What’s Happening?

One of the most interesting teams in the entire industry is Legacy Motor Club under the leadership of seven-time champions Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty. The team is moving into a new era, looking up at what they can achieve with a fresh, clean slate.

  • Erik Jones returns to the team for his third season, and once again back with Toyota after LMC’s departure from Chevrolet. Will he be welcomed back with open arms by Toyota?
  • The new man on the block is John Hunter Nemechek, returning to the Cup Series full-time after his lone rookie year thus far with Front Row Motorsports. After having a dominant Xfinity Series season, can he bring the same success to the No. 42 car?
  • Both drivers have a ton of resources available to them, much more than before. Aside from changing manufacturers, they have Johnson to coach them and join them on the track on occasion, along with support from Matt Kenseth and the recently hired Trevor Bayne.

Jones and No. 43 expectations

Jones enters 2024 in the legendary No. 43 after a disastrous season. It was the worst since of his career in terms of average finish at 20th, to go along with one top-five and seven top 10s. In a 27th-place finish in the standings at year’s end, the only positive thing about 2023 was leaving it behind.

Three things to look for this season

Besides leaving 2023 behind, the team actually rounded out the year well, with eight top-15 finishes in the second half of the season. They were in contention for the win at Kansas in the fall with a late-race strategy but ended up third, their best finish of the season. Hence, can Jones take some good results to end last season into the new year?

One of the greatest benefits of moving from Chevy to Toyota is the inclusion of more resources and being more of a priority for the manufacturer. Plus, it drives in more money both from Toyota but also new sponsors such as Advent Health and Dollar Tree. Toyota has even self-proclaimed this as the “best Toyota ever” with the new body. Will the influx of cash and one of the best cars in Toyota’s history reflect with performances on track?

Finally, consistency is the name of the game and finally becoming familiar with Jones, known for bouncing around teams and having to deal with the changes along the way. In his third year with Crew Chief Dave Elenz now back with a key partner in Toyota, Jones looks to have the most consistency in his career and support behind him as well. Therefore, can this consistency and support turn into consistent, competitive results for Jones looking for a great rebound season?

Nemechek and No. 42 expectations

It’s a whole new look for the No. 42 car at Legacy Motor Club. It comes with Nemechek now behind the wheel full-time after Noah Gragson was forced out of the ride after liking a sensitive social media post. Of course, it comes along with Crew Chief Ben Beshore also being promoted to the Cup Series from the Xfinity Series, where both found plenty of success. Last season saw the pair combine for seven wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s, and a birth in the Championship 4 where he finished fourth.

Three things to look for this season

First up, how will Nemechek do in a new environment this season? Despite the move to Toyota, Legacy Motor Club is no Joe Gibbs Racing when it comes to equipment and staff. Nemechek’s only year in the Cup Series in the No. 38 was difficult for him to adapt to, where he on average started and finished below 20th. We’ll see how he gets going early in the year.

Secondly, the step-up from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series is a tough one. While Nemechek has streaked up the ladder from his Truck Series days a couple of years ago, the cars are vastly different than when he drove in 2020 full-time at the top series of stock car racing. He only has two races in the Next-Gen car, including one race last year to prepare him for this season. But was the lone race at Miami last season enough preparation for Nemechek to handle racing in a new car for him?

Finally, Nemechek comes into this ride with all sorts of hope and hype knowing where this car has been the last two seasons. With now a third driver in three years in the No. 42 car, he will have perhaps the highest expectations out of the three drivers in the car in LMC’s history. Will Nemechek live up to the pressure and record some good finishes all season long?