Matt DiBenedetto to drive Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity car at Road America

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Matt DiBenedetto announced Tuesday that he will drive the No. 18 Xfinity car for Joe Gibbs Racing next weekend at Road America.

Jeffrey Earnhardt was scheduled to run that car at Road America before parting ways with sponsor iK9 on Aug. 7.

This will be DiBenedetto’s first Xfinity start since 2016 when he ran 19 of the season’s 33 races. He last ran at Road America in 2014, finishing 11th for car owner Curtis Key.

DiBenedetto will be able to run Road America because the Aug. 24 race comes on the final weekend off for Cup.

Jack Hawksworth joins Joe Gibbs Racing for Mid-Ohio Xfinity race

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Jack Hawksworth, a former IndyCar driver and current IMSA racer, will make his Xfinity Series debut this weekend in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN).

Hawksworth takes the place of Jeffrey Earnhardt, who announced Wednesday morning he had parted ways with sponsor iK9 and wouldn’t be competing this weekend.

Hawksworth, 28, has two IMSA wins this year, including a GTD class win at Mid-Ohio in May.

“I’m excited to be joining the Joe Gibbs Racing team and driving the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra this weekend at Mid-Ohio,” Hawksworth said in a press release. “It’s a fantastic opportunity in a completely different series, against completely different competition and in a different type of racing.

“From a personal perspective, I’m very excited to experience something new and to be challenged in a new way. It’s going to be very different, I’m sure it’s going to be difficult and there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve with it, but I’m going into it with a championship-winning organization so that gives me a lot of confidence. I look to get out there and do a good job and looking forward to getting out on the track.”

A native of Bradford, England, Hawksworth competed in IndyCar from 2014-16, with the final two years racing for A.J. Foyt.

He earned one podium finish in 2014 on the Houston street course.

“As we head in to the second road course of the season, we’re fortunate to have a veteran like Jack Hawksworth be able to come out of the Lexus program to help out the Toyota family and our team in the No. 18 iK9 Supra this weekend,” said Steve DeSouza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity Series and Development for Joe Gibbs Racing in a press release. “He will bring a great deal of experience and a history of success to JGR this weekend.

“I think he’ll be a great asset to our team and be someone that both Brandon (Jones) and Christopher (Bell) can look to for advice on how to get around Mid-Ohio. He’s proven he can win at the track and no reason not to continue that this weekend with the 18 team.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt parts ways with sponsor IK9, won’t race at Mid-Ohio for JGR

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The remainder of the 2019 racing season for Jeffrey Earnhardt is unclear after the grandson of seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt tweeted this morning that he has “parted ways” with sponsor IK9.

IK9 had sponsored Earnhardt in five of his seven Xfinity Series starts this season. Those five races were in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Earnhardt’s other two Xfinity starts were for XCI Racing. IK9 also sponsored Earnhardt’s sole Cup start for XCI Racing this season at Talladega.

Earnhardt tweeted: “Just wanted to let ya’ll know that iK9 and I have parted ways and wanted to thank them for the opportunity to race with @JoeGibbsRacing & @ToyotaRacing. Wish them the best in their future.”

As recently as Aug. 5, Joe Gibbs Racing tweeted Earnhardt would be competing in this weekend’s Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

 

According to a JGR team statement, “IK9 remains a sponsor with us and will be on the car this weekend as scheduled. He (Earnhardt) is parting ways with IK9 as he indicated in his tweet. We will announce the driver for this weekend for the No. 18 IK9 Supra soon.”

The son of former racer Kerry Earnhardt and nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeffrey Earnhardt has one top-five (a career-best third at Charlotte) and two other top-10 finishes (sixth at Atlanta, eighth at Texas) in his seven Xfinity starts this season. All three of those finishes were with JGR.

“Jeffrey has a great relationship with JGR and Toyota and that has not changed,” a Jeffrey Earnhardt Inc. spokesman said in an email to NBC Sports.

It’s unclear whether Wednesday’s news will impact the 30-year-old Earnhardt’s tenure with XCI Racing.

Earnhardt has 76 career Cup starts, 73 Xfinity starts, 10 Truck Series starts and has also competed on the Pinty’s (Canada), K&N East and Whelen Euro series.

IK9 issued this tweet Wednesday afternoon:

Updated entry lists for Michigan, Mid-Ohio

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NASCAR has another split weekend on tap with the Cup and Gander Outdoors Truck Series racing this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, while 175 miles south the Xfinity Series visits Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the second road course race in a four-race stretch.

Here’s the entry lists for each series:

CUP – Consumers Energy 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Michigan

There are 38 cars entered for this race.

Gander Outdoors Truck Series regular Spencer Boyd will make his Cup debut Rick Ware Racing’s No. 53 Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity– B&L Transport 170 (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Mid-Ohio

There are 38 cars entered for the race.

Max Tullman is entered in the No. 53 Chevrolet owned by Means Motorsports. There is no driver attached to the No. 74 Chevrolet of Mike Harmon Racing.

NASCAR on NBC analyst and former Cup driver AJ Allmendinger will be behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevrolet of Kaulig Racing.

Regan Smith makes his return to competition driving JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

IMSA driver Jack Hawksworth will make his Xfinity Series debut in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota after Jeffrey Earnhardt cancelled his contract with sponsor iK9 and announced he wouldn’t be racing this weekend.

Click here for the entry list.

TRUCKS – Corrigan Oil 200 (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET on FS1) at Michigan

There are 31 trucks entered for the race.

Spencer Boyd is back in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 truck after missing one race due to a non-racing injury.

This is the last race of the regular season for the Truck Series.

Click here for the entry list.

 

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Jeffrey Earnhardt releases remaining races for 2019

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Jeffrey Earnhardt announced his schedule for the rest of the season Friday.

He is scheduled to run six Xfinity races and one Cup race the rest of this season.

His Xfinity races will be Mid-Ohio (Aug. 10), Bristol (Aug. 16), Road America (Aug. 24), Darlington (Aug. 31), ISM Raceway (Nov. 9) and Miami (Nov. 16). He’ll drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity car at Mid-Ohio, Road America, ISM Raceway and Miami. He’ll drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing car at Bristol and Darlington.

He’ll also drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Cup car at Talladega on Oct. 13.