INDIANAPOLIS – JR Motorsports won seven times a year ago in NASCAR XFINITY Series competition. A year prior, they reached victory lane six times. This season?
That win came via Michael Annett in the season opener at Daytona. The 2019 season so far hasn’t been anything like JRM has shown the last two years. See, they’ve put multiple drivers in the Championship 4 lately but this year, it’s a debate on if they can even get one.
Maybe that pendulum starts to swing back the other way this weekend though. Saturday’s Indiana 250 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IMS Radio Network) is an event that JRM has owned. They’ve won each of the last two years here and going for a three peat this on Saturday afternoon.
Justin Allgaier is the defending winner of the Indy NXS race. He led 41 laps on his way to the victory last year. In five NXS starts at the 2.5-mile track, the Illinois native has one win, two top fives and two top 10s. Allgaier, also has 56 NXS starts on tracks two miles or greater in length. He’s earned one win, 13 top fives and 28 top 10s.
While he’s already secured a spot into the playoffs, he’s looking to add more playoff points to his total. He’s scored eight straight top 10 finishes and hoping to go into the playoffs with 10 consecutive runs in the top 10.
“Winning last year at Indy really meant a lot to me and I can’t wait to get back there this weekend,” Allgaier said. “Our No. 7 team has been working hard and we’ve been competitive, but we are ready to get back to Victory Lane. With how strong we’ve been as an organization at Indy, I have confidence that our Suave Men team can be there at the end this weekend with another shot at kissing those bricks.”
Another teammate that’s clinched is Michael Annett. The Iowa native’s best NASCAR Xfinity Series finish at Indianapolis came in 2012, when he finished sixth. Annett, has a pair of top-10 results in his four starts on the 2.5-mile oval.
Annett is currently eighth in series points and riding a streak of 10 top-10 finishes in the past 15 races.
“Indianapolis is a huge part of racing’s history, and winning there means you are a part of it,” said Annett. “We’ve run well on 2.5- mile tracks this year, with the victory at Daytona, but haven’t had the finishes we deserved at the others. The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs are starting soon, so the key this weekend is to make sure we have our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet on point to make a good beginning when they do.”
Rookie Noah Gragson will be making his first Indy start in his No. 9 Chevrolet. This ride won the race in 2017 and was runner-up last year. Can he pilot it to a third straight top two?
“This weekend will be my first time heading to Indianapolis, so I am really looking forward to getting on the track on Friday,” the Las Vegas native said. “JRM has always brought fast Camaros to Indy, especially with this rules package, which gives me a lot of confidence heading into the weekend that we will unload with that same speed with our Switch Chevrolet. It’s going to be unique for sure but I can’t wait to turn some laps on a track with as much history as Indy.”
Following a top-10 finish last weekend in Darlington, Gragson has locked his place in the 2019 NXS Playoffs. The 21-year-old driver is currently seventh in the championship standings with just two races remaining before the playoffs begin.
Rounding out the JRM driver lineup this week is Jeb Burton. The Virginia native is excited for the opportunity with such a caliber ride.
“I’m ready to get back behind the wheel of this State Water Heaters Chevrolet for JR Motorsports this weekend in Indy. I’ve always liked going there and I feel like we will have a great chance this weekend with Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and everyone on this No. 8 team. I can’t wait to see what we can do.”
In four previous starts for JRM in 2019, Burton has scored one top five and three top 10s with a best finish of fifth coming at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Burton has previously made two starts in the NXS at Indy, with his most recent start coming in 2017. Through the first 24 races of 2019, the No. 8 Chevrolet has recorded five top fives and 16 top 10s among nine drivers. The team’s best finish of second came at ISM Raceway in March.