Friday, Jun 09

MENCS: BK Racing 2016 Review, 2017 Preview

Saturday, Jan 07 3525
Throughout the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, BK Racing rotated five drivers throughout car No’s 83 and 93. While David Ragan ran the full season in the No. 23, the one and only start for the No. 26 was made by Robert Richardson Jr. during the Daytona 500. Matt DiBenedetto jumped into the No. 49 during the Ford Eco Boost 400 at Homestead.
Driving the No. 83 Maxwell House Toyota, Michael Waltrip led one lap and finished 30th in NASCAR’s season opener. While it was the only start he would make for BK Racing, the NASCAR on FOX analyst would also go on to finish 12th in the May GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Jay Robinson’s No. 55 Peak Antifreeze & Coolant Toyota. 
Dubbed as ‘The Great American Race’, the ‘500’ would be the only trip on the track for Richardson Jr. in the Cup series. Unfortunately, it was not a good one for the McKinney, Texas native. He ran 135 out of 200 laps before engine issues caused the No. 26 Stalk It Toyota to be done for the day. Richardson Jr. would eventually be scored 38th in final results.
Dylan Lupton, Ryan Ellis and Jeffrey Earnhardt each made three starts for BK Racing. Lupton’s best finish came during the second race at Richmond, the Federated Auto Parts 400 where he finished 25th in the No. 83 EJ Wade Construction/Union Bank Trust Toyota. Along with a 37th-place run in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond and a 32nd at Indianapolis during the ‘Brickyard 400’, Ellis also filled in for DiBenedetto during the AAA Texas 500 in November and finished 38th, all of these finishes taking place in the No. 93 Science Logic Toyota. Earnhardt ran three races in the fall for BK Racing in the No. 83 ride. He started at Talladega where took home a 34th-place finish. He followed it up with a 34th at Texas and a 31stat Homestead. 
Ragan’s best finish of the year came during NASCAR’s second visit to Daytona International Speedway. The No. 23 Shriners Hospital for Children Toyota driver finished 16th in the 161-lap Coke Zero 400, a race that proved to be difficult for the 40-car field.
“We really had a car that drove well,” Ragan said after the race in a Toyota Racing transcript. “I think that we needed a little bit more speed to contend for the win but our car drove nice and on the long runs we were really good. We just needed to restart on the outside lane those last two restarts -- starting fifth and seventh we were just kind of a sitting duck on the bottom. Those guys in the second lane can get really good runs and then they can move to the third and on the bottom you’re just stuck. You don’t have anywhere to go. Unless you restart on the front row the bottom is not that good of a choice.”
Ragan’s other top-20 finish came at Dover in the AAA 400 Drive For Autism where he came home 17th in the Dr. Pepper Toyota. He led a total of nine laps during seven non-consecutive race weekends.
It was a rollercoaster year for DiBenedetto. He did not get off to the best of starts in 2016 with crashing the No. 93 Dustless Blasting Toyota during the ‘500’. He would move on to the No. 83 for the majority of the season.
A sixth-place finish during the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was a milestone for both the driver originally from Grass Valley, Calif. and BK Racing. “A sixth-place finish for BK Racing and for all my guys, this is like a win for us,” said an emotional DiBenedetto after the race.  “This is an incredible run. I can’t thank my team enough, my crew chief Gene Need and everyone on this team for working so hard and busting their tails for me to be able to drive this race car in the Sprint Cup Series.”
The next time DiBenedetto would strap into the No. 93 was the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. Unfortunately, he would crash again and be scored 37th. DiBenedetto would go on to run this number at Talladega and Martinsville and was also scheduled for Texas but due to an incident in the XFINITY race the day before the AAA Texas 500, he sat out and Ellis filled in. He ended the NASCAR’s season at Homestead with a 27th-place run in the No. 49 NASCAR Heat Evolution Toyota.
The 2017 season is looking a little different for BK Racing. DiBenedetto is moving on to Go Fas Racing where he will pilot the No. 32 Ford and should continue to run consistent.
 "I am very excited to join Go Fas Racing for the 2017 season,” he said in a Go Fas Racing transcript a few weeks ago. “We have a great group of people that I am very excited to work with this season! I am thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to representing the team and sponsors to the best of my ability!"
Ragan is rejoining Front Row Motorsports and the No. 38 Ford. He made history when he earned the team’s first victory at Talladega in May of 2013 and is hoping to achieve more.
“It’s a nice homecoming, coming back to Front Row Motorsports,” Ragan said in a team transcript. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Bob Jenkins (owner), how he put together his team and grew it the right way over the years. We’ve celebrated some pretty big highlights together, and now we need to go make more.”
BK Racing announced that the team has partnered with Best Home Furnishings to sponsor Joey Gase in the No. 23 for the new season. The furniture manufacturer will sponsor Gase for the upcoming Daytona 500, the Bristol night race as well as additional events throughout 2017."
“I cannot put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity everyone at Best Home Furnishings and BK Racing has given me,” Gase said in a team advance. “Racing in the Daytona 500 and the Bristol night race has been a dream of mine since I can remember. It’s very exciting to share this experience with everyone at Best Home Furnishings and those who have helped me get to this point in my career.”
Katie Williams

Coming off the ranch, I didn’t have a motorsports background but my passion was and still is very strong. My first taste of NASCAR came at the age of seven while waiting for music videos to come on the old TNN network. As I grew up, I pursued other interest but eventually rediscovered cars going left when I found the SPEED channel during the 2011-2012 offseason.

I didn’t decide I wanted to pursue a career in NASCAR until the summer of 2012. I’m not a wrench head or strong enough for a pit crew so media was the next best thing. At the beginning of 2013, I started going to races and making connections within the sport. I also studied Motorsports Management at Sports Management Worldwide. Although I love what happens on the track, I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the scenes and I’ve gotten to know many people throughout the radio, TV and digital media world.

While I’m a long time writer, 2015 was my first year actually covering the sport with . I also became a media correspondent for Raceline. I’ve been able to help the TV show gain recognition on social media. My current goal is to acquire more experience in covering NASCAR and move up the media ladder. Outside of motorsports, I have been an equine-sports statistician for 16 years.

I currently reside in Gillette, WY where I’m still involved with horses. I enjoy riding them, rodeo, swimming, traveling and meeting people.

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