HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – official team release – Robert Laberge/Getty Images North America photo –
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) confirmed Monday that Denny Hamlin will fill in for Kyle Busch behind the wheel of the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry in this weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and in four subsequent events.
Kyle Busch continues to rest comfortably in his home in Charlotte, North Carolina before rehabilitating from a compound fracture of the right lower leg and left mid-foot fracture, both injuries resulted from an accident during the Feb. 21 XFINITY Series race at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
No specific timetable has been announced for Busch’s return to the race track, however interim drivers have been confirmed to pilot the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota moving forward. JGR teammate Hamlin will compete in the role this Saturday, March 7, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and again March 21 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., April 10 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, April 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and May 23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
Hamlin is currently running a full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 11 Toyota and was previously confirmed to run in six JGR XFINITY Series events this season in support of other team sponsors. This brings Hamlin’s 2015 XFINITY Series schedule now to 11 events.
In addition, JGR announces that team member Erik Jones will again drive the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the XFINITY Series next weekend at Phoenix Int’l Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., on March 14 and subsequently April 24 at Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway, for a total of three race events supporting the No. 54 team. Jones raced this past weekend with the Monster Energy program at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., and accomplished a 13th-place finish from a 12th-place qualifying effort.
Jones continues to run a full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and a partial schedule for JGR in the No. 20 NASCAR XFINITY Series Camry. This brings Jones’ 2015 XFINITY Series schedule now to an estimated 19 events.
Also joining the Monster Energy/Joe Gibbs Racing stable of drivers to support the No. 54 Toyota this season is Carlsbad, Calif., native Boris Said. As in the previous two years when JGR named substitute drivers to supplement Busch’s schedule, the 52-year old NASCAR veteran will pilot seven XFINITY Series events with the No. 54 team including Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on May 2 and non-companion XFINITY series events at Iowa Speedway in Newton on May 17 and Aug. 1, Chicagoland Speedway on June 20, Mid Ohio Sportscar Course on August 15, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Aug. 29 and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Sept. 26.
Although known primarily for his superior road-course racing abilities, Said has competed in 137 events across NASCAR’s top three divisions, on all types of racetracks. Additionally Said has recorded time in the K&N East/West Series, ARCA, V8 Supercars, Grand-Am, American Le Mans, TUDOR United Sports Car and other exhibition series races. Said has experienced on-track time with various team owners and with all of NASCAR’s manufacturer partners including Toyota Racing in 2010. In the XFINITY Series Said has registered 23 races and one victory earned in 2010 at the Montreal, Canada event.
“We hate this for Kyle (Busch) obviously and I think everyone is focused on getting him back healthy,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We can’t thank Monster Energy and all of our partners enough for working with us while Kyle is recovering and certainly it is nice to have Denny (Hamlin) and Erik (Jones) ready to fill in. We’re also excited that Boris (Said) will have the opportunity to drive the car for seven races in 2015.”
“We are excited to be able to have talent like Denny (Hamlin), Erik (Jones) and road racing guru Boris Said to come in and back up Kyle in tough times. Of course we miss Kyle and wish he was out there for us, but we have full confidence in all our guys,” states Vice President of Sports Marketing for Monster Energy Mitch Covington.