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Circle Sport parts ways with The Motorsports Group

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The Motorsports Group announced Tuesday that it is parting ways with Circle Sport, a “sudden” move decided upon by Circle Sport owner Joe Falk on Monday.

As Circle Sport with The Motorsports Group, the two managed the No. 33 Chevrolet primarily driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt in 2017. Boris Said drove it in two races.

TMG said it plans to field its own Chevrolet in 2018. It does not have a driver or sponsor attached yet.

“This is sudden for us, but we put a plan together rather quickly,” TMG owner Curtis Key Sr. said in a press release. “We’ve had discussions with potential drivers, but it’s only been a day since the news and we have more calls to make. We look to have a driver announce(d) in early January.”

Circle Sport owns the charter used on the No. 33. Circle Sport did not respond to a request for comment.

ESPN reports Earnhardt, the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was released from a contract extension by the team and is in search of a ride.

Eddie Pardue will stay with TMG as crew chief. He assumed the duties on the No. 33 following the July Daytona race.

Earnhardt’s best finish in 34 starts was 26th three times.

Before the teams merged for 2017, The Motorsports Group fielded the No. 30 Chevrolet in 2016.

Circle Sport and The Motorsports Group merge for 2017 effort

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Joe Falk and Curtis Key Sr. have merged their respective operations to field a single entry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season.

The team will be led by Falk, who brings a charter to the partnership. Falk had been a part of the Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing effort in 2016, which fielded a car that was split between Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell.

However, NASCAR viewed the alliance as Falk having leased his Charter to Bob Leavine. It resulted in Falk needing to use the Charter this season or sell it.

In 2016, Key also fielded a single car effort. The No. 30 qualified for 30 of the 36 races with drivers Gray Gaulding and Josh Wise.

Under the Falk and Key partnership, the team will field the No. 33 Chevrolet. Falk’s charter guarantees the team, with a driver to be announced in the coming weeks, will compete in every Cup Series race.

“It’s great to join forces with Curtis Key, I’ve known him for a very long time and know we share the same feelings about racing,” Falk said in a team release.

Veteran crew chief Pat Tryson will oversee the effort. Tryson has 541 starts at the Cup level and eight career wins. Throughout his career, Tryson has worked with drivers such as Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd, Kurt Busch, and Martin Truex Jr.

Tryson also previously worked with The Motorsports Group when the team made the transition into the Cup Series in 2015.

“It’s great to have Pat back with us, he was instrumental when we got started with our Cup program and we look forward to his insight in 2017,” said Key.

The team will operate out of The Motorsports Group shop in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Gray Gaulding entered into first Sprint Cup race at Martinsville

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gray-gauldingGray Gaulding, an 18-year-old with 15 national NASCAR series starts, will make his Sprint Cup debut next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Gaulding, who has two Xfinity and 13 Camping World Truck Series starts, will make his debut in the No. 30 car for The Motorsports Group before also driving it at Phoenix and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The No. 30 has been driven by Josh Wise in 27 races this season.

The No. 30 will be sponsored by Feed the Children, a non-profit relief organization.

“It’s exciting bringing a new partner into the series and to be making my NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at a track like Martinsville (Speedway) where we’ve had a really good history in the past is honestly unfathomable,” Gaulding said in a press release. “I’m excited to partner with Feed the Children and use NASCAR as a platform to deliver our message and work to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. A lot has happened in a short period of time but I’ve never been as excited to debut this beautiful Feed the Children car next week at Martinsville Speedway.”

Gaulding, a native of  Colonial Heights, Virginia, has started at Martinsville four times in the Truck Series. His best result is 14th.

In 13 Truck starts, he has one top five at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2014.

Gaulding has one win in a NASCAR national or touring series, a victory in the K&N Pro Series East at Phoenix in 2013.

Josh Wise driving 1976 Dale Earnhardt Sr. throwback in Southern 500

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Two days before Sprint Cup teams hit the track to prepare for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Josh Wise and The Motorsports Group have announced their sponsorship and throwback paint scheme for the weekend.

Wise’s No. 30 car will be sponsored for the Southern 500 and the Sept. 17 race at Chicagoland Speedway by Incredible Bank., who joined the team in the last 24 hours.

For this weekend’s race, Wise’s paint scheme will be based on one of the first driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr. The No. 30 will look like the one driven by Earnhardt when he was sponsored by the Army for the 1976 World 600, which just his second Sprint Cup start.  Earnhardt only made two starts in 1976.

There are two other Earnhardt related paint schemes in the race. Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., is driving the No. 32, which will look like The Intimidator’s Wrangler car from the mid-80s. Jimmie Johnson‘s No. 48 will look like a car driven by David Pearson at Talladega in 1979. Pearson was driving for an injured Earnhardt, who was in his rookie season.