By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Joe Gibbs Racing will once again have two drivers fighting for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver’s Championship in 2018. Christopher Bell in the No. 20 Toyota Camry, who was previously announced, will be joined by Brandon Jones in the No. 19 Toyota Camry. Jones currently pilots the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing.
Jones will have Chris Gabehart as his crew chief. Jason Ratcliff will move from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series No. 20 to be the crew chief of the No. 20 for Bell.
Jones will complete his second full season in the Xfinity Series this weekend. In 70 races to date, he has one top five, 17 top-10s, and one pole position. Jones also has 35 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts with seven top-fives and 15 top-10s.
Jones was thankful for those who helped him get to this point, and excited for next season,
“I’m really fortunate to have gotten as much experience as I have to this point of my career and very thankful to have worked with so many great people and teams over the past several years. When you look at what JGR has done with Toyota in the XFINITY Series over the past decade the results speak for themselves and I’m excited to go out next season knowing I have an opportunity to be successful each and every week.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs spoke highly of Jones,
“Our NASCAR XFINITY Series program is so important to us at Joe Gibbs Racing. We are focused on the opportunities we have this weekend in Miami of course, but excited about the talented lineup of drivers we will have competing for us in 2018. The addition of Brandon Jones to our lineup will provide tremendous competition to the Series and give us two opportunities to run for the XFINITY Driver’s Championship, as well as the Owner’s Championship next season. For as young as he is, Brandon has gained a lot of experience across several different series and we are excited to see what he can do in our equipment and with Chris (Gabehart) leading that team.”
JGR will once again have a third ‘all-star’ car piloted by several drivers. Ryan Preece, who made waves in his first two starts with JGR, including a victory at Iowa Speedway, will return for a partial schedule in the No. 18 Toyota Camry. Preece has three top-fives (all with JGR in 2017), four top-10s, and one pole position in addition to his victory this season.
Preece just wants to be able to make the most of this opportunity,
“Obviously I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that I have already had with JGR this season and now to be able to increase the number of races next season is a great step in my career. I’m looking forward to going out there and make the most out of the opportunity.”
Joining Preece in the No. 18 Toyota Camry will be Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch. Busch, who has 91 career victories is limited to a maximum of seven starts in the series in 2018. It is expected that a combination of Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, and other drivers will fill out the schedule in the No. 18.
Preece will also compete for JGR in their No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Camry in this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He will be fighting with Team Penske’s No. 22, JR Motorsports No. 9, and with his teammate in the JGR No. 20 in an attempt to earn JGR’s fifth Owner’s Championship in the Xfinity Series.