Jeffrey Earnhardt will run a limited 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule with a new team. Earnhardt was announced as the driver of Xtreme Concepts Racing’s No. 81 Toyota. They’re planning to run five NASCAR Xfinity Series and two MENCS races later this year.
The XCI team will be a satellite for Joe Gibbs Racing and run their first event March 30, a NXS event at Texas Motor Speedway. They’ll move up to Cup next month, running the race at Talladega Superspeedway April 28. They’ll move back into the Xfinity Series after that while building their program. Starts will come during the summer at Chicagoland Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway before the team ends its schedule with the second Talladega Cup race in October.
Earnhardt will be the driver for all those events, backed by Xtreme Concepts. The sponsor is also the owner of the team, hoping an alliance with JGR will jumpstart their efforts to be competitive at NASCAR’s top levels. The alliance gives them access to top-tier equipment and information as they build their program for 2019 and beyond.
“We are taking a very deliberate and methodical approach to becoming a NASCAR team,” said Landon Ash, the team’s owner and founder of Xtreme Concepts. “Our ultimate goal is to become a full-time team in the NASCAR Cup Series. We will take what we learned this season and apply it to next season.
“As we build the competition side of our race team, we’re also building a strong marketing platform for our brands, most notably iK9, a comprehensive canine service provider for detection and service dogs. iK9 will be the lead brand on the No. 81 Toyota in both series.”
The races are in addition to a nine-race schedule already planned for Earnhardt with JGR’s Xfinity Series team. He’ll run the No. 18 Toyota beginning with Daytona’s season-opening race on Saturday (Feb. 16).
Earnhardt has no career top-10 finishes in 75 MENCS starts. His best effort was 11th at the Coke Zero 400 last July.