Thursday, April 13, 2023

PREVIEW: Late model stars among the newcomers joining the action in Martinsville


by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, April 14, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 7 of 23
Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Dean Thompson

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify. UPDATE: Make that one truck will DNQ as the #34 withdrew on Friday.

Just 16 years old, William Sawalich – winner of this year’s ARCA East opener at Five Flags – will make his Truck Series debut in the TRICON #1, a truck that hasn’t run since Kaz Grala’s 9th-place showing in COTA. Starkey and Soundgear join the newcomer as sponsors.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Last week’s Bristol Dirt Race, where Norm Benning made his first Truck Series start since 2021 after a dramatic finish to the final heat race, was also his last opportunity to run the older Chevrolet nose. As he seeks funding to upgrade his three trucks, Benning is not entered this week.

MISSING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Also missing is the Spire entry, which Jonathan Davenport steered to a 14th-place finish on the dirt.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
The latest in a series of misfortunes for Randy Young’s #20 entry occurred at Bristol, where late entry Stefan Parsons slid into a pileup, resulting in the team’s second last-place finish of 2023. Parsons’ truck was also without primary sponsorship, which is not the case this week. Brad Perez will be driving with backing from, among other companies, Bonesteel Aerospace, a sponsor of his employer Patrick Emerling at the Emerling-Gase Motorsports XFINITY team. This will be Perez’ first NASCAR national series start on an oval after what has been exclusively a road course schedule, and his first start for the Young’s team.

WITHDREW: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Also returning to the Truck Series is Stephen Mallozzi, who last summer made his Truck Series debut at Mid-Ohio. That day, he overcame damage from a practice crash to finish in the 22nd spot. Mallozzi was originally slated to run for the Reaume Brothers again, just as he had in Mid-Ohio, but has since been swapped from the #34 to AM Racing’s #22, replacing Cup regular Chase Briscoe who was 7th in Bristol. Stacking Dennys and Win The Race are among his backers. Josh Reaume, originally slated to run the #22, will instead pilot the #34 as he had at Bristol, where he failed to qualify. UPDATE: Reaume's #34 was wothdrawn on Friday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
The latest in a series of newcomers joining the On Point effort is 17-year-old late model stock car racer Jonathon Shafer, who will carry sponsorship from Osgar’s Autobody and on his white #30. Shafter is a winner in the CARS Late Model tour, having scored a win last year at Ace Speedway en route to a 14th-place rank in points during a part-time campaign. The truck had been listed as “TBA” on the initial entry list.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Niece Motorsports
Ross Chastain continues his longstanding business relationship with Al Niece as he runs double-duty at Martinsvile, piloting the #41 Chevrolet. This entry was run last week by Tyler Carpenter, who narrowly made the field at Bristol, only to be involved in multiple incidents that left him a disappointing 29th. This, Chastain’s third Truck start of the season, will again see Worldwide Express join as sponsor.

MISSING: #47-G2G Racing
G2G Racing scales back to only their primary #46 entry this week, and has brought on one of their own crew members to drive. Memphis Villarreal is one of six full-time crew members on the team, and a short track racer from Texas. He takes the place of Jerry Bohlman, whose own attempted debut at Bristol was cut short by a pressure plate failure on the opening lap of his heat race. Villarreal carries sponsorship from S&S Fishing and Rental.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
A second Cup regular in the field is Kyle Busch, who himself takes the place of 3rd-place Bristol finisher William Byron.

MISSING: #62-Halmar Friesen Racing
Jessica Friesen is not entered following her DNQ from a third-straight Bristol Dirt Race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-ThorSport Racing
Another late model driver looking to break through in NASCAR is Conner Jones, who this week pilots the #66 entry that defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano steered to victory last week in Bristol. The 16-year-old from Fredericksburg, Virginia already has seven ARCA starts to his credit with a best finish of 5th last year at Iowa, and most recently took 7th in this spring’s race at Phoenix.

MISSING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Parker Kligerman is not entered after a fire behind his right-front wheel spoiled his run at Bristol, leaving him 31st.

RETURNING: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Justin S. Carroll and his family’s team tried five times to make their series debut last year, beginning with this very event, and each time was sent home. Will they break through this week – and will the weather hold off long enough for them to try?

CUP INVADERS: #41-Ross Chastain, #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, April 15, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
XFINITY Race 8 of 33
Call 811 Before You Dig 250 at Martinsville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Brennan Poole

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
In his two previous XFINITY Series starts this season, Ryan Truex earned a runner-up finish at Phoenix and a 3rd-place showing in Atlanta. Still seeking his first win in what would be his 87th series start, Truex takes the place of Joe Graf, Jr. in the Joe Gibbs Racing #19 entry. Graf struggled tremendously in this car at Richmond, nearly finishing last in the process, and this week rejoins RSS Racing in the #38. Graf takes the place of Chris Hacker, who in that same Richmond race finished a sterling 14th in his series debut.

DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
The preliminary entry list had Joey Gase and Patrick Emerling swapping rides with Emerling in the #35 and Gase in the #53. But by Tuesday, it was revealed Matt Mills would take Gase’s place in the #53, bringing his familiar J.F. Electric sponsorship that last backed Mills’ crash-marred Truck Series effort in Texas. Mills seeks his 120th XFINITY start and first of the season. He last took the green at this same Martinsville track last fall, where his B.J. McLeod entry lost the engine, then failed to qualify the next week in Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
While Timmy Hill was shown on the entry list, it was already announced that Chad Finchum would pilot the #66 this week, seeking his first start of 2023. Like Mills, Finchum’s most recent XFINITY start came at Martinsville last fall, where he ran 36th in MBM’s #13. If he qualifies, it will be the 108th start of Finchum’s career.

DRVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Fresh off a career run at Bristol, where he matched his career-best 9th-place finish with Roper Racing, and on the one-year anniversary of his Truck Series debut at this same track with G2G Racing, Kaden Honeycutt will attempt his first XFINITY Series race taking over for Dawson Cram in CHK Racing’s #74 Chevrolet. UPDATE: Late-breaking news Thursday has Cram in SS-Green Light's No. 07, replacing Stefan Parsons and bringing back BeWater as sponsor.

After they were washed out of the Richmond field by rain, FRS Racing with Kyle Weatherman driving old Brandonbilt Motorsports equipment will again seek their team’s debut. This has also kept Blaine Perkins in Our Motorsports’ #02 with which Weatherman started his season.


Sunday, April 16, 2023 (3:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
CUP Race 9 of 36
NOCO 400 at Martinsville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

It’s back to the 36 Chartered entries for Martinsville, marking the eighth straight short field in nine races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #9-Hendrick Motorsports
Certainly the biggest story in the Cup garage is the return of Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s most popular driver, who will climb aboard his #9 for the first time since his snowboarding injury during the Las Vegas weekend, six races ago. Elliott takes the place of Josh Berry, who among the five of those six races finished a career-best 2nd to Kyle Larson at Richmond.

MISSING: #13-Kaulig Racing
Kaulig Racing’s “open” entry is not making the trip to Martinsville following the back-to-back Cup debuts of Chandler Smith and Jonathan Davenport. Davenport finished next-to-last at Bristol following a late-race tangle with a crashing Kyle Larson.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
The other big news story of the week involves Rick Ware Racing, whose driver Cody Ware was swapped out of the #51 entry coming into last Saturday’s race at Bristol in favor of Matt Crafton. The reason stems from Cody Ware’s alleged domestic dispute, which resulted in his arrest for felony assault, his indefinite suspension from NASCAR, and his upcoming court date on May 1. Crafton was again rumored to drive this Sunday, but by Wednesday, the ride went to Zane Smith – already the fourth different car number he’s driven in his first four Cup starts.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Just as he had in Richmond. Anthony Alfredo will pull double-duty for B.J. McLeod, taking over for the 26th-place Bristol finisher in the #78 Ford. Andy’s Frozen Custard will sponsor his Cup entry at a track where he finished 26th and 20th in 2021 for Front Row Motorsports.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (April 13, 2002): Loni Richardson picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville when his #73 Intensitee Custom Racewear / UTI Chevrolet lost the engine after 62 laps. 

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