By Roger Faulkner
Announced last year that Danica Patrick would be running a limited schedule in a JR Motorsports car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with GO DADDY.COM sponsorship, there were no plans to run additional races.
Now that plan seems to have changed and the #7 car has been entered for the Scott’s Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. Veteran driver Scott Wimmer has been signed to drive the unsponsored JRM #7 Chevrolet at Bristol and Nashville. With Danica not scheduled to be back in the car until June, they have not said who else may drive the car in the meantime.
Wimmer is an established driver in the NNS and when in good equipment he is a driver capable of getting and keeping the car in the top 30 in points. Remember that Danica and the #7 car were locked in the top 30 for her first three starts, but sitting at 35th she would be required to qualify on speed when she returns. Even lacking sponsorship, and Mike Davis (JRM PR Rep) has confirmed that they do not have any sponsorship at this time, the benefits of a guaranteed starting spot for Danica means big $$ from GoDaddy.com.
Signing Wimmer to drive the next few races looks to be a pretty smart call for JRM as he has a solid record with the upcoming schedule. Scott has 13 NNS starts at Bristol with three top 5’s, six top 10’s and an average finish of 14th. That kind of finish can push the team back into the top 30. Next up will be Nashville Superspeedway where Scott has 11 starts with One win, four top 5’s and 8 top 10’s with an average finish of 12th.
The fact that Scott Wimmer is heading into the fourth race of the NNS season without a full time ride is a sign of the economic times effecting the series. He attempted 27 races for Curtis Key in the #40 car last year, but Mike Bliss has that ride this year. When the #40 car was not racing last year, Wimmer drove 6 races for JRM in the #5 car and had two top 10 finishes. So, he is not new to JRM and they know that he is capable of doing what they need. But all of this just highlights the impact sponsorship, or the lack of it has had on NASCAR’s second tier series.