sponsorship from Blu-Emu, who famously backed him in the iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Cassill takes the place of Jesse Little, who moves to B.J. McLeod’s #78 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Shriners Hospitals 4 Children. Little’s effort is also for the full season, and he takes the place of McLeod himself, who will not run Saturday’s race.

TEAM UPDATE: #6-JD Motorsports
Following his standout performances last year with TikTok as sponsor, Ryan Vargas will run the full season in 2021 and compete for Rookie of the Year. The team is still piecing together sponsorship, but has secured Swann Communications as backer for four races, starting with this Saturday in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #10-Kaulig Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-Denbeste
With Ross Chastain moving to the Cup Series full-time, Jeb Burton will run the #10 for Matthew Kaulig, moving over from his part-time effort with JR Motorsports to run the series full-time. Burton thus moves out of JR Motorsports’ #8, which this weekend will be driven by Josh Berry in a white variant of the Filter Time paint scheme. Daniel Hemric, who ran the #8 in the 2020 finale at Phoenix, will bring his Poppy Bank sponsorship to Joe Gibbs Racing, and hopes to finally break through with his first series victory in JGR’s flagship #18 Toyota. In so doing, Hemric takes the place of Riley Herbst, who brings his Monster Energy sponsorship to the dominant #98 Ford fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste. Chase Briscoe, the previous driver of the #98, will now contend for Cup Series Rookie of the Year in SHR’s #14 Ford.

DRIVER AND MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER AND MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
While no driver was listed on the preliminary entry list, photos from MBM showed Chad Finchum’s name on the roof rails of their #13, driven last fall by Timmy Hill. Hill moves back to MBM’s #66, replacing Stan Mullis, who isn’t entered. The #66 was not on the preliminary entry list, but was reported by Long to be entered on February 2nd. Both cars are Fords in place of the Toyotas from years past. Finchum’s ride is sponsored by Ted Russell Ford Lincoln. 

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Joining Jeb Burton on his own full-time effort for Matthew Kaulig is a returning A.J. Allmendinger, who enjoyed a career renaissance in his part-time campaign last year. Ellsworth Advisors will sponsor Allmendinger, who will look to bounce back from a last-lap wreck with his teammates here last August.

RETURNING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
MISSING: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Bobby Dotter’s underdog team scales back from two entries to one, moving Joe Graf, Jr. from the shuttered #08 team to the #07. Graf takes the place of David Starr, who isn’t entered this week. SS-Green Light has also partnered with Rick Ware Racing, whose return to the XFINITY Series last fall generated strong runs at both the Charlotte “Roval” and at Martinsville. Cody Ware, who earned his career-best 7th on the Roval, will drive the #17 this week, switched from the Ware team’s Fords to Dotter’s Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #25-ACG Motorsports
Superspeedway specialist Chris Cockrum is back again in the #25 Advanced Communications Group Chevrolet fielded by Jeff Spraker. Cockrum made his only start of the season in this race last year, finishing 34th after a mid-race accident.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Last year saw Brandon Gdovic return to the XFINITY Series for the first time in four years, when he last raced for Precision Performance Motorsports. He ran the series’ road course races at Indianapolis and the Daytona infield, finishing 12th in the former and 28th in the latter. Though without a superspeedway start in the series, Gdovic has been entered in Sam Hunt’s #26 again this week, taking the place of Mason Diaz, who isn’t entered.

NEW TEAM: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
On top of his continued full-time Truck Series team, Jordan Anderson will field his own XFINITY car, the #31, with the same sponsorship from Bommarito Automotive Group. In so doing, Anderson will compete for Rookie of the Year in what will be his first XFINITY Series starts since 2017.

After his strongest season yet, where he was a threat to squeeze into the Championship Four, Ryan Sieg made a huge change to his team by switching from his traditional Chevrolet to Ford. Combined with the sale of the second RSS team to Josh Reaume (see above), the team appears even more focused on their flagship entry.

TEAM UPDATE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
TEAM UPDATE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
MHR enjoyed their own best season in 2020, and are reaping the rewards. The duo of Kyle Weatherman and Bayley Currey return to this time run the full season, and could be joined by a third teammate later this year. Weatherman’s #47 landed multiple sponsors between Axe Crossbows and Wolfpack Racing, and will carry FeraDyne Outdoors in ten additional races. Currey’s #74 is listed with Running 4 Heroes as sponsor for Daytona with associates including Gresco, Nella's Cottage, and Zagbag Board.

NEW TEAM: #48-Big Machine Records Racing
Following his strong performances in his first-ever XFINITY Series starts on last year’s road courses, Jade Buford landed an XFINITY Series ride. The effort is backed by Big Machine Records, which backed Buford during those races with SS-Green Light Racing. Unable to be cleared for Daytona, however, Buford will hand the wheel this week to Danny Bohn, who will turn double-duty with his Truck Series ride with On Point Motorsports. If he qualifies the Chevrolet, this will be Bohn’s first series start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
After a difficult season, Kody Vanderwal is out at Jimmy Means’ team, and will not run this weekend. Jumping aboard is Gray Gaulding, who was again strong in his six XFINITY starts with SS-Green Light Racing and Mike Harmon Racing last year. Gaulding, who signed late in the offseason, brings with him much needed sponsorship from Panini America, which also backed his part-time Cup effort last year with Rick Ware Racing.

RETURNING: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
JGR’s “Cup invader” entry returns to the circuit this week with Ty Dillon, who narrowly failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 last night in a one-off with the Gaunt Brothers. Bass Pro Shops will sponsor this car, too. This same team will see the likes of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., and Ty Gibbs in future races in 2021.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management / Hattori Racing Enterprises
Robby Lyons moves from the #97 Truck Series team, which isn’t entered this week, to Carl Long’s #61 Toyota Supra, carrying sponsorship from CSM Masonry. Lyons takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who isn’t entered this week, in the same collaborative effort with Shigeaki Hattori of Truck Series team Hattori Racing Enterprises.

NEW TEAM: #77-Bassett Racing
One of the last teams announced for Daytona back on February 2nd was a new entry for brothers Ronnie, Jr. and Dillon Bassett, both frequent one-off starters for DGM Racing in previous seasons. While Ronnie was slated to run the Bassett Gutters & More entry at Daytona, they did not appear on the preliminary entry list. Both have since been added.

Caesar Bacarella continues his trend of running the Florida races for Mario Gosselin as he returns to the #90 Chevrolet, taking the place of Donald Theetge, who isn’t entered.

NEW TEAM: #91-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin will also drive this week, debuting a new fourth team to go along with Bacarella (#90) and the returning duo of Alex Labbe (#36) and Josh Williams (#92). Gosselin’s car will be sponsored by AP Sport Regimen and Sleep Well.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod’s third team, the #99, will again rotate multiple drivers through its lineup in 2021, starting with Stefan Parsons this week in a Chevrolet. Joining Parsons this year will be Vinnie Miller, Mason Massey, and a returning Ryan Ellis, who has six races scheduled this season. Springrates and Sokal Media Group are among the team’s returning sponsors.

TEAM UPDATE: #02-Our Motorsports
Brett Moffitt will run the full season on top of his Truck Series efforts for Al Niece. Moffitt was originally slated to run part-time for Chris Our last year, but ended up starting 29 of the season’s 33 races with seven top-ten finishes and a season-best 5th at Talladega, the team’s lone Top Five.

NEW TEAM: #03-Our Motorsports
The Our team will enter a second car for two-time XFINITY Series Champion Tyler Reddick with Quartz Hill Records as sponsor. If he qualifies, this will be Reddick’s first series start since he clinched his second title at Homestead in 2019. Road racer Andy Lally and ARCA West Series driver Blaine Perkins will also run races in this car, which may also see IndyCar upstart Santino Ferrucci in the mix if the rumors prove true.

CUP INVADERS: #54-Ty Dillon (technically)

Sunday, February 14, 2021
CUP Race 1 of 36
Daytona 500 at Daytona
2020 Last-Place Finisher: William Byron

For a full breakdown of this Sunday’s competitors, check out our feature from earlier this week.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (February 12, 2004): The Gatorade Duel races see Scott Riggs crash his #10 Valvoline Chevrolet after 24 laps of Race 1 and Kevin Lepage blow the engine on his #4 Chevrolet after seven laps. With just 45 drivers entered for 43 spots, both Riggs and Lepage, the last-place finishers, each make the field. The same thing happened last night as Josh Bilicki and B.J. McLeod were both Chartered entries. 

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