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Jeffrey Earnhardt to drive seven races for new Cup, Xfinity team in 2019

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 09: Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #96 iK9/Xtreme Concepts Inc. Toyota, is introduced during intros for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 9, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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On the eve of the first NASCAR race weekend of the season, a new team that will split time competing in the Cup and Xfinity Series in 2019 was announced Thursday.

Xtreme Concepts Inc., which is already an existing sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing, has formed Xtreme Concepts Racing (XCI Racing).

XCI Racing will compete in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races and five Xfinity Series races in 2019. Both cars that will be fielded are Toyota Camrys and will carry the No. 81. Jeffrey Earnhardt will handle driving duties in all seven races.

“As a driver, you want to get all the seat time you can, not just seat time but seat time in really good equipment,” Earnhardt said at a press conference Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. “Xtreme Concepts has given me the opportunity to do so in Gibbs equipment, but now add a little icing to the cake, given me the opportunity to do it in an Xtreme Concepts car in alliance with Joe Gibbs (Racing). I’m really looking forward to showing what I’ve got.”

The team will make its debut in the March 30 Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway, then will compete in the Cup race April 28 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The team will then compete in Xfinity races on June 29 at Chicagoland Speedway, July 5 at Daytona International Speedway, Aug. 16 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Aug. 31 at Darlington Raceway.

XCI’s final race in 2019 will be back on the Cup circuit on Oct. 13 at Talladega.

“We are taking a very deliberate and methodical approach to becoming a NASCAR team,” Landon Ash, founder of Birmingham, Alabama-based Xtreme Concepts and owner of XCI Racing, said in a media release. “Having a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing makes the learning curve a little less steep and allows us to field competitive racecars right out of the gate.

“Our ultimate goal is to become a full-time team in the NASCAR Cup Series. We’ll take what we learn this season and apply it to next season. We plan to grow incrementally, and our alliance with JGR will be a key component of that growth.”