Zane Smith

Zane Smith. Photo: Getty Images

Truck Series practice report from Daytona

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The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series held two practice sessions Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for Friday night’s season-opening NextEra Energy 250.

FINAL PRACTICE

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the second and final practice session.

Sauter, whose truck stopped on the track during the first session, roared back to pace the field in the second session with a speed of 193.278 mph.

Defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was second fastest (193.228 mph), followed by last year’s Daytona winner, Austin Hill, at 192.645 mph.

Derek Kraus was fourth fastest (191.959 mph), followed by Christian Eckes (191.885). Sixth through 10th were Brett Moffitt (191.853 mph), Ross Chastain (191.750), Stewart Friesen (191.559), Raphael Lessard (191.522) and Riley Herbst (191.416).

A total of 38 trucks took to the track during the second session, part of 40 entries for Friday’s race. However, only 32 will make the race day field following Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, which starts at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Two incidents occurred in the session. Josh Reaume may have suffered an apparent motor issue and took his truck to the garage, while the fastest driver in the first session, Zane Smith, lost power and coasted to a stop coming off Turn 4.

Friday night’s race will start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Final Truck practice results

FIRST PRACTICE

Zane Smith was fastest in the first practice session, covering the 2.5-mile speedway at a top speed of 193.175 mph.

Riley Herbst was second (193.017 mph), followed by Ty Majeski (193.009 mph), Joe Nemechek (192.823 mph) and his son, John Hunter Nemechek (192.468 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Korbin Forrister (190.210), Gus Dean (189.629), Tyler Ankrum (189.597), Brett Moffitt (189.593) and Sheldon Creed (189.561).

The session was stopped three times by a red flag. It was first displayed due to an issue with Clay Greenfield. The second time was for Johnny Sauter stalling on the track because of an electrical issue. Angela Ruch stalled on pit road to bring out the third red flag.

Truck practice No. 1 results

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General Motors to open technical center in Charlotte area

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General Motors announced Thursday plans to open a new technical center dedicated to performance and racing in Concord, North Carolina.

With the Charlotte Technical Center, GM will join Toyota and Ford, NASCAR’s other two manufacturers in having a tech center in the Charlotte area.

Toyota’s facility is in Salisbury and Ford’s is in Concord. Chevrolet does have a simulator facility located in Huntersville.

GM’s 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in the middle of this year.

According to a press release, GM’s facility will focus on “transferring knowledge and resources from the racing programs to core vehicle engineering” and will eventually “house future technology and engineering development capabilities.”

“We’re thrilled to expand GM’s U.S. footprint by establishing a greater presence in Charlotte, a community that has become a racing and engineering mecca,” Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports, said in the press release. “The new facility will be close to a number of key Chevrolet and Cadillac racing partners, teams and suppliers. This will allow for improved collaboration as well as access to some of the industry’s best talent.”

The facility will feature Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, vehicle simulation, aero development and other practices designed to advance racing and production capabilities.

In another area of development for Chevrolet, the 2020 class of the Drivers Edge Development program has been announced.

The program consists of driver who compete for GMS Racing and JR Motorsports.

This year’s six-member class includes returning members Sheldon Creed, Noah Gragson, Sam Mayer and Zane Smith – and the new additions of Tyler Ankrum and Connor Mosack.

Creed, Mayer, Ankrum and Smith will compete for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series this season.

Creed, Ankrum and Smith will race full-time. Mayer, 16, will compete part-time. He made three starts last year while running in the ARCA Menards Series East where he won the championship.

This will be Sheldon Creed’s second full-time truck season with GMS Racing.

Ankrum, the 2019 rookie of the year, drove for DGR-Crosley last year when it was under the Toyota banner.

Smith competed part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series last year driving the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Gragson returns for a second full-time Xfinity season driving JRM’s No. 9 Chevrolet.

Mosack, 18, will race for JRM in a late model. In 2019, Mosack raced late models at Hickory Motor Speedway, finishing third in points and took top rookie honors. He earned seven top five and 25 top-10 finishes in 27 starts at the venue.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Justin Allgaier: Daniel Hemric will be ‘difference maker’ for JR Motorsports

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Justin Allgaier believes JR Motorsports’ chances of success in the Xfinity Series in 2020 will be improved thanks to a less is more approach to the driver lineup of one of its cars.

The 2019 season saw nine drivers pilot JRM’s only part-time entry, the No. 8 Chevrolet, over 33 races. For Allgaier, that revolving door played at least a part in the team’s struggles, where Michael Annett won the season-opening race at Daytona and the team didn’t win again until Allgaier’s victory at ISM Raceway in race No. 32.

“We started off a little bit behind the 8-ball, didn’t quite have the speed we were looking for and that really didn’t set us up well for the rest of the season,” Allgaier said Friday night at the Xfinity and Truck Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center. “We just felt like no matter what we did we were stuck in that same routine week-in and week-out. We were in a little bit of a different position having the 8 car being not a full-time driver, kind of understanding that model and how we maximize that. I think we’ve done a lot better job of that in the end of the season.”

Allgaier also shoulders blame for JRM’s fewest wins since it had two in 2012.

“I just didn’t do a good job,” Allgaier said. “As a veteran of the sport and being lucky enough to be in this sport for a number of years, I needed to do a better job, not only with myself and my 7 team, but trying to help my teammates and understanding what we all needed to be better. I think as we got later into the season we started gelling a lot better and I felt like whether it was Zane (Smith) or Jeb (Burton) or any of the guys at the end of the year that were in the 8 car, Ryan (Truex), we made big strides in doing that.”

For Allgaier, a “difference maker” is on the way in the form of Daniel Hemric.

The 2019 Cup Series Rookie of the Year will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet in 21 races next year, splitting time with Burton (11 races) and owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. (one race).

It marks Hemric’s return to the series after he spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons there with Richard Childress Racing, going winless but making the Championship 4 each time before his one-year promotion to the Cup Series.

“Really having just two full-time drivers in that 8 car, between Daniel and Jeb, obviously Dale’s going to run in it too, but only one race, I think our foundation is going to be a lot stronger next year,” Allgaier said.

What does Hemric bring to the table at JRM?

“First and foremost, experience,” Allgaier notes. “Not only as a Cup driver, but as a fantastic Xfinity Series competitor when he was in the series. I think he’s somebody that No. 1, has a lot of talent. But No. 2, (he) is somebody that’s really easy to get along with and he’s somebody I’ve become friends with from day one when he came into the series, and he’s somebody that I feel like will be a great addition to the sport and be somebody we can all enjoy being around, in the garage, at the shop, where ever it is.”

Allgaier, who will compete in his 10th full-time Xfinity season, sees Hemric as a kindred spirit who will help in getting his team back to even ground.

“Daniel and I grew up the same way in how we race,” Allgaier said. “You build race cars and you work all nighters and you put stuff together and if you don’t you’re not going to go to the race track. Having to have that understanding of a car and how it operates is a big deal. I think he’s going to be a big part of that.

“But on the other side of it, I think his talent alone is what’s going to really be the big difference maker, the understanding of how to be fast, week-in and week-out and how to optimize a race car. He’s very good at that. He’s probably one of the best that I’ve been around. I think that’s going to be a difference maker for all of us.”

Silly Season Scorecard: 2021 Edition

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You read the headline right, we’re talking about the 2021 Silly Season before we’ve even reached 2020.

That’s thanks to Jimmie Johnson’s news Wednesday that next year will be his last full-time season of competition in the Cup Series.

Johnson will exit the No. 48 Chevrolet after 19 seasons at the end of next year. That sets the stage for a potentially wild Silly Season, especially with the current contracts of drivers like Erik Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing coming to end after the 2020 season.

Here’s how the current 2019-20 Silly Season has played out so far.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not revealed a replacement for Tyler Reddick, but announced Nov. 21 that Myatt Snider will race part-time for the team.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

GMS RacingAnnounced Nov. 21 it will not field an entry in 2021, leaving John Hunter Nemechek without a ride.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith, Sheldon CreedTyler Ankrum and Sam Mayer.

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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