The team issued a statement Friday afternoon about the decision, citing “a variety of circumstances,” including limited resources and funding.
“It is no secret that this is a very small team with limited resources,” the team said. “This is also a very new team to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 97 team has worked very hard through the winter to prepare cars and to secure funding for the 2019 season, and things did not come together as quickly as hoped or needed. The odds of making the Daytona 500 did not seem reasonable enough to stretch our resources, so the team feels that our assets can best be put towards a future race.”
Obaika’s news means 42 cars will try to make the 40-car field in the Daytona 500.
The team’s announcement on Wednesday, held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was also used to reveal a partnership with Wave Sports.
“Adding Wave Sports as a year-long partner was a huge boost to our program, and they will be a very important part of our future efforts,” the statement continued. “We continued with the Wednesday, Feb. 6th, press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with great optimism about our program coming together in time to make it to Daytona International Speedway. Even though that did not work out, we are still very thankful to Wave Sports for continuing their support.
“The team still has big plans for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. We will compete in as many events as possible, and we will announce our 2019 debut race as soon as possible.”
Owned by Victor Obaika, the team made its Cup debut last year and competed in three races, with Berryhill driving in the last two races of the season.
The team has 78 Xfinity Series starts since 2015.
I've written about a thousand different things I'd like to share, but I just can't seem to put something together other than I'm devastated. What I thought and hoped was the opportunity of a lifetime wasn't. #Daytona500
Germain Racing will use the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 to field a second car for the first time since 2011 and it will be piloted by former full-time driver Casey Mears.
Mears, who raced for Germain from 2010-16 in Cup, will drive the No. 27 Chevrolet. The team will be built and staffed through a partnership with Premium Motorsports. Pat Tryson will serve as crew chief.
Mears will be teammates with Ty Dillon, the current driver of Germain’s No. 13 Chevrolet.
“I have considered running a second car in the Daytona 500 for years,” owner Bob Germain said in a press release. “My immediate focus is still on our No. 13 team and the full season that Ty Dillon will run. However, when the chance to field a second car with Casey Mears came together this year with Jay Robinson building the car and providing the at-track crew, I wanted to jump on it.
“The Daytona 500 is a race that our team, sponsors and fans are all passionate about, and I am too. In a race where anything can happen, having a second entry is an exciting opportunity. Casey has been a part of our Germain Racing family for years, and I’m grateful that he’s willing to get behind the wheel for me again in this one race.”
Without a charter for the car, Mears is not guaranteed starting spot in the race.
Mears didn’t make any NASCAR starts in 2018.
He last competed in the 2017 Xfinity season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Biagi-DenBeste Racing.
Mears has 25 career Cup starts at Daytona International Speedway, with a best finish of second in the 2006 Daytona 500.
The addition of Mears makes for at least eight unchartered cars that could be entered into the Daytona 500.
With a maximum field of 40 cars, four will not make the field.
“I ran 53 1/2 good laps and didn’t close it out,” Larson told Mav TV after placing second. “Hate it. … It’s just disappointing to be close to winning a race like that, feeling I did everything I could until the very end. Just gave it away. Hate that.”
Bell charged under Larson and they made contact. Larson tried to get under Bell in Turn 3 and they hit again. Bell held off his friend and denied Larson his first Chili Bowl. Bell celebrated his win by doing several spins in his midget before it rolled over.
“If (Larson) wouldn’t have missed his marks, if he would have stuck the bottom, then, A, I wouldn’t haven’t got there, but I’m not just going to run into the back of him,” Bell said in the press conference after the race. “Whenever he went in there and missed his mark and slid up, I took advantage of it.”
Said Larson in the press conference after the race: “I didn’t think what Chris did was wrong at all. I knew I missed the bottom, so then I’m trying to squeeze him down. I knew that there was contact coming. If anything, I’m more upset with what I did into (Turn) 3 of running into the side of him. I try to pride myself and not race like that and that’s twice now that I’ve done that on the last lap. Just a little desperation out of myself. Got to not do that in the future.”
Justin Grant was third. Brady Bacon was fourth and Zac Daum was fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. placed 21st in the 24-car field.
The A main began at 12:53 a.m. ET and ended at 1:17 a.m. ET.
Which changes have us the most eager to get the season underway in 31 days?
Same Team, Different Car
How long will it take before Chad Knaus accidentally visits the wrong hauler during a race weekend?
It seems like a plausible scenario given that NASCAR’s most successful crew chief of the 21st Century is working on a car not driven by Jimmie Johnson for the first time since 2001.
And Knaus himself said it could happen.
“Look, I had 18 years working on that 48 car, so I guarantee I’m going to walk into the wrong transporter,” Knaus said Friday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.” “At some point, I’m probably going to key the radio and start to say ‘Jimmie,’ by accident. I may look at the 48 as it rolls down the front straightaway and get confused, but hell, I’m getting old, so I get confused anyhow. So, that’s just part of life.”
2019 sees Knaus instead shepherding the sophomore effort of fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet.
Meanwhile, Johnson and the No. 48 team will head to Speedweeks in Daytona with Kevin Meendering as its crew chief. After three years working with Elliott Sadler in Xfinity, Meendering gets his first shot in Cup with a seven-time champion near the end of his career.
It truly is a brave new world.
Old School Sonoma
A Cup Series road course will see a major change to its circuit this year.
No, Watkins Glen is not going to run “the Boot.” But Sonoma Raceway is bringing back “the Carousel.”
In the Cup Series’ rookie class for 2019, Ryan Preece stands out in a significant area.
He’s actually won a NASCAR race.
While Matt Tifft, Daniel Hemric and Tanner Berryhill have never visited victory lane, the new driver for JTG Daugherty Racing enters this season with two Xfinity Series wins. Both came on short tracks at Iowa and Bristol Motor Speedway.
Those two oval wins are more than the number earned by the driver he replaces in the No. 47 Chevrolet. AJ Allmendinger ended 2018 with three NASCAR wins, but all came on road courses.
Preece hasn’t competed in Cup since he ran five races in the series in 2015, but it will be interesting to see what the 28-year-old can muster in a rookie campaign that coincides with the introduction of a rules package intended to create closer racing.
This is significant because it will be the first NASCAR race on a superspeedway without a restrictor plate since 1988.
While the tapered spacer is meant to serve the same, but more efficient purpose of the restrictor plate, we won’t know how it performs until the series visits Alabama. Taking into account how Stewart-Haas Racing dominated at Talladega last October, it will be interesting to see what kind of race unfolds.
Fewer Cup-backed cars in Xfinity
The Xfinity Series will have a little bit less competition in 2019.
A full field will now consist of 38 cars, down from 40. But the series will also have less of a Cup Series influence.