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“Born With This Ability”: Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the Most Important Aspect Behind Choosing a Driver

Srijan Mandal

“Taught Us All How to Race”: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Credits This NASCAR Legend for Changing “The Entire Culture” in the Sport

Team ownership in motorsports is surely not a walk in the park. There are several things to consider while getting the right personnel and drivers to make a successful entry in whatever series you might be in. The case is even more interesting when that team owner has been a driver in the past, someone like Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The former HMS driver and now JR Motorsports team owner has produced some of the finest talents in NASCAR through his team. Recently, while speaking to NFL legend Eli Manning, Junior was asked about his thought process when finding a talent and his overall selection criteria for drivers to get into his team.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. explains what is it like to hire a driver as an owner

While speaking on the Eli Manning show, Junior spoke at length about his process to hire a driver for his team. Manning further quizzed the former HMS driver on the qualities he looks at while evaluating a certain prospect. 

Subsequently, Junior responded, “Well, one thing that is important is that they don’t crash right? Because cars are expensive and so if they crash a lot that’s gonna drain the bank account of the team. But if they have raw speed they can probably take a gamble on that driver. Try to help them clean up the racetrack.”

Later on, Junior spoke about how one acquires raw speed, and he replied that it was something that one is born with. He added, “Some people can learn to drive fast or learn to drive a racecar driver. But some, the ones you want are born with this ability.”

JR Motorsports to welcome new driver for their 2024 Xfinity roster

Since Josh Berry will be moving up the ladder into the Cup Series taking the seat of Kevin Harvick next year, this left an empty seat at JR Motorsports. However, it seems that the team has already found a suitable candidate for that position.

The driver in question is Sammy Smith. After a string of impressive performances including a win at Phoenix Raceway earlier this year, the door has opened for him at JR Motorsports.

Interestingly, Smith had been a Toyota Racing Development driver, but the deal seems to have been made between Junior’s team and Chevy to get the young gun onboard for the next season. Smith would be fielding the #8 Chevy car for JRM and will certainly look to continue on his upward trajectory.

About the author

Srijan Mandal

Srijan Mandal


Srijan Mandal is a Senior NASCAR Analyst and Editor at The Sportsrush with a wealth of experience and expertise in the world of motorsports. With several thousand articles under his belt over the years, he has established himself as a leading authority on all things racing. His passion for motorsports started at a young age, and he has dedicated his career to covering the sport in all its forms. He is an expert in various disciplines, including stock car racing, American motorsports, Formula 1, IndyCar, NHRA, MotoGP, WRC, WEC, and several more. But Srijan's love for racing goes beyond his writing. He actively competes in professional open-wheel simulation racing, using the number 88 as his racing number. While he mostly participates in GT Endurance classes, he also ventures into Stock Car racing from time to time. In case, you wish to contact Srijan, kindly send an email to him at or just DM him on Twitter.

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