JGR 2018 Xfinity lineup. No. 20-Christopher Bell (Ratcliff crew chief), No. 19-Brandon Jones (Gabehart crew chief), No. 18-Cup drivers/Preece (Phillips crew chief). #nascar
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) November 15, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing announced their 2018 Xfinity Series lineup Wednesday afternoon. A complete overhaul, for the most part, is coming for the most dominant team in the Xfinity Series.
Matt Tifft was the only full-time regular racing for an Xfinity championship this year at JGR. He was shown the door, given the boot if you will. Thanks for the season, have fun at RCR in 2018. Erik Jones ran 18 races in the #20 this season, splitting it with Preece and Hamlin. Kyle Busch ran the #18 and shared the ride with Daniel Suarez and Kyle Benjamin.
In 2018 though the JGR team will field
one two drivers going for the championship. The other car will be the Ryan Preece/All-Star car. A complete overhaul and really one that bolsters their chances at a winning the driver’s championship and the owner’s championship.
Obviously, parts of this lineup are better than others. The #20 car inherits a driver very capable of winning the championship in 2018. The #19 makes a lateral move, no upgrade, no downgrade. The #18 car has a really solid part-time guy and then Cup drivers. Here’s the breakdown.
#20 Dirt Guy, The Favorite, Christopher Bell
Bell made a splash in the Xfinity series this season. In his first career start at Charlotte, he finished 4th. In his next start, he should have won Iowa but got taken out late in the race. He then won in Chicago putting a slide job for the ages on Erik Jones. Possibly the most exciting thing he’s ever done.
In 7 starts in the Xfinity series this year he has 1 pole, 1 win, 3 Top 5’s and 5 Top 10’s. Combine that with 5 wins in the Truck Series and Bell has to be the favorite heading into 2018 for JGR. No doubt Bell will be in the Playoffs in 2018.
Something about Bell is weird. Whether it’s his baby face, his reserved demeanor or the fact he’s from Oklahoma. Something is weird. Like who is from Oklahoma?
#19 CEO’s Kid, The Forgotten, Brandon Jones
After two full seasons in the Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing, Jones moves to JGR. The #19 has apparently become the ride at JGR that is for sale. Jones will undoubtedly bring sponsorship from Rheem and their brands.
Jones joins the team in hopes of turning his career around. In 70 career Xfinity starts he has 1 Top 5, 17 Top 10’s, and 1 pole. Not exactly a career to write home about at this point. In 2017 his career has regressed with 7 DNF’s and only 16 finishes on the lead lap.
Jones and his family bought this ride. Will it reap the results they want? Hard to tell at this point. The equipment is there but will the talent be there to match?
#18 The Modified Guy, The Gambler, Ryan Preece
The feel-good story of 2017 has to be modified savant Ryan Preece. The guy bets on himself. He left a full-time ride at JD Motorsports to go back to the modifieds and hope something better came along. He didn’t want to run 25th his entire career. A step back resulted in 3 races for JGR in 2017.
Preece went out and won the Iowa race while finishing in the Top 5 of his other two starts. A second at Loudon, a win in Iowa and a 4th place finish in Kentucky. A 2.3 average finish puts him in about half a season in 2018 with JGR. Possibly the most talented of the three Xfinity guys will be sidelined most of the year. Preece is a playoff contender without a full-time ride.
JGR has a really good lineup for 2018. JR Motorsports and JGR will undoubtedly go head to head next season.
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