Thursday, September 29, 2022

PREVIEW: Talladega sees several drivers and teams eager to break through amid Playoff storylines

PHOTO: JD Motorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, October 1, 2022 (12:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 21 of 23
Round of 8: Race 2 of 3
Chevy Silverado 250 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Jack Wood

The Truck Series returns for the first time since Bristol with 40 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning four will fail to qualify.

RETURNING: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
For the first time since Knoxville, where Dylan Westbrook finished 17th, Jordan Anderson Racing returns to the Truck Series. And for the first time since Gateway, where he finished 16th, Jordan Anderson is piloting his #3 Dometic Outdoor Chevrolet. Anderson has two top-ten finishes in five Truck starts at Talladega, taking 7th in 2018 and a track-best 6th in 2020.

MISSING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Rajah Caruth is not entered along with the Spire entry with which he finished 34th after an early crash at Bristol.

RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb makes just her third attempt of the 2022 season and first since Nashville, where mechanical issues ended her bid at making the field. Cobb has not started a Truck Series race since last fall at Martinsville, where she finished 36th of 40 starters.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Ryan Preece looks to continue his strong part-time Truck Series campaign for the Gilliland team with which he’s finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in his last three starts at Nashville, Pocono, and Kansas. In fact, Preece has yet to finish worse than 11th all year. Taking the place of Taylor Gray, who ran 16th in Bristol, Preece is sponsored by RaceChoice and Tavern on the Trax.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young's Motorsports
After last week’s XFINITY effort at Texas was hampered by nose damage on the initial start, Parker Retzlaff seeks his Truck Series debut following his otherwise impressive half-dozen races in XFINITY. Retzlaff takes the place of Bristol’s 29th-place finisher Leland Honeyman, who made his series debut in the #20 Chevrolet.

Another driver and team returning for some superspeedway racing is Jim Rosenblum’s FDNY Racing, which puts Bryan Dauzat and the #28 Chevrolet on the entry list for the first time since Pocono, where they DNQ’d. The team seeks their first start since this year’s Daytona opener, where Dauzat qualified and finished 23rd.

DRIVER CHANGE: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes returns to drive his #32 Chevrolet for the first time since Kansas, taking the place of 31st-place Bristol finisher Connor Mosack. Holmes, who finished 17th his last time out, made his first Talladega Truck Series start last year. That day, he led twice for 11 laps and came home a solid 15th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Canada’s Jason White reunites with the Reaume Brothers team for his first attempt since his 20th-place run in this year’s Daytona opener. He takes the place of Chris Hacker, whose suspension issues at Bristol left him 33rd.

MISSING: #35-McAnally-Hilgeman Racing
Not among this week’s entries is Jake Garcia, who ran 22nd at Bristol in the part-time third entry from the McAnally stable.

The preliminary entry list indicated AM Racing would bring back their second entry, the #37, with a driver to be announced. However, that entry was withdrawn by Wednesday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
One month after she ran out of time getting NASCAR to approve her sponsor Diesel Beverages for a XFINITY run at Daytona, Natalie Decker has now obtained that approval, and the brand will be on the Reaume team’s second truck for Talladega. Decker takes the place of team owner Josh Reaume, who received medical attention after his early crash with Rajah Caruth at Bristol. Decker seeks her 33rd Truck Series start and first since October 30, 2020, when she drove for Al Niece at Martinsville, taking 27th.

RETURNING: #46-G2G Racing
One team co-owner who is running as a driver this week is Tim Viens, who brings G2G Racing back for the first time since Kansas, where Brennan Poole finished 34th. Viens carries sponsorship from Turning Point USA on his #46 Toyota. Viens seeks his first Talladega Truck Series start and his first start in the series since October 25, 2020 at Texas, where he finished last after a crash.

RETURNING: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Like Jennifer Jo Cobb, Clay Greenfield is returning for the first time since Nashville as the Cook Racing Technologies effort seeks its first start of the year following two previous DNQs. Greenfield’s most recent Truck start came here last year, when he ran 23rd for Spencer Davis Racing.

MISSING: #90-Terry Carroll Racing
Justin S. Carroll is not entered, and his pursuit of a first Truck Series start continues after a fifth DNQ of 2022 in Bristol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young's Motorsports
Bristol marked the final NASCAR start for Jesse Little, who piloted Randy Young’s #02 to a 25th-place finish. Taking his place this week is a returning Kaz Grala, who rejoins the team for the first time since his 18th-place showing in Kansas. Grala has not run this race since 2020, when he finished a strong 9th for Niece Motorsports. His only other Truck start here was in 2017, when he ran 29th for GMS Racing.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper was likewise on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s race, but was withdrawn by Wednesday.


Saturday, October 1, 2022 (4:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 28 of 33
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
Sparks 300 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: David Starr

After multiple withdrawals, there are 38 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning none will fail to qualify.

PAINT SCHEME: #4-JD Motorsports
For the third time this season and second race in a row, Alka-Seltzer will sponsor Bayley Currey’s #4 Chevrolet at Johnny Davis’ team. This week, there’s an added twist as he will run a “throwback” paint scheme to Terry Labonte’s yellow Busch Series car from 1997.

DRIVER SWAP: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
RETURNING / WITHDREW: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Derek Griffith returns to the Sam Hunt team for his fifth XFINITY race of the year and first since Kansas, where he ran 27th. He takes the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, who finished last after a hard crash in Texas. Earnhardt was originally slated to run the second Emerling-Gase Motorsports entry, the #53, which hasn’t been entered since Shane Lee’s 14th-place performance in the spring race at this same Talladega track. But with weather expected from Hurricane Ian, those plans changed to putting Earnhardt in Emerling-Gase’s flagship #35, taking the place of the originally listed Joey Gase. Gase, who finished 25th last week in Texas, moves to the #5 from B.J. McLeod Motorsports in place of 16th-place Texas finisher Matt Mills, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Another distinctive paint scheme belongs to a returning Ryan Vargas as Reddit’s r/NASCAR page sponsors the #6 Chevrolet with added support from the National Craniofacial Association (FACES). Included on the scheme are nearly 1,400 r/NASCAR usernames on the rear bumper. Vargas, who’s back in a XFINITY car for the first time since his 33rd-place showing in Kansas, takes the place of Brennan Poole, who ran 31st in Bristol after a crash.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Talladega marks the return of Timmy Hill to MBM’s #13 entry for the first time since his career-best runner-up finish to Jeremy Clements under the lights at Daytona. Taking the place of Akinori Ogata, who finished 35th in Texas, Hill carries sponsorship from Buffalo Wild Wings along with returning backer Coble Enterprises.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
While he won’t be running against his son John Hunter Nemechek, as was planned last month before the rains at Daytona, Joe Nemechek will again seek his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start of 2022 in the #24 Fleetwing Toyota. This race in 2020 was Nemechek’s most recent start, when he finished a solid 16th for Mike Harmon Racing. UPDATE: This team has withdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Jesse Iwuji is listed in place of Kyle Weatherman, who finished 22nd last week in Texas. This would be Iwuji’s first-ever XFINITY Series race at Talladega, though he has run both this year’s races at Daytona, site of his career-best 11th last month.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Howie DiSavino III rejoins Alpha Prime for the first time since his 28th-place performance at Kansas, this time with the Travis Mills Foundation as sponsor. DiSavino takes the place of team co-owner Tommy Joe Martins, who claimed a solid 14th in Texas. This would be DiSavino’s first Talladega start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Caesar Bacarella continues his near-exclusive superspeedway schedule as he climbs aboard the second Alpha Prime Chevrolet in place of Stefan Parsons, who was 13th in Texas. This would be Bacarella’s sixth XFINITY start at Talladega, a track where he ran a best of 13th in this race two years ago.

RETURNING / DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
After Brennan Poole moved to JD Motorsports at Texas, Mike Harmon Racing withdrew. The team is again entered this week, but as of this writing has no driver listed. UPDATE: Mike Harmon drives his own car with Alabama Racing Pioneers as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
Current ARCA Racing Series point leader Nick Sanchez enjoyed a career run last week in Texas, threading his way through the day’s biggest wreck to battle inside the Top Five before earning a career-best 11th. This week, Parker Kligerman takes a turn behind the wheel of the #48 in what will be his first XFINITY start since he was 37th on the Indianapolis road course earlier this year. Kligerman, a Talladega winner on the Truck side, has not run a XFINITY car at Talladega since 2013, when he finished 6th for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

TEAM UPDATE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Defending Talladega winner Brandon Brown will again run the #68 this week with returning sponsorship from Zero FG Energy in what is now his final start with the Brandonbilt Motorsports team. Brown revealed on Monday that he will no longer run the #68 car next season.

RETURNING / WITHDREW: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. returns to the circuit seeking his first Talladega start in the #77 Chevrolet. Ronnie qualified the car his last time out at Bristol and finished in 28th. UPDATE: This team has withdrawn.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod will run double-duty this week as he pilots his own #78 entry in place of Garrett Smithley, who took 23rd last week in Texas. 

MISSING: #92-DGM Racing
Alex Labbe is not entered this week following his 17th-place performance in Mario Gosselin’s part-time #92 entry. Josh Williams remains in the #36 with which he ran 26th after crash damage, carrying sponsorship from his longtime backers Star Tron and Alloy Employer Services.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Our Motorsports
Blaine Perkins returns to the site of his surprising Stage 2 victory last year, this time in Our Motorsports’ #02 instead of the #23 currently piloted by Anthony Alfredo. Perkins, who runs Saturday’s race after piloting CR7 Motorsports’ Truck Series effort in the morning, takes the place of Parker Retzlaff, who ran 21st after his early issues at Texas.


Sunday, October 2, 2022 (2:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 31 of 36
Round of 12: Race 2 of 3
YellaWood 500 at Talladega
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Justin Allgaier

For the first time in five races, there are more than 36 entries - but only 37 for 40 spots, marking the 30th short field in 31 races this year. The 37-car grid is the second-smallest for a Cup race at Talladega – just one more car than the 36-car field of the strike-marred 1969 inaugural.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
J.J. Yeley will pull double-duty this weekend with Motorsports Business Management’s #66 entry on the XFINITY side as he pilots RWR’s #15 Ford in place of 23rd-place Texas finisher Garrett Smithley. This will be Yeley’s 16th Cup start at Talladega, a track where he finished 11th in 2006 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
RETURNING / DRIVER SWAP: #62-Beard Motorsports
Daniel Hemric runs double-duty for Kaulig Racing this week as he pilots the #16 Chevrolet for the first time since his 23rd-place showing in the Southern 500. He takes the place of Noah Gragson, who rejoins Beard Motorsports for what may be the final time before his full-time 2023 effort with Petty-GMS Racing. UPDATE: On Thursday, Alex Blwman indicated he wasn't cleared to run Sunday due to concussion-like symptoms. Noah Gragson will run in his place, opening the #62 for defending last-place finisher Justin Allgaier.

TEAM UPDATE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
As of this writing, Cody Ware is still entered in the #51 following his brutal wreck at Texas.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 29, 1974): Ferrum, Virginia’s Paul Radford picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville when his #90 Truxmore Industries 1972 Ford fielded by Junie Donlavey lost the engine after 20 laps. The 42-year-old Radford was one of six local NASCAR Modified and Sportsman Series drivers entered in the race. Taking the place of Charlie Glotzbach earlier that month, Radford qualified a strong 9th on Friday, then won Saturday’s Modified race by passing Satch Worley with 16 laps to go. This race, which saw Canadian driver Earl Ross score his only win, would be Radford’s only Cup Series start.

1 comment:

Kuku h said...

Harmon himself confirmed for the 47.