Thursday, November 4, 2021

PREVIEW: Qualifying adds extra intrigue to Phoenix championship weekend will be a B-post sponsor to Norm Benning's #6 on Friday.
PHOTO: @NormBenning6

For the first time, I will be covering the action trackside in the championship race. Among the storylines will be this year’s LASTCAR Championship winners, as all three have come down to the final race of the season. The clinch scenarios for those battles can be found here. So, be sure to stay tuned to my Twitter feed @LASTCARonBROCK all weekend long!

Friday, November 5, 2021 (8:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 22 of 22
Championship Race
Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Reaume

#4-John Hunter Nemechek
#21-Zane Smith
#88-Matt Crafton
#99-Ben Rhodes

There are 41 drivers entered for 36 spots as qualifying returns for the finale, meaning five teams will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Jordan Anderson and Sage Karam swap driving duties this weekend with Anderson returning to the Truck Series for just the ninth time in 2021 and first since his 11th-place performance in Talladega. Lucas Oil, the race’s sponsor, jumps on board while 32nd-place Martinsville finisher Karam will instead run Saturday’s XFINITY race (see below).

TEAM UPDATE: #6-Norm Benning Racing
As reported here yesterday, has joined Norm Benning Racing as an associate sponsor this Friday, taking a spot on the b-post of a white #6 Chevrolet. This truck has been prepared in the Niece Motorsports shop, surely an asset as Benning has to make the field on speed. If he does, it will be Benning’s first Phoenix start since 2017.

DRIVER CHANGE: #9-CR7 Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #98-ThorSport Racing
Las Vegas winner Christian Eckes is back in the #98 Curb Records Ford for the finale, his tenth start of the year and first since that night. This again moves Grant Enfinger, 21st in Martinsville, to the #9 CR7 entry, replacing 38th-place Martinsville finisher Colby Howard.

DRIVER CHANGE: #25-Rackley-W.A.R.
Willie Allen’s return to NASCAR at Talladega was not a one-off as he is back in the Rackley-W.A.R. Chevrolet this week, taking the place of 28th-place finisher Josh Berry. Allen has two Truck starts at Phoenix, but none since 2007, when he ran 17th for ThorSport, meaning he has yet to run on the current post-2011 reconfiguration.

DRIVER CHANGE: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
In a year that has seen him early solid XFINITY Series runs with Our Motorsports after a frustrating start for Joe Gibbs Racing while also making a few Cup runs with the Gaunt Brothers, Ty Dillon will on Friday aim for his first Truck start since the 2018 Eldora race. This time, the three-time Truck Series race winner will drive in place of Bret Holmes in his #32 with Southern States Bank as sponsor. Holmes finished 20th last week.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Niece Motorsports
The preliminary entry list had no driver listed to take the place of Jesse Iwuji, who ran 30th last week in Martinsville. That changed after the Reaume team contacted Chris Hacker’s agent, and put together a deal with sponsor Dropout Kings to extend Hacker’s part-time season. If he qualifies, this will be Hacker’s fourth series start. Hacker had previously believed his season had ended last week in Martinsville, where he ran a strong 16th in the Al Niece’s #45. That entry will go this week to Lawless Alan, marking his ninth start of the year and first since a 38th in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Reaume himself will not run this weekend’s finale following a 34th-place finish in Martinsville. In his place will come west coast standout Will Rodgers, whose only previous Truck start was this summer at Watkins Glen, where a drive for Dawson Cram was derailed by early transmission issues after he was forced off-track in the opening laps. 

RETURNING: #44-Niece Motorsports
It was announced this week that Dean Thompson, 11th in this year’s ARCA Menards West Series rankings, would run full-time for Al Niece’s team in 2022. To kick off the effort, Niece has brought back his #44 entry for the first time since Morgan Alexander’s last-place run in Knoxville, and Thompson will run with Thompson Pipe Group as sponsor. Thompson finished 15th in the West race here in March.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Not among the entrants this week are either of Ray Ciccarelli’s two trucks. Last week, only the #49 was entered with Roger Reuse, who ran 35th in the #49 Ford. The CMI team’s #83 has not been entered since COTA, and missed all three races where it attempted to qualify, not counting a withdrawal on the Daytona Road Course.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Drew Dollar and sponsor Sunbelt Rentals will close out the year for KBM’s #51 team. Dollar’s best series run of the year remains his 10th-place effort in the Daytona opener. Since then, he’s run no better than 20th with a pair of DNFs in his seven total starts. Dollar takes the place of Corey Heim, who ran 11th in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
After Timmy Hill put up a 10th-place finish in an unsponsored truck at Martinsville, brother Tyler takes the wheel for the eighth time this year and first since his thrilling runner-up to Tate Fogleman in Talladega. The Chevrolet is again listed without a primary sponsor.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is not entered after his 6th-place performance in Martinsville.

RETURNING: #96-Peck Motorsports
Returning to the circuit is Todd Peck, whose lone series start this year came at Pocono, where he brought sponsor Holla Vodka to Cram Racing Enterprises’ #41, yielding a 29th-place finish. This time, Peck is entered in his family’s #96 Chevrolet, whose only two previous attempts this year were a pair of DNQs at Daytona and the spring race in Darlington. Peck has just one Truck start at Phoenix, which came in 2012, but that night he finished a solid 18th for current XFINITY Series team owner Bobby Dotter.


Saturday, November 6, 2021 (8:30 P.M. ET, NBCSN)
XFINITY Race 33 of 33
Championship Race
XFINITY Series Championship at Phoenix
2020 Last-Place Finisher: C.J. McLaughlin

#9-Noah Gragson
#16-A.J. Allmendinger
#18-Daniel Hemric
#22-Austin Cindric

There are 42 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning six teams will be sent home.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
Stephen Leicht and Timmy Hill will swap rides at MBM this week. Leicht, who ran 21st at Martinsville, will drive the #13 with both Jani-King and Sharelife Vacations as sponsor. Hill, whose #13 was eliminated under metric qualifying, will steer the #61 in what he anticipates will be his 16th series start of the year and first since Labor Day weekend in Darlington.

DRIVER SWAP: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Also swapping cars are Joe Graf, Jr. and J.J. Yeley. Graf carries new sponsorship from Model Electronics as he takes his turn in the #17, following a 15th-place run in Martinsville. Yeley, who finished just one spot behind Graf last Saturday, takes over the #07 with Firman Power Equipment as the listed backer.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Blaine Perkins returns to the site of his XFINITY Series debut with returning sponsorship from Raceline on his #23 Chevrolet. The one-time stage winner at Talladega takes the place of Natalie Decker, who ran a solid 25th on the lead lap in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Dylan Lupton seeks his fourth XFINITY Series start in these closing months of the season, taking the place of Colin Garrett, who ran 14th at Martinsville. Marques General Contracting is the listed sponsor of the #26 Toyota, which has shown steady improvement all year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
Sage Karam’s aforementioned ride swap with Jordan Anderson puts him into the #31 which finished 28th last week with Josh Berry. Karam and the Montage Mountain look to keep the momentum going after finishing no worse than 26th in his first three series starts, led by his 16th at Bristol. Both Karam and Santino Ferrucci, not entered this week, have shown that open-wheel drivers can still surprise in NASCAR. Anderson, meanwhile, has also announced that Myatt Snider will be driving for the #31 team in 2022.

In anticipation of expanding into a two-car team for 2022, RSS has brought back their #38 entry for the first time this year. RSS had previously entered a second car in this year’s superspeedway events with Jason White driving – first under their own collaboration with Reaume Brothers Racing (#23), and then under the Motorsports Business Management banner (#66). This weekend, RSS will bring back their #38 team for the first time since Jeff Green’s 29th-place run at Talladega in June of 2020, and Ryan Sieg will attempt to qualify it. The primary #39 will go to younger brother Kyle Sieg, who returns for the first time since an accident left him 34th in his debut at Dover. Kyle was driving for DGM Racing at the time.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
Preston Pardus survived his first NASCAR oval track start at Martinsville last week, finishing on the lead lap in 18th place. This week, Spencer Boyd will run in his place, having moved over from Jimmy Means Racing’s 30th-place finishing #52 to make way for Joey Gase. Gase will run double-duty with Sunday’s Cup race (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
The fleet #54 goes to Truck Series playoff contender John Hunter Nemechek this week with Mobil 1 as sponsor. This will be Nemechek’s fifth start of the season, but his last time out in Texas, he went to victory lane. He takes the place of Ty Gibbs, who finished just 27th in Martinsville after a tremendous four-win season in just 18 starts.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
A litany of mechanical issues at the before the Martinsville race even started soured Mike Harmon’s season debut, where he ultimately finished in 39th. Gray Gaulding this week returns to the #74 for the first time since Kansas, where he himself finished 39th with engine woes.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Eliminated from the Truck Series playoffs in the final laps of last week’s Martinsville race, Sheldon Creed will make just the fourth XFINITY start of his career and first since the 2019 summer race at Daytona, where he ran 34th for JD Motorsports after a late-race crash. Creed and sponsor Global Industrial take the place of Akniori Ogata, who had a career night in Martinsville with a series-best 26th-place finish in only his third series start – one spot ahead of Ty Gibbs.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons climbs aboard McLeod’s #99 for his first XFINITY race since the Charlotte “Roval,” where he ran the McLeod #78 to a 24th-place finish. Parsons takes the place of Ryan Ellis, who finished 23rd at Martinsville – his second-best of the year behind a 16th at Darlington with the same team.


Sunday, November 7, 2021 (3:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 36 of 36
Championship Race
Cup Series Championship at Phoenix
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Quin Houff

#5-Kyle Larson
#9-Chase Elliott
#11-Denny Hamlin
#19-Martin Truex, Jr.

There are 39 drivers entered for 40 spots, leaving a season total of 27 short fields in 36 races. This is up significantly from last year, when only 17 of the 36 races had fewer than 40 starters. For comparison, there were 25 in 2019, 20 in 2018, 17 in 2017, and only 4 when the 40-car fields were standardized in 2016 - each also during 36-race seasons.

TEAM UPDATE: #6-Roush-Fenway Racing
The 2022 season will mark a new chapter in the history of Jack Roush’s two-car team as Brad Keselowski makes the move from Penske Racing to become part-owner and driver. Left out in the game of musical chairs is Ryan Newman, whose plans for that season are yet unknown. If Sunday does turn out to be the 725th and final Cup start for the one they call “The Rocket Man,” it will have happened at the very same track where it began on November 5, 2000 – exactly 21 years ago tomorrow.

RETURNING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
MBM will close out the year with another two-car effort for the Cup Series race, putting David Starr back behind the wheel of the #13 Ford he most recently ran at Kansas, taking 34th. Both he and Timmy Hill are entered in both the XFINITY and Cup races for the weekend with Hill again in MBM’s #66 for Sunday.

TEAM UPDATE: #42-Chip Ganassi Racing
Among the many “lasts” to mark this weekend’s finale is the final start for the last remnant of SABCO Racing, whose team owner Felix Sabates began fielding the #42 in 1989. Starting with Chip Ganassi’s purchase of the team in 2000, when the number was retired following the tragic death of Kenny Irwin, Jr., the number was absent from the series until 2003. After that, the #42 became the only one of the three-car Chip Ganassi lineup’s numbers to survive the 2009 DEI merger and its aftermath. With Trackhouse Racing now possessing both Charters, but only running the ex-DEI #1 alongside the #99 in 2022, Sunday will mark the end of a chapter for one of the series’ long-branded numbers.

In 46 previous Cup starts at Phoenix with eight different drivers, the #42 has never won. Its best finish came with Kyle Larson on March 29, 2017. The winner that day was Ryan Newman - his 18th and most recent series win.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (November 4, 1990): Michael Waltrip picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Checker 500 at Phoenix when his #30 Maxwell House Coffee Pontiac was collected in a six-car pileup on Lap 49. Waltrip would score exactly one last-place finish in five of his first six full-time Cup seasons, excluding only 1987.

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