Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR team has been a championship contender in the Xfinity Series. But how close is JR Motorsports to a Cup Series debut?
JR Motorsports have seen their fair share of success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, complete with the series championship in 2014, 2017, and 2018. This season, all four of their drivers are slated to be in the playoffs, as they sit well above the cut line.
Continued success and a pipeline of talent have made the team owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. formidable competition, and this has allowed Earnhardt to add to his legacy outside of the driver’s seat.
While he does still compete in the Xfinity Series once per year, the Kannapolis, North Carolina native has shifted gears into an owner’s mindset since retiring from full-time Cup Series competition at the end of 2017.
Earnhardt and co-owner Kelly-Earnhardt Miler have expressed interest in moving up to the Cup Series, but they have cited charter price as a huge obstacle.
But even though a full-time move to the Cup Series probably won’t happen in 2023, it may be time for JR Motorsports to think of possible ways to expand their program to the sport’s top level. Here are three ways they can do that.
Ways JR Motorsports can join Cup: No. 1 – Merge with Richard Childress
Richard Childress Racing have been a staple of the NASCAR Cup Series for decades now, but following a recent announcement, the Welcome, North Carolina-based team may need to think of downsizing.
It was recently confirmed that Tyler Reddick, who is under contract to drive the #8 Chevrolet through next year, would leave Richard Childress Racing for 23XI Racing after the 2023 season.
It is unclear what car he will drive for 23XI Racing in 2024, or who will be replacing him at Richard Childress Racing. This is where JR Motorsports can come in.
Dale Jr. and the rest of the Xfinity Series team could merge with Richard Childress Racing, keeping the current stable of the #3 Chevrolet and the #8 Chevrolet. Both numbers hold great value to their respective teams.
While the current driver of the #3 Chevrolet, Austin Dillon, would most likely stay in that seat, JR Motorsports could bring one of their drivers — perhaps Josh Berry, a driver slated to see the Cup Series sooner rather than later — to hop into the #8 Chevrolet.
Earnhardt Childress Racing, or ECR, is already the name of the team’s engine program, so while that name may be out of the question, JR-Childress Racing may be a more realistic option.