GMS Racing announced Thursday it will not field an entry in the Xfinity Series in 2020.
The team, which competed with John Hunter Nemechek in the series this year, will focus on the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series.
The team made 116 starts in the Xfinity Series since 2016 and had one win, with Spencer Gallagher at Talladega in 2018. Nemechek made the playoffs this year and finished seventh in the standings driving the No. 23 Chevrolet. He earned six top fives and 19 top-10 finishes.
GMS Racing released the following statement from president Mike Beam:
GMS Racing will not field a NASCAR Xfinity Series entry next season. We have decided that in the best interest of the organization we will put our complete focus on our Gander Trucks and ARCA Racing Series programs in 2020. We can’t thank John Hunter and everyone that has been involved in our Xfinity effort over the past four years enough for their hard work and dedication to the organization. We wish John Hunter the best in his future endeavors.
After winning the 2018 season opener at Daytona, the then JR Motorsports driver fell off a cliff. He earned just one more top five before the first Iowa race and wouldn’t get another until race No. 24 at Darlington, which began his championship surge.
Now Reddick is enjoying the best stretch of racing in his career and making history in the process.
His win Saturday at Michigan was his 10th consecutive top five, the longest streak by a non-Cup competitor since Sam Ard had 11 straight in 1984 (Ard had 15 straight from 1983-84).
Through 13 races, Reddick is tied for the most top fives all-time at this point (11) and has the second best average finish (3.9).
And if not for a pass by Custer on the last turn at Pocono, Reddick would have four wins.
While all six of Reddick’s Xfinity wins to date have come at different tracks, none have been on a track shorter than 1.5-miles.
He’ll try to change that at Iowa, where he has one top five in four starts (third in 2017).
“This year we’ll be headed into Iowa Speedway with some unknowns since we have a new tire,” Reddick said in a media release. “We had a tire test there about a month ago that we participated in (and involved Bell and Custer) and it looks like they’re going in a direction with a harder tire that won’t have as much fall-off. I think they’re hoping with a harder tire there will be some more interesting strategy calls in the race, so that we may see some teams take two or no tires in order to gain track position.
“We’ll see what happens with that. The tire we used to have there was really fast and didn’t really have any fall-off, so I would go to the top groove right away. This time the bottom lane will be open for everybody, but I don’t think it will be quite as fast.”
Bell is staying just ahead of his pace last year that made him the championship favorite before Reddick’s surprising surge.
While Bell won a rookie record seven races in 2018, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t turn on the afterburners until after the July Daytona race. By race No. 14 last year, Bell had one win (Richmond), with seven top fives with no finishes between sixth to 10th.
A year later, Bell again has seven top fives and one finish between sixth and 10th after 13 races. He also has one less DNF than he had in 2018 (three).
Bell’s wins this year have come at Atlanta (1.5-mile track), Bristol (half-mile) and Dover (1-mile).
Now Bell will look to continue a hot streak at Iowa. With three starts there he finished in the top two in both races last year, including a win in the July race.
“We should have a good shot at it; short track racing seems to be our strong suit right now,” Bell said in a media release. “I enjoy 1.5-mile tracks and intermediate style racing better, but for whatever reason, we seem to run better on the short tracks. Iowa is like a short track with intermediate track speeds; it’s in its own unique category. It’s a fun racetrack; you get to go there and typically you can pass, move around and find different lanes.”
While Reddick is arguably the most improved driver from last year, don’t let it overshadow what Custer has accomplished.
In his third full-time season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Custer has hit his sweet spot. He has three wins after earning only one each in 2017 and ’18. Both wins came in the final three races of those seasons.
Thus far this season, the No. 00 Ford has seven top fives including its three wins. Custer had four top fives at this point in 2018.
One downside is that Custer has two fewer top 10s heading to Iowa than he did last year (10). He is tied with Bell with eight.
Custer took pride earlier this year in finally earning a win on a short track (Richmond). He’ll attempt to back it up in Iowa, where he has two top fives in four starts. He led 104 laps there last July before finishing ninth after he made late-race contact with the wall.
“It’s the best track we go to,” Custer said of Iowa on NASCAR.com. “It’s so fun, you’re able to run from the top to the bottom, throw slide jobs. It’s probably the biggest track we throw slide jobs at. … It’s every driver’s dream I would say.”
The Xfinity Series competes this afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
Here’s all the info you need for today’s Dash 4 Cash race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Dee Choubey, MoneyLion CEO, will give the command to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:19 p.m.
PRERACE: Driver/crew chief meeting is at Noon. Driver introductions begin at 12:30 p.m. The invocation will be given at 1 p.m. by Billy Irvan, Alabama Raceway Ministries. Amia Nico will perform the National Anthem at 1:01 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) around the 2.66-mile track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 12:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 73 degrees and a 0 percent chance of rain for the start of the race.
Chase Elliott will drive JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 16, the team announced Thursday.
The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 will mark a return of sorts for Elliott, who earned JR Motorsports’ first NASCAR championship when he captured the 2014 Xfinity Series title. He also won the 2016 Xfinity opener for JRM.
“This is more than just putting a driver in a car,” JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said in a media release. “Chase is family to us and an integral part of our history.
“He helped kick-start our run of championships back in 2014 and has driven our cars to victory in several prestigious events, including a win at Daytona in 2016. We jumped at the chance of having one of our own return for this race.”
The car will be sponsored in the race by AfterShokz, a headphone brand and current partner of Elliott, who was voted NASCAR Cup’s Most Popular Driver in 2018.
“I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel for JRM in Daytona,” Elliott said. “Kelley, Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and the entire organization have been so great to work with over the years. We won this race back in 2016, and this year we’re looking to get back into victory lane with AfterShokz.”
Elliott, who earned his first three NASCAR Cup wins last season, has five career Xfinity Series wins, all with JRM.
Other drivers for JRM in the Daytona Xfinity opener include Michael Annett (No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet) and Noah Gragson (No. 9 Chevrolet).