Thomas Annunziata, who came within a few car lengths of claiming a win in his first major-league stock car race in February at Daytona International Speedway, aims to get another chance at success June 8, this time with JD Motorsports.

Annunziata, a promising 18-year-old driver from Colts Neck, New Jersey, is entered in a JD Motorsports Chevrolet in the Zip Buy Now, Pay Later 250 Xfinity Series race on the Sonoma Raceway road course. The race will mark his debut in the Xfinity Series.

Annunziata, who has had success from go-karts to sports cars, is building toward a career at the top levels of NASCAR, and he hopes to take the next step by joining team owner Johnny Davis and his veteran Xfinity Series crew. Cup star Ross Chastain is a spotlighted driver among those who raced for Davis on the way up the ladder. Others include Mike Wallace, Landon Cassill, Joe Nemechek, Sheldon Creed and Jeremy Clements.

Annunziata showed his potential in the ARCA Racing Series opener in February at Daytona. Racing against ARCA veterans and a string of newcomers like himself, Annunziata was sitting in seventh as the field took the green and white flags together for the race’s final lap. Chaos erupted in front of Annunziata as the front pack raced along the backstretch. As several cars wrecked, Annunziata alertly dropped to the inside of the track to avoid the collision. The race ended under caution, with Gus Dean, who was out front, taking the win and Annunziata rolling home a surprising second place.

“I had never raced on a fast oval, and it was definitely interesting,” Annunziata said. “It was almost like ‘Days of Thunder’. I just kept my foot in it. I could have been on the wrong side of that.”

A regular on the Trans Am circuit, Annunziata’s goal is to move up through NASCAR’s series to eventually reach Cup. The JD Motorsports team has been effective in helping drivers reach their dreams.

“Our team has always been attuned to the idea of developing new talent,” Davis said. “Ross Chastain and others have honed their skills with us. We’re looking for Thomas to be one of the next in line. I’ve been impressed with the talent he’s shown even as a young driver.”

“I’ve been waiting on this forever,” Annunziata said. “Watching ‘Days of Thunder’ and ‘Talladega Nights’ growing up, and watching Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson race NASCAR, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“Being able to race with Johnny Davis’ team will give me a crazy amount of experience in a series right below Cup. I’ll be with some of the best drivers in the country. The cars are heavier than Trans Am, and I’ll be learning all the ins and outs of NASCAR. It will be huge for me.”

JDM PR