Friday, August 4, 2023

PREVIEW: Another XFINITY start for Hocevar, another Cup start for Austin Hill among Michigan storylines

PHOTO: @dawsoncram41

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, August 5, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, NBC)
XFINITY Race 21 of 33
Cabo Wabo 250 at Michigan
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Matt Mills

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

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
Garrett Smithley returns to run the #4 for the first time since Pocono, where he ran 21st. This moves Kyle Weatherman, the 20th-place Road America finisher, to Mario Gosselin’s #91. Weatherman takes the place of Josh Bilicki, who earned a career-best 8th with the team at his home track in Wisconsin.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Joining A.J. Allmendinger as one of only two Cup regulars in Saturday’s field is Ty Gibbs, fresh off both his first career top-five finish in Pocono and a lightning-quick stop by his crew last week in Richmond. Gibbs returns to the #19 with He Gets Us as sponsor, taking the place of Connor Mosack, 29th after rear gear trouble in Road America. Mosack will also run this Saturday as he returns to the Sam Hunt #24, replacing Sage Karam, who was a couple moves away from scoring a surprising win last Saturday. Karam will also run this Saturday as he replaces Dexter Stacey, 25th in Road America, in Carl Long’s #66.

DRIVER SWAP: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling Gase Motorsports
C.J. McLaughlin returns for his sixth start of the season and first since Loudon, where he ran 28th. McLaughlin and his Sci-Aps sponsorship take the place of Patrick Emerling in the #53, moving the 22nd-place Road America finisher to the #35 in place of Stanton Barrett, not far behind in 24th that day.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
NASCAR didn’t approve Leland Honeyman to attempt his first oval track start after his 28th-place finish in Road America due to transmission issues. Honeyman was to move from the #45 from last week to the #44, bringing with him sponsorship form Eighth Order. Now taking his place will be Mason Massey, who after a career-best 10th-place finish in his last start at Loudon will swap in for another career-best runner in Brad Perez, 19th last week in Road America. Taking Honeyman’s original seat in the #45 is a returning Jeffrey Earnhardt, who welcomes sponsorship from Mondo Sports Group.

Seeking his first XFINITY Series start since Charlotte in his first attempt since the Chicago Street Course earlier this month, Dawson Cram seeks his fourth start of the year, the seventh of his career, in his first attempt since Pocono. Sitting atop the pit box this time is Dawson’s father Kevin Cram, who was Bill Elliott’s crew chief in the year 2000, scoring a win in Daytona’s Twin 125s. Cram seeks his first series start at Michigan.

RETURNING: #77-Spire Motorsports
Fresh off another Truck Series victory in Richmond, Carson Hocevar is back with the Spire Motorsports XFINITY effort for the first time since a crash left him 36th in Nashville.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
It was a frustrating afternoon in Road America for the struggling SS-Green Light Racing effort as Katherine Legge’s water pump issue left her stranded on track, soon to be followed by Alex Labbe’s catastrophic brake failure heading into Turn 1 that left him in the tire barriers. This week, both rides have different drivers. Mason Maggio is in the #08 seeking his fourth series start of the year and first since Atlanta in July with Phoenix HVAC as sponsor. Running the #07 is Stefan Parsons with Ollie’s and Rich Mar Florist as sponsor, seeking his 9th series start and first since suspension issues in Loudon left him 36th.

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

Sunday, August 6, 2023 (2:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 23 of 36
FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Austin Cindric

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the 22nd straight race with fewer than 40 entries, and only the ninth with more than the Chartered 36 teams on the list.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rejoining the Rick Ware team is Cole Custer, who will make his fourth Cup start of the year and first since his season-best 25th in Pocono. Custer takes the place of Ryan Newman, who took 29th last week in Richmond.

RETURNING: #62-Beard Motorsports
Returning to the site of his 18th-place Cup debut last year for Richard Childress Racing, Austin Hill is back with the Beard Motorsports team, looking to rebound from a disappointing last-place finish at Atlanta in July.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
With his career-best XFINITY Series finish last week in Road America, Josh Bilicki returns to the Cup Series in place of Richmond last-place finisher B.J. McLeod, who finished just five laps down in perhaps the tightest field in the history of the Cup Series. Bilicki last ran Cup in Chicago, where he finished 23rd, and the team looks for another strong qualifying run after McLeod’s 21st-place lap in Richmond.

Friday, August 11, 2023
TRUCKS Race 17 of 23
Round of 10: Race 1 of 3
TSport 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Spencer Boyd

The Truck Series will return in two weeks to kick off the action in and around Indianapolis - and the Truck Series Playoffs.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (August 4, 1995): Larry Pearson picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Busch Grand National Series career in the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park when his #92 Stanley Tools Chevrolet was involved in a four-car accident after 18 laps. This was Pearson’s final last-place finish in his 259-race career.

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