This season Ryan Pemberton moves into the role of crew chief for Regan Smith and the JR Motorsports No. 7 team. With this combination of veteran leadership and driving talent, nothing short of a championship will satisfy the team this season. The duo looks to build on a 2013 year that included Smith earning two wins en route to a third-place effort in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points standings.
Pemberton came to JR Motorsports in the fall of 2012 in the role of competition director, as the team made a strategic move intended to further enhance its competitive prowess. In this role, Pemberton oversaw car research and development and managed personnel for JRM’s Nationwide Series entries.
It’s safe to say Pemberton’s passion for motorsports is a family affair. He is one of four siblings that built careers in the sport they love, most notably his older brother Robin, who serves as Vice President for Competition at NASCAR.
Even from an early age, Pemberton showed an interest in motorsports, growing up a stone’s throw away from Albany-Saratoga Raceway in New York. But it wasn’t until the mid-1980s when a young Pemberton made the journey south.
His first gig in the NASCAR big leagues came at Roush Fenway Racing in 1988. Initially, Pemberton helped out where he could while watching and learning from the experienced crews. He advanced rapidly and in no time was part of Mark Martin’s first victory at Rockingham in 1989.
Pemberton’s skills eventually led him to the position of crew chief for Larry Pearson in 1995. At only 25 years old, he became one of the youngest crew chiefs in the Nationwide Series.
He ultimately made the move to the Cup Series, and continued to impress in the crew chief role for several successful drivers, including Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, David Reutimann and Brian Vickers. Along the way Pemberton acquired the knowledge and expertise that fuels his current role with JR Motorsports.