Thursday, June 8, 2023

PREVIEW: Cup invaders threaten to dominate inaugural XFINITY race at Sears Point rides along with Brad Perez this weekend on the Emerling-Gase #53.
IMAGE: @bradperezracing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

For the second time in 2023, I will be covering the action trackside, this time at my home track in Sonoma. Just like last year, I will also be joined by one of my staff writers, Ben Schneider. For our updates, be sure to follow my Twitter feed @LASTCARonBROCK and Ben’s at @bcschneider53.

#5-Riley Herbst
#9-Ryan Preece 
#46-Kyle Sieg 
#55-Cole Custer 
#81-Sammy Smith 
#02-Parker Retzlaff

Saturday, June 10, 2023 (8:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
XFINITY Race 15 of 33
DoorDash 250 at Sears Point
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Inaugural Event

For the first time in Sears Point’s history, the XFINITY Series will take to the track, following up on a thrilling road race event last week in Portland. This week, there are 42 drivers making the long trip west – three more than in Portland - meaning three teams will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
The first of no less than seven Cup regulars populating Saturday’s entry list is Ty Dillon, who returns to the XFINITY Series for the first time since Darlington, when he steered RCR’s #3 to a 19th-place finish. This time around, Dillon drives for JD Motorsports, taking the place of 24th-place Portland finisher Garrett Smithley. Dillon’s best of four Cup starts at Sonoma came last suer, when he ran 23rd for Petty-GMS.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
The next Cup regular is A.J. Allmendinger, who makes his 95th XFINITY start and first since COTA, where he won from the pole. Gabriel Glas is the listed sponsor of the #10, which last week finished 27th in the hands of Jordan Taylor. Taylor spends this week overseas as part of NASCAR’s “Garage 56” effort in Le Mans.

RETURNING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson, the 2021 series champion and winner of the Toyota / Save Mart 350, also makes his first XFINITY start since Darlington. This time, he drives Hendrick’s #17, whose only other start this year was at COTA, where William Byron finished runner-up to Allmendinger.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
The fourth Cup regular is rookie contender Ty Gibbs, who will turn his first laps on Sonoma’s track during his double-duty effort. This would be Gibbs’ third XFINITY start of 2023, following his 3rd-place run in COTA and 5th in Charlotte. Gibbs takes the place of Myatt Snider, who finished 6th in Portland.

NEW TEAM: #29-RSS Racing
Cup regular number five is Aric Almirola, still another driver who ran the XFINITY event at COTA, his for SS-Green Light Racing for a 24th-place finish in the #08. This time around, Almirola runs for fellow Ford team RSS Racing, piloting the #28 driven to a 34th-place finish by Kyle Sieg, who had rear gear issues in Portland. Kyle Sieg will make the trip west, but contrary to the preliminary list will instead run the ARCA West Series race in the #46. Taking Kyle’s place is Alex Labbe, who finished a strong 11th in Portland and this week debuts a new fourth part-time entry for the RSS team, the #29. Labbe’s #91 entry from last week goes to the sixth Cup regular in Ross Chastain, carrying sponsorship from Skip Barber Racing School.

DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #43-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Sage Karam’s fourth XFINITY start and 17th of his career is set to play out at Sonoma, where he’s never before competed in his open-wheel or sports car career. Karam returns to the #44 for the first time since Darlington with Quality Roof Seamers and ToughGuard as sponsors. This moves Dylan Lupton from the #44 with which he took 29th in Portland to the #43 in place of Leland Honeyman. Struck by food poisoning in Portland, Honeyman handed the wheel to Brad Perez, who nearly finished 13th before a last-lap, last-corner wreck left him 28th. This week, Honeyman and Perez are teammates at the Emerling-Gase team. Honeyman takes the #35 in place of 35th-place Parker Chase while Perez climbs aboard the #53 in for team co-owner Patrick Emerling, 20th in Portland. After the #53 ran without sponsorship last week, Perez’ #53 Apex Coffee Chevrolet will also include sponsorship from LASTCAR on both b-posts.

For the first time since Daytona, Mario Gosselin enters the #36 team in the XFINITY Series. Alex Labbe, who failed to qualify the entry in this year’s opener, will drive for RSS Racing in the #29, leaving the seat open for double-duty driver Josh Bilicki. Joining the team is SBC Contractors, which continues its series of team sponsorships at Sonoma into the first XFINITY race. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
For the first time, Carl Long makes the trip to Sonoma, this time as a team owner with his #66 entry. One week after Mason Maggio took a 36th-place finish after transmission issues in Portland, it is Mason Filippi piloting the Ford. Last year, it was Filippi who was slated to run G2G Racing’s #46 entry in the Truck Series race before the sequence of events led to Stefan Parsons taking over.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
The seventh and last Cup regular on the entry list is last year’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 winner Daniel Suarez, still aiming for his first Cup win since. Suarez seeks his 85th XFINITY start and first since June 30, 2018 at Chicagoland. This time, he drives the #07 entry for SS-Green Light Racing, taking the place of 37th-place finisher Stefan Parsons, who overheated 17 laps into the Portland race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
The second SS-Green Light entry goes to Kyle Weatherman, who makes his eighth XFINITY start of the year and first since Charlotte, when he steered DGM Racing’s #91 to a 20th-place finish. This week, Weatherman takes the place of Preston Pardus, who finished 31st in Portland after mechanical issues.

CUP INVADERS: #4-Ty Dillon, #10-A.J. Allmendinger, #17-Kyle Larson, #19-Ty Gibbs, #28-Aric Almirola, #91-Ross Chastain, #07-Daniel Suarez

Sunday, June 11, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, FS1)
CUP Race 16 of 36
Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sears Point
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Bubba Wallace

Only the 36 Chartered entries will venture out to California this week, marking the 15th straight short field since the 40-car grid at the Daytona 500.

DRIVER SWAP: #7-Spire Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #9-Hendrick Motorsports
Chase Elliott returns from his one-week suspension for wrecking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600, moving Corey LaJoie back to the #7 in place of first-timer Carson Hocevar. One year after he earned the Truck Series pole while nursing his leg injury, Hocevar will not run this weekend after he battled up to 16th in Gateway before brake failure put him into the wall.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
After looking for backing to run more races in the NextGen car, road race ace Andy Lally, the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year, landed sponsorship from Camping World. This puts Lally in the #15 in place of both Gateway’s 29th-place finisher Gray Gaulding and the “TBA” on this week’s preliminary list. It will be Lally’s first Cup start at Sonoma since his rookie campaign in 2011, when he ran 35th for The Racer’s Group.

DRIVER SWAP: #38-Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
For the second time in three races, Zane Smith will run the #38, moving Todd Gilliland to the #51 in place of 24th-place Gateway finisher J.J. Yeley. It was Zane who finished runner-up to Kyle Busch in last year’s Truck Series race at Sonoma, and Gilliland took 24th in last year’s Cup race. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Legacy Motor Club
On Thursday came news that Noah Gragson sufffered concussion symptoms following his hard crash at Gateway. Grant Enfinger has been tabbed as his replacement, fresh off his Truck win at Gateway. This will be Enfinger's Cup debut - his only prior attempt was with Sinica Motorsports at Homestead in 2011.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Josh Bilicki makes his fourth Cup start at Sonoma in a fourth different car number, following finishes of 36th, 29th, and 29th driving for Rick Ware Racing and Spire Motorsports. This time, he takes the place of team co-owner B.J. McLeod, 27th in Gateway. This will be Bilicki’s first Cup start in any respect since the All-Star Open in North Wilkesboro, where he started 11th and finished 10th in a field of 16.

Friday, June 23, 2023
TRUCKS Race 13 of 23
Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Chase Janes

While the Truck Series was part of the Sears Point weekend last year, they will this time take two weeks off and return in Nashville.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (June 8, 1980): D.K. Ulrich scored the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in the Warner W. Hodgdon 400 at Riverside, where his #40 Midwestern Farm Lines Chevrolet lost the engine without completing a lap. While stranded on the backstretch with his hood up, Ulrich famously was invited to come drink with some fans, and decided to go join them. 

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