Thursday, July 1, 2021

PREVIEW: Double-duty road ringers abound in Road America

PHOTO: @joshbilicki

Saturday, July 3, 2021 
XFINITY Race 17 of 33
Henry 180 at Road America
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

There are 43 drivers entered for 36 spots as qualifying returns in Road America, meaning seven teams will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Andy Lally eyes his fourth XFINITY start of the year in his all-road course effort, and rejoins B.J. McLeod’s team for the first time since his last-minute ride at the Daytona Road Course. This time around, Lally runs McLeod’s #5 in place of Matt Mills, and will carry a “throwback” scheme to Rick Hendrick’s Levi Garrett Chevrolet, made famous by Geoffrey Bodine and Ricky Rudd. Lally and his Alpha Prime Regimen Chevrolet is part of a strong three-driver “road ringer” lineup for the McLeod team.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Spencer Pumpelly finished a strong 16th in his NASCAR debut during the XFINITY race at the Circuit of the Americas, and is back for the first time since then in the same entry – the #6 Chevrolet. Pumpelly takes the place of Ryan Vargas, whose tangle with Justin Haley put him out of the race in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
RETURNING / DRIVER SWAP: #42-Motorsports Business Management
MBM brings back their #42 entry for the first time since Nashville, where Chad Finchum failed to qualify. Timmy Hill will drive the car this time, moving over from the #13 for a returning Stephen Leicht. Leicht and sponsor Jani-King will look to end the #13 team’s DNQ streak which has seen the car miss every race since COTA.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
Cody Ware returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his season-best 15th-place finish at Mid-Ohio, taking the place of brother Carson Ware, who ran 28th in Pocono. Ware will run double-duty this weekend, running his same #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet on Sunday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Road America will also be the next round for Natalie Decker and the Reaume Brothers Racing portion of the #23 team’s schedule. Decker takes the place of Blaine Perkins, who ran 34th after late-race suspension issues in Pocono. Nerd Focus is Decker’s listed sponsor, and the driver seeks to bounce back from her last-place finish in her series debut on the Daytona Road Course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Despite his early-race incident with Josh Williams, Santino Ferrucci extended his streak of finishing 15th or better to five straight starts with a 14th-place showing in Pocono. He will not run this weekend, however, as Kris Wright continues his road course portion of the schedule. Driving with this same team, Wright finished 18th in his series debut on the Daytona Road Course, but finished 32nd at both the Circuit of the Americas and Mid-Ohio following a blown engine and crash, respectively.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Kaz Grala eyes his first XFINITY start of the season and first in the series since last fall on the Charlotte “Roval,” where he led 3 laps only for suspension issues to leave him 31st. Grala takes his sponsorship from RCR to Jordan Anderson’s team this time, driving in place of last week’s 9th-place finisher Josh Berry. Grala finished a season-best 4th in this race last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Following Joey Gase’s 36th-place finish at Pocono, Gray Gaulding returns to the #52 team and looks to make his first start since Texas – he failed to qualify for his last attempt at Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
RETURNING / DRIVER SWAP: #81-Joe Gibbs Racing
Like MBM, Joe Gibbs has brought back a part-time team to their lineup, fielding the #81 team for the first time since XCI Racing shut down in 2019. Ty Gibbs will move to the #81 from the #54, allowing last Sunday’s winner Kyle Busch to also enter the event. Busch will carry sponsorship from M&M’s Ice Cream Sandwiches.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Boris Said returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since COTA, and will be running the actual chassis that Jeremy Clements took to victory lane here in 2017. The former Chevrolet is now a Toyota with Kunes RV as sponsor, and Said takes the place of 25th-place Pocono finisher Austin Hill.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Matt Jaskol returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since Texas, and runs the #66 for the first time since Mid-Ohio. He takes the place of David Starr and brings back sponsorship from Auto Parts 4 Less. Jaskol’s best finish in five starts this year came in the most recent road course race in Mid-Ohio, where he ran 19th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Bayley Currey returns to the #74 in place of 31st-place Pocono finisher Jesse Iwuji, and looks to bounce back from his last-place finish in this race last year, when the engine let go on the opening lap.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Ryan Ellis joins Andy Lally at the McLeod team, taking the place of 29th-place Pocono finisher Jesse Little. Ellis made his three previous starts this year in the #99 with a best run of 16th at Darlington. This time he runs the #78, and has Rich Mar Florist as sponsor.

Road courses and Mario Gosselin’s team mean the return of Preston Pardus, who finished 25th in his most recent series start at Mid-Ohio, taking 25th. Pardus takes the place of Loris Hezemans, who finished 27th in his own series return at Pocono. Pardus finished a strong 8th in this race last year, driving Gosselin’s #36.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Headlining the McLeod trio is Cup regular Kevin Harvick, who rejoins the team for the first time since his 4th-place showing at COTA. This time, Harvick runs the #99 instead of the #5, and carries sponsorship from race sponsor Henry Repeating Arms on his Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Like his Rick Ware Racing teammate Cody Ware, Josh Bilicki will pull double-duty, and do so at his home track. Prior to debuting new sponsorship from Screamin’ Sicilian Pizza on Sunday with his #52 Ford, Bilicki will run in place of Joe Graf, Jr. in the #07 Insurance King / Ditec Chevrolet.

CUP INVADERS: #54-Kyle Busch, #99-Kevin Harvick

Sunday, July 4, 2021
CUP Race 20 of 36
Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip at Road America
1956 Last-Place Finisher (258 miles): Junior Johnson

For the first time since the Circuit of the Americas and just the fifth time in 20 races this season, there are 40 cars entered for as many spots – and like COTA, qualifying will set the lineup.

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
In the last three of their four Cup Series starts, Kaulig Racing has finished 7th, 6th, and 5th with the duo of Kaz Grala and A.J. Allmendinger. Now, with the announcement that Kaulig has acquired two Charters for 2022, Allmendinger will pull double-duty in the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet. Allmendinger won the 2013 running of Road America’s XFINITY race for Penske Racing, and finished runner-up to Austin Cindric last year.

RETURNING: #33-Penske Racing
Speaking of Cindric, he will also be back in a Cup field for the first time since the All-Star Open. Cindric will look to follow-up his surprising run at the start of the Cup race at COTA, and carries the Pirtek scheme once more.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Joining double-duty drivers Cody Ware and Josh Bilicki will be Ryan Eversley, who will be making his first NASCAR start in a black version of the Nurtec ODT scheme. Eversley, who a few years ago ran one of the only Acuras in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, will take the place of Garrett Smithley, who lost power steering and finished 36th in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Justin Allgaier ran as high as 20th in the final laps at Pocono before settling for a 25th-place finish in his last-minute substitute role in Spire’s #77 Chevrolet. Justin Haley is expected to return and again pull double-duty between his own full-time XFINITY entry for Kaulig Racing. The Fraternal Order of Eagles rejoins Haley as sponsor on the same weekend he won his rain-shortened Daytona race two years ago.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod and Matt Tifft have again tabbed Kyle Tilley to run the #78 this week. The Englishman finished 31st in his NASCAR debut at COTA, and will again carry sponsorship from Bremont and Battle Associates on his patriotic-themed Ford.

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Welcome back Ty Dillon and the Gaunt Brothers, who have not been seen in the Cup garage since COTA, where they finished in 21st. Lure Lock and Bass Pro Shops are the listed sponsors of the #96 Toyota.

Friday, July 9, 2021 
TRUCKS Race 14 of 22
Corn Belt 150 at Knoxville
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

The Truck Series takes the week off and returns to action on the dirt in Knoxville.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 1, 1956): Jack Smith picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his Cup Series career when his 1956 Chevrolet dropped out with carburetor issues after 5 laps of a 200-lap event on the Ashville-Weaverville Speedway. 

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