Thursday, April 8, 2021

PREVIEW: At Martinsville, Jaskol and Gorham set for NASCAR debuts, but MBM's Cup team conspicuously absent

Matt Jaskol's paint scheme for Friday's XFINITY race.
PHOTO: Matt Jaskol Facebook Page, scheme by SMD

Friday, April 9, 2021 
XFINITY Race 7 of 33
Cook Out 250 at Martinsville
1994 Last-Place Finisher (March): Kevin Lepage

There are 43 drivers entered for 40 spots in Friday’s first spring race at Martinsville for the XFINITY Series since 1994, but without qualifying, it’s the same three teams once again out of the field – Jordan Anderson’s #31, Bassett Racing’s #77, and the now-replaced second Our Motorsports entry, the #03.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Following the trend of multi-sport athletes entering NASCAR, such as Big Machine’s driver Jade Buford, Carl Long’s team has welcomed Matt Jaskol to make his first-ever start in NASCAR’s top three series. Like Buford, Jaskol is no stranger to racing, having spent two decades as both racer and instructor. He made five Indy Lights starts in 2007, taking a pair of 7th-place finishes at Indianapolis and Sonoma. Jaskol takes the place of Chad Finchum, who isn’t entered after brake issues left him 39th in Atlanta. Auto Parts 4 Less is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
When the XFINITY Series returned to Martinsville last fall, J.J. Yeley enjoyed a spirited run in one of Rick Ware’s old Mustangs, leading five laps and finishing in 11th. On Friday, he takes the place of teammate Cody Ware, who ran 23rd his last time out in Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Santino Ferrucci finished 15th back in Atlanta, already his third-straight top-15 finish in just his fourth series start. Ferrucci’s run will remain part-time, however, as teammate Brandon Gdovic returns to the #26 or the first time since his own strong 8th-place finish in this year’s Daytona opener. SnapMobile Shop is the listed sponsor for Gdovic’s Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Martinsville will also see the return of Daytona Road Course winner Ty Gibbs for the first time since his equally strong runner-up finish to Austin Cindric at Phoenix. He takes the place of Martin Truex, Jr., who dominated the Atlanta race, only to lose to series regular Justin Allgaier. Neither Truex, nor any other Cup regular, is entered in Friday’s race.

Joining Matt Jaskol in making his NASCAR debut is George Gorham, Jr. The Florida native will make his first start at Martinsville, but is no stranger to short tracks as a standout in late model and street stock competition. While originally unsponsored when the deal was announced, Blackburn’s BBQ has followed him over from his familiar black #03 with additional backing from Francisco’s. He takes the place of Dexter Bean, who isn’t entered after a 35th-place finish with the team in Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons will make his 20th career XFINITY start on Friday with Sokal Digital rejoining as sponsor of his #99, just as it had in his most recent start at Phoenix, where he ran 18th. He takes the place of Mason Massey, who ran 32nd in Atlanta. With the same team, Parsons finished 24th in last fall’s XFINITY race at Martinsville.


Saturday, April 10, 2021
CUP Race 8 of 36
Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville
2020 Last-Place Finisher (June): Timmy Hill

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking not only the sixth short field in eight races this season, but the shortest Cup field at Martinsville since this race two years ago, when 36 took the green flag.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
This week, James Davison tweeted that he may not be running this year’s Indianapolis 500, but has “found a home in NASCAR.” He returns to competition on Saturday in place of Chris Windom, whose sick engine on the Bristol dirt left him a disappointing 33rd. Davison made his first Cup start at Martinsville last fall, when he ran 36th in Rick Ware’s #53.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
NASCAR’s controversial Charter System is entirely to blame for the lack of the #66 Toyota on this week’s entry list, two weeks after Mike Marlar’s 31st-place run on the dirt in Bristol. With his driver, Timmy Hill, the breakout star of last season’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series, team owner Carl Long had counted on Hill being invited back this year to give his team more exposure to sponsors. When Hill was snubbed because MBM didn’t hold a Charter – a requirement which wasn’t in place last season – Long indicated his team would have to scale back to a part-time schedule. Even after the #LetTimmyRace effort got Hill into the race (where he finished 8th), he had to run the Chartered Penske Racing #2 in place of MBM’s #66, still keeping the team out of the televised event. Plans for MBM’s remaining Cup schedule are still to be determined as the Charter System continues to suffocate “open” teams.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Following Stewart Friesen’s 23rd-place finish in his Cup debut on the dirt in Bristol, Justin Haley returns to the #77 for the first time since Atlanta, were he ran 30th. Haley’s season-best remains a pair of 24th-place finishes on the Daytona Road Course and at Phoenix. This will be his first Cup start at Martinsville. Diamond Creek Water is the listed sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
After Shane Golobic’s Cup debut ended in the big backstretch pileup on the dirt at Bristol, B.J. McLeod returns to the #78 this week with former Go FAS Racing sponsor Keen Parts on the hood of his #78 Ford.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Not making the trip to the short track are the Gaunt Brothers with Ty Dillon, who finished 26th despite heavy damage on the Bristol Dirt Track.

Saturday, April 17, 2021
TRUCKS Race 6 of 23
Toyota Care 250 at Richmond
2020 Last-Place Finisher (September): Jennifer Jo Cobb

The Truck Series returns next week in Richmond for their first-ever spring race.

LASTCAR STAT OF THE WEEK (April 8, 2006): Carl Edwards picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the O’Reilly 300 at Texas when his #60 Henkel Ford, which started 42nd in the 43-car field, lost an engine after 75 laps. The finish, which came in Edwards’ 43rd series start, was one of only two in the series. The other occurred May 9, 2008 at Darlington after his pole-winning car was eliminated in a Lap 4 crash.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

Go away Charter system and bring qualifying back!