Toyota switch is “foundational” for Legacy Motor Club – Johnson
Maury Gallagher and Jimmie Johnson reiterated that the decision for Legacy Motor Club to field Toyota NASCAR Cup Series entries beginning next season was prompted by the desire for the team to become a winning organization.
“Toyota is a quality organization; we all know that. Chevrolet, Ford, everybody at this level of competition is good at what they do,” Gallagher said. “Competition burns deep. We here at GMS (Racing) and now Legacy wants to win, and Mike Beam proved that over the years with 41 truck wins, two championships, and the like, and we’re focused on that.
“Chevrolet is a fabulous partner, and we could get there, I’m sure, as well. But when it comes down to it, this seems to be a better move long-term for us with where we’re at. Having Jimmie on board is definitely been a game-changer for us as well, and we consciously have gone about improving ourselves as we could in a lot of aspects to be at the top of this sport.”
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Both co-owners made clear they are not leaving Chevrolet. But in expressing multiple times about their long-term expectations for the organization, Gallagher and Johnson said aligning with Toyota presents a good opportunity.
“This is a foundational piece for the club that really makes sense, and we needed to do,” said Johnson. “To have this deep partnership and alignment with Toyota, it’s been a fun period of time to get to know them and understand their passion and how much our core values truly align, and the focusing commitment we’ll all have to the years ahead and the performance we want to have on the track.”
Toyota has long held a desire to add more cars to its fleet. Of the three manufacturers in the Cup Series, Toyota has the fewest cars. The addition of Legacy Motor Club will give Toyota eight in the series next season, alongside four from Joe Gibbs Racing and two from 23XI Racing.
Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson did not pinpoint a date on the calendar when Legacy Motor Club entered the conversation. However, he did say it hasn’t been that long in the making; the deal coming together over the last few months.
“The remarkable thing is from the very first conversation, I think we both had a vision as to the potential, and we just clicked,” Wilson said. “Jimmie, to me, was a garage acquaintance, and we’d nod at each other across the garage space, but I didn’t have a relationship with him. I’ve truly enjoyed just getting to know him.
“Maury and I have been friends in the garage for a couple of years now, and we’ve done a dance or two together about working together, so we kind of had a head start with Maury. But by and large, the thing came together pretty quickly.”
Gallagher said information is the name of the game in the sport, and having the best information through a partnership with Toyota is important. Legacy Motor Club is not officially a key partner to Chevrolet, whose badge it carries on the Nos. 42 and 43. Legacy Motor Club also pays for a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and, by not being high in the pecking order, has to work through Childress for the information it receives.
Legacy Motor Club gets its engines through the collaborative effort between Childress and Rick Hendrick. But next season, Johnson said Legacy Motor Club will be on equal footing as Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing.
“That’s big,” Johnson said. “That’s real.”
Gallagher didn’t shy away from the lack of performance from the organization this season, but Legacy Motor Club continues to take as many steps forward as quickly as possible in hopes of changing the results.
Since announcing the team’s intention to run in the Cup Series for 2022, Gallagher bought the majority of Richard Petty’s operation to add another car, changed drivers by bringing in Noah Gragson, shuffled personnel around, and added Johnson to the ownership group. The manufacturer switch is the next step.
“Being in the back of the pack… some people can live there, but that’s not a place that I’m willing to live,” said Gallagher. “We won last year, which I think surprised everybody. We want to be one of those people at the top. We want that edge. We’re moving down a road that I think is going to produce an ability to stand alone.
“And one of the things when we talked to David and Tyler [Gibbs], we wanted to stand alone. We want to be our team. Historically, most of the teams with Toyota have Gibbs as their technical partner. We want a direct relationship with Toyota at this point, and we’ve built a shop to do that (with) Mike Beam, and what we’ve done over time and the people that will come. It’s something that I think is the best outcome for the team and will give you the best control of your future.”