17 May’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway will see a new team on the grid. On Tuesday afternoon, Xfinity Series team owner/driver B.J. McLeod announced he will take his B.J. McLeod Motorsports organisation to the Cup level beginning with Sunday’s race.
He will drive the #78. The number has not been used at the Cup level since Furniture Row Racing‘s final season in 2018. FRR fielded the number for much of its fourteen-year history, enjoying great success in its later years as it won the 2017 Cup championship with Martin Truex Jr.
“The number is important to me,” McLeod said. “I’ve been driving the #78 since my karting days and been able to run the number at every level of my career. I am excited to expand the team with the #78 into the Cup Series as a driver and an owner. As a team, our goal was to eventually move into the Cup Series, so when the opportunity presented itself, we decided it was time to take the next step. We are excited to go Cup racing!”
BJMM currently fields the #5 for Matt Mills, the #78 for Vinnie Miller, and the #99 for a variety of drivers including Josh Bilicki, Mason Massey, and J.J. Yeley. After four races in 2020, the #78 is twenty-first in the owners’ points, followed by the #99 in thirty-fourth and the #5 in thirty-seventh. Founded in 2010 as a part-time Truck Series stable, the team began Xfinity racing in 2016 with McLeod running the full Xfinity schedule in the #78; he finished twentieth in points that year.
In addition to running the three-car operation, McLeod races for JD Motorsports, whom he joined in 2019 with occasional starts for his own team if needed. In 2019, he ran all but three races en route to another twentieth-place points finish. Although he has never recorded a top-ten finish, he came close in 2017 when he finished eleventh in the July race at Daytona International Speedway with BJMM.
The Florida native began racing part-time at the Cup level in 2015, while all of his premier series starts since 2017 have been with Rick Ware Racing. In forty-two career Cup starts, his best finish is nineteenth in the 2019 Daytona 500. His lone Cup start of 2020 so far is a thirty-eighth at Daytona.
Talking with Dustin Albino of Frontstretch.com, McLeod revealed the circumstances caused by COVID-19 played a major role in his decision to expand BJMM’s operations. For example, the Next Gen car’s postponement to 2022 effectively gave two “full years” to work with the current generation of equipment, while the condensed race days (with qualifying and practices being cancelled for most races) reduce costs and wear on tyres and fuel.
McLeod also added he intends to run the next four Cup races (both Darlington dates and the two Charlotte Motor Speedway rounds). While further races were not disclosed, he noted the team is capable of contesting the full schedule and “easily 15” races.