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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JOLIET, Illinois – Seven Xfinity teams will be docked 15 minutes of practice Friday at Chicagoland Speedway for inspection issues last weekend at Richmond Raceway.
The teams of Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley, Spencer Gallagher and Josh Bilicki will miss 15 minutes because they were late for inspection at Richmond.
The teams of Erik Jones and Mike Harmon will miss 15 minutes because they failed template inspection twice before qualifying at Richmond.
Xfinity teams practice Friday from 2-2:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN and 4 – 4:50 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app and online.
Rick Ware Racing will have 21-year-old Josh Bilicki drive the team’s No. 51 Chevrolet at Sonoma and Watkins Glen this summer, the team announced.
Bilicki, who has never competed in a Cup race, drove in three Xfinity races last season. He failed to qualify for one Xfinity race this year and his team withdrew from two others.
Bilicki, who is a road racing instructor at Road America, has competed on road courses in the Sports Car Club of America, TA2 Series and NASA Pro Racing.
“Words can’t describe how excited I am to be making my NASCAR Monster Energy Cup debut with Rick Ware Racing,” Bilicki said in a team release. “First, I can’t thank Rick enough for giving me this opportunity to get behind the wheel of the No. 51 RWR Chevrolet. Rick, like myself, comes from a road course background, so I feel like this is a very natural fit.
“I’ve worked a long time with the dream to compete in NASCAR. We have some reasonable goals and expectations. If we’re able to accomplish those, we’ll leave the track feeling like we scored the victory. I’m still learning a lot about these stock cars, but I’m hoping my road course instincts will allow us a chance to exceed our hopes.”
Alex Tagliani will start from the pole at Road America after a lap of 109.866 mph in Xfinity Series qualifying on Friday night. It was Tagliani’s fourth career pole in his eighth start.
Tagliani enters the Road America 180 looking for his first career NASCAR win. He will lead the field to the green flag alongside Michael McDowell, who qualified second at 109.591 mph. McDowell is driving the No. 2 for Richard Childress Racing.
Tagliani credited crew chief Greg Erwin with helping him achieve the pole lap.
“Greg did some fine-tuning changes just to make the car a little bit less tight, it was the right call,” Tagliani told NBCSN. “It’s a good day for the No. 22 Discount Tire team and a good day for the No. 22 as Joey (Logano) is on the pole in Michigan. It’s a good day for Team Penske.”
The top five were Tagliani, McDowell, Justin Marks (109.196 mph), Owen Kelly (109.129 mph), and Daniel Suarez (108.644 mph). Marks is the most recent road course winner, having captured his first career win two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio.
There were two incidents during qualifying, both in the first round, which brought out red flags.
Alon Day, making his second Xfinity Series start, went off track and was stuck in the gravel in Turn 12. Day did not complete a lap and will start 40th on Saturday afternoon.
The second red flag was for rookie Josh Bilicki. He spun and crashed into the tire barriers in Turn 1, resulting in heavy damage to the right side of the No. 77. Bilicki had clocked in 23rd fastest at 107.092 mph at the time of the accident.
Here is how qualifying played out: