LMC, which was rebranded this year from Petty GMS Racing following the addition of seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to its ownership group, announced Tuesday it would switch manufacturer alliances from Chevrolet to Toyota after the 2023 season.
The move will create eight full-time Toyota teams on the Cup Series grid in 2024, the most since the 2011 season.
Erik Jones, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Allegiant Chevrolet Camaro and Noah Gragson, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsport Images
Most importantly for LMC, principal owner Maury Gallagher said it will help the organization develop into a “standalone” team that can compete regularly for wins and championships.
“On my side of house, from the business aspect, the competition burns deep. We here at GMS and now Legacy, we want to win,” Gallagher said. “And Mike Beam (team president) proved that over the years with 41 Truck wins, two championships. We’re focused on that.
“What it comes down to is this seems to be a better move longer-term for us. Having Jimmie on board has definitely been a game-changer for us, as well. We consciously have gone about improving ourselves as we could in a lot of aspects.”
Race winner Erik Jones, Petty GMS Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images
Gallagher’s NASCAR ownership footprint has grown from Trucks to the Cup series in a short period of time, beginning with a merger with Petty Motorsports at the end of the 2021 season.
That has been followed by Johnson’s addition as a co-owner, expansion to a two-car team and the organization’s rebranding this season all in short order.
The change in manufacturer – and the resources for the team that will come with it – is the next “logical step,” Gallagher said.
“I’m older now, so I have both age and wisdom, I think. I’ve been in sports all my life. I’m mainly a stick-and-ball guy but I love competition,” he said. “Being in the back of the pack, some people can live there but that’s not a place that I’m willing to live.”
The debut of the Next Gen car last season – and especially how teams no longer must build chassis or the parts and pieces that go on them – has opened the door for new ownership and a different model in team operations.
“The car’s the leveling tool,” Gallagher said. “Candidly, this year we’re not doing as good as we could. I think some of the people that are used to being at the top are figuring out that edge. We want to be one of those people at the top. We want that edge.
“Our move is going to produce the ability to stand alone. One of things we talked to (Toyota officials) was, we wanted to stand alone. We wanted to be our own team. Historically, most of the teams in Toyota have Gibbs as their technical partner.
“We want a direct relationship with Toyota at this point and we built this up to do that.”
While the exact specifics are yet to be worked out, with its new relationship with Toyota, LMC will receive the same engines as the JGR and 23XI teams and receive data directly from Toyota Racing Development.
“It’s our job to make good decisions and make value decisions. We continue to try to do that. This is the early days,” TRD president David Wilson said. “We had broadcast that we were looking to expand our footprint. So, conceptually, JGR and 23XI had a good idea that we were going to be adding a partner.
“Exactly how that family works together remains to be seen. I am a huge proponent of centralizing our resources and making sure all our partners have the tools they need in trying to build a cohesive and cooperative feel across the teams.
“That’s a tough thing to do because every organization is hyper-competitive and selfish. Let’s see what the future holds. We have to collectively be open-minded.”
An opportunity too good to pass up
While Johnson has a long history with Chevrolet in NASCAR competition, he believes the move to Toyota is one LMC could not pass on.
“It’s the foundational piece for us to grow and have success for years and years to come,” he said. “I have great excitement over what our future holds. We are all competitors at heart, and this is an opportunity to make us as competitive as possible in the future.
“The way (the sport) is positioned now, it really a function of the OEMs to collect information and that gets shared through the teams and through the organizations. Our new alignment with Toyota puts us in a very strong positions to control our own destiny as an organization.”