JR Motorsports solidifies driver, sponsor lineup as OneMain reconsiders and returns


In the span of less than a week, the long-term sponsor outlook of JR Motorsports dramatically has shifted from potentially bleak to firmly bright.

On the heels of NASCAR phenom William Byron being added to the Xfinity Series team for the 2017 season (as part of a multiyear deal with Hendrick Motorsports), JRM announced Wednesday that sponsor OneMain has reversed course and decided to remain on Elliott Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet.

“When we found out this was going to happen, my wife and I just cried that whole morning tears of joy knowing there’s so much stability,” Sadler, 41, told NBC Sports. “It’s been a great couple of days.”

OneMain, which initially had informed JRM nearly two months ago of its plan to leave NASCAR, will sponsor Sadler for 20 races in each of the next two seasons, JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said.

The team that she co-owns with her brother Dale Earnhardt Jr. will field three full-time entries in Xfinity next year for Byron, Sadler and Justin Allgaier (who will return with backing from Brandt). JRM is planning a fourth car for several races with a rotating cast of Sprint Cup drivers.

“We’ve been trying to get in front of sponsorship sooner and sooner,” Earnhardt Miller told NBC Sports. “This is the first year of our existence that we can say before the end of August that we have three full-time teams competing with probably 90 percent of that sponsorship in place.

“It’s a great place for us to be. It’s just a sign that things are coming around, and people like our sport, so it’s a great position for us. It’s the first time I can say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a two-year plan.’ This is the highest car count we’ve had for so long, and it’s just a lot of excitement for us.”

Since 2010, JRM’s staff has grown from 74 to a current high of 144 employees, but it’s had to scrape through some precarious financial situations. The deal for Chase Elliott’s 2014 championship as a rookie came together only two months before the season, and Earnhardt Miller said the team, which has fielded full-time Xfinity cars since 2007, has arrived at season openers in Daytona with only one car fully funded.

Now the future is much more secure. Though OneMain is reducing its commitment from 33 to 20 races, Earnhardt Miller said several other races have been sold for Sadler’s car next year with only a handful left to fill.

Sponsorship hasn’t been signed yet for Byron, but Earnhardt Miller said the team is hopeful of him retaining Liberty University, which has sponsored his record rookie season (five wins) in the Camping World Truck Series and also sponsored his Late Model car at JRM. While it’s uncertain if the school could sponsor a full season, Earnhardt Miller said the team has “some other things in the hopper” for Byron’s car.

Having a solid driver lineup also should help JRM in meetings scheduled with prospective companies next month.

“We can go into situations with sponsors and say, ‘How about this for an opportunity?’ when so many times, I’ve been selling the sponsorship the other way, where we’re going to them and saying, ‘we don’t have a driver named,’” Earnhardt Miller said. “So it feels good to say, ‘These three guys are our drivers, here’s where we have openings and does this fit what you’re looking for?’ ”

As part of the OneMain deal, Sadler has agreed to a two-year extension with JRM, ending concerns that the loss of sponsorship could threaten his NASCAR career.

The Emporia, Va., driver has been sponsored since 2011 by the financial services company, which was sold last year by Citigroup to Springleaf Holdings.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Elliott Sadler and JR Motorsports,” said Bob Hurzeler, OneMain executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a release. “After further evaluation of the program, we felt this relationship was a perfect fit for our company. Elliott has been an outstanding ambassador for OneMain and we look forward to our continued success with Elliott and JRM, on and off the track.”

After JRM was informed June 30 that OneMain would be leaving, Sadler said there were several signs the company was reconsidering its decision. The points leader began receiving calls on Mondays and Tuesdays from “people I didn’t really know two or three months ago” complimenting the team’s recent performances.

“There were a lot of new decision-makers coming in as part of the merger, and a lot of them hadn’t been to a race yet or watched racing or knew the data,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “Once all those guys started coming to races, they were like, ‘Hey this is neat.’ I was very proud of them reconsidering and looking at the numbers that the NASCAR fan does line up with their customer base. The more they looked at it, the more they became fans of it. They realized how big a sport we really are, and that we really do reach a big part of United States.”

Earnhardt Miller said the OneMain deal was finalized late last week after a month of negotiations. “The new OneMain felt that the NASCAR demographics and audience would be a great place to share their rebranding and the relationship they have had so long with Elliott,” she said. “So they revisited it essentially and decided this is what they wanted to do.”

Sadler feels his recent run of seven consecutive top 10s – his best stretch of the season – also helped cinch the deal. He already had qualified for the inaugural Xfinity championship playoff with his victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Anytime you can perform on the racetrack is a good thing,” he said. “I told Kelley I absolutely love this race team and the position I’m in, and this year I felt like I’ve found the Fountain of Youth.

“Kelley and Dale and I have known each other almost 20 years. I’ve felt so comfortable being with this race team. Personally, we’re invested in each other’s future. It feels good to run good for someone you have a great relationship with, and this was the only situation I felt really comfortable being part of and have the best chance of winning.”

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.