NASCAR: Dark horse candidate to join JR Motorsports Cup team?

Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Jr., JR Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

If and when JR Motorsports finally make the jump up to the NASCAR Cup Series, who will become their first full-time driver?

The idea of NASCAR Xfinity Series team JR Motorsports joining the Cup Series is one that has been discussed more and more in recent years, and many view the team’s jump to the sport’s top level as a matter of when, not if.

While team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller recently ruled out making the move as a full-time team in 2023, she admitted that the organization’s “sights are set beyond that”.

Earnhardt Miller noted that the key obstacle preventing the jump from taking place is the financial aspect of securing one of the sport’s 36 charters. Fellow co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. had previously said the same thing on multiple occasions.

However, many believe that the team can test the waters in 2023 with a part-time Cup entry while working behind the scenes to secure a charter for 2024.

Several possibilities have been discussed as potential JR Motorsports Cup Series drivers, including but not limited to the drivers who currently compete for the team in the Xfinity Series.

But if the team’s jump to the Cup Series is to take the place, keep an eye on Martin Truex Jr. as their potential first driver.

Truex has long been a close friend of Dale Jr., who spoke about the matter on The Dale Jr. Download a few weeks ago.

"“I was hoping that Martin Truex Jr. would want to come over and help us start our Cup team at JR Motorsports. That’s coming full circle, I mean, I helped him get started, so he might as well help us get started!”"

Truex got his full-time start in NASCAR driving for the Earnhardt-owned Chance 2 Motorsports in the 2004 and 2005 Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) seasons, and he won the championships in both years. During those two seasons, he also made select Cup Series starts with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI).

In 2006, he joined DEI full-time. He remained with the team through the 2008 season, and from 2006 to 2008, he made select Busch/Nationwide Series starts with DEI and JR Motorsports.

Now a decade and a half later, Truex is a Cup Series champion with 31 victories to his name, and he is well on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

There was speculation that he might decide to retire after the 2022 season, but he decided to re-sign with Joe Gibbs Racing to continue driving the #19 Toyota in 2023.

Truex has admitted that he has no idea what his plans are for 2024, noting that it took him six months just to decide on returning for the 2023 season. Interestingly enough, Earnhardt’s statement came just after Truex confirmed his return to Joe Gibbs Racing for 2023.

Next. 3 schedule announcements for 2023. dark

So if JR Motorsports do move to the Cup Series in 2024 and Truex decides not to retire but is open to the idea of leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, that could give him the opportunity to repay the favor to Dale Jr. After the Earnhardt family gave Truex his NASCAR start, Truex could give his longtime buddy his start as a Cup Series team owner.