JRM plans four-car Nationwide attack on Texas
April 02, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
Elliott, Earnhardt, Harvick, Smith a formidable quartet in 300
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Going "all in" is a practice typically reserved for Las Vegas. But JR Motorsports is pushing all its chips toward the center of the table for a full strength-in-numbers effort in the NASCAR Nationwide Series' race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
For the first time in JRM's 10-year tenure on the Nationwide circuit, the Mooresville, N.C.,-based operation will field four cars in a single race, marking the feat with a four-Chevrolet lineup in Friday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The team will deploy series regulars Regan Smith (No. 7) and Chase Elliott (No. 9) with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standouts Kevin Harvick (No. 5) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88), the team's owner.
JR Motorsports has fielded a trio of entries in each of the series' first five events this season and the multicar attack has paid off. All three teams are solidly in the top 10 in the Nationwide Series' car owner standings.
"Our company has been performing really well so far this season and it’s heading in a great direction," said Earnhardt, the current Sprint Cup points leader. "Knowing we are bringing four cars that all have an opportunity to win is really cool for me and shows how hard everyone at JR Motorsports is working. Hopefully we can put one of our cars in Victory Lane Friday night."
The performance so far from the team's stable of Nationwide regulars has shown up in the drivers' standings as well. Smith, helped by his victory in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, ranks in a tie for first place with Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne. Rookie phenom Elliott isn't far behind: The 18-year-old stands just eight points back in fourth place, with four top-fives already in his young five-race Nationwide career.
The series last competed March 22 at Auto Club Speedway. While Smith relished the chance to"stop and hit the reset button" over the two-week break, he said he was eager to return to the track in hopes of improving for the balance of the season.
"It certainly isn’t commonplace in this sport but it was a positive for our team," Smith said of the idle weekend from the track. "We’ve been clicking off top-10s since Phoenix, but we all know that isn’t going to be good enough. We can do much better. Now is our time to regroup and refocus. Texas is a great track where we’ve had some success. The goal is to get back to running up front and winning races."
Harvick, a five-time winner in the series at Texas, has finished no worse than third place in his three Nationwide starts this year. Earnhardt, who has one win in each the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series on the 1.5-mile Fort Worth track, has an 11th-place effort in the season opener and a fourth place at Vegas in his only two Nationwide events in 2014.