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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), Sorenson (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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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.”

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.

 

Martins Motorsports returns to Truck Series with Matt Mills at Iowa

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After a brief absence, Martins Motorsports is returning to the Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Iowa Speedway.

The team will field the No. 42 Chevrolet with driver Matt Mills.

Martins Motorsports shifted its focus to the Xfinity Series earlier this year and sold the rights to its No. 44 to Faith Motorsports.

“It’s been a weird year,” said driver and team spokesman Tommy Joe Martins in a press release. “So much has changed for our team in just one year. The Truck series has shifted dramatically. But I think we’ve found a good direction for Martins Motorsports. We’re at home in the Truck series. We want to be a platform for guys to take their first step in NASCAR – just like I did.”

Mills will be making his fourth Truck start of the year. His first three, at Kansas, Charlotte and Dover, were with Faith Motorsports. The 20-year-old driver finished 17th at Kansas and Dover. He finished 24th at Charlotte.

Martins Motorsports has made 29 Truck starts since 2009. Its only starts this year were at Atlanta with Martins and at Martinsville with Brandon Brown.

“We know we’ve got a chance to go out and compete for top-15’s consistently with Matt driving our trucks.” Martins said. “The relationship he’s formed with our crew chief Kevin Eagle is also going to give us a big head start on unloading fast. We want to give Matt as many opportunities as we can.”

The team hopes to compete in “several” of the remaining races in the Truck season, but a final schedule is not set.

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NASCAR issues warnings to three Sprint Cup teams, four truck teams from Talladega

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NASCAR issued warnings to multiple Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams following last weekend’s action at Talladega Superspeedway.

The No. 5 (Kasey Kahne) and No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) Sprint Cup teams were issued written warnings for failing the Laser Inspection Station twice during prerace inspection for the Hellmann’s 500. It was the fourth warning for both, meaning loss of pit stall selection. Those penalties were served in Talladega.

The No. 32 (Bobby Labonte) team was issued a written warning for failing template inspection twice during pre-race inspection. That penalty also resulted in a fourth warning that was served at Talladega.

Lastly, the No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) team was issued their first written warning, also for failing prerace template inspection.

There was no penalty or fine for Truex’s team after NASCAR confiscated the left-front jack bolt from the No. 78 during qualifying. At the time, NASCAR officials said the jack bolt did not meet required specifications.

In the Truck Series, the No. 44 (Tommy Joe Martins) team was issued its first written warning for failing height and weight measurement inspection three times during prerace inspection. The team also will lose 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The No. 02 (Dylan Lupton), No. 19 (Daniel Hemric), and No. 29 (Tyler Reddick) teams were issued written warnings for failing height and weight measurements twice during prerace inspection.

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