Thursday, July 13, 2023

PREVIEW: Loudon sees the return of Newman and a few XFINITY upstarts

IMAGE: @JoeGibbsRacing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, July 15, 2023 (3:00 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 18 of 33
Ambetter Health 200 at New Hampshire
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Noah Gragson

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will fail to qualify.

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
This week, Mario Gosselin’s team is not entering the #36 Chevrolet, which was involved in a hard crash last week at Atlanta with Kyle Weatherman taking 31st. Weatherman this week moves back to JD Motorsports’ #4, taking the place of 26th-place Atlanta finisher Garrett Smithley.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
The preliminary entry list showed “TBA” for Kaulig’s #10 entry this week, but it will be Cup regular Austin Dillon and his LA Golf sponsorship back on board for the second time this year and first since their 8th-place showing at Fontana in February. Dillon takes the place of fellow Cup regular Justin Haley, who finished 4th after the Kaulig team’s late-race strategy collapsed.

DRIVER SWAP: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Loudon sees the second series start for Chris Hacker, who with this same RSS Racing team finished a strong 14th in his series debut. Hacker takes the place of Joe Graf, Jr., who after a strong run of his own in Atlanta before running out of fuel left him 21st is this week in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 entry in place of Cup regular Ty Gibbs, 6th in Atlanta. Graf last ran the #19 in Richmond, where poor handling and bad luck left him next-to-last, 14 laps down.

DRIVER CHANGE: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Connor Mosack rejoins the Sam Hunt effort for the first time since his 35th-place finish in Nashville, and rejoins the XFINITY circuit after not running Atlanta following his rain-shortened 35th-place run on the Chicago Street Course for JGR. Mosack takes the place of Parker Chase, who was 27th in Atlanta, and carries sponsorship from FW Webb Company.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
The “Magic Mile” holds special significance for team co-owner Patrick Emerling, who will run double-duty this weekend with both his #35 XFINITY entry and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. On the XFINITY side, Emerling takes the place of David Starr, who ran 22nd under the lights at Atlanta.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Saturday also sees the series return of Rajah Caruth, who climbs aboard the #44 with returning sponsorship from Circle. It will be Caruth’s 12th XFINITY start and first since Charlotte, where he was 25th. Caruth arrives in place of Atlanta last-place finisher Greg Van Alst, who looks to rebound from his frustrating debut as he pilots the #45 in place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, who was 23rd last Saturday. Earnhardt will rejoin the #45 team next week in Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
Loudon is the next race for C.J. McLaughlin, who was swapped out of the #53 entry in his last attempt at Nashville. McLaughlin and his Sci-Aps sponsorship take the place of Akinori Ogata, who returned after a mechanical issue in Atlanta to climb out of the Bottom Five, taking home 29th.

RETURNING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
After Carl Long’s team withdrew from last week’s race in Atlanta, Chad Finchum is back on this week’s entry list with Wild Willies sponsoring his Toyota. Finchum still seeks his first XFINITY start of the season after three prior DNQs.

Likely to battle Finchum for the final spot in Saturday’s field is a returning Dawson Cram, who along with the CHK Racing team are back for the first time since their DNQ in Chicago. Cram seeks his 4th start of the season and first since Charlotte, where he finished 36th, seven laps down to the winner.

Alex Labbe swaps in for 18th-place Atlanta finisher Josh Bilicki in Mario Gosselin’s #91 entry this week. The Quebec native seeks his fifth start at Loudon, where his best finish was 22nd in 2019. Labbe last took the green in Chicago, where he took 21st when the rain came.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Stefan Parsons is back with the Bobby Dotter team for the first time since Parsons was collected in the first lap, first corner tangle at Nashville that left them in last place. Parsons takes the place of Mason Maggio, who held last place for much of the Atlanta event before he returned to the track after a series of cut tires and electrical issues.

CUP INVADERS: #10-Austin Dillon

Sunday, July 16, 2023 (2:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 20 of 36
Crayon 301 at New Hampshire
2022 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

There are 36 drivers entered for as many spots, marking the 19th straight field with fewer than 40 entries, and the 12th with only the Chartered teams.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
One week after J.J. Yeley enjoyed one of the best nights of his long Cup career, taking home 7th, he will bring back his Patriot Mobile / Sound of Freedom paint scheme next week in Pocono. Taking his place this week is three-time Loudon winner Ryan Newman, who carries Parts Plus sponsorship on the #15 Ford this week.

MISSING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Not among the entrants this week is the Beard Motorsports team, last week’s only “open” entry, which finished last with Austin Hill after a mid-race tangle with Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe. Expect driver and team to return to the series next month in Daytona.

Saturday, July 22, 2023
TRUCKS Race 15 of 23
CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Todd Bodine

The Craftsman Truck Series takes the week off and returns to action next week in Pocono.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 13, 1969): Wayne Gillette picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Grand National Series career in the Northern 300 at the Trenton Speedway when his #09 1967 Chevrolet lost the engine after 1 lap. Gillette would score all five of his Cup Series last-place runs during the 1969 season and win the LASTCAR Championship on a bottom-five tiebreaker with J.D. McDuffie of 13-8.

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