Photo courtesy of Joe Scarnici | Getty Images
Legacy Motor Club will switch manufacturers from Chevrolet to Toyota starting in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, the team announced Tuesday.
The two-car Cup Series team has undergone a handful of changes over the past few seasons, particularly with the advent of the Next Gen car. Formerly Richard Petty Motorsports, the team ran its single No. 43 car previously driven by active drivers such as Aric Almirola, Bubba Wallace and now piloted by Erik Jones. Before the 2022 season, the team rebranded to Petty GMS and partnered with GMS Racing owner Maury Gallagher. It also added the No. 42 car to its stable, driven by Ty Dillon.
The team did not bring Dillon back in the No. 42 car for this season, opting to sign 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series runner-up Noah Gragson. Petty GMS underwent another rebrand before the 2023 season to its current name, Legacy Motor Club, and brought on seven-time Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson as an owner and part-time driver. Johnson has participated in two races so far this season, the Daytona 500 and the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
“We are humbled and delighted to welcome Legacy Motor Club into the Toyota and TRD NASCAR family,” David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A. said in a release. “Jimmie Johnson and Maury Gallagher have impressed us with their long-term vision and commitment to building a championship-caliber organization. More importantly, their character and values are aligned with ours and our current Cup Series partners, Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing. Of course, we also look forward to being reunited with our old friends, Erik Jones and Noah Gragson.”
Gragson and Jones will be returning to the team in 2024, bringing driver consistency the team has lacked in recent years. Both drivers have a successful history driving with Toyota at the beginning of their national NASCAR careers.
Jones was the first driver in NASCAR history to win Rookie of the Year in all three national NASCAR Series, doing so with Toyota in all three. He started in the Truck Series in 2013 as a part-time driver due to age restrictions. He won in his fifth career start at Phoenix Raceway to become NASCAR’s youngest winner at 17 years old.
He went on to win the Truck Series Championship in 2015. That same year he raced part-time in the Xfinity Series and won the SRS Distribution 250 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jones has won two Cup Series races under the Toyota banner at two crown jewel races. He took the checkered flag in the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway and the 2019 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
He won his second career Southern 500 last year in his first win with Legacy Motor Club.
Gragson started in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series with Toyota teams. He earned two wins across three seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports when it was a Toyota team. He won at Martinsville Speedway in 2017 and Richmond Raceway in 2018. Gragson finished second in the 2018 Truck Series standings and made his Xfinity Debut with Joe Gibbs Racing that same year.
The team has struggled to find its footing in 2023. Jones currently sits 24th in points and Gragson in 32nd after 11 races heading into the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. EST.
Moving to Toyota could give Legacy Motor Club a big boost with more focus from Toyota Racing Development given the lack of Toyota teams compared to others. Joe Gibbs Racing remains the primary TRD team with four full-time Cup cars. 23XI Racing, which started in 2021, added the No. 45 car last season to bring the Toyota count up to six.
The move to Toyota looks to improve the manufacturer’s strength in numbers which has been behind Chevrolet and Ford. Toyota will field eight full-time cars in 2024, the most it has had in the Cup Series since 2011.