By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Current IMSA and ex-Indy car racer Jack Hawksworth is set to add the NASCAR Xfinity Series on his resume as he’ll drive the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The Englishman commented he’s excited to join Joe Gibbs Racing and compete at the 2.258-mile circuit for the first time in a stock car.
“I’m excited to be joining the Joe Gibbs Racing team and driving the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra this weekend at Mid-Ohio,” said Hawksworth. “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.”
Hawksworth drives the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus GTD entry in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Alongside co-driver Richard Heistand, the duo captured the class victory at Mid-Ohio in May before following it up with another triumph at Belle Isle in June.
After 9 of 12 rounds, they’re currently fourth in the GTD standings.
Prior to moving into the world of sports car racing full-time in 2017, Hawskworth spent three years in the IndyCar Series, where he ran 49 races for Bryan Herta Autosport and A.J. Foyt Racing.
The 28-year-old scored 10 top-10s and a single podium at the second Houston race in 2014 where he finished third behind Mikhail Aleshin and race winner Simon Pagenaud.
Steve DeSouza, Executive Vice President of NXS and Development for JGR, stated he’s foruntate to have Hawksworth represent the brand and is confident he’ll be able to help championship contender Christopher Bell and teammate Brandon Jones.
“As we head in to the second road course of the season, we’re fortunate to have a veteran like Jack Hawksworth be able to come out of the Lexus program to help out the Toyota family and our team in the No. 18 iK9 Supra this weekend,” said DeSouza. “He will bring a great deal of experience and a history of success to JGR this weekend. I think he’ll be a great asset to our team and be someone that both Brandon (Jones) and Christopher (Bell) can look to for advice on how to get around Mid-Ohio. He’s proven he can win at the track and no reason not to continue that this weekend with the 18 team.”
While Wednesday’s announcement has brought positive buzz to the sport having a veteran road ringer, the sponsorship has also gotten people talking for the wrong reasons.
Before the announcement of Hawksworth, one of JGR’s main drivers of the No. 18 team parted ways as Jeffrey Earnhardt will move on from JGR and sponsorship iK9 effective immediately.
Earnhardt confirmed his departure on Twitter:
— Jeffrey Earnhardt (@JEarnhardt1) August 7, 2019
In five of his seven Xfinity Series starts, Earnhardt drove for Gibbs where he scored a sixth at Atlanta and a career-high third at Charlotte. The fourth generation racer hasn’t made a start since Chicagoland for XCI Racing, the only other team he’s raced this season.
The B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio will commence Saturday, August 10 with love coverage beginning at 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN.
Justin Allgaier won last year’s 75-lap event while Hawksworth’s ride finished 12th when it was driven by Kyle Benjamin.