NASCAR

Smith to drive for JR Motorsports

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JR Motorsports announced Wednesday that Regan Smith will drive the team’s No. 5 NASCAR Nationwide Series entry full time in 2013.

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Smith will make his debut this season when the team fields three entries for the Nov. 17 season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Smith will join teammates Cole Whitt and Danica Patrick in that race.

“This is an extremely good opportunity for me,” said Smith, who filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup entry the last two weekends. “Dale Jr. and I first started talking about this several years ago, but the timing never matched up to where we could make it happen. Now it’s time. I’m happy to be a part of this organization. I don’t want to just win races. I want to be the team that dominates races and contends for the championship.”

Smith, 29, has competed in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck series since 2002 and Sprint Cup Series since 2007.

The 2008 Sprint Cup rookie of the year, he earned his lone Cup win at Darlington Raceway in 2011.

“Regan has always impressed me,” said team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “He gets the most of his car, no matter what he’s driving or who he’s driving for. He takes care of his cars and gets good finishes. With his experience and ability, we feel he can excel in our equipment. He has a super personality, and his ability to work with everyone here at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports will be important in getting us back to the winner’s circle.”

Smith’s No. 5 Chevrolet is the only JRM entry announced for a full season in 2013.

Team general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said the goal of the organization is still to run two full-time teams in addition to Earnhardt Jr. competing in select Nationwide Series races in the No. 88 car.

“We feel it is important for our sponsors, our fans, and even Dale to keep his Nationwide Series number consistent with his Cup number,” Earnhardt Miller said. “His brand is associated with the No. 88. That’s what makes him distinguishable on the racetrack, so it’s only natural that he drives the No. 88 all the time. To do that, we are making our No. 5 Chevrolet our full-time entry. We hope to have Cole in the No. 7 full time in 2013, and we are working hard on securing sponsorship for that.”

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Regan Smith

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