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Where Does Connor Zilisch Fit in JR Motorsports’ 2025 Plans?

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What’s Happening?

Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal dropped a news bomb later on Friday, reporting that Connor Zilisch is talking with JR Motorsports about racing full-time for the team in 2025. With JRM already being a four-car team, where does Zilisch slot into the team?

  • Connor Zilisch signed a development contract at Trackhouse before the season. Without a lower series program, Trackhouse has elected to loan Zilisch out to teams for this year, including JRM in the Xfinity Series, Spire Motorsports in Trucks, and Pinnacle Racing Group in ARCA. Trackhouse also took a similar path, including Xfinity Series driver Shane Van Gisbergen racing for Kaulig and Cup Series driver Zane Smith racing for Spire.
  • This season, Zilisch has impressed at every level. He won a pole and recorded a top-five in his first Truck Series start at COTA, and he took home class wins in the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. He is set to make his Xfinity Series debut later this season for JR Motorsports at Watkins Glen.
  • Zilisch is one of the most intriguing prospects in NASCAR. With how much success he’s had this year, many see him as one of the premier prospects in NASCAR.

Does JR Motorsports add a Fifth Car?

Option one is to add an additional team and expand to five cars. Trackhouse allowed this to happen at Kaulig Racing in 2024 through a technical alliance, including providing sponsorship from WeatherTech to field the No. 97 car.

Now, it would be a tall order, but JRM fields five cars often as it is. Currently, JRM is slated to have the No. 88 car, a fifth entry, in 16 out of 33 races in 2024. A fifth car, while a tall order, can happen, and a limit for teams does not exist in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as it does in the Cup Series.

However, does JRM have to field a fifth car, or could another ride open up for Zilisch within the race team? The future of the team has a degree of uncertainty.

Does Someone Leave JRM?

Justin Allgaier and Sammy Smith seem set on staying put for 2025. Both guys have loyal sponsors, and they currently have no Cup Series possibilities on the table.

Brandon Jones told Frontstretch in 2023 that he has “Two years here” at JRM, and 2023 was year one. This means his contract is up after 2024, so he is not guaranteed to be back. He brings a lot of funding from Menards but has not performed as well as he had hoped, missing the Playoffs in 2023 and well outside of it halfway through 2024.

Sam Mayer is on Cup Series radars after six wins in the past season and a half. Bob Pockrass recently reported that Front Row Motorsports is interested in Mayer.

However, neither driver leaving is a guarantee. If they don’t leave, JRM may have no choice but to expand to five cars.

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