Spencer Gallagher to make Cup debut at Watkins Glen

by Justin Nguyen

Spencer Gallagher has experienced a fairly bizarre 2018 season. Days after winning his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in April, he was indefinitely suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance policy. He returned to racing in July, and a month later, has found himself gearing up for his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut. When NASCAR released the entry list for Sunday’s Cup race at Watkins Glen International on Monday, the 28-year-old Las Vegas native was listed as the driver of the #23 Toyota for BK Racing.

Prior to his suspension, Gallagher was competing full-time in the Xfinity Series for family-owned GMS Racing. In the first eight races of 2018, he had three top tens, including a fifth-place run at Bristol Motor Speedway, which he improved upon with his Talladega win. He led just the final lap in the event after passing Tyler Reddick for the lead in overtime. Four days later, however, NASCAR announced he would be suspended for a substance abuse violation. In addition to disqualifying him from playoff contention, he was removed from the #23 for the next seven races. In his place, drivers like Cup regulars Chase Elliott and Alex BowmanCamping World Truck Series champion and GMS members Johnny Sauter and Justin Haley, and short track veteran Casey Roderick piloted the #23. Officially, Elliott holds the car’s best finish of second at Pocono Raceway, but Haley finished first at Daytona International Speedway before his win was disallowed as he passed the leaders below the double-yellow line.

Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Gallagher returned to the track at Kentucky Speedway in July, where he finished twentieth before exiting the #23 once again to allow GMS to to honor its contracts with the aforementioned drivers. Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger will race the #23 at The Glen in the Xfinity race on Saturday. It is Allmendinger’s first start in the Xfinity Series since he won in both of his 2013 starts.

In 2018, BK Racing’s #23 car has been shared by Gray Gaulding, J.J. Yeley, and Blake Jones. Gaulding ran the first seventeen races of the year, recording a best finish of twentieth at Daytona and Texas Motor Speedway, before Yeley took over for two races at Daytona and Kentucky; he finished eighteenth and thirty-ninth, respectively. Jones made his Cup debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he finished thirty-third. Yeley returned to the #23 in last Sunday’s Pocono race, concluding the day in twenty-eighth. The #23 team currently sits twenty-third in the Owner’s Championship.

The decision to place Gallagher in the car comes with additional headlines. During 2018, BK has been marred by a multitude of financial issues, which included a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. In July, GMS President and longtime crew chief Mike Beam placed a bid to acquire BK Racing for $1.8 million, hoping to turn the operation into a satellite team for GMS.

Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of the Go Bowling at The Glen.

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