JR Motorsports is shaking up its car numbers and driver lineup for the 2019 Xfinity Series season.
The No. 8 is back in the Earnhardt family as JRM will run the number this season. Taylor Moyer will serve as the crew chief and multiple drivers will slot into the car.
After announcing the news, Earnhardt explained how he was able to bring back the No. 8.
“I wanted to run that number in a single event next year in a throwback car at Darlington,” Earnhardt said in a post on social media. “We were gonna swap numbers with BJ McLeod Motorsports for that event, but NASCAR won’t allow us to swap for just one race. So, we talked to BJ and asked him if he’d be willing to give us the number 8 for the whole season, and he was nice enough to do it. So thank you, BJ McLeod Motorsports.”
Zane Smith, who was previously announced for a limited schedule this season, will make eight starts in the No. 8 starting at Las Vegas on March 2.
Spencer Gallagher will be the team’s restrictor-plate driver. Gallagher, who stepped away from GMS Racing driving duties at the end of 2018 to take a managerial role with that team, will debut with JRM at Daytona next month and will also compete in the summer Daytona race, as well as the spring Talladega event.
Ryan Preece will run the races at Atlanta, Auto Club Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Watkins Glen.
Ryan Truex will get behind the wheel at ISM Raceway (March 9), Las Vegas (Sept. 14), Charlotte (Sept. 28) and Kansas (Oct. 9).
The addition of the younger Truex will make it twice now that Earnhardt has fielded the No. 8 for a Truex in the Xfinity Series. In 2004 and 2005, Martin Truex Jr. drove the car to the driver’s championship for Chance 2 (Dale Earnhardt Inc.).
Jeb Burton will run both races in Texas, the May race at Charlotte, Chicagoland and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Everybody remembers the number on the side of the car,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The No. 8 is very special to me and to JR Nation. There’s a lot of history with the No. 8 in my family and in NASCAR. It’s time to write some new stories and continue to add to the number’s rich heritage.”
Noah Gragson will compete full-time in the No. 9 this year after previously being announced in the No. 1 car. JRM has been using the No. 9 since 2014, and it has won three of the last five driver championships.
Michael Annett, who had been driving the No. 5, will now be in the No. 1. It’s a number that carries meaning to the Annett family as Sammy Swindell dominated in sprint cars driving the 1 for Harrold Annett, Michael’s father.
Justin Allgaier will remain in the No. 7.
JRM noted that only the numbers are changing. Crew chiefs and teams previously announced to each driver will remain the same.
“Things will look a little different for team JRM when we unload at Daytona,” said general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “But we’re looking forward to it. I think anytime you make changes like this, it’s exciting. The No. 8 will always be a fan favorite, and we take a lot of pride in being able to run that number.”