Race Weekend Central

Kelly Bires Out of JRM No. 88, Mike Bliss Out of No. 36 for TBR

Two driver changes, one each in NASCAR’s Cup and Nationwide divisions, were announced Tuesday (April 13). In Cup, Mike Bliss was released as driver of the Wave Energy Drink Chevy for Tommy Baldwin Racing, replaced by Johnny Sauter for Texas and Talladega. Car owner Baldwin says Sauter is not the full-time replacement, hoping to name one by the end of the month at Richmond – the first time Sauter will be ineligible to drive the car (he’ll be racing at Kansas with the No. 13 Thorsport Chevy).

Perhaps the more surprising move came on the Nationwide side today, where Kelly Bires was released as driver of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Bires had just one top 10 in five races with the team, a poor start that led to Kelley Earnhardt claiming a “chemistry” issue was the reason for the release. It seemed things were never right at the No. 88 from the start, where Bires was bumped from Daytona in favor of boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. when Danica Patrick chose to make her Nationwide Series debut at the last minute.

No word on who the permanent replacement behind the wheel of the No. 88 might be, but Jamie McMurray was announced as a fill-in for nine events. Scott Wimmer could also be a candidate, as he led JRM’s No. 7 to two top-10 finishes in just two races with the team.

Stay with Frontstretch for more on this developing story.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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