Thursday, August 19, 2021

PREVIEW: Many drivers make first Michigan starts in XFINITY; Gateway Truck Series race features a few debuts

PHOTO: @dawsoncram41

Friday, August 20, 2021 (9:00 P.M. ET FS1)
TRUCKS Race 16 of 22
Round of 10 – Race 1 of 3
Toyota 200 Presented by CK Power at World Wide Technology Raceway (Gateway)
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Johnny Sauter

As the Truck Series Playoffs begin in Missouri, there are 42 drivers entered for 40 spots. But with the return of metric qualifying, two teams are already eliminated from the lineup (see below) - plus another two wothdrew for a field total of 38.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
This weekend, Jordan Anderson will attempt double-duty in both the Truck Series race at Gateway and the XFINITY event in Michigan, each time driving for his own team. On Friday, he’ll step in for Bobby Reuse in the #3 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet. Anderson’s best of 6 Gateway finishes was in 2016, when he ran 11th for Bolen Motorsports. Anderson takes the place of Bobby Reuse, who handed the wheel to Anderson during the race at Watkins Glen en route to a 29th-place finish.

WITHDREW: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Benning arrived at the track Friday, only to be told by NASCAR that the 2018 nose on his truck had been banned on all but dirt tracks and road courses as of June 30 of this year. Benning had no choice but to withdraw.

DRIVER CHANGE / WITHDREW: #11-Spencer Davis Motorsports
Spencer Davis and the #11 team are back in action for the first time since Nashville, where they finished in 25th. Inox Supreme Lubricants is again the sponsor of their Toyota. UPDATE: Not this week - the team has withdrawn as of Friday.

Chase Purdy is expected to be off COVID-19 protocol this weekend, and is again entered in his #23 Chevrolet. A.J. Allmendinger, last week’s Cup winner in Indy, drove the truck to a 27th-place finish.

NEW TEAM / DID NOT QUALIFY: #31-On Point Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Gateway was to mark the first time that On Point Motorsports would enter a second truck, the #31, to join Danny Bohn in the #30. However, the large entry list has put the #31 on the wrong side of the cut line, moving the originally scheduled driver Chris Hacker to Josh Reaume’s second truck, the #34. Hacker, who takes the place of Lawless Alan, will be making his first start in NASCAR’s top three series. Most recently, he finished 10th in this year’s ARCA race at Charlotte.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Piloting Reaume’s flagship #33 in place of the owner himself is Armani Williams, who will become the first NASCAR driver diagnosed with Autism. Williams, who hails from Detroit, has competed part-time in other NASCAR regional series since 2017, and most recently finished 10th in the 2020 ARCA race at Michigan driving for Andy Hillenburg. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Cram Racing Enterprises
Dawson Cram was about to be without sponsorship this week until KSDT came on board on Wednesday. He takes the place of Will Rodgers, who after early trouble was classified last at Watkins Glen until Chandler Smith was disqualified.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Great Escapes RV Center will sponsor Jake Griffin in his third Truck start of the season and first on a paved track since this same Gateway event in 2016, when he finished 30th for the late Mike Mittler at the team’s home track. Griffin takes the place of Chad Chastain, who ran 34th in his series debut at Watkins Glen.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
The latest development driver to make his Truck Series debut with KBM is Derek Griffith, who finished 5th in his most recent ARCA start at Kansas earlier this year. Griffith takes the place of Corey Heim, who ran 18th at Watkins Glen, and brings Hudson Speedway sponsorship in addition to KBM’s backing from JBL.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill will swap in for brother Timmy this Friday as Hair Club will again sponsor the #56 Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-ThorSport Racing
Ty Majeski will make his fourth Truck Series start of 2021 on Friday, looking to continue a streak of finishing no worse than 14th in ThorSport’s newest #66 entry. Majeski takes the place of Paul Menard, who climbed from 39th on the grid at Watkins Glen to finish 8th.

RETURNING / DID NOT QUALIFY: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
For the third time in 2021 and the first since his latest attempt in Nashville, Clay Greenfield will not qualify in his #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota. Greenfield has yet to make a start so far this year. Ironically, Greenfield would have started Friday's race had Davis and/or Benning's withdrawals come earlier.

MISSING: #72-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli has elected not to enter their third team, the #72, which missed the cut at Watkins Glen with Samuel Lecomte driving.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is not entered following a charge from 38th to 5th at Watkins Glen that netted his fans $1 hoodies, courtesy of sponsor

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Following a series of XFINITY races for Sam Hunt Racing, Kris Wright makes his tenth Truck Series start of the year and first since Pocono, again with Randy Young’s #02 Chevrolet. Wright Chevy is the listed sponsor as he takes the place of Kaz Grala, 12th after early trouble at The Glen.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
We haven’t seen the #04 team since Knoxville, nor Cory Roper driving it since Nashville, but both are back in action in Gateway. In fact, this will mark Roper’s first series start at the track.


Saturday, August 21, 2021 (3:00 P.M. ET NBCSN)
XFINITY Race 22 of 33
New Holland 250 at Michigan
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Dillon Bassett

There are 41 drivers entered for 40 spots in the XFINITY Series’ first race at Michigan in two years. With the return of metric qualifying, MBM’s #13 team will not qualify for the 11th time in 22 races (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #0-JD Motorsports
After multiple road course races, many XFINITY Series teams return to their familiar oval-track lineups. Among this is Johnny Davis’ team, which puts Jeffrey Earnhardt back in the #0 for the first time since – ironically – Watkins Glen. Earnhardt takes the place of Spencer Pumpelly, who was running 10th in the final 16 laps of last week’s Indianapolis race before he dropped to 24th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-JR Motorsports
Michael Annett’s continued recovery from his leg injury kept him out of the car at Indianapolis, putting Chase Elliott behind the wheel and Annett out of the Playoffs. Annett will slip even further back this weekend for the same reason. Taking his place on Saturday is Josh Berry, fresh off signing a full-season deal with JR Motorsports for 2022.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Matt Mills returns to the #5 for the first time since Watkins Glen, taking the place of James Davson, who an 18th at Indy.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Ryan Vargas is back in his #6 for the first time since Loudon, and will make his first series start at Michigan. He takes the place of Ryan Eversley, who failed to qualify at Indianapolis.

DRIVER CHANGE / DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill is the listed driver to take the place of Stephen Leicht, who failed to qualify during time trials at Indianapolis. The result will be the same as Hill’s team is too low in Owner Points to qualify this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Colby Howard is back in his #15 for the first time since Watkins Glen, taking the place of Mike Skeen, who like Eversley failed to qualify at The Glen. Like Vargas, this will be Howard’s first XFINITY start at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
Carson Ware will make just the third XFINITY start of his 2021 season and first since the July weekend in Atlanta, where he ran 36th. He will again run the Rick Ware Racing car partnered with SS-Green Light Racing, taking the place of J.J. Yeley, who was 22nd in Indy. This will likewise be Ware’s first XFINITY start at Michigan, and only his third series start at a track larger than 1.5 miles in length (he has two starts at Pocono).

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
It’s a swap of Richard Childress Racing teammates at the second Chris Our team as Tyler Reddick takes the place of Austin Dillon in the #23 Ohio Logistics Chevrolet. This will be Reddick’s 6th XFINITY start of the year, his first since Nashville, and comes as he tries to hold off Dillon for the 16th and final spot in the Cup Series Playoffs.

MISSING: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Will Rodgers is not entered in this weekend’s XFINITY race, and neither is the new second team Sam Hunt debuted in Indy with a 28th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
With Kris Wright running the Truck Series race in Gateway, Colin Garrett will reassume the #26 for SHR marking just his second XFINITY start of 2021 and first since Talladega, where he ran 15th. As on the superspeedway, the 11/11 Project will sponsor his #26 Toyota Supra. Garrett is still another driver making his first series start at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Jordan Anderson’s aforementioned double-header will carry on in Michigan, where he takes the place of open-wheel star Sage Karam, 26th after electrical woes in Indianapolis.

MISSING: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Loris Hezemans is not entered following his DNQ in Indianapolis, and the Reaume Brothers team will instead focus on their two-truck lineup in Gateway.

MISSING: #42-Motorsports Business Management
Giorgio Maggi is not entered after his own DNQ in Indy, and the MBM team has elected not to enter their fourth car this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
MBM will, however, field a car for the only other Cup regular joining Tyler Reddick in the XFINITY Series race. With Austin Hill committed to Friday’s Truck Series race and the Playoffs, Bubba Wallace has stepped forward to run the partnered effort with Hattori Racing Enterprises. This marks Wallace’s first XFINITY start since September 16, 2017 at Chicagoland, where he ran 10th. It will also be his first XFINITY race in Michigan since 2016, when he ran 9th for Roush-Fenway Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
David Starr will rejoin MBM in the #66 entry, taking the place of Matt Jaskol, who failed to qualify at Indianapolis. Starr makes his first start since Loudon, and welcomes another new sponsor in Sinex Transport.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
One week after Andy Lally turned in an impressive 10th-place finish for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the XFINITY race at Indianapolis, Mason Massey will pilot the #78 for the first time since last fall at Richmond. This will be Massey’s first XFINITY start since his last-place run at Loudon this past summer.

Caesar Bacarella makes just his third series start of the year and first on a non-superspeedway, following a 12th-place run in Daytona and 38th in Talladega. He takes the place of Preston Pardus, who was among the victims of Indy’s Turn 6 “turtle” on Lap 1, leaving him 35th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Cup regular Kevin Harvick is not in this week’s XFINITY race, and Jesse Little – most often in McLeod’s #78 entry this year – will instead pilot the #99. Little made his most recent series start at Watkins Glen, finishing 27th, and will on Saturday make his first series start at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Joe Graf, Jr. carries sponsorship from Power Weld as he returns to the #07 for the first time since The Glen. He takes the place of road racer Josh Bilicki, who ran 25th with the team at Indianapolis.

CUP INVADERS: #23-Tyler Reddick, #61-Bubba Wallace

Sunday, August 22, 2021 (3:00 P.M. ET NBCSN)
CUP Race 25 of 36
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan (200 laps)
2020 Last-Place Finishers: Joey Gase (161 laps August 8), Brad Keselowski (156 laps August 9) 

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, the 19th short field in 25 races, and the fewest starters for a Cup race here since June 10, 2019, when 36 took the green.

DRIVER CHANGE: #7-Spire Motorsports
On Thursday came news that Corey LaJoie will be out of his Cup ride on Sunday due to COVID-19 protocols. Driving in his place will be Josh Berry, who will now run all three races this weekend - two in relief of other drivers.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Conspicuously absent on this week’s entry list is the driver and team that took the checkered flag in last week’s upset victory. Michigan is not among the races for A.J. Allmendinger and Kaulig Racing this year, as both will instead focus on Saturday’s XFINITY race.

MISSING: #33-Penske Racing
Austin Cindric is likewise not entered as Indianapolis marked his 7th and final scheduled Cup start of the season, yielding an impressive 9th-place finish. He, too, will instead contest Saturday’s XFINITY race with the Penske Racing team.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill is again shut out of this week’s activities as his brother runs in the Truck Series, his XFINITY car is ranked too low in points, and his Cup car isn’t entered. Timmy finished 27th at Indianapolis after starting 40th and last on the grid.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod returns to the seat of his #78 for the first time since Loudon, taking the place of Andy Lally, who himself relieved Kyle Tilley at Indianapolis and finished 39th with rear gear trouble.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Ty Dillon is not entered after the Gaunt Brothers team withdrew in Indianapolis.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (August 19, 1995): Scott Lagasse picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Truck Series career when his #24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet crashed after 5 laps of the Stevens Beil Genuine Car Parts 150 at Flemington, New Jersey. Lagasse, who started 4th, drew the first of 11 cautions in the 151-lap race won by Ron Hornaday, Jr.

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