JR Motorsports is an American professional stock car racing team that currently competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The team is based in Mooresville, North Carolina, co-owned by former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and the owner of his former Cup Series team, Rick Hendrick. As of the end of 2018, the team fields four full-time entries and one part-time entry in the Xfinity Series: the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro SS full-time for Michael Annett, the No. 7 Camaro full-time for Justin Allgaier, the No. 8 Camaro full-time for part-time drivers such as Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Preece, Jeb Burton, Chase Elliott, Sheldon Creed, and Ryan Truex, and the No. 9 Camaro full-time for Noah Gragson.
- 1 History
- 2 Xfinity Series
- 3 Camping World Truck Series
- 4 Cup Series speculation
- 5 Other racing series
- 6 Speed 1
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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.) JR Motorsports in its current form, competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series started in 2006, when sponsorship from the United States Navy funded the team. The team originally wanted to open in 2007, but the Navy sponsorship accelerated the operations.
Today, the team operates out of a 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) race shop near Mooresville, North Carolina.
In early 2019 it was announced that JR Motorsports had formed a driver development program with GMS Racing, Drivers Edge Development, to train young drivers. Drivers in the program would race in JR Motorpsorts's Late Model and NASCAR Xfinity Series teams, as well as GMS Racing's NASCAR K&N Pro Series, ARCA Menards Series, and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series teams. JR Motorsports drivers Noah Gragson, Zane Smith, Sam Mayer and Adam Lemke were among the inaugural members of the program.
Car No. 1 history
- Elliott Sadler (2016-2018)
It was announced in late 2015 that Elliott Sadler would drive the new No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevy, replacing Chase Elliott as he moved up to take over the No. 24 replacing Jeff Gordon. Sadler started the season with a fourth-place finish in the season opener at Daytona. He would win three races in 2016 and ended up finishing second in the overall standings after a controversial restart with less than ten laps remaining at Homestead that cost Sadler and his teammate, Justin Allgaier, a shot to win the title. In 2017, Sadler didn't win a race but ended up finishing 2nd in points behind only teammate William Byron.
- Michael Annett (2019)
On September 25, 2018, Noah Gragson was announced as the new driver of the No. 1 after Sadler announced his retirement earlier that year; However, on January 25, 2019, it was announced that Michael Annett would drive the No. 1 car with the points from the 5 car going over to the 1 car while Gragson would drive the No. 9 car.
Car No. 5 history
- Part time (2006-2012)
The No. 5 team started in 2006 as the No. 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 No. 83 to No. 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 300 after announcing his addition to the team.
- Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet (2013)
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.
- Multiple drivers (2014-2016)
On Monday October 14, 2013, JR Motorsports announced that Kevin Harvick would begin driving the No. 5 car in at least 12 races for the 2014 season. Four of the races the car was sponsored by Hunt Brothers Pizza. Super Late Model driver Austin Theriault drove the car in a three races for the team starting at Iowa. JR development driver Josh Berry drove two races starting at Iowa in August. For 2015, the No. 5 was driven by Kahne in a single race at Charlotte as a 4th team car, where he finished 3rd.
- Michael Annett (2017-2018)
On January 25, 2019, it was announced that Annett would be piloting the No. 1 car with the points from the 5 car going over to the 1 car with the 5 car being shut down.
Car No. 7 history
- As the No. 5 (2008-2009)
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 No. 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|
- Danica Patrick (2010-2012)
The team changed numbers from No. 5 to No. 7 with Danica Patrick driving about 12 races for JR Motorsports with GoDaddy.com sponsorship in 2010. The remainder of the schedule was filled out with Scott Wimmer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Landon Cassill, Steve Arpin, Josh Wise and J. R. Fitzpatrick. Patrick recorded a best finish of 4th at Las Vegas. Wise returned to the team for 2011, recording three top tens and one top-five in fourteen starts. Earnhardt Jr. drove the car at Talladega, and Cup drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray drove the car for a combined six starts that season. Danica Patrick returned to the No. 7 in 2012, this time running a full schedule with sponsorship from GoDaddy, Tissot and Hot Wheels. Patrick departed JR Motorsports to compete full-time in the Cup Series for the 2013 season.
- Regan Smith (2013-2015)
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 No. 5 car, he would be moved to the No. 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. He also gained two victories including Mid-Ohio and Dover. Following the Kansas race, Smith stated that he will not return for JR Motorsports in 2016.
- Justin Allgaier (2016-present)
Justin Allgaier would be later announced to be the new driver of the No. 7 Chevy, bringing sponsorship from BRANDT. After finishing the 2016 season 3rd in the final standings while going winless, he picked up two wins at Phoenix and Chicagoland in 2017 en route to another 3rd-place finish in the standings. In 2018, Allgaier had a career-best season winning 5 races at Dover, Iowa, Road America, Mid-Ohio and Indianapolis while also clinching the regular-season championship, but he ended up finishing 7th in the final standings after being eliminated in the round of 8.
Car No. 8 history
- Multiple drivers (2019)
The No. 8, long driven by Earnhardt Jr. during his early Cup career with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., became a JRM number in 2019 after acquiring it from B. J. McLeod Motorsports. The team inherited the No. 1 car points and it is being shared by Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, Jeb Burton, Ryan Truex, Ryan Preece, Regan Smith, and Sheldon Creed. Elliott and Earnhardt returned to the car for one-off races at Daytona and Darlington, respectively.
Car No. 9 history
- Chase Elliott (2014-2015)
The No. 9 car made its debut in 2014, when an 18-year-old Hendrick development driver named Chase Elliott was signed to drive a fourth entry for JR Motorsports. The car was renumbered to 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 in 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, but only won one race at Richmond and finished 2nd in the final standings. 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. The No. 9 team did not race in 2016.
- William Byron (2017)
On August 18, 2016, William Byron and Hendrick Motorsports announced a multi-year driver development agreement, with Byron running full-time in the Xfinity Series driving the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in 2017. It was the first time since 2014 that the No. 9 was driven by a rookie driver. At the 2017 Ford Eco Boost 300, as William Byron and Elliott Sadler were battling late, Byron took advantage of Sadler's mistake of trying to pass Ryan Preece when he was too far back, slowing Sadler and allowing Byron to pass both drivers. When Sadler tried to follow, he made contact with Preece, sending Preece sideways and Sadler into the wall. After that Byron pulled away and finished 3rd, ultimately winning the championship and Rookie of the Year honors while winning four races at Iowa, Daytona, Indianapolis and Phoenix.
- Tyler Reddick (2018)
Tyler Reddick was signed to a full-time schedule for the 2018 Xfinity season, replacing William Byron, who was promoted to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. On February 17, 2018, Reddick beat teammate Elliott Sadler in a photo finish to win the season-opening race at Daytona. At a margin of .0004 seconds, it is the closest finish in NASCAR history. At the Ford EcoBoost 300, Reddick took advantage of pitting while leader Cole Custer stayed longer than him and won the race while also winning the championship, joining Chase Elliott and William Byron as the third different driver to win the championship and Rookie of the Year honors in the 9 car.
- Noah Gragson (2019)
On December 18, 2018, it was announced that the No. 9 car will be driven by Zane Smith for 8 races while other drivers fill out the other 25 races; however, on January 25, 2019, it was announced that Noah Gragson would drive the No. 9 car full-time while Smith will run 8 races in the new No. 8 entry.
Car No. 88 history
- Mark McFarland (2005-2006) and Shane Huffman (2006-2007)
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 (2007-2009)
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.
- Multiple drivers (2010)
At the end of the 2009 season, Kelly Bires signed a two-year contract to drive for JR Motorsports in the No. 88 Chevy through 2011, with Earnhardt eager to see what Bires could do in his equipment. Bires drove the No. 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 No. 88 car at the 2010 season opener at Daytona and Danica Patrick ran the No. 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 No. 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. The No. 88 team took home one win in 2010, with driver McMurray in Atlanta. They also came close to winning the inaugural race at Road America with Ron Fellows.
- Aric Almirola (2010-2011)
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.
- Cole Whitt (2012)
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.
- Part time (2013-2018)
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. 5 team became the No. 88 team, and was driven by Dale Jr. in 4 races, Kevin Harvick in 12 races, Kasey Kahne in 7 races and Ben Rhodes in 10 races. On April 23, 2016, Dale Earnhardt Jr. piloted the No. 88 to victory at Richmond International Raceway, his first Xfinity win in six years and first with JR Motorsports.
It was announced in late-2016 that the No. 88 would be downgraded to a part-time ride for 2017 for Earnhardt Jr. and Kahne.
Chase Elliott drove the No. 88 in the 2018 season opening race at Daytona. Despite being black flagged after losing a window, he still managed to finish 12th. Earnhardt Jr. raced the car at the Federated Auto Parts 250 in Richmond, where he led a race-high 96 laps before finishing in fourth place. Impressed by his finish, Earnhardt Jr. said he will try to run another race in the 2019 season.
Camping World Truck Series
Truck No. 00 history
- Cole Custer (2015-2016)
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. Trucks were acquired from former Hendrick development partner Turner Scott Motorsports, after that team ceased operations. The team operates out of a satellite facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. The truck's number (No. 00) and sponsor (Haas Automation) both came with the team from Haas Racing.
Under NASCAR's age requirement rules for the Truck Series, the 17-year-old Custer ran 10 races, all 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. Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and Jeb Burton also ran races in the No. 00 truck. The No. 00 ran 15 races, winning twice: with Kahne at Charlotte in May, and with Custer at Gateway in June. In 2016, Custer won the pole at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and looked to be the car to beat. After leading the most laps, it seemed as though Custer would score his first win of the season and a spot in the inaugural chase, until John Hunter Nemechek put Custer into the grass and into the fence to win the race. After the race, Custer tackled Nemechek to the ground and was soon separated by NASCAR officials. No fines or penalties would be handed out to either driver.
In early January, 2017, JRM announced the end of their participation in truck racing - as to focus fully on their Xfinity Series entries.
Truck No. 49 history
In 2016, the team fielded a second truck numbered 49 for Nick Drake, like Cole Custer a Haas Racing Development driver, beginning at Dover. The entry was fielded in a collaboration with Premium Motorsports, a fellow Truck Series team which normally runs the No. 49. Drake's paint scheme is similar to Cole Custer's, with the same Haas Automation sponsorship. In Drake's first career start at Dover, he finished a solid 16th. Drake made his second start at Iowa Speedway. The truck did not make any other starts with JR Motorsports equipment. Like the No. 00, the No. 49 was shut down due to sponsor Haas Automation leaving the team.
Truck No. 71 history
Cup Series speculation
During a press conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 16, 2008, Earnhardt stated that once the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series started using the Car of Tomorrow chassis, which debuted in July 2010 at the Daytona International Speedway, his Nationwide teams would possibly leave the series, due to the costs of switching cars. When asked if he would move JR Motorsports to the Sprint Cup Series, Earnhardt said that due to the Xfinity 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...". However, JR Motorsports did not end up moving their team to Sprint Cup and has remained in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, partially due to NASCAR's Cup Series limit of four cars per team owner. Because Rick Hendrick has an ownership stake in JR Motorsports and already fields the maximum of four cars with Hendrick Motorsports, JR Motorsports cannot field an entry in the Cup Series without Hendrick releasing his interest in the team.
Other racing series
JR Motorsports fields the No. 88 Speedco Chevrolet driven by Josh Berry and various other drivers in Late Models. 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. William Byron scored a single victory to finish runner up to Berry for the NASCAR-sanctioned track 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 that year at Hickory Motor Speedway. Berry clinched the 2017 CARS Tour Late Model championship. On January 18, 2018, JRM announced the replacement of Anthony Alfredo, who announced the same day that he was moving to the K&N Series with MDM Motorsports, with 14 year-old Sam Mayer, which later on that year made his K&N Series debut and drove for MDM in his third race in the K&N Series. On August 4, 2018, Mayer will drive the 28 and Berry will drive the 73 for the throwback weekend 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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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.
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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.
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