JRM OVERALL WIN STATS - Regan Smith’s victory at Michigan marked the 12th overall win for JRM in the Nationwide Series… It gives Smith three career victories (all with JR Motorsports) and two this season… The win gives JR Motorsports its first multwin season since Brad Keselowski’s four victories in 2009… Michigan International Speedway becomes the first facility in which JRM has scored a repeat victory (Keselowski won there in 2009).
DRIVERS WHO HAVE WON FOR JR MOTORSPORTS: The following drivers have found victory lane driving a JRM Chevrolet: Mark Martin (1, 2008), Brad Keselowski (6, 2008 and 2009), Ron Fellows (1, 2008), Jamie McMurray (1, 2010), and Regan Smith (3, 2012 and 2013). JR Motorsports’ first full season of competition was 2006.
KINGS OF CONSISTENCY - Smith and the Greg Ives-led No. 7 team continued to improve their championship hopes by adding another 35-point cushion to the points lead, following the Michigan win. Smith now holds a 58-point lead over Sam Hornish, Jr. and earned his 11th consecutive top-10 finish last weekend.
WINNING AIN’T EASY - Of the seven winners in the Nationwide Series this season, only Smith has started outside the top-15 en route to victory. Smith started from the 20th position in both his wins this season (Talladega Superspeedway and Michigan International Raceway). The other six winners (Bayne, Busch, Hornish, Keselowski, Logano and Stewart) have combined to earn an average start of 5.2 in their victories.
INTRODUCING O’CONNELL - Johnny O’Connell, a longtime GM factory driver and recent inductee into the Sebring Hall of Fame, will drive the No. 5 CorvetteParts.net Chevrolet at Road America, his first-ever race in a NASCAR stock car. Last month, O’Connell participated in a JR Motorsports team test at Virginia International Raceway.
O’CONNELL’S BACKGROUND - A native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but longtime resident of Flowery Branch, Ga., O’Connell is considered one of the most successful GM factory racecar drivers from the United States. He is a three-time American Le Mans Series champion for Corvette Racing and current World Challenge champion for Cadillac. He won the 2001 24 Hours of Daytona for Corvette Racing. He has eight total wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring – more than any other driver – and an overall title in 1994. Most recently O’Connell won the fourth round of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Cadillac
SMITH ON ROAD COURSES - Smith holds only four starts on road courses in NNS, but eight at the Sprint Cup level with one top-10 finish (ninth at Watkins Glen 2012). Earlier this season, Smith tested with the JRM team at Virginia International Raceway.
FIRST ROAD COURSE WIN FOR JRM - JRM’s sole win on a road course came in 2008 at Montreal with Ron Fellows. With the victory, Fellows etched his name in the NASCAR record books, as he became the first Canadian to win a NASCAR event on Canadian soil. He qualified sixth and led seven laps en route to his fourth series victory.
NOT FAR FROM HOME FOR IVES - This weekend’s race marks a bit of a homecoming for crew chief Greg Ives, who hails from nearby Bark River, Mich., a three-hour drive north of Road America.
JOHNNY O’CONNELL ON ROAD AMERICA: “I’m truly excited for this opportunity. We only have a couple more days to wait and I think we should be good and have a strong car at Road America. The preparation and attention to detail that Mike (Bumgarner) and all the guys put in at the test a few weeks ago has us in a great position for this weekend. There is a tremendous support group and good communication between the teams here at JR Motorsports and that’s essential for success.
“They have a beautiful facility in Road America and it has a lot of speed and elevation changes in the process. It’s really all you can ask for in a road course. It will be a fun one to watch and I’m really grateful to Dale Jr. and Kelley for giving me a chance to race for them this weekend.”
REGAN SMITH ON ROAD AMERICA: “I think most drivers will tell you road courses can be a challenge. We get so used to turning left that when it comes time to turn right, it’s sometimes easier said than done. I think all three road races will be a wild card for our team, but we’re up to the task. This type of event can be very exciting, too, because you’ll see some white-knuckle racing in the closing laps. And typically, somebody won’t be happy once it’s over.
“Road America is another new track for me and Greg (Ives, crew chief). I’ve been studying a lot of video and tried a simulator to help prepare for this weekend. So I think we’re confident we’ll learn the track quickly in practice and there’s no reason we can’t run up front again this weekend.”