Thursday, April 14, 2022

PREVIEW: Bristol Dirt heralds return of Cup invaders, XFINITY visitors, and Norm Benning

PHOTO: @NormBenning6

Saturday, April 16, 2022 (8:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 6 of 23
Pinty’s Dirt Truck Race at Bristol
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Tyler Ankrum

As both drivers and teams hope for better weather in the return to the temporary dirt track at Bristol, there are now 38 drivers entered for 36 spots in the Truck Series race, meaning two will be sent home after the qualifying races (Saturday at 4:30 P.M. Eastern, FS2).

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Welcome back Norm Benning, who has not attempted a Truck Series race since he entered a Niece Motorsports entry in the 2021 finale at Phoenix. Benning has since picked up sponsorship from Circle B Diecast to back his #6 Chevrolet. Benning made the field for both dirt races last year but finished 37th at Bristol when he was parked in the middle stages. The preliminary entry list did not have Benning himself listed as driver, indicating “TBA.”

DRIVER CHANGE: #7-Spire Motorsports
On Tuesday came news that the #7 Chevrolet, with which William Byron steered to victory at Martinsville, will return to action in Bristol with yet another Hendrick Motorsports driver in Chase Elliott. This will be Elliott’s first Truck start since last summer in Texas, when he finished runner-up to John Hunter Nemechek in a one-off for GMS Racing.

MISSING: #13-ThorSport Racing
Not among the entrants this week is Johnny Sauter, who finished a strong runner-up to Byron in his reunion with ThorSport at Martinsville. Sauter finished 32nd in last year’s inaugural dirt race at Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Also coming over from the Cup Series is Harrison Burton, who has struggled in the first few rounds of his rookie campaign with the Wood Brothers. Burton takes the place of Taylor Gray in what would be his first Truck Series start since the 2019 finale at Homestead, when he closed out the year with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Still another Cup invader is Austin Dillon, who finished 3rd after a season-best race under the lights at Martinsville. Dillon, who won a preliminary race on the Bristol dirt track last year, most recently ran a Truck Series entry at Martinsville on March 23, 2019. That day, he finished 4th in a one-off for NEMCO Motorsports. This time, Dillon takes the place of newcomer Dillon Steuer in Randy Young’s #20 Chevrolet, an entry which continues to bring in different drivers.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Mike Marlar, who competed in both last year's Cup and Truck Series races on the Bristol Dirt Track, returns to competition in the primary Josh Reaume entry that was shown as "TBA" until Tuesday. Marlar takes the place of Chase Janes, who finished 25th in his series debut at Martinsville. JDS Technologies, Inc. joins as sponsor.

MISSING: #35-McAnally-Hilgeman Racing
Jake Garcia is not entered after his part-time second entry from the McAnally shop was among the three entries sent home by the rain in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Keith McGee seeks to make his 2022 debut after a five-race stint last year with the Reaume Brothers, Jordan Anderson Racing, CMI Motorsports, and Cram Racing Enterprises. The last of these at Talladega saw him score his first career top-ten finish, taking 10th after four runs no better than 29th. The Alaska-born McGee takes the place of Blake Lothian, who finished 28th in his series debut at Martinsville.

WITHDREW: #46-G2G Racing
MISSING: #47-G2G Racing
RETURNING: #49-CMI Motorsports
With Matt Jaskol parting ways with G2G Racing heading into Martinsville, where a crash left Kaden Honeycutt a distant 34th in his series debut, the #46 Toyota entry goes to Andrew Gordon, who ran this same Bristol race last year for CMI Motorsports. G2G’s #47 entry is not entered this week after it was withdrawn prior to Martinsville. UPDATE (April 15): Gordon's #46, a Ford in place of G2G's Toyotas, has had its numbers changed to #49 representing the 2022 return for CMI Motorsports. According to NASCAR, the #46 was wothdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Defending USAC National Midget Series champion and TRD development driver Buddy Kofoid will make his NASCAR debut this weekend, taking the place of team owner Kyle Busch in the fleet #51 Mobil 1 Toyota. Kofoid has one previous dirt track start in NASCAR, taking 21st at the Las Vegas dirt track during a K&N Pro Series West event in 2018.

RETURNING: #54-David Gilliland Racing
A fourth Cup invader for Saturday’s race is none other than defending Bristol Dirt Race winner Joey Logano, who brings sponsorship from Planet Fitness to David Gilliland Racing. The team brings back their #54, previously entered under the team’s DGR-CROSLEY era. This would be Logano’s first Truck Series start since March 28, 2015 at Martinsville – a race he won for Brad Keselowski Racing.

RETURNING: #62-Halmar-Friesen Racing
Jessica Friesen made her NASCAR Truck Series debut last summer in Knoxville, where she was finally able to race alongside her husband Stewart in a second HFR truck. She’s back in the Bristol race, where she was rained out last year, and looks to improve on her 26th-place showing in Knoxville.

PAINT SCHEME: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Likely inspired by the dirt track, Parker Kligerman welcomes new sponsorship from Bounty Paper Towels on his #75 Chevrolet, a truck which has often only carried the colors of team owner Charlie Henderson’s Food Country USA. That brand will still have a place on the truck’s quarter-panels.

MISSING: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Newcomer Justin S. Carroll and his family’s #90 team are not entered after he was rained out of the Martinsville field last week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Kaz Grala, just now named to drive a pair of XFINITY races for Big Machine Racing in Talladega and Dover, will replace Jesse Little in the Randy Young #02. Little finished 27th last week.

CUP INVADERS: #7-Chase Elliott, #17-Harrison Burton, #20-Austin Dillon, #54-Joey Logano

Sunday, April 17, 2022 (7:00 P.M. ET, FOX)
CUP Race 9 of 36
Food City Dirt Race at Bristol
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Anthony Alfredo

Only the 36 Chartered entries will tackle the Bristol dirt race, set to compete in Saturday’s qualifying races (6:00 P.M. Eastern, FS2).

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Back in the #16 for the first time since his last-place run in Atlanta, Noah Gragson looks for a better finish with Kaulig Racing during an off-weekend for the XFINITY Series, replacing 24th-place Martinsville finisher A.J. Allmendinger.

PAINT SCHEME: #42-Petty-GMS Motorsports
PAINT SCHEME: #43-Petty-GMS Motorsports
In a combined effort with race sponsor Food City, two competing detergent companies will back the Petty-GMS teammates. Erik Jones brings back the Tide scheme he ran last year on the #43 while teammate Ty Dillon carries Gain on the #42.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
Joining Gragson among the XFINITY drivers in Sunday’s field is Justin Allgaier, who reunites with Spire Motorsports for the first time since his last-place showing last fall in Talladega. Allgaier replaces Josh Bilicki, who finished 35th in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Congratulations to Josh Williams, B.J. McLeod’s full-time driver in the XFINITY Series, who will make his Cup debut with the team McLeod co-owns. Replacing the team co-owner, who finished last in Martinsville, Williams brings with him his sponsor Alloy Employment Services.

Saturday, April 23, 2022
XFINITY Race 9 of 33
Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

The XFINITY Series takes the weekend off and returns to action in Talladega.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (April 14, 1985): Part-time ARCA competitor Jeff Hooker of Valley City, Ohio picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the TranSouth 500 at Darlington when his #53 Smith’s Auto Service Oldsmobile lost the engine after 11 laps. This turned out to be the last of Hooker’s five career Cup starts, the best of which a 20th-place run in his 1984 debut at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

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