CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Aligning with its manufacturer counterparts at Toyota Racing Development and Ford Performance, Chevrolet has announced the formation of a driver-development program designed to groom its younger talent to make it to the top levels of NASCAR.
Revealed Thursday morning at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Drivers Edge Development will attempt to build a new generation of drivers, with a multi-tiered racing pipeline supplemented by off-track skill building as well.
The program will be operated through Chevrolet NASCAR teams JR Motorsports and GMS Racing.
Drivers Edge Development will give participating drivers a chance to race in one or more of five different series, staying aligned with Chevrolet in the process. Competition opportunities in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, ARCA Racing Series and CARS Late Model Stock Tour are all available as part of the Chevrolet ladder system.
Additional training for off-track professional growth will also be provided, with programs for physical, mental and technical development. Specific emphasis on brand building, social media and digital content, media training, fan relations and partner procurement and retention will be featured.
“We have always prided ourselves on being a stepping stone for drivers that want to get to the top level of racing,” said JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “JR Motorsports was designed with that in mind, and now with the help of GMS and Chevrolet, Drivers Edge Development will provide a clear-cut path and more options for drivers to get there.”
Drivers Edge Development has no set criteria. According to Earnhardt and GMS Racing President Mike Beam, in an ideal scenario, drivers from 14 to 21 are under consideration.
Six drivers – Xfinity Series drivers John Hunter Nemechek, Noah Gragson and Zane Smith; Truck Series regular Sheldon Creed; and young guns Sam Mayer and Adam Lemke – make up the first class of the Drivers Edge Development program.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to get this program off the ground,” noted Beam. “Between GMS and JRM, I feel our two programs are very complementary of each other and will give Drivers Edge Development participants multiple series options.
“We have to give Lorin Ranier some credit, too. He has been working behind the scenes and is a great help in scouting drivers for the program. He is really plugged into the local and regional short-track scene and has already worked with some of the drivers in the program.”
Mentoring from veteran drivers within the JRM and GMS driving stables will also be provided.
“Drivers Edge Development is going to be critical to the future of the sport and our race team,” said JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “The fact that you have JRM, GMS and Chevrolet involved in getting this off the ground speaks to that importance.
“We’re emphasizing on-track experience in multiple series while still keeping the drivers under the Chevrolet umbrella. Off track, we’re going to offer these drivers decades of industry knowledge and best practices with the goal of helping them become the best versions of themselves in all aspects of the sport.”