What’s Happening?

Legacy Motor Club has plenty of positive momentum as they steam into 2024. That positive momentum is earned with a new manufacturer, a new driver, and plenty of upgrades. However, they are also transitioning, and transitions often do not go smoothly right away.

  • Legacy Motor Club struggled in 2023 with 0 wins, 1 top-5, and 7 top-10s. Their cars finished 27th and 32nd in owner’s points respectively.
  • 2023 was also a year of transition for the team as Jimmie Johnson bought into the team before the season, and they announced their move to Toyota in the spring. Oftentimes, transition periods can be difficult for race teams, even if they ultimately turn out well.
  • Fans are very excited about what Legacy Motor Club can do in 2024. Many were surprised to see the big changes the team made throughout 2023.

The Magnitude of the Transition

Legacy Motor Club is completely changing how they do business. Kelly Crandall of RACER caught up with Legacy Motor Club’s vice president of race operations, Joey Cohen, earlier in January, and Ochen had this to say.

Nobody knows why the Toyota stuff is like this or why the engine group does that. We’re still having calls with Toyota of, ‘Hey, we used to do our stuff this way. Why do y’all do it like this?’ So, we’re walking through it.

Joey Cohen

Earlier in that article, Cohen said that the company grew by between 40-45 new employees, so, this team looks completely different. This is not the same Legacy Motor Club of 2023, and it is not the Richard Petty Motorsports or Petty GMS of the years previous.

This is not a minor adjustment that Legacy Motor Club is making, this is a major transition. This transition does not always mean immediate results, and it may take some time before they see the fruits of their labor.

A History of Recent New Toyota Teams

Toyota is relatively new to the sport compared to Chevy and Ford, but, Toyota has been in the Cup Series since 2007. In the last 10 years, Toyota has seen many teams come and go, and just starting with Toyota has seen mixed results.

Furniture Row Racing

Furniture Row Racing switched from Chevy to Toyota before the 2015 season. FRR was coming off of a terrible 2014 where new driver, Martin Truex Jr., led only 1 lap all season and finished 24th in points. They joined Toyota, and they immediately began to improve.

The season started with 14 top-10s in 15 races and Truex Jr.’s first win in nearly two years at Pocono in June. That momentum continued into the Playoffs with Truex Jr. making the Championship 4 for the first time in his career. He would go on to win the Championship in 2017.

This was an instance where the switch to Toyota massively helped FRR, and they saw results from the transition immediately. This does not always happen, but, it does show LMC that immediate results can happen.

The story does not have a happy ending, however, as FRR shut down following the 2018 season. JGR essentially absorbed the single-car team after that, and Martin Truex Jr. became the full-fledged JGR driver we know today.

Leavine Family Racing

With Furniture Row Racing gone, Toyota turned to Leavine Family Racing for the 2019 season. Leavine Family Racing had been in the sport for 8 seasons, and they never had more than 2 top-10s in a season. When Toyota partnered with the team, they improved, but, it wasn’t an overly drastic improvement.

In 2019, Matt DiBenedetto joined the team, and he finished 22nd in points with 7 top-10s and 3 top-5s. Christopher Bell had a similar season in 2020 with a 20th-place points finish, 7 top-10s, and 2 top-5s.

This team did take a jump, but, they didn’t become race win contenders. The Toyota transition did nothing but help this race team’s performance, but, it didn’t turn their fortunes around totally. It wasn’t a magic formula to immediately make them race win contenders.

Their story ended the same as Furniture Row Racing’s did, with the team shutting down. Christopher Bell moved to JGR following the 2020 season as well, and JGR had a new Toyota team to align with in 2021.

23XI Racing

In 2021, Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan formed 23XI Racing. This was a brand new race team, and it was the first time Toyota started working immediately with a brand new race team.

23XI Racing sputtered out of the gate, but, they gradually got better as time went on. Bubba Wallace did not record the team’s first top-10 until the 19th race of the 2021 season, but, he also got the team’s first win later that season. In 2022, the team expanded and won 2 races, and, in 2023, both cars made the Playoffs for the first time in team history.

The team took a while to become true contenders, but, they eventually got there. Then again, this is not a direct comparison to any of the teams on this list because it was a brand-new race team. Still, it shows how it takes time to build a great race team.

The team still runs in NASCAR today, and Legacy Motor Club will join 23XI as a key partner Toyota team. Ultimately, 23XI Racing can be seen as a success story, even if it took some time.

Overall, Legacy Motor Club should improve in 2024, but, the transition is big. They may not see immediate results, but, as time goes on, there should be an uptick in performance. The question is, will they turn that corner quickly enough to make the Playoffs in 2024?

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