JR Motorsports

Silly Season Scorecard: Post-Miami edition

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NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami has come and gone and with it came a flurry of driver announcements from teams about the 2020 racing season.

Among them was the news that Cole Custer is being promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to the Cup Series, where he will take over the No. 41 Ford driven by Daniel Suarez this year.

Here’s a look at all the official driver announcements made so far for next season.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not announced its driver plans for 2020, but Richard Childress said after Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity title that it would field a full-time entry.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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Justin Allgaier ‘peaking at the right time’ ahead of battle vs Xfinity ‘Big 3’

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By Justin Allgaier‘s own definition, 2019 has been a “terrible” and “miserable” year for the Xfinity Series driver.

That’s not the kind of descriptive words you would expect to hear from one of the four drivers who will compete for the Xfinity title Saturday in Miami (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

But in the immediate aftermath of his win last weekend at ISM Raceway – which snapped a 39-race winless streak – that’s exactly how the JR Motorsports driver summed up the previous 31 races.

He did so while referring to his career-best stretch of 16 straight top-10 finishes.

“I still view this as a terrible year,” Allgaier said. “I don’t mean that in a bad way. Right, but compared to last year we just executed better. We had speed when we needed it. And things fell our way. The definition of luck is when opportunity meets preparation. The weekends we’ve been prepared, the opportunity hasn’t been there. The weeks we’ve had the opportunity, we may not have been prepared. Today we had both.”

The veteran missed out on the Championship 4 last year, a result of a “miserable” experience in the playoffs where he was eliminated in the second round despite five wins in the regular season.

Now he’s back in the final round for the third time in four years and feels he and his No. 7 team are “peaking at the right time” as he prepares to face off against the “Big 3” of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and defending champion Tyler Reddick.

Together the “Big 3” have won 20 of 32 races this year.

“A lot of the story lines this year have been surrounding the other three contenders and they’ve been really strong and they’ve won a lot of races,” Allgaier said in a media release. “You can’t count us out. We’re going into this weekend with a new mentality and a new energy and we’re going to have a shot at winning a championship.”

Allgaier admitted Saturday he could have “easily” made the championship round had he finished second at ISM Raceway. But going to Miami with a win on his record has a dynamic impact on his mindset.

“If I would have gotten chased down by Cole (Custer) at the end and gotten passed, mentally that’s going to defeat you, right?” Allgaier said. “I think winning a race definitely makes next week a lot more enjoyable, and I think it puts us more in the conversation for maybe having an opportunity to go for a championship.”

Just like it was difficult for him to break the “Big 3’s” dominance in the regular season, Allgaier acknowledges the task before him Saturday if he wants to give JR Motorsports its third consecutive Xfinity title and its fourth in six years.

Reddick and Custer have won the last two races in Miami. Allgaier has never finished better than sixth in nine Xfinity starts on the 1.5-mile track.

“It’s going to be hard to beat them, there’s no question about it,” Allgaier said. “So I’ve got to do a better job of figuring my program out and what I can do to be a better asset to our team.

“I’ve been in this scenario a couple of times. This week’s going to be full of studying. Because I know we’ve got three competitors that I’m racing against that equally are ready to compete next week. Mentally they’re ready, they’re physically ready, they’re (in) fast race cars. They’ve had the speed all year in their cars. They’ve made a lot of mistakes. But they’ve had the speed.”

But Allgaier insists after his “miserable” year there’s “no pressure” on him in his effort to finally break through for a NASCAR title.

“It’s funny because the last couple of years, the years I’ve put the most pressure on myself are the ones that have been the worst,” Allgaier said.

One sign of his mindset?

Right before he left victory lane Saturday, his crew chief Jason Burdett jokingly asked him what they were going to do the following weekend in Miami.

Replied Allgaier: “We’re going to have fun.”

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Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton to drive JR Motorsports’ No. 8 car in 2020

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JR Motorsports’ revealed Wednesday that Jeb Burton and Daniel Hemric will drive its No. 8 Chevrolet for the majority of the 2020 Xfinity Series season, in addition to one race with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel.

Hemric, who drove Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 car in the Cup Series this season, is scheduled for 21 races.

RCR is replacing Hemric with Tyler Reddick in 2020.

Hemric returns to the Xfinity Series, where he competed for RCR from 2017-18. He made the Championship 4 in both seasons.

“I want to thank Dale, Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports for believing in me,” Hemric said in a press release. “For a Kannapolis (N.C.) boy like me, driving for the Earnhardt family is pretty awesome.

“My goal here is simple — to go win races for JR Motorsports and to help their program any way that I can. I’ve raced against their cars before and I know how they’re capable of running. My focus is on finishing the Cup season out strong, but once the checkered flag flies at Homestead, we’ll set our sights on getting the No. 8 car to Victory Lane early and often next season.”

Said Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Daniel is a solid competitor with a great personality. He’ll be a quality addition to our lineup in 2020. We’re lucky to have him. I feel like he has grown as a driver from his time in the Cup Series. That will be valuable to him with this new opportunity to compete in the Xfinity series. He’s a local Kannapolis native with a lot of determination to succeed, and I’m excited to work with him.”

Burton, who has driven in six races for JRM this season, is set for 11 next year.

Other drivers who have piloted the No. 8 for JRM this season included Zane Smith (10 starts), Ryan Truex (six starts), Ryan Preece (four starts), Regan Smith (two starts), Brett Moffitt (one start), Chase Elliott (one start), Sheldon Creed (one start) and Earnhardt (one start).

 

Stewart-Haas Racing wins inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro League title

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Stewart-Haas Racing won the inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro League championship Wednesday, beating Leavine Family Racing on a tiebreaker after both teams finished with 4,079 points. The tiebreaker was laps led.

The finale featured two 70-lap races, one for the PlayStation 4 league and one for the Xbox One league. Fourteen drivers were in each race.

Nick Vroman (@HD_Motorsports) won the Xbox race for Leavine Family Racing. Brandyn Gritton (@SmokeFan14_B20) won the PlayStation 4 race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Team Penske Esports finished third in points. JR Motorsports was fourth.

 

 

 

Winners and losers at Kansas Speedway

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — Team scored its 16th win in 32 races this season with Denny Hamlin recording his fifth victory of the year. All four of the team’s cars placed in the top seven with Kyle Busch third, Martin Truex Jr. sixth and Erik Jones seventh. Also, Brandon Jones won his first Xfinity race Saturday, giving JGR a sweep of the weekend.

Chase Elliott He raced his way into the Round of 8 for the third consecutive year. He is Hendrick Motorsports’ lone playoff car remaining.

Ryan Preece A few days after JTG Daugherty Racing’s hauler was damaged by a fire and his crew had to convert teammate Chris Buescher’s backup car into Preece’s primary car for this weekend, Preece finished 12th. That’s his best result since a seventh-place run at Michigan in August.   

LOSERS

Brad Keselowski Lost six spots on the final overtime restart, costing him a spot in the next round of the playoffs by three points. He entered the race 24 points ahead of Chase Elliott for the final transfer spot.

Slow cars — A tough weekend for a couple of slower cars. In the Xfinity race, Garrett Smithley, who was five laps down, said he didn’t realize the leaders were approaching and moved up the track, causing Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell to wreck. On Sunday, Kyle Larson turned Joey Gase, causing Gase’s race to end. Said Larson: “I was just trying to get a big run up top. There was a lot of us. I was hoping I could get a lane and I didn’t get one. I was already to his back bumper, so yeah. It wasn’t really a message, I was just in a hurry and he was doing his best to get out of the way of the guys below. It was more so impatience on my part.”

Ryan TruexMaking his sixth and final start of the season in the Xfinity Series, his race ended after four laps when the engine in his JR Motorsports car expired. Tough break for a driver trying to get back to a full-time ride.

Watch NASCAR America from 6-7 p.m. ET today on NBCSN with Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett for more on Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.