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.
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.”
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.
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