Thursday, September 2, 2021

PREVIEW: Returning teams, drivers, and even paint schemes on tap for Darlington

IMAGE: @woodbrothers21

Saturday, September 4, 2021 (3:30 P.M. ET, NBCSN)
XFINITY Race 24 of 33
Sport Clips / VFW Help a Hero 200 at Darlington
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Daniel Hemric

There are 41 drivers entered for 40 spots in Saturday’s XFINITY event at Darlington, which once again puts Motorsports Business Management’s #13 team out of the race early.

DRIVER CHANGE / DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum returns as the listed driver of the #13 that will not be in Saturday’s race as Timmy Hill moves to the #66 team that Jason White steered to a 15th-place finish in Daytona in partnership with RSS Racing. Hill is likewise listed in a Ford in place of MBM’s more familiar Toyotas.

DRIVER SWAP: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Jesse Little is back in the #78 for the first time since Watkins Glen and in the XFINITY Series for the first time since Michigan. Shriners Hospitals will again back Little’s ride. This moves 25th-place Daytona finisher Mason Massey to the #17 team for the first time, taking the place of J.J. Yeley, who ran 13th last week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Now locked-into the Cup Series Playoffs for the first time, Tyler Reddick will get in some extra laps running Our Motorsports’ #23 in place of Blaine Perkins, who was 23rd in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Eliminated from the Playoffs by Reddick, teammate Austin Dillon will likewise run in Saturday’s race in place of 22nd-place Jordan Anderson with Swan Security joining as sponsor.

TEAM UPDATE: #44-Martins Motorsports
Big news broke on Monday when Tommy Joe Martins revealed the particulars of his decision to scale back to a partial schedule in 2022. Martins has partnered with fellow XFINITY driver Caesar Bacarella to form Alpha Prime Racing. Joining both drivers is ARCA Menards Series East standout Rajah Caruth, who will make his XFINITY Series debut at tracks near his Washington, D.C. hometown.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Gray Gaulding is back in Jimmy Means’ car for the first time since Michigan, again with Panini America as sponsor. He takes the place of Spencer Boyd, who finished 38th after early trouble in both days of the Daytona race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Darlington’s XFINITY race means another “Cup Invasion” for Denny Hamlin, who enters the Playoffs without a win in any of the 26 regular-season races. Hamlin will take the place of Cup teammate Christopher Bell in the #54, and run the same “throwback scheme” whose Cup and XFINITY wins were encumbered during the Darlington weekend in 2017.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Carson Ware will make his fourth XFINITY start of the year and seventh of his career in Mike Harmon’s #74, taking the place of Tim Viens, who ran 29th in Daytona. The younger Ware’s previous XFINITY starts have all come with SS-Green Light Racing, which had partnered with Rick Ware Racing.

B.J. McLeod will make only his third XFINITY start of the year and first since Dover, when he drove his own #99 to a season-best 21st-place finish. Fresh off his first Top 10 in the Cup Series in Daytona, McLeod will run Mario Gosselin’s #90 as he had here in the spring, yielding a 26th-place finish. He takes the place of Caesar Bacarella, 36th in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Running McLeod’s #99 this week is Ryan Ellis, who takes the place of Cup regular Chase Briscoe who finished 19th last week. Ellis brings returning sponsorship from and Keen Parts to the track where he ran a season-best 16th in the spring – his only other start in 2021 not on a road course.

CUP INVADERS: #23-Tyler Reddick, #31-Austin Dillon, #54-Denny Hamlin

Sunday, September 5, 2021 (1:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 17 of 22
Round of 10 – Race 2 of 3
In It To Win It 250 at Darlington
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Bryant Barnhill

For the second-straight race, there are just 38 drivers set to roll off in Sunday’s 40-truck field. Unlike in Gateway, however, it’s not because of team withdrawals in anticipation of metric qualifying.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Following a late withdrawal at Gateway, Norm Benning is back on the entry list in Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #9-CR7 Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #98-ThorSport Racing
Colby Howard makes his first Truck Series start since 2019, when he closed out the season driving Young’s Motorsports’ #20 at Phoenix and Homestead. The XFINITY Series part-timer for JD Motorsports will this time run for Codie Rohrbaugh as Grant Enfinger, 25th in Gateway, returns to ThorSport’s #98 in place of Christian Eckes, who isn’t entered. Highland Construction will join Grant County Mulch as Howard’s sponsor.

RETURNING: #11-Spencer Davis Racing
After a withdrawal delayed their planned return to the Truck Series, Spencer Davis will on Sunday make his first start in the division since Nashville, where he ran 25th. He ran 29th here in the spring.

MISSING: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Taylor Gray is not entered following his strong 12th-place debut in Gateway, and neither is the DGR #17 team.

MISSING: #31-On Point Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Owner-driver Josh Reaume returns to the #34 this week, taking the place of Chris Hacker, who ran 27th in his series debut at Gateway despite early mechanical trouble. On Point Motorsports’ second entry, which Hacker was originally slated to run before metric qualifying kept it out of the show, is likewise not entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
The preliminary entry list showed no driver listed for Reaume’s primary #33 entry, which Armani Williams drove to a solid 21st-place finish in Gateway. The truck has since been announced for Ryan Ellis, who will pull double-duty following Saturday’s XFINITY Series race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
Lawless Alan is back in the Truck Series for the first time since Watkins Glen, and unlike his five previous starts will not be running Reaume’s #34 entry. This time, he and sponsor will take the place of Jake Griffin in Al Niece’s #45 Chevrolet. Griffin ran 34th at Gateway after a chain-reaction accident.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli does not have any of his three entries in this week’s race, including this #49 which Roger Reuse steered to a 24th-place finish in Gateway.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Dylan Lupton will make his first Truck Series start since the 2020 finale at Phoenix, and for the first time will run the fast #51 KBM entry. Lupton takes the place of Derek Griffith, who after an early accident finished 26th in Gateway.

MISSING: #66-ThorSport Racing
ThorSport elected not to bring their #66 to Darlington, leaving Ty Majeski out of the field after his 33rd-place finish in Gateway.

TEAM UPDATE: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
One week after he was left out of a field that was ultimately shortened by withdrawals, Clay Greenfield will on Sunday make his first Truck Series start of the season. He last took the green last fall at Martinsville, taking home 22nd. Rackley Roofing, which still backs Josh Berry at Rackley-W.A.R., is again the sponsor of the #68.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is back in action for the first time since he scored fans free hoodie sweatshirts from sponsor with a 5th-place finish in Watkins Glen. Kligerman again carries Food Country USA on his Chevrolet.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Not among this week’s entrants is Cory Roper, who climbed from 37th to a quiet 17th in Gateway despite a complete lack of sponsorship.

Sunday, September 5, 2021 (6:00 P.M. ET, NBCSN)
CUP Race 27 of 36
Round of 16 – Race 1 of 3
Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington
2020 Last-Place Finisher: James Davison

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots.

MISSING: #16-Kaulig Racing
Kaz Grala is not entered following the late-race collision with Kyle Busch at Daytona that injured Grala’s left ankle. As Grala recovers, the Kaulig effort will again focus on their XFINITY program, which was again stout in Daytona.

PAINT SCHEME: #21-Wood Brothers Racing
While the spring race at Darlington was designated as the new “Throwback Weekend,” the Wood Brothers roll out their scheme this weekend. The scheme resembles Elliott Sadler’s car from 2001-2002, honoring the 20th anniversary of the Bristol race where Sadler ended the team’s eight-year winless streak. Matt DiBenedetto, who came up short of a Playoff spot, will once again make a bid at scoring the Woods’ 100th Cup win.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Rick Ware Racing
Defending Southern 500 last-place finisher James Davison is back in the #53 this week, taking the place of Garrett Smithley, who ran 30th in Daytona.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
David Starr is not entered along with MBM’s Cup effort after the pair turned in a 27th-place run in Starr’s first Daytona Cup race.

MISSING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Landon Cassill is not entered after his strong run was cut short by a wreck not of his doing, leaving him 36th in his 500th career NASCAR start. The team is reported to return at Talladega later this year.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 2, 1989): Mark Martin picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career in the Gatorade 200 at Darlington, when he qualified 8th but crashed after 7 laps in his #1 Carolina Ford Dealers Ford. It turned out to be an all-star Bottom Five that day with fellow Cup regulars Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin, and Morgan Shepherd all dropping out with mechanical issues in the first 18 laps.

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