Photo Courtesy of Corey Grapevine.
(Richfield, WI) After an impressive NASCAR Xfinity debut at Road America, Josh Bilicki found himself back behind the wheel of a NASCAR Xfinity car again, but this time on a more unfamiliar territory, an oval.
Bilicki, who had not driven an oval since 2012, would pilot the number 97 Obaika Racing Chevrolet Camaro at Phoenix International Raceway, sponsored by Vroom Brands, Wagner Metals Inc, and CNC Swiss. Phoenix, the second last race of the NASCAR XFINITY season, is a one mile tri-oval with very little banking in all corners, making it one of the tougher tracks on the NASCAR calendar.
For Josh, who had raced only four races at Jefferson Speedway (a quarter-mile oval) in 2012, the goal for this weekend was to bring the car home clean and finish the race. He logged nearly 100 laps in both practice sessions, more laps than almost the entire field would run in both practices. After qualifying in the 40th position, he managed to keep the car intact, in what was a very chaotic race, and brought the number 97 Obaika Racing Camaro home in an impressive 28th position.
After an impressive weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Josh was approved for his one-and-a-half mile NASCAR license, meaning he could compete in the NASCAR Xfinity series finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With help from Vroom Brands, Thomas Herb, and Jim and Molly Hamman, he secured the seat for Miami and would run his second oval race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, again in the number 97 Obaika Racing Camaro. The weekend started out rough, though, with Josh only completing 20 laps in both practice sessions due to an issue with the car. Qualifying would show Josh in the 37th position out of a total 45 entrees in the series.
After a great start, Josh found himself running in the 35th position on lap 25. Unfortunately, an issue in the pits put him several laps down. Soon after, a caution forced the 97 Obaika Racing car to stay out on track longer than expected, causing Josh to run out of fuel on track and lose another lap. He would go on to rebound from these issues and finish in the 34th position on his first mile-and-a-half oval.
"These past two weekends have been pretty incredible, to say the least. I had no idea what to expect going into Phoenix, having never driven this type of car on this big of an oval. Phoenix went better than expected, finishing top 30. I did not know I was racing Homestead-Miami Speedway until Wednesday, so I did not have much time to prepare. Miami went well, but we had room for improvement. Overall it has been a great couple of weeks and I can't thank Victor Obaika, Jim and Molly Hamman, Thomas Herb, Vroom Brands, Wagner Companies, and CNC Swiss Inc. enough for helping me get to these races. I'm looking forward to seeing what next year has in store for us!"
Josh will cap off the 2016 racing season next week at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. He will be driving the Racewerkz Engineering BMW M3 and also the Trim-Tex Drywall Products Mazda MX5 Cup car. Follow Josh on twitter at @jbilicki51 and Facebook at Josh Bilicki Racing.