Doubling Down: JRM Teams Prepared for Kentucky Twinbill

Ron Lemasters | 7/7/2020

Jeb Burton Justin Allgaier Kentucky Speedway Michael Annett NASCAR Xfinity News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Poppy Bank Rocky Boots

This weekend's doubleheader at Kentucky is the second such race in less than a month for JRM. There's a lot that goes into getting everything to the track.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 7, 2020) – For the second time in less than a month, JR Motorsports will undertake something unheard of before the COVID-19 pandemic put the sport—and every-day life—on its head.

This week’s races (Thursday night and Friday night) will be at Kentucky Speedway, and there’s a lot of work to get everything in place before the JRM transporters start the pull to northern Kentucky.

Nobody knows that better than Mike Bumgarner, the race operations manager for JRM.

“We’re still going to prepare the same way we did for Homestead,” Bumgarner said of the previous doubleheader. “When we went to Homestead, we had the primary car and the backup car, which was a true car ready to go for a race two weeks away. We’re going to do the same thing: a primary car and a backup car that will be race-ready and prepared to go to Kansas.”

Backup cars, per rule, cannot have engines in them, nor drivelines or gears. Having the backup ready to roll was a blessing last month at Homestead, as Justin Allgaier and the No. 7 team had to pull it out for the second race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“When we ran Homestead and the 7 car (Justin Allgaier) had to go to a backup, I felt like we could have had that car ready in an hour, hour and a half,” Bumgarner remembered. “We did really well, I feel like, being prepared from here and going to the race track and unloading a backup car. It was about as good as you could ask for there.”

There’s a lot that goes into planning for two races in 24 hours. Not only do the cars have to be correct, the sponsorship factor is just as important. Both the No. 1 and No. 8 teams will have different sponsors for the two races, and the No. 8 will have two drivers as well.

“The No. 1 (Michael Annett) and No. 8 (Jeb Burton and Daniel Hemric) both will have a wrap change, and the No. 8 will have a driver change as well (from Burton to Hemric). There’s a lot that goes into that as far as double-wrapping the cars. The TMC car for Thursday is wrapped Pilot Flying J underneath, so ideally, after Thursday night, they’ll just peel that wrap off and be ready to go.”

Burton will have Rocky Boots on the No. 8 for Thursday, and Hemric’s familiar Poppy Bank colors are on tap for Friday.

Race teams are used to quick turnarounds and planning for the future, but Bumgarner said there are still a few unknowns that make it difficult.

“The biggest thing is, what is our next move?,” Bumgarner said. “We’re trying to race four or five weeks out, and we’re still somewhat waiting on answers. NASCAR is doing the best it can, as far as trying to give us the schedule, but...we’re not sure if we are oval racing or road-course racing. Thankfully, the road-course cars came out really well from Indy, so that’s a big, big plus.”

The stress involved is, according to Bumgarner, no more or less than a normal season, but the playoffs are on the horizon, and that means a lot.

“It’s not any more stress, but when you do prepare two cars...we try to do that all year long,” Bumgarner said. “In years past, we’ve tried to trend harder toward the playoffs. We try to make sure that both cars on the truck are as race-ready, more prepared than what we might do during the season. It’s probably wrong to say that, but that is kind of the way it goes.

“Preparing for these doubleheaders, you kind of treat them like playoff races; both races are a lot of points. You want to have the best chance to win both races.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • August 15 03:00 PM ET
    UNOH 188 Daytona Road Course
  • August 22 04:00 PM ET
    Drydene 200Dover International Speedway
  • August 23 12:30 PM ET
    Drydene 200Dover International Speedway
  • August 28 07:30 PM ET
    Wawa 250Daytona International Speedway
  • September 5 04:00 PM ET
    Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200Darlington Raceway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Henry 180

Road America | 8/8/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric7710
2Chase Briscoe760-11
3Ross Chastain708-63
4Noah Gragson697-74
5Justin Haley636-135
6Harrison Burton #608-163
7Justin Allgaier598-173
8Michael Annett543-228