Sam Mayer back with JR Motorsports for 2024 Xfinity Series season

Sam Mayer is flanked to his left by a JR Motorsports tool box in the background in the Kansas Speedway garage
Alejandro Alvarez
NASCAR Studios

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Sam Mayer will return to the No. 1 Chevrolet with JR Motorsports in 2024, the team announced Tuesday morning.

Mayer is currently on the brink of his second appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs, but this time, he enters with momentum. The 20-year-old Wisconsin native found Victory Lane twice during the regular season to clinch his postseason position, claiming his first two career wins.

MORE: Xfinity Series Playoffs hub | Bristol schedule

He heads into his sophomore playoff run with all focus on chasing a championship and none centered on any contract worries.

“It’s a huge weight off of my shoulders obviously to be set in stone for next year and have that confidence to come back to a great organization that has been really good to me over the past couple of years,” Mayer told “Obviously, it took us a little bit to get going (during) the first part of my career here in the Xfinity Series, but they’ve helped me through every step and every heartache that we’ve gone through and it’s been a great deal.”

Through heartache has come triumph. Mayer scored his first two Xfinity Series wins over the summer, cementing his spot in the postseason through wins at Road America and Watkins Glen International in a span that featured five straight top-five finishes and eight in an 11-race stretch.

“Obviously, this year is super, super solid with getting my first two wins and being locked in the playoffs and all that kind of stuff,” Mayer said. “So I’m really looking forward to coming back, obviously, and being better than ever.”

Mayer joined the Xfinity ranks on a regular basis midway through the 2021 campaign, forced to wait until he turned 18 years old to take over the reins on JRM’s No. 8 Chevrolet. That season, Josh Berry – who mentored Mayer in late model stock cars as he came through the ranks – competed in the bulk of the No. 8 team’s Xfinity races before Mayer was eligible to race regularly.

Next year, Berry graduates to the NASCAR Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing, joining a list of other JRM drivers Mayer has been able to learn from – Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Michael Annett and Noah Gragson among them.

“It’s cool because Josh got the opportunity because we split the car for that one year, and it’s super cool to see him go to the Cup Series now,” Mayer said. “And knowing to be a little bit a small part of that is super cool. But I mean, as an organization, I’ve seen a lot of different people. I was there when Michael Annett was just getting done. And obviously, Noah had a lot of success last year, Josh this year and Justin’s been there right by my side with it.

“So it’s super cool to be able to see an organization that kind of moves around that much and has success each and every year no matter what. But obviously, next year’s gonna look a lot different, just overall. With obviously Josh being gone, the 8 car’s gonna look different probably. So I’m looking forward to it. I think that we’re going to be one of the strongest ones on the team because I just have that experience, and I have that confidence now.”

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That confidence didn’t come overnight. His first 13 starts resulted in six DNFs, five of which were due to crashes. His persistence was relentless, though, and now he’s set for a third full season at JRM.

“I learned probably every lesson in the book, good and bad,” Mayer said. “And I continue to learn and experience more positive and powerful things for my career. And it helps to have it at an organization that’s able to back me up and help me out. Obviously, the name with JRM and the organization and their history, it’s super cool to be a part of that. It makes life a lot more fun inside the shop.

“It makes having that shop time and being with the guys during the week just a lot of fun. So I’m looking forward to being able to do that again next year. Obviously, the lineup for my team should be just about the same. So we have that confidence, and that momentum going into next year is gonna be really key for us.”

One of Mayer’s key on-track mentors has been Gragson, who won eight Xfinity races a season ago before finishing runner-up in the championship race. But just as important have been Berry and team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who returns to action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, USA, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in one of two scheduled 2023 appearances.

“Having to learn on the fly and having Dale by my side and all these other drivers in-house really helps a lot with that,” Mayer said. “But really, everyone just had their own input, and it helped and affected me, each in different ways.”

Next on the docket is his second chance to chase a NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship. Mayer enters as the No. 5 seed with a nine-point buffer to the provisional elimination line ahead of Friday’s postseason opener.

That marks quite the turnaround from the start of the year, which saw Mayer flipped on his lid on the final lap of the opening race at Daytona International Speedway after slight contact with Allgaier. In all, Mayer suffered four finishes of 17th or worse in the first nine races, three of them DNFs.

Fortunes have generally trended positive lately, though the No. 1 Chevrolet indeed crashed out early at Kansas Speedway in the regular-season finale after completing 20 laps.

“I do think we can go out there and win a couple more races and be in that Championship 4 here at the end of the year,” Mayer said. ” I think going into this year, we were kind of a sleeper pick about that. It was just a matter of if it was a positive season or if the season from last year stayed the same.

“I think we kind of came out of the gate a little bit slow. We did as an organization. We acknowledge that. But I think that throughout the rest of the summer, we got a lot of speed in these race cars now. And we who we have a lot of success here coming up, I think. So it’s just a matter of going out and closing the deal. Closing the deal and hopefully going for a championship.”