Thursday, April 22, 2021

PREVIEW: Unexpected throwback schemes have “The Alabama Gang” set to ride again at Talladega

IMAGE: @JoeyGaseRacing

Saturday, April 24, 2021
XFINITY Race 8 of 33
Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega
2020 Last-Place Finisher (June): John Jackson

There are 43 drivers entered for 40 spots, including the same three teams that have been on the wrong side of the cut line since the rain fell in Daytona – Jordan Anderson Racing’s #31, the Bassett brothers’ #77, and the original second Our Motorsports #03 entry.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Jason White will run the familiar looking pink-and-blue A-Game paint scheme from his return to XFINITY competition this past February in Daytona, where he came home a strong 10th. Since his former ride - the RSS Racing #23 shared with Reaume Brothers Racing – has since been acquired by Our Motorsports, White will instead run for Motorsports Business Management. White takes the place of Matt Jaskol, who ran 28th in his series debut with MBM at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports / Reaume Brothers Racing
When Our Motorsports acquired the aforementioned #23 team, Reaume Brothers Racing has apparently maintained their existing portion of the schedule for Natalie Decker, who on Saturday returns to the ride for the first time since her last-place finish on the Daytona Road Course. Decker takes the place of Blaine Perkins, who finished 35th in his most recent start at Martinsville. Red Street Records returns as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Colin Garrett makes his first XFINITY start of the season and first since Kansas last year, when he ran 16th. His only DNF of the 2020 season came at this Talladega crash, where his Sam Hunt Racing entry was destroyed in a crash. Garrett takes the place of Brandon Gdovic, SHR’s 8th-place finisher in this year’s Daytona opener, who finished a solid 17th at Martinsville. The 11/11 Project sponsors Garrett’s ride.

Rick Ware Racing unveiled a poignant tribute to the late Davey Allison, who lost his life in a helicopter crash at the Talladega track in 1993. Both Ware’s #17 XFINITY team and #53 Cup team have been renumbered to the #28, the Fords each decorated to resemble Allison’s iconic Havoline Ford at Robert Yates Racing. Taking the place of J.J. Yeley in the XFINITY car is Joey Gase, whose cars will both carry the phrase “Register Me” in connection with Gase’s continued commitment to the cause of organ donation. Allison was himself an organ donor, and after his death saved others, including one of his fans. NASCAR Race Hub produced this short documentary on the subject in 2018.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Ty Dillon returns to the driver’s seat for the first time since Las Vegas in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #54 Toyota, this week sponsored by Mobil 1. Dillon, who is a past stage race winner on the Cup side at Tallaega, takes the place of Ty Gibbs, who ran 4th at Martinsville and led 28 laps. This will mark Dillon’s sixth XFINITY start at Talladega and his first since 2017, when he finished 14th for Richard Childress Racing.

Caesar Bacarella continues his superspeedway stint for Mario Gosselin in the #90 Chevrolet, this week sponsored by AP Sports Regimen and Maxim. Bacarella returns to the series for the first time since his career-best 12th-place run in this year’s Daytona opener. He takes the place of George Gorham, Jr., who ran a solid 18th in his first NASCAR start in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Mason Massey will take his turn in the #99 entry for just the second time this season and first since Atlanta, when he ran 32nd. Taking the place of Stefan Parsons, who ran 20th at Martinsville, Massey carries logos for Special Olympics Georgia.

Sunday, April 25, 2021
CUP Race 10 of 36
GEICO 500 at Talladega
2020 Last-Place Finisher (June): Matt Kenseth

There are 40 drivers entered for as many spots, marking just the third full field in 2021 and first since the Daytona Road Course, eight races ago.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb’s previously announced Cup debut with Rick Ware Racing has been postponed for now after NASCAR declined her eligibility. She was originally set to take the place of James Davison, who ran 33rd at Richmond, with sponsorship from Arrowhead Brass. Taking her place will be J.J. Yeley, who was out of his XFINITY ride at RWR this week to make way for Joey Gase’s “double-duty” weekend. Yeley most recently ran a Cup race here in this event last June, when he ran 36th in Ware’s #53.

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Matthew Kaulig’s Cup team is back in action for the first time since this year’s Daytona 500, where a fire in the rear of the #16 Hyper Ice Chevrolet resulted in a 28th-place finish. Kaz Grala will again drive with the same sponsor, and hopes for a better finish in his third series start. Grala’s most recent Talladega start came in the Truck Series race last fall, when he finished 9th for Niece Motorsports.

As with XFINITY, Joey Gase takes the place of Richmond’s 35th-place finisher Garrett Smithley in the #53, which is now renumbered as the #28 in a matching Davey Allison tribute car.

MISSING: #33-Penske Racing
Austin Cindric contended for the win in February’s Daytona 500, but he and his fourth Penske Racing entry are not entered after his 28th-place finish at Richmond. Cindric will instead focus on the XFINITY side, where he starts Saturday’s race on pole.

PAINT SCHEME: #43-Richard Petty Motorsports
Erik Jones runs the same Tuskegee Airmen paint scheme which David Marrero designed for the debut of Rick Ware Racing’s #53 team in May 2019. Last year, during his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones finished 5th and 2nd in the two Talladega races.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill made his triumphant return to the iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Wednesday, and this time was allowed to run MBM’s #66 Toyota. He came home a strong 4th. This Sunday, he’ll run in the main event after the team was missing in action at both Martinsville and Richmond. Supreme Transportation is the listed sponsor for Hill’s first Cup start sine Atlanta, where he ran 36th.

PAINT SCHEME: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
To go with Gase’s Davey Allison car, B.J. McLeod will run a Red Farmer throwback on his #78 Ford. Sponsoring McLeod’s entry is Long-Lewis Ford Lincoln, the Alabama-based car dealership which backed Farmer’s original entry. Sunday will mark the first time Long-Lewis sponsored a Cup car since August 17, 1975, when Farmer finished 44th in a field of 50.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
While Jennifer Jo Cobb’s Cup debut was moved off Sunday’s Talladega race, Harrison Burton will make his own Cup debut in the Gaunt Brothers’ #96, which is back in the field for the first time since Ty Dillon’s 26th-place run in the Bristol Dirt Race. Harrison brings his familiar Dex Imaging sponsorship which carried him to his first four XFINITY Series victories last year. His father Jeff Burton made 40 Talladega starts in the Cup Series and led 158 laps, but never won. He came closest in the fall of 2011, when then-teammate Clint Bowyer edged him off the final corner.

Saturday, May 1, 2021
TRUCKS Race 7 of 22
Kansas 200 at Kansas
2020 Last-Place Finishers (July, 2 Races): Kevin Donahue, Bryan Dauzat

The Truck Series takes the week off after Richmond and will return in Kansas. They will compete in one race in place of last year’s two, and the event will be held under the lights.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (April 22, 2001): Chad Knaus was atop the pit box when his driver, Stacy Compton, won the pole for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in Melling Racing’s #92 Kodiak Dodge. On this day – the day of the race itself – Compton led the opening two laps, but dropped out with engine trouble after 116 laps of the caution-free event. His was one of only three DNFs in the 43-car field.

No comments: