NASCAR

Will JR Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make the move to Cup?

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Dale Jr takes in a race as an owner (©GettyImages)
Dale Jr takes in a race as an owner (©GettyImages).

Fans and reporters have asked for several years when Dale Earnhardt Jr would start his own NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. To many the move seems like a natural fit for the most popular driver in the sport of stock car racing. The only problem is that it’s just not going to happen; at least not anytime soon.

Here’s why Dale Jr. and his family at JR Motorsports will not start a Sprint Cup series team.

The first thing is that JR Motorsports is one heck of a NATIONWIDE Series race team with a nice stable of drivers and sponsors. The drivers include limited races by Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Jr. himself on select races during the season. The rest of the time drivers Brad Sweet, Austin Theriault, Regan Smith, and Chase Elliott fill out the roster. Why mess with a good thing... did you notice the last two names on that list?

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The second thing is the price tag.

The cost involved in moving up to Sprint Cup competition is crazy even for underfunded start and park teams. Sure, the guys in the JR Motorsports garage could build a nice car for a single Sprint Cup series race. That is if it were possible under the current rules for them to enter it in a race. Lots of teams enter a few Cup series races a year. The problem is that it takes lots of cash to be able to pull it off.

A Big Difference

Running a car in a single race is completely different from running competitive cars for a full schedule. You can build a car, attempt to qualify it, get it in the show, and then get smoked by the rest of the field. The term Start and Park comes to mind.

If all of that was not enough of a reason for not making a jump to Cup series racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr and his sister Kelly at JR Motorsports then consider this. Rick Hendrick is a partial owner of JR Motorsports. NASCAR rules dictate how many Cup teams one team owner can be associated with including the cars in his own garage. If JR Motorsports made a run at Cup races then that would mean Rick Hendrick would have to take a look at moving and dropping some teams, drivers, and associations with other teams. That’s asking a bunch.

The Bottom Line... Maybe

The bottom line is this. It’s no secret that every team owner in stock car racing would love to be a team owner at the highest level. Dale Jr. and Kelly Earnhardt Miller are no different. The only thing holding them back is good sense and being smart. Why make the move and burn a bunch of bridges along the way when you can make money now, build your brand, and make the move down the road? That’s if they want too.

On the other hand JR Motorsports has drivers such as Chase Elliott and Regan Smith turning laps for them in the NATIONWIDE Series. They sure would look good doing it in Sprint Cup race on a full time basis. Why not do it for JR Motorsports? Heck, even Chase Elliott loves being associated with the Earnhardt family.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Chase Elliott said recently.

“My family and I are still trying to believe it all. I couldn’t ask to be partnered with anyone better than Dale Jr., Kelley and Mr. Hendrick, along with all of the people at their organizations who have put in countless hours to pull this together."

As always, I may need to rethink things. That's the great thing about being a race fan. Sounds like an article down the road...

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