The recent deal between team owners Maury Gallagher and Richard Petty came into clearer focus Tuesday with the announcement that the newly formed organization will operate under the banner of Petty GMS Motorsports.
Petty GMS will field two chartered entries in the NASCAR Cup Series starting next year, with Ty Dillon and Erik Jones as the drivers. The details, plus a new team logo and car designs, were unveiled Tuesday afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Gallagher’s GMS Motorsports operation had announced June 17 that it intended to field a Cup Series entry in 2022, tapping Dillon as its driver nearly four months later. Last Wednesday, the two teams announced that Gallagher had purchased a majority interest in the Petty operation, an agreement that included the two Cup Series charters.
Tuesday brought the news that Petty, the series’ all-time win leader, will maintain a presence both in the team’s name and at the track. He was also in attendance for Tuesday’s announcement, and Gallagher said that Petty’s appearance schedule and his stature as the public face of the franchise was part of what sweetened the deal.
“Well, there’s there’s a number of elements to success, right?” Gallagher said. “You can’t save yourself into a profit, but you can spend yourself out of one. What that means is you need revenue, and Richard is a brand, a name that really is important. And I think he’ll admit to the same thing. And candidly, as he said, we stepped into the middle of the ongoing thing. There are sponsors and things that were really important to keep going, and he’s the reason they have the sponsors today. Yeah, the racing is important, too, but he’s a big component — more so perhaps than any other team. Richard Petty as your masthead, it’s a big deal.”
Jones will return for his second season in the No. 43 Chevrolet, but the group’s second entry will wear No. 42 — a car number with deep ties to the Petty family. Hall of Famer and patriarch Lee Petty drove the number to all but one of his 54 Cup Series wins, and Richard’s son, Kyle, flew the No. 42 in six of his eight big-league wins.
Keeping his hand in the business and his family name out front was also an enticing aspect for Petty, stock-car racing’s king. Not surprisingly, the team’s new logo blended GMS’ familiar orange with the trademark Petty Blue.
“It’s not for me. It’s for my kids, my grandkids, my great-grandkids from that standpoint,” Petty said of his ongoing role as team chairman after the sale. “… So you’ve got a little bit of control over your name. I think everybody, just like Joe Blow, would like to protect their name as much as they can.
“I ain’t going nowhere. When my toes turn up, that’s when I’m gone.”
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The team indicated that previously announced driver-crew chief pairings will remain intact — Jones will work with former JR Motorsports crew chief Dave Elenz, and Dillon will partner with first-year crew chief Jerame Donley. Mike Beam will guide the organization’s day-to-day operations as the team president.
Beam also has long-running ties to the Petty family. He was crew chief for Kyle Petty during the first four full-time seasons of his Cup Series career, and he later worked with Richard Petty in the 1985 season. Now with GMS, he says that he and Gallagher bring a no-frills approach, evidenced by their reluctance to bask in the spotlight and by — Beam says in jest — Gallagher’s tendency toward ‘dad shoes.’
“You look at all the GMS wins and stuff, you’ll never see me and Maury hogging the picture,” Beam says. “No, we just want the trophy and the money. We’re gone. We’re good. We don’t need the pictures. The pictures, it does not go in the bank.”
GMS Racing plans to remain a full-time entrant in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series, according to the team. GMS has tallied 41 Camping World Truck wins, plus two series championships — with Johnny Sauter in 2016 and Sheldon Creed in 2020.
Beam said GMS Racing will field two full-time trucks, an operation that is independent of the Petty GMS group. The organization previously announced that Grant Enfinger would wheel the No. 23 Chevrolet in 2022 and ’23, and Jack Wood is set to compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors next year in the No. 24 Chevy. Daniel Dye is scheduled to return to drive GMS Racing’s ARCA Menards Series entry.
On the Cup Series side, Petty GMS will move forward with two young racers with much still to prove. Jones, 25, has two Cup wins from his time with Joe Gibbs Racing, but he is still in the early stages of trying to bring the iconic No. 43 back to its former prominence. The 29-year-old Dillon is back on the Cup Series circuit full-time after a partial campaign over multiple series last year.
Gallagher’s GMS bunch made a significant impact on the Camping World Truck Series status quo, expanding rapidly and hoisting its first championship trophy less than four years after its 2013 debut. As far as the Cup Series expectations go under the Petty GMS umbrella, Gallagher says he has optimism for the new team’s future.
“One, two?” Gallagher joked, pointing out that his truck organization’s 1-2-3 finish in the 2020 standings had spoiled him. “You know, I think we can win. It’s easy for me to say, since I’m not going to be on the floor day to day doing it, but this is the best racers in the world. I don’t want to come across as being arrogant and the like, but it will take us a while to get there, but this crowd, they know what they’re doing.”