Friday, September 8, 2023

PREVIEW: Young stars continue to climb the ranks amidst Playoff frenzy in Kansas

PHOTO: Kaulig Racing, @KauligRacing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Friday, September 8, 2023 (9:00 P.M. ET, FS1)
TRUCKS Race 19 of 23
Round of 10: Race 3 of 3
Kansas Lottery 200 at Kansas
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Brett Moffitt

There are 36 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning all will qualify.

Fresh off his ninth ARCA Menards Series win of the season, padding his point lead to 129, Jesse Love returns to make his second career Truck Series start following a 9th-place effort in his Gateway debut. After driving Corey Heim’s #11 entry that day due to Heim’s illness, Love will this time campaign the #1 with HomeSmiles as sponsor, taking the place of 26th-place Milwaukee finisher William Sawalich.

MISSING: #7-Spire Motorsports
Not among this week’s entries is Spire’s #7 with which Derek Kraus earned a strong 8th-place finish in Milwaukee. Kraus will instead focus on the XFINITY Series with Kaulig Racing (see below). The #7 team will return next week in Bristol for the series debut of Carson Kvapil.

RETURNING: #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Welcome back Jennifer Jo Cobb, who has not attempted a Truck Series race since she finished 32nd at Talladega last fall. After an auction that sold much of her team’s equipment, Cobb returns to her home track campaigning her #10, seeking her 17th career Kansas start in the Truck Series.

MISSING: #21-Blackjack Racing
Not making the trip to the Midwest is Blackjack Racing, which left Milwaukee as the lone DNQ after local driver Dexter Bean was unable to make the cut in his #21. 

Taking the place of Josh Reaume, who finished 33rd in Milwaukee, Mason Maggio welcomes multiple Kansas-area sponsors aboard the #22 Ford, including Professional AG Services, Incorporated and Show-Me Real Estate. This will be Maggio’s ninth Truck Series start and fifth of the season, his first since a season-best 20th-place run for the Reaume Brothers in Nashville.

MISSING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Another team not running this week is the On Point effort, which with Brad Perez behind the wheel was collected in a hard Turn 1 crash at Milwaukee after Greg Van Alst’s apparent stuck throttle.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
Chase Janes makes his fourth career Truck Series start and only second of the year, following a 26th-place finish in Nashville. Then as now, he runs Josh Reaume’s #33 Ford, taking the place of 31st-place Milwaukee finisher Derek Lemke. ButlerBuilt is the listed sponsor for Janes’ first series start at Kansas.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Jack Wood brings sponsorship from the High Fives Foundation to KBM, taking the place of 25th-place Milwaukee finisher Matt Mills. This would be the ninth start of the year for Wood, his first since an 18th-place finish with this team in IRP.

DRIVER CHANGE: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy Hill swaps in for brother Tyler Hill, who ran 29th in Milwaukee, and brings back sponsorship from UNITS Storage. This will be Timmy’s 88th series start and 13th of the year, his first since a 23rd-place finish in Richmond.

DRIVER CHANGE: #61-Hattori Racing Enterprises
After Sean Hingorani took home 23rd in his Truck Series debut at Milwaukee, Jake Drew will this week campaign the second HRE entry with Cyclum Truck Stops as sponsor. Drew will make his third career Truck Series start following finishes of 12th at Nashville (with ThorSport) and 17th at IRP with this #61 team earlier this season.

MISSING: #66-ThorSport Racing
Speaking of ThorSport, the #66 entry is not running this week following an 18th-place run for Conner Jones in Milwaukee.

RETURNING: #90-Terry Carroll Motorsports
One team that is returning to action is the Carroll effort with Justin S. Carroll back behind the wheel of the #90 Carroll’s Automotive / Duratrain Toyota. Justin returns to the site of his series debut this past spring, where he rebounded from multiple DNQs to finish 23rd. He last took the green in Richmond, finishing 31st, and has yet to DNF in any of his starts.

DRIVER CHANGE: #02-Young’s Motorsports
It was a disappointing afternoon in Milwaukee for hometown driver Josh Bilicki, whose flat right-front tire put him out of the race in last place. After a “TBA” on the preliminary entry list, taking Bilicki’s place in the #02 this week is Kaden Honeycutt, who has continued to show flashes of brilliance with no fewer than three different teams in 2023 alone. He last took the green in Pocono, taking 20th in a part-time Niece Motorsports entry, and last drove for Randy Young in North Wilkesboro, taking 17th.

RETURNING: #04-Roper Racing
Welcome back to Spencer Davis, who we have not seen in the Truck Series since October 30, 2021, when his family last entered the #11 for three partial seasons with sponsorship from Inox Supreme Lubricants at Martinsville. Davis this time drives for Cory Roper, whose own #04 entry hasn’t run since IRP with Landen Lewis taking home 28th.


Saturday, September 9, 2023 (3:00 P.M. ET, NBC)
XFINITY Race 26 of 33
Regular Season Finale
Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Jeb Burton

Following the withdrawal of CHK Racing’s #74 entry, there are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
Making his 13th start of the season and first since a 16th-place showing in the August race at Daytona is Garrett Smithley, who brings with him Page Construction as sponsor of Johnny Davis’ #4 Chevrolet. Smithley takes the place of Kyle Weatherman, 31st last time out at Darlington, who this Saturday reunites with Mario Gosselin for the first time since his 35th-place finish at Michigan this past summer. Weatherman’s sponsor is itself a callback: Tweaker Energy Drinks hasn’t sponsored a NASCAR entry since May 7, 2016, when they backed Cole Whitt’s Premium Motorsports #98 in the Cup race at Kansas. The company hasn’t backed a XFINITY team since November 15, 2014 at Homestead with Mike Bliss’ #19 from TriStar Motorsports.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing 
DRIVER SWAP: #11-Kaulig Racing
The plan for this week had been for Derek Kraus to take the place of 9th-place Darlington finisher Kyle Busch in the #10 entry, to be sponsored by Hardscape Construction, Inc. But with the #10 team now in contention for the 2023 Owner’s Championship, the decision was made to have Daniel Hemric swap rides, putting Kraus in the #11. Hemric will run the #10 for the rest of this season, this week carrying his Cirkul sponsorship.

MISSING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
After finishing last on Saturday, then winning on Sunday at Darlington, Kyle Larson and the #17 team are not entered in the XFINITY race in Kansas, site of Ricky Hendrick’s first Truck Series win running the #17 in 2001.

DRIVER SWAP: #19-Joe Gibbs Racing
Making his XFINITY Series debut after just five career Truck Series starts – most recently a series-best 19th in Nashville – is Nick Leitz, who this week takes the wheel of the #38 Ford with sponsorship from “Support A Teacher” and Precision Measurements, Inc. The white-and-red Ford features a QR code on the hood and side panels. Leitz takes the place of 26th-place Darlington finisher Joe Graf, Jr., who this week will run Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 entry in place of Darlington winner Denny Hamlin. This will be Graf’s first start in the #19 since Loudon, where he finished 29th after a solid run was spoiled after he was collected in a Turn 2 crash. 

DRIVER CHANGE: #24-Sam Hunt Racing
Last week’s Darlington race saw Corey Heim climb back from an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire that dropped him to last place to earn 15th at the checkered flag. As Heim focuses on his Truck Series Playoff run this Friday, the #24 entry goes back to Connor Mosack, who most recently was collected in a mid-race wreck at Daytona that left him 37th.

C.J. McLaughlin returns for his first XFINITY Series start since Loudon, where he ran 28th with Emerling-Gase Motorsports, and drives for RSS Racing for the first time since last fall at Martinsville, where he took home 24th. McLaughlin will pilot RSS’ #28 in place of 35th-place Darlington finisher Kyle Sieg, who this week drives the returning #29 entry that Kyle was the last to run in Nashville, finishing 25th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
While the preliminary entry list showed a “TBA” for the primary Emerling-Gase entry which ran 36th in Darlington with Patrick Emerling, the team had already brought back Joey Gase’s late model “throwback” scheme on their Supra. Prepared for his first start since last month in Daytona, where he ran 14th, Gase is still looking for sponsorship. As of this writing, the hood remains blank, while the quarter-panels are backed by Cancun Mexican Grill and Bar, plus Sweeper Services, LLC of Minneapolis.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Leland Honeyman returns to NASCAR’s XFINITY Series for his first attempt since Road America, where he finished 20th after late-race transmission issues on Alpha Prime’s #45. This time, Honeyman drives the #44 which failed to qualify last week in Darlington with Dawson Cram in a Petty Enterprises “throwback” scheme. Cram will himself enter Saturday’s race, bringing Darlington sponsor Titan Construction to Bobby Dotter’s #07. Cram takes the place of Stefan Parsons, who finished 19th at Darlington.

WITHDREW: #74-CHK Racing
The #74 team had been on the preliminary entry list without a driver, but withdrew by Thursday.

DRIVER CHANGE: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
Piloting the second Bobby Dotter car is Mason Massey, who brings back his Brunt sponsorship onto the #08 Ford for his first XFINITY start since a career-best 10th-place showing with the team at Loudon. Massey takes the place of Chad Finchum, who finished 22nd with the team at Darlington.


Sunday, September 10, 2023 (3:00 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 28 of 36
Round of 16: Race 2 of 3
Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kevin Harvick

Only the 36 Chartered entries will make the trip to Kansas, marking the 27th straight short field in 2023.

PAINT SCHEME: #15-Rick Ware Racing
J.J. Yeley carries a bright green paint scheme this week for sponsor Jungle Law on his #15 Ford. Yeley ran 30th in last week’s Southern 500 and led Lap 34 during green-flag pit stops.

PAINT SCHEME: #42-Legacy Motor Club
With Carson Hocevar fresh off a solid 17th-place finish in just his second Cup start, the #42 team debuts a third different variant of the Sunseeker Resorts paint scheme, replacing two progressively lighter shades of grey with a third that is white. Hocevar’s return comes on the same week as news that John Hunter Nemecehek will drive for the team in 2024 as they switch from Chevrolet to Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Taking the place of 27th-place Darlington finisher Ryan Newman is Cole Custer, who pulls double-duty with the XFINITY Series in the #51 with sponsorship from Biohaven and Jacob Companies. Custer’s best of six previous Cup starts at Kansas was a 7th in his first-ever race there in 2020.

DRIVER CHANGE: #78-Live Fast Motorsports
Still seeking his first XFINITY win, Sheldon Creed will make his Cup debut, taking the place of Darlington last-place finisher B.J. McLeod. The car, prepared at RCR along with Ty Dillon’s #77 Raze Tea Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, carries Creed’s same XFINITY sponsorship from Whelen.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (September 8, 1995): Chuck Bown picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Autolite 250 at Richmond when his #05 Key Motorsports Ford lost the engine after 12 laps. This was the third of Bown’s four series last-place finishes and his first since October 19, 1991 at Rockingham.

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