Dale Earnhardt Jr. to run Bristol Xfinity race in September

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NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his annual return to the Xfinity Series on Sept. 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway, JR Motorsports announced Tuesday.

Earnhardt will drive a Unilever-branded No. 88 entry. The team also announced that the Unilever brand will serve as a primary sponsor for Justin Allgaier in six Xfinity races in 2023. The September Bristol race is the opening event of the Xfinity Series playoffs.

MORE: Dale Jr., Jeff Burton among new owners of CARS Tour

Since stepping away from the Cup Series after the 2017 season, Earnhardt has continued to run one Xfinity Series race per season.

He was fourth at Richmond in 2018. Earnhardt placed fifth at Darlington in 2019. He placed fifth at Homestead in 2020. Earnhardt finished 14th at Richmond in 2021. He was 11th at Martinsville last year.

“We’ve been partners with Unilever since the very early days of JR Motorsports,” said Earnhardt, who will continue in his role as brand ambassador for Unilever, in a statement from the team. “They’ve been with us as our program has grown and been an important part of our success – on and off the track. They’re a key component of our company. I’m grateful for their support, and I’m happy to watch our partnership continue to grow.”

Unilever first partnered with JR Motorsports in 2009. It is the team’s longest-tenured partner.

“We are so proud and excited to continue our partnership with Dale Jr. and his team at JR Motorsports,” said Ben Crook, VP/GM Dressings & Condiments Unilever North America, in a statement. “The equal passion that NASCAR fans have for their favorite brands like Hellmann’s and drivers like Dale Jr. is what makes this partnership so special. We look forward to continuing this ride with Dale for years to come.”

2022 Season in Review: Justin Allgaier

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CREW CHIEF: Jason Burdett

TEAM: JR Motorsports

POINTS: Third in Xfinity Series

WINS: Three (Darlington I, Nashville, Loudon)

LAPS LED: 763

TOP 5s: 16

TOP 10s: 23

QUALIFIED FIRST: Once (Pocono)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Justin Allgaier’s seventh consecutive season at JR Motorsports was another good one, although he failed in another shot at scoring his first Xfinity championship.

Allgaier’s third win of the season – at Loudon – pushed his career victory total to 19. He won despite being involved in an early-race accident.

Earlier, Allgaier won at Darlington, rallying from the back of the field after a battery change. Four races later, he dominated, leading 134 of the 188 laps, to win at Nashville.

Allgaier finished in the top 10 in 23 of the season’s 33 races.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Allgaier finished behind champion Ty Gibbs and second-place Noah Gragson in the season finale at Phoenix.

The sour part of Allgaier’s success is that he has had so many shots at the Xfinity championship only to fall short. His points finishes over the past seven seasons: third, third, seventh, fourth, second, fifth and third.

Although Allgaier was consistently strong most of the season, he led chunks of laps in several events without winning. He led 62 at Las Vegas, 67 at Dover, 63 at Charlotte and 148 at Bristol – all without visiting victory lane.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2023: The continuing power of the JR Motorsports organization and Allgaier’s long run in the series should put him among the championship contenders again.

He’ll start 2023 with a new crew chief — Jim Pohlman, formerly of Richard Childress Racing. Pohlman replaces Jason Burdett, who will stay at JRM but has been reassigned to driver Brandon Jones.

 

 

Silly Season scorecard: A new mix for the new year

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Deep into December, the start of the 2023 NASCAR season seems far away, but shops have been busy getting cars and plans ready for the new year.

Some teams have new faces in new places. The biggest change for the new year will be Kyle Busch sitting in the No. 8 Chevrolets at Richard Childress Racing after winning championships with Joe Gibbs Racing. Ty Gibbs replaces Busch but will drive JGR’s No. 54. Ryan Preece moves into the No. 41 at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Tyler Reddick joins 23XI Racing.

A look at Silly Season as the calendar approaches 2023:

Cup Series

No. 1: Ross Chastain, the surprise driver of 2022, returns to keep the fire burning — and the watermelons smashing — at Trackhouse Racing.

No. 2: Austin Cindric, Daytona 500 winner and rookie of the year, returns to Team Penske.

No. 3: Austin Dillon returns in Richard Childress Racing’s flagship number.

MORE: NBC Power Rankings: The best of one-hit wonders

No. 4: Kevin Harvick will seek a return to playoff power.

No. 5: Signed by Hendrick Motorsports through 2026, Kyle Larson drives toward a second championship.

No. 6: Now firmly established as the boss at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Brad Keselowski will look to boost RFK’s profile in his second season there.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie returns, and why not put his face on his car hood for Daytona again?

No. 8: After a long and successful run at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch joins Richard Childress Racing. What will happen? Just watch.

No. 9: Chase Elliott might be in this car for the rest of his career. He’s signed through 2027.

No. 10: Aric Almirola announced his retirement but made an abrupt U-turn and will return to this car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Bring the bacon.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin tries again to nab that first championship.

MORE: Sometimes you just gotta laugh…some NASCAR funnies

No. 12: Ryan Blaney, “Mr. Almost But No Point Wins in 2022,” is back with Team Penske.

No. 14: A return to Stewart-Haas Racing for one of the surprise drivers — Chase Briscoe — of 2022.

No. 15: Several drivers will share this ride for Rick Ware Racing.

No. 16: AJ Allmendinger jumps back into Cup full-time for Kaulig Racing.

No. 17: Chris Buescher scored RFK Racing’s first win this season.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. considered retirement for a while but will be back with JGR for at least another year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell was Mr. Magic in the 2022 playoffs. He’s back for another shot.

No. 21: Harrison Burton returns for another season in the iconic Wood Brothers car.

No. 22: The champ, Joey Logano, won’t be leaving the Penske ride.

No. 23: Bubba Wallace is back.

No. 24: William Byron remains at Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 31: Justin Haley makes another run for Kaulig Racing.

No. 34: Michael McDowell returns to Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: Todd Gilliland back at FRM for his sophomore season.

MORE: Spiders? Snakes? What scares NASCAR drivers?

No. 41: Ryan Preece takes over this ride from Cole Custer in 2023.

No. 42: Noah Gragson, fresh from a sensational season in Xfinity, moves up to Cup with the new and improved Petty GMS team, now co-owned by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson plans to run a part-time Cup schedule with the team — car number not yet known.

No. 43: The King’s car will carry Erik Jones again.

No. 45: Tyler Reddick drives from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI in one of Silly Season’s biggest moves.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse returns.

No. 48: Alex Bowman expected back full-time after missing several races late in 2022 with concussion-like symptoms.

No. 51: Cody Ware and possibly other drivers will be in this ride.

No. 54: Ty Gibbs will drive this car, while Joe Gibbs Racing parks the No. 18 for the 2023 season.

No. 77: Ty Dillon moves from Petty GMS to race for Spire.

No. 78: Josh Bilicki will drive part-time for Live Fast Motorsports.

No. 99: Daniel Suarez, now a Cup winner, is back for Trackhouse.

Xfinity Series

No. 00: Cole Custer returns to the Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing after three years in Cup.

No. 1: Sam Mayer returns to JR Motorsports for a second season.

No. 2: Sheldon Creed returns to Richard Childress Racing.

No. 4: Bayley Currey is back at JD Motorsports.

No. 6: Brennan Poole is on board at JD Motorsports.

No. 7: Justin Allgaier returns to JR Motorsports for another shot at an elusive title.

No. 8: Josh Berry looks to reach the playoffs again for JR Motorsports.

No. 9: Brandon Jones departed Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for JR Motorsports.

No. 10: Landon Cassill is back with Kaulig Racing.

No. 11: Daniel Hemric returns with Kaulig Racing.

No. 16: Chandler Smith moves into the Kaulig Racing vacancy left by AJ Allmendinger.

No. 18: Sammy Smith driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

No. 19: Ryan Truex will run a part-time schedule for Joe Gibbs.

No. 20: John Hunter Nemecheck driving for JGR.

No. 21: Austin Hill returns to Richard Childress Racing and also will run six Cup races for Beard Motorsports.

No. 24: Connor Mosack with Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 25: Brett Moffitt on board with AM Racing.

No. 26: Kaz Grala runs Xfinity full-time for Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 34: Jesse Iwuji and Kyle Weatherman possible drivers here.

No. 39: Ryan Sieg back for another season.

No. 44: Jeffrey Earnhardt will drive full-time for Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 45: Ryan Ellis and Saga Karam on board at Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 48: Parker Kligerman will run Xfinity full time for the first time since 2013.

No. 51: Jeremy Clements back with his family team.

No. 78: Garrett Smithley will race full time for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

No. 98: Riley Herbst returns to this ride and will have Cole Custer as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

 

 

JR Motorsports makes changes to crew chief lineup

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JR Motorsports announced changes to its crew chief lineup Thursday for the 2023 Xfinity Series season.

The driver-crew chief lineups will be:

“As successful as 2022 was for JR Motorsports, we’re always asking ourselves ‘How can we be better?’” said Mike Bumgarner, JRM’s director of competition. “While we performed at a very high level this season, a tweak here or there can help push us even further. We were fortunate to bring in Jim and Mardy. Both have past success with their drivers and we expect that will aid in making a smooth transition.”

Bumgarner had been Berry’s crew chief before taking over the role as director of competition. Moyer had been Mayer’s crew chief this past season.

Burdett had led Allgaier to the title race in five of the past seven seasons. He will be with Jones, who joins the team for the upcoming season. Pohlman, who had been at Richard Childress Racing, takes over as Allgaier’s crew chief. Lindley, who spent the past two seasons at Kyle Busch Motorsports, joins the organization to work with Mayer. Lindley and Mayer won titles in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2019 and ARCA Menards Series in 2020.

Silly Season scorecard: New faces, new places

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Joey Logano soon will officially be crowned NASCAR’s 2022 Cup Series champion in Nashville, but time waits for no driver. Already fans are eyeing the start of the next season on the short track at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.

The schedule will be somewhat different – there’s that big, unprecedented turn in the summer as Cup cars race for the first time on the streets of Chicago, for example — and there will be old names in new places (Jimmie Johnson, for one).

Here’s a look at the NASCAR Silly Season scorecard, at least as it currently stands. As with all things Silly, don’t be surprised if things change before 2023 arrives.

Cup Series

No. 1: Ross Chastain, the surprise driver of 2022, returns to keep the fire burning — and the watermelons smashing — at Trackhouse Racing.

No. 2: Austin Cindric, Daytona 500 winner and rookie of the year, returns to Team Penske.

No. 3: Austin Dillon returns in Richard Childress Racing’s flagship number.

MORE: Can Petty GMS make a big move forward in 2023?

No. 4: Kevin Harvick will seek a return to playoff power.

No. 5: Signed by Hendrick Motorsports through 2026, Kyle Larson drives toward a second championship.

No. 6: Now firmly established as the boss at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Brad Keselowski will look to boost RFK’s profile in his second season there.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie returns, and why not put his face on his car hood for Daytona again?

No. 8: After a long and successful run at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch joins Richard Childress Racing. What will happen? Just watch.

No. 9: Chase Elliott might be in this car for the rest of his career. He’s signed through 2027.

No. 10: Aric Almirola announced his retirement but made an abrupt U-turn and will return to this car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Bring the bacon.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: The Champ is No. 1

No. 11: Denny Hamlin tries again to nab that first championship.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney, Mr. Almost But No Point Wins in 2022, is back with Team Penske.

No. 14: A return to Stewart-Haas Racing for one of the surprise drivers — Chase Briscoe — of 2022.

No. 16: AJ Allmendinger jumps back into Cup full-time for Kaulig Racing.

No. 17: Chris Buescher scored RFK Racing’s first win this season.

No. 18: No announcement about Kyle Busch’s replacement, but odds favor Ty Gibbs.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. considered retirement for a while but will be back with JGR for at least another year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell was Mr. Magic in the 2022 playoffs. He’s back for another shot.

No. 21: Harrison Burton returns for another season in the iconic Wood Brothers car.

No. 22: The champ, Joey Logano, won’t be leaving the Penske ride.

No. 23: Bubba Wallace is back.

No. 24: William Byron remains at Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 31: Justin Haley makes another run for Kaulig Racing.

No. 34: Michael McDowell a likely returnee to Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: Todd Gilliland expected back for another run with FRM.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at 2022’s numbers

No. 41: Ryan Preece takes over this ride from Cole Custer in 2023.

No. 42: Noah Gragson, fresh from a sensational season in Xfinity, moves up to Cup with the new and improved Petty GMS team, now co-owned by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson plans to run a part-time Cup schedule with the team — car number not yet known.

No. 43: The King’s car will carry Erik Jones again.

No. 45: Tyler Reddick drives from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI in one of Silly Season’s biggest moves.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse returns.

No. 48: Alex Bowman expected back full-time after missing several races late in 2022 with concussion-like symptoms.

No. 54: Ty Gibbs will drive this car, while Joe Gibbs Racing parks the No. 18 for the 2023 season.

No. 77: Ty Dillon moves from Petty GMS to race for Spire.

No. 99: Daniel Suarez, now a Cup winner, is back for Trackhouse.

Xfinity Series

No. 1: Sam Mayer returns to JR Motorsports for a second season.

No. 2: Sheldon Creed returns to Richard Childress Racing.

No. 4: Bayley Currey is back at JD Motorsports.

No. 7: Justin Allgaier returns to JR Motorsports for another shot at an elusive title.

No. 8: Josh Berry looks to reach the playoffs again for JR Motorsports.

No. 9: Brandon Jones departed Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for JR Motorsports.

No. 10: Landon Cassill is back with Kaulig Racing.

No. 11: Daniel Hemric returns with Kauling Racing.

MORE: Start times revealed for 2023 season

No. 16: Chandler Smith moves into the Kaulig Racing vacancy left by AJ Allmendinger.

No. 21: Austin Hill returns to Richard Childress Racing and also will run six Cup races for Beard Motorsports.

No. 39: Ryan Sieg back for another season.

No. 45: Ryan Ellis returns.

No. 48: Parker Kligerman will run Xfinity full time for the first time since 2013.

No. 51: Jeremy Clements back with his family team.

No. 78: Garrett Smithley will race full time for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

No. 98: Riley Herbst returns to this ride and will have Cole Custer as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.