Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: What Is Brewing at JR Motorsports?

We’re barely halfway through the 2023 NASCAR season, and we’ve already got driver changes floating around. Oh, boy.

After 19 races, we’ve got some juicy rumors stirring over at JR Motorsports, and I promise you that some of this is going to make you scratch your own head.

First of all, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made it no secret that conversations have been had with his nephew, Jeffrey Earnhardt, about filling the No. 8 car in the wake of Josh Berry leaving for Stewart-Haas Racing’s No 4. in the NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, Earnhardt Jr. has said publicly that such conversations have occurred, just listen to this snippet from a recent Dale Jr. Download episode.

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Everyone on the bird app/Twitter/X/whatever it’s called this week seems to be overwhelmingly excited about this bit of news, but I think we all need to pause for a moment and think.

Jeffrey Earnhardt gets praised for coming into his current NASCAR Xfinity Series ride at Alpha Prime Racing the hard way, and that’s fantastic, but with a last name like Earnhardt, there really is no hard way to go about getting a ride unless one thing is even remotely true – you’re just not that good.

And his numbers will back up that statement. He’s never had a win in the Xfinity Series. Yes, he got really close at Talladega Superspeedway last year and finished second in a Richard Childress Racing car, but before then, his last top-five finish was in 2019 when he was driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. In 159 races, Earnhardt has only five top 10s. These are not numbers that a team looking to make a run at a Cup ride soon like JRM should look at and drool.

It would 100% be a PR stunt, and some people are here for that, but those people most likely aren’t in the business of winning races.

Dirty Mo Media’s own “Door. Bumper. Clear” podcast added fuel to the fire in its previous recap episode of Pocono Raceway weekend, too, but for a different driver.

At around the 45-minute mark, one of the co-hosts mentions somebody going “back to JGR that used to be there…on the Xfinity Side,” then goes on to say that “obviously the No. 8 car is already open over there.”

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It doesn’t take a detective to know that’s directed at Brandon Jones, the only driver for JRM that has ever suited up for JGR in his career. It hasn’t exactly been a happy marriage for Jones and JRM so far, either. He’s torn up his fair share of equipment and has driven top-tier rides to no better than a fifth-place finish with an average finishing position of 18.9. If that’s the case, JRM will have to fill two seats next year, and with Austin Hill rumored to make a jump to Cup and rumors circling that Carson Hocevar will do the same, the free agent pool looks a bit thin.

JRM has only managed to scrounge up one win this year despite being in control of several races in the closing laps. That kind of performance isn’t typically tolerated by the top brass and simply isn’t sustainable, so buckle up race fans, silly season is only a few races away, and it looks like it may be one for the books.

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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gbvette

I’ve never thought much of Jeffery Earnhardt, but if he ends up with JRM, you have to think he has some talent. When looking at the stars of Cup an awful lot of them have started out driving for Jr. Truex, Reddick, Chase Elliott, Berry, William Bryon, Gragson, just to name a few, have all come through JRM on their way to Cup. Somebody at JRM must have a pretty good eye for talent, and I’m guessing it’s Jr himself?

janice

as jr has stated before, whomever it is, will have to bring money (sponsorship of some kind) with them. jeffrey has relationships with people/sponsors, so it might work out. have to see.

Echo

Most underrated person in nascar, Jr’s sister. She will get the money.

janice

she runs the business. she’s made him most of the money he has. she negotiated his driving contracts.

TiminPayson

I’m a Hocevar fan but no way is he ready for a Cup ride

Dawg

If you have been following the sport for any length of time, you can think of several drivers who have been rushed into Cup too soon & have flamed out because of it.

I think Carson can have a good Cup career. But you’re right, he needs to be given time to grow into it.

Dawg

It really doesn’t matter what series we’re talking about from ARCA to Cup. When a driver takes a back marker ride, they basically have locked themselves into a niche that they have a hard time breaking out of.

First off, if they were super star material they wouldn’t have had to settle for that kind of ride to start with. But it does take a certain skill level even get there.
Even if they gain experience & increase their skill level, it’s going to be hard to show it if the team isn’t capable of improving. If a car is running around 30th then improves to say around 27th. That’s not going to help much.

I’d be happy to see what Jeffrey can do with a JRM ride. He wouldn’t have this opportunity if not for the family connection. But the same could be said for Auston & Ty Dillon, or Auston Cedric.

Daytona-520

Austin Dillon at least earned his ride in cup, he won the truck and Xfinity titles and it’s not like RCR was the best team at the time, and his ARCA stats were pretty decent in the handful of races he did.

Brian Lovejoy

Do you even read your own stories?

Hate all you want, but don’t come out and list his successes without pointing out the common denominator between them.

Jeffrey Earnhardt has been pretty damn good in the limited races he’s run in quality equipment.

What makes you think a full season at JRM wouldn’t come with similar success?
Certainly couldn’t be worse than Brandon Jones has been.

Kadin

I don’t like the idea of Jeffrey Earnhardt and Austin Hill ain’t coming. And if Hocevar does jump up to cup, the decision in my opinion is easy. Christian Eckes.

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