British sports car racer Jack Hawksworth will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series début on Saturday. On Wednesday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced he would drive the #18 Toyota Supra in the B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with sponsorship from iK9.
“I’m excited to be joining the Joe Gibbs Racing team and driving the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra this weekend at Mid-Ohio,” Hawksworth said in a statement. “It’s a fantastic opportunity in a completely different series, against completely different competition and in a different type of racing.
“From a personal perspective, I’m very excited to experience something new and to be challenged in a new way. It’s going to be very different, I’m sure it’s going to be difficult and there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve with it, but I’m going into it with a championship-winning organization so that gives me a lot of confidence. I look to get out there and do a good job and looking forward to getting out on the track.”
After spending his early career in his home country, Hawksworth moved to the United States in 2012 to compete in the Road to Indy ladder. After winning the Star Mazda Championship in 2012, he climbed until he reached the IndyCar Series two years later. Racing for Bryan Herta Autosport in 2014 and A.J. Foyt Enterprises over the next two seasons, he scored a podium in the 2013 Grand Prix of Houston.
He currently races in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship‘s GTD class for AIM Vasser Sullivan. With victories at Mid-Ohio and the Detroit Grand Prix, he sits fourth in the class standings. JGR chose to bring Hawksworth in as a Lexus Racing driver, enabling him to remain in the Toyota umbrella for his first stint in stock cars.
Jeffrey Earnhardt was initially scheduled to drive the #18, but lost the seat after splitting with iK9. The dog service company had partnered with Earnhardt earlier in the year to form XCI Racing, for whom Earnhardt ran part-time in the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series. iK9 will remain with JGR as a sponsor, though Earnhardt’s future with the team is uncertain.
“Jeffrey cancelled his contract with us,” iK9 asserted on Twitter. “We’ve always been supportive of our drivers and sponsor some of the best in the sport.”