With confirmation that JR Motorsports is working on a NASCAR Cup Series program, here are five drivers who could get behind the wheel of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Cup Series car.
Prior to the 2022 NASCAR race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, 15-time Most Popular Driver Award winner, NASCAR Hall of Famer, and JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., along with longtime friend and podcast co-host Mike Davis, shared beers with fans at Ole Red during the taping of a live episode of The Dale Jr. Download.
Just about 15 minutes into the show, Dale Jr. broke some long-speculated news: “JR Motorsports absolutely wants to be in the Cup Series.”
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Jr.’s sister and co-owner and vice president of JR Motorsports, reinforced her brother’s comments on NASCAR Radio on SiriusXM, stating that JR Motorsports is actively working on their Cup program alongside their successful Xfinity Series operation.
The cost of charters, which soared as high as $12 million during the 2021-2022 offseason, was cited as the primary reason why the team didn’t pursue a Cup team for 2022, and unless a major development or shift occurs, the team likely won’t enter in the Cup Series full-time in 2023 either.
But if and when they do enter the Cup Series, who will be their driver? Here are five possibilities.
Possible JR Motorsports Cup drivers: No. 1 – Any current Xfinity driver
JR Motorsports have fielded Xfinity cars for numerous drivers who have eventually earned full-time rides in the NASCAR Cup Series, including Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Brad Keselowski.
Dale Jr.’s team currently has four talented full-time drivers: Sam Mayer, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, and Noah Gragson. It’s very possible that any of these four drivers could make an appearance in a JR Motorsports Cup car because of their talent and current affiliation with the team.
Mayer, who is still eyeing his first Xfinity Series win, would be the least likely of the four to make an appearance in the Cup Series, given his lack of experience.
Berry, who doesn’t have too much more experience in the Xfinity Series, has found victory lane four times in the last year and a half. He has driven for the organization’s late model team for a number of years, and the boss man himself even said that Berry would be a good driver with whom to start a Cup team.
The team’s more seasoned drivers, Allgaier and Gragson, have a heavier case to be made. Allgaier has multiple years of experience driving in the Cup Series, but due to issues with the organization that fielded his car, he made the decision to move away from full-time Cup Series racing and hasn’t given any indication that he would attempt it again. But he has made occasional Cup Series starts over the past three years.
Gragson has been making Cup Series starts in Kaulig Racing’s #16 Chevrolet this season, earning valuable track time in the Next Gen car. This could factor into how much time he gets driving a JR Motorsports Cup car in the years to come.