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JR Motorsports looking at Regan Smith for 2013UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. JR Motorsports announced it has reached an agreement with Regan Smith to drive the team's #5 NASCAR Nationwide Series entry full time in 2013. General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said Smith will make his JRM debut this year, as the company will field three teams for the Nov. 17 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Smith will join teammates Cole Whitt and Danica Patrick in the season finale. Smith has not competed in the Nationwide Series since 2007 when he tallied three top-fives, five top-10s, and a pole award at Kentucky Speedway. Smith's #5 Chevy, to date, is the only JRM entry cemented for a full-season slate in 2013.
Earnhardt Miller said the goal of the organization is still to run two full-time teams - the #5 and #7 - with addition to Earnhardt Jr. competing in select Nationwide Series races in the #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 #88. That's what makes him distinguishable on the race track, so it's only natural that he drives the #88 all the time. To do that, we are making our #5 Chevy our full-time entry. We hope to have Cole in the #7 full time in 2013, and we are working hard on securing sponsorship for that. JR Motorsports
10/16/12 Regan Smith will step out of the #88 Chevy when Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected to return from a concussion next week, but Smith's connection with NASCAR's most popular driver could become more permanent. Earnhardt's JR Motorsports has targeted Smith as the team's first choice to contend for a Nationwide Series championship in 2013. "We are in discussions with Regan," JRM general manager and co-owner Kelley Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports.
"That's who we would like for that to be. We've been in dialogue and are just trying to work some of the details out. So it's not a done deal, but that's definitely a direction we'd like to go." The ongoing talks paved the way for Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick (also a minority owner in JRM) to choose Smith when Earnhardt Jr. was forced to miss two races with a head injury. JRM hopes to run two Chevys full time again next year with a third part-time entry driven by Earnhardt Jr. for at least four races. The car slated for Smith is virtually funded in full, and the team still is seeking full sponsorship for a second car driven by Cole Whitt, who is ranked seventh in Nationwide points in JRM's #88.
"We're hoping we can get that funding and Cole can stay on board in that car," Kelley Earnhardt said. Danica Patrick, who is in third year with JRM and first full season, still might run some races for JRM next year when she moves to Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing. USA Today
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