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Eyes on Xfinity: Will It Be a Down Year for JRM?

After the loss of Noah Gragson following his monumental 2022 season, JR Motorsports was left with a huge hole to fill as far as wins go.

They filled this hole with none other than Brandon Jones, who we’ve already deemed a potential Greatest Bust of All Time here in Eyes on Xfinity and left the rest up to the veteran pairing of Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry while hoping that Sam Mayer develops quicker than we all expect him to.

All of this has culminated in exactly zero wins so far this season and that has plenty of fans worried. Is it warranted, though?

The best way to break it down is by driver, so we’ll start with the longest tenured of the four: Allgaier.

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Allgaier has been the model of consistency for JRM in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, despite never winning it all himself. Since joining JRM in 2016, he’s never finished lower than seventh in the final standings of a season.

This year, he’s got more top fives than any of his counterparts. Allgaier’s notched four top fives in nine races and came home second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year. Those aren’t bad numbers by any means, but when you look at where Allgaier’s placed himself as far as points go, it’s on par to be another great season. He currently sits at sixth after this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Allgaier is showing no signs of slipping and neither is his counterpart, Berry. Despite having to split a lot of time between Xfinity and the NASCAR Cup Series, Berry has still put out the best performance out of the four JRM drivers this season.

Berry has the same amount of top fives, but has been more consistent across the board, which has him in fifth place in the points standings. The short-track maestro has finished inside the top 10 at every track that isn’t a superspeedway and is due a win any day, much like Allgaier. Bottom line, if there is a problem at JRM, it isn’t one of these two.

Could it be the second-year driver Mayer, then? It could be, but if you look at the numbers, I’m not so sure. He’s one of the youngest drivers in the series and it feels like JRM is putting a lot of stock into him to be the future of the team for years to come. His results show why.

The 19-year-old Wisconsin native has one top five and three top 10s on the season so far. Plus, his race craft has improved 10-fold since last season. He’s become truly comfortable behind the wheel of the Xfinity cars and I think he’ll be ready for Sundays sooner rather than later (a goal that team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t been shy about).

Mayer is the future at JRM and that’s as good a set of hands as I can think of to put it in.

That brings us to the real problem child — Jones. He took over a great No. 9 Chevy team and has, in essence, disappointed at almost every single race. I say almost because he does have a top five at Martinsville, but outside of that, hasn’t even notched a single top 10.

That brings me to a very interesting conclusion: JRM may have a down year with one car, but the other three are trucking along just fine. In fact, Mayer looks better each week, it seems.

Berry is still going to have to split time in the Cup Series after Alex Bowman‘s injury, but before the season ends, he’ll be able to yet again focus all of his attention on the Xfinity Series. Allgaier looks as steady as ever, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he, Berry and Mayer all grab wins in the coming weeks.

See also
Alex Bowman Missing Multiple Weeks Due to Injury, Josh Berry to Fill In

Jones, then, is the obvious outlier. JRM fans have been spoiled with talent over the course of the last few years, and now that they’re having to watch an average at best driver wheel their top-notch equipment, it’s tough for them to deal with. That’s just racin’, though, and if you ask me, the problem will be taken care of in an offseason sooner rather than later.

JRM will be just fine and if fans think that not having two or three drivers in the final four is out of the ordinary, then they need to rethink what ordinary really is.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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jrm got lucky with the crop of drivers they had when they first started out. they had keslowski, truex, elliott, allgier, gragson. they moved berry up from late model to xfinity and he is doing well, he’s also super-sub for hendrick drivers. allgier has been with jrm in xfinity for a while. i think it’s scouting drivers in other feeder series, fans, and media, don’t understand that it’s rare that a 17 or 18 yr old out of a local/regional racing series have the total package now, with the focus and ability to adapt to being in a xfinity car. everyone wants instant results and wins. are these young guys willing to do the time in the sim and get seat time in lower level series for another year or two before moving into seat.

what’s really worrisome is that dale jr and kelly have said that potential drivers must bring money to the table as well as results. sponsors got used to having instant results in their cars with the drivers who have progressed through jrm and how long will they wait for a rookie driver in the high profile 9 car to get a win and have consistent results?

jrm is dealing with something they haven’t had to deal with previously. the learning curve.

Jill P

They had Michael Annett there for many years. He didn’t get into the playoffs every year, and when he did, he was eliminated early. Just there for money.

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