Joe Gibbs Racing has hired former Cup crew chief Bootie Barker to lead its ARCA program and work with driver Riley Herbst, who finished fifth in the standings last year as a rookie.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me and I am incredibly grateful to join the team here at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Barker said in a statement from the team. “I am just getting to know Riley and from what I can tell, he is a great kid with an unlimited amount of potential. We obviously want to win the championship this year, but we have a goal of improving each and every day.”
Barker had been with Germain Racing from the second half of the 2009 season to last year. Among the drivers he worked with were Casey Mears and Ty Dillon. Barker first was a Cup crew chief in 2003 with Dave Blaney.
“I am super excited to have “Bootie” Barker come on board with the No. 18 team this year,” Herbst said in a statement from the team. “He is going to bring a tremendous amount of experience that this team can use to assist our program. It is amazing to see what he has accomplished over his career and I am thrilled to work alongside of him. Heading into my second year, I believe that we will be competing for the ARCA Series title in 2018.”
Joe Gibbs Racing stated that Shannon Rursch, who had been Herbst’s crew chief last year, will transition to a new role as its ARCA/Development Program Advisor. He will work alongside Herbst and Barker on the ARCA program and also work with JGR development driver Ty Gibbs.
The selection process includes input from industry executives, NASCAR Cup Drivers Council and media members. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25 and show potential on and off the track to reach the Cup Series.
Harrison Burton – In his second year competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the 16-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, has earned wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and Virginia’s South Boston Speedway. The son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver and current NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton also took home the pole award at Bristol for the second consecutive year.
Hailie Deegan – The 15-year-old Temecula, California, native has made a name for herself in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series. Last year the daughter of FMX legend Brian Deegan became the first female to reach the podium in the series’ history, was the 2016 Modified Kart champion in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and was named the Lucas Oil Off Road Driver of the Year.
Todd Gilliland – The son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland has made quite a name for himself in the sport’s history books. The 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, has 12 wins in 30K&N Pro Series starts and became the youngest champion in NASCAR national or touring series history last year when he took home the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship.
Chase Cabre – In his rookie season competing for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the 20-year-old Tampa, Florida, native captured his first two pole awards in the twin features at South Boston Speedway and also earned his best career finish (fourth) at the Virginia short track.
Riley Herbst – The 18-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada, driver is coming off a successful rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. In 14 starts last year, he compiled seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
Cayden Lapcevich – Only the third Canadian-born driver to be chosen for the program, the 17-year-old from Grimsby, Ontario, won three times in 2016 en route to becoming the youngest NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion, and briefly held the title as the youngest NASCAR champion before being dethroned by Gilliland. Lapcevich is the first driver in Pinty’s Series history to earn both the Josten Rookie of the Year honor and the series title in the same year.
Ty Majeski – A Roush Fenway development driver and one of the country’s top Super Late Model drivers, the 22-year-old Seymour, Wisconsin native kicked off his 2016 winning the Super Late Model championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. He continued his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season with a third-place finish in the national standings on the strength of 14 wins and 21 top-fives in 26 starts. He will make his Xfinity Series debut June 24 at Iowa Speedway.
Chase Purdy – The 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Rookie of the Year made a splash last year when he took home both the rookie of the year and track championship at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway in NASCAR’s weekly series. The 17-year-old from Meridian, Mississippi, is chasing another rookie title this year, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Zane Smith – Smith, 17, from Huntington Beach, California, broke onto the national scene in 2015 when he won the Super Late Model championship at New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. He capped the season with a runner-up finish to Cup Series driver Chase Elliott in the Snowball Derby.
Joe Gibbs Racing adds full-time ARCA team for 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing will venture into the ARCA Racing Series in 2017 with Riley Herbst.
The organization, which fields cars in the NASCAR premier series and Xfinity Series, announced Thursday that Herbst will pilot the No. 18 Toyota Camry full-time. His sponsor and crew chief will be announced at a later date.
“It’s great to have Riley join Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Steve deSouza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity/Development, in a release. “He has experienced success in a variety of racing venues and we want to provide him the opportunity to continue that success at this level of competition.”
In 2016, the 17-year-old Herbst ran the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule for Bill McAnally Racing. Herbst earned 10 top-10 finishes in 14 races and finished seventh in points. Herbst also made three starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East where he earned three top-10 finishes.
The Las Vegas native won the track championship in 2015 at California Speedway in Irwindale Speed Trucks.
“I grew up watching my dad compete in races like the Baja 500, so I’ve always wanted to be a racer myself,” said Herbst. “I’m so appreciative of Bill McAnally and his entire racing crew. They were an incredible group of people to work with and learn from. They were an instrumental part of my career. Having the opportunity to join Joe Gibbs Racing will take me to the next level.”