Discover more from TC Daily Pit Stop
TC Daily Pit Stop: Matt Mills Joining Niece Full-Time in 2024; Andretti Running Final Two Truck Races; Herbst Returning to SHR; Larson Finishes Indy 500 ROP
TC Daily Pit Stop: Friday, October 13th, 2023
On Thursday, NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson completed his Rookie Orientation Program for the 2024 Indianapolis 500, in the No. 17 Arrow-McLaren HendrickCars.com Chevrolet.
Larson, who had to hit certain benchmarks to advance through the three-phase program, would do so with ease, much like the three rookies that completed the program on Wednesday - Tom Blomqvist, Marcus Armstrong, Linus Lundqvist.
Just before 1:20 PM ET, Larson completed the program after making 67 on-track laps, with a best lap speed of 217.898mph.
“It was fun, I guess mostly what I had anticipated in a way. The speed and the grip didn’t feel, thankfully, scarier than I thought it might. But there was — like just how much the car pulls left, and you have to fight it to the right down the straightaways,” Larson explained. “All of that was something I didn’t expect. The weight of the wheel was a lot lighter than the simulator, but still maybe a little heavier than I expected. Other than that, I think it went smooth.”
Michael McDowell has spent an extensive amount of time in the NASCAR Cup Series, with various organizations, and at one point in his career, was starting and parking just to maintain a ride. Now. he’s a multi-time Cup Series winner.
McDowell spoke to TobyChristie.com about the ways his career has transformed in recent years, after finding a great deal of success with Front Row Motorsports, including a Daytona 500 victory in 2021.
Matt Mills, who has made 23-career starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and scored one top-five finish, will be the successor for Carson Hocevar in the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado. Mills, who will run the full NASCAR Truck Series campaign, will have primary sponsorship from J.F. Electric and Utilitra.
The race team made the announcement in the form of a press release on Thursday morning. Mills, who started opening some eyes in a part-time stint with Kyle Busch Motorsports this season, is pumped for the opportunity with the Niece organization in 2024.
“I’m really excited to join the Niece Motorsports team for the full Truck Series season next year,” said Mills. “This is a great opportunity for me to get into top-tier equipment. It felt good to get on track this year and show speed, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue that. I’m so thankful to everyone at J.F. Electric and Utilitra for believing in me and their continued support.”
Marco Andretti, a champion of the Superstar Racing Experience in 2022 and a multi-time starter of the Indianapolis 500 and several other IndyCar events, will make his first-ever oval start in NASCAR’s top-three series.
Andretti will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado in the series’ final two events of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway.
“I had a lot of fun driving for Spire Motorsports at Mid-Ohio,” Andretti said in a team release. “The end result wasn’t reflective of the pace we had out of the gate, but I learned a lot about how these trucks handle and what to expect. I want to expand my limited stock car experience and get some laps in on the bigger ovals. Homestead and Phoenix are going to be very different from the ovals I raced with in the SRX Series and, obviously, much different from Mid-Ohio, which is what I want.”
Riley Herbst and Stewart-Haas Racing have some unfinished business to tend to. On Thursday afternoon, the race team announced that it had reached an agreement for Herbst to return to the team’s No. 98 Ford Mustang for the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
The 24-year-old from Las Vegas, has racked up 67 top-10 finishes in 138 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. Herbst started his NXS career with Joe Gibbs Racing part-time in 2018, and 2019, before going full-time with the team in 2020.
In 2021, Herbst moved to Stewart-Haas Racing and he finished 11th in the championship standings that season, and he was 10th in the standings in 2022.
Akinori Ogata will return to Emerling-Gase Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway as he attempts to make his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start for the team in 2023.
Ogata, who finished 29th for the team at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season, will pilot the No. 53 Chevrolet Camaro at Martinsville Speedway. The car will carry primary sponsorship from Shiano Pneumatic Tool.
Emerling-Gase Motorsports made the announcement on Thursday morning.
“We are excited to have Akinori behind the wheel at Martinsville, his journey inspires us all and he is a great short track driver,” Team owner Joey Gase stated.
This paint scheme has a little 20th-anniversary logo on it,” Ogata explains in a team press release. “That logo means that I have been racing in the United States for 20 years, since 2003. 20 years later, and I haven’t given up. I’m still working had doing NASCAR racing and I’m enjoying living in North Carolina.”
TC Daily Pit Stop is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.