By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
For the first time in nearly a decade, Stephen Leicht will compete full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Leicht will compete for the newly-formed JP Motorsports in the No. 55 Toyota Camry. The team will utilize Toyota Camrys purchased from TriStar Motorsports.
Leicht last competed full-time in 2007 for Robert Yates Racing. During that stint, he earned one victory at Kentucky Speedway, three top-fives, and seven top-10s. Leicht has 16 top-10 finishes total in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“We are excited to welcome Stephen Leicht to the family,” said team owners Phyllis and Jerry Hattaway. “Stephen (Leicht) has proved himself in the XFINITY Series in the past and we are really looking forward to giving him an opportunity to build on that success.”
“I am very excited to form a team in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series,” Hattaway continued. “I am truly speechless, to say the least. We are ready to roll and get this 2018 season underway. We are striving to do the absolute best in our first season.”
In 2008, Leicht moved to Richard Childress Racing for a part-time schedule. Since then, the seasons have been a struggle for the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Leicht has been a journeyman driver, spending time with BK Racing, Circle Sport Racing, Hillman Racing, Key Motorsports, Obaika Racing, and Tommy Baldwin Racing. At times, he was forced to park early in events while driving for underfunded teams.
“I’m extremely excited and honored,” said Leicht. “I’ve been searching for a long time to find a way back into this sport on a full-time basis and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to do that in over 10 years. I can’t thank Jerry and Phyllis Hattaway along with Jason Houghtaling enough for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I will be giving them 110% on and off the track at all times. I can’t wait to get started.”
On top of the pit box for Leicht will be Jason Houghtaling. Houghtaling has spent time as a crew chief with BJ McLeod Motorsports, Derrike Cope, MBM Motorsports, and Rick Ware Racing. The best finish for a car he led was 17th at both Daytona and Talladega when Timmy Hill drove a Dodge Challenger for Carl Long.
“I am very excited to get 2018 started, especially with the new team,” Houghtaling said. “It’ll be fun to help a new organization grow in the very competitive XFINITY Series and it’ll be fun to compete against some of the best in the business.”
Now the entire JP Motorsports team has less than a month to prepare for their first full season.