My first reaction when I saw this announcement like Wow!! I couldn’t believe it thinking at first if it was fake news, but yes, it did turn out to be real after Toyota has officially welcomed Legacy Motor Club to their NASCAR Cup Series line-up from next year onwards alongside the flagship Joe Gibbs Racing team (four cars) & 23XI Racing (two cars).
Plus, it’s going to be great to see the TRD talent alumni Noah Gragson (No.42) & Erik Jones (No.43) return to Toyota once again at Legacy Motor Club, whom they have been racing & winning races under these race cars in the past. And the co-owner & 7 x NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson will race other than a Chevy for the first time too when he too will pop up at selected races in the No.84 like the Daytona 500. It’s not the first time he drove a non-Chevy race car when JJ was racing a Honda engine in IndyCar (Open-Wheel) back in 2021 & 2022 at Ganassi.
So yes there’s going to be some NASCAR fans & predominately old timers in particular as to why Jimmie Johnson, Maury Gallagher & Richard Petty switched to a Japanese car or foreign manufacturing, having seen JJ been loyal to Chevy that saw win accomplish so many races & championships while “The King” has raced & ran various other American car makes for most of his life.
But the thing is that the world has changed these days and they’re doing this to hopefully win races & potentially championships over the long run. Also, Toyota has invested a whole lot of manufacturing, jobs & service parts right here in America where their Camry road cars have been made over in Georgetown, Kentucky since 1988 – so much history there that makes Toyota so great for many Americans including their participation in NASCAR over the last 15 to 20 years.
What will happen with the change of manufacturers going forward?
Now that the switch has been made official, LMC doesn’t need a technical alliance with JGR but will of course build their own cars while receiving engines & data from Toyota – the same thing Trackhouse exactly operates with their Cup Series program alongside Chevy.
Plus, will we see them acquire a 3rd full-time charter & revive the No.44 numberplate perhaps? Unless NASCAR is going to take away one of the bottom 3 charter entries (No.15 Rick Ware Ford, No.77 Spire Chevy & No.78 Live Fast Chevy) – should they continue finishing there for the third year in a row, I don’t think any of them will sell up unless they’d be happy to take the money & run.
But yes, that is something LMC can hopefully make that happen at some point depending on the next TV rights deal from 2025 including sponsorship of course & have one of the Toyota Racing youngsters in there to build some Cup experience like Sammy Smith or Corey Heim. Otherwise, they can always poach Austin Hill from Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity team who is outstanding right now just like 23XI did to Tyler Reddick (No.45 now) last year.
And lastly, I don’t think Toyota will put LMC out of business after let’s say a few years when co-owners Jimmie Johnson & Maury Gallagher has more than enough decent amount of money combined to generate & keep them afloat while chasing more on-track success. I see no problem with Denny Hamlin & Michael Jordan so far at 23XI, so no doubt LMC will be a great success as 23XI there.