Thursday, March 11, 2021

PREVIEW: Blaine Perkins' debut, Loris Hezemans' return among Phoenix storylines

IMAGE: Motorsports Business Management

Saturday, March 13, 2021
XFINITY Race 5 of 33
Call 811 Before You Dig 200 at Phoenix
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Jeremy Clements

There are 43 drivers entered for 40 spots, but still without practice and qualifying, the result will be the same for the three teams that have yet to start an XFINITY race in 2021 (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE / TEAM UPDATE: #13-Motorsports Business Management / Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
While the preliminary entry list showed a driver swap between Chad Finchum and David Starr, putting Starr in the #61 and Finchum in the #13, Finchum will not run this Saturday. In his place will be Loris Hezemans, the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion. The Dutchman made his NASCAR debut in last year’s XFINITY race at Road America, where he finished on the lead lap in 22nd driving B.J. McLeod’s #99.  While using MBM’s car number, Hezemans will actually be entered under Reaume Brothers Racing, who formerly collaborated with RSS Racing on the #23 team before Our Motorsports officially took it over at Las Vegas. This will be the first of two starts for Hezemans, who will also run the Charlotte oval in May. His sponsors this week are Hezeberg Systems and the R1 Indoor Karting & Entertainment Center.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
While he was originally slated to make his 2021 debut last week in Las Vegas, J.J. Yeley will instead do so at his home track. He takes the place of Garrett Smithley in the Rick Ware / SS-Green Light entry. Smithley finished 24th last Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
The last time Blaine Perkins raced at Phoenix, he was edged by Jesse Love for the ARCA Menards West Series Championship by just 25 points, his three-win season ending with an engine failure. This time around, he will make his NASCAR top three series debut in the upstart second Our Motorsports entry, taking the place of Cup regular Tyler Reddick. Four Star Fruits, Perkins’ backer from his previous ride, will back his #23 Chevrolet.

DID NOT QUALIFY: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
DID NOT QUALIFY: #77-Bassett Racing
DID NOT QUALIFY: #03-Our Motorsports
A fifth-straight race without qualifying keeps this unfortunate trio out of the field once again.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Returning to the seat of the #54 Toyota is Ty Gibbs, back behind the wheel for the first time since his surprising victory in his series debut on the Daytona road course. He takes the place of Ty Dillon, whose mid-race spin left him 31st and collected last-place finisher Riley Herbst. Dillon indicated he will next be racing on the Bristol dirt track, where he won a Cup Series stage on the concrete surface in 2019.

TEAM UPDATE: #98-Stewart-Haas Racing
Riley Herbst was not originally on the entry list for Saturday’s race following his aforementioned last-place finish, but he and the #98 team will make the long trip west for a rebound.


Sunday, March 14, 2021
CUP Race 5 of 36
Instacart 500 at Phoenix
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Timmy Hill

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the third-straight short field in five races so far this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
After taking the Las Vegas weekend off, James Davison returns to the #15 Chevrolet for the first time since his fiery engine failure in Homestead. Davison’s only previous Cup start at Phoenix was in last fall’s finale, where he ran 33rd out of 39 starters. Smart Sanitizer is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Just like on the XFINITY side, J.J. Yeley will take the place of Garrett Smithley in a Rick Ware entry. Smithley drove this #53 team to a 31st-place finish last week. UPDATE: This then changed by Sunday with Garrett Smithley back in the #53 again.

Saturday, March 20, 2021
TRUCKS Race 4 of 23
FR8 Auctions 200 at Atlanta
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Johnny Sauter

The Truck Series takes the week off and returns a week from Saturday in Atlanta.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (March 11, 1995): Jeremy Mayfield picks up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Busch Light 300 at Atlanta after his #50 UAW Ford loses an engine after 2 of 197 laps. The finish comes in Mayfield’s second-ever series start while driving for team owner Bobby Jones. Current team owner Rick Ware finishes next-to-last that day in a #98 Petron Plus Chevrolet he owns, out after 23 laps with a bearing issue.

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