By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
B.J. McLeod Motorsports announced Thursday they’re expanding to three full-time entries in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season.
Owner/driver B.J. McLeod said his own team began working on the upcoming season the week after Homestead, adding that he’s confident they’re on the right track and eager to announce the team’s plans.
“After going straight to work the week after Homestead, all in preparation for 2019, we feel like we got a great start for the upcoming season,” said McLeod. “We are stoked to announce our driver line-up and we are all looking forward to spend our weekends at the track.”
Two of the entries will be driven by a single driver, beginning with the flagship car No. 78 that’ll be piloted by Vinnie Miller, who’ll be entering his sophomore season. The second single-driver entry will be piloted by rookie Matt Mills, who’s driving the No. 8 car.
The third and final entry will be the No. 99 car being shared by McLeod, Tommy Joe Martins and Jairo Avila, Jr.. In their press release, it also stated there’s still open seats available for that car throughout the season.
Signed for a multi-year deal, Mills started off 2018 driving for JD Motorsports before ending his rookie campaign with McLeod’s No. 78 team for the final six races, scoring a stint-high 22nd-place finish at Kansas Speedway.
“Vinnie did a great job coming on board the last six races of last year,” McLeod on Miller. “We are ready to repeat and this time, it will be for a full season.”
As for Mills, McLeod described him as a hard working man that provides talent to the team as the 22-year-old from Lynchburg, Virginia will run his first full-season on the national tour after making a combined 22 starts in both Xfinity and Gander Outdoor Truck Series from 2016-18.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Matt again this year,” McLeod on Mills. “He is a very hard working young man with lots of talent. Our goal for the year is to work together to create a solid foundation for this season and beyond.”
Mills will have sponsorship help, thanks to both JF Electric and Thompson Electric, a long-time partner of BJMM. The focus on his rookie campaign is to fully grasp the seating time he’ll have and can’t thank the team enough for giving him an opportunity.
“We’ve been working extremely hard the last few years to put together an effort like this one,” said Mills. “I can’t thank BJ and Jessica McLeod enough for the opportunity, as well as JF Electric and Thompson Electric. I’m focused on having a solid season, gaining experience and respect along the way.”
B.J.’s wife and co-owner, Jessica McLeod, said having Martins and Avila sharing the No. 99 entry will be instrumental after Martins scored three top-20 finishes in the 19 races he ran for McLeod last season. In addition, Avila made his first two series starts for the team, finishing 20th at Bristol and 18th at Kansas.
“It is with great enthusiasm to have Tommy Joe Martins back with the team,” said Jessica. “Martins has played a great part in helping us improve our on-track performance over the last two years and we are looking forward to what’s to come. Avila joins the team again this year and after two top twenty finishes in his first two starts, the future looks promising.”
B.J. McLeod Motorsports will enter their fourth season in the Xfinity Series as they’ll look for their first top-10 since 2017 when 2000 series champion Jeff Green finished 10th at Talladega in May and later David Starr scored the team’s best effort of fifth in the July race at Daytona.