Most Memorable Moments For JRM in 2017

JR Motorsports | 12/1/2017

Elliott Sadler Josh Berry Justin Allgaier Memorable Moments Michael Annett News William Byron

A look at the most memorable moments for JR Motorsports throughout the 2017 season.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 1, 2017) – JR Motorsports entered the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with a ton of speed and experience, a full stable of four cars with a fifth on call and many, many questions that still needed to be answered. How would rookie William Byron fare in his first full season in the series? Could Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier overcome the crushing disappointment of coming up two laps short of a title in 2016? How would Michael Annett’s brand-new team come together?

The answers, in order, were pretty well, heck yeah and just fine, thank you.

When the smoke cleared from the burnouts at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month, Byron emerged with the company’s second NXS title in four years, Sadler and Allgaier had finished second and third, respectively, in the final point standings and Annett put together a solid debut season to wind up ninth in the final rundown. Sweeping the top three spots and four of the top 10 is surely a memorable moment, and quite unprecedented to boot. It was the fourth straight season that JRM had put at least two drivers in the top four in points, and this time they went one better. Totaling a record 136 starts among five cars—the No. 88 Chevrolet ran four times with drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne—was a good place to start, and winning six races bettered last year’s mark by one. In the Late Model ranks, Josh Berry won the CARS Late Model Stock Car series title, besting JRM teammate Anthony Alfredo in a 1-2 finish that came down to the final race. Berry and the 18-year-old Alfredo combined for 10 victories on the season, including several special events.

Looking back over the 2017 season, there were too many memorable moments to list individually, so we asked fans, team members, drivers and JRM personnel to vote on their top five most memorable moments from 2017. With that said, JRMRacing.com presents the sixth annual Most Memorable Moments.

1. A JRM ROOKIE CROWNED CHAMPION
Nov. 18, 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

Heading into the final race of the season, JR Motorsports had three-fourths of the Championship contestants and a ton of momentum. A JRM driver had led the points for all but one of the 32 races, and having three shots at clinching the title that had escaped them by narrow margins the previous two seasons felt pretty good.

When the green flag waved in this year’s title race, it was clear that the JRM trio would have to run down the only non-JRM driver with a chance in Daniel Hemric. A battery issue before halfway took care of Hemric’s chances, so it would come down to whichever team driver would be the steeliest in the face of competition. That turned out to be Byron, who ran the high line to perfection to stay just ahead of Elliott Sadler when it counted. The youngster turned back several attempts from the Virginia veteran over the waning laps to earn the title with a third-place finish, while Sadler had a run-in with JGR driver Ryan Preece while trying to get back to Byron’s bumper and finished a bitterly disappointing eighth. Allgaier, who entered with all sorts of momentum after winning at Chicagoland in the run-up to the Playoffs, could not muster a challenge to his teammates due to handling issues and finished 12th.

Byron, at 19 years old, was the second-youngest champion behind JRM’s first titlist, Chase Elliott, and was likewise only the second JRM driver to win the title in his rookie season. As impressive as that was on its own, it was even more incredible that the Charlotte native did it in just his second full-time season in one of NASCAR’s top-three divisions.

2. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Nov. 18, 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

For a team that entered 2017 with several unknowns, JRM certainly performed quite well in the face of such obstacles. Never before had the team attempted to run four full-time cars in a series as competitive as the Xfinity Series, and no one was quite sure how that was going to go when it started. The team had run three full-time cars for several seasons and had success, with the addition of a fourth car at times, but never four full-time.

The results speak for themselves: series and regular-season championships (Byron and Sadler), six race victories (four from Byron and two from Allgaier), a sweep of the top three in points —the first time a team had ever done so in the NXS— and all four cars in the top 10 in series points. A team-record 136 starts—including two each from team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne—produced 36 top-five and 73 top-10 finishes. JRM drivers led the points for 32 of the 33 races, trailing only after the opening race of the season at Daytona, and the majority of that span had JRM machines in the top three in points.

3. THAT’S NO ROOKIE
Byron victories at Iowa, Daytona II, Indianapolis and Phoenix II

While Byron fell short of eclipsing Elliott’s record for being the youngest driver to win a title, there was one area in which the Charlotte native topped the current Cup Series star: victories in his rookie season. Elliott, on the way to the 2014 crown, won three races, but Byron did him one better with four.

His first victory, at the first Iowa race in June, came a week after Byron was pipped at the line by NASCAR Cup veteran Denny Hamlin in a thrilling finish at Michigan International Speedway. The following weekend, at Daytona International Speedway, Byron won again in just his second NXS start on a restrictor-plate track.

Almost a month to the day after his maiden victory at Iowa, Byron pulled a page from the Jeff Gordon playbook and won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, holding off Sadler in what was a harbinger of the way the season finale at Homestead would turn out.

In the penultimate race of the season, at Phoenix, Byron emerged from a late-race scrum to lead the final 17 laps on the way to his record-breaking fourth victory of the season. That put him one better than Elliott’s magical 2014 season, and on the path to win his first NXS title.

4. FIRST MULTI-WIN SEASON FOR ALLGAIER
Wins at Phoenix and Chicagoland

Allgaier’s banner year in 2016 was missing just one thing: a victory. The 31-year-old Illinois native had shown copious amounts of speed during his first season with JRM, but had been unable to close the deal with a checkered flag, finishing second on three occasions (including by inches at Daytona in July). Allgaier put that in the rear-view mirror just four races into the 2017 season with a dominant performance on the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway. It was Allgaier’s first victory since 2012, when he won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, and the fourth of his career. The triumph was also the first for his primary sponsor, BRANDT Professional Agriculture, and its president and CEO, Rick Brandt.

Once he had gotten over the hump, so to speak, and reached Victory Lane again, Allgaier was eager to get back there on the way to the final race of the season. In September at Chicagoland Speedway in his home state, he did. Allgaier had won there before, in 2011, so it was doubly sweet when he led 15 laps and took home the victory in the regular-season finale. For the first time in his career, Allgaier had won multiple races in a single season in NASCAR. He also set a career-best in laps led during the season with a whopping 495. The victory was JRM’s lone win on a 1.5-mile speedway in 2017, and set Allgaier up to be in the mix in the final race...on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead.

5. VETERAN CONSISTENCY FROM SADLER



Over the past two seasons, Sadler’s numbers have been out of this world. Over that span, Sadler has finished second twice in the series points (see above), logged 26 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes and been the top NXS regular on the stat sheets in both seasons. A year after posting 14 top-five and a record 29 top-10 finishes in 33 races, Sadler followed up with 12 top-fives and 25 top-10s in 2017. The top-10s were the most in the series, and he and Byron tied for the lead in top-five results.

The biggest thing for Sadler this year was the fact that he won the inaugural regular-season championship—that’s a thing this year—and the 15 championship bonus points that went with it. Sadler led the standings for a total of 23 weeks in the regular season, including 13 consecutively, and built and impressive 95-point lead before the field was reshuffled for the onset of the Playoff rounds. 

6. BERRY WINS CARS TITLE
Oct. 14, 2017 at South Boston Speedway:

Josh Berry has had a very successful career at the wheel of JR Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet Late Model. The only thing he was missing, however, was a traveling-series championship. That little problem is no longer an issue, as Berry earned the CARS Late Model Stock Car championship in 2017. On the strength of four victories, Berry was able to hold off JRM teammate Anthony Alfredo to win his first driver’s title in a touring series to go with the car owner title he won in CARS last season.

Berry finished 10th in the season finale at South Boston, while Alfredo was a spot ahead in ninth. Layne Riggs, the point leader heading into the 125-lap race, broke a transmission on an early restart and was forced to retire, which left Berry and Alfredo to duke it out for the crown. Berry stayed within one position of the young Connecticut driver to earn the title, his fourth for JRM. In 2014, Berry won the track championship in Late Models at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and in 2012 he won the track championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Berry is also the all-time victory leader in CARS LMSC history with 12. In addition to the CARS crown, Berry won the Bobby Isaac Memorial at Hickory for the second straight season and capped the year with a victory in the Myrtle Beach 400.

7. RUNNER-UP FINISH
Aug. 27, 2017 at Road America:

Michael Annett came to JR Motorsports in 2017 as driver of the No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet with a burning desire to run up front with a top-flight team. He did that in his inaugural season with JRM, and his best moment came in the misty forests of Wisconsin at Road America. Annett and crew chief Jason Stockert had a plan, and they stuck to it around the 4.048-mile course, which nearly garnered them a victory. By pitting early under caution in the first stage, Annett was able to gain track position for the final stage. He started 15th in the final segment and moved all the way to sixth when the leaders elected to pit sooner rather than later. With 17 laps left in the 45-lap race, Annett was fifth, and two laps later was running second behind Jeremy Clements. Clements, playing much the same strategy as Annett, pitted with 10 laps to go and handed over the lead to Annett, who led two laps before hitting pit lane himself. Over the final seven laps, he passed up to third behind Matt Tifft and Clements, but was mired 11 seconds back.  On the penultimate lap, Clements and Tifft tangled coming onto the front straightaway, which gave Annett a chance at the victory, but he fell short and Clements took the win. It was Annett’s career-best finish in the series, his first top-five and sixth top-10 for JR Motorsports. The finish eventually played an important role in Annett and his team clinching a spot in the Playoffs as a first-year team.

 

 

Articles

image

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • February 17 03:00 PM ET
    POWERSHARES QQQ 300Daytona International Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/18/2017
RankDriverPointsBehind
1William Byron # (P)40340
2Elliott Sadler (P)4029-5
3Justin Allgaier (P)4025-9
4Daniel Hemric # (P)4003-31
5Cole Custer #2288-1746
6Brennan Poole2223-1811
7Matt Tifft #2211-1823
8Ryan Reed2161-1873
9Michael Annett2155-1879