The two Monster Energy Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway and five Xfinity Series events will see a new team on the grid. On Thursday, security company Xtreme Concepts announced it would form its own NASCAR team, XCI Racing, to run a part-time Cup schedule in 2019 in partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jeffrey Earnhardt will pilot the #81 Toyota Camry at the two Talladega events on 28 April and 13 October and five unannounced Xfinity races.
Earnhardt joined JGR for the 2019 season and is scheduled to drive the team’s #18 Xfinity car in nine races. In 2018, he ran seventeen Cup races for StarCom Racing, Premium Motorsports, and Gaunt Brothers Racing; he recorded a best finish of eleventh at Daytona International Speedway in July. Xtreme Concepts began sponsoring him during the 2018 season. When Earnhardt signed with JGR in November 2018, the company announced it would sponsor his Xfinity car starting with Saturday’s season opener at Daytona.
The North Carolina native has four career Cup starts at Talladega between 2016 and 2018 with a best finish of twenty-eighth in 2017. In the Xfinity Series, he has three top-twenty finishes at the superspeedway, most recently a twelfth-place run in 2015.
The decision to compete at Talladega can be seen as fitting for two reasons: being a restrictor plate track, Talladega races are unpredictable and raise the chances of an underdog performing well; furthermore, Xtreme Concepts is based in Birmingham, Alabama, which is about 54 miles from the track. The company posted on Twitter:
Proud to announce the formation of Xtreme Concepts Racing – “XCI Racing”. The alliance with @JoeGibbsRacing is something we have been working so hard towards. It’s finally here! Let’s go racing @JEarnhardt1 @DISupdates
•@NASCAR @NASCARonNBC @NASCARONFOX @ToyotaRacing pic.twitter.com/3eKaENKmAs
— Xtreme Concepts (@Xtreme_Concepts) February 14, 2019
JGR’s Xfinity programme will receive Xtreme sponsorship for twenty-four races, with Kyle Busch and Brandon Jones also expected to race with the company branding. Other Xtreme brands that have appeared on Earnhardt’s cars and will do so on JGR’s vehicles include iK9, a dog security and detection provider.
With the alliance, JGR gains a new partner in the wake of Furniture Row Racing‘s shutdown after the 2018 season. FRR’s charter was eventually acquired by Chevrolet team Spire Motorsports. Leavine Family Racing, which traditionally fielded Chevrolet, is also a new member of the JGR umbrella.