JR Motorsports has been linked toward a move to NASCAR’s top level for many years; however, the organization will not be making the jump for the 2023 season and continues to have deep conversations, according to team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt.
Let’s dive into the latest on JR Motorsports’ plans for the 2023 season and beyond.
JR Motorsports’ Xfinity Series program appears set for next year
JR Motorsports had a hole to fill in the No. 9 car when Noah Gragson was announced to be the next driver of the No. 42 car for Petty GMS Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series starting next season.
Many possible names were thrown around, such as Carson Hocevar, Chandler Smith, etc. However, it came out last week that Brandon Jones would leave Joe Gibbs Racing and join the organization on a full-time basis.
Jones, 25, has one win, six top-5 finishes, and 10 top-10 finishes as the series looks forward to the first race of the Round of 12 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. It is Jones’ fifth straight playoff appearance in the series.
Meanwhile, Sam Mayer is already confirmed to return to the No. 1 car for the organization in 2023. Mayer, 19, has seen solid results through his first 44 Xfinity Series starts but it has not been enough to secure his first career victory.
Justin Allgaier has been running full-time in the No. 7 car for JR Motorsports since the 2016 season and it appears likely he will return next year. Allgaier, 36, is having his second best year since returning to the series on a full-time basis.
Finally, Josh Berry is in his first full-time season of driving the No. 8 car after starting his part-time efforts during the 2021 season. Berry, 31, has two wins, nine top-5 finishes, and 16 top-10 finishes this year.
Berry should return to the No. 8 car as co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. loves his contributions to the team. Plus, there is a possibility that JR Motorsports will have all four entries fully funded or close to it come next season.
However, what is the latest on the possibility of JR Motorsports joining the NASCAR Cup Series?
JR Motorsports co-owner talks about the NASCAR Cup Series
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has previously stated that he “absolutely” wants to make the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series while Kelley Earnhardt wishes it would happen. But, it appears the earliest it will happen is the 2024 season.
Kelley Earnhardt talked about the possible move in a recent interview with Sirius XM NASCAR.
“No, gosh, I wish. It’s just not coming together. I really wanted to. You’re trying to make sense out of the charter investment and then sponsorship. Because we weren’t in a position to pull it all together by mid-year, we then started working on our Xfinity stuff and we got that in good shape for 2023. I feel like now my deadline is the middle of next year, right.”Kelley Earnhardt on why JR Motorsports won’t make the jump yet
It is clear that JR Motorsports wants to move to the Cup Series, but there was not enough that materialized over the last couple of months that made it financially responsible to make that jump.
The possibility of running part-time was not mentioned, but even the idea of running without a charter for select races during the 2023 season is one that seems unlikely to happen.
However, this does not mean that JR Motorsports is giving up on the idea of jumping to the Cup Series.
It’s still continuing conversations. I feel like if we want to be in the Cup Series in 2024, we’ll have to get that all together by the middle of next year…we want it to be a good financial decision and not wreck what we have. We’re still deep in conversations…it just hasn’t materialized.”Kelley Earnhardt on deadline for possible plans in 2024
The possibility of moving to the Cup Series in 2023 is certainly off the table. The next order of business for JR Motorsports will be working on details to possibly make the jump in 2024.
Plus, the organization is planning on having four, almost fully funded entries in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season. It is hard to imagine why they would continue with four cars moving forward if any plans were coming soon.
There might be one big holdup in this entire process. The new TV deal which will begin in 2025 could see changes in how the money will be handed out to each party. It seems more responsible to wait until the details of that are known.
The topic of JR Motorsports joining the Cup Series will continue to be a talking point until the organization decides to never make the jump or announce it will be going Cup racing in the following season.
Either way, the presence of the organization in the sport is great and hopefully, one of NASCAR’s most known drivers can see his team make it to the big stage one day.