2023 season preview: Legacy Motor Club
Editor‘s Note: Today‘s Legacy Motor Club preview continues NASCAR.com‘s countdown of team previews for the 2023 Cup Series season, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year‘s owner standings.
Legacy Motor Club
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Noah Gragson-Luke Lambert (No. 42), Erik Jones-Dave Elenz (No. 43), Jimmie Johnson-Todd Gordon (No. 84)
Team outlook: After the merger of GMS Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports in the Cup Series last season, the team saw a much-improved performance from Erik Jones and the No. 43 team. Ty Dillon couldn’t replicate the consistent results as his former teammate, so the team snagged a big fish from the Xfinity Series, bringing in Noah Gragson and crew chief Luke Lambert for the No. 42 Chevrolet after the pair scored eight Xfinity wins in 2022 and reached the series’ Championship 4.
In November, the team made another mega splash as seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson announced he will have co-ownership of the team and compete in a part-time role beginning with the 65th running of the Daytona 500. Two months later, Johnson announced that Petty GMS Motorsports rebranded to Legacy Motor Club and that he will pilot the No. 84 in 2023.
Not one, but two seven-time Cup champions are at the helm of the Chevrolet team, and with two young, exciting drivers coming off impressive 2022 campaigns, Legacy just might serve as the biggest threat to the Cup powerhouses.
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 42 CHEVROLET
Experience: 18 starts in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: Second in final Xfinity Series standings; 8 wins, 21 top fives, 26 top 10s (Xfinity); 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10 (Cup)
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 66-1
Outlook: You can’t have a more fruitful season without a series championship than what Gragson had at the Xfinity level in 2022. Matching Sam Ard’s consecutive race-winning streak en route to eight triumphs on last year’s circuit, Gragson should be considered a playoff threat entering his rookie campaign despite the No. 42 not producing impressive results last season. He will also be paired with his Xfinity crew chief Luke Lambert to carry their stout chemistry into their first Cup season as a duo. There’s every reason to believe Gragson can steal a win or two and earn his way into the 16-driver postseason.
RELATED: Gragson, Gibbs to vie for 2023 Cup rookie honors
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 CHEVROLET
Experience: Six full-time seasons in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 18th in final standings; 1 win, 3 top fives, 13 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 66-1
Outlook: Jones appears to be on the precipice of a breakout season as he enters his third campaign with the newly-minted Legacy M.C. The three-time Cup winner seized the evening last September at Darlington Raceway to earn his second victory in the Southern 500, the first time the iconic No. 43 took the checkered flag since Aric Almirola won a rain-shortened race at Daytona International Speedway in the summer of 2014. With the momentum garnered from that “Crown Jewel” victory and a boisterous offseason from the organization, Jones could be in line for a multi-victory year and deep playoff run.
RELATED: Opening championship odds | 2023 schedule
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 84 CHEVROLET
Experience: 19 full-time seasons in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: Did not compete in 2022.
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): N/A; running part-time schedule
Outlook: He’s no newbie at the Cup level, but Johnson can be considered a rookie when it comes to the Next Gen car. He’ll get his first competitive reps in it when he rips his qualifying laps for the Daytona 500. The No. 84 not only represents the inverse of the No. 48 that Johnson drove to seven championships between 2006-2016 but the quest for his 84th Cup victory that would see him surpass Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough and match Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on the all-time wins list. Johnson could certainly pull off the accomplishment as Todd Gordon will sit atop the pit box as crew chief for the No. 84 team. Gordon has crew chiefed 25 wins in the Cup Series and won the 2018 title with Joey Logano. Speedweeks will be quite the thriller as Johnson looks to make the 65th running of the “Great American Race” against the likes of 2022 Truck Series champ Zane Smith, Austin Hill, Travis Pastrana and Chandler Smith.
MORE: Gordon to crew chief No. 84 entry
NASCAR.com 2023 team previews schedule
Jan. 23: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Jan. 24: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 25: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 27: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 30: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 31: RFK Racing
Feb. 1: Legacy Motor Club
Feb. 2: Richard Childress Racing
Feb. 7: 23XI Racing
Feb. 8: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 9: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 10: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 13: Trackhouse Racing
Feb. 14: Team Penske