Jeffrey Earnhardt scores top 10 finish in Xfinity debut with XCI Racing at Texas

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 30: Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #81 Xtreme Racing Toyota, races Justin Haley, driver of the #11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 30, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Earnhardt made a positive step forward Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. After two starts in top flite equipment in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series, Earnhardt made his first start with XCI Racing a new team with an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.

JGR fielded two cars for Earnhardt to open the season and Earnhardt responded with finishes at Daytona and Atlanta of 15th and 6th respectively.

After a few weeks off, Earnhardt got back on track this weekend with XCI Racing.  After starting 14th Earnhardt ran just outside the top 10 most of the afternoon. A late race call for fuel and tires put Earnhardt in position to make a run, and he did just that charging forward on a late race restart and being rewarded with an 8th place finish.

“We kept making changes all day that would get the car better and then we’d go a little too much,” Earnhardt said. “We were just trying to find that happy medium and see where exactly the car wanted to be. We just got a little too free on that last restart. I feel like we probably could’ve gotten a couple more spots if we were a little bit tighter.”

On that same late race restart, Kyle Busch was able to grab the lead and take the win.

“Obviously, Kyle (Busch) is sitting in victory lane, so it’s a win-win for all of us,” Earnhardt said. “We’re going to keep getting better, keep making the program better, and this is the first race working with all of these guys. Coming in, knocking a little rust off from setting out for a few weeks, I can say it wasn’t too bad of a run.”

The team will race again at Talladega in the Cup series at the end of April followed by five more Xfinity races: Chicagoland in June, Daytona in July, Bristol and Darlington in August and back to Talladega in October.  Earnhardt is scheduled to be the driver for those races.

Greg Engle