Thursday, October 6, 2022

PREVIEW: IndyCar stars Andretti and Daly join Karam in adding further intrigue to elimination weekend at the Charlotte “Roval”

IMAGE: @tmtracing50

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, October 8, 2022 (3:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
XFINITY Race 29 of 33
Round of 12: Race 3 of 3
Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Roval
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Gray Gaulding

The XFINITY Series closes out the “Round of 12” with 41 drivers entered for 38 starting spots, meaning three will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
This weekend’s final road course race of the season means the return of several road course “ringers” in NASCAR’s top two series, starting with Scott Heckert, whose best of four previous starts this year with B.J. McLeod’s team was a 13th at rainy Portland. This week, he takes the place of Joey Gase, who finished 21st in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Rich Mar Florist has become an increasingly prolific sponsor in NASCAR these last couple seasons, but their paint scheme on the #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing will be their first with a multi-hued flower print against a black backdrop. Behind the wheel is James Davison, making his first XFINITY start since August 14, 2021 at Indianapolis, where he ran 18th for B.J. McLeod, his first NASCAR start since a 34th-place run in Cup for Carl Long at Talladega, and his first for JGR’s XFINITY team since 2018 when he ran 8th at Road America. Davison takes the place of Trevor Bayne, who after an aggressive start at Talladega finished 13th.

MISSING: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Joe Nemechek is not entered in the second Sam Hunt car that was withdrawn from Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Running the primary Sam Hunt machine is Daniil Kvyat, who will pull double-duty on the “Roval” following his only two previous starts in NASCAR’s national series – 36th-place finishes in this year’s Cup races at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen. Nemaco is the listed sponsor of his #26 Toyota.

RETURNING: #32-Jordan Anderson Racing / AM Racing
As team owner Jordan Anderson continues to recuperate from his burns suffered in last week’s Truck Series race at Talladega, Austin Wayne Self will attempt to get his part-time second entry into a race for the first time this year. Self’s Truck Series effort, AM Racing, is backing the effort with AM Technical Solutions following as sponsor. Self seeks his first career XFINITY Series start following a DNQ in Watkins Glen.

DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
This week, it is Kaz Grala and not Kyle Weatherman in the #34 entry with which team co-owner Jesse Iwuji finished 28th in Talladega. Grala’s previous eight XFINITY Series starts this year have come with fellow Chevrolet efforts Alpha Prime Racing and Big Machine Racing, including his season-best 5th his last time out at Watkins Glen. Grala finished 8th in the 2018 inaugural “Roval” race for Fury Race Cars.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
MISSING: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Brad Perez returns seeking his second career XFINITY Series start. This time, he runs the bright colors of sponsor Green Tech as he takes the place of 37th-place Talladega finisher Jeffrey Earnhardt in the flagship Emerling-Gase Motorsports entry, the same team with which Perez finished 20th at Watkins Glen in his series debut. Earnhardt is not entered this week along with the second Emerling-Gase car, #53, which was withdrawn from Talladega.

Alex Labbe is back for the first time since his 17th-place showing in Texas and is running the #36 with sponsorship from Can-Am for the first time since Bristol. This moves Josh Williams to DGM’s part-time third effort, the #92. Both teammates have enjoyed strong runs on the “Roval” with Williams taking 11th last year and Labbe never finishing worse than 14th in his four previous starts with a best of 4th in 2020.

Patrick Gallagher returns for his fifth XFINITY Series start of the year, looking to improve on his season-best 19th at Road America. He takes the place of C.J. McLaughlin, 29th in Talladega, in the #38 Ford with sponsorship from Belle Haven.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Josh Bilicki and longtime sponsor Insurance King are among the teams carrying pink paint schemes for the Susan G. Komen Foundation this weekend. Recovering from an injury that kept him from running the Cup race at Bristol, Bilicki makes his first XFINITY start since Watkins Glen, where he steered Alpha Prime’s #45 to a 17th-place finish. Bilicki takes the place of Howie DiSavino III, whose superspeedway debut at Talladega yielded a 32nd-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Stefan Parsons has enjoyed the strongest stretch of his young XFINITY Series career in recent weeks, taking 12th in his most recent road course start at Watkins Glen, then 17th at Darlington, 26th in Kansas, 8th at Bristol, and 13th in Texas. As in four of those five starts, Parsons again drives for Alpha Prime, this time in place of 31st-place Talladega finisher Caesar Bacarella.

DRIVER CHANGE: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
As of this writing, there is no driver listed for the #47, which was piloted last week by team owner Mike Harmon to a 34th-place finish in Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Big Machine Racing
Fresh off his championship in this year’s Superstar Racing Experience, third-generation IndyCar star Marco Andretti will make his NASCAR debut this weekend in no less than Scott Borchetta’s #48 Chevrolet, a team that’s been on the rise the last couple weeks following Nick Sanchez’ 11th-place performance at Texas and Parker Kligerman’s 6th-place outing in Talladega.

RETURNING: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
For the second time this year and first since Bristol, Brennan Poole will again attempt to get team owner Jimmy Means into his first race of the 2022 season. Poole has yet to qualify for a XFINITY Series race on the Charlotte “Roval.”

DRIVER CHANGE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Last Saturday in Talladega marked Brandon Brown’s final start with Brandonbilt Motorsports, the team with which he won the same race just one year earlier. After a 33rd-place finish, the ride goes back to Kris Wright, who seeks his fifth start of the year and first since a 25th-place showing in Bristol. Brown moves to B.J. McLeod’s #78, taking McLeod’s own spot with the team that finished 26th in Talladega.

MISSING: #77-Bassett Racing
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. is not entered after his family’s team withdrew from Talladega.

Taking the place of Talladega last-place finisher Mason Massey, plagued by electrical issues in the early laps last week, is returning Spec Miata standout Preston Pardus. Pardus finished 21st his last time out at Watkins Glen and ran 7th his last time out on the “Roval,” again running for Mario Gosselin’s DGM effort.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Our Motorsports
Welcoming fellow open-wheeler Marco Andretti into the XFINITY Series is Sage Karam, who eyes his ninth start of the season and first since Bristol, when he finished a solid 18th in his first start for the Chris Our team. Karam takes the place of Blaine Perkins, who ran the #02 last time out at Talladega for a 36th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing with Jeff Lecourt
Completing the XFINITY Series’ “road ringer” contingent is Andy Lally, who brings sponsors Engine Parts Plus and DB Automotive to the second SS-Green Light effort, swapping in for 25th-place Talladega finisher David Starr. Lally has run the #08 in three of his previous four XFINITY starts this year including his season-best 14th at Road America and 19th his last time out in Watkins Glen. But he hasn’t run the XFINITY “Roval” race since the 2018 inaugural, when a crash driving for Mario Gosselin left him 37th.


Sunday, October 9, 2022 (2:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 32 of 36
Round of 12: Race 3 of 3
Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Roval
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Ryan Newman

The Cup Series will likewise eliminate four drivers from Playoff contention this Sunday as title contenders complete an entry list of 39 drivers for 40 spots. It’s still the 31st short field in 32 races, but only the fourth time the series has come up just one car short of filling all 40 spots, the first since Watkins Glen in August.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Back with the Ware team for the first time since his 31st-place showing at Watkins Glen is Joey Hand, who enjoyed a strong 9th-place qualifying run at Road America earlier this summer. Hand takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who was 31st last week at Talladega, in what was the site of Hand’s Cup debut last fall. That day, Hand finished 27th in RWR’s #52 entry. Yeley will still run this Sunday in RWR’s #51. While Cody Ware was able to finish 32nd at Talladega despite his ankle injury suffered in his frightening crash at Texas, on Tuesday, Ware elected not to run this weekend’s road course race. As of this writing, Ware expects to return next week in Las Vegas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #16-Kaulig Racing
Just announced to be returning to full-time Cup competition in 2023, A.J. Allmendinger returns to the Cup garage for the first time since his 7th-place showing at Bristol as one of the clear favorites for victory. Allmendinger takes the place of Daniel Hemric, whose late-race electrical issues in Talladega left him stranded on pit road in 34th.

RETURNING: #26-Team Hezeberg
RETURNING: #27-Team Hezeberg
The second half of Daniil Kvyat’s double-duty effort comes with the returning Team Hezeberg group, which has brought both its cars to the track for the third time this year. Kvyat will again run the #26 Toyota with flagship driver Loris Hezemans in the #27 Ford. The pair most recently ran at Watkins Glen, where Hezemans took 33rd ahead of 36th-place Kvyat.

TEAM UPDATE: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
It was reported Tuesday that Alex Bowman, out at Talladega due to his Texas concussion, will again be out of the car this week in the “Roval,” eliminating Bowman from a chance at winning his way into the “Round of 8.” Bowman will again be replaced by Noah Gragson, who pulls double-duty following his 19th-place run in Talladega.

RETURNING: #50-The Money Team Racing
Welcome back The Money Team, which hasn’t attempted a Cup race since their season-best 23rd-place performance at the Coca-Cola 600 on this same Charlotte track this past May. Carrying new sponsorship from is second-generation open-wheel driver Conor Daly, who makes his Cup Series debut. Daly is no stranger to NASCAR as he has a combined three starts in XFINITY and Truck Series competition, most recently last year’s Truck race in Las Vegas, where he finished last (LINK).

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
The Beard family’s team, a regular on NASCAR’s superspeedways, has likely wrapped up their 2022 campaign after Justin Allgaier took the controls for Noah Gragson at Talladega, yielding a 30th-place finish for the #62.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Spire Motorsports
After Landon Cassill’s sterling 11th-place run in Talladega where he also led a lap, Mike Rockenfeller looks to rebound from a difficult 30th-place debut in Watkins Glen. Rockenfeller carries sponsorship from Bon Secours and Swamp Rabbits on his Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
The “Roval” will also see Josh Williams make his third career Cup Series start with the Live Fast Motorsports team, bringing Alloy Employer Services on board for a double-duty effort with the XFINITY Series. Williams, who finished 25th in his prior two races at Bristol and Indianapolis, takes the place of B.J. McLeod, who ran 33rd in Talladega.

Saturday, October 22, 2022
TRUCKS Race 22 of 23
Round of 8: Race 3 of 3
Baptist Health 200 at Homestead
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Bryant Barnhill

The Truck Series returns in two weeks to compete at Homestead for the first time in more than two years. It will be the semifinal race to determine which four drivers will compete for the championship in the finale at Phoenix.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (October 6, 1996): Jeremy Mayfield picked up the 1st career last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #37 Kmart / Little Caesar’s Ford blew a right-front tire and crashed after 17 laps. Mayfield started 3rd on the grid but was one of many drivers to crash in practice, sending him to a backup car. This was his fifth start for team owner Michael Kranefuss after leaving Cale Yarborough Motorsports in a ride swap with John Andretti.

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