By Toby Christie, Editor — Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie
Jeffrey Earnhardt has definitely paid his dues. He has toiled around in the back half the garage area in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for nearly a decade. After struggling mightily to get his career launched in under funded equipment, Earnhardt has found his big break at Joe Gibbs Racing.
The team announced on Saturday that the 29-year-old nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be behind the wheel of their No. 18 Toyota Camry in nine races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019. Sponsorship from Xtreme Concepts was brought in by Earnhardt as they sponsored some of his starts in the Cup Series in 2018.
“We believe motorsports is an incredibly strong platform to highlight the many services Xtreme Concepts can provide, and we also believe in Jeffrey Earnhardt,” said Landon Ash, founder, Xtreme Concepts, in a statement. “I know firsthand how just having the opportunity to show what you can do is all you need to find success. It’s how we’ve grown Xtreme Concepts since our founding in 2008 to a worldwide leader in security concepts and solutions. Jeffrey has been an excellent representative for Xtreme Concepts and our brands like iK9, and through this endeavor with Joe Gibbs Racing we plan to grow together.”
Earnhardt had been hinting on Twitter for the last few weeks that he had big news coming as far as his future was concerned, but I don’t think anybody had thoughts that it meant he was heading to one of the most dominant rides in the sport. Earnhardt’s new team believes the driver can deliver wins, which is what they have sought out to do since their inception.
“From the time we first came to NASCAR in 1992, we’ve always put forth maximum effort to have the best possible results on the racetrack,” said Coy Gibbs, JGR’s Vice Chairman and COO, in a statement. “Our Xfinity Series program is the perfect example of what happens when preparation meets execution. We’ve had both up-and-coming and veteran drivers achieve success in our race cars, and that success has translated to the partners they’ve represented. We think Jeffrey Earnhardt has the talent to win races and deliver strong results for Xtreme Concepts.”
This is the same car that Ryan Preece was able to showcase his skills in a part-time role over the last couple of years.
As Preece heads to the Cup Series for JTG Daugherty Racing next season, we will finally get a chance to see what the fourth generation Earnhardt has as far as talent.
“I’ve worked incredibly hard for this opportunity and I’ve got to thank Xtreme Concepts for making it happen,” said Earnhardt in a statement. “You see the level of expertise Joe Gibbs Racing has and the caliber of equipment they bring to the racetrack every week. As a driver, it’s exactly where you want to be. It’s the best opportunity I’ve had in my career and I plan to make the most of it.”
Earnhardt will begin his JGR career in the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway, the rest of his schedule will be revealed at a later date.
Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images