JD Motorsports‘ driver lineup for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is now official. On Monday, the team announced four cars will run the schedule with six different drivers: B.J. McLeod and Jeffrey Earnhardt will split the #0, Jesse Little and David Starr will respective run the #4 and #6 full-time, while a triumvirate of Earnhardt, Colby Howard, and Robby Lyons will share the #15. The driver moves were announced at various times throughout the 2019/2020 offseason before being finalised on Monday.
McLeod, the owner of B.J. McLeod Motorsports, has raced for JD Motorsports since 2018. In 2019 he ran much of the Xfinity schedule in JDM’s #15 car with occasional starts in the #4 and #01, plus a race in his team’s #99. He finished twentieth in points with a best run of sixteenth twice.
“I can’t think of a better opportunity than returning to JD Motorsports with Gary Keller for the 2020 race season,” McLeod said in his return release. “We have had some great fun and success over the years, and I know we can build on our program once again this season. Working with Wayne (Carroll) proved to be a great combination, and I can’t wait to see what we can do again this season.”
Earnhardt’s 2019 came to an abrupt halt when his time at Joe Gibbs Racing and newly-formed XCI Racing was shortened by sponsorship issues. He returned to JDM on Thursday, last racing for the team for the full Xfinity slate in 2014. Driving the #4 that year, he was eighteenth in the standings with a highest finish of twelfth. He will run twelve races for the team.
“I am really thankful to Johnny Davis and the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team for having me onboard this season,” Earnhardt stated. “These guys work hard every week and they’ve demonstrated the ability and desire to compete. I am looking forward to getting back on track this season!”
The McLeod/Earnhardt duo replaces Garrett Smithley in the #0. Smithley, who finished nineteenth in the 2019 standings, has not revealed his 2020 plans but the JDM announcement effectively confirms his departure after three seasons.
Little joined JDM in early November. The son of NASCAR veteran Chad Little, he has raced part-time in the NASCAR Gander Trucks since 2015. In 2019, he contested nine races with a best run of thirteenth for the family-owned JJL Motorsports. The team’s assets were sold and rebranded as Diversified Motorsports Enterprises for 2020, with Little expected to continue racing on a part-time basis.
In thirty-one career Truck starts, he has seven top-ten finishes and a best run of sixth at Iowa Speedway in 2018. A veteran of the now-ARCA Menards East, he also has two starts in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2018 with Premium Motorsports and Gaunt Brothers Racing, finishing thirty-fifth in both.
“I am beyond excited to have the privilege to race full time in 2020 for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” Little said at the time of the announcement. “It’s something I have honestly dreamed about since I can remember. They are a successful, established team that I can’t wait to begin working with. I hope to represent Johnny, the JDM brand, and especially all their partners to the highest satisfaction.”
Little takes over the #4, which was split between a variety of drivers in 2019 as it finished seventeenth in owner’s points.
Starr migrates to JDM from Jimmy Means Racing, where he had spent the last two seasons. In 2019, he recorded a twenty-second-place points finish with a best finish of fourteenth at Talladega Superspeedway.
The longtime Truck Series veteran, who has four wins in that series, takes over the #6; the number was last used by Roush Fenway Racing in 2017, and will replace JDM’s longtime #01. The #01 was primarily driven by Stephen Leicht, who moves to MBM Motorsports in 2020, in 2019.
“First of all, I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to drive for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller,” Starr said. “In the last two or three years, I have noticed their vast improvements as a race team on the competition side of things, and now that I will be joining forces with them, I hope to help a strong team become even stronger. I want to help grow their program and bring them long run success, and we have all the right pieces together to make it happen.
“We have a lot of great partners that will be featured on our No. 6 Chevrolet throughout the year, and I look forward to representing them to the best of my abilities.”
Howard signed with the team in January and Lyons the following month. The former made his Truck Series début in 2019, running the final two races of the season with Young’s Motorsports after a limited schedule in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018 and 2019. Howard scored top tens in all four of his ARCA starts.
“I am really looking forward to starting this season with JDM,” he said. “It’s going to be a steep learning curve for sure with all the new tracks on my schedule, but I’m sure we can handle it. My goal is to go out there and learn as much as I possibly can, all while aiming for solid Top 20 runs. This is a big step in my career, and I am excited to show what I am capable of.”
Lyons ran two national series races in 2019: the season-opening Truck race at Daytona International Speedway with Chad Finley Racing, where he finished thirtieth, and a twenty-eighth in the Xfinity finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Rick Ware Racing. He will begin the 2020 Xfinity season running the first three races in JDM’s #15, racing in alliance with Premium Motorsports.
“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to kick of the 2020 season driving for JD Motorsports,” Lyons added. “Obviously, I’ve been following the team for a long time and have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they’ve done for guys like Ross (Chastain) and Garrett, who I’m proud to call friends and mentors. Seeing how driving for Johnny prepared them for success as drivers and in so many other ways is really exciting for me. I can’t wait to capitalize on the 3 races we have planned and build on that momentum heading forward.”