Junior’s Team Has Become Xfinity’s Senior Member

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 23 2022

Josh Berry is one of JR Motorsports title contenders. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

With a total of 11 victories in 26 races, JR Motorsports steam rolled into this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway with expectations of placing at least two title contenders in the Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway in November. 

Now in its 20th season, the team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick is enjoying its best-ever season. The team’s four full-time drivers have recorded a total of 45 top-five finishes, 67 top-10s and led 1,675 of 3,943 laps completed in the series first 26 races.

Noah Gragson, who leads the standings with six victories and three straight wins heading into the playoffs, has completed 97.9 percent of the laps this season. Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier are close behind with 97.5 and 97.4 percent, respectively. Eighteen-year-old Sam Mayer, who’s still seeking a victory this season, isn’t far behind with 95.4 percent completed.

The 11 victories this year is a single season record for JR Motorsports, breaking the one of nine set in 2014, the same year Chase Elliott provided the organization with its first-ever Xfinity Series championship. Since then, the Mooresville, N.C.-based team has claimed two more titles. 

Noah Gragson is winning races for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Xfinity team. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“We worked real hard to get to this point,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “I remember all of the years where we weren’t successful. We were working hard to finish in the top 10.  We were running fifth to 10th every single week. We just didn’t have any of the speed that some of the other teams had. There were some long, lean years there that were part of the journey.

Allgaier, 35, is the senior member of the JR Motorsports quartet, having driven for the team since 2016. He cites a return to basics as the reason for JR Motorsports tremendous success this season.

“It’s wild to think that nothing has really changed, but yet we are excelling in the way we are,” Allgaier said. “It’s a lot different than anything I have ever had in the past. 

“We fired off at the beginning of the season and we were comparable or better, and it’s just made the road a lot easier. When you’re running up front and your cars have speed you don’t go into a panic mode. You’re not making desperate moves or desperate decisions. You’re able to just go with it and enjoy it.”

Allgaier said the team didn’t possess the speed it needed the previous two years so it was unable to focus on the basics. 

“In those moments, you’re constantly trying to keep up with everybody else,” Allgaier explained. “We’ve always felt like we needed a little bit more to get to where we needed to go. This year, we haven’t felt that way.”    

Before the season started, when Allgaier said there was a possibility the entire JR Motorsports contingent could make it into the Championship Four there were those who thought he was crazy. 

“When you look at the performance of our company as a whole, I don’t feel like I’m that crazy,” Allgaier said. “I feel like our team has grown among our four drivers. I feel like they’ve done a good job of (getting) us all on the same page. We all know where the other one kinda stands with everything. We’ve all fed off each other and the results are showing it.”

Berry believes this year’s driver and crew chief lineup is the strongest “across the board” that JR Motorsports has ever fielded. 

Allgaier noted the more drivers the organization can place in the Championship Four at Phoenix, the better the morale at the shop. 

“You can’t lose as a company if you’ve got four in there,” Allgaier continued. “The JR Motorsports employees that aren’t tied to one car want nothing more than for one of us to win the championship.”

Allgaier also said that when one of the teams in the organization was victorious everyone celebrated. 

“Our company truly enjoys winning and that starts with Dale and Kelley, and it trickles all the way down,” Allgaier said. “All four teams really compliment each other really well in a lot of different ways. We have a lot of fun in our shop, we’re supportive of each other and there’s a lot to be said for that.” 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs begins Saturday at 3:30 p.m., ET, on the USA Network.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 23 2022
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