Hard to imagine, especially when you hear it for the first time, but: JR Motorsports has yet to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
At first thought, “That can’t be right.”
Notables like Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick, Mark Martin, Cole Whitt and many others have driven for car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., but all have fallen short of the elusive championship title. Still, all that might change come November. JR Motorsports’ full-time series drivers are in championship form this season, as veteran Regan Smith and Sunoco Rookie standout Chase Elliott have combined to lead the standings the entire 2014 season. So, title guaranteed, right? Not so fast.
Smith, the defending Michigan winner and current series standings leader, is staring at the same conundrum he faced in 2013. He heads to Michigan, the first of a grueling 18-race stretch of the schedule. This time last season, he won, but followed it up with two finishes of 30th or worse at Road America and Kentucky, ultimately unraveling his championship hopes. But in 2014, Smith has set the stage for redemption. He kicked the season off with a big win at Daytona and since has finished in the top 10 in each of his 12 starts. His consistency has garnered an average finish of 7.1 this season, and also a four-point lead over second-place Elliott Sadler in the series driver standings. Smith’s season-to-date Driver Rating is 99.8. In three starts at Michigan, Smith has posted an average finish of 17.3 which includes last season’s victory.
Smith’s JR Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, is third in the driver standings and will be making his series debut at MIS this weekend. Elliott has posted two wins, six top fives and nine top 10s this season.