JR Motorsports has been connected to a possible jump to the NASCAR Cup Series for a few seasons; however, the emergence of the NextGen car has further increased the possibility.
Now, the team has publicly discussed if this driver would join its Cup Series program if the jump occurred.
JR Motorsports discusses this driver’s NASCAR future with the organization
Josh Berry, a driver for JR Motorsports, is driving the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports on the oval tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series while the entry’s original driver, Chase Elliott, recovers from a fractured tibia suffered over one week ago.
Berry brought home a 10th-place finish in his second Cup Series race of the season at Phoenix Raceway and showed he can run well if given time to take advantage of the opportunity presented to him.
JR Motorsports has been connected to Berry for a very long time and when people think about the team’s possible jump to the Cup Series, they point to him as the guy that is probably on a short list of drivers to consider.
This was relevant last week when NASCAR spotter Freddie Kraft talked about Berry and JR Motorsports in the Cup Series. Now, JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has discussed Berry’s opportunity at Hendrick Motorsports and his future with the team.
This is what Earnhardt Jr. told NBC Sports about Berry’s current situation and possible Cup Series future.
“I couldn’t have been more thrilled (for Josh Berry to drive for Hendrick Motorsports). With these people that are interested in Josh for next year, whoever’s looking at him, I badly, dearly wanted him to have another shot at (Phoenix Raceway)…My hope is that by the end of this year he’s got a deal for next year at the (NASCAR Cup Series) level with someone. That would be the best-case scenario. JR Motorsports, even if we were going Cup racing, I would be hesitant to make Josh have to deal with that growth and building that program. He’s 32 years old. He’s Cup ready.”Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Josh Berry’s current situation and future
Earnhardt Jr. absolutely loves Berry so it is not a surprise to see him excited about his opportunity with Hendrick Motorsports. However, the NASCAR owner’s comments about JR Motorsports in the Cup Series were really interesting.
If JR Motorsports goes to the Cup Series, it sounds like Earnhardt doesn’t want Berry to deal with the growing pains that every team goes through in their first year or two. This is understandable as Berry is 32 years old, as Earnhardt Jr. said.
There might be a possibility that Berry can go full-time in the Cup Series before JR Motorsports so any opportunity will likely come before that decision is made. It means that someone who was publicly on a shortlist is most likely not on it now.
So, who could be some bold candidates to pilot a JR Motorsports car in the Cup Series? Continue reading to find out who could be on that list if everything falls correctly.
Related: JR Motorsports linked to big driver in possible jump to NASCAR Cup Series
3 bold drivers JR Motorsports should pursue for the NASCAR Cup Series
There are several drivers that would make sense for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series but let’s make some bold predictions on who the team should strive for if the jump happens in the next year or two.
Martin Truex Jr. is an out-of-the-box idea but at 42 years old, it is not impossible that he is still around the Cup Series. Truex could end up being pushed out by younger drivers at Joe Gibbs Racing, even if he still wants to compete in the sport.
If so, the driver of the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing would be a really good option. Plus, Earnhardt Jr. himself has jokingly said before that Truex should help get his Cup Series program started since he gave him a shot.
Erik Jones would be the best option out of the group of candidates. Jones is a two-time Southern 500 winner and a NASCAR Truck Series champion who drives for Jimmie Johnson at Legacy Motor Club.
The 26-year-old driver could jump ship to JR Motorsports if Chevrolet goes all-in with them. Legacy Motor Club is below several Chevrolet teams on the totem pole and it could allow him to have better equipment within the camp.
Sam Mayer is not a really bold prediction but one that makes sense under one scenario. Mayer needs to develop into a race-winning Xfinity Series driver in his third full-time season. It has been a slow start in the Xfinity Series compared to other young drivers.
The 19-year-old driver would be able to grow with JR Motorsports and give them a driver with raw talent right off the bat. However, Mayer’s development is the major question mark moving forward.
JR Motorsports will have plenty of options available if they ever decide to make the jump to the Cup Series. Hopefully, we can see it happen sooner rather than later and the equipment is good enough to win races.