JGR Confirms 2016 No. 18 XFINITY Series Schedule for Rookie Driver
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 5, 2016) – “Names are Made Here” in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and young Ohio-native Matt Tifft will be doing just that in 2016 with a 13-race schedule behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry.
The 19-year old driver has 16-career starts in NASCAR’s top-three racing series over the last two seasons, while running a limited schedule in both the XFINITY Series and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In these early stages of his career Tifft has successfully earned six top-10 finishes in the Camping World Tuck Series and a top-10 result from 2015 in the XFINITY Series. Additionally Tifft has raced competitively in NASCAR’s K&N Pro West, K&N Pro East and ARCA Series, as well as the X-1R Pro Cup Series.
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Rookie Season Highlighted with GameStop, Reser’s Fine Foods, Hisense and Interstate Batteries
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today the No. 20 Toyota Camry driven by 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Erik Jones will carry GameStop, Reser’s Fine Foods, Hisense and Interstate Batteries for his rookie season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS).
Jones has 26-career starts in the XFINITY Series over two seasons of running a limited schedule. He has earned two wins (Texas – April 2015 and Chicago – June 2015), three pole starting positions, 13 top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes and led 292 laps with an average start of 4.8 and average finish 8.9.
“I’m really excited to get 2016 started,” said Jones. “Ending last season with the Truck Series Championship and having the success on the XFINITY side, along with the Cup starts, it was a dream season. Things happened quicker than I’d ever planned, but I’m thankful for all of the opportunities and to be running full-time in the XFINITY Series this year. I can’t wait to get back in the No. 20 Toyota Camry for JGR and to work with Chris Gabehart. We had a great year in 2015 with GameStop and it’ll be another fun year continuing to build on that partnership, as well as with Reser’s, Hisense and Interstate Batteries.”
Longtime partner GameStop enters their ninth season partnering with JGR and their second with Jones. Their 2016 season will kick off at Auto Club Speedway on March 19 and include two trips to their home track, Texas Motor Speedway. In 2015 in just his ninth-career NXS start, Jones earned his first NXS-career win at Texas Motor Speedway, starting the race from the pole position and leading 79 laps before taking the checkered flag on April 10, 2015. The win also marked the first win for GameStop in their backyard.
“Erik saw great success in his first year driving for team GameStop, and has become an amazing brand ambassador for us,” said Bob Puzon, Senior Vice President of Merchandising for GameStop. “He not only has great skills on the race track, but is also an avid gamer who our fans and customers connect with.”
GameStop will adorn the No. 20 Camry this season for 12 races: Auto Club Speedway (March 19); Texas Motor Speedway (April 8); Bristol Motor Speedway (April 16); Talladega Superspeedway (April 30); Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28); New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 16); Watkins Glen International (August 6); Richmond International Raceway (September 9); Kentucky Speedway (September 24); Dover International Speedway (October 1); Texas Motor Speedway (November 5); Homestead-Miami Speedway (November 19).
Reser’s Fine Foods
Moving from veteran Matt Kenseth, Reser’s Fine Foods enters their fourth season with JGR as they join Jones for his rookie season. Reser’s previously sponsored Jones at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2014. Jones started the race from the sixth position and finished eighth in his second-career start in the series.
“We see it too… Erik Jones is a rising star in the world of NASCAR racing,” states President and CEO Mark Reser. “We’ve had success with veteran Matt Kenseth and now we are fired up to have Erik take the wheel of the No. 20 and make us proud. Our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing continues to provide a tremendous marketing platform to support our business.”
Reser’s Fine Foods will be featured on the No. 20 Camry for eight races this season: Daytona International Speedway (February 20); Phoenix International Raceway (March 12); Dover International Speedway (May 14); Michigan International Speedway (June 11); Kentucky Speedway (July 8); Bristol Motor Speedway (August 19); Road America (August 27); Kansas Speedway (October 15).
Entering their second year with JGR, Hisense shifts their sponsorship to include 19-year-old Jones for five races. Hisense made their debut with JGR at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 with Denny Hamlin piloting the No. 20 Camry. Hamlin started the 250-lap race from the pole position and led 248 laps on his way to securing the first victory for Hisense.
“Last year was a great ride with Denny Hamlin leading our introduction into NASCAR,” said Dr. Lan Lin, executive vice president of Hisense Group and general manager of Hisense International Co. “We are proud to add Erik Jones to the JGR/Hisense family and look forward to working together on some exciting projects to elevate the Hisense brand in 2016.”
The Hisense colors will appear on the No. 20 Camry for five races this season: Atlanta Motor Speedway (February 27); Richmond International Raceway (April 23); Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23); Chicagoland Speedway (September 17); Phoenix International Raceway (November 12).
In addition to their five races with Jones in the No. 20 Camry, Hisense will also sponsor Hamlin for one race in the No. 18 Camry at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28.
Celebrating 25 years with JGR, founding partner Interstate Batteries will team up with Jones for the second year in a row, serving as the primary sponsor of the No. 20 Toyota Camry at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5. Last season Interstate Batteries partnered with Jones where he was running in the top five before an on-track incident took away his chances of earning a trip to the Las Vegas Victory Lane.
“The 2016 season marks Interstate Batteries’ 25th year as a partner with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Dorothy Jones, Chief Marketing Officer for Interstate Batteries. “When you have a young talent like Erik Jones behind the wheel of our Interstate Batteries Toyota in the Las Vegas XFINITY Series race, it’s a great way to kick off this milestone celebration. With Erik, along with defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch driving our Interstate Batteries Camry’s, we are very excited about 2016 and hope to celebrate our 25th year together in victory lane.”
The 2016 NXS season kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on February 20 with Jones in the No. 20 Reser’s Toyota Camry for his rookie season where he will be vying for the 2016 XFINTY Series Championship.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today its crew chief lineup for the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Chris Gabehart will move from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to the XFINITY Series to lead Rookie of the Year Contender Erik Jones in the No. 20 Toyota Camry. Gabehart most recently served as a race engineer on the No. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with Denny Hamlin.
Scott Graves joins Joe Gibbs Racing from Roush Fenway Racing and will lead 2015 Rookie of the Year Daniel Suarez in the No. 19 Toyota Camry. Graves won the 2015 XFINITY Series championship with Chris Buescher.
Chris Gayle will return for his fourth season as a crew chief at JGR and lead the No. 18 Toyota Camry team with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and others.
Sponsorship announcements for the teams will be made at a later date.