JR Motorsports: NNS Kentucky Preview

Chase Elliott celebrates his win at Darlington.

DRIVER: Chase Elliott / No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet

For the second time this season, NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Chase Elliott will be making his way to the Bluegrass State when the NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to Kentucky Speedway. The 1.5-mile tri-oval is nestled in Sparta, Ky., about 40 miles southwest of Cincinnati.

Elliott enters Saturday night’s race with an 18-point lead over his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith through the season’s first 26 races. The 18-year-old rookie has held the series’ points lead for 13 of 26 races thus far. He and his No. 9 NAPA team are hitting their stride when it matters most, riding the momentum of seven consecutive top-10 finishes. Over that stretch, Elliott has a series-best 5.4 average finish.

Of the seven remaining Nationwide Series races this season, five of them are at 1.5-mile venues (Kentucky, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Homestead). Two of Elliott’s three wins (Texas and Chicagoland) have come on 1.5-mile tracks.

In the battle for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Elliott continues to lead Ty Dillon by 56 points.
Saturday night’s VistitMyrtleBeach.com 300 is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS and PRN Radio/Sirius NASCAR Radio Ch. 90.

Elliott On Kentucky Speedway:

“I’ve been eyeing this date for a while because we had a terrible run the first time we raced at Kentucky this year. I finished 12th after starting sixth and just never put it together to get the finish we could have. My NAPA AUTO PARTS team and I are looking to bounce back from that poor performance and improve as much as possible Saturday night. It’s always exciting to go back to a track for a second time in a season, especially when you didn’t do too well the first run at it. We have priorities in place heading into this weekend with only seven races left. There isn’t any room for error and I know we will come ready Saturday in Kentucky."

Regan Smith

DRIVER: Regan Smith / No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet

TITLE CONTENDERS: JR Motorsports teammates Smith and Elliott are the only two NNS drivers to have earned five-consecutive top-10 finishes over the past five races. Elliott’s average finish in that span is 4.8 compared to Smith’s average of 5.4.

KENTUCKY POLE: Smith earned his only NASCAR pole in 2007 at Kentucky Speedway during NNS competition.

NIGHT RACES: Through the course of 10 night races in 2014, Smith holds two top-five and eight top-10 finishes in those events. His average finish is 9.2 with 49 laps led.

CHASSIS UPDATE: Smith will drive chassis No. 782 this weekend at Kentucky. Smith piloted this chassis to one top-five (Bristol II) and three top-10 finishes (Bristol II, Iowa II and Loudon).

JRM ON 1.5-MILE TRACKS: In 22 combined starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, JR Motorsports cars have posted five wins, 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes, in addition to two pole awards. One of the team’s entries has won the series’ last four races on 1.5-mile tracks.

Smith on Kentucky Speedway:

“Kentucky is our last non-companion race, so naturally it’s going to be a big opportunity for everybody to go out there and either gain a bunch of points or lose them. It’s so tough without somebody having a problem to make points up the way the structure is, and the way the races play out in the Nationwide Series. If you’re making up three or four points a week, that’s been a good day. And that’s the way you have to look at it.

“I would say there is probably four or five of us that still have a shot at it. Realistically, maybe a couple of those guys need some bad luck from cars ahead of them. If somebody rolls off three or four wins in a row, those bonus points are huge and you’re going to jump right back up into it pretty quickly."

DRIVER: Austin Theriault / No. 5 Maine Open for Business Chevrolet

THERIAULT’S SEASON: Saturday’s race marks Theriault’s third Nationwide Series start this season. In May, the 20-year-old raced as high as eighth before finishing 15th in his debut at Iowa Speedway. Most recently, Theriault finished 21st at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after running out of fuel in the late laps.

INTERMEDIATE EXPERIENCE: Theriault will be making his first Nationwide Series start on a 1.5-mile track. In June, Theriault won his lone ARCA Racing Series start at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.

MAINE OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Theriault’s No. 5 Chevrolet features his home state of Maine on the hood and quarter panels. The effort is supported by a myriad of Maine-based companies, including Bangor Savings Bank, Colby Company Engineering, Daigle & Houghton Trucks, G&E Roofing, Kepware Technologies, Tim Varney & Co., Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Daigle Oil Company, Hogan Tire, and Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine.

LAST WEEK: Kevin Harvick’s win last week at Chicagoland Speedway was the No. 5 team’s fifth victory of the season, matching the No. 54 car for most in the Nationwide Series. To date, the No. 5 team has won four times with Harvick (Richmond, Kentucky, Atlanta and Chicago) and once with Kasey Kahne (Daytona).

KENTUCKY WIN: Harvick and the No. 5 team went to victory lane in the Nationwide Series’ June visit to Kentucky Speedway. After restarting second with five laps to go, Harvick grabbed the lead and the win.

JRM ON 1.5-MILE TRACKS: In 22 combined starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, JR Motorsports cars have posted five wins, 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes, in addition to two pole awards. One of the team’s entries has won the series’ last four races on 1.5-mile tracks.

Theirault on Kentucky Speedway:

“I expect Kentucky to be a big learning experience for me. Fortunately, I am working with a great team that won there in June. I think what I learned observing and listening to Ernie (Cope) and Kevin (Harvick) during the June race will really help me have a better idea of what to expect when I get out there. I’ve been studying a lot of the past races and in-car tapes to get ready so I feel like I’ve done my best to prepare for the weekend."

JR Motorsports

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