Thursday, July 7, 2022

PREVIEW: No DNQs, but many new and returning drivers populate Mid-Ohio and Atlanta fields

IMAGE: @LuptonDylan
by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, July 9, 2022 (1:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 15 of 23
O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 at Mid-Ohio
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

Saturday’s Truck Series race could complete the first streak of nine consecutive first-time Truck Series last-place finishers since the first nine Truck races ever run in 1995. Of the 36 drivers entered, only a last-place finish by one of these 15 drivers who have yet to score a LPF will tie the record.

#7-Dylan Lupton
#9-Blaine Perkins
#20-Trey Burke III
#25-Matt DiBenedetto
#32-Connor Mosack
#33-Kenko Miura
#42-Carson Hocevar
#43-Stephen Mallozzi
#44-Kris Wright
#46-Mason Filippi
#51-Corey Heim
#75-Parker Kligerman
#91-Colby Howard
#98-Christian Eckes
#02-Kaz Grala

There are 36 drivers entered for as many spots, so all will start the race. As a “Triple Truck Challenge” race, only Truck Series points-paying drivers are on the entry list. 

RETURNING: #7-Spire Motorsports
The Spire #7 is back on the entry list for the first time since Sonoma, but unlike in four of its previous five starts will not have one of Hendrick Motorsports’ Cup drivers behind the wheel. After it was originally listed as a “TBA,” climbing aboard this week is Dylan Lupton, who has not made a NASCAR start since last fall’s XFINITY race at Phoenix, where he ran 15th. He also hasn’t run a Truck Series event since last year in Talladega, where he ran 26th for the Reaume Brothers. Lupton Excavation, Inc. will sponsor the team’s Chevrolet.

MISSING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Not making the trip to the road course is Jennifer Jo Cobb, whose mechanical issues in practice ultimately led to her missing the show in Nashville.

MISSING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens is likewise not entered after post-race technical inspection bumped him out of a locked-in spot at Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Taylor Gray returns to the Truck Series for the first time since his last-place finish in Gateway. Gray’s 9th-place start in that race was equaled by his most recent road course start at COTA, where he finished 26th. Gray takes the place of part-timer Ryan Preece, who gave the #17 team its second consecutive win. Gray will look to make it three in a row on Saturday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
While no driver was listed to take the place of Stefan Parsons, 22nd in Nashville, the entry list has since been updated to show Trey Burke III. Not to be confused with the NBA star of the same name, Burke is a 17-year-old competitor in the U.S. F2000 National Championship, where he’s raced for Joe Dooling Autosports. Burke will trade his familiar #63 in open-wheel ranks for the #20 of Randy Young’s team.

Welcome back Austin Wayne Self, who on Saturday will compete in his first Truck Series race since his wife gave birth to his first child prior to the Sonoma race. Self’s most recent start came in Gateway, where he was collected in same the last-lap wreck where Tyler Hill and Carson Hocevar collided, leading to Hocevar’s injury. He finished 26th that day, one spot better than his 27th-place showing in COTA. He takes the place of Max Gutierrez, who impressed with his rally from last to 8th at Nashville. 

MISSING: #26-Rackley W.A.R.
MISSING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Tate Fogleman is not entered this week along with the second Rackley W.A.R. entry which failed to qualify at Nashville. Also missing is his former ride at On Point Motorsports, which only finished 34th when driver Camden Murphy was involved in a crash after 20 laps. The On Point team reported this week they are regrouping and plan to return next week at Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
After making his XFINITY debut in Portland, taking 28th for Joe Gibbs Racing, newcomer Connor Mosack has switched to declaring Truck Series points and will make his series debut in Bret Holmes’ #32 Chevrolet. Mosack takes the place of Holmes himself, who missed the field at Nashville by a fraction of a second.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Reaume’s two-truck team has two first-time NASCAR starters of his own. Running the flagship #33 in place of Chris Hacker, who was 29th in Nashville, is Kenko (or Kenkou) Miura, a 42-year-old competitor from Japan who has competed in both the Asian Formula 3 Series and, more recently, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series – the latter has also brought Alon Day and Loris Hezemans stateside. 

RETURNING: #41-Niece Motorsports
Another TBA on the initial entry list is a surprising Justin Marks, the co-owner of breakout Team Trackhouse, who on Saturday will make his first NASCAR national touring series start since September 30, 2018, when he finished 27th in the inaugural Cup race on the Charlotte “Roval” driving for Premium Motorsports. Marks will make his 39th Truck Series start and first since a one-off at Las Vegas with DGR-Crosley on March 2, 2018, when he finished 11th. Marks, who won a XFINITY Series race at a rain-soaked Mid-Ohio in 2016, looks to turn heads once more.

PAINT SCHEME: #42-Niece Motorsports
Carson Hocevar honors the life of fellow racer Bob Cowen this week as his #42 Premier Security Solutions Chevrolet carries a paint scheme based on Cowen’s #42 dirt late model.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
The second first-time NASCAR starter at the Reaume team is UVA undergraduate Stephen Mallozzi, who has been racing go-karts since he was nine. Mallozzi joined the Reaume team’s driver development program when he moved to Mooresville, and now prepares for his national series debut. According to the render by FRG Designs, Mallozzi’s backers include Fulkrum Competition, CompKart, Victory Sim, LLC, and fans from the NSP group on Facebook. Mallozzi takes the place of Nick Leitz, whose own debut at Nashville saw him run 26th.

After a frustrating weekend at Sonoma where he ultimately climbed out of G2G Racing’s #46, handing the wheel to Stefan Parsons, Mason Filippi has reunited with the team once more, taking the place of Nashville’s last-place finisher Chase Janes.

MISSING: #47-G2G Racing
Kaden Honeycutt is not entered after his 21st-place finish in the second G2G entry in Nashville, and the truck is not entered, either, following the issues at Sonoma.

MISSING: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Todd Bodine is not entered this week after his 27th-place finish in Nashville but will return next Saturday for his 800th and final NASCAR start. That race will be in Pocono, the closest event to his hometown.

MISSING: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Clay Greenfield is not entered after his second DNQ of the season at Nashville, his first since Daytona.

MISSING: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Justin S. Carroll is not entered after he missed the show at Nashville following his earlier DNQ in Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
After Jesse Little finished 19th in the green-and-gold #02, the ride goes back to road race ace Kaz Grala this weekend with Reudebusch Development as returning sponsor. Grala will make his sixth Truck Series start of the year and first since Knoxville, where he ran 26th.


Saturday, July 9, 2022 (5:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 17 of 33
Alsco Uniforms 250 at Atlanta
2021 Last-Place Finisher: David Starr

There are 38 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning all entered will qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Matt Mills returns to make his first XFINITY start since Charlotte, where he finished 20th, and drives the #5 for B.J. McLeod for the first time since the previous round in Texas, where he was 37th. This moves Joe Graf, Jr. - 36th in Road America due to brake issues - back to the #07 in place of Cole Custer, whose strong run last Saturday was undone by a late crash that left him 25th.

DRIVER SWAP: #6-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Also returning to his familiar ride is Ryan Vargas, back in the #6 in place of Ty Dillon, whose header issues left him next-to-last at Road America. Vargas failed to qualify for that race in Mike Harmon Racing’s #47, and hands the wheel this week to the team’s frequent driver Brennan Poole. The guaranteed starting spot is certainly a boost to the MHR effort, which has failed to qualify for five of its last seven starts, including the previous two in a row.

TEAM UPDATE: #9-JR Motorsports
Following his tangle with Sage Karam last Saturday in Road America, Noah Gragson comes into this race with 30 fewer driver and owner points, and a $35,000 fine, the result of penalties NASCAR levied on Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
After Will Rodgers had a short day in Road America with early suspension issues, Natalie Decker will make her third XFINITY start of the year and first since Nashville, where he ran 32nd in MBM’s #66. This time, Decker runs the team’s #13.

MISSING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Not among this Saturday’s XFINITY field is the Hendrick #17, which was one blown corner away from a near-perfect run at Road America with Kyle Larson behind the wheel.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Ryan Truex carries older brother Martin’s sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance on the #18 Toyota this Saturday, taking the place of 24th-place Road America finisher Sammy Smith. Ryan makes his sixth XFINITY start of the year and first since Texas, where he finished a season-best 6th, his latest of two Top Tens this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt hopes his superspeedway success in Talladega translates to Atlanta as he takes the place of 18th-place Road America finisher John Hunter Nemechek in Sam Hunt’s Toyota Supra. This will be Earnhardt’s 8th XFINITY start at Atlanta, where he finished 6th on the old configuration in 2019 and 13th on the new this past March.

TEAM UPDATE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji is this time entered to practice and qualify the #34 in place of Kyle Weatherman, who done so at Road America. Iwuji ran 22nd last week – a new career-best.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Taking the place of Trans-Am driver Chris Dyson, who was eliminated in a hard crash at Road America, is a returning team co-owner Joey Gase. A fixture on superspeedways in recent years, Gase will make his 255th series start and first since Talladega, where he ran a season-best 16th. Donate Life Georgia and Kitty Kat Coin will sponsor the #35.

Kyle Sieg returns for his 10th start of the season and first since Nashville, this time carrying sponsorship from Cedar Ridge Landscaping on his #38 Ford. The younger Sieg takes the place of road racer Patrick Gallagher, who ran 19th in Road America, and eyes a strong run at the RSS team’s home track.

DRIVER SWAP: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Caesar Bacarella, another increasing presence on superspeedways, returns to the #45 with Skyview Partners as sponsor. His previous two starts yielded a last-place finish in Daytona, then a 25th after a crash in Talladega. Bacarella’s return moves Sage Karam to the team’s primary #44 in place of 13th-place finisher Josh Bilicki. While Bilicki’s drive through a Sargento sign briefly became the header graphic for the company’s Twitter page, Karam looks to shake off his wreck with Gragson at a track where he earned stage points in March before a crash left him 32nd. Peachwood Floor Coverings is the listed sponsor for Karam.

Mason Massey rejoins Mario Gosselin’s #91 effort for the first time since Texas, where he ran 18th, and looks to follow-up his career-best 6th here in the spring. Massey takes the place of road racer Preston Pardus, whose turn at Road America saw him run 11th.

MISSING: #92-DGM Racing
Not entered this week is Gosselin’s part-time #92 team, which has not made the trip following Dexter Bean’s DNQ in Road America.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
David Starr, last year’s last-place finisher of this event, returns to the Bobby Dotter #08 in place of Andy Lally, who ran 14th in Road America. Starr’s most recent series start came at his home track in Texas, where he ran 21st. He then missed the show at Charlotte the following week.

CUP INVADERS: #48-Tyler Reddick

Sunday, July 10, 2022 (3:00 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 19 of 36
Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Atlanta
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

There are only the 36 Chartered entries, one down from the single “open” team of Team Hezeberg that arrived in Road America. This marks the 18th short field in 19 races run this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Welcome back Garrett Smithley, who has not turned laps in the NextGen car since the All-Star Open in Texas and hasn’t made a Cup points race start since Phoenix in March, when he ran 32nd. As in both races, Smithley runs Rick Ware Racing’s #15 Ford, this time with sponsorship from Fuel Juels and TrueBrands. Smithley takes the place of Joey Hand, who qualified a strong 9th at Road America before he finished 21st.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Taking the place of A.J. Allmendinger, who focuses on Saturday’s XFINITY race this week, is Noah Gragson. Having incurred the rough driving penalty mentioned above, Gragson looks to improve on his previous Cup outing at Atlanta, where he crashed out early and finished last with this same Kaulig team. This will be Gragson’s 7th Cup start of the year and first since Charlotte, where he finished 24th in the Coca-Cola 600.

MISSING: #27-Team Hezeberg
Loris Hezemans and the Team Hezeberg group are not entered this week following a faulty fuel pump that left them last in Road America. Hezemans told our William Soquet he plans to be back for the upcoming race at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod and his sponsorship from Blaster are back with the #78 team this week, taking the place of 30th-place Road America finisher Kyle Tilley. This will be McLeod’s 100th series start and first since Nashville, where he ran 32nd. He was 19th on this reconfigured track in March.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 7, 2001): Jason White scored the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas when his #93 Troxell Motorsports Dodge fell out with a blown engine after 4 laps. The run came in White’s seventh series start of his rookie season. This race – the first NASCAR national series event at Kansas Speedway – also saw the late Ricky Hendrick score his lone Truck Series win driving Hendrick Motorsports’ #17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet.

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