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BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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JR Motorsports adds 14-year-old driver to Late Model team

Photo credit: Sam Mayer
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JR Motorsports has hired 14-year-old Sam Mayer to join 2017 CARS Late Model Stock Car Series champion Josh Berry as a teammate this season.

Mayer, who is from Franklin, Wisconsin, began racing go-karts at age 4. He completed his first Late Model campaign in 2017, winning three races and scoring 13 top-10 finishes. He ended the year with a fifth-place run in the Myrtle Beach 400, a race Berry won. Mayer, the son of former IndyCar and road racer Scott Mayer, also competed in US Legend Cars Series events last year, winning the US Legend Car Winter Heat championship, the Summer Shootout and the US Legend Car Asphalt Nationals.

“We’re very happy to have a young driver of Sam’s caliber join us here at JR Motorsports,” said L.W. Miller, director of motorsports at JR Motorsports in a statement. “He’s accomplished a lot in his career already, including against the top Late Model talent in the Southeast, and he definitely has all the qualities we look for on the track and off it.”

“It will be a really exciting experience, to know that I’m with a top NASCAR team and a top Late Model team,” Mayer said in a statement. “I hope to be really competitive and have lots of fun while doing it. I’m confident with the way the team is going to treat me and the car, and excited about seeing what we can do together and what we can accomplish.”

JR Motorsports’ Late Model program is in its 17th year of competition. The team has scored 40 victories in the last three seasons — Berry has 21 wins in the last two seasons. Berry won the CARS Late Model Stock car owners title in 2016 and last year’s driver title.

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2017 Xfinity Season in Review: Elliott Sadler

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Elliott Sadler

CREW CHIEF: Kevin Meendering

TEAM: JR Motorsports

POINTS: 2nd

WINS: None

LAPS LED:  123 (same as 2016)

TOP 5s: 12

TOP 10s: 25

POLES: 1 (Indianapolis)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Led the points standings after all but two races in the regular season … Finished runner-up twice (Talladega, Daytona II) … Reached the Championship 4 for the second straight year despite not winning a race.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Failed to win a race for the fourth time since returning to Xfinity full-time in 2011 … Lost his chance at first NASCAR title in the championship race when he made contact with Ryan Preece in the closing laps while trying to keep teammate William Byron in reach. The contact resulted in a cut tire and an eighth-place finish. … Recorded three DNFs.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018: Sadler, 42, returns to JR Motorsports for his ninth full-time Xfinity season. He will once again be seeking an elusive NASCAR title after finishing runner-up in the Xfinity standings for the fourth time.

2017 Xfinity Season in Review: Justin Allgaier

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Justin Allgaier

CREW CHIEF: Jason Burdett

TEAM: JR Motorsports

POINTS: 3rd in Xfinity Series

WINS: 2 (Phoenix 1, Chicago)

LAPS LED: 495

TOP 5s: 10

TOP 10s: 17

POLES:  (Charlotte 1)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Allgaier earned the most wins (two) in a single season in his Xfinity career. … After leading just 34 laps in 2016, Allgaier also led a single season high of 495 laps (his previous best was 222 laps led in 2010). … While he had a good chance to win the championship, Allgaier finished third for the second consecutive season. He has never finished lower than sixth in his seven full-time Xfinity seasons to date.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Very little went wrong for Allgaier in 2017. However, there were a few points to note. First, he earned 17 top-10 finishes in 33 races, 10 top-10 showings less than the 27 he had in 2016. … He couldn’t finish higher than 12th in the championship deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as JR Motorsports teammates William Byron (won the championship) and Elliott Sadler (finished second) ended up ahead of Allgaier in the final standings.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018: Allgaier is one of the most consistent drivers in the Xfinity Series. He’s carved out a very comfortable home in the series, but he still hasn’t been able to finish higher than third in a season. With William Byron promoted to NASCAR Cup, 2018 may be Allgaier’s best shot at an Xfinity championship.

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Social Roundup: Sights from the Xfinity, Truck Series Awards Banquet

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The NASCAR season officially came to a close Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the annual Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Awards at the Charlotte Convention Center. The ceremony will air at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 17 on NBCSN.

Xfinity driver William Byron and Truck Series driver Christopher Bell were recognized as this season’s champions before they move on with their careers. Byron will race in the Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports and Bell moves up to Xfinity with Joe Gibbs Racing.

NASCAR handed out plenty of annual awards for each series.

Rookie of the Year: Byron (Xfinity) and Chase Briscoe (Trucks)
Manufacturer title: Chevrolet (Xfinity) and Toyota (Trucks)
Comcast Community Champion: Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew department

Mobil 1 Driver of the Year: Kyle Busch (Xfinity) and Bell (Trucks)
Mahle Engine Builder of the Year: Roush Yates Racing’s Doug Yates (Xfinity) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Mark Cronquist (Trucks).
Duralast Brake in the Race: Busch (Xfinity) and Bell (Trucks)

JR Motorsports’ Elliott Sadler was voted most popular driver for the third time after he finished runner-up in the season standings to Byron.

Brad Keselowski Racing’s Chase Briscoe was voted most popular driver in the Truck Series, though there was a slight mixup with his name on the trophy. We’ve all been there.

Here are more sights from the award ceremony brought to you by social media.