Date: Feb. 23, 2019
Event: Rinnai 250 (Round 2 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Format: 163 laps, broken into three stages (40 laps/40 laps/83 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/6th (Running, completed 163 of 163 laps)
Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-40):
● Jeffrey Earnhardt started eighth, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.
● Earnhardt spun his tires at the start and fell to 15th, but worked his way back into the top-10 by lap eight.
● After rejoining the top-10, Earnhardt reported that his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was tight in the center of turns one and two.
● Pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and tape on the grille at the conclusion of the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 41-80):
● Started fifth, finished fifth. Earned six bonus points.
● Picked up two spots during a restart on lap 48 and then settled into the fourth position until lap 71.
● Late in the run, Earnhardt’s No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra got tight from the center of turns one and two through the exit, and he slipped to fifth.
● Pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment at the end of the stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 81-163):
● Started fifth, finished sixth.
● Earnhardt ran in the top-five until lap 116.
● After reporting the iK9 Toyota Supra was still a bit tight through the center of the corner, Earnhardt pitted under green for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment on lap 122.
● Earnhardt returned to the track in sixth place and advanced to fourth before the last caution of the day on lap 157.
● Earnhardt pitted for four tires and fuel under the caution and lined up on the outside of row one for the final restart.
● With less grip in the outside lane, Earnhardt spun his tires at the start as the inside line motored into turn one, dropping the iK9 Toyota Supra to sixth.
● Earnhardt took the checkered flag in sixth place to earn his first top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series.
● Earnhardt’s sixth place finish was his best Xfinity Series result in 68 career starts, with his previous best being a 12th-place effort on Aug. 22, 2014 in the Food City 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
● This was Earnhardt’s best career finish across 153 combined starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. His previous best finish was seventh on Feb. 18, 2011 in the season-opening Truck Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
● Earnhardt started eighth in the Rinnai 250 after qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather and the field was set by owners’ points.
● Earnhardt scored 41 points in the Rinnai 250 to place the No. 18 team 10th in the championship owners’ standings.
● Earnhardt’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell swept all three stages of the Rinnai 250 to score his ninth career Xfinity Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Atlanta.
● There were three caution periods for a total of 16 laps.
● Only 14 of the 37 drivers in the Rinnai 250 finished on the lead lap.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“The only way to sum up today is awesome. Just to go and compete in a really good car like this is awesome. I hate we got stuck on the outside on that last restart. Restarts are really hard on the outside here and it seemed like everyone kind of struggled up there. Just couldn’t get the power to the ground. I had Brandon (Jones) push me, trying all he could do to get me going. These guys put a heck of a racecar underneath me and I was really looking forward to maybe winning this thing for iK9 and Joe Gibbs and all the fans that came out here to see us today. We came up short on the win, but we showed we belong here and we’re going to run up front the rest of the races.”
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday, March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!