Thursday, March 9, 2023

PREVIEW: Team-sharing efforts begin to take effect in Phoenix

Brian Weber's entry as he attempts his first XFINITY start since 2003.
PHOTO: @MBMMotorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, March 11, 2023 (4:30 P.M. ET)
XFINITY Race 4 of 33
United Rentals 200 at Phoenix
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Riley Herbst

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning just one will be sent home after qualifying.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Following his first two of five starts with Joe Gibbs Racing, which yielded an 11th in Fontana and a 15th in Las Vegas, Joe Graf, Jr. goes back to RSS Racing for the first time since his 7th-place effort in Daytona. This time, he drives the #38 in place of Kyle Sieg, who moves to the RSS team’s #28 in place of Alex Labbe, who’s not entered. Taking Graf’s place in the #19 this week is Ryan Truex, who will make his 85th series start and his first since Atlanta last July, when he ran 3rd for JGR’s #18 team. Toyota Genuine Parts is listed as Truex’s sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Making just his third career XFINITY start is Connor Mosack, who finished 28th for Gibbs in his debut at Portland last year, then took 15th with Sam Hunt Racing at Watkins Glen. Mosack again drives for Hunt, this time in the #24 entry driven the last two rounds by Cup regular Tyler Reddick. As with Truex, his Supra carries only manufacturer-themed sponsorship, his from Toyota Racing Development.

DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Phoenix will mark the XFINITY Series debut of Arizona native Leland Honeyman, who finished 29th in his Truck Series debut at Bristol last fall for Young’s Motorsports. Taking the place of Rajah Caruth, who led the Alpha Prime trio at Vegas with a 26th-place finish, Honeyman carries sponsorship from Klean Freak Body Wipes, which will also back his ARCA West entry for Friday's support race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
New York native Brian Weber hasn’t started a XFINITY Series race since May 18, 2003, when he finished 27th at the now-derelict Nazareth Speedway in his #84 Platinum One Master Card Chevrolet. He hasn’t started a race in NASCAR’s top three series since November 9, 2012, when he took to the same Phoenix track in Mike Harmon’s Truck Series entry and finished 26th. But, so long as he qualifies, Weber will make his 21st series start. He carries sponsorship from, a company that sells purpose-built air mattresses for travelers stranded in airports. He will run the same chassis Dawson Cram qualified with at Phoenix last fall.

Speaking of the Harmon team, Dawson Cram looks to give CHK Racing their first start of 2023, taking the place of Ryan Vargas in the Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys Chevrolet. Cram has only three XFINITY Series starts on his resume, most recently last fall at this same Phoenix track, where he ran 31st for Carl Long.

WITHDREW: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
After a power steering issue left him multiple laps down in his first start of the year at Las Vegas, his B.J. McLeod #99 entry is not entered this week, withdrawn with no driver listed. Before the withdrawal, Smithley had already been moved to Mario Gosselin’s #91 entry in place of Josh Bilicki, who’s not entered after a 31st-place run in Vegas.

CUP INVADERS: #10-Kyle Busch

Sunday, March 12, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET)
CUP Race 4 of 36
United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Corey LaJoie

The 36 Chartered entries remain the only cars on the Cup Series entry list. This marks the third consecutive short field in four races this year, following a 40-car starting grid in the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #9-Hendrick Motorsports
After Josh Berry finished 29th in his last-minute relief duty for an injured Chase Elliott in Las Vegas, the Hendrick team waited until Tuesday to confirm their plans moving forward. With Elliott in physical therapy and expected to be out around six weeks, Berry will continue to run on the ovals, including this weekend. Taking the controls at COTA will be endurance racing champion Jordan Taylor, who had already been working with Hendrick on their upcoming Garage 56 entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #38-Front Row Motorsports
Phoenix also marks the first of five races where Zane Smith will run Front Row Motorsports’ #38 in place of Todd Gilliland, this week carrying Wellcare as sponsor. This will be Smith’s third career Cup start following a 13th-place showing in FRM’s #36 entry in Daytona, and will come at the site of his Truck Series championship-clinching run last fall. Gilliland will retain his full-season status this year as Sunday will see him make his first of five starts for Rick Ware Racing, taking the place of J.J. Yeley, who’s not entered after a 33rd-place run in Vegas.

Saturday, March 18, 2023
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Fr8 208 at Atlanta
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Hailie Deegan

The Truck Series takes the week off and will rejoin the circuit for the superspeedway in Atlanta.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (March 9, 2003): Larry Foyt picks up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta when his #14 Harrah’s Dodge lost the engine after 104 laps. This was Foyt’s first of two last-place finishes during his difficult rookie season.

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