Earlier today, Dale Earnhardt Jr. came on stage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for one special announcement.
His team, JR Motorsports chose to pair up with GMS Racing to set up a Drivers Edge Development Program.
It’s an initiative that will help young drivers move up the ranks & achieve their dreams towards racing at Cup level.
First of all, JR Motorsports continued to expand their network of scouting young racers across the country.
After poaching former Kyle Busch Motorsports alumni of William Byron and Noah Gragson, it’s time for them to develop their patch.
Instead of shopping to buy someone from Toyota Racing or Chip Ganassi, JRM & GMS have a list of talent available:
- John Hunter Nemechek, Age 21 in the No.23 XFINITY Series Chevy
- Sheldon Creed, Age 21 in the No.2 Truck Series Chevy
- Sam Mayer, Age 15 in the No.21 Truck Series Chevy for GMS (Part-Time) & Late Model Program for JRM
- Noah Gragson, Age 20 in the No.1 XFINITY Series Chevy
- Zane Smith, Age 19 in the No.9 XFINITY Series Chevy for eight races
- Adam Lemke, Age 16 in the Late Model Program
So looking at an exciting crop of youngsters between the two organizations will benefit in the long run.
How will these drivers go this year for GMS Racing?
If John Hunter Nemechek, at last, makes the Playoffs and have a successful XFINITY year, then expect him to race at Cup level in the years to come.
Although, don’t expect to be a quick rush in his development as it depends on how other fellow Chevy Cup rides pan out at the end of the year.
Nemechek has won a race before last year at Kansas Speedway in the then No.42 Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Now, he has plenty of XFINITY Series experience on his plate as consistent Top 7 finishes would be a great way to start.
The same goes to the defending ARCA Racing Series Champion in Sheldon Creed who’s racing full-time this year in the Trucks.
Over the last two races last year, his results look very promising over the back to back Top 10s plus a season finale Top 5:
- 10th, Phoenix
- 5th, Homestead
Creed won’t be scared by the competition from his team-mate Brett Moffitt of whom who recently won the Truck Championship.
Now, Creed looks on to claim trophies as well as the Championship off Moffitt.
And at last, Sam Mayer.
We may have to wait at least three years for Mayer to race at Truck level full-time since he’s 15.
But, he’s one of the brightest prospects that JRM and GMS have ever found.
You will get to see him race the entire NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule & seven ARCA Series events for GMS.
Plus he will race at only four tracks that don’t seem to go above his standards at tracks less than one mile:
- Bristol Motor Speedway, August
- Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Road Course, August
- Martinsville Speedway, October
- ISM Raceway, November
So no early races for Mayer to compete in this level as he’ll have to wait until June after turning 16.
How will these drivers go this year for JR Motorsports?
Noah Gragson is an exciting prospect in the No.1 Chevy after racing for Toyotas with Joe Gibbs Racing & Kyle Busch Motorsports at recent times.
Don’t forget he won the 51st Annual Snowball Derby event as well.
JR Motorsports will look after him with great care as Championship-winning Crew Chief; Dave Elenz hops onboard.
Elenz played a crucial role in guiding Tyler Reddick to his first XFINITY Series Championship at the end of last season at Homestead.
Now, Gragson will look to carry on from Elliott Sadler’s legacy and challenge for Championships.
Plus don’t forget that Gragson will keep you entertained off-track stuff via social media.
Let’s move onto Zane Smith.
Smith’s another young talent in JRM’s books where he may have skipped the Truck Series train.
But Dale Earnhardt Jr. is willing to give Smith a chance and see how he goes on a faster car.
A base schedule of only eight races this year is beneficial for Smith to give an idea where he did right and wrong.
Alongside his eight-race schedule, Smith may race part-time in the No.21 GMS Racing Truck.
But it’s only my suggestion as this stage since JRM and GMS joined forces with young talent.
Apart from that, if Smith can set the world alight in 2-3 out of eight XFINITY events, then he should be of course racing full-time next year.
And at last, Adam Lemke.
I may not have heard him a lot as I don’t follow a lot of short track dirt racing.
But Lemke is too a bright young prospect at Age 16.
He will race in Late Models this year for JR Motorsports alongside Josh Berry.
As always, JRM is keeping tabs on his performance as long as Lemke does well and bring home trophies, then no doubt that he will enter the NASCAR regional series before moving on nationwide within 2-3 years.
Now they look forward to preparing inside the race shop before starting their new campaigns.
It’s all about putting effort on the race track with decent equipment as they seek to bring trophies and put them on their cabinet.
And the extensive ties between JR Motorsports & GMS Racing will do to keep an eye on them before eventually graduating them to higher honors.
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