Thursday, April 6, 2023

PREVIEW: A few dirt track ringers return to action on mud-caked Bristol

IMAGE: On Point Motorsports

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, April 8, 2023 (8:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 6 of 23
Weather Guard Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol Dirt
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Austin Wayne Self

There are 41 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning five teams will be sent home after Saturday’s four 15-lap heat races.

After not entering their #1 Toyota for the first time in 2023 at Texas, the team withdrew from Saturday’s race without a driver listed.

As of this writing, Dean Thompson is listed to drive at Bristol. Thompson was hospitalized following his terrible crash at Texas last week, but was discharged later that evening.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning returns for the first time since Daytona, where he fell short in qualifying after a strong top-ten run in practice. Instead of the G2G Racing Toyota from that race, Benning arrives with his own #6 Chevrolet. Benning seeks his 245th career Truck Series start, his first since October 2, 2021 at Talladega.

RETURNING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Leading this weekend’s dirt track “ringers” is “Superman,” dirt late model star Jonathan Davenport. The three-time Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series Champion and 2022 XR Super Series titlist will attempt to run double-duty in conjunction with Kaulig Racing, who will field his #13 Chevrolet entry on Sunday. Kaulig sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions backs his ride for Saturday, Spire Motorsports’ #7 Chevrolet, which failed to qualify in its last attempt at COTA with Cup regular Alex Bowman.

MISSING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Also involved in the Thompson accident was 30th-place Texas finisher Trey Hutchens, who along with his #14 entry is not entered in this week’s race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Matt Mills, still another driver from the Thompson wreck, finished 31st after the incident last week. No driver was listed until Thursday, when Stefan Parsons was announced in what appears to be an unsponsored white Chevrolet.

DRIVER SWAP: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
The first of no less than three Cup Series invaders in Saturday’s field is Chase Briscoe, who in last year’s Cup race was one corner away from a possible win before he spun with race leader Tyler Reddick. This year, Briscoe starts his double-duty effort in AM Racing’s #22 Ford with Production Alliance Group as sponsor. Briscoe takes the place of Josh Reaume, who returns to his own team to pilot the #34 in place of 33rd-place Texas finisher Keith McGee.

DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
Tanner Carrick is a regular at tracks near LASTCAR Headquarters, running winged sprint cars across northern California, and on Saturday seeks his first-ever start in NASCAR’s top three series. Carrick will carry his sponsorship from CVC Concrete with On Point’s #30, the same team with which Ryan Vargas scored a career-best 8th last week in Texas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Niece Motorsports
Last summer in Knoxville, Tyler Carpenter raced from 6th to 2nd in his heat race, then finished last in the main when the driveshaft failed on his Al Niece entry. This brought to an abrupt end the NASCAR debut he earned with a “Win and You’re In” effort at the Gateway Dirt Nationals. On Saturday, he makes his first start since that night, and again campaigns Niece’s #41 Chevrolet. Taking the place of Texas last-place finisher Chad Chastain, Carpenter carries sponsorship from AutoVentive.

WITHDREW: #44-Niece Motorsports
The Niece team had originally entered their part-time fourth entry, but withdrew it early in the week without a driver listed. The truck hasn’t run since last fall’s race at Hometead, where Chad Chastain finished 30th.

G2G Racing enters two trucks for the first time in 2023. Running their flagship #46 in place of Armani Williams, who in 29th was the last driver involved in the Thompson wreck, is rookie Jerry Bohlman in the #46 Toyota. Bohlman followed his father Gary’s footsteps into late models in Florida, and also oversees Bohlman Marine Construction, which constructs and repairs boat docks and lifts. EcoPile, which sponsors the #46, is one of the business’ partners.

RETURNING: #47-G2G Racing
Last year saw the second G2G entry hastily renumbered from the #47 to the #49, a consequence of the truck not properly passed from its previous owners at the shuttered CMI Motorsports. Andrew Gordon qualified for the main event in that truck and finished in 32nd. This year, Gordon returns and is again entered in the #47, seeking his fourth career Truck Series start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Another Cup regular invading the field is William Byron, already twice a winner in the Cup Series this season. Byron takes the place of 9th-place Texas finisher Jack Wood in the Chevrolet. This will be Byron’s third Truck Series start since his last full-time season in 2016. He won his last time out  in Martinsville last spring.

RETURNING: #56-Hill Motorsports
RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Both these entries are returning to action after practice crashes forced them to withdraw in Texas. Timmy Hill takes over for brother Tyler in the #56 with as sponsor while Kaden Honeycutt remains in the #04.

RETURNING: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Dirt track racing means another battle of the spouses as Jessica Friesen returns in a second HFR entry, competing against her husband Stewart. Running the Aim Autism / Halmar Internaitonal Toyota, Jessica seeks her third series start in as many years – and her first in the Bristol Dirt Race. She finished 26th and 34th at Knoxville.

RETURNING: #66-ThorSport Racing
The last time the Truck Series ran at Bristol – on the original concrete surface – Ty Majeski broke through with his first career win in the #66. With Majeski now driving ThorSport’s #98, the #66 now returns with two-time and defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
An off-weekend for the XFINITY Series – and the close proximity of Charlie Henderson’s shop in Abingdon, Virginia – puts Parker Kligerman back into the field for his third start of the season and first since COTA. Continuing the Henderson team’s long and successful career at Bristol, Kligerman finished 8th and 4th in his previous two runs at the Bristol Dirt Race.

CUP INVADERS: #22-Chase Briscoe, #51-William Byron, #66-Joey Logano

Sunday, April 9, 2023 (7:00 P.M. ET, FOX)
CUP Race 8 of 36
Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Dirt
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Justin Allgaier

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the seventh straight short field of the 2023 season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Kaulig Racing
Jonathan Davenport’s double-duty effort concludes with his Cup debut, driving the same entry with which Chandler Smith earned a strong 17th-place finish in his own debut at Richmond. Nutrien Ag Solutions is again the sponsor, joined by the detergent-backed entries of A.J. Allmendinger (Gain) and Justin Haley (Tide). This is again the lone "open" entry in the field.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
While the last two runnings of the Bristol Dirt Race saw the Live Fast team hire a “ringer” of their own – Shane Golobic in 2021 and XFINITY Series newsmaker Josh Williams in 2022 – B.J. McLeod will himself compete in this year’s race. He carries sponsorship from Gunk, a brand from team backer B’laster products.

Saturday, April 15, 2023
XFINITY Race 8 of 33
Call 811 Before You Dig 250 at Martinsville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Brennan Poole

The XFINITY Series returns at Martinsville, where all three divisions will be back in action.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (April 6, 1985): Tim Richmond picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Valleydale 500 at Bristol when his #27 Old Milwaukee Pontiac was eliminated in a multi-car pileup on Lap 37. The next year, when Richmond signed with Hendrick Motorsports, his Blue Max Racing team would win this same race with Rusty Wallace, the first of Wallace’s career. 

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