NASCAR: On Point Motorsports Announces Death of Former JGL Racing Team Owner James Whitener

by TK Sanders
(Photo By David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

James Whitener, former owner of NASCAR Xfinity team JGL Racing, died Monday morning, according to On Point Motorsports. He was 58.

Whitener formed JGL Racing in 2004 but stepped back from the sport in 2018 when he was diagnosed with liver failure. Whitener went on a liver transplant list at the time, which caused financial strain on the racing team.

Kaz Grala, driver of the No. 24 for JGL Racing up until 2018, lost his job at the time and said he thought the mounting medical costs played a part in the team’s decision to let him go. The team attributed a “lack of sponsorship” to the decision.

“I found out kind of before the Dover race that things were looking a little bit shakey, unfortunately,” Grala said in 2018. “(Whitener) has some medical issues unfortunately. He didn’t really want to spend the money to continue running, which is understandable.”

James Whitener stepped away from NASCAR in 2018 to focus on his health

Afterward, Whitener issued a statement of his own.

“What Kaz said is true that I have health issues,” Whitener explained. “In fact, in January I found out that my liver is failing and I’m going on the transplant list for a new liver. It was not a decision to stop the No. 24 team with everyone just finding out after Dover — that was not the case at all. It had been discussed among the team really since Las Vegas.”

Whitener was also highly complimentary of his young driver Grala.

“I really wish Kaz the best and hope I was instrumental in helping him start his Xfinity career. I watched him in the trucks last year and thought he would do well in our cars. All of my guys at JGL have helped me build this team and accomplish what we have up to this point and I thank all of them for their hard work and dedication in building both the No. 24 and No. 28 teams.”

Whitener also said that he gave Grala equipment to help him continue racing.

“Since I couldn’t continue building both teams this year and helping young drivers as I have done in the past,” Whitener said, “I decided to give Kaz the three Roush cars along with parts and pieces to give him the opportunity to keep running and building on his career. Myself and everyone at JGL Racing wish him the best. Fury Racing has hired most of the employees from the 24 team that ran the first 10 races, so hopefully they can continue Kaz’s success with their program.  I would like to thank Kaz Grala and Dylan Lupton for being a part of the JGL Racing program.”

Whitener’s specific cause of death has not been revealed.