Wednesday, Oct 04

In 2010, Dave Gilliland said goodbye farewell to start and park teams after bouncing around severely underfunded teams in 2009. Since he has joined Front Row Motorsports, Gilliland has developed into a driver that has led a little team and created enthusiasm for a team owned by fast food entrepreneur, Bob Jenkins.

Last year, the California native finished a career-best 26th in points with the No. 38 team.  However, the team has gone in the wrong direction this year. There are multiple variables that have thrown Front Row Motorsports a giant curveball, but none bigger than the aero changes which NASCAR enforced over the off-season.

“We are a little bit behind right now, but we are always looking to improve and hopefully our goal is to get to 25th in points,” Gilliland said in an exclusive interview with Speedway Digest on Saturday morning. “We are running all different springs, different ride heights, different sway bars – just different everything. Without testing, we are learning stuff as we go for what we need. We are just kind of learning on the fly.”

But it is more than just adjusting to the new parts and setups which the team needs to use. The organization is severely underfunded. Jenkins has notably funded the team out of his own pocket over the years, but they have been able to receive additional funding as they continue to have success.

“I think (we) just need funding and sponsorship really. We don’t have the budget that these other teams have, so with new partners and sponsorships comes resources and that would help a little bit,” Gilliland said.

And they have done just that. This year, Front Row Motorsports has had four different companies (not including those owned by Jenkins) aboard the No. 34 and No. 38 Fords. Moreover, besides qualifying well at Bristol, this small organization has struggled to run well during qualifying with the new format. Being that step or two behind has truly hurt the team Gilliland said. But there is hope for the organization as Gilliland says Front Row Motorsports is like family to him now.

“I wish we could put a little bit longer contracts together, but I understand Bob (Jenkins) and the entire team’s side of it. They are doing what they can do. I have a great relationship with our car owner, Bob, and we are like family. It is good to go to work for a company that you have that type of relationship with, and that is something special,” he said.

Though Gilliland has not started to discuss renewing his contract, he wants to stay with the organization. The results might not be what he wants, but with silly season starting to spark, Gilliland is expected to resign with the team. But this is nothing new for him as he has been working on one year deals for Front Row Motorsports since he signed on with the team due to the presence of a lack of funding.

“We haven’t really talked about it (contract negotiations) yet. We usually wait a little longer throughout the year. I like Front Row Motorsports, and I have been there for a long time. I have seen it progress and have been part of helping it get built and was a part of their first win at Talladega. I enjoy being a part of being  a part of building the program.”

For Gilliland, a turning point in the team’s day-to-day operation would be completing an alliance with one of the larger teams – similar to what JTG Daugherty Racing and Germain Racing has done with Richard Childress Racing. Even though FRM receives Roush-Yates engines, that is about all they get. While Team Penske and Roush-Fenway Racing are doing their own thing, Ford has stepped up to give a helping hand to this little team.

Now, Gilliland’s son, Todd Gilliland, is starting his racing career. At 13-years-old, he won his first career Late Model event at Ace Speedway in North Carolina at the beginning of May. Not only was it huge victory, but it symbolized so much for the entire Gilliland family.

“It has been tough (to go focus on his career while working with his son), but it has been very enjoyable. He is a great racecar driver, and I think he has a really bright future ahead of him. We are obviously doing everything we can to help him and give him the best opportunities on and off the track. It is something that I love doing.”

Even though Gilliland was not present for his son’s victory, he has been able to guide him on and off the track. For the father-son combination, they are examples as to how great it is to have amazing moments with family. NASCAR’s latest “NASCAR with Dad” initiative does just that as fans can share pictures and stories about going to the track as a father/son combination.

It has been a roller coaster start for Roush-Fenway Racing in 2014. Carl Edwards has been running consistently in the top-10, but the team’s other two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have been mediocre, something that RFR is not accustomed to.

Throughout the past, the organization has been strong on the intermediate tracks, but there has been a lack of performance by each of the three Sprint Cup Series cars owned by Jack Roush and John Henry. Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are 11th and 25th in the points standings, respectively. However, Edwards is third in points after gambling his way to a top-five at Charlotte.

“We have to get faster. There are a couple of teams that are really on the ball right now like the Stewart-Haas guys and Hendrick. We just need to find the raw speed. We have the pit stops, strategy and all of those things that we need to have down pretty well,” Edwards said in an exclusive interview inside the No. 99 hauler after first practice on Friday afternoon.

With speculation that Edwards and Biffle might leave RFR, Edwards has been able to keep his focus solely on racing, all the while dealing with rumors swirling around the NASCAR garage area. Some say Edwards will leave, others say he will stay. But all that doesn’t matter as he is just focused on doing his job – similar to Matt Kenseth in 2012 and Kevin Harvick last season.

The new aero package which NASCAR introduced over the off-season appears to be putting RFR behind, and Edwards understands that. However, with a win at Bristol, Edwards can afford to take more risks, especially since he is amongst the class of the field on a weekly basis. Besides leading 78 laps en route to his win at Bristol, Edwards has led just 26 markers this year, showing RFR still has some improvements they need to make.

“Yeah, absolutely (we can take risks). We can be a little less cautious, have some more fun. For instance, last weekend (the Coca-Cola 600) is a good example,” Edwards said. “We stretched the fuel to have a chance to win the race and if we were points racing, we might not have done that. We have a chance to win this race on Sunday and on the final restart, we really don’t have much to lose by trying to be aggressive.”

Even with some inconsistency this season, Edwards has been able to make improvements from a 2013 season in which he finished 13th in points. Along with the new aero package, Edwards believes the qualifying format has slightly hurt the entire RFR team.

“The most difficult part of the new qualifying format is that if you barely miss the cut, you have to go out with mad panic to try to make the next round. If you try to run a faster lap on older tires, it is really hectic. I hope it is entertaining because it is more fun than the old qualifying.”

Around this time every week, Speedway Digest has our race previews. However, since we will be at the race track this weekend, Speedway Digest is doing something a little different. Instead of our normal race previews, we have come up with an analysis for each of the 43 drivers entered on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry list for the FedEX 400 Benefiting Austim Speaks.

  • Jamie McMurray: Won Coca-Cola 600 and has momentum on his side. Three top-10s this year, but has struggled at Dover with just five top-10s in 22 starts. Hasn’t led at Dover since 2008 with RFR.
  • Brad Keselowski: After winning at Las Vegas, Keselowski is looking for his second Dover win. Finished fifth in this event last year, and is looking for his second top-five after his Vegas win – scoring just two top-10 finishes since then (Richmond and Charlotte).
  • Austin Dillon: The ROTY candidate is currently 15th in points as he has been leaning towards finishing inside the top-15 on a consistent basis. This will be his second Cup Series start at Dover after finishing 27th in this race last year for Phoenix Racing. Has a Nationwide Series pole at Dover in spring of 2013; finished inside the top-10 in all four races at Dover. 2 Truck Series starts as well, best finish of fourth in 2011.
  • Kevin Harvick: Very hot start to 2014, but has been hit or miss with four finishes of 36th or worse. Won at Phoenix and Darlington, coming off of back-to-back runner-up finishes at Kansas & Charlotte. Looking for first win at Dover after two top-10s last year & runner-up finish in 2012. 12 top-10s in 26 starts at Dover. Never won at Dover in any of the three top divisions. Two top-fives in CWTS & never finished better than third in 17 NNS starts.
  • Kasey Kahne: Was fast at Charlotte, but 14th place finish didn’t show after missing his pit stall, getting blocked by Ryan Truex. Kahne has four top-10s this year & enters Dover 17th in points without a win. Never won at Dover in the NSCS & has struggled there since joining HMS – finishing outside of the top-10 in three of four races. Eight top-10s in 14 starts at Dover in NNS.
  • Michael Annett: The smaller tracks have been good for TBR in the past, and Dover fits right into that. Annett has had his struggles this year, but has three straight top-30 finishes. Finished third in Dover NNS race in 2012, and had eight top-15s in 10 starts at the track.
  • Marcos Ambrose: He has struggled in 2014 as his teammate has excelled. However, he has done exceptionally well at smaller race tracks, and has a third-place finish at Dover in 2011. Seven straight top-20s at Dover.
  • Danica Patrick: Has made big improvements this year, competing for top-25s on a weekly basis. Best finish at Dover was 24th, but had success at Bristol and has recently been running well. Two NNS finishes of 30th or worse with best finish of 16th.
  • Denny Hamlin: Missed Auto Club due to metal in his eye, but won at Talladega. Struggled the last two weekends, as he looks to gain momentum back. Just three top-10s this year. Looking for first Dover win – best finish was fourth twice (2007 & 2010). Running special scheme for Autism Awareness. Won NNS races at Dover in 2007 & 2008.
  • Casey Mears: He has been hit or miss this with the RCR alliance. Did well at Dover last year for Germain, finishing 16th and 24th, looking for sixth straight top-20.
  • Tony Stewart: Returned to sprint car racing this weekend, won at Dover last year – lone victory of 2013. Starting to turn the corner after a rough start to 2014, has two top-fives, but both were on pit strategy races. Looking for fourth Dover victory in what will be his 30th start.
  • Clint Bowyer: Been mediocre this season. Only has one top-five after signing multi-year extension with MWR, Brian Pattie & 5-Hour Energy. Looking for seventh straight top-10 at Dover with an average finish of 12.6 at the track. 20th in points entering Dover, needs some momentum.
  • Greg Biffle: With rumors swirling around this team, Biffle is just looking for consistency. Has four top-10s this year, but three finishes of 21st or worse. Two-time winner at Dover (2005 & 2008), but has struggled since 2009 – not leading a single lap with just two top-10s spanning 2010 until last year’s event.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: With three top-10s this year, he already has the amount he had in his rookie year. After having a runner-up finish at Bristol, he has seven finishes of 20th or worse. Finished on the lead lap only twice since then, and Dover is the right place to do that. Three straight finishes of 17th or better at Dover & two top-fives in six NNS races.
  • Kyle Busch: Doing the triple this weekend btwn. NSCS, NNS and NCWTS, Busch will be extremely busy. Won three CWTS races at Dover & has led 19 or more laps in all eight Truck races he’s run. Led a total of 161 laps  in both NNS events at Dover last year, but failed to finish better than fifth. Has three NNS wins at Dover & looking for his 66th win in his 280th NNS start. Has two wins at Dover in the NSCS, both in this event (2008 & 2010). Led 150 laps in this event last year and has led 90 or more laps at Dover in five of his 18 starts at the track. Looking for fourth straight top-seven finish.
  • Matt Kenseth: Going back to old form where he struggles while starting races, but gets very good as the race goes on. Finished third at Charlotte, looking for 10th top-10 of the year. Two-time Dover winner, looking for 20th top-10 in what will be his 31st start. Also running the NNS race, two wins in NNS competition with third place finish last year.
  • Joey Logano: Has two wins this year & is running the NNS race. Looking for fifth straight NNS win at Dover. Four straight top-10s in the Cup Series at Dover, average finish of 15.4. With one more win this year, he ties the amount that he has had entering this year.
  • Alex Bowman: ROTY candidate for BK Racing. Best NNS finish at Dover was 17th. Five finishes of 30th or better this year. Looking to just stay out of trouble.
  • Jeff Gordon: After having back spasms at Charlotte, Gordon is good to go for Dover. Already captured his first win this year at Kansas, and has three straight top-four finishes at Dover. Has only one finish outside the top-20 at Dover since 2006. Currently the points leader, looking for his 90th career win. Has four wins at Dover in 42 starts with 24 top-10s.
  • Cole Whitt: Since switching to BK Racing after Swan Racing closed, he has three top-30 finishes. Finished 27th in lone NSCS start at Dover last year, but has finished no worse than 16th in four NNS races at Dover (a pair of 16th place finishes for TriStar Motorsports last year).
  • Paul Menard: Has been very consistent this year with six top-10s. Has just one top-10 at Dover, but has finished 22nd or better in five straight races at the track. Currently 16th in points coming off of a top-10 at Charlotte.
  • Ryan Newman: He hasn’t been great this year, but like Menard, Newman has been very consistent – not finishing worse than 22nd this year. He’s ninth in points, but only has four top-10s in his first year for RCR. Average finish of 12.9 at Dover with 12 top-10s in 24 starts. Looking for first win this year. Has only led 10 laps this year.
  • Blake Koch: Making just his fourth start in the NSCS. Primarily a driver for TriStar Motorsports in the NNS just looking for an opportunity to race.
  • David Stremme: Making just his fourth start this year after running out of luck at Swan Racing. Missed Texas, best finish of the year was 35th at Richmond. Finished 28th at Dover last year.
  • David Ragan: Team has struggled this year with new rules package with best finish of 27th at Fontana. Dover has been good for this small team over the years with three top-25s in the last four races.
  • Reed Sorenson: Has Click it or Ticket on board this weekend. Besides 16th at Daytona, best finish has been 21st at Fontana. Just looking for a consistent run for TBR in his 14th Dover start.
  • David Gilliland: Has struggled at Dover since joining FRM, coming off of three straight finishes of 37th or worse this year. Did well at Richmond and Bristol, expecting a top-25.
  • Landon Cassill: Missed Phoenix and Las Vegas, but has made all races since then. Top-30 at all the short tracks this year, Dover shouldn’t be any different. Running the double with JD Motorsports in the NNS. Has struggled at Dover in the NNS before, but when they don’t have issues, this team has been in the top-20 weekly.
  • Kyle Larson: Finished second and 10th at Dover last year in the NNS. Running the double again for TSM. Has five top-10s this year. Looking for seventh straight top-16 in NSCS competition as he is 13th in points.
  • Aric Almirola: Coming off of a career-best year, Almirola is set to better that this year. Finished third at Bristol, and has three top-10s already this year, but he’s 19th in points. After signing a multi-year deal with RPM, he is looking to show why the team signed him. Four straight top-17 finishes, and has never finished worse than 22nd at Dover. Making 120th career start.
  • J.J. Yeley: Has DNQed for six races this year and blew engines in the two races he did make. Average finish at Dover is worse than 30th. Running the NNS race for JGL Racing – finished no worse than 21st in eight starts.
  • A.J. Allmendinger: The smaller the track the better for JTG Daugherty Racing. They have three top-10s already this year, and Dover is arguably Allmendinger’s best track. Led 143 laps with RPM in 2010, and ran towards the top-half of the field since 2008 at Dover with an average finish of 22.9.  
  • Jimmie Johnson: The all-time wins leader at Dover with eight victories, he recorded his first 2014 win at Charlotte this past weekend. Average finish at Dover – 8.7. Has led at least one lap in every Dover race in last 13 events while leading 143 or more laps in nine of those races. He’s sixth in points with seven top-10s and 691 laps led entering Dover. Looking for 68th career win.
  • Justin Allgaier: Starting to click with his new crew chief, Steve Addington. Has had some issues last two weeks not of his own doing, but was running rather well compared to the other ROTY candidates. His best finish this year was 17th at Bristol. Only has one top-five in 10 NNS starts at Dover, but has four top-10s with a pair of 12th place finishes last year.
  • Brian Vickers: Currently eighth in points, Vickers is looking to get his sixth top-10 of the year. Finished 12th at Dover last year in his first start at the track since 2011, and has performed better this year than Bowyer has. Coming off of a sixth-place finish at Charlotte, might be a contender for the win.
  • Brett Moffitt: Making Sprint Cup Series debut for Identity Ventures Racing in place of Joe Nemechek. Came short of NASCAR Camping World East Series title five years in a row with a total of nine wins and 44 top-10s in 61 starts. Has one NNS start for RAB Racing in 2012 at Iowa where he finished ninth and two CWTS starts last year.
  • Dave Blaney: Has failed to qualify for 10 races this year, and parks early when he does make the race.
  • Martin Truex Jr.: Had a good run going at Charlotte, but had some trouble on pit road that cost them another decent finish. He has not led a lap this year after the MWR fiasco. If there is anywhere he can turn his luck around, it is Dover – the site of his first career win and his home track. Has six top-10s in 16 starts at Dover, but has been hit or miss.
  • Ryan Truex: Ran Bristol last year for Phoenix Racing after Harry Scott took control of the team – finishing 32nd. Missed two races this year, and hasn’t finished a race since Richmond. Nearly won the NNS race at Dover in 2012, and never finished worse than 18th in NNS competition at his home track.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: After finishing no worse than 11th in the past four races at Dover, he is bound to contend for the win this weekend. Hasn’t won at Dover since 2001, but finished second last year. Looking for his 11th top-10 in what will be his 29th Dover start. He dropped to fifth in points after his extremely hot start this year, but he has six top-fives and has run well the past five races.
  • Josh Wise: Running a special scheme with in conjunction with iRacing to help fund this program. Team was impressive at Bristol and Darlington which has truly sparked a ton of attention for them. Also running the NNS race for The Motorsports Group where he has had some good runs this year.
  • Carl Edwards: Edwards has back-to-back finishes inside the top-10, but speculation has him leaving RFR at the end of the year. Has seven top-10s this year and is third in points. Besides his Bristol win, Edwards has not led more than eight laps in an event this year. Edwards recorded a win at Bristol in 2007, and has 12 top-10s at the track with an average finish of 10th

Here is the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover:

  • Practices: Friday, May 30 at 11 a.m. ET until 12:20 p.m. ET. Saturday, May 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET until 10:20 a.m. ET as well as final practice at 12:30 p.m. ET until 1:20 p.m. ET.
  • Qualifying: Friday, May 30 at 3:40 p.m. ET.
  • Race: Sunday, June 1 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.

  Statistics were used thanks to 

Being a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might be one of, if not the most challenging part of some racer’s lives. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is abundant. Even though one rookie has lost his ride due to funding issues, the rest of the rookie class appears to be secure in their seats – at least for the remainder for the season.

Alex Bowman, 21, is one of those rookies. Bowman is racing for the underfunded BK Racing organization. After releasing both of their primary drivers from the 2013 season, BK Racing opted to go with two rookie drivers at the helm of their Toyota Camry’s with Bowman as well as Ryan Truex. Together, the pair has had their struggles, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in Bowman’s eyes.

“The transition to the Cup Series has been a challenging one. Having a crew chief in Dave Winston and a great team around me, it has made that transition easier,” Bowman said.

After racing for RAB Racing in 2013, Bowman proved to BK Racing’s owner, Ron Devine, that he was capable of racing in NASCAR’s highest rank. Bowman tested for the organization over the off-season at Charlotte and also appeared at the Daytona test.

However, with the jump to the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 23 team has experienced adversity 12 races into the season. In his lone Nationwide Series season, Bowman had six top-10 finishes, and also had two pole awards. This year has been anything but successful though. His best finish was 22nd at the Auto Club Speedway, yet he has had seven finishes of 32nd or worse. 

“The longer races have been the biggest transition for me.  When you add the extra 100 or 200 miles or laps it takes time to get used to it,” he said to Speedway Digest. “We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive. We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive.”

What has been Bowman’s culprit this year? It is simple – bad luck. At Martinsville, he was on his way to a solid run, but wrecked multiple times and was relegated to a 36th place finish.

As an underfunded team, BK Racing utilizes Race Engines Plus, owned by Joey Arrington. Besides BK Racing, Joe Nemechek’s Identity Ventures Racing. Entering this season, expectations were not set high for Bowman, and he understood that. Moreover, the team has sporadically performed well this year, but their results don’t show it. Having three consecutive top-30 finishes at Darlington, Richmond and Talladega was a step in the right direction for this small team, even though it does not sound like the greatest of achievements.

“Probably my feedback to Dave and the crew guys. I continue to get use to the way these Sprint Cup Series cars drive compared to a Nationwide car,” Bowman said on what he needs to improve on.

Meanwhile, as Bowman continues to look for success, his teammate, the younger brother of Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., has had some struggles. Truex has more experience in NASCAR competition than Bowman, but has not finished better than 30th this season after missing the Daytona 500 and the race at Texas. Currently, the No. 23 team with Bowman sits 34th in owner points and is relatively safe from missing races. Meanwhile, Truex's No. 83 team is 42nd in owner points, and is not guaranteed into each event.

Amidst their struggles, the two have developed a close bond, closer than just teammates. With such a small team, they are able to work with each other in multiple ways, on and off the race track. Besides developing a friendship, their crews led by Winston and Doug Richert, are now working better, and results are on their way.

“Ryan and I try to work together and compared notes and driving styles. Dave has been great to work with. Him brings a ton of knowledge from the team’s that he has worked with in the past. Dave is certainly a calming voice on the radio each weekend.”

As he continues to adjust to the higher level of competition, expect the Arizona native to run closer to the top half of the field. It is going to be a long, tough road, but Bowman believes he is up for the challenge. The new qualifying format which NASCAR implemented at Phoenix has also helped him gain extra experience, something extremely valuable for a driver looking to find a home for multiple years at a young organization.

“(The) Biggest adjustment is that these guys never take a lap off. Each and every lap they go as hard as they can.”

It’s NASCAR’s longest race. Recently, each one of these events comes down to fuel mileage. This year should be no different.

The Coca-Cola 600, formerly known as the World 600, enables teams to bring their family members to the track, and they get to spend more time with their families because of it. As part of the Memorial Day ceremonies, NASCAR teams and drivers unite on this special weekend with a sign of patriotism seldom seen in any other sport. And in the midst of NASCAR’s homeland,

During a test at Charlotte over the off-season, Kevin Harvick was seemingly the best car at the 1.5-mile speedway. Harvick was strong during the Sprint All-Star Race on long runs, and that is going to be important going into the homestretch of an event which he has won twice in the past. The move to Stewart-Haas Racing has started to pay dividends for the 38-year-old driver. However, the rest of SHR did not perform well during the Sprint Showdown and the All-Star Race, and this might be a weekend where things can turn around for the organization. SHR has done well on fuel mileage races this year, taking risks late in events in order to gain as many as 15 spots late in races such as Tony Stewart at Las Vegas.

After winning the Sprint All-Star Race, Jamie McMurray has plenty of momentum going into the Coca-Cola 600, which he finished second in during the 2010 edition of the event. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has done well as of late with Kyle Larson joining the organization this year, and if the All-Star Race was an indication of how the team will run at the All-Star Race, both drivers should contend for top-10 finishes.

Track position was a key during both races last weekend. Drivers which took two tires to get towards the front of the pack were able to stay up there for the most part. During the All-Star Race, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had two of the strongest cars, yet they did not have the track position to compete for the lead. Gordon ended up getting involved in a wreck, and Johnson finished sixth because he did not have a short-run car.

Johnson has not won a points paying event at Charlotte since October of 2009, but he has been strong on the intermediate tracks this season. Even though he has yet to score a victory after winning the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Johnson is going to be a contender during the Coca-Cola 600. If Johnson can have a clean race, he might show the dominance which he had at Charlotte before the repave nearly a decade ago. Johnson’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, is also going to be a contender this weekend, especially after having a dominant car during the Sprint All-Star Race, leading 20 laps before smacking the wall multiple times.

Kurt Busch will be exhausted after the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening. Busch will be racing a backup car in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport, all while racing his Sprint Cup Series vehicle for SHR. Busch will have Parker Kligerman as his backup driver in case the Indianapolis 500 is delayed, but even if Busch can’t start the race, he will be able to qualify the No. 41 Chevrolet, making him still eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup as long as he is inside of the top-30 in points after Richmond in September.

However, even though the usual suspects will contend for the win this weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 provides an extra 100 miles that no other event does. Patience is going to be extremely key during this event. Drivers have a notorious history for over-driving their cars during the early stages of the race. With this race going from the sun beaming down on the track to seeing the night sky glowing above the track, drivers will have to communicate with their crew chiefs the best possible strategy to keeping up with the temperature sensitive track, all the while attempting to stay on the lead lap as green flag runs are at a premium during the Coca-Cola 600.

Here are some notables for the Coca-Cola 600:

-A.J. Allmendinger had an extremely strong car during the Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race. Allmendinger moved inside of the top-10 before being involved in an incident. The alliance JTG Daugherty Racing has with Richard Childress Racing is paying off, and it will show this weekend as Allmendinger attempts to get his fourth top-10 of the year.

-Trevor Bayne returns to the seat of the No. 21 Ford. Bayne made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Texas back in 2010, which is a track with somewhat similar characteristics to Charlotte. He finished 16th in the Coca-Cola 600 in 2013, but is looking for more after recording two top-20 finishes at Las Vegas and Texas this season.

-Blake Koch will make his first of multiple starts for Go Fas Racing this weekend in the No. 32 car. Koch raced at Phoenix earlier this year for Front Row Motorsports, but also missed the race at Las Vegas. Even though Koch won’t be a contender in this event, getting 600 miles on the Sprint Cup Series circuit will be one of the best opportunities he has ever had.

-Brian Scott will return to the seat of the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport Racing in conjunction with Richard Childress Racing. Scott made his Cup Series debut at Charlotte last October, and will be attempting to make his sixth career start in NASCAR’s top-tier division.

-Michael McDowell returns in the No. 95 Ford this weekend. The team has started to move into the right direction after finishing 30th at Texas after a rough start to the year.


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