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Smith signs 2013 Nationwide deal at JR Motorsports

Regan Smith will compete full time in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series, after signing a deal to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team.
Regan Smith has been handed a full season in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series, after signing a deal to race for the JR Motorsports team owned and operated by Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Smith has just finished a two-week stint sitting in for Earnhardt in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Cup car, after the announcement that Earnhardt had been sidelined from races in Charlotte and Kansas following a double concussion.

Smith had previously been racing for the Furniture Row Racing team in the #78 car, but left the squad after Talladega following the announcement that the team had signed Kurt Busch to take the ride in 2013. That leaves Smith without a confirmed Sprint Cup Series drive next season.

Smith had planned to see out the rest of the current season as a stand-in driver at Phoenix Racing in a straight swap with Busch, but was then handed the two-race stand-in opportunity at Hendrick instead and opted to take that. Phoenix brought in AJ Allmendinger to drive their #51 car, and announced on Tuesday that Allmendinger will remain in the car for the next two races at Martinsville and Texas.

Smith said earlier this week that he completely understood why Phoenix Racing owner James Finch had needed to make the call when he did, admitting that that team "just had to be able to commit to something" and hadn't been able to wait around until Earnhardt's medical status was confirmed one way or another.

"For a time period there, we were just having to wait and see a little bit to see how things went at his test," explained Smith. "I think everybody was anticipating things were fine and the test was going to go fine, but there was that little bit of wait-and-see moment, and [Phoenix Racing] had to be able to work toward what they were doing at Martinsville."

However, the team has now also said that they will bring back Smith to race for them in the final two events of the 2012 season at Phoenix, Arizona and at Homestead, Miami in November. That means that it's still possible that Smith will find a 2013 Cup ride with Phoenix Racing to go along with his confirmed Nationwide Series outings at JR Motorsport.

Whatever his Cup future, Smith said that he was delighted to be heading back to the Nationwide championship next year at the wheel of the #5 JR Motorsports car. He last competed in the series in 2007.

"This is an extremely good opportunity for me," said Smith of the deal announced on Wednesday. "Dale Jr. and I first started talking about this several years ago, but the timing never matched up to where we could make it happen. Now it's time.




Related Pictures

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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, stands by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/Diet Mtn. Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives the #88 Dale Jr. Foundation/National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet through the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Regan Smith climbs out of the No.78 Furniture Row Chevrolet after winning the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. [Picture credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Regan Smith, driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, is interviewed on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, hugs Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Mason Mingus, driver of the #15 811 Call Before You Dig Chevrolet, Korbin Forrister, driver of the #07 McNair McLemore Midlebrooks & Co LLC Chevrolet, Ron Hornaday Jr., driver of the #9 Armour Vienna Sausage/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, and Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Pull-A-Part Used Auto Parta Chevrolet, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy in the #31 Turner Scott Motorsport NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Green, driver of the #91 SupportMilitary.org Toyota, Matt Dibenedetto, driver of the #40 Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet, Joey Gase, driver of the #52 Chevrolet, and Kevin Swindell, driver of the #93 JGL Racing Dodge, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #24 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for ninth position Thursday, October 9, 2014 for Saturday night`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Earnhardt Jr., who is in the Chase, is eleventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

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