NASCAR

JR Motorsports Loads Up Nationwide Daytona Entry List

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t think that Dale Earnhardt Jr does not take his commitment to JR Motorsports and his sponsors seriously. The fan favorite Earnhardt has put together a very impressive driver list for his three entries into the NASCAR Nationwide Drive4COPD 300 this Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway.

JR Motorsports will field a three man team that includes not only Earnhardt in the TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet but also Kasey Kahne behind the wheel of Great Clips Chevrolet and Regan Smith piloting the Clean Coal Chevrolet.

Earnhardt says that running in the Nationwide Series is important to him as is making sure that he does well for his primary sponsor for the race. It’s important to make sure the relationship between teams and sponsors is a good one on a personal level and a working one on a business level and Earnhardt makes a point of that.

“I like running in the Nation-wide Series. This race obviously is very important to me,” Earnhardt said. “It’s important to TaxSlayer because we are in the crux of tax season. I’ll run their scheme again at Vegas in a few weeks, and hopefully give people a reason to go to TaxSlayer.com.”

Earnhardt says that his organization to his sponsor is important and he feels that he needs to do something more to let them know how much a good sponsor means to an organization in this day and age of racing.

“Winning at Daytona for my buddies at TaxSlayer is still something we, as a company, want to do really bad,” Earnhardt said. “And I want to be the one to do it for them. Their commitment means a great deal to me, and I can tell them ’til I’m blue in the face, but it’ll mean a lot more if I can tell them in victory lane. So that’s our goal.”

The Earnhardt family owns 47 wins (in all series) at the historic 2.5-mile speedway. Earnhardt Sr. secured 34 wins, with Earnhardt Jr. supplying 13 victories to the list. 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Earnhardt Jr.’s domination of the 2003 NNS events at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. swept both events that season, leading 167 of 220 total laps.

Smith knows that being behind the wheel at JRM is a great fit for him and is excited about the work accomplished during the off season. Smith ended the 2012 season with a win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speed-way. The event was his JRM debut and his first series victory.

“Our tests went well through the off-season. The changes that JR Motorsports has seen, and our close alignment with Hendrick Motorsports, are only going to help us,” Smith said. “The things we have been working toward as two companies, to make them one, it’s been good. We feel like we’re part of the HMS organization, and we are. That’s the whole goal and the whole vision. It’s going to help all of us be better.”

Kahne says that he is more than ready to begin the season and driving under the JRM banner at Daytona has been a fun experience. Running in two series should be competitive and exciting for fans.

“I think everybody is geared up for the season to start. There is a lot of talk around what to expect with the racing we’ll see in both series. I don’t think there’s any doubt that it will be competitive for sure. The fans and every-one involved have a lot to look forward to this year,” Kahne said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys over at the JRM shop. They’re a fun bunch, and I’m looking forward to working with Bummy (crew chief Mike Bumgarner). He spent something like 18 years at Hendrick Motorsports and the experience he brings will be really valuable.”

The NNS Drive4COPD 300 is set for Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Kent Whitaker is a member of NASCAR media, sports writer covering NASCAR and the NFL, author and culinary writer. You can follow him @thekentwhitaker on twitter or online.