Jack Hawksworth said he enjoyed his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut which started with a front-row qualifying spot, included a stage win and regular spot in the top 10 but ended with a mid-pack, 15th-place finish.
“First off, thank you to Joe Gibbs Racing for having me and to Toyota for putting it together; and of course to my team AVS Racing, IMSA and Lexus for allowing me to go do this Xfinity stint,” he told NBCSN. “I was having a lot of fun out there. Some good battles over the beginning.
“The first stint, I was struggling with the rear tires a little bit. The second stint we made it a little bit better.”
Hawksworth had speed all weekend. He clocked in 13th in opening practice after his first laps in a Xfinity car, then was fastest of all in the final practice and qualified second.
The IMSA GTD front-runner and former IndyCar regular was tabbed late last week to drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Mid-Ohio, and he had a top-10 run going for much of the Saturday afternoon race. Challenging inside the top five through the first two stages, Hawksworth recovered from an early spin on the frontstretch after contact with Cole Custer.
He even took the lead on Lap 37. Getting to the inside of teammate Christopher Bell, Hawksworth made the move just before the caution came out, which resulted in his winning Stage 2.
However, the grille of his iK9 Supra was filled with grass after several off-course excursions during the day, and, with nine laps to go, Hawksworth — running ninth — had to pit.
“I was comfortable on those restarts going for the lead and felt pretty good about it; but then I think we had a little issue on that second stop so that kind of put us back there,” he said. “Got grass on the grille on one of those restarts, then kind of lost the brakes and that was kind of all she wrote.
“Little bit of a shame, but I had a great time and the iK9 car was great. I just want to thank everyone for having me here, and we’ll have to come back at some point and give it another shot.”