Here are some additional notes and news about the NASCAR Xfinity Series racing this weekend at Daytona International Speedway…
Toyota Supra is in the house
In 2019, Toyota is taking the next step in its evolution in NASCAR and with it comes the introduction of the Toyota Supra in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This will be the first time the Toyota Supra has competed in NASCAR.
In addition, for the first time since Toyota has joined NASCAR, the manufacturer will run a different type of automobile in each of NASCAR’s three national series – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will have the Toyota Camry, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will have the newly introduced Toyota Supra and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will have the Toyota Tundra truck.
Fun fact: The name Supra is derived from a Latin prefix meaning “to surpass” or “go beyond.”
Since Toyota joined NASCAR’s national series in 2004, the OEM has won a total 452 races (Cup 124, Xfinity 149 and Truck 179); including 15 at Daytona (Cup eight, Xfinity four and Truck three).
Toyota has won four manufacturer championships in the NASCAR Xfinity Series all previously with the Camry (2008, 2009, 2010, 2016). The OEM’s first win in the series was with driver Jason Leffler at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2007.
Toyota has won four times at Daytona in the NASCAR Xfinity Series:
|7/5/2013||Matt Kenseth||Matthew Lucas||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|7/1/2011||Joey Logano||Adam Stevens||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|7/4/2008||Denny Hamlin||Dave Rogers||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2/16/2008||Tony Stewart||Dave Rogers||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
Offseason shakeups have fresh faces in new places in 2019
With every new NASCAR Xfinity Series season comes fresh faces in new places. Below is a quick look at some of drivers and teams that will be going for the series title this season who made changes during the offseason.
Noah Gragson Joins Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett At JR Motorsports – Coming off the organization’s third NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship in the last five seasons, all with rookies, JR Motorsports is setting its sights high in 2019. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller-led company has re-racked the lineup this season, adding rising star Noah Gragson to fill the seat Tyler Reddick left with his move to RCR. Joining Gragson will be 2018 regular season champion Justin Allgaier and veteran Michael Annett, as well as a bevy of other drivers rotating in and out of the recently returned No. 8 team – made famous by team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. This weekend, 2014 series champion Chase Elliott will be strapped into the No. 8 looking for his second win (2016) at Daytona.
JR Motorsports has been quite impressive at Daytona International Speedway lately, winning five of the last 10 Xfinity Series races, including three of the last five season-openers (2014, 2016, 2018).
2018 Series Champ Tyler Reddick Jumps To Richard Childress Racing – Richard Childress Racing hit the jackpot when they signed 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick at the end of last season. Now the California kid is driving the RCR flagship No. 2 Chevrolet in an attempt to become the first driver since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12) to win back-to-back series titles. Plus, let us not forget Reddick is the defending winner of the season-opener at Daytona, after he beat his former teammate Elliott Sadler by a mere 0.0004 second to win the race.
Richard Childress Racing has four NASCAR Xfinity Series owner championships (2001, 2003, 2006 and 2007) and two driver titles (2001, 2006), but hasn’t won either in over a decade. Reddick hopes to change that this season and put RCR back on top.
RCR is always a contender at Daytona, as the powerhouse team has six Xfinity wins (2002, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015) on the Florida high banks.
Chase Briscoe Saddles Up With Cole Custer at Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi – After a successful part-time season in 2018 that saw him take home the win at the Charlotte road course, Chase Briscoe has been tapped by Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi to drive the No. 98 fulltime in 2019 and compete for a championship alongside his new teammate Cole Custer. Custer is definitely in the conversation of early favorites to win the championship in 2019, as the California native had a career-best season last year, winning at Texas and making the Championship 4; ultimately finishing runner-up to Tyler Reddick in the final standings. His No. 00 car did go home with the owner championship at the end of the season.
Both drivers will have their work cut out for them this weekend at Daytona though, Custer has made four starts at Daytona with a best finish of 14th in this race last year (average finish of 24.5). Briscoe has yet to make a NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Daytona or Talladega, making this weekend his series track debut.
Austin Cindric To Compete For A Title With Team Penske – Team Penske has tasked Austin Cindric with bringing the organization its fifth owner title and second driver title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019, as the North Carolina native will be driving fulltime in the famed No. 22 Ford Mustang this season. Last year, Cindric ran the full season while splitting time with Team Penske’s No. 22 team and Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 team. In 33 starts he made the Xfinity Series Playoffs and posted seven top fives and 13 top 10s. Cindric’s task is tall, as Team Penske hasn’t won a driver title since Brad Keselowski did so in 2010.
Cindric will look to turn his luck around at Daytona this weekend. He has made two starts on the high banks and both ended early with DNFs – his series average finish at Daytona is a 36.5.
Jeffrey Earnhardt Joins Brandon Jones and Christopher Bell in Joe Gibbs Racing’s Stable – A well-known last name will be joining the already talented stable at Joe Gibbs racing this season – Jeffrey Earnhardt – grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and son of former driver Kerry Earnhardt, will be piloting the No. 18 Toyota alongside teammates Brendan Jones and Christopher Bell.
Earnhardt will be stepping into the new level of expectations this season at JGR as his teammates are coming off solid 2018 seasons. Jones made the Playoffs last year for the second time in his Xfinity career and rallied off 17 top-10 finishes. Bell was even more impressive, setting the NASCAR Xfinity Series single-season record for wins with seven and making the Championship 4.
Bell has made two series career starts at Daytona. His series debut ended in a wreck and 39th-place finish, but when he returned in July, he redeemed his previous effort with a third-place finish. Bell’s teammate Brandon Jones has made six starts at Daytona, posting one pole (2017 Feb. race), two top 10s and an average finish of 17.7. Of Earnhardt’s seven career Xfinity Series starts, his most recent, 2015, was his best finish (16th).
John Hunter Nemechek Will Attempt To Lead GMS Racing To Their First Xfinity Title – John Hunter Nemechek made a splash in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season with Chip Ganassi Racing despite only running part-time – so much so, GMS Racing has signed him to pilot their No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro team with crew chief Chad Norris in 2019.
Nemechek has 18 starts in the Xfinity Series with one win, six top fives and 11 top 10s. His average finish last season was a strong 10.1.
Justin Haley To Try His Luck In Xfinity With Kaulig Racing – Capitalizing on his recent success in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Justin Haley has taken the next step in his career and will drive the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Nick Harrison in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019.
Haley ripped off three wins last season in the Truck Series and made the Championship 4. This season he heads to Daytona looking to not only go for a championship but also rookie of the year honors.
Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 team has made six starts at Daytona with drivers Blake Koch and Ryan Truex and both were able to finish in the top 10 at least once.
2019 Sunoco Rookie of The Year Class Full Of Big Talent
Each season the NASCAR Xfinity Series takes pride in showcasing the up-and-coming talent in NASCAR and this season is no different as the 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is full of high-quality talent. Below is a quick look at the four drivers that vie for this year’s rookie honors (alphabetical order):
Representing Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi this season will be Chase Briscoe, driving the No. 98 Ford Mustang with crew chief Richard Boswell II. Briscoe won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award in 2017 and the series’ most popular driver award that season, as well.
Representing JR Motorsports this season will be Noah Gragson, driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief David Elenz. Yes, the David Elenz that has led the last two rookie drivers to drive the No. 9 car, William Byron (2017) and Tyler Reddick (2018), not only to the rookie of the year title but also the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship.
Representing Kaulig Racing this season will be Justin Haley, driving the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Nick Harrison. Both Haley and Harrison are new to Kaulig Racing this season. Haley is making the jump to the Xfinity Series after a career year in the Truck Series with GMS Racing. Harrison has worked in all three NASCAR national series as a crew chief and most recently was working with RCR in the Xfinity Series before moving over to Kaulig Racing this season.
Representing GMS Racing this season will be John Hunter Nemechek, driving the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Chad Norris. Nemechek has continued progress with his driving talents with each time he is behind the wheel. On a limited schedule last season, he won one race and grabbed 11 top 10s. Nemechek was also most popular driver in the Truck Series back in 2015.