JRM Getting Back to the Business of Championships

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 1/5/2018

News XFINITY Series

An inside look at how JRM's four crew chiefs are preparing for the upcoming 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 5, 2018) – Less than two months ago, JR Motorsports won its second NASCAR Xfinity Series championship when rookie William Byron took the winner-take-all race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Late in the year, NASCAR released its rules for 2018 covering several areas, and also announced new personnel standards for each car in the garage. It’s the usual flurry of activity before preparations begin in earnest for a new season, and it is a high-stress time for everyone concerned.

Earlier this week, JRM employees walked back into the headquarters building to begin their defense of that title, and chief among them were the four crew chiefs tasked with guiding their teams to the top of the point standings. Each had a different priority at the top of their list, but it all boiled down to the same thing: winning again in 2018.

Dave Elenz, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, said that a test was his first thought when he came in on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “That test at Atlanta, which is scheduled for the end of the month, was the first thing on my mind,” he said. “Getting cars ready for that, figuring out what we’re going to test, getting ready to go down there.”

Elenz was the championship crew chief in 2017, with rookie driver Byron, but didn’t have to worry about a sophomore slump. He has another new driver this season, Tyler Reddick. Prior to Elenz calling the shots for Byron, he headed the “All Star” car for JRM, which rotated as many as 10 drivers in and out of it in 2016. So it’s more of the same for him.

“We’ve had a lot of new drivers, and it is a change, but we’ve had a new guy every year...sometimes every week,” he cracked. “We adjust to that.”

Kevin Meendering, who runs the No. 1 Chevrolet team for driver Elliott Sadler, came back from break focused on new aero rules.

“I’d say the first priority is understanding all the new rules, getting all that information from NASCAR so we can start building cars, figuring out how we want to build our cars,” he said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been waiting on, since the rule book was released just before Christmas. Now that we have more information, and we’re still waiting on some stuff...we’re trying to figure out how to adapt to them.”

At issue is the new body rules for 2018, he said.

“Going to the composite body and how they are going to officiate them is the biggest thing, the tolerances and stuff, and how they are going to officiate it at the track with the new Hawkeye scanner,” Meendering said after finishing second in points again in 2017. “It’s about getting our processes so we can build the cars and stay inside those parameters.”

Jason Burdett, who led the No. 7 Chevrolet team to a second straight third-place finish in 2017, was keen on meshing his personnel for the coming season.

“The thing that is important is your team, who is doing what, making sure you’ve got everybody in the places that you want to get the season started,” he said. “We’re only a month and a half from getting started. With the new roster rules and new people...we’ve had people move on to different places. It all happens at the end of the year.”

Jason Stockert approached his second season as the straw boss of the No. 5 Camaro for Michael Annett with the idea that he would be prepared for the new season in terms of structure. The new-for-2017 team was just forming at this time last year.

“Organizing our equipment and rebuilding our tool box to make it more functional from where it was last year was the first thing,” he said. “We’ve had some personnel that we have to replace. At the end of last season, Michael and I went to lunch and we had some meetings with some people here. The last four or five weeks were much better weekends for us, overall. We try to evaluate what the changes are going to be, aero changes. We’re waiting on answers to those questions.”

When the engines fire at Daytona International Speedway next month, it will kick off another 33-race season. What happens in the shop, on the set-up plates and in the fab shop between now and then will be key to how that season unfolds.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • April 28 03:00 PM ET
    Sparks Energy 300Talladega Superspeedway
  • May 5 01:30 PM ET
    OneMain Financial 200Dover International Speedway
  • May 26 01:00 PM ET
    NASCAR Xfinity Series at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • June 2 01:00 PM ET
    Pocono Green 250Pocono Raceway
  • June 9 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After ToyotaCare 250

Richmond International Raceway | 4/20/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Elliott Sadler3110
2Christopher Bell #282-29
3Tyler Reddick #280-31
4Daniel Hemric273-38
5Justin Allgaier263-48
6Cole Custer263-48
7Ryan Truex242-69
14Michael Annett143-168