By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Will Rodgers returns to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Sam Hunt Racing after two years away from the series.
Rodgers last competed in Xfinity Series in 2019 with Brandonbilt Motorsports. In four starts, his best finish was 12th at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. His most recent start was in the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Maui, HI native will drive the No. 26 GoodRx Toyota Supra in the Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 19. It is the first Xfinity Series race at the 1.33-mile track since 2011.
Rodgers will also compete in select Xfinity Series races throughout the remainder of the season. He joins Grant Enfinger, Santino Ferrucci, Colin Garrett, Brandon Gdovic, John Hunter Nemechek, and Kris Wright as drivers of the Sam Hunt Racing No. 26 Toyota this season.
“I’m thrilled to be aligning with Sam Hunt Racing for our multi-race schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year,” explained Rodgers. “Sam’s program has really exceeded my expectations and with the support from Toyota, has proven to be a great place for development drivers like myself. The tracks we’ve selected should help with my personal growth and also play to my strong suits – including road course racing.
“Sam is a self-made, hard-working guy doing all he can to succeed in this industry. We understand each other well, and it serves as motivation to perform at our best on and off the track. I’m looking forward to seeing where this relationship takes us in the future.”
At three years old, Rodgers was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). The 26-year-old strives to use his platform to end liver diseases around the world. He founded the Will Rodgers Liver Health Foundation, a 501c(3) organization. The foundation raises awareness for HCV through RaceToEndHepC.com.
“A major element of the Race to End Hep C initiative is the at-track and in-community activation space,” admitted Rodgers. “It’s important to reach the communities affected by Hep C, in-person, to communicate the importance of education, testing, and treatment. Together, with our supporting partners, we’ll be providing a step-by-step process for any individuals wanting to learn more about Hep C and how we’re racing to end it.”
In 13 starts this season, Sam Hunt Racing has earned one top-10 finish. Gdovic finished eighth in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Since then, Sam Hunt Racing’s best finish was 13th with Ferrucci at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The team also has 10 starts spread across 2019 and 2020.
2021 marks the first full season for Sam Hunt Racing. The organization has just one DNF in the 2021 season after Enfinger crashed in the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Despite being away from the Xfinity Series garage in 2020, Rodgers competed both on track and virtually. During the COVID-19 shutdown, he competed in the eNASCAR Saturday Night Thunder events on iRacing.
Rodgers regularly competes in the Monday Night Racing league with Spacestation Gaming. He is the defending champion in the Monday Night league. The league features other NASCAR Pros, drivers from other disciplines, and media members.
Back on track, Rodgers started 19th and finished fifth for Steve McGowan in the ARCA Menards Series at the Daytona Road Course. He also earned one top-five and two top-10s in the ARCA Menards Series West driving for Jeff Jefferson.
“Will coming on board further exemplifies the growth that our team is experiencing,” team owner Hunt said. “Will’s attitude and demeanor is something I’ve always been a fan of. He finds his sponsors himself. He understands the grind and financial sacrifice that comes along with this sport yet always carries a positive attitude. His positive attitude will be a large part of his success.”
Rodgers has one NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (now ARCA West) win. In 2018 at Sonoma Raceway, he bested NASCAR Cup Series drivers Aric Almirola, William Byron, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez for the victory. Across all 28 of his K&N Pro Series West starts, Rodgers has one win, 10 top-five, and 20 top-10 finishes. He also has two pole positions.
In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division (now ARCA East), Rodgers has three wins and four top-five finishes in five starts.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo