Thursday, September 14, 2023

PREVIEW: Bristol sees the return of Junior, the debut of Carson Kvapil, and a special sponsorship for Stephen Mallozzi

PHOTO: Stephen Mallozzi, @DriverMallozz

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Thursday, September 14, 2023 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 20 of 23
Round of 8: Race 1 of 3
UNOH 200 Presented by Ohio Logistics at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Spencer Boyd

There are 38 drivers entered for 36 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify.

William Sawalich is back to make his sixth series start and first since Milwaukee, where he finished 26th. Back in TRICON’s #1 entry, taking the place of 9th-place Kansas finisher Jess Love, Sawalich comes into this race with four consecutive races where he qualified 12th or better. His 6th-place run at IRP remains his best of the season.

RETURNING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Second-generation racer Carson Kvapil continues his meteoric rise from the late model ranks with his first-ever attempt at a NASCAR national series race. JR Motorsports’ development driver, the winner of North Wilkesboro’s inaugural Window World 125 last summer, and runner-up to Connor Mosack in his ARCA debut last week in Kansas, Kvapil will run Spire’s #7, which last ran at Milwaukee for Derek Kraus’ 8th-place showing in Milwaukee.

MISSING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Jennifer Jo Cobb is not among this week’s entrants after her 34th-place finish in her series return last week in Kansas.

DRIVER SWAP: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
When Stephen Mallozzi discussed his day job as a server at Outback Steakhouse following his second series start at Martinsville this past April, it triggered a chain of events that led to this weekend’s moment, where Outback will sponsor the New Jersey driver’s fifth series start. Complete with a brand-new uniform paid for by merchandise sales, Mallozzi will pilot AM Racing’s #22 entry, taking the place of 35th-place Kansas finisher Mason Maggio. Maggio will also run this weekend, taking the place of 28th-place Kansas finisher Chase Janes. Both drivers will be making their first starts at Bristol. UPDATE: Memphis Villarreal from G2G Racing has taken Maggio's place in the #33.

RETURNING: #44-Niece Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
Danny Bohn returns to the Truck Series for his first Truck Series attempt since May 6, 2022 at Darlington, seeking his 36th series start and third at Bristol. This time, Bohn drives for Al Niece in the team’s returning #44 entry, which failed to qualify with Chad Chastain in the team’s last attempt at IRP. The #44’s only start of the year was at Pocono, where Kaden Honeycutt finished 20th. Honeycutt will also run this week, once again in the #02 with which he ran 27th in Kansas. The team originally had TBA listed for its driver. Both Honeycutt's #02 and the #9 of Colby Howard arrive in Bristol after losing 10 driver and owner points for L1 penalties handed down Tuesday for improper triangular filler panels.

RETURNING: #66-ThorSport Racing
Bristol marks Conner Jones’ eighth series start, his first since Milwaukee, where he tied his season-best 18th from his debut at Martinsville. This is also the return of ThorSport’s #66 team to Bristol for the first time since Joey Logano won with the team on the dirt this past spring.

RETURNING: #75-Henderson Motorsports
Before Parker Kligerman embarks on his first XFINITY Playoff run with Big Machine Racing, he’ll first reunite with Charlie Henderson’s team for the first time since their 22nd-place finish in Pocono – ironically, his best run of the season so far, and the only Truck Series race he’s finished under power in 2023.

MISSING: #04-Roper Racing
Not among the entrants this week is Spencer Davis, whose practice crash at Kansas resulted in such damage to the team’s only truck that they pulled in after one lap.


Friday, September 15, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 27 of 33
Round of 12: Race 1 of 3
Food City 300 at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Brandon Brown

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

DRIVER SWAP: #4-JD Motorsports
Josh Bilicki will make his first XFINITY start at Bristol since 2019 – a track where he’s finished no better than 32nd in the series and has yet to finish under power. This time around, he takes the place of Kansas last-place finisher Kyle Weatherman in the #91 with returning sponsorship from Insurance King and his 2020 backer Rock’n Vodka. Weatherman is also running this weekend, taking the place of 25th-place Kansas finisher Garrett Smithley in Johnny Davis’ #4.

DRIVER CHANGE: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Trevor Bayne returns to his home track for his first XFINITY race at Bristol since 2014, when he finished 13th for Roush-Fenway Racing. He this time takes the controls of JGR’s #19 with He Gets Us as sponsor, replacing Joe Graf, Jr., who earned his fourth career top-ten finish with a 9th in Kansas. Graf is also running this weekend, back in RSS Racing’s #38. Graf takes the place of Nick Leitz, who finished 31st in his series debut last week.

MISSING: #29-RSS Racing
Speaking of the RSS team, the organization will not bring their part-time fourth entry, the #29, with which Kyle Sieg finished 20th in Kansas. Kyle will move back to the #28 in place of C.J. McLaughlin, who finished 22nd – his second-best finish of 2023. Cooks Comfort is Kyle’s listed sponsor.

TEAM UPDATE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
TEAM UPDATE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
As of Tuesday night, there were no drivers listed to run both Emerling-Gase Motorsports entries. Last week’s race in Kansas saw Joey Gase finish 24th in the #35 while Matt Mills took 19th in the #53, both two laps down to race winner John Hunter Nemechek. By Wednesday, team co-owner Patrick Emerling was listed in the #35 alongside B.J. McLeod, who will pull double-duty between XFINITY and Cup as he climbs aboard the #53. This will be McLeod's 167th series start, and his first since last fall's Phoenix finale, where he finished 32nd.

DRIVER SWAP: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #45-Alpha Prime Racing
Jeffrey Earnhardt is back in an Alpha Prime Chevrolet for the first time since his season-best 11th last month in Daytona. He again pilots the #45, this time taking the place of 29th-place Kansas finisher Rajah Caruth, who struggled after a couple of spins in last Saturday’s race. Caruth looks to boost a team that is itself struggling in APR’s #44, which failed to qualify both at Darlington with Dawson Cram and Leland Honeyman last week in Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Following Honeyman’s DNQ last week, Tommy Joe Martins arranged with Carl Long for him to take the place of Timmy Hill in the qualified #66 Ford, coming home a solid 26th. This week, Honeyman’s not on the entry list, and Hill is again listed in the MBM Ford.

MISSING: #74-CHK Racing
The Mike Harmon / Gary Keller effort is not among this week’s entries after they withdrew from Kansas without a driver listed.

RETURNING: #88-JR Motorsports
For a sixth straight season since his retirement from full-time Cup competition in 2017, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is back for a one-off XFINITY Series start. This time, for the first time since his 13th-place finish in that same ’17 season, the site is Bristol, where he last won in 2004. Pending qualifying, this will be Junior’s 145th series start.

DRIVER CHANGE: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Taking the place of Dawson Cram, who along with teammate Mason Massey put both of Bobby Dotter’s cars finished inside the first 21 positions, Stefan Parsons is back for his first XFINITY start since his 19th-place showing in Darlington.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
In place of 16th-place Kansas finisher Mason Massey comes a returning Chad Finchum, who carries sponsorship from Elite Petroleum on his red-and-white Ford. Back at the site of his Cup debut back in 2018, Finchum seeks his eighth XFINITY start at Bristol, where he earned a best finish of 20th in both 2019 and 2020.


Saturday, September 16, 2023 (7:30 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 29 of 36
Round of 16: Race 3 of 3
Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Martin Truex, Jr.

There are only the 36 Chartered entries once more, the 28th straight short field following the Daytona 500.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
While the preliminary entry list still showed Cole Custer, who finished 24th during a solid race at Kansas, the ride will instead go to Ryan Newman, marking his 40th Cup start at Bristol. Despite three poles and at one point holding the track qualifying record, Newman has yet to win a Cup race at this track. His best finish came in this race in 2004, when he finished runner-up to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Sheldon Creed doesn’t have any other Cup starts planned this season, one week after a cancelled Truck Series start allowed him to run 29th in a Playoff race at Kansas, the first of his Cup career. Back in the driver’s seat is B.J. McLeod, most recently the last-place finisher after late-race engine trouble at Darlington. McLeod’s best of five previous Cup starts here came in this race last year, when he finished 24th.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 14, 1958): Bailey Wynkoop picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in the Richmond 200 at the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds – the current Richmond Raceway when it was a half-mile dirt track – when his #5 1956 Chevrolet lost the engine after 15 laps. This was the second and last Cup start for the driver from Falls Church, Virginia.

No comments: