JR Motorsports

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For information on the British company JR Motorsports Group, see Sumo Power.
JR Motorsports
JR-Motorsports.jpg
Owner(s) Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Rick Hendrick
Kelley Earnhardt Miller
Base Mooresville, North Carolina
Series Nationwide Series
Race drivers 5. Kevin Harvick/Kasey Kahne/Austin Theriault/Josh Berry/Alex Bowman
7. Regan Smith
9. Chase Elliott
88. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / Kevin Harvick
Sponsors 5. Hunt Brothers Pizza, Bad Boy Buggies (Harvick)
Great Clips (Kahne)
7. Unilever, TaxSlayer.com
9. NAPA Auto Parts
88. Unilever
Great Clips
TaxSlayer.com
Manufacturer Chevrolet
Career
Debut 2005 Ford 300 (Homestead)
Latest race 2014 Ford EcoBoost 300 (Homestead)
Races competed 486
Drivers' Championships 1
Race victories 19
Pole positions 8

JR Motorsports is a NASCAR team based in Mooresville, North Carolina, co-owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and the owner of his Cup ride Rick Hendrick. It currently fields the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Super Late Model driver Austin Theriault, the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Camaro for Regan Smith, the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro for Chase Elliott, and the No. 88 Camaro for Earnhardt, Jr. and Harvick part-time in the Nationwide Series.

History of JR Motorsports[edit]

JR Motorsports began in a shed on the property of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 1998 with just one employee, as the marketing division of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s race team. The original intent of the business was to help Earnhardt, Jr. sell t-shirts and negotiate sponsorship deals.[citation needed] It wasn't until 2002 that Earnhardt, Jr. turned the business into a race team, when T. J. Majors drove street stock division at Concord Motorsport Park, in North Carolina. Upon Earnhardt, Jr.'s signing with Hendrick Motorsports the Hendrick and JR Nationwide Series teams were merged.

The first win for the team came at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, VA, in 2004. (At the time, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was co-owner of another racing venture, Chance 2 Motorsports.)

Today the team operates out of a 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) race shop near Mooresville, North Carolina.

Nationwide Series[edit]

#5 car history[edit]

The 5 team started in 2006 as the 83 team. It was driven by Shane Huffman with sponsorship from the Make a Wish Foundation. The car returned in 2008 driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with the US Navy sponsoring. In 2010, JR Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing announced that the number would switch from 83 to 3 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driving the car at Daytona in July with Wrangler sponsoring the car. This was a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May. Earnhardt Jr. won the race in the No. 3 car. In 2011, the team changed numbers from 3 to 5 which was JR Motorsports' 3rd entry, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Ron Fellows running a handful of races part-time. The car returned in 2012 once more with Dale Jr. and Fellows driving, and Regan Smith would win the Ford 200 after announcing joining the team. The car was originally slated for Smith in 2013, but he was moved to the No. 7 when Jr's Cup teammate Kasey Kahne and USAC driver Brad Sweet signed to drive the No. 5 with sponsorship from Great Clips. On Monday October 14, 2013 JR Motorsports announced that Kevin Harvick will drive the #5 car in at least 12 races for the 2014 season. Four of the races the car will be sponsored by Hunt Brothers Pizza. The drivers for the remainder of the 2014 season has yet to be announced.[1] Super Late Model driver Austin Thierault will drive the car in a few races for the team.

#7 car history[edit]

Danica Patrick driving the #7 in the 2012 Sargento 200

The No. 7 car joined in 2008 as the No. 5 as part of the merger with Hendrick Motorsports' Nationwide teams. It was driven by Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Mark Martin, Landon Cassill, Ron Fellows and Adrian Fernandez,[2] with sponsorship from Lowe's (Johnson and Fernandez), National Guard (Truex, Earnhardt Jr and Cassill), Delphi, (Martin) and Godaddy.com (Earnhardt and Fellows). The 5 car won two races in 2008, with Martin at Las Vegas and Ron Fellows in Montreal, the first NASCAR race run in the rain.

The 5 car returned in 2009 with sponsorship from Fastenal, GoDaddy.com, Unilever and Delphi.[dated info] The team's best finish was a third with Earnhardt at Atlanta. The team changed numbers from 5 to 7 with Danica Patrick driving about 12 races with JR Motorsports in with GoDaddy.com sponsorship in 2010, The schedule was filled out with Scott Wimmer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Landon Cassill, Steve Arpin, Josh Wise and J. R. Fitzpatrick. Patrick will run 12 races with GoDaddy, with her best finish of 4th at Las Vegas. Wise returned to the team for a few races, recording a few top tens. Dale Jr. drove the 7 at Talladega, and Cup drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray drove the car too. Danica Patrick drove the No. 7 full-time in 2012 while contesting a limited Cup schedule with Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick departed the team for the Cup Series in 2013, and Regan Smith drove the car in 2013. In 2014, Regan Smith returned to drive the No. 7 car, starting the season with a win in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona.

#9 car history[edit]

Chase Elliott in 2014.

In 2014, 18-year old Hendrick development driver Chase Elliott was signed to drive a fourth entry for JR Motorsports. The car was numbered 9, the longtime number of Chase's father Bill Elliott. In a surprise move, NAPA Auto Parts, which recently left Michael Waltrip Racing and was rumored to depart from the sport, signed on to sponsor the full season.[3] After the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the team was revealed to have violated Sections 12-4.2 (P2 penalty) and 20A-12.8.1B (car exceeded minimum front height) of the NASCAR rulebook. As a result, crew chief Greg Ives was placed on probation until December 31.[4] At the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, Elliott passed teammate Kevin Harvick for his first Nationwide Series win.[5] Elliott's second win came at the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway, where he led 52 laps. A late race caution and a slow pit stop would find Elliott restarting in 6th with just 2 laps to go. Elliott managed an outstanding feat of passing the 5 cars in front of him en route to his second win of the season. Elliott would win his third race of the season in the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway after holding off Trevor Bayne.[6]

Elliott won the 2014 Nationwide Series championship, the first rookie to win a NASCAR national series championship.

#88 car history[edit]

Mark McFarland, the team's first driver, in 2006.

The No. 88 debuted in 2005 at the Ford 300 with Mark McFarland driving with sponsorship from the United States Navy, qualifying eighteenth and finishing twentieth. McFarland was named the full-time driver and had a seventh-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, but was replaced by Shane Huffman after twenty-one races,[7][8] with Martin Truex, Jr. and Robby Gordon filling-in for certain races. Huffman was hired as the full-time driver in 2007, and had two top-ten finishes before he was released from the ride as well.[9]

Brad Keselowski earned six victories for the team from 2007 to 2009.

Brad Keselowski, son of former Craftsman Truck Series driver Bob Keselowski, was hired to replace Huffman for three races,[10] with SCCA driver Andy Pilgrim to be in the car for the road course races in Montreal and Watkins Glen.[11] Keselowski then returned at his hometown track Michigan.[12] He was involved in a hard crash at Fontana, in which he was tagged by a spinning car, collided head first and then driver side with the turn 1 wall, temporarily was airborne, and then rode the guardrail while his car was on fire before coming to a stop. Keselowski was taken to a local hospital,[13] and was later cleared to race at Richmond the next week. Keselowski finished the season with five top-ten finishes[14] Keselowski signed a two year contract with JR Motorsports with the Navy returning as sponsor in 2008.[15] He won his first race at Nashville Superspeedway and later picked up another win at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing third in points but lost the Navy sponsorship for 2009.[16] GoDaddy.com and Delphi Corporation sponsored the No. 88 for a total of 24 races in 2009, with Unilever brands sponsoring 11 races on the No. 88 car. Keselowski won four races and finished third in points for the second consecutive season before leaving for Penske Racing.

At the end of the 2009 season, Kelly Bires signed a two-year contract to drive for JR Motorsports in the #88 Chevy through 2011, with Earnhardt eager to see what Bires could do in his equipment.[17] Bires drove the #5 Ragu Chevy for Junior at Homestead in preparation for running full-time in 2010.[18] Due to sponsorship obligations with Unilever and their Hellmann's Mayonnaise brand, owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran the #88 car at the 2010 season opener at Daytona and Danica Patrick ran the #7 car with her sponsor GoDaddy.com, forcing Bires to sit out.[19] In his debut at Fontana, Bires scored a seventh place finish. Even more curious than his missing Daytona was when Bires was removed from the #88 car in favor of Cup driver Jamie McMurray after only five races run, with only one finish below 17th (a crash at Las Vegas).[20] Earnhardt Jr. cited chemistry issues between Bires, JR Motorsports management, and the team including Tony Eury, Sr. and Jr., and implied that Bires was taking a seat from "the next Brad [Keselowski], the next Jeff Gordon." Bires was the third young driver to be hastily removed from the 88 car.[21] Elliott Sadler, Greg Sacks, Aric Almirola, Steve Arpin, Coleman Pressley, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Ron Fellows all ran races in the car to finish out the season.

Aric Almirola driving the #88 car in the 2011 Bucyrus 200.

Former DEI development driver Aric Almirola moved up from the Truck Series to drive the car full-time in 2011 as a part of a 2 year deal. With sponsorship from Unilever, Grand Touring Vodka, and TaxSlayer, Almirola ended up fourth in points in his first full-time season. Almirola then left JRM after 2011 to join Richard Petty Motorsports in the Cup Series, while the No. 88 was taken by former Red Bull development driver Cole Whitt in 2012 for his rookie season. Whitt had a consistent rookie season despite switching crew chiefs from Tony Eury, Sr. to Bruce Cook. Whitt recorded a best finish of 4th at Daytona, Talladega, and Michigan, finishing 7th in the point standings but lost the Rookie of the Year battle to Austin Dillon. With the team unable to find sponsorship for Whitt for 2013, the No. 88 was used by Dale Jr. in his limited Nationwide Series schedule (to keep consistency with his Cup Series number). Dale Jr. and Kevin Harvick drove the car for the first two races of the 2014 season before switching the owners points to the No. 5.

Sprint Cup Series and future of JR Motorsports[edit]

During a press conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 16, 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stated that once the Nationwide Series starts using the Car of Tomorrow chassis, which was set for a July 2010 debut at the Daytona International Speedway, his Nationwide teams possibly will leave the Nationwide Series, due to the costs of switching cars. When asked if he will move JR Motorsports to the Sprint Cup Series, Earnhardt Jr. said that due to the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series almost having the same expensive costs, he might move the team to the Sprint Cup Series as early as 2009 "if the right opportunity comes along with the right sponsorship and driver..."[22]

Earnhardt did not end up moving his team to Sprint Cup and has remained in the Nationwide Series.

Other racing series[edit]

JR Motorsports fields the No. 88 Speedco Chevrolet driven by Josh Berry. Berry captured the 2012 Motor Mile Speedway championship in 18 races while collecting 6 poles and 15 top 5 finishes.

Speed 1[edit]

In 2007, JR Motorsports supplied cars for Speed Channel's NASCAR coverage. The Speed 1 fleet for NASCAR RaceDay included a superspeedway car, and car for intermediate tracks, and a Car of Tomorrow. Speed 1 was driven by Hermie Sadler.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Harvick to join JR Motorsports in 2014". NASCAR. October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Busch Series No. 5 driver lineup star-studded for '08". ESPN. September 21, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ Ryan, Nate (January 6, 2014). "NAPA will back Chase Elliott at JR Motorsports". USA Today. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Keselowski's team hit with penalty after NNS Vegas win". Foxsports.com. March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Jensen, Tom (April 4, 2014). "Besting the boss: Chase Elliott, 18, tops Dale Jr., all comers in NNS race". Foxsports.com. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (July 20, 2014). "Chase Elliott holds off Trevor Bayne for Nationwide win". Sporting News. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ From Team Press Release (August 10, 2006). "McFarland released as driver of No.88 car". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  8. ^ By Ryan Smithson, NASCAR.COM (August 12, 2006). "Notebook: Junior explains McFarland firing". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ Earnhardt to drive JRM Busch car at Daytona[dead link]
  10. ^ Team Release (July 10, 2007). "JR Motorsports signs Keselowski to BGN deal". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  11. ^ Earnhardt Jr. honoring dad's promise to Pilgrim
  12. ^ NASCAR (August 16, 2007). "BUSCH: Michigan: Round 25 preview". motorsport.com. motorsport.com. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  13. ^ JR Motorsports (September 3, 2007). "BUSCH: Fontana II: Brad Keselowski update". motorspot.com. Fontana, California: motorsport.com. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  14. ^ Keselowski to finish season with JR Motorsports[dead link]
  15. ^ Team Release (November 16, 2007). "Keselowski, Navy back with JR Motorsports in 2008". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  16. ^ Joe Menzer (July 11, 2008). "Sponsorship woes stretch even to Junior's own team". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ Associated Press (September 15, 2009). "Bires signs deal with JR Motorsports". espn.go.com. Mooresville, North Carolina: ESPN. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  18. ^ JR Motorsports (November 17, 2009). "Homestead: Kelly Bires preview". motorsport.com. motorsport.com. Retrieved 23 August 2014. "JRM DEBUT - Kelly Bires will make his debut with JR Motorsports in the No. 5 Ragu Chevrolet this weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. WEEKEND OF FIRSTS - Homestead marks Ragu's first race with JR Motorsports." 
  19. ^ McCubbin, Ashley (Feb 20, 2010). "Kelly Bires Looks to Debut for JR Motorsports at Auto Club Speedway". bleacherreport.com. Bleacher Report. Retrieved 23 August 2014. "When they signed the contract, Kelly Bires was ready to start the year off strong for JR Motorsports, though when it came to Daytona, he wasn’t to be found in either JR Motorsports car." 
  20. ^ Busbee, Jay (April 13, 2010). "http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/blog/from_the_marbles/post/Kelly-Bires-relieved-of-duties-at-JR-Motorspor?urn=nascar,233887". sports.yahoo.com. Yahoo. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Gluck, Jeff (April 16, 2010). "Earnhardt Jr. Explains Why JR Motorsports Fired Kelly Bires". sbnation.com. SB Nation. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  22. ^ GM Media Online: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Press Conference
  23. ^ Official Release (February 20, 2007). "Speed, JR Motorsports take fans inside car". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 

External links[edit]