With the approach of a new racing season, the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team is working toward finalizing its driver lineup for the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule.
Ross Chastain, one of the top young drivers in the sport, will return to JD Motorsports for a third straight season.
The team is working with Garrett Smithley, who had a fine rookie season this year in JD Motorsports Chevrolets, to return Smithley to the team lineup next season. “We’re 99 percent sure Garrett will be back with us,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “But we’re still working on funding and sponsorship issues to get everything lined up.”
The team has a vacancy in its third car as Ryan Preece, who ran his Xfinity rookie season with JD Motorsports, has decided to move on to other opportunities.
Chastain finished 16th in Xfinity driver points last year, with 17 top-20 runs and a top finish of 11th – at Daytona International Speedway.
“Ross is a smart kid and an intelligent driver,” Davis said. “We’re lucky to have him back with us next year. He brings a lot to the team, and he works with our guys really well. We’re looking to step up our program with him.”
The Florida Watermelon Association will return as a sponsor of Chastain’s cars next year.
Smithley ran in 32 races for JD Motorsports this year. He missed the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway but still finished 18th in driver points. He scored eight top-20 runs, including a top finish of 12th at Talladega Superspeedway.
“We’re working hard every day on getting things ready for next year,” Davis said. “It’s a complicated process to get everything in line to compete at the highest levels of stock car racing. Hopefully, we’ll be set long before it’s time to head to Daytona Beach in February for the season opener.
“Our goal is to always have our teams and our drivers in a position to show the best marketability for everybody. We take a lot of pride in our cars and our sponsors and how we showcase the drivers and the companies that work with us.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!