By The Numbers: JRM’s Teams Putting Together Solid ’20 Season

Ron Lemasters | 6/25/2020

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Daniel Hemric Jeb Burton Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Taylor Moyer XFINITY Series

JRM has been on fire so far this season - winning races, leading laps and finishing up front - and we're just getting started.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 25, 2020) – With all the attention being paid to the schedule scramble and the ebb and flow of pandemic racing in the world of NASCAR, it’s easy to get lost in it all.

Numbers, however, do not lie, and JRM is putting some good ones together through 11 races.

In 2019, through 11 races, JRM drivers had amassed one victory (Michael Annett at Daytona), 11 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes. The eight drivers who competed in those first 11 races last year (Annett, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Chase Elliott, Ryan Preece, Zane Smith and Ryan Truex) combined to lead 346 laps over that span.

Fast-forwarding to 2020, the numbers have spiked.

In the 11 races so far this season, JRM has two victories (at Daytona and Bristol, both by Gragson), 13 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes, with a staggering 716 laps led. The drivers this year have been Allgaier, Annett, Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A total of 1,943 laps have been run in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition this season, and the total led by JRM drivers works out to 36.8 percent of all laps completed. Each of the six drivers has led this season. Gragson has led 336 and Allgaier 308 of the total, while Burton (34), Annett (24), Hemric (10) and Earnhardt Jr. (4) have each contributed to the total.

Gragson, in his second season with the team, has spent the time away from the track when the sport was shuttered by the pandemic figuring some things out.

In the four races run before the sport was shut down for the virus, Gragson had won the opener at Daytona, finished fourth at Las Vegas, 26th at Auto Club Speedway and seventh at Phoenix, leading a total of 44 laps in the four events. That’s an average finish of 9.5. In 2019 over the same stretch, his average finish was slightly better (8.5) and but he’d led only 10 laps by then.

Post-pandemic, he’s been on fire.

In the seven races since the lockdown was lifted, the 21-year-old from Las Vegas has earned a second victory (at Bristol), logged five top-five and six top-10 finishes and led 292 of his 336 laps after the break.

“I want to be the guy that runs up front, is confident in my ability and in my team,” Gragson said. “It’s not easy, but it’s fun. When it is fun, it makes it easier and you enjoy it and don’t overthink it. That’s big.”

No practice? No problem.

“It’s good preparation,” Gragson said. “No practice probably helps. I have a lot more confidence unloading now, compared to some of the other guys we’re racing. I feel more confident going to the track.”

The fourth JRM car, the No. 8 of crew chief Taylor Moyer, has been more than solid all year long. A season after campaigning nine drivers in the 33 races, Moyer has “cut back” to just three, and all three have delivered.

Hemric, in his first stint with JRM, has flashed big so far in his eight starts, logging a pair of top fives and five top-10 results, the best being a runner-up finish at Charlotte. Burton has just two starts through the first 11 races, but led 26 laps at Daytona in the opener after qualifying fourth and was leading last week at Talladega as the field took the green for the final two-lap run to the checkered flag.

Earnhardt Jr., making his lone start of the season in the first of two races at Homestead-Miami, led four laps and finished fifth. 

The key to the uptick in performance has been, Moyer said, experience.

“I have more experience, and everybody on the team has more experience,” he said. “We have notebooks to go off, and Daniel is an experienced driver with a lot of knowledge. That helps us, especially in the non-practice situation. We can articulate our changes. We’ve been using races as our practice and our tests, especially at the places where we weren’t great last year. We worked really hard to unload off the truck and be close. That’s all you can shoot for.”

The most recent race at Talladega, with Burton up, was a testament to everyone on the team, Moyer said, and everyone at the shop as well.

“Daytona and Talladega are pure testament to the hard work by the people who prepare our race cars,” Moyer said. “Speedways are fun if you like to craft race cars. It’s generally a dictation of how aerodynamically good the car is and how strong your engine program is, and if you combine the two you can have some good things happen.

“At Talladega, we had to start at the back of the field, but Jeb was the front of a four-car pack on the bottom that weren’t teammates, weren’t organized and not in good cars, and we pulled the train all the way to the lead against a 20-car pack. That’s a testament to my team, every guy in the shop, mechanics, JRM as a whole.”

The No. 8 team is eighth in owner points, trailing the leader by 119. Last year after 11 races, that margin was 167 points. “That’s after four DNFs this season,” Moyer remarked. “We haven’t finished outside the top 10 if we haven’t wrecked. We’re just trying to be consistent and consistency is the key.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • July 18 03:00 PM ET
    My Bariatric Solutions 300Texas Motor Speedway
  • July 25 05:00 PM ET
    Kansas 250Kansas Speedway
  • August 8 03:00 PM ET
    Henry 180Road America
  • August 15 03:00 PM ET
    Daytona 250Daytona International Speedway
  • August 22 04:00 PM ET
    NXS 200 at DoverDover International Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Alsco 300 at Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway | 7/10/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Chase Briscoe6430
2Noah Gragson624-19
3Austin Cindric610-33
4Ross Chastain583-60
5Justin Haley521-122
6Harrison Burton #492-151
7Justin Allgaier491-152
8Michael Annett443-200