Kelly Earnhardt Miller

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Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Danielle Trotta to host weekly show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

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SiriusXM announced Thursday a new weekly show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio hosted by JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller and veteran NASCAR reporter Danielle Trotta.

The show, “Beyond Racing,” will air on Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET and will debut on Feb. 7.

Trotta, who works for NBC Boston, will also be the regular host of the 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. ET block starting Feb. 4. She will be joined by co-host Larry McReynolds for “On-Track” on Monday – Wednesday and Friday.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work with Kelley,” said Trotta.  “She is someone I admire both as a person and an executive and it is an honor to call her a friend.  Her pedigree, experience and success in the sport make her an authoritative voice that NASCAR fans will enjoy hearing from, and will certainly learn from.”

Earnhardt Miller will offer her perspective as a front office executive.

“I have always enjoyed being on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as a guest, and I’m very excited to now join the SiriusXM team as a host,” Earnhardt Miller said in a press release.  “I look forward to sharing my perspective on life as a team owner, talk about the Earnhardt family and legacy, and much more.  It’ll be a thrill to be able to talk with NASCAR fans across the country each week, and to work alongside a respected NASCAR reporter and friend like Danielle.”

Dale Jr. Download: A look behind the curtain at JR Motorsports

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On this week’s Dale Jr. Download podcast, the eponymous owner of JR Motorsports provided some insight into how the organization is run.

“People would be surprised at how strictly … to the budge we run our company,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “And how compromising everyone is: the crew chiefs, car chiefs – those guys want the latest and greatest. The parts and pieces. They want to spend money to make speed, but they have to understand if you’ve got five things that will make the car fast, you got to pick two. You don’t get all five.”

At the helm is Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller.

“It’s a maze to navigate, and Kelley is deep, deep, deep within that maze with these guys,” Earnhardt continued. “Boots on the ground, working every day.”

In the Miami media center following Tyler Reddick‘s Xfinity championship, Kelley Earnhardt Miller explained the difference between JR Motorsports and Team Penske or Richard Childress Racing.

JR Motorsports is a separate entity from Hendrick Motorsports and that distinction is important to the team. As a customer of the larger organization, the team doesn’t have the same access to the development and engineering of the parts and pieces. It buys what is necessary.

Earnhardt Jr. compared his organization to a minor-league farm team in baseball – operating separately but connected to the Cup program.

For a more detailed look at the working of this organization, watch the video above.

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Dave Elenz among small group of Xfinity crew chiefs to win multiple titles

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Dave Elenz had two very different experiences in his last two seasons as crew chief of JR Motorsports’ No. 9 Chevrolet, but still wound up as a Xfinity Series champion each year.

In 2017, Elenz and rookie driver William Byron claimed four wins, 12 top fives and finished third in the season finale to earn the title.

This season, again paired with a rookie driver in Tyler Reddick, the No. 9 team made it to the Championship 4 with just one win and six top fives.

They left Miami with their second win and JR Motorsports’ third Xfinity title.

Elenz, 37, is just the 10th Xfinity crew chief since 1982 and the fourth since 2000 to win multiple titles.

Both of those came in his first two years as crew chief for full-time drivers. In 2015, he worked with five drivers. In 2016, he worked with seven.

“Dave is critical,” JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday after Reddick’s win. “Dave’s ability to take those young guys and mold them into men and mold them into people that believe in themselves and know what they need to do and don’t drive over their head, don’t make a lot of mistakes, they’re going to make mistakes.  Everybody does.  They will continue to make them.  But Dave has them ready when it’s time to be ready.  You saw it in Tyler throughout the playoffs.”

Reddick entered the playoffs with four top fives. In the seven-race playoff, he earned three top fives (all in the final four races) and placed outside the top 10 just once at Dover.

At Miami, Reddick took advantage of bad pit strategy by Cole Custer‘s team and passed Christopher Bell for the lead with 37 laps to go. He spent the rest of the race running against the fence, scraping the wall multiple times but going unchallenged to the checkered flag.

“(Reddick) had a good focus and ran hard, ran aggressive but never took himself out or did anything to hurt their chances of getting here to Homestead,” Earnhardt said. “Dave has a big involvement in his ability to do that, as Dave is coaching him throughout the year to put him in position to make those last few laps and keep the car out of the fence.”

The victory was Elenz’s 10th as a crew chief. Those wins have come with five drivers: Byron (four), Kevin Harvick (two), Earnhardt (one), Chase Elliott (one) and Reddick (two).

Elenz doesn’t know why he meshes well with young drivers.

“Every year it’s a fresh guy with a new style of driving, new thoughts and everything,” Elenz said Saturday.  “As they progress throughout the year, you let them make their mistakes, try to be easy on them and just when they’re down, try to bring them up a little bit.  But I don’t really know what it is.  I know we have great teammates like Dale was saying, and with Elliott (Sadler) and Justin (Allgaier), they help guide the 9 team quite a bit because it’s tougher for the young guys to tell us what they need.  We’ve got two of the best right next to us in the crew chiefs that help me out to make sure we’re not getting too far off base.”

Elenz will likely be paired with yet another rookie driver in 2019. Incoming driver Noah Gragson sat on the No. 9 team’s pit box for during the Miami race.

“I think that only makes sense,” team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller said Saturday. “(With) Kevin (Meendering) moving up (to crew chief Jimmie Johnson in Cup), and we’re still working on our fourth car, but the three cars that we have in place, we’ve got three crew chiefs in-house, and seems like that would make the most sense.”

Multiple Championships (1982 – 2018) – Crew Chiefs
Steve Bird      1989, ’95, ’96, ’97
Jack Ingram    1982, ’85
Gere Kennon  1983, ’84
Ricky Pearson 1986, ’87
Bob Labonte   1991, ’94
Tony Eury Jr.  1998, ’99
Kevin Manion  2004, ’05
Mike Kelley      2011, ’12
Scott Graves   2015, ’16
David Elenz     2017, ’18

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JR Motorsports expanding to four teams in 2017, adds Michael Annett

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JR Motorsports announced Friday that it will field four full-time Xfinity teams in 2017 with Michael Annett signing a multi-year agreement. Pilot Flying J will be Annett’s sponsor and also has signed a multi-year agreement.

Annett will drive the No. 5 for the team next season. JR Motorsports also will field teams for Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and William Byron. JR Motorsports will run a fifth car, the No. 88, in select races with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

“To expand our presence in the NASCAR Xfinity Series truly shows the commitment JRM and our sponsors have made to the series,” Kelly Earnhardt Miller, co-owner and general manger of JR Motorsports, said in a team release.“By partnering with Pilot Flying J, all the pieces are in place to run four competitive, full-time cars for a championship next year. We’re confident this will make our organization even stronger.”

Annett has spent the past three seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. He’s racing this season for HScott Motorsports.

Annett’s departure means that HScott Motorsports has no teams returning for next season at this point. Clint Bowyer will leave at the end of this season to replace Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing.