Thursday, November 3, 2022

PREVIEW: Bowman, Riggs, and Sauter among those returning to action in Phoenix championship weekend

PHOTO: @dgm_racing_

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

It’s time to hand out some championship certificates as I return to the Phoenix Raceway to close out the 2022 season. Stay tuned to my Twitter feed @LASTCARonBROCK for updates from the track and join my Patreon to ride along on my door magnet.

Friday, November 4, 2022 (10:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 23 of 23
Championship Race
Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Lawless Alan

#18-Chandler Smith
#38-Zane Smith
#66-Ty Majeski
#99-Ben Rhodes

There are just 35 trucks entered for the 36-truck field, meaning all will qualify. It’s also only the third short field in 23 Truck Series races this season, joining the 35-truck fields at both Kansas and Charlotte in May.

RETURNING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Rajah Caruth closes out the 2022 season with a double-duty effort at Phoenix. He begins by running his first Truck Series race since the night race at Bristol, which was also the last time we saw Spire Motorsports’ #7 on track. Caruth finished 34th that night after an early wreck with Josh Reaume.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-David Gilliland Racing
Taylor Gray also returns to the Truck Series for the first time since Bristol, where he ran 16th, and also runs double-duty as he completes his three-win season in the ARCA Menards West Series. He takes the place of Ryan Preece, who finished 4th in a come-from-behind performance at Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Phoenix will mark the 4th career Truck Series start for Armani Williams, who we last saw finish 35th for the Reaume Brothers at Kansas. This time around, he runs for Young’s Motorsports in place of Stefan Parsons, who finished 26th in Homestead. Visit Mesa is the listed sponsor.

Austin Wayne Self will close out the year for AM Racing, replacing Max Gutierrez, who finished 21st in Homestead. This will be Self’s seventh Truck Series start at Phoenix, a track where his best finish was 18th in 2019.

MISSING: #32-Bret Holmes Racing
Bret Holmes is not entered after he finished 33rd in Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Keith McGee reunites with the Reaume Brothers team for what will be his eight Truck Series start and third of the season, his first since a 33rd-place finish in Reaume’s #43 at Charlotte. McGee, who was on standby as a relief driver at Sonoma, takes the place of Nick Leitz, who ran 28th in Homestead.

RETURNING: #35-McAnally-Hilgemann Racing
For the first time since the night race at Bristol, the McAnally effort brings their part-time third entry for driver Jake Garcia. In his four previous starts, Garcia has finished under power each time, ranking between 20th and 29th, completing all but seven of 822 combined laps.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Reaume Brothers Racing
Running the second Reaume entry is a returning Chris Hacker, who makes his 10th series start and first since his 33rd-place showing in the Reaume #33 at Bristol. That race was “Hackerman’s” only DNF of the 2022 season, a year where his best finish was a 17th in Atlanta, followed by a strong performance at IRP before he was shuffled to 24th. Hacker takes the place of Mason Maggio, who ran 32nd in Homestead. The #43 will be run by GMS Racing in 2023 for rookie Daniel Dye.

MISSING: #44-Niece Motorsports
Not among this week’s entrants is Chad Chastain, who finished 30th in Al Niece’s part-time #44 entry.

MISSING: #46-G2G Racing
Tim Viens’ team is also not entered in the finale after Brennan Poole earned a respectable 24th-place finish at Homestead, the team’s fifth-best finish behind Matt Jaskol’s season-best 19th in Atlanta. Poole will instead run in the XFINITY race for JD Motorsports (see below).

RETURNING: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Layne Riggs turned heads in his first two Truck Series starts this past summer, taking 7th in his debut at Richmond, then qualifying 4th at Richmond, where he came home 19th. Phoenix marks Riggs’ first start since, again teamed with Stewart Friesen, who was eliminated from Playoff contention at Homestead. RamJack Foundation Repair is the sponsor.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Fresh off his announcement of running full-time XFINITY Series in 2023 for Big Machine Racing, Parker Kligerman is not entered in this week’s Truck Series finale following his 9th-place finish for Charlie Henderson in Homestead. Henderson’s team has never started a Truck Series race at Phoenix.

MISSING: #84-Cook Racing Technologies
Clay Greenfield is not entered this week after his #84 was the lone DNQ in the previous round at Homestead.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Johnny Sauter will make only his fifth start of the 2022 season, following one start for G2G Racing and four with ThorSport, most recently at Talladega where he ran 25th. This will be Sauter’s first start for Randy Young’s team as he takes the place of Kaz Grala, who finished 18th in Homestead. This will be Sauter’s 317th series start and 14th at Phoenix, where he won in 2017. Grala will instead run in the XFINITY Series for Sam Hunt Racing (see below).


Saturday, November 5, 2022 (6:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 33 of 33
Championship Race
XFINITY Series Championship
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Jeffrey Earnhardt

#7-Justin Allgaier
#8-Josh Berry
#9-Noah Gragson
#54-Ty Gibbs

#2-Sheldon Creed
#4-Bayley Currey
#5-Matt Mills
#6-Brennan Poole
#27-Jeb Burton 
#44-Rajah Caruth 
#66-J.J. Yeley
#07-Joe Graf, Jr.
#08-Brandon Brown

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots in the XFINITY Series finale, meaning one will miss the show as the weekend’s only DNQ.

DRIVER CHANGE: #6-JD Motorsports
Brennan Poole returns to the XFINITY Series for the 10th time in 2022 and first since Homestead, where he ran 14th for this same JD Motorsports team. This time, he carries primary sponsorship from Eric Estepp’s YouTube show “Out of the Groove.” Poole takes the place of Ryan Vargas, who after his 29th-place run in Martinsville revealed he will be parting ways with the team at the end of this season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
MISSING: #47-Mike Harmon Racing
Timmy Hill was set to return for his own 10th start of 2022 and first since Homestead, where he ran 29th. By Wednesday, the news was that Dawson Cram would drive, moving from the Mike Harmon entry that DNQ'd in Martinsville and is not entered this week. Cram takes the place of Chad Finchum, who was sidelined with persistent brake issues at Martinsville that left him 36th. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Kaz Grala takes the wheel of a XFINITY Series entry for the first time since the Charlotte “Roval,” where he finished 35th for Jesse Iwuji Motorsports. He now runs for his fourth different team of the season in Sam Hunt Racing, taking the place of surprising 15th-place Martinsville finisher Derek Griffith. Grala ran 33rd in this spring’s Phoenix race for Big Machine Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
It’s a swap of team co-owners at the #35 team as Joey Gase takes the wheel for Patrick Emerling, who ran 32nd after a late-race crash at Martinsville. Arizona’s chapter of Donate Life sponsors Gase in his first XFINITY start since his 21st-place showing for B.J. McLeod at Talladega.

Josh Williams swaps back to the #36 this week, and was originally set to replace Alex Labbe after a 22nd-place finish in Martinsville. But Labbe picked up sponsorship from NRS Brakes, so Mario Gosselin has again entered the #92 for Labbe to run the finale.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Our Motorsports
Kyle Sieg will run the Phoenix finale, returning to the circuit for the first time since his 35th-place run in Homestead. Instead of the team’s part-time #28, he’ll run the #38 in place of C.J. McLaughlin, who ran 24th in Martinsville. Ponsse returns as sponsor after backing Parker Retzlaff in his series debut here in the spring. Retzlaff himself returns this week with Our Motorsports, replacing 10th-place Martinsville finisher Blaine Perkins.

DRIVER SWAP: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #78-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
B.J. McLeod runs double-duty with XFINITY and Cup this week, returning to his #78 for the first time since electrical issues left him 36th in Homestead. McLeod takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who after running 31st in Martinsville reunites with Alpha Prime Racing in the #45, driven last week by Howie DiSavino III to a 28th-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #77-Bassett Racing
Dillon Bassett takes the place of brother Ronnie, Jr. in the #77, looking to bounce back from the team’s eighth DNQ last week in Martinsville. Ronnie qualified for two of the team’s five starts this year, including its most recent start at Bristol for a season-best 28th.


Sunday, November 6, 2022 (3:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 36 of 36
Championship Race
Cup Series Championship
2021 Last-Place Finisher: Bubba Wallace

#1-Ross Chastain
#9-Chase Elliott
#20-Christopher Bell
#22-Joey Logano

Only the 36 Chartered entries will be in Phoenix to contest the Cup Series finale, meaning this year’s Daytona 500 was the only event with 40 cars on the starting grid.

TEAM UPDATE: #8-Richard Childress Racing
As of this writing, Tyler Reddick is still entered in the finale after he pulled out of Sunday’s race with a headache after his car was hit from behind in a stack-up during the Stage 2 restart at Martinsville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Garrett Smithley returns to the Cup Series for the first time since Texas, where he ran 23rd with this same Rick Ware Racing entry. Smithley takes the place of J.J. Yeley, who ran 30th last week in Martinsville. Jacob Companies returns as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #48-Hendrick Motorsports
Alex Bowman returns for the first time since his concussion at Texas to run his home track, taking the place of Noah Gragson for what will be crew chief Greg Ives’ final race atop the pit box. Gragson will not run on the Cup side as A.J. Allmendinger will remain in the #16.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (November 3, 1968): Bill Ervin of Tellico Plains, Tennessee picked up the first and only last-place finish of his NASCAR Grand National Series career in the Peach State 200 at the Jefco (Georgia) Speedway when his #31 1966 Ford was flagged off the track after 4 laps. This was the next-to-the-last of Ervin’s 24 Cup starts. He earned a best finish of 11th at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in 1967.

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