JR Motorsports dropped major news on Monday, Aug. 16, revealing that Josh Berry will return to the team on a full-time basis for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. He will get back into the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro, which Sam Mayer currently occupies. However, JRM has no plans to push Mayer to the side.
“Jayski” reporter Dustin Albino reached out to the organization in the immediate aftermath of the news to find out if Mayer would return to the team or if he would lose his full-time seat. JRM responded and confirmed that Mayer will still run a full season in the Xfinity Series in 2022.
Mayer took over the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro from Berry in time for the June 27 race at Pocono. As an 18-year-old, he became eligible to run full-time in the NASCAR series for JRM. The plan at the time was for Mayer to finish out the 2021 season and continue into 2022 as the full-time driver of the No. 8.
With Berry rejoining the team and taking back control of the No. 8 Chevrolet, Mayer will move to a different stock car for his first full-time season. However, JRM has yet to provide more clarity, creating even more questions about the future.
Mayer Has Dealt With Highs & Lows in 2021
A five-time winner in the ARCA Menards Series, Mayer entered his first year with JRM with raised expectations. His goal was to contend for wins and reach Victory Lane while showcasing his skills on road courses and oval tracks alike.
Six races in, Mayer has not yet accomplished this goal. He posted an 18th-place finish in his debut at Pocono before crashing at Road America. Mayer locked up his first top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, crashed again at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and then used fresh tires at Watkins Glen to secure his second top-10 finish of the year.
The 18-year-old was en route to another strong finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 14, but an issue sent him to the garage early. He and Chase Elliott fought for position through Turns 5 and 6, but he had to swerve to the right to avoid a piece of orange curbing that had damaged multiple other stock cars. Mayer slid through the grass and slammed into the tire barrier, destroying the front of the No. 8 and relegating him to a 27th-place finish.
“I hate it for everyone on this team and everyone back at JRM that helps build these cars,” Mayer said after the race, per the JR Motorsports website. “I tried to avoid the turtle coming out of Turn 6 and just couldn’t save the car which ended our day early. We had a lot of speed and ran inside of the top five which felt great, but the ending is not what anyone wanted or expected. We will regroup and head to Michigan next weekend.”
Five Cars Could Represent JR Motorsports in 2022
With Berry and Mayer both running full-time schedules for JR Motorsports, there are questions about the remaining seats on the team. There are four current drivers in the stable — Mayer, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, and Noah Gragson — and Berry adds a fifth to the equation.
Gragson has yet to sign a deal for the 2022 season, so there is no guarantee that he will return. However, he is on the cusp of getting the No. 9 back in the playoffs for the third consecutive season, which only adds value to the organization.
There are several questions remaining about the entire team, but NBC Sports reporters Nate Ryan and Dustin Long clarified that JR Motorsports could move forward with all five men in the building. They both noted that the team could expand to five cars and that there are no limits in the Xfinity Series that would prevent this move.