FORT WORTH, Texas – Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway that he is looking at a handful of young drivers as a replacement for Kelly Bires on his JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series team.
JRM released Bires earlier this week, and Sprint Cup veteran Jamie McMurray is in the No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend and in a handful of other races. But Earnhardt Jr. said Landon Cassill, Steve Arpin and Mikey Kile are other options.
"The perfect story for us would be to find somebody for the 7 car and have him in that 88 before the year’s out, with a plan to run him full time next year," Earnhardt Jr. told reporters at Texas.
SBNation.com is reporting that Arpin will drive the No. 7 at Talladega and Richmond.
Cassill is driving JRM’s No. 7 at Texas and was supposed to drive the car in the next two races. Earnhardt Jr. said he hopes Cassill steps up and performs.
"I’m really hoping Landon shows (crew chief and co-owner) Tony (Eury) Jr. what he needs to see to get more opportunities," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Landon’s such a great guy, a real, real easy sell for the sponsors. He does a great job. If we can get something going finish-wise – which I think they’re doing pretty good here this weekend."
Cassill has been fast in practice at Texas, unlike last weekend at Phoenix, though Earnhardt Jr. said that may not have been Cassill’s fault. The team may not have had the best equipment for Cassill at Phoenix, Earnhardt Jr. said.
"I really hope Landon works out," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Earnhardt Jr. mentioned ARCA drivers Arpin and Kile, too.
"Steve Arpin might be an opportunity waiting to happen for anybody," Earnhardt Jr. said. "There’s drivers popping up all the time. You’ve got to look into the ARCA series – Mikey Kile, a couple other guys to kinda keep your eye on."