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Cup team’s debut stirs debate on value of smaller part-time teams

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The entry of NY Racing for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 has stirred talk about the value of smaller teams unable to compete a full season in Cup after a comment from the chairman of the Race Team Alliance.

NY Racing is entered in its first Cup race of the year. JJ Yeley is the driver. The team announced Tuesday a multi-year deal with Steakhouse Elite as sponsor. The team is owned by John Cohen, whose previous Cup teams ran 16 races between 2012-15. His team’s best finish was 32nd in the 2015 Daytona 500 with Reed Sorenson. His teams also failed to qualify for seven races and withdrew five times.

The entry of NY Racing means one car will fail to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. The five teams going for the four spots available for non-charter teams are those of BJ McLeod (No. 52, Rick Ware Racing), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 55 Premium Motorsports), Timmy Hill (No. 66, Motorsports Business Management), Parker Kligerman (No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing) and Yeley.

NY Racing’s entry drew the ire of Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and chairman of the Race Team Alliance. Kauffman tweeted about NY Racing’s entry and then responded to a few who questioned him.

Kauffman’s tweet drew a response from Xfinity driver Tommy Joe Martins, who has been vocal about the importance of smaller teams in NASCAR’s national series and the need to raise the profiles of such teams. Martins responded to Kauffman’s comments with a series of tweets.

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Entry lists for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series at Atlanta

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The 2018 season continues this weekend for all three of NASCAR’s national series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The weekend includes a double-header for the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series on Saturday.

It all leads up to the Cup Series and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday.

Here’s the entry lists for each race.

Cup Series

There are 36 cars on the entry list for the Cup race.

Harrison Rhodes will make his Cup debut, driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. Ross Chastain will drive the No. 15 Chevrolet owned by Premium Motorsports.

Gray Gaulding is slated to drive BK Racing’s No. 23 Toyota.

Last year, Brad Keselowski led the final seven laps to win his first race at Atlanta. He beat Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth.

Click here for Cup entry list

Xfinity Series

There are 43 cars entered for the Rinnai 250.

Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ty Dillon are the only full-time Cup drivers entered.

Tommy Joe Martins is entered in the No. 8 Chevrolet owned by B.J. McLeod Motorsports.

Austin Cindric will drive the No. 12 Ford owned by Team Penske.

Kyle Benjamin will drive Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

John Hunter Nemechek will make his first start in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet.

Chase Briscoe will make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 60 Ford owned by Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Kyle Busch won this race over Keselowski and Harvick after leading 26 of 163 laps from the pole.

Click here for the entry list.

Truck Series

There are 34 entries for the Active Pest Control 200.

Kyle Busch will make his first start of the year in his No. 4 Toyota. Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon drive the No. 20 Chevrolet.

Joe Nemechek is entered in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Joey Gase is listed as the driver for the No. 0 Chevrolet owned by Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing.

No driver is yet listed for the No. 1 Chevrolet owned by TJL Motorsports.

Last year, Christopher Bell won this race from the pole after leading 99 of 130 laps. He beat Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Click here for Truck entry list

Tommy Joe Martins closes Truck team, to focus on Xfinity Series in 2018

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NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series driver Tommy Joe Martins announced Saturday that he has ceased operations of the Truck Series team he owns and drives for, effective immediately.

Martins tweeted the announcement about Martins Motorsports, saying “It was a hard decision, a frustrating decision, but the right one for me and my family.”

The Como, Mississippi native has competed in 28 Truck races between 2009 and 2017. His best finish to date over that time was 15th at Michigan International Speedway in 2016.

Martins had planned to go forward with another part-time schedule in the Truck Series in 2018, as well as potentially field trucks for other drivers, but according to an interview he had with Frontstretch.com, two handshake deals for sponsorship fell through.

Martins will focus on returning to Team McLeod in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018. He has 20 career starts in the Xfinity Series, with 11 starts in 2014 and nine in 2017. He earned his best overall NASCAR finish last season (11th) in an Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway.

“I’m in a position now where my driving career isn’t tied to this race team,” Martins told Frontstretch.com. “I’ve got a deal for 10 races with BJ McLeod next year and he’s already been open to upping that to about 15 races. So I’m getting to run half the year in Xfinity anyway.”

Johnny Sauter wins at Texas, locked into Truck championship race in Miami

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Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champ Johnny Sauter took a big step towards repeating, winning Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It is the Wisconsin native’s third win of the season, which equals the number of wins he earned en route to last year’s championship.

It also marks the second consecutive year that Sauter has won the fall playoff race at Texas, assuring himself a spot in the championship race in Miami in two weeks.

“I haven’t been pumped up this much in a long, long time,” Sauter said.

Sauter held off a late-race challenge by runner-up Austin Cindric to earn his fourth career triumph at TMS. In addition, it was the Hendrick Motorsports Engine Department’s 400th overall win.

Christopher Bell finished third, followed by Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley, who spun on Lap 58 after making contact with Sauter, his teammate at GMS Racing.

Haley kept his truck off the wall and sustained only minor damage to the left rear and was able to continue on.

Sixth through 10th were Kaz Grala, Grant Enfinger, Ryan Truex, Matt Crafton and Noah Gragson.

Crafton suffered a costly pit road penalty just past halfway when NASCAR ruled a crew member came over the wall too soon, and was never able to recover.

Justin Haley’s truck was found to be too low in inspection after the race. Christopher Bell’s truck was found to have an unsecured lug nut.

MORE: Results from JAG Metals 350 Truck race at Texas Motor Speedway

MORE: Johnny Sauter clinches spot in championship race, Christopher Bell close on points

STAGE WINNERS: Christopher Bell (Stage 1), Noah Gragson (Stage 2).

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric gave Sauter a stiff challenge in the closing laps, but couldn’t get past. … Chase Briscoe bounced back from tough races at Talladega and Martinsville to finish fourth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Tommy Joe Martins completed three laps before suffering a hard wreck in his Chevrolet Silverado. … John Hunter Nemechek pitted late in the race, had struggles restarting and then was penalized for speeding while exiting pit road. He finished 19th.

NOTABLE: John Hunter Nemechek, who is 39 points out of the final transfer spot, must win next weekend at Phoenix to advance to the championship round in Miami.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It was a nice points day, but we already have really good points, so we really wanted to win.” — Third-place finisher Christopher Bell.

WHAT’S NEXT: Lucas Oil 150; 8:30 p.m. ET Nov. 10 at Phoenix Raceway

Grant Enfinger fastest in final Truck practice at Texas

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Grant Enfinger was fastest in the final Camping World Truck Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

Enfinger, who drives the No. 98 Chevrolet for ThorSport Racing, posted a top speed of 185.274 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Enfinger was followed by Myatt Snider (184.609), Austin Cindric (184.420), Justin Haley (184.370) and Johnny Sauter (184.332).

Sauter was fastest in the first practice session.

Snider recorded the most laps in the session with 42.

Christopher Bell, who was 10th fastest, has the best 10-lap average at 182.232 mph.

Tommy Joe Martins made contact with the wall in the session before he completed a lap. He was cleared and released from the infield care center.

Click here for the practice report.