Dale Earnhardt Jr Poaches Joe Gibbs’ 19-YO Sensation After Losing His Prized Pupil

Published 09/26/2023, 12:45 PM EDT

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In the world of NASCAR, driver changes can send shockwaves through the community. And today, one striking driver deal is bound to turn some heads. Dale Earnhardt Jr has made a strategic move after losing his prized pupil to Tony Stewart’s team, Stewart Haas Racing.

Dale Earnhardt Jr has been a prominent name both on and off the track. His influence in the NASCAR world extends far beyond his own driving career. This year, he faced a conundrum after his protégé, Josh Berry, left his Xfinity team, JR Motorsports, for a seat with Tony Stewart‘s Cup team. But as any seasoned racer knows, the show must go on.

A man with a Plan, Dale Earnhardt Jr shocks the NASCAR world as he signs a multi-year deal with Joe Gibbs’ driver


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The latest news is that Dale Earnhardt Jr is not resting on his laurels. He’s acted swiftly to scoop up Joe Gibbs‘ 19-year-old sensation, Sammy Smith, for the 2024 season and beyond. Smith, known for his impressive performance in the Xfinity Series, is making a significant move from Toyota to Chevrolet under the banner of JR Motorsports.

Sponsorship from Pilot Flying J, TMC Transportation, and the Allstate Peterbilt Group will adorn Smith’s No. 8 Chevrolet. The young talent hailing from Johnston, Iowa, expressed his excitement about the upcoming journey with JR Motorsports. He stated, “The opportunity to race for JR Motorsports is one I am looking forward to and cannot wait to see what we all accomplish together.”

This transition marks a crucial step in Smith’s career, as he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, such as Josh Berry, in the storied No. 8 machine. Dale Earnhardt Jr. himself commented on this significant acquisition, saying, “Sammy is a great fit for our program and will mesh well with our other drivers,” said Dale Jr according to NBC Sports. “He’s a young, talented racer who’s willing to learn and carries himself with a lot of professionalism. He has a bright future ahead. I’m excited for our team to help him continue his journey.”

Only hours after the deal happened, Jordan Bianchi of the Athletic took to Twitter (X) to share the news with NASCAR fans. He wrote, “Sammy Smith will leave Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series’ team to join JR Motorsports in 2024. Smith’s signing is expected to compete JRM’s full-time lineup next year, with the team having already announced that Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, and Sam Mayer are returning.”

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Famous for keeping in close touch with his fans, Dale Jr recently spoke to one on his show and revealed a lighter side of his.

Dale Jr loves Monopoly, and it’s pretty much the only board game he enjoys


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Dale Earnhardt Jr has always maintained a down-to-earth personality, establishing himself as one of the most relatable figures in NASCAR. Recently, during the Ask Junior segment on his podcast show, the Dale Jr. Download, Junior shared a delightful tidbit about his leisure activities.


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When asked about his favorite board game, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t hesitate. He revealed, “Monopoly by far… Man, I mean Monopoly is awesome.” It seems that even in the world of board games, Dale Jr. enjoys a competitive spirit. As for family game nights, Junior mentioned, “No, not yet. I’m sure that’s coming down the pipe, right Mike? As your kids get older… I mean, I play Candyland and things like that with Isla [Dale’s daughter] sometimes, but she’s not heavy into the board games. But we’ll do. She’ll see this and go, ‘Let’s play.'”

He also expressed his anticipation for more sophisticated board games as his kids grow older, emphasizing his enthusiasm for Monopoly. “But I am looking forward to Monopoly and some of those more sophisticated games once the kids get old enough. Trying to think about what other board games I enjoyed. That was pretty much the only one…”


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Dale Earnhardt Jr has shown us that he’s ready to adapt and thrive. With the signing of Sammy Smith, JR Motorsports is gearing up for an exciting 2024 season.


Written by:

Veerendra Vikram Singh


One take at a time

Veerendra Vikram Singh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a natural affinity for motorsports, he brings a unique perspective to his coverage of everything NASCAR. His love for sports extends way beyond NASCAR, encompassing Formula 1 and MotoGP and a few other motorsports as well.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh