Jeffrey Earnhardt Finishes 15th at Daytona iK9 Toyota Supra Driver Leads First 29 Laps in Xfinity Series Season Opener

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● Earnhardt started second, finished fourth. Earned seven bonus points.

● Earnhardt led the first 29 laps of the race, losing the lead on the last lap of the stage after a tussle for the stage win.

● Earnhardt reported that his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was too free in turns three and four at the end of a run.

● Pitted for left-side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment at the end of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 31-60):           

● Started second, finished fifth. Earned six bonus points.

● With a lot of movement at the beginning of the stage, Earnhardt was shuffled back to fifth place.

● With help from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell, Earnhardt used the top line to move back up to fourth place on lap 45.

● Saying his iK9 Toyota Supra was free on entry and exit, Earnhardt pitted for right-side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 61-120): 

● Started fifth, finished 15th.

● With the top line having momentum on the restart, Earnhardt rode in ninth place until a group formed on the bottom to accelerate him into the third position on lap 75.

● Contact with the No. 07 car on lap 81 brought out the final caution of the day. Earnhardt stayed on track in 19th place.

● Earnhardt ran as high as eighth before making a last-ditch effort to compete for the win. Without help from a larger pack of cars, Earnhardt dropped to 15th on the final lap.

Notes:                   

● Earnhardt’s second-place qualifying effort earned him his best starting spot in 152 career starts across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

● Earnhardt led the first 29 laps of the NASCAR Racing Experience 300. In one race, Earnhardt led more laps than he had in 15 previous races at Daytona across the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

● Earnhardt became the first driver to put the new Toyota Supra into the lead of an Xfinity Series race.

● The 15th-place result was Earnhardt’s highest finish in eight career Xfinity Series starts at Daytona. His previous best finish was 16th in the 2015 season opener.

● Earnhardt’s top-five results in the race’s first two stages, combined with his 15th-place finish, earned the No. 18 team 35 points and placed it ninth in the championship owners’ standings.

● Michael Annett won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 to score his first career Xfinity Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Justin Allgaier was .116 of a second.

● There were four caution periods for a total of 19 laps.

● Twenty-eight of the 38 drivers in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 finished on the lead lap.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing:        

 “This was the first time to actually get to race up front like that. It was a lot of fun. I think we’ll be really good for the rest of the superspeedways. I can’t thank iK9, Xtreme Concepts and all guys at Gibbs. They really have welcomed me with open arms – Toyota and all of the support that they’ve given me already. Hopefully, we continue to grow this program and I grow as a driver. We won’t let them get away from us anymore. We didn’t lead enough. We didn’t lead the last one and that’s the most important one. We made adjustments because I felt like I was complaining about it being too free, and we ended up getting it too tight there and we just struggled a little bit after that. Man, I was getting my butt kicked on everyone side drafting. Just lack of experience. I’ll get better at it.”

Next Up:               

The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Rinnai 250 on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FS1.

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