Thursday, August 25, 2022

PREVIEW: Josh Williams back with DGM, a battle of the Nemecheks, and McGruff The Crime Dog kick off Daytona action

PHOTO: @MBMMotorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

Friday, August 26, 2022 (7:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 23 of 33
Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Brandon Jones

There are 43 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning five will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
The preliminary entry list had Natalie Decker set to take Brandon Brown’s place in the #5 Ford for B.J. McLeod Motorsports, bringing with her sponsorship from CBD company Diesel Beverages. But Decker tweeted Wednesday evening that the deal came together at the last minute, and Diesel didn’t have enough time to complete NASCAR’s testing for CBD-related products. This now puts Patrick Emerling in an unsponsored #5 in Decker’s place. Brandon Brown, who was 32nd in Watkins Glen, rejoins his family’s #68 team that ran 34th last week with Kris Wright. Wright will make eight of the season’s remaining ten races. Brown finished 10th at Daytona in February.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Ryan Vargas reunites with the Johnny Davis team in place of Spencer Pumpelly, who failed to qualify at Watkins Glen. Carrying sponsorship from National Metering Services, Vargas runs for the first time since Michigan, where he ran 29th. Vargas’ best finish in three prior Daytona starts was 18th, which he matched in the 2021 and 2022 season openers.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
After his car was withdrawn prior to qualifying at Watkins Glen, J.J. Yeley returns to his #66 this week with sponsorship from the Florida West Coast Chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors. Yeley finished a solid 13th at Daytona in February. Timmy Hill – a strong 14th in the #66 last week at The Glen – returns to the #13 in a beach-themed paint scheme for sponsors VSI Racing and Cole Enterprises.

NEW TEAM: #14-Kaulig Racing
Friday sees Justin Haley return to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 5th-place showing in last year’s championship race at Phoenix, and this time in a brand-new fourth entry for the Kaulig team, running the #14. Should he qualify, this will mark the first start for the #14 in a XFINITY Series race since TriStar Motorsports last ran it in the 2017 finale at Homestead, taking 22nd with J.J. Yeley. DaaBIN Store is the listed sponsor.

MISSING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
MISSING: #88-JR Motorsports
William Byron not entered and neither is Glen winner Kyle Larson in the identical Chevrolets.

RETURNING: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek – father and son – are set to race against each other as teammates at their home track. For John Hunter, this would be his 8th start of 2022 and first since Michigan, where he came home in 19th. He again runs the flagship #26, this time with as the sponsor, taking the place of 15th-place Watkins Glen finisher Connor Mosack. Joe Nemechek – himself a two-time XFINITY winner at Daytona – aims for his 454th XFINITY Series start and first since October 3, 2020, when he finished 16th for Mike Harmon Racing. This time, Joe drives Sam Hunt’s returning #24 entry, which hasn’t made a start since Jeffrey Earnhardt at Daytona this past February, and carries sponsorship from Fleetwing.

C.J. McLaughlin is back for the first time since his hard hit at Michigan, which left him 37th, and looks to improve on his 35th-place finish in another crash at Daytona back in February. McLaughlin will attempt to qualify RSS Racing’s part-time third effort, the #28, which last took the green flag at Michigan with Kyle Sieg taking a 21st-place run. Kyle is in on this week’s list, too, replacing 36th-place Glen finisher Patrick Gallagher in the #38 Ford.

MISSING: #32-Jordan Anderson Racing / AM Racing
Austin Wayne Self is not entered after his Jordan Anderson-backed entry missed the cut at Watkins Glen.

TEAM UPDATE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji is listed in place of Kyle Weatherman this week, which would mark Iwuji’s 9th start of the year and first since Atlanta, where he ran 32nd. Iwuji was 27th in the Daytona race this past February, but earned his second and most recent DNQ at Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
“McGruff The Crime Dog” adorns the #35 Ford of Joey Gase, part of the “Go For Real” promotion cautioning others about the dangers of counterfeit products. Gase takes the place of Brad Perez, who turned in a strong 20th-place finish in his XFINITY debut with the team at Watkins Glen. Gase, who most recently finished 26th at Atlanta, also took 26th in the Emerling-Gase #53 entry at Daytona in February.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Sage Karam returns for more superspeedway racing as he takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who tied his career-best 12th-place finish at Watkins Glen. Clermont Lakes Dental Care and Alt-Tab Capital will sponsor Karam’s effort, which would be his first since a season-best 13th on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit. Most significantly, it will be Karam’s first XFINITY start at Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Racing in Florida means local driver and Alpha Prime co-owner Caesar Bacarella is back, this time in the Clear Cryptos Chevrolet. Bacarella has yet to finish better than 25th in his three previous superspeedway starts this year as he takes the place of 17th-place Watkins Glen finisher Josh Bilicki. Bilicki, who earned his first Cup Series Top Ten with a 10th-place finish here last year, is not entered in either of this weekend’s races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
After Stanton Barrett was unable to qualify at Watkins Glen, Brennan Poole rejoins the Harmon effort, seeking his sixth start of the season and first since a season-best 31st-place run at Atlanta in July.
UPDATE: Tim Viens will return to the driver's seat with Barker Construction as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
Joining Justin Haley among the “Cup Invaders” is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who’s back in action on the XFINITY side for the first time since his big crash with Jeb Burton at Pocono. Stenhouse, who contended for the lead late in this year’s Daytona 500, takes the place of last week’s 5th-place finisher Kaz Grala.

RETURNING: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. takes the wheel of his family’s #77 this week as the team looks to make its first superspeedway start. Ronnie was third-slowest of the nine DNQs here in February.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Matt Mills climbs aboard McLeod’s #78 entry for the first time since his last-place finish at Michigan, once again with J.F. Electric as sponsor. Mills takes the place of Scott Heckert, who finished 23rd in Watkins Glen.

Also resuming his part-time schedule shared with “road course ringers” is Mason Massey, who failed to qualify at Daytona this past February, but ran 25th here last August for McLeod. Massey takes the place of Preston Pardus, who was 21st at Watkins Glen.

Josh Williams has been welcomed home back to Mario Gosselin’s #92 entry – a team that had to scale back after his replacement, Kyle Weatherman, had sponsorship issues after a promising start to the year. Williams carries his familiar Alloy Employment Services sponsorship as he takes over for Cup regular Ross Chastain, who was stuck in a Watkins Glen gravel trap en route to a 28th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Joe Graf, Jr., 29th in this year’s Daytona opener, seeks his 85th XFINITY Series start as he takes his #07 entry back from Cup regular Cole Custer, 11th at The Glen. Graf finished a track-best 11th in February of 2021. GTECHNIQ is the listed sponsor this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
David Starr, who ran 35th after his right-front hub caught fire at Michigan, returns to Daytona, where his was the fastest car to DNQ in February. Starr takes the place of Andy Lally, who finished 19th at Watkins Glen.

CUP INVADERS: #14-Justin Haley, #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Saturday, August 27, 2022 (7:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 26 of 36
Regular Season Finale
Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Chris(topher) Buescher

A measly 37 drivers are entered in Saturday’s final race of the Cup regular season, marking the fifth-smallest field for a Cup Series points race at Daytona. It’s the fewest since July 4, 1967, when Bill Champion lost the engine on the opening lap of the Firecracker 400, leaving him last in a 39-car field. All eight of the smallest Cup fields for points races at Daytona – excluding qualifying races – occurred in the summer race, the fewest seeing just 30 starters on July 4, 1961. No Daytona 500 field has yet seen fewer than 40 starters. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
David Ragan is back in the Cup garage for the first time since Talladega, where he finished 24th, and looks to build on his 8th-place run in this year’s Daytona 500. He again drives for Rick Ware Racing, this time in place of Joey Hand, who enjoyed another strong run on the Watkins Glen road course before he slipped to 31st following a late-race crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Daniel Hemric returns to Cup for the first time since Darlington, where he finished 31st, and takes the place of Watkins Glen runner-up A.J. Allmendinger. Hemric, who pulls double-duty with his full-time XFINITY effort, made this year’s first three Cup races in this #16 entry, beginning with a 12th in the Daytona 500 and a surprising 9th at Fontana, where he came back from losing multiple laps with a mechanical issue.

MISSING: #26-Team Hezeberg
MISSING: #27-Team Hezeberg
The Hezeberg duo of Watkins Glen 33rd-place finisher Loris Hezemans and 36th-place Daniil Kvyat are not entered this week, just six months after Jacques Villeneueve earned a respectable 22nd in the team’s debut in this year’s Daytona 500. Hezemans finished one lap down at Watkins Glen in 33rd, his first Cup start where he finished under power.

TEAM UPDATE: #45-23XI Racing
As previously announced, Kurt Busch will not return to competition this week in Daytona, but hopes to make the Playoff opener next week. Ty Gibbs remains the driver following his 26th-place showing in Watkins Glen. UPDATE: Big news on Thursday as Kurt will NOT make the Playoff opener and has withdrawn his waiver, nearly locking Ryan Blaney into the Playoffs and moving Martin Truex, Jr. to the bubble.

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Noah Gragson makes his 11th Cup start of the year and first since Richmond, when he finished 24th. But this time makes his third start of the year for the Beard Motorsports entry, his first since a 20th-place run in the Wendy’s car at Talladega. South Point will sponsor this week’s car.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
After a 30th-place finish for Mike Rockenfeller’s NASCAR debut at Watkins Glen, Landon Cassill will pull double-duty at Daytona. Cassill finished 15th in this year’s Daytona 500 and ran 30th in his most recent Cup start at Richmond.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
B.J. McLeod promotes the new video game “NASCAR Rivals” on his #78 Ford as he takes the place of Kyle Tilley, who finished last at Watkins Glen. Like the aforementioned Josh Bilicki, last August’s Cup race at Daytona saw McLeod score the first Top Ten of his Cup career, finishing 9th.

MISSING: #91-Trackhouse Racing
Kimi Raikkonen and the “Project91” entry are not entered after Kimi’s solid Cup debut ended with an unfortunate tangle involving teammate Ross Chastain and Loris Hezemans halfway through the Watkins Glen race, leaving him 37th.

Friday, September 9, 2022
TRUCKS Race 19 of 23
Round of 10: Race 3 of 3
Wise Power 200 at Kansas
2021 Last-Place Finisher (May): Ryan Reed

The Truck Series will return in two weeks to conclude the Round of 10 at Kansas.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (August 25, 1962): Sammy Packard picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Grand National Series career in a 200-lap race on the Valdosta 75 (Georgia) Speedway when his #38 1961 Ford burned a piston after 45 laps around the half-mile dirt track. This was Packard’s fourth and final Cup start, and came in a race with only 13 starters. Seven other races had just 12 starters in each – the fewest for a Cup Series points race.

1 comment:

Kuku h said...

12 NOT locked in, 25 points ahead of the 19. A crash+19 finishing enough points ahead and a new winner outside 16th (43, 34, 3, 23, 10, 47 for examples) would have him out.