One of the biggest NASCAR Xfinity Series questions now has an answer. Jeffrey Earnhardt has secured a part-time schedule with Sam Hunt Racing after previously departing JD Motorsports with Gary Keller.
The Xfinity Series team made the announcement on Friday, January 14, during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The team said during the segment that Earnhardt’s tentative schedule in the No. 26 Toyota Supra is for seven of the 33 races. SHR then provided more information with a press release and confirmed that ForeverLawn will make the move with Earnhardt.
“Having Jeffrey join Sam Hunt Racing is really exciting for our entire team and the Toyota Racing family,” said team owner Sam Hunt in a statement. “Jeffrey is a great guy, and he’s someone I’ve always admired for how he carries himself on and off the track. He’s a great person, and his sponsors at ForeverLawn match a lot of what SHR stands for. It’s going to be a fun season with him and the ForeverLawn team, and we’re excited to get to work.”
Earnhardt announced on November 9, 2021, that he would leave JD Motorsports with Gary Keller. He explained at the time that he wanted to contend for wins and that he remained open to both full-time and part-time opportunities. Now he will join a team that featured eight drivers in 2021 with two top-10s and one top-five finish.
Earnhardt Makes His Return to the Toyota Family
Earnhardt has primarily competed in Chevrolets during his NASCAR career, dating back to his time with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. However, he contended while driving a Toyota in 2019.
Earnhardt joined Joe Gibbs Racing for seven races during this one-off season, split between the No. 18 and the No. 81. He posted top-10 finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway before securing a third-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Along with his time at Joe Gibbs Racing, Earnhardt also made Cup Series starts in a Toyota while driving for BK Racing in 2016 and Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2018.
“I’m really excited to be back in the Toyota camp. My past experience with them was incredible, and they do a great job supporting their drivers,” Earnhardt said in a statement. “Sam and I formed a nice friendship over the years, and I’m impressed with what he’s achieved in a short amount of time. I feel like we share the same work ethic, and both of us are working hard to achieve our dreams.
“Having ForeverLawn in our corner is truly a gift. They have become my family, and our relationship extends well beyond racing. We have three like minded parties working together towards a common goal. It’s going to be an exciting year.”
Earnhardt Joins Another Driver at SHR
With Earnhardt joining SHR for the upcoming season, he is now the second driver with set starts in the No. 26. He joins Ryan Truex, who will take over the Toyota Supra during the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
SHR announced Truex as the first driver of the No. 26 on Thursday, January 13. The team said that the New Jersey native will return to the Xfinity Series for the first time since the 2019 season and that he will have Circle B Diecast as his primary partner at Daytona.
Truex’s current schedule only features the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway. However, SHR said on January 13 that the goal is to have Truex make additional starts during the season.