Continuing family tradition, Jeffrey Earnhardt will race in Daytona 500
By Kyle McFadden
January 30, 2018
For another year, at least, a NASCAR staple and family tradition will carry on.
After a fallout with Circle Sport Racing, which left the fourth-generation driver in serious doubt for Monster Energy Cup Series employment in 2018, Jeffrey Earnhardt has landed a ride in the 2018 Daytona 500 with startup StarCom Racing, the team announced Tuesday morning.
This ensures an Earnhardt in the Great American Race for the 40th consecutive year.
The grandson of seven-time Cup champion and late Dale Earnhardt, nephew of the now-retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and son of former Cup driver Kerry Earnhardt will drive the No. 00 Canadian racing and VRX Simulators Chevy Camaro in a guaranteed spot, since SCR recently attained a charter from Richard Childress Racing.
“I am so appreciative of everyone at StarCom Racing and VRX for having confidence in me and making this a reality,” Jeffrey Earnhardt said in a statement.
Dale Earnhardt competed in every Daytona 500 from 1979 until his death in the 2001 race, with his triumph in the 1998 running forever holding as one of NASCAR’s most iconic moments. Dale Earnhardt Jr., meanwhile, raced every year from 2000 to 2017, and won the race in 2004 and 2014.
“There’s been an Earnhardt driving in the 500 for 39 years, so to be able to keep that streak going for a 40th year means a lot to me,” Jeffrey Earnhardt said. “And I’m sure a lot of Earnhardt fans are going to be happy to hear this news.”
Jeffrey Earnhardt, 28, finished 26th in the MENCS standings in 2017. He completed 75.2 percent of his laps (7,806 of 10,381) over 34 races. His best finish was 26th twice, which came at the Daytona 500 and Kansas fall race.
Crew chief Tony Furr will guide the team. Furr has called the shots for drivers like Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, John Andretti, Ricky Craven, Jerry Nadeau, Johnny Benson Jr., Bill Elliott, and won races with Andretti and Nadeau in 1997 and 2000, respectively.
SCR is managed by former Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope, who launched the team in September 2017 and competed at Kansas and Phoenix, finishing 40th and 32nd.
Cope originally planned to run this year’s Daytona 500 himself, but yielded the opportunity to Jeffrey Earnhardt because of the marketability the driver brings.
“It was imperative for our young team to have a sponsored driver for our start-up year, and we did have several options,” Cope said in the statement.
“We felt that Jeffrey was the best fit for our team and VRX has already shown the type of enthusiasm and commitment that SCR has both for Jeffrey and for the sport. It will be a very exciting year for us.”
Matt Kohler, president of StarCom racing, added: “We are thrilled to welcome Jeffrey and VRX to the StarCom Racing team. The duo of Cope and Earnhardt bring experience and excitement for the 00 in 2018.”
VRX Simulators is based in British Columbia, Canada and is new to the NASCAR circuit. VRX incorporates software and hardware to “create the world’s most advanced racing and flight simulators for home and business.”
Daytona will mark its first race as a primary sponsor for VRX in the MENCS as part of its brand new VRX Motorsports program.
“I’m very proud to partner with Jeffrey Earnhardt and StarCom Racing. We’re here to change NASCAR forever. We’re bringing the most powerful technology companies on the planet to do this,” said Robert Stanners, founder of VRX Simulators, in a statement.
“We have been working on this for seven years, and it’s finally go time. We are proud to continue Earnhardt Nation and its legacy for the 40th year in the 60th running of the Daytona 500, with VRX Simulators on board the No. 00 Chevrolet.”
Cope is searching for drivers for the season, with the lineup dictated by sponsorship. Jeffrey Earnhardt plans to continue to be in that conversation.
“I knew Derrike casually before but I didn’t realize how much he knows about race cars,” Jeffrey Earnhardt said.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of technical expertise and speaking with him gave me confidence that StarCom has big plans and I want to be part of that progression.”