The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is back in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro for an Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take over the No. 8 while Sam Mayer temporarily heads to another team. He will suit up for BJ McLeod Motorsports on Saturday, Sept. 11.
The 18-year-old confirmed that he would not miss the race, simply tweeting that he would run at Richmond. However, Mayer did not provide any further details, prompting questions about whether JRM would take five stock cars to the track. The Xfinity Series entry list later provided the answer, noting that Mayer will suit up and drive the No. 99 BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet with QPS Employment Group as the primary sponsor.
Mayer will join a long line of drivers to control the No. 99 during an Xfinity Series race. Cup Series star Kevin Harvick has made two starts, as has Cup rookie Chase Briscoe, while veteran Andy Lally has made one start in the No. 99. Up-and-comer Mason Massey has spent a considerable amount of time in the stock car, making five starts.
Mayer Will Make His First Xfinity Start at Richmond
The regular driver of the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet Camaro has not had the opportunity to take on Richmond Raceway during his nine-race Xfinity Series career. The Sept. 11 race will be the first time at the track for Mayer and his fellow drivers in 2021, following a 2020 campaign in which teammate Justin Allgaier won both doubleheader races on Sept. 11-12.
Mayer does have previous experience at the short track, albeit in a different series. He made two starts at Richmond in the Camping World Truck Series — one in 2020 and another in 2021. He suited up for GMS Racing in 2020 and finished 19th overall.
Mayer returned to the .75-mile oval on April 17, 2021, while driving for Bret Holmes Racing. He started the race 40th overall, last in the Truck Series field, but he turned in a strong performance throughout the afternoon. Mayer raced his way into the top 10 after steadily improving throughout the day. He finished Stage 1 in the 21st position and then Stage 2 in the 12th position. Mayer avoided incidents during the final segment and locked up his first top-10 of the season.
Earnhardt Only Races in Xfinity 1 Time Each Season
The co-owner of JR Motorsports has not competed full time in NASCAR since the end of the 2017 Cup Series season. Instead, he has focused more on JRM, as well as his duties with NBC Sports. However, Earnhardt has continued to sparingly compete in the Xfinity Series.
Prior to retiring, the Hall of Fame inductee made at least two starts in the Xfinity Series. He changed his schedule in 2018, 2019, and 2020, only suiting up once each year. Earnhardt locked up a top-five finish at Richmond, another at Darlington, and a third at Homestead-Miami. Now he will strive to keep his streak alive with another race at Richmond.
“I always have a lot of fun when I come back for my one race a year in this series,” Earnhardt told the JR Motorsports media team. “Richmond is one of my favorite tracks, and it’s one I’ve had a lot of success at in the past. I know that Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and the entire No. 8 team will unload a fast Camaro and hopefully we’ll have a shot at it towards the end of the race.”