In an effort to increase its chances to secure the title, JR Motorsports will field four full-time cars by adding William Byron and Michael Annett to its 2017 driver lineup.
In 2016, JRM drivers Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier both entered the final race of the season with a shot at the Xfinity championship. They came up just short finishing just two points and five points respectively behind champion Daniel Suarez.
Finishing second in the final standings last season, Sadler posted an impressive three wins and 29 top-ten finishes. The Virginia driver has a total of 329 starts in the Xfinity series visiting victory lane 13 times.
Sadler’s racing resume’ also includes 435 career starts with three wins in the Cup series. With this level of experience, and JRM providing highly competitive cars, Sadler will once again be a threat for the series championship in 2017.
Allgaier finished third in the final standings in 2017 season with one pole and 27 top-ten finishes. Though he did not visit victory lane, he was a threat to win virtually every week. Allgaier’s career stats include 207 career starts in the Xfinity series with three wins.
The Illinois driver also has 76 starts in the Cup series with one top-ten. While his Cup stats are not nearly as impressive as his Xfinity results, racing in NASCAR’s premier series with the best drivers in the world, definitely improves one’s on-track performance.
In 2016, JRM newcomer, Byron, put together one of the most impressive Camping World Truck Series seasons in series history. While a mechanical failure at Phoenix eliminated him from championship contention, his season stats included seven wins and 16 top-ten’s in 23 races. That equates to a winning percentage of 30.4%. These are numbers that rival what would be expected from his truck team owner, Kyle Busch. Did I mention… he was a rookie? And yes, he won the rookie-of-the-year title.
Some might say his limited on-track experience could limit his success as he moves up the NASCAR ranks. Of course, that is possible, and yes, he did drive for one of the most competitive teams in the series. While having the best equipment helps a driver to be fast, the driver must still be able to react to situations and make split second decisions. Byron has proven he has the ability to do these things well. I believe he will adjust quickly to the Xfinity series and will be highly competitive in 2017.
Annett’s career stats include 163 starts in the Xfinity series scoring 34 top-ten’s. He also has 106 Cup starts over the past three seasons. While stats for the Des Moines, Iowa driver may not be at the level of his new teammates, he does have significant on-track experience that can be very beneficial. Annett’s experience has been in second-tier equipment which may have limited his ability to post the stats of which he is capable. Making the move to a top-tier team like JRM will provide Annett the opportunity to prove himself. Many eyes will be on Annett in 2017 to determine if he is ready to take the step up to “consistent contender” in NASCAR’s number two series.
The Xfinity series will be highly competitive this year and I would not be surprised to see a JRM driver on top at Homestead-Miami in November. JRM has worked hard to put together all the right deals and the right talent. With this driver line-up, I expect JRM to once again be a strong threat to win the championship in 2017.