Thursday, July 21, 2022

PREVIEW: Todd Bodine's 800th start just one of many Pocono storylines

PHOTO: @NormBenning6

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, July 23, 2022 (12:00 P.M. ET, FS1) 
TRUCKS Race 16 of 23
Regular Season Finale
CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Jack Wood

The Truck Series returns at Pocono for their last race of the “regular season,” where 38 driers are entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify. Todd Bodine will make his 800th and final NASCAR start, and no Cup Series regulars are entered. 

This race could see a series record 10th consecutive first-time last-place finisher if any of these 13 drivers finish last:

#5-Tyler Hill
#9-Blaine Perkins
#17-Ryan Preece
#22-Max Gutierrez
#25-Matt DiBenedetto
#30-Kaden Honeycutt
#42-Carson Hocevar
#43-Armani Williams
#44-Kris Wright
#51-Corey Heim
#91-Colby Howard
#98-Christian Eckes
#02-Kaz Grala

RETURNING: #5-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill and the second Hill Motorsports Toyota are back on the entry list for the first time since their disastrous last-lap collision with Carson Hocevar that led to his leg injury. Tyler’s season-best remains his 21st-place run in Kansas, where he made his first start of 2022.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Shut out of both dirt track races at Bristol and Knoxville, Norm Benning returns to his home track with a former Kevin Harvick, Incorporated chassis and new sponsorship from MDIA, Inc. Benning has 12 Truck Series starts at Pocono with a best finish of 20th in both 2012 and 2014. He’s finished all 12 races under power with 96.3% of the laps completed, including his 32nd-place run last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
While the #17 team’s win streak was snapped at Mid-Ohio, Ryan Preece will certainly be one to watch as he brings sponsor to David Gilliland’s Ford. Preece takes the place of Taylor Gray, who ran 15th in Mid-Ohio, and looks to follow up his 9th-place run in this race last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Jesse Little will make his 10th Truck Series start of the season, but unlike the previous nine will not run Randy Young’s #02 entry, which remains with Kaz Grala. Little will run the #20, which in Mid-Ohio ended up 35th after Trey Burke III’s debut ended with rear gear trouble after 16 laps. Little has been quietly consistent this year, earning top-twenty finishes in six races, including his last two at Gateway and Nashville.

Following Austin Wayne Self’s 14th-place finish in his return to Truck Series competition in Mid-Ohio, Max Gutierrez will pilot the #22 for the first time since his breakout 8th-place finish in Nashville, just his second series start. None of Gutierrez’ ten ARCA Menards Series starts came at Pocono.

RETURNING: #26-Rackley-W.A.R.
Following a frustrating DNQ in Nashville, Tate Fogleman will get a second run at securing a starting spot for Rackley W.A.R.’s second entry teamed with full-timer Matt DiBenedetto. Dickies, Realtree, and Camospace remain the sponsors for Fogleman, who eyes his 60th career Truck Series start and third at Pocono, where he ran 21st last year.

NASCAR coming to Pennsylvania means the return of Jim Rosenblum’s plucky FDNY Racing team with Bryan Dauzat again behind the wheel of the #28 Chevrolet. This would be driver and team’s first attempt since the Daytona opener, where Dauzat qualified 25th and finished under power in the 23rd position. Dauzat’s best run in four previous Pocono starts was a 22nd in 2017.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
After two previous starts this year for G2G Racing, Kaden Honeycutt makes the jump to a returning On Point Motorsports – a team that hasn’t run since Nashville, where Camden Murphy wrecked out in the early laps. The Friends of Jaclyn foundation backs the Honeycutt effort.

MISSING: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Not among the entries in Pocono is the Bret Holmes effort with which Connor Mosack claimed a 34th-place finish in Mid-Ohio due to brake issues after 37 laps.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Team owner Josh Reaume resumes driving duties for just the fourth Truck Series race this season and first since Charlotte, where he ran 31st. As in his previous three, he runs the team’s primary #33 Toyota, this time in place of Kenko Miura, who took 33rd in Mid-Ohio after losing multiple laps with repairs.

MISSING: #41-Niece Motorsports
The Al Niece effort has not entered their part-time fifth entry, the #41, which had Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks finish 31st after a hard crash late in the Mid-Ohio race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Michigan native Armani Williams is back to attempt his first Truck Series start after he failed to qualify this same second Reaume Brothers entry at Texas earlier this year. Taking the place of Stephen Mallozzi, who endured a frustrating debut weekend before he took home 22nd, Williams made his only previous Truck start last year at Gateway, where he ran 21st.

MISSING: #46-G2G Racing
For the first time in 2022 (or second if you count the ownership issues behind their entry at the Bristol Dirt Race), Tim Viens’ team G2G Racing has not entered either of its trucks in this weekend’s action. This comes after a difficult weekend in Mid-Ohio, where Mason Filippi’s #46 sputtered in the early laps, securing the team’s fourth last-place finish in nine races.

RETURNING: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
One of Saturday’s biggest storylines involves the end of a career – Todd Bodine will make his 800th and final NASCAR start, completing a part-time campaign with sponsorship from Camping World. As reported here in June, Bodine picked the Pocono race as the closest venue to his home state of New York that didn’t conflict with his television work for FS1, and he plans a big retirement party after the race. This will be Bodine’s fifth Pocono start in the Trucks, and first since 2013, when he turned a track-best 11th after leading 16 laps for Turner Motorsports.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Conspicuously missing from the garage this week is Charlie Henderson’s team, which Parker Kligerman brought to victory lane in dramatic fashion at Mid-Ohio. As of this writing, the team is still evaluating the possibility of a full-time effort in 2023.


Saturday, July 23, 2022 (5:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 19 of 33
Explore The Pocono Mountains 225 at Pocono
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Williams

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will fail to qualify.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #4-JD Motorsports
Bayley Currey announced this week that longtime NASCAR sponsor Alka-Seltzer would be backing his #4 Chevrolet this weekend.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons will make his 40th XFINITY start this Saturday and first since Nashville, where he ran a season-best 15th for the Alpha Prime effort. This time, he rejoins B.J. McLeod’s team, with which he last raced at Darlington to a 20th-place run. Parsons bumps Josh Williams – 24th last week in Loudon – back to his more familiar #78. This leaves Matt Mills, 22nd in Loudon, without a ride for Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
After a Loudon race saddled by radio issues and a blown engine, Timmy Hill rejoins Motorsports Business Management in place of 25th-place Loudon finisher Akinori Ogata. This would be Hill’s fifth XFINITY start at Pocono, where he ran a track-best 8th for MBM in 2020.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Sammy Smith, who finished 24th with engine trouble in his XFINITY debut at Road America, rejoins the JGR effort with Pilot Flying J as sponsor of his Toyota. Smith’s first oval start of 2022 sees him take the place of Trevor Bayne, who finished runner-up to Justin Allgaier in Loudon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Last year, upstart IndyCar driver Santino Ferrucci – 10th in this year’s Indy 500 – turned heads in the XFINITY Series with five finishes of 17th or better in his first seven starts, highlighted by a 13th in Las Vegas. For the first time since his stint ended with a 17th in Talladega, Ferrucci is back at the track where he ran 14th last year. Carrying sponsorship from Freedom Alliance, Ferrucci takes the place of Derek Griffith, who finished 18th after a spin in Loudon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Before the disqualifications of both Noah Gragson and Landon Cassill at Loudon, Kyle Weatherman had already secured JIM’s first top-ten finish with a sterling 10th, improving on the previous team-best of 12th he earned at Darlington. The DQs lifted Weatherman to 8th, tying his own career-best with two other teams. Regardless, Jesse Iwuji is himself entered in the #34 this week. Iwuji ran this race last year for Mike Harmon Racing and took 31st.

Following a career-best 13th for C.J. McLaughlin – just his second finish inside the Top 20 – Kyle Sieg is back aboard the #38 Ford with U.S. Hydrations and Sparkling Ice as the sponsor. Kyle matched his own career-best in his last start at Atlanta, taking home 16th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Rajah Caruth’s third XFINITY Series start will come this weekend at Pocono, where he looks to build on both his strong XFINITY run in the early laps of the Dover race before suspension issues, and his 11th-place Truck Series debut at Gateway. This will be Caruth’s first start at Pocono, having not competed on the track in his previous ARCA Menards Series starts. He takes the place of Howie DiSavino III, who ran a respectable 17th in Loudon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
This weekend is both exciting and emotional for one Sage Karam. It was at this same Pocono track in 2015 where he crashed from the lead late in an IndyCar race. And, though not his fault, it was debris from his car led to the fatal injury inflicted to Justin Wilson. Saturday marks the first time Karam has competed at Pocono since that day, and his goal is to finish the race. In so doing, he would turn around a difficult stretch for Alpha Prime Racing, which saw Karam himself finish last at Atlanta and Julia Landauer nearly do the same just last week in New Hampshire.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Brennan Poole rejoins the Harmon effort this week following Bobby McCarty, Jr.’s DNQ last week in Loudon. Poole hasn’t started a XFINITY race at Pocono since 2017, when he finished 15th for Chip Ganassi one year after a 12th in 2016.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
The Cup Series regulars continue to maintain a foothold at Scott Borchetta’s team. Taking the place of Ty Dillon, who ran 6th in Loudon, is two-time XFINITY Series Champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. This will be Stenhouse’s first XFINITY start since a one-off in 2016, when he ran 3rd for Roush-Fenway Racing at Phoenix.

RETURNING: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. looks to give his family’s team its second consecutive start in as many attempts following brother Dillon Bassett’s breakthrough 30th-place start and finish in Nashville. Ronnie has one previous XFINITY start at Pocono in 2019, when he ran 21st for Mario Gosselin.

MISSING: #88-JR Motorsports
Cup Series regular and Playoff contender William Byron is not entered in the entry after electrical issues left him 26th in Loudon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Due to a private family matter, Joe Graf, Jr. is not entered in this week’s race. The #07 G Coin Ford will fall to Cup regular Cole Custer, his fourth XFINITY start of the year and first since his 25th after a late-race crash in Road America.

CUP INVADERS: #48-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., #07-Cole Custer

Sunday, July 24, 2022 (3:00 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 21 of 36
M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono
2021 Last-Place Finishers: Cole CusterRicky Stenhouse, Jr. (350 miles each)

For the third-straight race and 11th out of the last 14, the race has only the 36 Chartered entries take the green flag. The result is the 20th short field in 21 races this year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Noah Gragson will make his eighth Cup start of the season and sixth for Kaulig Racing in 2022, taking the place of 16th-place Loudon finisher A.J. Allmendinger. Gragson ran 34th in his most recent outing with the team at Atlanta due to suspension issues, and has only twice finished inside the Top 20. Gold Fish Casino Slots remains the sponsor.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 21, 1964): Frank Tanner picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Grand National career in a 200-lap race at the Lincoln (Pennsylvania) Speedway where his #66 1963 Ford lost oil pressure after 2 laps. For the Charleston-born driver, this was his fourth and final Cup Series start. In all four, he failed to complete more than three laps. This car may or may not have been the same one Curtis Crider entered that summer at Bridgehampton – Larry Frank’s Southern 500 winner that didn’t have an engine. Tanner’s Lincoln run was just the 8th last-place finish for the #66, which still has the most Cup Series last-place finishes of any number with 65.

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