Smith Joins JR Motorsports NW Operation
MOORESVILLE, N.C. — JR Motorsports has reached an agreement with Regan Smith to drive the team’s No. 5 NASCAR Nationwide Series entry full-time next season.
General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said Smith will make his JRM debut this year, as the company will field three teams for the Nov. 17 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Smith will join teammates Cole Whitt and Danica Patrick in the season finale.
“This is an extremely good opportunity for me,” Smith said. “Dale Jr. and I first started talking about this several years ago, but the timing never matched up to where we could make it happen. Now it’s time. I’m happy to be a part of this organization. I don’t want to just win races. I want to be the team that dominates races and contends for the championship.”
Smith, a 29-year-old native of Cato, N.Y., has competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series since 2002 and Sprint Cup Series since 2007. He was crowned Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year in 2008, but it was 2011 when he made his biggest splash, driving the No. 78 Chevrolet to victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Smith has not competed in the Nationwide Series since 2007 when he tallied three top fives, five top 10s and a pole.
“Regan has always impressed me,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “He gets the most of his car, no matter what he’s driving or who he’s driving for. He takes care of his cars and gets good finishes. With his experience and ability, we feel he can excel in our equipment. He has a super personality, and his ability to work with everyone here at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports will be important in getting us back to the winner’s circle.”
Smith’s No. 5 Chevrolet, to date, is the only JRM entry cemented for a full-season slate in 2013. Earnhardt Miller said the goal of the organization is still to run two full-time teams — the No. 5 and No. 7 — in addition to Earnhardt Jr. competing in select Nationwide Series races in the No. 88 car.
“We feel it is important for our sponsors, our fans, and even Dale to keep his Nationwide Series number consistent with his Cup number,” Earnhardt Miller said. “His brand is associated with the No. 88. That’s what makes him distinguishable on the race track, so it’s only natural that he drives the No. 88 all the time. To do that, we are making our No. 5 Chevrolet our full-time entry. We hope to have Cole (Whitt) in the No. 7 full time in 2013, and we are working hard on securing sponsorship for that.”
Smith recently subbed for Earnhardt in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet while Earnhardt recovered from a concussion.