Tuesday, February 15, 2022

PREVIEW: New teams and team expansions crowd all three garage areas in Daytona

PHOTO: @Nyracingteam

Thursday, February 17, 2022 (7:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
CUP Exhibition Races
Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finishers: Josh Bilicki, B.J. McLeod

There are 42 drivers entered for 40 spots, meaning two teams will be sent home after Thursday’s “Duel” races. Team and driver changes reflect changes since the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on February 6. For more on the offseason changes, check out the preview article for that race here.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
After Ryan Preece raced his way into the main event during the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, David Ragan will make his 15th consecutive start in the Daytona 500. Ragan brings with him returning sponsorship from Select Blinds as he takes the wheel of Rick Ware’s #15 Ford. An early crash while driving for Front Row Motorsports left Ragan 38th in this race last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Fresh off his first NASCAR victory – and championship – in last November’s XFINITY Series title race at Phoenix, Daniel Hemric makes his return to the Cup Series for the first time since he secured Rookie of the Year in the 2019 finale at Homestead. Since Kaulig Racing acquired two Charters in their push to Cup, Hemric will make his first 500 since that year, when he finished 34th for Richard Childress Racing. Hemric, sponsored by Heritage Pool Supply Group, takes the place of A.J. Allmendinger, who will instead focus on this week’s XFINITY race.

NEW TEAM: #27-Team Hezeberg
In 2007 and 2008, Jacques Villenueve attempted to qualify for the first two superspeedway races with the “Car of Tomorrow.” Driving the #27 for Bill Davis Racing, he made his series debut at Talladega, but a crash in his qualifying race left him out of the Daytona 500. This year, the Formula One World Champion is back – again in the #27, and again in a brand-new car – but this time in a joint effort between Reaume Brothers Racing and Hezeberg Systems out of the Netherlands. Villenueve will attempt the 500 field in a ride he’ll share with Loris Hezemans on the road courses and possibly the short tracks.

RETURNING: #44-NY Racing Team
Last of the Cup teams to be announced is the return of Johnathan Cohen’s NY Racing Team, which has been missing in action since November 18, 2018 at Homestead. At the time, J.J. Yeley was their driver, and the team had been using the former BK Racing Charter acquired by Front Row Motorsports. This time around – much like their successful 500 bid in 2015 with Reed Sorenson – there is no Charter to rely upon. But they do have an ace up their sleeve – Greg Biffle has been missing in action for even longer – November 20, 2016 was his last Cup start in Jack Roush’s now shuttered #16 team. Biffle has since found new life driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series with a pair of starts, including a win in his NASCAR return at Texas in 2019. Back behind the wheel, Biffle’s #44 Chevrolet carries sponsorship from Grambling State University, Urban Edge Network, and HBCU League Pass. Social media posts showed the car being prepared in the Richard Childress Racing shop.

NEW TEAM: #50-The Money Team
This week also marks the debut of the long-rumored The Money Team, the first racing venture from boxing champion Floyd Mayweather. Michael and Matt Kohler and Bill Wohlemann - the co-owners of the now closed StarCom Racing – helped TMT’s co-owner William Auchmoody get a race car for Daytona, which has signed sponsorship from Pit Viper sunglasses and brought on Kaz Grala, who tested StarCom’s NextGen car last fall on the Charlotte “Roval.” The dazzling neon #50 Chevrolet is another of this weekend’s “open” teams looking for a fast speed in qualifying, or a good showing in Thursday’s qualifiers.

RETURNING / NUMBER, DRIVER CHANGE: #55-Motorsports Business Management
RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s two-car team – last seen in last November’s finale at Phoenix – is back with two NextGen cars of their own, having switched manufacturers from Toyota to Ford. The flagship #66 will again be driven by Timmy Hill, who two years ago was the big underdog story of SpeedWeeks when he raced his way into the 500 field. Bumper.com joined as a sponsor midway through the offseason, not long after the team’s NextGen car was displayed with Boris Said’s name on the roof. Teamed with Hill is J.J. Yeley, looking for his 334th Cup start and first since last September in Las Vegas, when he drove MBM’s #66 to a last-place finish. Yeley will run the former #13 driven last fall by David Starr, now the #55 with cryptocurrency sponsor Hex.com aboard. Both Hill and Yeley are “open” competitors not guaranteed spots in Sunday’s field.

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Last of this week’s “open” teams is the returning Beard Motorsports entry, which was one of the first to announce its intentions of running the Daytona 500. As with last year, the driver is XFINITY Series leadfoot Noah Gragson, who will carry Beard Oil as a sponsor. Gragson made a strong bid at racing into last February’s field before he was eliminated in a multi-car accident.

Friday, February 18, 2022 (7:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 1 of 23
NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finisher: James Buescher

A stacked entry list of 42 drivers for 36 spots are set to attempt the field for Friday night’s Truck Series opener at Daytona, meaning six teams will miss the cut. Among these are several new additions – particular team expansions into multi-truck organizations.

GMS Racing has reorganized for 2022. Not among its lineup for Daytona is the #2 entry with which Sheldon Creed claimed the series title two years ago. Creed will instead compete for Rookie of the Year in the XFINITY Series, where he will run Richard Childress Racing’s own #2 full-time (see below). 

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
When we last saw Norm Benning, he’d made a rare trip to Phoenix for the championship race, driving a white Chevrolet prepared in the Niece Motorsports shop with a LASTCAR.info logo on the passenger-side B-pillar. Benning struggled on his timed lap and missed the show, though his sponsor MDS A Sign Co. was confident they’d be back even stronger in 2022. However, Benning is not entered this week, and his plans are still to be announced.

NEW TEAM: #7-Spire Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Hattori Racing Enterprises
NEW TEAM: #61-Hattori Racing Enterprises
Spire Motorsports has expanded from exclusively a two-car team in Cup into the Truck Series, selecting the number of their newest Cup team, the #7. They’ve brought on Austin Hill for Daytona, bringing him from the #16 Hattori entry to run double-duty along with the XFINITY Series. Hill’s ride in the #16 goes to Tyler Ankrum, who departed the #26 entry at GMS Racing, which isn’t entered this year along with the #2. Ankrum’s arrival coincides with the HRE team expanding to two trucks, debuting the #61 with driver Chase Purdy with sponsor Bama Buggies and David S. Gray. Purdy had previously run GMS Racing’s #23, which has now gone to Grant Enfinger. After splitting rides between CR7 Motorsports and ThorSport last year, Enfinger lands another full-time ride with GMS Racing, bringing his sponsor Champion Power Equipment. The deal with the team will run through 2023 with Champion sponsoring most of those races.

NEW TEAM: #97-CR7 Motorsports
Blaine Perkins, most recently driving for Our Motorsports in XFINITY, has landed a full-time ride with Codie Rohrbaugh’s Truck Series team, which is part of a partnership with GMS Racing. With the added backing, CR7 expands to two trucks this year, putting West Virginia native Jason Kitzmiller behind the wheel of the A.L.L. Construction Chevrolet for Daytona. The 48-year-old Kitzmiller has 13 career ARCA national series starts with Rohrbaugh’s ARCA effort, earning a best finish of 8th at Talladega and Michigan in 2020.

TEAM UPDATE: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Coming into 2022, Busch Light has entered an endorsement deal with multiple female NASCAR drivers aged 21 and over, which includes longtime owner-driver Jennifer Jo Cobb and her struggling single-truck organization.

MISSING: #11-Spencer Davis Motorsports
Spencer Davis is not entered after his team withdrew prior to qualifying at Phoenix.

DRIVER SWAP: #12-Young’s Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
Last year’s Talladega winner Tate Fogleman makes the move from Randy Young’s #12 team to On Point Motorsports’ #30 Toyota effort, replacing Danny Bohn. Bohn will take Fogleman’s spot at the Young’s team – technically – as he will drive the team’s #20 Chevrolet in place of his new teammate Spencer Boyd. Boyd will run Fogleman’s former #12 truck and has brought returning sponsorship from Rimtyme for Daytona. While Boyd’s effort remains a full-time effort, Bohn will share the #20 with Matt Mills, who will come from B.J. McLeod’s XFINITY Series team to run at least four races later this year.

MISSING: #13-ThorSport Racing
NEW TEAM: #46-G2G Racing
NEW TEAM: #47-G2G Racing
Just like Grant Enfinger last year, Johnny Sauter will split time between his more familiar ThorSport entry – the #13 – and a much newer team. In fact, Sauter’s #13 isn’t entered at Daytona at all, and he will instead run a new second entry for G2G Racing, his first of up to 13 starts in the #47 LiftKits4Less.com Chevrolet. Sauter will be teamed with Matt Jaskol, who has himself been frequently endorsed by LiftKits4Less on the XFINITY Series side with Motorsports Business Management. Jaskol will run the team’s flagship #46 Chevrolet in his first full-time NASCAR ride.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
XFINITY Series upstart Riley Herbst will make only his 10th career Truck Series start and first since last February’s Daytona Road Course race, where he also drove David Gilliland’s #17 to a 5th-place finish. Herbst takes the place of Taylor Gray, who will share the entry this year with Herbst and Stewart-Haas Racing’s reserve driver Ryan Preece. Mechanix Wear is the listed sponsor for Daytona.

MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #19-McAnally-Hilgemann Racing
NEW TEAM: #91-McAnally-Hilgemann Racing
The Bill McAnally effort switches from Toyota to Chevrolet, and like Hattori Racing Enterprises, will expand to a two-truck effort. Derek Kraus remains the driver of the #19 with Shockwave Marine Suspension Seating as sponsor. The team’s new entry – the #91 – will go to Colby Howard, who previously shared JD Motorsports’ #15 entry in the XFINITY Series until last September at Darlington. As JD Motorsports has scaled back to a two-car effort (see below), Howard will attempt to make only his 6th career Truck start on Friday in a Toyota sponsored by Gates Hydraulics.

MISSING: #21-GMS Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #38-Front Row Motorsports
In addition to the #2 and #26 entries previously driven by Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum, GMS Racing has not entered the #21 entry with which Zane Smith nearly claimed the series title last fall in Phoenix. Smith has instead landed with Front Row Motorsports, filling the ride in the #38 left open by Todd Gilliland, who this year competes for Cup Series Rookie of the Year in FRM’s other #38 Ford. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #25-Rackley-W.A.R.
The Rackley-W.A.R. team struggled last year after parting ways with veteran Timothy Peters early in the season, swapping drivers between XFINITY Series standout Josh Berry and a returning Willie Allen, who closed out the year in Phoenix. This year, they have signed another full-time driver in Matt DiBenedetto, whose tenure at Wood Brothers Racing reached a rather public end in the season’s final weeks. DiBenedetto has never before started a Truck Series race, but brings with him 248 Cup starts and 69 in XFINITY.

The rumors of Jim Rosenblum closing his Truck Series team appear to be simply that, as once again he is fielding a bright red #28 Chevrolet for veteran Bryan Dauzat at Daytona. The 62-year-old Dauzat eyes his 18th series start and looks to improve on his solid 19th-place showing in this race last year. O.B. Builders remains as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes returns to the seat of his own #32 entry this week following a solid seven-race stretch of starts last year highlighted by an 11th-place finish in Richmond. The truck was most recently run by Ty Dillon last November in Phoenix, but Dillon has since returned to full-time Cup competition in the former GMS Racing #94, now the Petty GMS Motorsports #42.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Canadian Jason White will again make a bid at the superspeedway in Josh Reaume’s primary #33 Toyota. It was with this team in this race last year that White scored his first career top-ten finish, taking the 10th spot. He takes the place of Chris Hacker, who was brought on at the last minute for last fall’s Phoenix finale.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #44-Niece Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Late last year, Al Niece signed on two rookies as teammates in Dean Thompson and Lawless Alan, each to a full-time ride. While Alan will remain in the same #45 as last fall, Thompson will move from the #44 to the #40 left open by Ryan Truex, who has turned his focus to the XFINITY Series with Sam Hunt Racing (see below). Thompson’s #44 goes to Kris Wright, who ran Randy Young’s #02 last November, but this week will be replaced by Jesse Little, back from his part-time XFINITY effort with B.J. McLeod Motorsports. Little will share the #02 this year with Kaz Grala.

MISSING: #41-Cram Racing Enterprises
Dawson Cram ran last fall at Phoenix but has not entered his truck this week.

NUMBER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
The Reaume team’s second entry, the #34 driven last fall by Will Rodgers, has been replaced with the #43 and the iconic red-white-and-blue colors of Richard Petty’s 1992 “Fan Appreciation Tour” car, complete with sponsorship from STP. The change is for ARCA driver Thad Moffitt, who will continue the Petty legacy with a bid at his Truck Series debut. Moffitt, who has 44 career ARCA starts, will run a limited schedule this season in a combined effort between Josh Reaume and GMS Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Corey Heim will run 15 of the 23 races in 2022, starting with Friday’s Daytona opener. He takes the place of Drew Dollar, who will instead open the season in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 on the XFINITY side (see below).

MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy and Tyler Hill will swap from Chevrolet to Toyota in 2022, bringing on sponsorship from Coble Enterprises, which backed Timmy late last season in XFINITY. This will now be a full-time effort for the season, and there are plans to add a second entry later this season. That second entry, likely the #5, has not been entered this week, but Timmy will run the #56 in a double-duty bid, replacing Tyler, who ran last fall in Phoenix.

TEAM UPDATE: #66-ThorSport Racing
ThorSport’s part-time #66 team, which Paul Menard and Ty Majeski both ran to several strong runs last year, is now Majeski’s to run full-time. Cincinnati Tools and TSport are the listed sponsors as Majeski seeks his first Truck start since last summer in Gateway.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman and Charlie Henderson are back in action at Daytona, seeking another superspeedway win in the Food Country USA. Last year, Kligerman scored back-to-back top-five finishes at Watkins Glen and Darlington. He hopes to make his sixth Truck start at Daytona and first since 2018. His best finish here came two years before that, when he ran 3rd for Ricky Benton in 2016.

NUMBER CHANGE: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Clay Greenfield returns to the number of his racing past – the #84 – in an all-out one-off effort to make the race in Daytona. Backyard Blues Pools is the listed sponsor of the team’s Chevrolet, fielded by Bruce Cook.

MISSING: #96-Peck Motorsports
Todd Peck and his Holla Vodka Chevrolet withdrew before the action in Phoenix, and is not entered this week.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Conspicuously absent from Daytona is Cory Roper, who was seconds from winning the race last year, and was entered last fall at Phoenix. Future plans for driver and team are still to be announced.

Saturday, February 19, 2022 (5:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
XFINITY Race 1 of 33
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300 at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Alex Labbe

A massive entry list of 47 drivers will contest just 38 spots in qualifying as nine will be sent home after time trials.

MISSING: #0-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt parted ways with JD Motorsports at the end of last season and has taken his ForeverLawn sponsorship to join Sam Hunt Racing. Earnhardt will run the Daytona opener in the team’s second part-time entry, the #24, which hasn’t run since last summer on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit. Ryan Truex will run SHR’s flagship #26, taking the place of Dylan Lupton, who ran it in last year’s finale. After this race, Earnhardt will share the #26 with Truex, Derek Griffith, and a returning John Hunter Nemechek.

DRIVER CHANGE: #1-JR Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #8-JR Motorsports
After a stellar part-time schedule in 2021 with two series wins and starts in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, Josh Berry will run for JR Motorsports full-time in the #8, carrying sponsorship from Tire Pros, Harrison’s Workwear, and Jarrett Systems. Berry takes the place of Sam Mayer, who moves to JRM’s #1 in place of Michael Annett, who last fall retired from full-time racing. Mayer carries sponsorship from Accelerate Pro Talent.

DRIVER CHANGE: #2-Richard Childress Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Kyle Weatherman parted ways with Mike Harmon Racing at the end of last season, opening the #47 ride for a returning Gray Gaulding, who has run one-offs for MHR in recent years. Weatherman makes the move to Mario Gosselin’s #92 entry, formerly driven by Josh Williams, and carries his MHR sponsors WolfPack Racing, The Peace Officers Research Association of California, plus LS Tractor. Williams moves to B.J. McLeod’s team, taking over the flagship #78 from Sheldon Creed, and bringing his many backers, led by Alloy Employer Services and Sleep Well, Inc. for a new full-time effort. Creed will compete for ROTY in the RCR #2, replacing Myatt Snider and bringing Whelen as sponsor. Snider moves to Jordan Anderson’s #31, taking the place of Phoenix driver Sage Karam, who later this season will run Alpha Prime Racing’s second car, the #45 (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #10-Kaulig Racing
MISSING: #15-JD Motorsports
NEW TEAM: #27-Our Motorsports
Johnny Davis’ team scales back from four full-time entries to two, keeping Ryan Vargas in the #6 and closing the #0 left vacant by the departing Jeffrey Earnhardt. His only other entry is the #4, which sees Bayley Currey – formerly of JDM’s shuttered #15 – taking over for Landon Cassill. Cassill moves to Kaulig Racing in the #10 full-time this year with Voyager as sponsor, replacing last year’s Talladega Jeb Burton. This stands as perhaps Cassill’s best XFINITY Series ride since he drove for JR Motorsports in 2010. Burton moves to Our Motorsports’ new third team, the #27, with sponsorship from State Water Heater and Alsco. Burton also looks for a strong start with a returning Brett Moffitt in the #02 and Anthony Alfredo joining to run the #23 (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #11-Kaulig Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
In addition to sharing the #16 Cup ride with A.J. Allmendinger and Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric will inherit Kaulig Racing’s flagship #11 for a full-time effort, moving over from his championship-clinching #18 Joe Gibbs Racing effort. The Kaulig entry became available after Justin Haley secured Kaulig’s full-time Cup ride in the #31. Taking over the JGR #18 from Hemric will be Drew Dollar, who will run this year’s superspeedway races, and eyes his XFINITY debut on Saturday. Following Dollar into the #18 at Fontana is a returning Trevor Bayne with Devotion Nutrition as sponsor, kicking off a part-time effort of his own.

MISSING: #13-Motorsports Business Management
MISSING: #61-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
RETURNING: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Carl Long’s XFINITY program has scaled back from three cars to only the flagship #66, which will be run by J.J. Yeley, who takes the place of David Starr and will attempt a double-duty bid at Daytona. Remot Health Solutions is Yeley’s sponsor. Starr, the defending LASTCAR XFINITY Series Champion, moves to a returning #08 entry fielded by Bobby Dotter with Ticket Smarter and Special Report as sponsors. Stephen Leicht, who ran MBM’s #13 last fall, is not entered this week, along with the #13 and #61 entries.

MISSING: #17-SS-Green Light Racing
MANUFACTURER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Speaking of Bobby Dotter’s team, SS-Green Light has entered into a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and has thus switched manufacturers from Chevrolet to Ford. Joe Graf, Jr. returns to the #07 after he ran the #17 in last fall’s Phoenix finale. The #17 will itself scale back to a part-time schedule with Cup regulars Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe splitting driving duties. Neither are entered this Saturday as the #17 is not on the entry list.

MISSING: #20-Joe Gibbs Racing
MISSING: #22-Penske Racing
Noticeably absent from the entry list are both JGR’s #20 and Penske Racing’s #22, which have each been among the championship contenders the last several years. Harrison Burton, who ran the #20 last year, has since signed on to a full-time ride with Wood Brothers Racing and will compete for Rookie of the Year. Austin Cindric, one of Burton’s competitors, has likewise landed a strong Ford ride in Penske’s #2, replacing Brad Keselowski. While JGR will still field three cars this year, Penske has essentially paused their XFINITY program.

RETURNING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
RCR’s #21 team returns with Austin Hill coming over from the Truck Series to battle teammate and fellow Truck Series contender Sheldon Creed for Rookie of the Year. Sponsors on this car will include Bennett Family of Companies (which is the primary for Daytona), United Rentals, and Global Industrial.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
As Blaine Perkins lands a full-time Truck Series ride with CR7 Motorsports, Anthony Alfredo comes down from his challenging Cup Series rookie campaign with Front Row Motorsports to drive the surprising #23 Chevrolet fielded by Chris Our. Dude Wipes, Alfredo’s backer for many of his Cup starts, joins as sponsor this week.

The second RSS Racing entry - #38 – will run a majority of the 2022 season – 14 races with newcomer Parker Retzlaff, and another 10 with a returning C.J. McLaughlin. Their third car, the #28, also returns to the circuit, starting at Daytona, with Kyle Sieg running Daytona for the first time since his 5th-place run in last year’s ARCA 200. Kyle ran the #39 last fall at Phoenix to a 27th-place finish, but Ryan Sieg will remain in the flagship entry this year.

RETURNING: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
When we last saw Josh Reaume’s #33 XFINITY Series entry, it had fallen short of making last year’s race on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit with Loris Hezemans behind the wheel. The car returns to qualify at Daytona, this time with Natalie Decker behind the wheel. Decker began last year driving what is now Our Motorsports’ #23, which at the time was a joint effort between Reaume and RSS Racing. She seeks her sixth XFINITY start and first in this race.

NEW TEAM: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji has joined forces with NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith to form his own XFINITY Series team, taking on the #34 in honor of the late Wendell Scott. Equity Prime Mortgage has so far signed to eight races. Like Decker, Iwuji seeks his sixth XFINITY start and first in this race.

NEW TEAM: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
NEW TEAM: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Joey Gase, the 2021 LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, has joined with fellow XFINITY Series driver Patrick Emerling to form Emerling-Gase Motorsports, bringing back the #35 that Gase ran earlier in his racing career. Gase will be the primary driver, though Shane Lee will run the #35 in Daytona – Lee’s first XFINITY start since H2 Motorsports collapsed in September 2019. At Daytona, Gase will run his team’s second car, the #53 – both cars sponsored by Kitty Kat Coin. Gase ran the #52 for Jimmy Means Racing last fall in Phoenix, but for the first four races of 2022, that car will be driven by a returning Harrison Rhodes. Rhodes has not made a XFINITY start since November 18, 2017 at Homestead, when electrical issues in a JD Motorsports car left him next-to-last.

Josh Bilicki steps in for Alex Labbe in the #36 for Daytona, bringing his sponsorship from Zeigler Automotive Group and Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts. He takes the place of Alex Labbe, who will still run this car for 18 races in 2022, starting next week in Fontana. Labbe will instead run DGM’s #90 in Daytona, taking the place of last fall’s driver Spencer Boyd, who will only be entered in Friday’s Truck race with Young’s Motorsports.

TEAM UPDATE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
NEW TEAM: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
The former Martins Motorsports team formally transitions into Alpha Prime Racing at Daytona, and boasts a large group of drivers sharing the seat of the #44. In addition to Martins, who ran last fall at Phoenix and will run the Daytona opener, are Rajah Caruth, Ryan Ellis, and Caesar Bacarella. Bacarella, now cleared by NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, will debut the team’s new second car, the #45, and sponsor Lilly Finance. This year, the #45 will be split between Bacarella, Ellis, Sage Karam (who ran for Jordan Anderson last fall in Phoenix), Kaz Grala, and Howie DiSavino III. Ellis had most recently driven for MHR, which failed to qualify the #74 at Phoenix, but Tim Viens will run in his place this week as Gray Gaulding’s teammate.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Ty Gibbs was electric last year, scoring his first of four wins in his series debut on the Daytona Road Course. He returns to the #54 on the Daytona oval, taking the place of John Hunter Nemechek.

TEAM UPDATE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
After NASCAR prohibited his full-time sponsorship deal with LGBCoin.io, Brandon Brown indicated over the offseason he still has multiple sponsorship partners returning for 2022, starting with “Trade The Chain” for Daytona. LGBcoin.io will still start its two-year personal endorsement deal this season.

RETURNING: #77-Bassett Racing
One year ago, Bassett Racing’s planned full-season debut had to be scaled back after they failed to qualify for the Daytona opener. The team made just one start all year, putting Austin Dillon behind the wheel for the COTA inaugural. This year, the #77 team is back with Ronnie Bassett, Jr. behind the wheel of the Jerry Hunt Supercenter Chevrolet.

TEAM UPDATE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DGM brings back their part-time fourth entry – the #91 – and has opened the door for B.J. McLeod’s part-timer Mason Massey to run most of the season with sponsorship from BRUNT Workwear. Massey previously ran most of his races in McLeod’s #99, which transitions from a rotating group of drivers to a single full-time entry for a returning Stefan Parsons and sponsor Sokal Digital.

Sunday, February 20, 2022 (2:30 P.M. ET, FOX)
CUP Race 1 of 36
Daytona 500 at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Derrike Cope

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (February 15, 1953): Frank Arford picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career when his #78 1953 Oldsmobile blew a gasket after 2 laps around the Daytona Beach Road Course. The Indianapolis-born Arford started a strong 5th in the field of 57, but wound up with the shortest day. In fact, he was one of 11 drivers to drop out in the first nine laps around the half-highway, half-beach oval. Arford made just four starts before he lost his life in a crash at Langhorne, Pennsylvania’s oval just four months after Daytona. He became the second driver to lose his life in NASCAR competition, following Larry Mann’s wreck at the same track the previous September. Arford’s best finish came in his final start, when he ran 12th at the Five Flags Speedway, current home of the Snowball Derby.

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