Regan Smith will drive a full season for JR Motorsports in the 2013 Nationwide Series, the team announced Wednesday.
Smith will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet next year for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s squad, hoping to contend for the title in the second-tier series. He will race for the team for the first time in this year's season-finale at Homestead.
The 29-year-old drove Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in the past two Sprint Cup Series races, filling in for his future boss following the former's concussion diagnosis.
Smith was set to drive for Phoenix Racing at Charlotte before getting the call to replace NASCAR's most popular driver, having lost his seat at Furniture Row Racing to former Cup champion Kurt Busch.
JR Motorsports currently fields Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt in the Nationwide Series, ranking 10th and seventh in points respectively, but Patrick is set to move on to Cup next year with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Smith is also set to drive the last two Cup races of the season for Phoenix Racing, where he is sharing driving duties of the No. 51 Chevy with AJ Allmendinger.
"This is an extremely good opportunity for me," Smith said. "Dale Jr. and I first started talking about the possibility of me driving for his team several years ago, but the timing never matched up to where we could make it happen. Now it's time.
"I'm happy to be a part of this organization. I don't want to just win races. I want to be the team that dominates races and contends for the championship."
Smith added: "Filling in for Dale Jr. was an honor, and it got me acclimated to the Hendrick Motorsports group, which obviously JR Motorsports works with hand in hand. I was glad to fill in for Dale Jr., and I'm happy that he's back in his race car this week at Martinsville."
Smith last drove in the Nationwide Series in 2007 for Ginn Racing, driving a partial season while making his first few outings with the same squad in Cup that year.
JR Motorsports' most recent victory in the Nationwide Series dates back to 2010 with Jamie McMurray at Atlanta.