Friday, June 17, 2022

PREVIEW: Several quirky dirt track specialists pepper Truck Series’ second Knoxville entry list

PHOTO: @TheOnePizzaMan

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Saturday, June 18, 2022 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Clean Harbors 150 at Knoxville
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Morgan Alexander

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots in the weekend’s lone NASCAR national series event, the second and final for the Truck Series on dirt. Two teams will be sent home after four 15-lap heat races, which will begin at 7:00 P.M. Eastern.

RETURNING: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
Jordan Anderson’s Truck team returns after a one-week hiatus following Anderson’s 16th-place finish in Gateway – his third consecutive top-twenty finish in his last three attempts. After listed as “TBA” earlier in the week, driving in Anderson’s place is the first of several “dirt ringers” in Dylan Westbrook. The 23-year-old Canadian boasts three track championships at the Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario and 64 victories on North American dirt tracks. Among these is a win at this same Knoxville track just last year in a 360 sprint car. This would be Westbrook’s first start in a NASCAR national touring series race. Townline Variety is the primary sponsor.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning makes his own return to the Truck Series for the first time since the Bristol Dirt Race, where he wasn’t quite able to race his way in during his heat. Then as now, Circle B Diecast has remained as sponsor of his #6 Chevrolet, along with dozens of well-wishers whose names now decorate the rear decklid of his ride. Benning enjoyed his second-best finish of the 2021 season here in the inaugural, where he overcame damage in a late-race pileup to finish 19th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
The only Cup Series regular among Saturday’s field is Todd Gilliland, who takes the place of fellow rookie Harrison Burton, the 12th-place finisher at Sonoma. Gilliland, who ran 24th in Sonoma’s Cup race ahead of 28th-place Burton, carries sponsorship from Frontline Enterprises. This would be Gilliland’s first Truck start since the conclusion of the 2021 season in Phoenix, where he rounded out his 7th-place rank in the standings with an 8th for Front Row Motorsports in Phoenix. He ran 4th for FRM here last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Taking the place of Austin Dillon, who finished a distant 17th in Sonoma’s Truck race, is a returning Thad Moffitt with race sponsor Clean Harbors on board his #20 Chevrolet. This is the first we’ve seen of Moffitt since Atlanta, where he finished 32nd after mid-race engine woes. He’d run the season’s first three races following his 18th-place debut in Daytona, all while driving the second entry for Reaume Brothers Racing.

After the team withdrew from Sonoma in anticipation of Austin Wayne and Jennifer Self’s first child, Zepplyn Jane was born. Self, who finished last in this year’s Bristol Dirt Race (LINK), has elected to temporarily step back from driving for both this race and next week at Nashville, returning July 9th at Mid-Ohio. This time, his team will be entered in the race itself. Driving in Self’s place is Brett Moffitt, who debuted AM Racing’s second team, the #37, in this race last year with a 38th-place run. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
Joey Gase seeks only the fifth Truck Series start of his career and first since June 28, 2019, when he ran his fourth and most recent “start-and-park” effort for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing at Chicagoland. This time, he drives for On Point Motorsports, whose driver Colin Garrett was unable to run Sonoma due to a delay in receiving the results of his drug test. Josh Bilicki took over in qualifying and the race, only to be involved in a brutal accident that left him 30th. The Knoxville race sees Gase again sponsored by his longtime backer Sparks Energy, which has also fielded an entry of its own in the #53 (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
The next “dirt ringer” for Saturday is Brayton Laster, who takes the place of 33rd-place Sonoma finisher Jade Buford in Josh Reaume’s primary #33 entry. The truck this week carries a red-and-yellow scheme with “cheese flames” down the side – a scheme designed by fellow RBR driver Keith McGee that recognizes Laster’s moniker as “The Pizza Man.” Racing in honor of his mentor, C.J. Rayburn, who passed away earlier this year, Laster has been slinging the dirt since 2018, mixing Super Late Models with the occasional Figure 8 event. Just this year, he made his first two ARCA Menards Series starts for Willie Mullins, achieving a 13th-place run in his debut at Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Niece Motorsports
Taking the place of Ross Chastain, who finished 4th in Sonoma, is Tyler Carpenter. It was Carpenter who last December earned the ride after his second consecutive Gateway Dirt Nationals victory, securing the grand prize in Niece Motorsports’ “Win and You’re In” contest. Carrying sponsorship from Aggressive with associate backing from Rich Mar Florist, Carpenter seeks his own NASCAR national series debut.

TEAM UPDATE: #42-Niece Motorsports
To say the least, it’s been a tumultuous few weeks for Carson Hocevar. After another near-miss at his first series victory in Charlotte, he suffered a leg injury in a last-lap tangle with Tyler Hill, putting Daniel Suarez on standby in Sonoma. Hocevar won the pole for that Saturday’s race, only to slide off course in Turn 10 and back into the tire barrier, requiring extensive repairs from the entire Niece Motorsports team. Hocevar still started the race before handing the wheel to Sunday’s eventual first-time winner Daniel Suarez, who finished a strong 6th. Hocevar is again entered in the #42 this week with updates to follow as to a possible relief driver.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Last Saturday in Sonoma saw Brad Perez finish 22nd in just his second career start, carrying the logo on the rear decklid of his #43 I Set My Friends On Fire Toyota. This was easily the best performance for the #43 since Perez’ debut at COTA – a stretch that saw the team either contend for last place or miss the show altogether with various other drivers. While the preliminary entry list had no driver listed, the Reaume team reported on Thursday that Devon Rouse would take the wheel of the #43, which this week is a Chevrolet carrying sponsorship from nasal spray company Xlear, Inc. and Spry Dental Defense System. This would be Rouse’s second series start – he ran the inaugural Knoxville event last year in Reaume’s flagship #33, earning a lead-lap finish in 18th.

WITHDREW: #47-G2G Racing
Last weekend proved both frustrating and controversial for the G2G Racing team, which saw the #46 finish last with last-minute substitute driver Stefan Parsons after their #47 withdrew after a litany of problems. G2G has withdrawn the #47 from this week’s race with no driver listed. Taking the wheel of the #46 is Bryson Mitchell, who looks to race his older brother Braden in the #53 (see below). The two brothers have competed in late models across the south, participating in both the Durrence Layne 602 Late Model Sportsman Series and CRUSA Dirt Late Models. Sparks Energy, the same backer as Joey Gase’s #30, will sponsor Braden’s red-white-and-blue #46 Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Buddy Kofoid looks to improve on his disappointing 27th-placce finish in his NASCAR debut during the Bristol Dirt Race as he rejoins KBM in place of Sonoma winner and team owner Kyle Busch. Mobil 1 is again the primary sponsor for Kofoid’s Toyota, as it has been for his midget entry with Keith Kunz Motorsports.

NEW TEAM: #53-Sparks Motorsports
Braden Mitchell, the older sibling of the aforementioned Bryson in the #46, will drive a Chevrolet representing a brand-new team to the Truck Series circuit in Sparks Motorsports. Longtime crew chief Mike Hillman will be atop the pit box. The current render of Braden’s #53 Chevrolet, sponsored by Twisted with associate sponsorship from Sparks Energy, carries a number design reminiscent of the part-time Emerling-Gase Motorsports #53 in the XFINITY Series. Despite running for three different teams, this seems to indicate a combined effort between Gase himself in the On Point #30 along with the two Mitchell brothers.

DRIVER CHANGE: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Rejoining the HFR team in place of Todd Bodine, who finished 20th in his 798th NASCAR start last wee in Sonoma, is Jessica Friesen. This race last year saw Jessica race against her husband Stewart in a NASCAR national series race for the first time, yielding a 26th-place finish. She has since attempted the Bristol Dirt Race, only to be sent home along with Norm Benning.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman and the Henderson team are not making the trip to Knoxville despite a fine 4th-place run in this year’s Bristol Dirt Race and a solid 7th just last week in Sonoma. 

CUP INVADERS: #17-Todd Gilliland

Saturday, June 25, 2022
XFINITY Race 15 of 33
Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Stefan Parsons

Sunday, June 26, 2022 
CUP Race 17 of 36
Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Elliott

Both the XFINITY and Cup Series take the week off and will return next weekend in Nashville, where NBC will take over as lead television broadcast partner.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 17, 2006): Aric Almirola picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the Con-way Freight 200 at Michigan after his #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet finished under power, 33 laps down, following damage suffered in a crash on Lap 11. A green-white-checkered finish brought Almirola within five laps of passing Timothy Peters for 35th place. Instead, Almirola scored his first last-place run in his 14th series start. 

1 comment:

dawg said...

The fact that Buddy Koifoid is running a KBM, (read, JGR) truck tells me that Gibbs may be looking for the next Kyle Larson/Jeff Gordon. & he may well have found him. It would not surprise me to see Buddy with a full time ride next season to prepare him for being Truex's replacement if he decides to race another season.