Friday, August 13, 2021

PREVIEW: Stacked Indy weekend will include battle of the “road ringers” in XFINITY Series qualifying

PHOTO: Carl Long Motorsports Facebook

Saturday, August 14, 2021
XFINITY Race 21 of 33
Pennzoil 150 at Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

This weekend sees the return of qualifying, and a 44-car entry list to contest the 36 spots. This means eight teams will miss the show, and several on the bubble have hired road course specialists.

DRIVER CHANGE: #0-JD Motorsports
Johnny Davis’ team has stacked its lineup with three of its four entries all going to “road ringers.” The #0 team will swap out Jeffrey Earnhardt, who finished last in this race last year, and put in Spencer Pumpelly, who finished last in his most recent XFINITY start at Road America after a hard crash. The only JDM car with its regular driver this weekend is the #4, which will again be piloted by Landon Cassill.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod has already adopted Davis’ strategy at both COTA and Road America, and will tout a three-driver “road ringer” lineup of his own. Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick – still winless on the Cup side in 2021 – will run the #99 in place of Watkins Glen last-place finisher Kyle Tilley. Tilley will move to McLeod’s #5 in place of Matt Mills, who finished just two spots ahead of Tilley in New York. ERA Motorsport will again back Tilley while Unibet Official Sportsbook sponsors Harvick.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Second of the JDM “road ringers” will be Ryan Eversley, who makes his XFINITY Series debut. We last saw Eversley at Road America, where he made his Cup debut with Rick Ware Racing, finishing next-to-last in the #53. Eversley takes over for fellow “road ringer” Michael Munley, who cleared the “Crash Clock” after his hard early crash in Turn 5 to finish in 35th.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Shigeaki Hattori’s team will this week provide support for the #61, putting the Truck Series’ most recent winner Austin Hill back in an XFINITY car for only the third time this year and the first since Pocono. Hill’s return moves Stephen Leicht back to the #13 in place of David Starr, who isn’t entered. Leicht will carry his Jani-King sponsor and attempt to qualify an entry that has not taken the green flag since Leicht himself finished 26th at Road America.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Mike Skeen joins fellow Pirelli World Challenge alumni Ryan Eversley in the XFINITY Series garage, and both will be teammates at JD Motorsports. Skeen takes the wheel for Colby Howard, who ran 31st at Watkins Glen. This will be only the second XFINITY start for Skeen, who made his series debut at Watkins Glen three years ago, finishing 28th with the same #15 team.

DRIVER CHANGES: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
This Saturday was to mark the return of “Mad” Max Papis to the driver’s seat in NASCAR for the first time since 2013, when he ran a combined five races across the top three national series. That changed on Thursday, when the vaccinated Papis reported he had tested positive for COVID-19. Taking his place will be J.J. Yeley, who was briefly entered as the #17 team’s driver before the initial news on Papis. Yeley made his most recent series start at Loudon, where he finished 23rd. Josh Bilicki, who ran the #17 at Watkins Glen, will instead run SS-Green Light’s sister car, the #07, in place of Joe Graf, Jr., who ran 30th at The Glen.

NEW TEAM: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
As announced earlier this month, Sam Hunt Racing will field a second car for the first time, putting in regional series standout Will Rodgers. Rodgers, whose Truck Series effort at The Glen nearly resulted in a last-place finish, will make his second XFINITY start of the year and first since Nashville. Good Rx and Race To End Hep-C are listed as sponsors.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
This weekend’s schedule includes points-paying events for both NASCAR and the IndyCar Series, opening the opportunity for drivers to try their hand at each. Taking up the challenge from the IndyCar side is Sage Karam, an eight-time starter of the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of 7th just this year. While not in this weekend’s IndyCar race, Karam will take the wheel of Jordan Anderson’s #31 in XFINITY, taking the place of Cup regular Erik Jones, who wrecked at The Glen. Karam carries sponsorship from Montage Mountain.

NEW TEAM: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Coming into this year, the Reaume Brothers had planned to field the #23 team along with RSS Racing, the two together combining into a full-season effort. That deal apparently changed when Our Motorsports acquired RSS’ share of the #23 to take the place of Our’s own second car that had failed to qualify during the opening rounds. With Chris Our now sticking with Cup regular Austin Dillon in their #23 this weekend, Reaume has now entered a different car number – the #33. The driver is Loris Hezemans, who earlier this year ran for both Motorsports Business Management (Phoenix) and DGM Racing (Pocono). This will be the Dutchman’s first XFINITY start on a road course since 2019, when he ran 22nd in his series debut for B.J. McLeod.

RETURNING: #42-Motorsports Business Management
Joining Hezemans among the international contingent is Giorgio Maggi of Switzerland. Maggi has competed in NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series for the last two years, taking three wins in the Elite 2 series in 2019 and finishing just nine points back of series champion Lasse Soerensen of Denmark. Maggi will run MBM’s #42 team, which hasn’t entered a race since Road America, where Timmy Hill qualified 29th and finished 20th. According to, if Maggi qualifies, he will be the first Swiss driver to start a NASCAR national touring race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Not among the “road ringer” group is Jimmy Means Racing, which picked up Dave Smith last week at Watkins Glen and finished 33rd in an eventful series debut. Gray Gaulding returns to the driver’s seat for the first time since Atlanta and looks to bounce back from his DNQ at Road America.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Matt Jaskol is back for his sixth XFINITY start of 2021 and his first since Texas, where he ran in 27th. Auto Parts 4 Less is again the sponsor of his Supra, in which he takes the place of Timmy Hill. Hill finished 29th at Watkins Glen, the first driver off the lead lap.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
When not in the broadcast booth for the road courses, Andy Lally has been behind the wheel, and this weekend is no exception. Lally rounds out B.J. McLeod’s “road ringer” trifecta, bringing back Lemons of Love as sponsor. He takes the place of Jesse Little, who ran 27th at The Glen last week. Surprisingly, Lally didn’t run this race last year.

CUP INVADERS: #23-Austin Dillon, #99-Kevin Harvick

Sunday, August 15, 2021
CUP Race 24 of 36
Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

There are exactly 40 drivers entered for as many spots, marking the first “full” 40-car field since Road America, four races ago. This is also just the sixth “full field” in 24 races in 2021, and only the fourth of those to be set by qualifying speed.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Fresh off last Sunday’s inaugural Nashville street course race in IndyCar, Cody Ware will be the only driver entered in both this weekend’s IndyCar and Cup races. On Sunday, he resumes his run in the #51, moving Watkins Glen last-place finisher James Davison back to the #15 in place of open-wheeler R.C. Enerson. Enerson isn’t entered in the Cup race, but will rejoin Top Gun Racing to compete with Ware during the IndyCar event.

RETURNING: #16-Kaulig Racing
RETURNING: #33-Penske Racing
Noticeably absent from the Cup Series road course events at Sonoma and Watkins Glen - but now returning to action Sunday - are both A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric. This marks the first time either have started a Cup race since Road America back on Independence Day weekend. For Cindric, this will be his seventh and final Cup start of 2021 before he takes over Penske Racing’s #2 at the start of 2022.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
While Timmy Hill will not compete in this weekend’s XFINITY race, he will make his return to the Cup garage for the first time since the Pocono double-header. Back in MBM’s #66 Toyota, Hill will carry sponsorship from AAW Luxury Cars with returning sponsor

WITHDREW: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Ty Dillon was originally slated to join A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric in returning to the Cup Series for the first time since Road America. But early in the week, the Gaunt Brothers Racing team withdrew their #96, leaving the remaining 40 entries to fill the field.

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

The Truck Series takes the week off and will return in Gateway for the opening round of the 2021 Truck Series Playoffs.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (August 13, 1961): Dave Mader, Jr. picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Western North Carolina 500 at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway when his #96 1961 Chevrolet dropped out after 64 laps because of the right-front wheel. This event was shortened from 500 laps to just 258 after the paved surface started to come apart. Junior Johnson led the event from start to its early finish. The father of current ARCA Menards Series part-timer Dave Mader III, Dave Jr. made his only six Cup starts in 1961, but was involved in other forms of racing for 25 years. He was also a master mason, bricklayer, and invented the tennis court roller for finishing tennis courts. He died on July 21st of this year at age 90.

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