Weekend Preview Feb. 15-17

Finishing out Speedweeks will be the classic triple-header weekend of all 3 NASCAR National Touring Series opening their season at Daytona International Speedway. It all kicks off with the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series on Friday night with the NextEra Energy 250. Then on Saturday it’s the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Finally, on Sunday, it’s the Daytona 500 kicking off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In addition to the NASCAR season opening weekend, the Formula E series continues their 2018-19 season with the Mexico City ePrix on Saturday.

Here’s the full schedule, all times Eastern:

Friday, February 15:

4:40p – NGOTS Qualifying
7:30p – NextEra Energy 250 (NGOTS)

Saturday, February 16:

8:30-9:15a – FE Pracitce
9:40a – NXS Qualifying
11:00-11:30a – FE Practice
12:05-12:55p – MENCS Practice
12:45-1:50p – FE Qualifying
2:30p – NASCAR Racing Experience 300 (NXS)
5:00p – Mexico City ePrix (FE)

Sunday, February 17:

2:30p – Daytona 500 (MENCS)

MENCS NOTES:

The 61st running of the Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday. Now, after the Duels, we know that The #71 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet with Ryan Truex and the #66 MBM Motorsports Toyota with Joey Gase did not make the field.

William Byron earned his first career Pole and continued the Hendrick streak, winning the 5th straight Daytona 500 Pole for the organization. He sits on the front row alongside teammate Alex Bowman, together making it the youngest Daytona 500 front row in its history. Behind them are two Daytona 500 champions and the winners of Thursday night’s Duels, Kevin Harvick (2007 Daytona 500 champion) and Joey Logano (2015 Daytona 500 champion).

Some new names in new places to start the 2019 season. Matt DiBenedetto has left Go FAS Racing, who will have Corey LaJoie this year. DiBenedetto is now with the #95 Leavine Family Racing team following Kasey Kahne’s retirement. LFR has switched to Toyota in an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, filling the void that Furniture Row Racing left after their team shut down. Martin Truex Jr. had to find a new with with FRR closing up shop, and so he moved to Joe Gibbs Racing, whom he had an alliance with for 3 years prior, into the #19 Toyota. That moves bumps Daniel Suarez out but he has found a home with Stewart-Haas Racing as the new driver of the #41 Ford. That ride became open after Kurt Busch did not renew his contract and opted to leave for Chip Ganassi Racing in the #1 Chevrolet. Jamie McMurray, the driver of the #1 CGR Chevy since 2010, will be running the Daytona 500 with a new team, Spire Motorsports, before entering a TV analyst career. Spire Motorsports comes in after purchasing Furniture Row Racing’s charter, and they will change their number to 77 for the remainder of the year with a rotation of drivers.

Another driver pursuing a TV analyst career is AJ Allmendinger after losing his ride with JTG Daugherty Racing. Modified expert Ryan Preece enters the Cup Series as one of the Rookie of the Year candidates. Roush Fenway Racing spent 2018 experimenting with their #6 team, splitting the duties between Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth. In 2019, they went with veteran Ryan Newman, who leaves Richard Childress Racing after 5 seasons. Filling in for Newman in the old #31 is rookie driver Daniel Hemric, who moves up from the Xfinity Series. The number also changes to the #8 after using the 31 since the days of Mike Skinner in the 1990’s. That’s not all for the rookies, either. Front Row Motorsports expands to a 3-car operation, bringing up Xfinity Series regular Matt Tifft to pilot the new #36 Ford.

The 4 unchartered teams entered in the event are highlighted by the 2 that raced their way in. Parker Kligerman with Gaunt Brothers Racing, a team that has been running partial schedules for the last couple years, and Brendan Gaughan with Beard Oil Motorsports. Gaughan has regularly been racing at the restrictor plate tracks with Beard Oil and had to work his way into the 500 this year. The 2 teams that got in by qualifying speed are both one-off race teams. 2018 Xfinity Series Champion Tyler Reddick joins Richard Childress Racing to try and defend his title in the Xfinity Series, but he’ll start the year off making his Cup debut in the #31 in a one-race deal just for the 500. Returning to Cup racing for the first time since 2016, Casey Mears is running a 2nd Germain Racing car to run at Daytona. Mears was the runner-up in the 2006 Daytona 500.

Starting Lineup:

St#DriverTeamMakeSponsor
124William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevyAxalta
288Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevyNationwide
34Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFordBusch Beer Car2Can
422Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFordShell Pennzoil
517Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Roush Fenway RacingFordFastenal
614Clint BowyerStewart-Haas RacingFordRush Truck Centers/Mobil 1
721Paul MenardWood Brothers RacingFordMotorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
810Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFordSmithfield
995Matt DiBenedettoLeavine Family RacingToyotaProcore
1011Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaFedEx Express
1119Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyotaBass Pro Shops
121Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevyMonster Energy
1343Bubba WallaceRichard Petty MotorsportsChevyAftershokz
1412Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFordMenards/Peak
1537Chris BuescherJTG Daugherty RacingChevyKleenex Wet Wipes
1640Jamie McMurraySpire MotorsportsChevyMcDonalds/Cessna/Bass Pro Shops
1748Jimmie JohnsonHendrick MotorsportsChevyAlly
189Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevyNAPA Auto Parts
196Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFordOscar Mayer Deli Fresh
203Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevyDow
2147Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevyKroger.com
2213Ty DillonGermain RacingChevyGEICO
2341Daniel SuarezStewart-Haas RacingFordHaas Automation
2438David RaganFront Row MotorsportsFordSelect Blinds
2596Parker Kligerman (i)Gaunt Brothers RacingToyotaGaunt Brothers Racing/Toyota
2642Kyle LarsonChip Ganassi RacingChevyCredit One Bank
2700Landon CassillStarCom RacingChevyPERMATEX
2820Erik JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaSport Clips
298Daniel HemricRichard Childress RacingChevyBass Pro Shops/Caterpillar
3062Brendan Gaughan (i)Beard Oil MotorsportsChevyBeard Oil Distributing/South Point
3118Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaM&M’s Chocolate Bar
3232Corey LaJoieGo FAS RacingFordOld Spice
3336Matt TifftFront Row MotorsportsFordSpeedco
3434Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFordLove’s Travel Stops
352Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFordDiscount Tire
3615Ross Chastain (i)Premium MotorsportsChevy
3752Cody WareRick Ware RacingChevyWinn Dixie
3851BJ McLeod (i)Rick Ware RacingChevyJacob Companies
3931Tyler Reddick (i)Richard Childress RacingChevySymbicort
4027Casey MearsGermain RacingChevy

NXS NOTES:

The Xfinity Series of 2019 looks nothing like that of 2018. Last year’s champion Tyler Reddick left JR Motorsports and heads over to Richard Childress Racing in the #2. Noah Gragson moves up from the Truck Series and takes over Reddick’s old ride. That was only part of JR Motorsports’ major shakeup. Elliott Sadler, who has been a full time driver in NASCAR since the 1990’s, has retired. His #1 car now becomes the #8 and has an elite rotation of drivers ready to take over in 2019, ranging from Cup drivers like Chase Elliott, young prospects like Zane Smith, and drivers still looking to make their mark like Jeb Burton and Ryan Truex. Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier remain with JR Motorsports, but Annett changes to the #1 after previously running the #5.

Ross Chastain was set to do a full year with Chip Ganassi Racing, but after a sponsorship fallout, that opportunity fell through. He will return to the #4 of JD Motorsports, but for 3 races in 2019, Chastain will run a 2nd Kaulig Racing car. The full-time team for Kaulig Racing is no longer driven by Ryan Truex. Justin Haley nearly won at Daytona in the summer despite being a Truck Series driver all with GMS, and now he will run the full Xfinity season with Kaulig Racing. Taking the GMS ride after Spencer Gallagher announced he’ll be stepping away from full-time competition, is John Hunter Nemechek. The son of 1992 Xfinity Series champion “Front Row” Joe, John Hunter ran a partial schedule splitting both the Xfinity and Truck Series but now goes full-time in Xfinity.

Roush Fenway Racing ended their Xfinity Series program but 2 of their drivers have found full-time homes with the teams they shared rides with in 2018 in addition to RFR. Austin Cindric will race full-time with Team Penske while Chase Briscoe will run the #98 Ford for Biagi-DenBeste Racing in alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing. While there are many other changes to the 2019 lineup, one more that stands out is the #18 for Joe Gibbs Racing. That ride will be shared by Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, but also ARCA driver Riley Herbst and perhaps most notable, Jeffrey Earnhardt. This is arguably the best chance Earnhardt has had to showcase his talents. Last year, a man by the name of Ryan Preece had a very similar opportunity. This year, Preece is competing full-time in the Cup Series with a race-winning team.

Entry List:

#DriverTeamMakeSponsor
00Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFordJacob Companies
0Garrett SmithleyJD MotorsportsChevyFlex Tape
01Stephen LeichtJD MotorsportsChevyOPAV Experience It
1Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevyPilot Flying J/American Heart Association
2Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevyPinnacle Financial Partners
4Scott Lagasse Jr.JD MotorsportsChevyRimrock Devlin
5Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyotaJ.F. Electric
07Ray Black IISS Green Light RacingChevyISOKERN Fireplaces & Chimneys
7Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevyBRANDT Professional Agriculture
8Chase Elliott (i)JR MotorsportsChevyAftershokz
08Gray GauldingSS Green Light RacingChevyGGPURE.com
9Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevySwitch
10Ross ChastainKaulig RacingChevyNutrien Ag Solutions
11Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevyLeafFilter Gutter Protection
12Brad Keselowski (i)Team PenskeFordFitzgerald USA
13Max TullmanMBM MotorsportsToyotaZoomi
15BJ McLeodJD MotorsportsChevyBTX Global Logistics/Run the Race
17Chris CockrumRick Ware RacingChevyAdvance Comms. Group
18Jeffrey EarnhardtJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaiK9
19Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaJuniper
20Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyotaRheem
22Austin CindricTeam PenskeFordMoneyLion
23John Hunter NemechekGMS RacingChevyFire Alarm Services INC
35Joey GaseMBM MotorsportsToyotaMedic Air Systems Inc/AGRI Supply
36Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevyJoeFroyo/All Sports Coffee
38Josh BilickiRSS RacingChevyDR Squatch Soap
39Ryan SiegRSS RacingChevyLarry’s Hard Lemonade
42John JacksonMBM MotorsportsToyotaJames Carter Attorney
51Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevyRepairableVehicles.com
52David StarrMeans MotorsportsChevyWhataburger
66Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyotaVSI Racing/Overkill Motorsports
74Mike HarmonMike Harmon RacingChevyAIR One Heating and Cooling
78Vinnie MillerB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyotaJAS Expedited Trucking LLC/Koolbox
86Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevyBrandonbilt Motorsports
90Caesar BacarellaDGM RacingChevyAlpha Prine/MAXIM
93Jeff GreenRSS RacingChevyRSS Racing
98Chase BriscoeBiagi-DenBeste RacingFordNutri Chomps/Chewy.com
99DJ KenningtonB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyotaLORDCO Auto Parts

NGOTS NOTES:

As if the Cup and Xfinity team changes weren’t enough, the Truck Series looks even more different in 2019. Just like in Xfinity, the defending champion is with a whole different organization this year. After a year long championship battle against them, Brett Moffit will try to defend his title with GMS Racing in the #24. One of his biggest opponents in the championship hunt is Johnny Sauter, who has found great success and a championship with GMS Racing. But that’s not where he’s racing in 2019. Sauter is returning to the team that shaped the first 7 years of his Truck Series career; ThorSport Racing. He joins longtime former teammate Matt Crafton, who has ran all but one of his 18 years in the Truck Series with ThorSport. Due to Sauter’s return, Myatt Snider will be running a limited schedule with a 5th team. Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger are staying with ThorSport, but for the 4th straight year, Rhodes is changing his number again. After going from the #41, to #27, and back to 41, he will now run the #99 for ThorSport.

Hattorit Racing Enterprises is going with Austin Hill, who finished 11th in points with a small team in just his first full season. The young driver led final practice showing that he too has some speed to offer the defending championship winning team.

Some notable drivers making part-time appearances in 2019 beginning at Daytona are ARCA drivers Christian Eckes and Natalie Decker. Eckes will run part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports while Decker continues her packed schedule with DGR-Crosley that also includes ARCA and NASCAR K&N Pro Series events. Other ARCA regulars are making their way into the Truck Series full time. Tyler Dippel jumps into the #02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet, replacing Austin Hill and will have a teammate in Gus Dean.

Entry List:

#DriverTeamMakeSponsor
02Tyler DippelYoung’s MotorsportsChevyLobas Productions
2Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevyUnited Rentals/A.M. Otrega
3Jordan AndersonJordan Anderson RacingChevyBommarito Automotive Group
04Cory RoperRoper RacingFord
4Todd GillilandKyle Busch MotorsportsToyotaJBL
6Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevyZomongo/H&H Transport
7Korbin ForristerAll Out MotorsportsToyota
8Angela RuchNEMCO MotorsportsChevyTBD
9Codie RohrbaughCR7 MotorsportsChevyGrant County Mulch
10Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevyOsage Contractors
12Gus DeanYoung’s MotorsportsChevyLG Air Conditioning Technologies
13Johnny SauterThorSport RacingFord
16Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyotaCHIBA Toyopet
17David GillilandDGR-CrosleyToyotaFred’s
18Harrison BurtonKyle Busch MotorsportsToyotaSafelite AutoGlass
20Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevy1A Auto
22Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevyGO TEXAN
24Brett MoffittGMS RacingChevyTBD
27Myatt SniderThorSport RacingFord
28Bryan DauzatJim Rosenblum RacingChevyFDNY
30Brennan PooleOn Point MotorsportsToyotaTBA
33Josh ReaumeReaume Brothers RacingChevy
34Jason White (i)Reaume Brothers RacingChevy
42Robby Lyons IIChad Finley RacingChevySunwest Construction/Auto Value Certified Service Centers
44Timothy PetersNiece MotorsportsChevyFriends of Jaclyn Foundation
45Ross Chastain (i)Niece MotorsportsChevyTruNorth
47Chris FontaineChris Fontaine Inc.ToyotaGlenden Enterprises
49Ray CiccarelliCMI MotorsportsChevyCMI
51Christian EckesKyle Busch MotorsportsToyotaSiriusXM
52Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingChevyHalmar International
54Natalie DeckerDGR-CrosleyToyotaN29 Technologies LLC
63Bobby GerhartCopp MotorsportsChevy
68Clay GreenfieldClay Greenfield MotorsportsChevy
82Spencer DavisRette Jones RacingFord
87Joe NemechekNEMCO MotorsportsChevyFleetwing/D.A.B. Constructors, Inc.
88Matt CraftonThorSport RacingFord
92Austin TheriaultRicky Benton Racing EnterprisesFordRicky Benton Racing/Blacks Tire Service
98Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingFord
99Ben RhodesThorSport RacingFord

FORMULA E NOTES:

Formula E heads over to Mexico City for the 4th of 13 races in the season. They’re at the famous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but they will run the 2.1 km (1.3 mile) modified oval. All 3 former winners of the race are in the field, with the most recent winner being Daniel Abt. Jerome d’Ambrosio won the inaugural race in Mexico City in 2016, and is looking to be the 1st driver to win multiple races this season. The Belgian driver won at Marrakesh in early January. However, he currently sits 2nd in points to Envision Virgin Racing drivier Sam Bird. Bird is coming off a win in Santiago two weeks ago and looks to extend his point lead.

Defending series champion Jean-Eric Vergne will try to recover after a stressful Santiago ePrix. After opening up the season finishing 2nd and 5th, Vergne was caught in the back of the field due to poor track conditions in his qualifying group. He made contact with Antonio Felix da Costa on lap 8 and was forced to retire. He currently sits 5th in points with 10 races remaining.

Entry List:

#DriverTeam
2Sam BirdEnvision Virgin Racing
3Nelson Piquet Jr.Panasonic Jaguar Racing
4Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin Racing
5Stoffel VandoorneHWA Racelab
6Flipe NasrGeox Dragon Racing
7Jose Maria LopezGeox Dragon Racing
8Tom DillmannNIO Formula E Team
11Lucas di GrassiAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler
16Oliver TurveyNIO Formula E Team
17Gary PaffettHWA Racelab
19Felipe MassaVenturi Formula E Team
20Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar Racing
22Oliver RowlandNissan e.dams
23Sebastien BuemiNissan e.dams
25Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah Formula E Team
27Alexander SimsBMW I Andretti Motorsport
28Antonio Felix da CostaBMW I Andretti Motorsport
36Andre LottererDS Techeetah Formula E Team
48Edoardo MontaraVenturi Formula E Team
64Jerome d’AmbrosioMahindra Racing
66Daniel AbtAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler
94Pascal WehrleinMahindra Racing

Author: Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey (@TomBaileyScoop) grew up in the backyard of Chicagoland Speedway, making a passion for all motorsports inevitable. Tom is entering his first full year of racing coverage in 2020 as the owner and founder of InfieldScoop.com. You can contact him at [email protected]

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