Josh Bilicki announced Monday that he’ll drive a second car for JP Motorsports this season in the Xfinity Series, piloting the No. 45 car. JP Motorsports, a team owned by Phyllis and Jerry Hattaway, will have Stephen Leicht drive the team’s No. 55 car in the Xfinity Series this year.
The 22-year-old Bilicki has made nine career Xfinity starts, including six last season. His best finish last year was 12th at Road America for B.J. McLeod.
“I’m ecstatic to announce a full season effort in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JP Motorsports in the #45 Prevagen Toyota Camry,” Bilicki in a statement. “I have gained a lot of valuable experience over the past two years by racing at different tracks and with different teams, but it will be nice to show up to every race this year with the same team. I come from a road course racing background, so there are still several NASCAR tracks that I have yet to race. It feels great to have the business side of things done before the season starts, so now I can focus solely on driving. It will be a year full of learning, but we have good equipment and cars and will be competitive from the start.”
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After four starts in 2016 in the Camping World Truck Series, 19-year-old Matt Mills will make his Xfinity Series debut this Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.
The Lynchburg, Virginia native will drive the No. 8 Thompson Electric Chevrolet for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the DC Solar 200. Mills will be making his second career start at Phoenix, having finished a career-best 21st in the Truck Series race there last fall.
“This is a great opportunity and I’m excited, yet humbled to be making my NASCAR Xfinity Series debut,” Mills said in a media release. “I’m hoping that my prior experience at Phoenix should be to some benefit to myself and the B.J. McLeod Motorsports team.
“I’m really hoping for a good result on Saturday afternoon.”
Veteran Keith Wolfe will serve as Mills’ crew chief.
In addition to Mills, B.J. McLeod Motorsports will have two other drivers entered in Saturday’s race: team principal B.J. McLeod in the No. 78 Chevrolet and veteran driver David Starr in the No. 99 Chevy.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Matt have a great Xfinity Series debut on Saturday,” McLeod said. “He is a sharp kid who takes his racing very seriously and is anxious to learn and succeed.
“I think with prior experience at Phoenix, it offers the chance to make that transition that much smoother.”
One positive came out of the Xfinity Series race at Dover being delayed by rain on Saturday.
It gave Charles Browne the chance to thank Kyle Busch for inspiring him.
Browne, a tire changer on BJ McLeod‘s team, is in his position because of a pizza party Busch threw in 2007.
The party was at the orphanage Browne lived in at the time.
“I’m looking for Kyle Busch so I can thank him for everything that he has done,” Browne told NBC Sports Saturday during the lengthy rain delay of the Drive Sober 200.
“He inspired me to be a NASCAR tire changer today,” Browne continued. “I’ve been trying for the last five years to thank him.”
Browne pursued a NASCAR career after an injury in high school derailed his football hopes.
After the Xfinity race was postponed for rain, Browne finally met Busch on pit road.