Thursday, June 22, 2023

PREVIEW: After off-week, Nashville welcomes back many drivers from even longer absences

PHOTO: @LayneRiggs99
by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Friday, June 23, 2023 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Janes

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify. UPDATE: Make that 37, meaning only one will DNQ.

MISSING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Not among the entrants is Norm Benning, who qualified for his second Truck Series race of the season three weeks ago in Gateway and earned a 28th-place finish.

Another Gateway storyline was the illness that sidelined Corey Heim, ultimately putting Jesse Love into his #11 for a sterling 9th-place Truck Series debut. This week, Heim is back with Love’s next series stat planned for Kansas in September.

RETURNING: #14-Trey Hutchens Racing
Trey Hutchens returns for his first attempt since Texas, where his #14 found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time during the pileup triggered by Dean Thompson and Matt Mills, leaving him 30th. Hutchens made the race here two years ago, where he finished 33rd, but under power.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Nick Leitz reunites with Randy Young’s team for the first time since his season debut at Kansas, where he finished 21st. Taking the place of Matt Mills, who was 19th in Gateway, Leitz returns to the site of his series debut last year, when he finished on the lead lap in 26th for the Reaume Brothers.

RETURNING: #30-On Point Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
After withdrawing from Gateway, which led to Chris Hacker running the #02 at the Young’s team, On Point brings their #30 entry back to the track with Jonathan Shafer, who finished 29th in his series debut at Martinsville this past spring. Hacker is not running the #02 this week, either, as it was announced late this week that Layne Riggs would make his first start since his 28th-place showing for TRICON Garage in Atlanta, this time bringing sponsorship from Heartland to Young’s Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Back at the track for the first time since he finished last in this race last year for G2G Racing is Chase Janes, who takes the place of team owner Josh Reaume – 23rd in Gateway – in the #33 Ford. J&J Services is the listed sponsor for the entry. Both the #33 and #34 entries had no driver listed earlier this week, and as of this writing there is no driver listed for the #34, run in Gateway by Stephen Mallozzi, who finished 31st after electrical issues. UPDATE: Mason Maggio will run the #34.

RETURNING: #46-G2G Racing
After skipping Gateway following a costly accident in Charlotte, Memphis Villareal is again behind the wheel of the #46 with Laredo Trailer Supply and Mystik as sponsors of his Toyota. Villareal is another driver who made his series debut during this spring’s rainy Martinsville race, where he finished 24th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-ThorSport Racing
Jake Drew, last year’s champion of the ARCA Menards Series West, seeks his NASCAR national series debut in ThorSport’s part-time #66 entry, most recently run to a 33rd-place finish after a crash by Conner Jones. Drew carries sponsorship from Capstone Engineering Solutions on his Ford.

WITHDREW: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
Now with his first two Truck Series starts under his belt – both on 1.5-mile tracks where he finished under power, two laps down, Justin S. Carroll seeks his first start since Charlotte in his #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota. UPDATE: As of Friday, this team has withdrawn.

MISSING: #95-GK Racing
Not making the trip this week is GK Racing, whose debut at Gateway ended after just two corners following Clay Greenfield’s first-lap accident.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
A surprising return to the track is not only Roper Racing’s #04 – last seen with Johnny Sauter driving at North Wilkesboro before a mid-race electrical fire – but now with Cory Roper himself behind the wheel, seeking his first Truck Series start since the 2021 finale in Phoenix. Roper ran Nashville that season, finishing 31st, two laps down.


Saturday, June 24, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 16 of 33
Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Weatherman

There are 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning three will fail to qualify.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Although Ty Dillon was originally listed as driver of the #4, one week after he failed to qualify for the XFINITY race in Sonoma, it is Kyle Weatherman who will run on Saturday, looking to make his ninth start of the season, his fifth in a row driving for a different team. Weatherman last week ran SS-Green Light’s #08 to a 22nd-place finish, a car that this week goes to a returning Mason Massey with his Brunt Workwear sponsorship. This would be Massey’s first XFINITY start of the season – his last was the 2022 finale at Phoenix, where he took 33rd for DGM Racing.

MISSING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson is not entered along with the Hendrick Motorsports entry.

As reported on my Twitter feed, Zane Smith will take the place of Sonoma winner Aric Almirola in the #28 entry for RSS Racing. This puts Zane into a XFINITY Series field for the first time since May 15, 2021 at Dover, where he drove in relief of Justin Haley for Kaulig Racing. Blue Oval City is the listed sponsor.

Following the successful 25th-place debut of their fourth team with Alex Labbe in Sonoma, Kyle Sieg will drive the #29, which he’d originally been slated to run last week before a late driver swap. Peek Pool Spas is the listed sponsor of Kyle’s Ford.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
As of this writing, there is no driver listed for the #35 which failed to qualify in Sonoma with Leland Honeyman aboard. UPDATE: David Starr returns to the series as driver, per news on Thursday.

MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
Josh Bilicki is not entered in this week’s XFINITY race along with the part-time #36 entry with which he earned a 19th-place showing in Sonoma. Bilicki will instead focus on Sunday’s Cup race, where he will again run Live Fast Motorsports’ #78 Zeigler Chevrolet.

DRIVER CHANGE: #43-Alpha Prime Racing
Ryan Ellis makes his 80th XFINITY start and first since Charlotte as he returns to the seat of Alpha Prime’s #43 Chevrolet, taking the place of 24th-place Sonoma finisher Dylan Lupton. Keen Parts once again joins Ellis as sponsor at a track where he finished 24th last season.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
In place of 29th-place Sonoma finisher Brad Perez – who just announced another head-turning paint scheme for his next attempt in Chicago – C.J. McLaughlin seeks to make his 35th series start and fifth of the season, his firt since a 34th-place showing in Dover. Sci Aps rejoins the team as sponsor.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Carl Long’s choice this week is Chad Finchum, who will carry sponsorship from Ted Russell Ford Lincoln on the #66 Ford. After a pair of DNQs in his previous attempts at Martinsville and Darlington, Finchum seeks his first start of the season as he takes the place of Sonoma DNQ Mason Filippi.

Mike Harmon’s team returns to the garage after not entering the west coast road course races in Portland and Sonoma. Back behind the wheel is Dawson Cram, who aims for his fourth start of the year and first since Charlotte, where he finished 36th, seven laps down, but under power. This would be Cram’s first XFINITY start at Nashville.

RETURNING: #77-Spire Motorsports
With now a Cup Series start in his back pocket after a promising start in Gateway, Carson Hocevar will run Spire’s #77 entry for the first time since his third and most recent XFINITY race in Charlotte, where he finished 8th.

It’s a Chastain swap in Mario Gosselin’s #91 entry as Chad Chastain returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since his 32nd-place showing in Dover with the same team. Chad takes the place of brother Ross, who finished 18th in Sonoma.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Taking the place of another Cup regular in 27th-place Sonoma finisher Daniel Suarez is Stefan Parsons, who welcomes Nelson’s Green Brier as the sponsor of Bobby Dotter’s #07. Stefan returns to the series for the first time since Portland, where overheating issues saddled this same team with a 37th-place finish.

CUP INVADERS: #10-A.J. Allmendinger, #19-Ty Gibbs

Sunday, June 25, 2023 (7:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
CUP Race 17 of 36
Ally 400 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Alex Bowman

There are 36 entries for 40 spots, marking the 16th straight short field in 17 races.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Brennan Poole rejoins the Cup Series with a colorful paint scheme for his sponsor Mac Door Systems. Taking the place of 35th-place Sonoma finisher Andy Lally, Poole will make his first Cup start at Nashville and his fourth start of 2023.

DRIVER SWAP: #38-Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rejoining Poole as teammates at Rick Ware Racing is J.J. Yeley, who takes the wheel of the #51 with Patriot Mobile as sponsor – Yeley’s 12th start of the year and first since Gateway, where he finished 24th – which was actually his second-worst finish since his last-place run in Martinsville. Yeley takes the place of 24th-place Sonoma finisher Todd Gilliland, who returns to his #38 in place of Zane Smith, who took 34th after a pit miscue.

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Legacy Motor Club
Welcome back Noah Gragson, who on Sunday will make his first Cup start since concussion symptoms stemming from his brutal wreck at Gateway sidelined him for Sonoma, where Grant Enfinger climbed to 26th in his Cup debut. Gragson will also bring back the Black Rifle Coffee sponsorship that last ran in Charlotte.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 22, 1968): Bobby Isaac picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Pickens 200 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway when his #71 K&K Insurance 1967 Dodge lost the engine after 14 laps. Isaac, who started 4th in the 22-car field, hadn’t finished last in a Cup race since his 17th career Cup start at Myrtle Beach, nearly five years earlier. 

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