via Getty

via Getty

A massive upheaval is underway in the NASCAR Cup garage. With Stewart-Haas Racing out of the scene soon, its drivers are now in the market as free agents. Front Row Motorsports has already seized one charter. Now, other teams are speculating whether to expand or not. But Dale Earnhardt Jr’s team recently backed out. And for a very valid reason.

In recent years, charter sale prices have shot up to astronomical prices. After hanging around single-digit millions a few years ago, charters have reached the $40 million threshold. To put it into perspective, charters were worth $2 million in 2016. In just 8 years, they’ve seen a 1900% increase in costs. That said, Dale Jr’s employee believes his team can benefit from its influential drivers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr could tap into his pupils


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JR Motorsports fields two extremely talented drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Sammy Smith and Sam Mayer. The latter made jaws drop on Saturday at Iowa Speedway, edging SHR’s Riley Herbst for a close-margin victory. That marked his sixth career victory in a rapid trend he began last year in July. Sammy Smith is no less spectacular, owning 3 top-5s and 6 top-10s this season.

On Tuesday’s episode of the Door Bumper Clear podcast, a production of Dale Jr’s Dirty Mo Media, host Brett Griffin pointed out the untapped potential Junior might miss out on by not investing in a charter. He indicated that his employer could make good use of his drivers to attain an SHR charter. “I don’t understand the JRM approach to the charter… You have a Sam Mayer, and you have a Sammy Smith. Both are assumed to have very deep pockets.”

Besides sheer talent, Mayer and Smith hold immense influence in motorsports. Sam Mayer hails from a racing family, and his father, Scott, raced Indy cars. Sammy Smith has solid connections to help him – Xfinity veteran Michael Annett mentored him during his formative years. Referring to this, Griffin added, “Why don’t you go to one of those two because they’re both really rich? Well, Sammy’s not rich, but he has connections to money.”

The DBC host added that as a primary sponsor is needed, Dale Earnhardt Jr could follow in his father’s footsteps. “When you look at Dale Earnhardt (DEI) when they started the team with Michael Waltrip, they went to NAPA and said, ‘Hey, we need you to leave Ron Hornaday in Trucks, and we need you to come with us to Michael Waltrip in Cup.’ They said yes.” DEI and NAPA’s partnership began in 1996 and persisted for years, even after Dale Earnhardt’s tragic passing. But for a more recent connection, Junior could potentially look at 23XI Racing.

Towards the end of May, Bob Pockrass reported that 23XI – the team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and multi-billionaire Michael Jordan – is highly likely to be one of SHR’s charters before the 2025 season. Referencing this, Brett Griffin said, “When you look at what 23XI is allegedly about to do with their third charter and who they’re about to do it with, and the sponsorship they’re doing it with, that’s to help subsidize the costs of starting the third team. So, I don’t know why JR won’t do that.”


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Turns out, Dale Earnhardt Jr may have good reason not to exude the killer confidence that the Intimidator possessed.

Dale Jr put forward a strong reason


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Even though Brett Griffin is indirectly hounding his employer to fetch an SHR charter, Dale Earnhardt Jr knows what he is doing. He revealed to Bob Pockrass that the personal monetary investment would be excessive. And when the charter prices were low, Dale Jr gave the same reason. So he believes “that ship has sailed.” However, he regrets not investing in one when the prices were considerably lower than they are now. “I’m frustrated. I wish I had been smart enough to buy a charter when they were cheaper.”


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That said, another stronger, more personal reason motivates Dale Jr in his approach – family. Dale Earnhardt Jr is a father to two lovely daughters – Isla and Nicole. With Amy Reimann, the quartet makes an adorable family which Dale Jr wants to invest in. So his verdict is clear: “Personally, I would rather do something else with that money for the benefit of my girls… I’m not buying a charter and putting millions of dollars away into something that I can’t then recoup or sell for a profit… So I can do that with other investments or whatever for my girls.”

Hence, Dale Earnhardt Jr has pretty valid reasons to stay away from Tony Stewart’s stable. But hopefully, his talented drivers in Xfinity will jump to the Cup Series soon.