New Faces in New Places: JRM Kicks Off '23 Season with Momentum

Ron Lemasters | 1/23/2023

News

Despite many personnel changes this season, JRM is looking to replicate last year's success.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2023) -- JR Motorsports put three of its four cars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 in 2022 and earned a team-record 15 victories during the season.

For 2023, the four-car team will have some new faces in new places as it seeks to do even better this season.

The biggest changes include Brandon Jones taking over the No. 9 Menards Chevrolet with crew chief Jason Burdett, who was Justin Allgaier's crew chief for the past seven seasons. Allgaier will stay with the No. 7 team under Jim Pohlman, who led the Illinois native to the ARCA Menards Series championship in 2008.

Josh Berry remains in the No. 8 in 2023, reuniting with crew chief Taylor Moyer, and Sam Mayer will begin his second full-time season with veteran Mardy Lindley at the helm for the No. 1 team. Lindley previously had Mayer in his cars in the NASCAR K&N and ARCA Menards Series, so there is plenty of common ground to move forward.

That's a lot of changes in a single offseason, especially coming off the most successful year in team history.

"We've been a motorsports organization since Day One," said JR Motorsports CEO Kelley Earnhardt Miller.  "In the last several years, our company has grown and changed. We lost a lot of great people, but we've had a lot of great people come in to replace them. Change is a part of life."

Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. echoed those sentiments.

"Nobody is more prepared for change than we are," he said. "We have a lot of growth, a lot of new faces, and this is going to be exciting. We accomplished a lot last year, and I'm more excited for this year than I was for last year. It's going to be great."

Allgaier, the career leader in victories with JRM at 16, will embark on his eighth season with the team without Burdett and the team that he has raced with for most of that time. But he adds Pohlman, who led Sheldon Creed as crew chief in four races last season for Richard Childress Racing and was a vital part of Allgaier's ARCA Menards Series title in 2008.

"I have been here seven years, and pretty much the same group has been here since I arrived," he said. "It's been great to have that, but going into this year, I'm equally excited. Sometimes, you get to a point where there's a fear in making a change. One of the things that I love about Jim Pohlman is, we have a relationship and won an ARCA championship together.

"I don't think a lot of people know and understand his background and the success he's had in this sport. He's very aware of the success at JRM, and he's been very intrigued by what we're doing. The growth we can have is huge, and we can unlock the potential we have to be successful."

Berry reunites with Moyer, who was his crew chief for a partial schedule in 2021. The duo won at Martinsville in the spring that year, the first NXS victory for both men.

"I'm excited to work with Taylor again," Berry said. "We're ready to go race today. He really believes in me and I believe in him, we both have a lot to prove. We're coming off a great year in '22, but one of the hardest things to do is continue that amount of success."

Mayer, who will begin his second full-time season with JRM in its No. 1 Chevrolet, will embark with a familiar—and successful—face on the pit box in Lindley. The two combined for six wins in the ARCA Menards Series and won the 2020 ARCA Menards East championship, making Mayer the youngest series champion in NASCAR history.

"Building the entire team from the ground up is amazing," he said of the new-look No. 1 team. "I'm really looking forward to getting going. I'm so grateful to be here and I've learned a lot of lessons along the way. It's made me a better driver and a better person, and I'm looking forward to another year."

Mayer nearly had his first NXS victory this past season at Talladega, leading the field off Turn 4 on the final lap only to be nipped by three feet at the finish line. "Those three feet that I lost by at Talladega seem like a mile today," Mayer lamented.

Jones, who takes over the No. 9 car that won eight races last season, is glad to be at JR Motorsports.

"It's an honor to be part of this organization," he said. "I've been part of many great organizations, really good race teams, and I'm quickly learning why you guys (JRM) kicked our butts last year. Last season, I think I was training for race wins; this year, I think I'm training for a championship."

Jones was a lap away from clinching a spot in the Championship 4 in the penultimate race of 2022 at Martinsville, only to get moved out of the groove and into the fence in Turn 1. That cleared the way for Allgaier to make it into the championship race. Now that he's at JRM, Jones was quite complimentary.

"The sky's the limit at this place," he said. "I get asked a lot about who my biggest competition is, and I think I'm looking at them right now. I don't think there's anyone who can come close. The biggest thing to me is getting to the Championship 4, and we have the resources to do that. I've been beaten by this organization a lot, so it's fun to be on the other side of it."

Miguel Paludo will reprise his role on road courses this season with three starts planned in the team's No. 88 Camaro and sponsorship from BRANDT Professional Agriculture. The Brazilian driver is ready to roll for 2023.

"This is my third year with JRM, and I'm so grateful to be back in NASCAR with them," he said. "It's a lot of pressure to drive the No. 88 car and perform, but at the end of the day, I realize how hard everyone works. My goal is always to win, but I have to take all I can from my guys and my teammates. I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to three more opportunities."

Carson Kvapil begins his second season in the legacy No. 8 JRM Late Model, this time with sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops and twin CARS Tour LMSC championships in his and crew chief Bryan Shaffer's pockets.

While there's not much left to chase after winning both the driver and owner titles, four races including the Racetrack Revival 200 at North Wilkesboro and the $30,000-to-win Old North State Nationals and a runner-up finish in his first attempt at the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville, Kvapil has set his sights higher for 2023.

"For us, it's going to be trying to win more races this year and obviously, win the championships again," he said. "The year we had was phenomenal, winning at Caraway and at North Wilkesboro and topping it off with the CARS Tour championships. It's going to be a big year with Bass Pro Shops on board, and we're looking for a few more wins and another couple of championships."

The arrival of Bass Pro Shops as his primary sponsor is ground-breaking for both the driver and the team, he said.

"I'm really excited to build a relationship with Johnny Morris and all the people at Bass Pro Shops. I want to win a lot of races for them."

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • February 18 05:00 PM ET
    Beef. It's What's For Dinner. 300Daytona International Speedway
  • February 25 05:00 PM ET
    Production Alliance 300Auto Club Speedway
  • March 4 04:30 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 300Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • March 11 04:30 PM ET
    United Rentals 200Phoenix Raceway
  • March 18 05:00 PM ET
    RAPTOR 250Atlanta Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Dead On Tools 250

Martinsville Speedway | 10/29/2022
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Noah Gragson (P)40000
2Ty Gibbs (P)40000
3Josh Berry (P)40000
4Justin Allgaier (P)40000
5AJ Allmendinger (P)2297-1703
6Austin Hill # (P)2245-1755
7Sam Mayer (P)2231-1769