By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
The 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season will have some familiar faces in different car numbers at JR Motorsports. The team will no longer use the No. 5, instead, bringing the iconic No. 8, once driven by team co-owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in house.
At least five drivers will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro SS throughout the season. Jeb Burton, Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Preece, Zane Smith, and Ryan Truex will each drive the iconic number associated with Earnhardt. Smith had previously been announced to driver the team’s No 9 Chevrolet Camaro SS. The No. 8 will use the owner points from the teams’ No. 1 entry.
“Everybody remembers the number on the side of the car,” said Earnhardt Jr. “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.”
Michael Annett, who drove the No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro SS the past two seasons for JRM will move to the No. 1. The team will use the owner points from the No. 5. The No. 1 has a special meaning for Annett’s family as his father, Harrold Annett owned the No. 1 Sprint Car that Sammy Swindell found success in.
Noah Gragson, who had previously been announced to be driving the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro SS will instead drive the No. 9. All three of JRM’s Championships have come with rookies, like Gragson, in the No. 9.
“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.”
Burton will take the reins of the No. 8 in five races, including both races at Texas Motor Speedway. He will also be behind the wheel of the car at the Spring race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, and the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gallagher will start the season in the No. 8, driving both Daytona International Speedway races and at Talladega Superspeedway where he won last season.
Preece will have four races in the No. 8, starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will also compete at Auto Club Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Watkins Glen International.
Smith’s eight previously announced races remain unchanged.
Truex will have four opportunities behind the wheel starting with the opening race of the ‘West Coast Swing’ at ISM Raceway. He will also drive in the regular season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, and Kansas Speedway.
For Truex, there is family history associated with the No. 8. His brother, 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Martin Truex, Jr. drove the No. 8 Chevrolet to two back-to-back Xfinity (then-Busch Series) Championships for Earnhardt’s Chance 2 Motorsports.
Taylor Moyer will be the crew chief of the No. 8 for the entire season. Currently, the driver line-up accounts for 24 of the 33-race schedule. Further driver and sponsorship announcements will be made later.