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. The team currently fields three full-time entries which include the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet Camaro for Regan Smith, the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro for Chase Elliott, and the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and Ben Rhodes in the Xfinity Series. The team also fields the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro in a single race at Charlotte for Kahne. Beginning in 2015, the team will also field the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado for Cole Custer in the Camping World Truck Series on a limited basis.
History of JR Motorsports
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. 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.
#5 car history
The 5 team started in 2006 as the 83 team, a part-time second car for JR Motorsports. The car 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 would begin driving the #5 car in at least 12 races for the 2014 season. Four of the races the car was sponsored by Hunt Brothers Pizza. The drivers for the remainder of the 2014 season has yet to be announced. Super Late Model driver Austin Thierault drove the car in a few races for the team. For 2015 the No. 5 was driven by Kahne in 1 race.
#7 car history
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, 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.
|2008 driver rotation|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||83||1|
|Martin Truex Jr.||1|
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 ran 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 after the season.
Regan Smith, a former teammate to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at DEI who served as his substitute driver in the Cup Series late in 2012, was signed to drive for the team in 2013. Initially announced to drive the #5 car, he would be moved to the #7. Smith won twice at Talladega and Michigan, but suffered a run of bad luck in the summer and finished third in points. In 2014, Regan Smith returned to drive the No. 7 car, starting the season with a win in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona. From there, he would go on to help JRM complete a one-two points finish behind Chase Elliott. In 2015, Regan Smith returned to the No. 7 full-time.
#9 car history
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. 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. At the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, Elliott passed teammate Kevin Harvick for his first Nationwide Series win. 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. Elliott won the 2014 Nationwide Series championship, the first rookie to win a NASCAR national series championship.
In 2015, Elliott returned to the No. 9 full-time to defend his championship. Elliott's 2014 crew chief Greg Ives would move up to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s Cup Series team, replaced by longtime Xfinity crew chief Ernie Cope.
#88 car history
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, 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.
Brad Keselowski, son of former Craftsman Truck Series driver Bob Keselowski, was hired to replace Huffman for three races, with SCCA driver Andy Pilgrim to be in the car for the road course races in Montreal and Watkins Glen. Keselowski then returned at his hometown track Michigan. 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, and was later cleared to race at Richmond the next week. Keselowski finished the season with five top-ten finishes Keselowski signed a two-year contract with JR Motorsports with the Navy returning as sponsor in 2008. 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. 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. Bires drove the #5 Ragu Chevy for Junior at Homestead in preparation for running full-time in 2010. 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. 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). 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. 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.
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. In 2015 the No. 88 was driven by Dale Jr. in 4 races, Kevin Harvick in 12 races, Kasey Kahne in 7 races and Ben Rhodes in 10 races.
Camping World Truck Series
#00 truck history
On January 12, 2015, JR Motorsports announced that Haas Racing Development driver Cole Custer would drive a truck for the team in 10 races in 2015, marking the team's first foray into the Camping World Truck Series. JR Motorsports acquired trucks from Turner Scott Motorsports after it divested itself of Truck Series operations following Harry Scott's buyout of former partner Steve Turner. Turner Scott had previously prepared trucks for Custer in 2014, and for Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports the previous year. Custer had become the youngest national series driver to win a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September 2014. The team operates out of a satellite facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. Under NASCAR's age requirement rules for the Truck Series, the 17-year-old Custer only participated in races at tracks under 1.1 miles (1,800 m) in length (and Gateway Motorsports Park), with the team planning a full-time run in 2016 for the championship. In preparation for the move, age-eligible Kasey Kahne (age 35) drove the truck at Charlotte Motor Speedway, scoring the victory after a battle with Erik Jones. There has also been speculation from ownership partner Kelley Earnhardt-Miller that Dale Earnhardt Jr. (40) and Kevin Harvick (39), both age-eligible in the Truck Series for longer tracks, could also drive races at tracks longer than 1.25 miles (2,010 m) in the truck. Kahne eventually won the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Sprint Cup Series and future of JR Motorsports
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..."
Earnhardt did not end up moving his team to Sprint Cup and has remained in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.
Other racing series
JR Motorsports has fielded a regional late model program since 2002. JR Motorsports fields the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet for William Byron and the No. 88 Speedco Chevrolet driven by Josh Berry and Bobby Pierce. Berry, who has driven for JRM since 2010, captured the 2012 Motor Mile Speedway championship in the Whelen All-American Series, the first championship for JRM at any level, running 18 races while collecting 6 poles and 15 top 5 finishes. Berry scored a second track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2014. Byron scored a single victory to finish runner up to Berry for the championship at Hickory. Pierce, who finished second in his Camping World Truck Series debut in the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway during the 2015 season, made his debut with JRM at Hickory Motor Speedway.
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.
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- "Busch Series No. 5 driver lineup star-studded for '08". ESPN. September 21, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
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- From Team Press Release (August 10, 2006). "McFarland released as driver of No.88 car". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
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- Earnhardt Jr. honoring dad's promise to Pilgrim
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- Associated Press (September 15, 2009). "Bires signs deal with JR Motorsports". espn.go.com. Mooresville, North Carolina: ESPN. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- 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.
- 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.
- Busbee, Jay (April 13, 2010). "Kelly Bires 'relieved of duties' at JR Motorsports; McMurray in". sports.yahoo.com. Yahoo. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
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- "JR Motorsports to run select NCWTS races with Cole Custer". Foxsports.com. January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
- Spencer, Lee (January 12, 2015). "JR Motorsports expands to truck racing with driver Cole Custer". motorsport.com. motorsport.com. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- "Kasey Kahne to Pilot JR Motorsports NCWTS Entry at Charlotte". JR Motorsports. May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
- GM Media Online: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Press Conference
- Press Release (January 17, 2014). "JRM Adds William Byron to Late Model Program for 2014". jrmracing.com. Mooresville, North Carolina: JR Motorsports. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- Williams, Deb. "From online to on-track competition, Byron quickly finds success". ThatsRacin. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
- "Drivers: Josh Berry". jrmracing.com. JR Motorsports. 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- "Driver: William Byron". jrmracing.com. JR Motorsports. 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- "Speedco Partners with Odle Motorsports Inc. and Bobby Pierce". Speedco. August 5, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
- Official Release (February 20, 2007). "Speed, JR Motorsports take fans inside car". NASCAR. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
- Official website
- JR Motorsports owner statistics at Racing-Reference
- Interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Brad Keselowski by Joshua Hudson, July 2008, G.I. Jobs Magazine
- Dale Jr.