Jeffrey Earnhardt continues to shine scoring a career best finish at Atlanta

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 22: Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #18 iK9 Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series RINNAI 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 22, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

What a difference good equipment makes. After running in the back of the fields in less than stellar equipment since he made his debut in NASCAR in the NASCAR Xfinity series in 2009, Jeffrey Earnhardt is finally enjoying his time in the sun.

The grandson of legend Dale Earnhardt, Jeffrey has made no secret of the fact that he is trying to make a name for himself.  The 29-year-old has spent his time in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series with 10 starts in the NASCAR Gander Mountain Outdoors series, 38 in the Xfinity series and 75 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. His best finish was 11th in the Cup series in last year’s summer race at Daytona. However, most of his time has been spent outside the top 20.

He was signed by Joe Gibbs Racing late last year and is making nine Xfinity starts for the top-level team in 2019. His first came at Daytona where he started on the outside of the front row and led 29 laps, the most of his career, before settling for 15th.

Saturday was his second start for JGR. He ran inside the top five for much of the race only to get hung out on the outside slower lane on a late race restart.

“That outside was tough,” he said.  “I blew the tires off it early in the race. I knew it was going to be hard to get a restart out there. It seemed like everyone kind of struggled up there. Just couldn’t get the power to the ground. I had Brandon (Jones) push me trying all he could do to get me going and just sucks.”

“These guys put a heck of a race car underneath me and I was really looking forward to hell, maybe winning this thing.”

Earnhardt hung on to finish sixth, a career best for him.

“It is awesome,” Earnhardt said smiling. “Just to get to go and compete in a really good car like this. I hate we got stuck on the outside on that last restart. Restarts are really hard on the outside here, but the Toyota Supra was super-fast today. These guys put me in a heck of a car. We came up short on the win, but we showed we belong here and we’re going to run up front the rest of the races.”

Greg Engle