Friday, July 21, 2023

PREVIEW: Double-duty drivers abound on Pocono entry lists

IMAGE: @NieceMotorsport

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, July 22, 2023 (12:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 15 of 23
CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Bodine

There are 39 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning three will fail to qualify.

For the third time this season, Kaz Grala will run for TRICON Garage, this time taking the place of 27th-place Mid-Ohio finisher William Sawalich in the #1 entry with Serial 1 Cycles as sponsor. Grala last raced this truck at COTA, where he finished 9th, and he also led 5 laps in his other run at Las Vegas.

RETURNING: #6-Norm Benning Racing
Norm Benning makes the trip to his home track, seeking his 13th Pocono start. Last year’s DNQ marked the first time he had ever missed the Truck Series race there. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #7-Spire Motorsports
While originally listed as “TBA,” it was revealed that XFINITY Series superspeedway standout Austin Hill would attempt his first Truck Series start of the season, returning to the site of his last start in this same race last year, when he finished 6th. Hill takes the place of 19th-place Mid-Ohio finisher Marco Andretti, and carries sponsorship from ARCO Design / Build.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Another “TBA” filled in later this week was that of Chad Chastain, who on Saturday seeks his sixth career Truck Series start and second of the year, following a last-place finish for Niece Motorsports at Texas after an early crash. Chastain takes the place of Matt Mills, who finished 22nd in Mid-Ohio.

Win The Race rejoins upstart Stephen Mallozzi as sponsor of AM Racing’s #22 Ford as he seeks his fourth career Truck Series start, his first at Pocono, and his first in the series since a 31st-place showing for Reaume Brothers Racing at Gateway. Mallozzi takes the place of Austin Wayne Self, who ran 30th in his series return at Mid-Ohio.

Pocono means a return to action for the underdogs at Jim Rosenblum’s FDNY Racing, bringing Bryan Dauzat back to the track for the first time since his DNQ in this year’s opener at Daytona. Dauzat’s four starts at Pocono are his second-most starts among active tracks, trailing only Daytona and Talladega. Like Benning,, he DNQ’s last year, and his best finish was a 22nd in 2017.

MISSING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Not among this week’s entrants is the On Point effort, with which Ryan Vargas earned a 23rd-place finish in Mid-Ohio.

MISSING: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Also not making the trip north is the second entry from Josh Reaume’s team, which ARCA newcomer Caleb Costner was unable to put into the field at Mid-Ohio. Reaume himself, who also DNQ’d that day, will return to the track in his #33.

DRIVER CHANGE: #41-Niece Motorsports
Pending qualifying, Ross Chastain will race against his brother Chad in Saturday’s Truck Series race, the Cup regular taking the place of 18th-place Mid-Ohio finisher Conor Daly in Al Niece’s #41 Chevrolet. All four of the Niece trucks will be running blue paint schemes this weekend in what the team dubbed “The Blue Brigade.”

RETURNING: #44-Niece Motorsports
New to the “Blue Brigade” is Kaden Honeycutt, who returns to the Truck Series for the first time since his 17th-place showing in North Wilkesboro for Young’s Motorsports. Honeycutt, who started the year with Roper Racing, earning a strong 9th-place showing in the Bristol Dirt Race, will pilot an unsponsored #44 entry. He will also have to qualify on time as this is the #44’s first attempt of 2023.

MISSING: #46-G2G Racing
Still another underdog not on this week’s entry list is G2G Racing, which entered Dale Quarterley at Mid-Ohio for a 35th-place finish after overheating issues near the midpoint. The team plans to return to action in Richmond with a driver to be announced.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
The second of three Cup Series regulars in the field is none other than Kyle Busch, winner of this race in 2015 and 2018, and last year’s runner-up to John Hunter Nemechek. Busch takes the place of Jack Wood, ho finished 31st in Mid-Ohio.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Tyler Hill jumps in for brother Timmy Hill this week, set to make his third series start of the season and first since Charlotte, where he finished 24th. This will be Tyler’s fourth series start at Pocono, where as the team reported, his best finish was 19th in 2020.

RETURNING: #61-Hattori Racing Enterprises
The part-time second entry from HRE returns to action for the first time since North Wilkesboro, and just like that day, the driver will be Cup Series regular Christopher Bell, who finished 16th in that race. Gunma Toyopet is the listed sponsor of his Toyota.

MISSING: #66-ThorSport Racing
ThorSport has elected to not enter their own part-time truck this week, which Conner Jones piloted to a 28th-place finish after late-race brake issues in Mid-Ohio.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Returning to action this week is Parker Kligerman, who will pull double-duty in his first race for Charlie Henderson since Bristol, where he finished 34th. While in Playoff contention with Big Machine Racing in XFINITY, Kligerman has struggled in all four of his previous Truck starts this year, never finishing under power, and each time coming home no better than 31st. He looks for a turnaround with the return of Tide as sponsor, the same backer for his Mid-Ohio victory last year.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Still another “TBA” on the preliminary entry list was the #02 entry for Randy Young, which this week goes to Stefan Parsons. This would be Parsons’ 10th series start and first since the Bristol Dirt Race, where his race in an unsponsored #20 for Young ended after just 7 laps when he was collected in an early crash. This week, he takes the place of Will Rodgers, whose rough afternoon in Mid-Ohio left him a distant 34th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #04-Roper Racing
Cory Roper will make his 45th series start on Saturday, but only his second of 2023, following a 21st-place finish in Nashville. This week, he takes the place of Landen Lewis, who ran 24th in his series debut at Mid-Ohio.

CUP INVADERS: #41-Ross Chastain, #51-Kyle Busch, #61-Christopher Bell

Saturday, July 22, 2023 (5:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 19 of 33
Explore The Pocono Mountains 225 at Pocono
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Rajah Caruth

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

RETURNING: #3-Richard Childress Racing
A perhaps unexpected Cup Series regular on Saturday’s entry list is Ty Dillon, who for the first time since his 19th-place showing in Darlington will be entered in the iconic #3 from Richard Childress Racing. Again sponsored by Ferris Commercial Mowers, Dillon will run double-duty with his Cup effort at Spire Motorsports, but needs to qualify on time for the XFINITY race.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
Taking a turn in the #10 this week is another Cup regular in Daniel Suarez, who with sponsorship from LeafHome Water will also make just his second XFINITY start of the year, his first since a 27th-place showing at Sonoma for SS-Green Light Racing. Suarez takes the place of Ty Dillon’s brother Austin, who last Saturday in Loudon finished 16th and led 4 laps.

RETURNING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Chase Elliott returns to the site of his inherited Cup victory of a year ago, which is his first XFINITY attempt since rain washed his #88 entry out of the field last year at Darlington. This time, Elliott is entered in Hendrick’s #17, which in its most recent race at Sonoma finished 3rd after a late-race miscue by Kyle Larson. This would be Elliott’s 83rd series start and first since the 2021 race at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit, where he ran 4th for JR Motorsports.

DRIVER SWAP: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
“It’s Heim Time” again as Corey Heim returns for his third career XFINITY Series race, his first since a 10th-place showing in Darlington. He drives the #24, which moves Connor Mosack – 26th after a late-race wreck on the apron of Turn 2 at Loudon – to the #19 with Irwin Trade Strong as sponsor. Mosack’s move bumps out Joe Graf, Jr., who led 8 laps at Loudon before he was involved in the same crash as Mosack, leaving him 29th. Graf goes to the #38 at RSS Racing, replacing 30th-place Loudon finisher Chris Hacker, who’s not entered. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Both team co-owners Joey Gase and Patrick Emerling will do battle this weekend in Pocono as they race the team’s two cars. Gase, who most recently finished 31st in Nashville, takes the wheel of the #35. This moves Emerling, who ran a career-best 14th in Loudon, back to the #35 in place of 28th-place Loudon finisher C.J. McLaughlin, who’s not entered. No sponsor is yet listed for Emerling while Adkins Automotive backs Gase.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
It was a rough afternoon at Loudon for both Rajah Caruth and Greg Van Alst, who each suffered early mechanical issues, and despite valiant work from the Alpha Prime team, were unable to rejoin the race. Both teams have new drivers this week. Sage Karam takes the place of Caruth in the #44, making his sixth start of the year and first since he took 22nd on the streets of Chicago. Taking the place of two-time last-place finisher Greg Van Alst is a returning Jeffrey Earnhardt, who most recently ran 23rd in Atlanta. Erie Sports Center joins ForeverLawn as Earnhardt’s sponsor while CRC Brakleen, Saturday’s sponsor of the Truck Series race, backs Karam.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
With Tyler Hill running Saturday’s Truck Series race, Timmy Hill rejoins Carl Long at MBM to attempt the XFINITY Series race. Last week’s 38-car entry list finally secured the team its first start of the year, but a mechanical issue on pit road left Chad Finchum in 35th.

RETURNIG: #74-CHK Racing
Also looking for a breakthrough is Mike Harmon’s CHK Racing, which returns to action after they withdrew from Loudon, securing MBM their spot in the race. Dawson Cram is again the driver, this time with United Troopers Foundation as sponsor. Cram seeks his first XFINITY start since Charlotte, where he ran 36th, under power at the checkered flag.

DRIVER SWAP: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Chad Chastain pulls double-duty with the Truck Series as he is entered in Mario Gosselin’s #91 entry, replacing 12th-place Loudon finisher Alex Labbe. This would be Chad’s fourth XFINITY start of the season and first since Nashville, where he finished 29th with the same team. MAR-DELicious Watermelons is the listed sponsor. Labbe is still entered as he was swapped in for original entrant David Starr, who was set to replace 10th-place Loudon finisher Mason Massey in the #08 for SS-Green Light Racing. That 10th-place run was a new career-best for Massey, and it came in his 50th series start.

CUP INVADERS: #3-Ty Dillon, #10-Daniel Suarez, #17-Chase Elliott

Sunday, July 23, 2023 (2:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 21 of 36
High 400 at Pocono
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Busch

The Cup entry list remains at the 36 Chartered entries, marking the 20th consecutive short field after 40 took the green in the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
Bringing back his Patriot Mobile paint scheme promoting Angel Studios’ film “Sound of Freedom,” a scheme the driver piloted to a strong 9th-place showing in Atlanta, J.J. Yeley is again the driver of the #15, taking the place of 30th-place Loudon finisher Ryan Newman. This comes at the end of a week where, on Thursday, Ware made the surprising announcement that Justin Haley will leave Kaulig Racing to drive for RWR full-time in 2024.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 21, 2001): Dale Shaw picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the New England 200 at the New Hampshire International Speedway when his #93 Troxell Motorsports Chevrolet had ignition problems after 2 laps. This was to be Shaw's only career Truck start after 45 career Busch Series races from 1986 through 1999, yielding a best finish of 2nd to Randy LaJoie at South Boston in 1997.

No comments: