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‘Snowball effect’ led Bob Leavine to sell Cup team

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Seeing the “snowball effect” of a lack of sponsorship, cost for additional cars next year and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy, car owner Bob Leavine said Tuesday that it was clear that he needed to sell Leavine Family Racing.

The team announced Tuesday that it has been sold. The buyer has not been revealed.

Leavine said Tuesday that the team had 11 races available for sponsorship on rookie Christopher Bell‘s car before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the sport in March for 10 weeks. The team’s biggest sponsor, Leavine noted, was his construction company, which also has been impacted by the economic downturn brought on by the virus.

“We haven’t really sold anything and probably won’t sell anything going forward this year,” Leavine said Tuesday of sponsorship.

Leavine also cited a business model that he has been critical of, including the charter system.

Leavine Family Racing was not granted a charter but merged with Circle Sport Racing, which had a charter, for the 2016 season. The partnership ended after that season. Leavine Family Racing bought Tommy Baldwin Racing’s charter in Nov. 2016.

We definitely did not get out of our charter what we put into our charter,” said Leavine, who has not publicly revealed what was paid for the charter. “So, from our standpoint, it is very difficult to say that it was a great investment. It just allowed us to run full time for the five years after we bought it. That’s the best thing I can say for the charter system.”

Leavine Family Racing made its NASCAR debut in 2011. Christopher Bell joined the team prior to this season. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Another challenge was NASCAR’s move to push back the debut of the Next Gen car from 2021 to 2022. Leavine Family Racing has an affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing this season for chassis and support but Leavine said the plan was not to continue that next year.

“We had a whole lot of things banking on the Next Gen coming in,” Leavine said. “Our deal with JGR, our affiliation required us to do certain things. We were looking forward to being a standalone team with one or two cars. So, the pandemic, and sponsorship and how it affected (his construction business), our major sponsor, and then having to come back and buy all the cars again for next year, because we had planned on not needing cars next year.

“It was a snowball effect on multiple things. We saw no way out. We could not afford the affiliation, and what we did this year, next year. That’s what we banked on. Okay, we will do this one year, run good, get our charter value up, and we had a plan. That plan came tumbling down with the pandemic. Then you take a bad business model; it doesn’t work for us.”

Leavine said he lobbied NASCAR and owners in the spring for particular changes, which he did not reveal. When those ideas were rejected, Leavine said he was “very disappointed in what came out of that meeting. I knew that was probably going to be the straw that broke our back. I had to start looking for how best do we protect our team. How best do we keep people employed. A lot of things went into that decision.”

Leavine Family Racing has competed in NASCAR since 2011, making its debut with David Starr at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9. The organization didn’t run a full schedule until 2016 with Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon splitting the ride. Others who have driven for the team include Kasey Kahne, Regan SmithMatt DiBenedetto and Bell.

I really gave it all I had for the 10 years and the last five primarily when we went full-time, and I committed, and I thought we could make a difference and be a good team,” Leavine said. “A responsible and respected team in NASCAR. To walk away and not have completed that, I’ve never had to do that before and give up on anything. But I could not let it destroy our business – a 41-year old business – in Texas during these times, so you have to protect something and that’s a profitable organization.”

NASCAR entry lists for Michigan, Road America

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The NASCAR entry lists are out for this weekend’s racing at Michigan International Speedway and Road America.

Cup and Truck teams will compete this weekend at Michigan. Cup teams will race Saturday and Sunday.

Xfinity teams will race Saturday at Road America.

Here are the preliminary NASCAR entry lists 

Cup – Firekeepers Casino 400 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered.

Joey Gase will be in the No. 7 for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

JJ Yeley will drive the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

James Davison will be in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Click here for Saturday Cup race entry list


Cup – Consumers  Energy 400 (4:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered.

Josh Bilicki will be in the No. 7 for Tommy Baldwin Racing. That is the only change from the Saturday entry list.

Click here for Sunday Cup entry list


Xfinity – Henry 180 (Noon ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-seven cars are entered.

Among the drivers entered:

Mike Wallace, who made his first series start since 2015 last month in the road course race at Indianapolis, is back in the No. 0 car for JD Motorsports this weekend.

Andy Lally, a road racing expert and the 2011 Cup rookie of the year, will be in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car.

RC Enerson will make his NASCAR debut in the No. 07 SS Green Light Racing ride.

Jesse Iwuji will make his series debut in the No. 13 Motorsports Business Management car.

AJ Allmendinger will be in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list


Truck – Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 200 (6 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

Forty trucks are entered.

Cup rookie John Hunter Nemechek is entered in the No. 8 truck for NEMCO Motorsports.

David Gravel, the 2019 Knoxville Nationals winner, makes his Truck Series debut in the No. 24 ride for GMS Racing.

Brennan Poole is entered in the No. 30 On Point Motorsports truck.

Jeb Burton is entered in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports ride.

Parker Kligerman is entered in the No. 75 Henderson Motorsports truck.

Cup entry list for Wednesday night race at Charlotte

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Forty cars are entered for Wednesday night’s Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

It’s the same 40 teams but there are driver changes from Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. They are:

Josh Bilicki will drive the No. 7 car for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

JJ Yeley will be in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports. He had originally been listed as driving the No. 27 car for Rick Ware Racing. Gray Gaulding is now entered in the No. 27.

All three cars will start at the rear because of the driver change. There is no qualifying for Wednesday’s race. The top 20 finishers from Sunday are inverted for Wednesday’s starting lineup. The remaining positions are based on where the car finished Sunday (except for those with driver changes).

Click here for the updated entry list.


NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte

Race Time:  8 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track:  Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina (1.5-mile oval)

Length:  205 laps, 310 miles

Stages:  Stage 1 ends on Lap 55. Stage 2 ends on Lap 115.

TV:  Fox Sports 1

Radio:  Performance Racing Network Radio

Streaming:  Fox Sports app (subscription required); and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Entry list for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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There are 40 entries for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on Fox).

The race is the third in eight days for the Cup Series following races at Darlington on Sunday and Wednesday.

Ross Chastain is entered in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet for the second time this season (Daytona 500). The car will be prepared by Chip Ganassi Racing.

JJ Yeley is entered in Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 7 Chevrolet. This is the team’s second start this year.

Gray Gaulding is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 27 Ford.

Unlike the two races at Darlington, the field will be set by qualifying at 2 p.m. ET Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of the race. He beat Joey Logano and Kyle Busch for the victory last year.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity Series – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Monday on FS1)

There are 37 cars entered into Monday’s Xfinity Series race.

Kyle Busch is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Toyota.

Austin Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.

Garrett Smithley is entered in SS Greenlight Racing’s No. 07 Chevrolet.

Tyler Reddick won this race last year over Justin Allgaier and Jeffrey Earnhardt

Click here for the entry list.

Truck Series – North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (8 p.m. ET Tuesday on FS1)

Forty trucks are entered. Among those entered are Cup drivers Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, John Hunter Nemechek, Brennan Poole and Garrett Smithley. Also entered is Xfinity Series driver Ross Chastain.

Click here for Truck entry list

Starting lineup for Wednesday night’s Cup race at Darlington

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Ryan Preece will lead the field to the green flag for the start of Wednesday’s Cup race at Darlington Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1). The race is scheduled for 311 miles (500 kilometers).

NASCAR inverted the top 20 finishers from Sunday’s race to set the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s event. Preece will start on the pole after finishing 20th Sunday. He’ll be joined on the front row by Ty Dillon. Sunday’s winner, Kevin Harvick, starts 20th.

Every team is returning except the No. 7 car of Tommy Baldwin Racing, making Wednesday’s race a 39-car field.

Positions 21-39 were based on Sunday’s finish and not inverted. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished last on Sunday, starts last on Wednesday.

Click here for Wednesday night Cup race starting lineup

NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington

Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday

Track: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C. (1.366-mile oval)

Length: 228 laps, 311.4 miles (500k)

Stages: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 125.

TV coverage: Fox Sports 1

Radio: MRN Radio

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity Series race: May 19 at Darlington  (147 laps, 200.1 miles), 7:30 p.m. ET on  FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Next Truck Series race: May 26 at Charlotte (134 laps, 201 miles), 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio