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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Cup cars are only on the track for qualifying today at Sonoma Raceway, and Camping Work Truck teams will qualify and race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Johnny Sauter has won three of the last five Truck races. Brett Moffitt won last weekend’s Truck race at Iowa.
Here’s today’s schedule at both tracks:
(ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN)
At SONOMA RACEWAY
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. — Cup garage open
2:45 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-vehicle/two rounds (FS1, Performance Racing Network)
4:30 p.m. — K&N Pro Series West race; 64 laps, 127.36 miles (airs at 6 p.m. ET June 28 on NBCSN)
At GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK
11 a.m. — Truck garage opens
Noon – 1 p.m. — Final Truck practice (No TV)
5:45 p.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (airs from 7-8 p.m. on FS1)
7 p.m. — Driver/crew chief meeting
8 p.m. — Driver introductions
8:30 p.m. — Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200; 160 laps/200 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Kurt Busch posted the fastest single lap in the final practice for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 94.061 mph.
He beat second-place Denny Hamlin (94.012 mph) by .040 seconds.
Martin Truex Jr. (93.718) had the third fastest lap, but the team will have some work to do before Saturday’s qualification. With nine minutes remaining on the clock, he ran into the back of Bubba Wallace in the esses and did significant damage to his nose. Wallace landed 34th on the chart with a speed of 91.641 mph.
Jamie McMurray (93.549) and Kevin Harvick (93.441) rounded out the top five.
Harvick (91.468) had the quickest 10-lap average – leading a sweep of the top three by Stewart Haas Racing. Busch was second quickest at 91.452 mph with Clint Bowyer third quick at 91.443 mph.
William Byron broke an axle seal in final practice, but the team was able to get him back on track with 24 minutes remaining in the session. His speed of 92.279 mph was 25th fastest.
Click here for the full report from final practice.
Last week’s winner, Brett Moffitt topped the speed chart in Friday evening’s practice session for the Eaton 200 with a speed of 137.191 mph.
He beat second-place Myatt Snider (136.658 mph) by .128 seconds.
Johnny Sauter (136.608), Riley Herbst (136.355), and Ben Rhodes (136.219) round out the top five.
Herbst is making his Truck Series debut this week.
Also making his Truck debut is Zane Smith, who posted a lap of 136.120 mph to land sixth on the chart.
Christian Eckes (135.906) failed to back up his series-leading speed from the first practice session and was only ninth fastest, but he had the quickest 10-lap average of 135.039 mph.
Click here for complete results from practice 2.
Rain canceled the practice session at Gateway that was scheduled to run from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. Eastern time.
When they finally got on track, Eckes posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session with a speed of 134.360 mph. He is making his Truck series debut this week.
Eckes’ speed was .009 seconds faster than Noah Gragon (134.324), who landed second on the speed chart.
Rhodes (134.120), Moffitt (133.817) and Matt Crafton (133.706) rounded out the top five.
Rhodes had the quickest 10-lap average of 133.466 mph.
With the first practice canceled at Gateway, NASCAR added a final practice session scheduled for Noon – 1 p.m.
Click here for complete results from practice one.
Denny Hamlin, who has been fined by NASCAR for comments on Twitter, and was vocal toward critics after this year’s Daytona 500, says he’s found peace on how to deal with those on social media who don’t agree with him.
“I’ve been very good this year about not replying to mean people, and you all should do the same,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Sonoma Raceway.
“I’m making a (request) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member, stop replying to people who make nonsense comments. They have 16 followers. Don’t give them your 100,000. Do not give them your 100,000 as their stage. No one will ever see their comment, just brush it by, talk about the positives and I’m not a positive person.”
Asked how does one ignore such divisive comments, Hamlin said: “You just scroll by it. Forget it. That person doesn’t exit. They’re an admirer that has lost their way.’’
Hamlin has been better at doing so since the Daytona 500. He faced negative reaction on social media to the contact he and Bubba Wallace had at the end of the Daytona 500.
They engaged in a brief shouting match in the garage area after Hamlin learned that Wallace had taken a dig at him on national TV about a recent comment about drivers using Adderall.
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