MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 17, 2017) – In her opening remarks at the annual JR Motorsports Kickoff Luncheon, you could hear the optimism in Kelley Earnhardt Miller’s voice.
All you had to do was read the banner above the podium, which read “4 Teams, 136 Races, 1 Goal.”
In what has been a huge offseason for the team owned by Earnhardt Miller, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, there was a lot of ground to cover, and Earnhardt Miller did it in an upbeat, positive manner that flowed from the podium.
When she began naming the new employees for the year, that’s when the optimism hit its high point. Earnhardt Miller, the general manager of JRM, likened JR Motorsports to a family—one that’s growing by leaps and bounds—and adding names to the family tree emphasized the nature of the clan.
It’s not like there couldn’t have been more names added, either. For the first time in its 16-year history, JRM will field four full-time entries in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the team will run a fifth car in four races this year. At Daytona, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 88, marking the first time in JRM history that the team will field a fifth Chevrolet in a single event. Doing the math, that’s a tenth of each 40-car field. Race teams don’t run in a vacuum, and it takes numbers of quality people to make them go fast, so that’s one box checked.
Earnhardt Miller’s optimism was echoed by all seven JRM drivers—Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, William Byron, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler on the NXS side and Josh Berry and Anthony Alfredo on the Late Model side—in their remarks.
At the end of the Kickoff luncheon, Mr. Hendrick made some closing remarks, and they drove home the optimism for 2017 that Earnhardt Miller spoke of in the opening.
“We’re in the people business, and it’s the relationships and people working together to accomplish goals,” Hendrick said. “Just working together—we’ve [Hendrick Motorsports] got about 600 people, 175 here at JRM—we should be able to win races, win championships and do what we need to do.
“The part that not a lot of the competition guys see is the other side of JR Motorsports—the social media, the way the marketing arm works,” he continued. “I’ll tell you how important that is today. Companies don’t use as much TV as they used to, it’s social media and they’re looking for online opportunities and content.”
With the expansion of the company, as well as management changes to further develop both Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s brand and that of JRM, Hendrick sees big things for the future in terms of presenting value for sponsorship and creating new ways to draw eyeballs and funding.
“This organization are going to have a leg up on everybody else in the business,” Hendrick said of JRM. “We’ve learned a lot at HMS from what has been happening over here…it’s special. We are a big family, and you have my commitment that whatever it takes to help in any way that we can, we’re going to do it. I was super-excited about seeing two cars in the Chase. I know we’re getting better and it’s been a tremendous amount of hard work to get four full-time cars ready plus the other car, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to keep the big ship afloat.
“I’ll tell you, from A-Z, the way you work together, the leadership from the competition side to what’s going on over on the marketing side…all those things are critical. I don’t see any company anywhere that uses its brand better than the way you guys do it. That’s going to keep us in business. When you walk into the track, the way you conduct yourselves…I’m looking forward to this year.”