Addition of Legacy MC to Toyota 2024 lineup is part of manufacturer’s evolution
Legacy Motor Club’s move to Toyota in 2024 is viewed as a “foundational move” by the team but could be just part of how Toyota evolves in NASCAR.
Here’s a look at the impact of Tuesday’s announcement.
2024 Toyota lineup
Legacy MC will be Toyota’s third Cup organization in 2024, joining Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing. That will give Toyota such high-profile owners as Joe Gibbs, Michael Jordan and Jimmie Johnson, who co-owns Legacy MC with Maury Gallagher.
Legacy MC drivers Erik Jones and Noah Gragson will join a Toyota stable that has former Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Ty Gibbs, Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.
Benefit to Legacy MC
By moving from Chevrolet to Toyota after this season, Legacy MC is no worse than third on the manufacturer’s depth chart. At Chevrolet, Legacy MC is behind at least Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Trackhouse Racing, if not others.
Johnson called the move a “foundational piece” for the organization. The team started as GMS Racing in 2021, became Petty GMS when Gallagher purchased Richard Petty Motorsports after the 2021 season, and changed its name in January 2023 to Legacy Motor Club.
“This gives us the best opportunity we have to be successful year after year,” Johnson said Tuesday.
Gallagher made it clear Tuesday that while Legacy MC will be united with Toyota’s other teams, it wants to be self-sufficient.
“One of the things when we talked (to Toyota) is we wanted to stand alone,” Gallagher said Tuesday. “We wanted to be our own team. Historically, most of the teams in Toyota has had (Joe Gibbs Racing) as their technical partner.
“We want a direct relationship with Toyota at this point. We built the shop to do that. … It’s something that, I think, is the best outcome for the team and gives you the best control of your future.”
Future of GMS Racing’s Truck team
The new deal does not include GMS Racing, which Gallagher owns and fields entries in the Craftsman Truck Series. The truck operation is separate from Legacy MC.
“We haven’t really addressed the Truck Series and exactly what we’re going to do next year,” Gallagher said Tuesday.
Further expansion for Toyota?
Toyota’s eight-car lineup for 2024 will be its largest Cup lineup since 2011. There could be room for more expansion for Toyota, which joined Cup in 2007.
“I think there’s room for a couple more cars potentially,” David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development said Tuesday in response to a question from NBC Sports. “I think the sweet spot is somewhere between eight to 10 (teams). If they are quality teams and capable drivers, I think that’s enough.
“As it relates to 2024, you can rest assured that we are done. Our focus is on making sure that we deliver to this new partner. … Maury and Jimmie have taken a chance on Toyota. We’re humbled by it and now the pressure is on us to deliver.
“So that is going to be the focus. It goes without saying that this has to be done without compromising the relationships and the strength that we have already established with Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing.”
Benefit for Toyota
Wilson said the Next Gen car has made it easier for Toyota to add teams without a comparable expansion of its Cup budget.
With more work done by single-sourced suppliers and reductions on wind tunnel time, Wilson notes that it provides Toyota more flexibility in expanding its roster of teams. More teams provides more information and that can mean more success.
“Data, software, strategy, those are all knobs we’re turning like crazy right now,” Wilson said. “With this new car, that’s where a lot of the advantages will be secured. So we’ve got a lot work in front of us.”
Toyota has won three of the first 11 races this season: Reddick won for 23XI Racing at Circuit of the Americas, Bell won for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Bristol Dirt Race and Truex won Monday for JGR at Dover Motor Speedway.