Photo: Dustin Long

JR Motorsports, GMS Racing partner on driver development program

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JR Motorsports and GMS Racing have established Drivers Edge Development, a program presented by Chevrolet and aimed at grooming the next generation of drivers through a tiered pipeline coupled with comprehensive off-track education.

The program will give drivers the opportunity to race in five types of development series with JRM or GMS-fielded entries. The program also provides added training to enhance professional growth off the track.

Although mainly performance-based, there are no set criteria for selection into the program.

The six drivers in the program this year are:

Noah Gragson (Xfinity driver at JR Motorsports)

John Hunter Nemechek (Xfinity driver at GMS Racing)

Zane Smith (Xfinity driver at JR Motorsports in eight races)

Sheldon Creed (Truck driver at GMS Racing)

Sam Mayer (Truck/ARCA/K&N driver for GMS Racing and Late Model driver for JR Motorsports)

Adam Lemke (Late Model driver for JR Motorsports)

The relationship between JR Motorsports and GMS Racing is not new. They have a technical alliance in the Xfinity Series.

 

Brett Moffitt joins GMS Racing to defend Truck title

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GMS Racing announced Thursday that reigning NASCAR Truck champion Brett Moffitt will drive the team’s No. 24 ride in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. GMS Racing made the announcement a day after stating that Johnny Sauter would not return to the team.

“I’m excited to be given the chance to defend my 2018 championship,” Moffitt said in a statement from the team. “I have to thank the Gallagher family and everyone at GMS for this opportunity. I can’t wait to start working with Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) and the guys to kick off the season at Daytona in a few weeks.”

Moffitt needed a ride after he was replaced by Austin Hill at Hattori Racing. Despite winning the championship, Hattori Racing struggled to find sponsorship throughout the season. Moffitt said after winning the title in November he didn’t know where he would drive this season.

The 26-year-old Moffitt won six races last year. He has seven career Truck wins in 36 starts.

“Brett will be an excellent addition to the GMS organization,” GMS team president Mike Beam said in a statement. “Last year he showed the racing world the amount of talent and determination he has, especially while facing some adversity throughout the season. We look forward to helping him win his second championship and ours as well.

“We have a strong driver lineup in every series we’ll compete in this year. Maury Gallagher has given us the tools and personnel we need to compete for several championships.”

In a Thursday afternoon teleconference, Moffitt called the signing an “11th hour” deal and said discussions between him and GMS started “in-between the holidays. They just wanted to see what I could bring to them and what they could for me and if I was still available.”

Moffitt said “a few existing partners” that have been with him through the years will be on the No. 24, but he’s not sure how often.

Even with those partners, Moffitt said staying with Hattori was “never an option.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t think it would have been enough to move the needle,” Moffitt said. “I think GMS has given us a really good platform where we can take some of our current partners and their current partners and help build it all.”

Before the GMS opportunity arrived, Moffitt said he “had options open.”

“None of them that would necessarily lead to me being in race-winning equipment, which is what I wanted ultimately,” Moffitt said. “A few opportunities in less than impressive Cup stuff. We had talked with some Xfinity teams as well. The biggest thing for me is to go out and try to compete for a championship and win races. I was kind of holding out and hoping a deal like this would come together.”

Moffitt said he considered at one point settling for opportunities to run limited races in winning equipment.

He said the deal from GMS was the “best deal out there by far and I think it’ll be one of the best positions I’ve been in in my career.”

Moffitt cited a relationship with GMS that originated in one Xfinity Series start for the team in 2017 when he finished 11th at Iowa Speedway.

“Just kind of always been in talks on-and-off,” Moffitt said. “When this opportunity opened up to them, I believe I was the first person they called about it. I’m just glad we were able to make it happen.”

The rest of the GMS Racing lineup for 2019 features:

  • Rookie Sheldon Creed in the No. 2 Truck with Doug Randolph as crew chief.
  • John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 23 Xfinity car with Chad Norris as crew chief.
  • Sam Mayer in the No. 21 K&N Pro Series East ride. He’ll also run limited ARCA and Truck races.

GMS Racing also stated that Halmar Friesen Racing renewed its technical alliance with GMS Racing to field the No. 52 for Stewart Friesen.

Daniel McFadin contributed to this report

GMS Racing to field Sam Mayer in K&N, ARCA Series

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GMS Racing will expand into the K&N Pro Series East and West and the ARCA Racing Series next year, the team announced Wednesday.

The team will field 15-year-old Sam Mayer in each series where he will drive the No. 21.

Mayer is also scheduled to make four starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with the first set for August at Bristol Motor Speedway after he turns 16 in June.

The native of Franklin, Wisconsin, joins GMS Racing with seven K&N starts and three ARCA starts in his career.

“GMS Racing has had tons of success over the past couple years, especially this past year,” Mayer said in a press release. “Knowing that a great team is behind me going into next season gives me a lot of confidence that we will have success, too.”

He earned two top fives in his six K&N East starts.

Mayer made his ARCA debut at Iowa Speedway and finished 10th and later placed seventh at Lucas Oil Raceway.

He will make his debut in the K&N East season opener at Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 10.

“We are excited to add K&N, as well as ARCA to our organization in 2019,” said team president Mike Beam in a press release. “Mayer is very talented at such a young age, and I see a big future for him in motorsports. I’m glad that he chose us to pursue his career in racing. Our goal has always been to build championship caliber teams no matter what series we participate in. With Mayer behind the wheel and Mardy Lindley leading the team, I do not doubt in my mind they will be successful in 2019.”

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

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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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