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May 25, 2024

Strong showing for JR Motorsports provides huge momentum after Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. — JR Motorsports looked to be the class of the field at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with three of the four full-time drivers finishing in the top five. Spearheaded by Brandon Jones, who finished second, the Xfinity team had one of its best results of the season, with Sammy Smith and Sam Mayer close behind in third and fourth.

Jones netted his first top-five finish of the season after dealing with a braking issue and fighting his way from the back to the front. The strong recovery to a runner-up finish gives the No. 9 team much-needed momentum for the second half of the season after a lackluster start to 2024.

“It was a testament to mental strength,” Jones said. “I think today, you know, I had to basically just stop racing at one point because I couldn’t. The brake pedal just completely got into the floor. So, it was giving me a false sense of security of balance. So I just had to make it to the end of the stage, I was super proud of Philip (Bell, crew chief) for kind of realizing what the deal was and what the issue was and then getting on that quickly and fixing it.”

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Jones has put together solid runs since winning the pole at Dover Motor Speedway a few weeks back. He earned a top 10 at Darlington Raceway and followed the act with a stellar showing at Charlotte. He believes that the organization as a whole can only improve off of this weekend.

“Having days like this, that’s what’s going to win you races in the long term,” Jones said. “Great momentum for the company. Not only that, I think that we now we go back to the shop, we’ve all had good race cars all day long so we can go in and kind of dissect that ride, and now everybody has some speed so we can pick apart setups and pick apart pieces.”

The team looked to be on course for a win after its veteran driver, Justin Allgaier, swept the opening stages of the Xfinity race and led 40 laps, but made contact with Ty Gibbs on Lap 177 and crashed out in the final stage. Taking him out of contention for what could’ve been his second triumph of the season and being scored with a 33rd-place finish.

“Justin had a really good car, and if you’re gonna crash out like that, you got to look at the bright side of it and how fast he was,” team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. told

Sam Mayer, JRM’s No. 1 driver, was in control of the race for short spurts and led 44 laps battling with the likes of Kyle Busch, Gibbs and Chase Elliott for the lead. Although a choice for scuff tires on the final pit stop couldn’t give Mayer the race win, he did maintain a fourth-place run.

“Good day, super proud,” Mayer said. “Obviously, we needed a good points day after what happened last week and what the start of the year has been, so looking forward to keeping it going.”

Sammy Smith, who is in his first year driving for the No. 8 JRM team, earned his first top-five finish of the year, providing a shot in the arm to his team’s season after a frustrating run of races of not seeing the top 20 the last three races.

“Yeah, I think just build confidence and know we can do it,” Smith said. “It’s kind of an expectation we are top five every week, and like I told those guys before, we’ve had a lot of mechanical issues, a lot of just issues this year. And to come in and have a good day is really what we need.”

A terrific team showing is a spark that could ignite more solid showings from JR Motorsports on a race-to-race basis.

“This is hometown man, Charlotte. It’s always good to come here and run good,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Yeah, we’ll see if we can continue to put together some good cars, and we got to improve some things and improve some cars and work on our guys a little bit. Keep on working hard by the end of this deal, maybe we’ll be sitting at the head table at the end of the year.”