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October 25, 2022

Petty GMS hires Luke Lambert as No. 42 crew chief for Gragson in 2023

Crew chief Luke Lambert, left, and Noah Gragson talk shop on the grid at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Tim Nwachukwu
Getty Images

Petty GMS Motorsports announced Tuesday that veteran crew chief Luke Lambert will lead the No. 42 Chevrolet team next season, continuing his partnership with driver Noah Gragson into 2023.

Lambert will return to the NASCAR Cup Series after a successful Xfinity Series campaign with Gragson this season on the No. 9 JR Motorsports team. Their pairing has yielded a series-best eight victories this season, including a four-in-a-row win streak that tied a record set by the legendary Sam Ard.

Gragson’s most recent win – last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway – clinched a Championship 4 appearance for the Nov. 5 finale.

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“I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with Noah,” Lambert said in a Petty GMS team release. “This year has been fun and rewarding, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. When I joined JRM, it was because I believed in the organization and knew I’d have the opportunity to compete for race wins and a chance at the championship, and that’s exactly where we are right now. I see the same opportunity with Petty GMS. They’ve shown great growth this season and were able to get the team’s first win. With Dave and Erik, along with what Noah and I bring to the table, I think we’ll continue to see that success and contend for race wins next season.”

The announcement finalizes the Petty GMS driver-crew chief lineup for next year. Gragson and Lambert will race alongside the No. 43 Chevy team, which will return driver Erik Jones and crew chief Dave Elenz in 2023.

“Hiring Luke was the right choice for us when it came to finding a crew chief for Noah,” said Joey Cohen, director of competition and engineering for Petty GMS. “The chemistry and success they have had this year in the Xfinity Series is one that can’t be replicated, and we know with the right resources and tools, that success can carry over to the Cup Series next year. Luke brings a great deal of knowledge from his previous years in the Cup Series and knowledge of Noah. With both Luke and Dave next year, Noah and Erik and the relationships they’ve already built, I know we’re giving them the best chance for success next season and the ability to continue to elevate Petty GMS.”

Tuesday’s move marks the latest in a series of changes for the No. 42 team, which was created when team owners Richard Petty and Maury Gallagher merged operations to launch Petty GMS last offseason. Gragson was tapped Aug. 10 as Ty Dillon’s replacement for 2023, and Chad Norris was named interim crew chief for the No. 42 group on Sept. 13, replacing first-year wrench Jerame Donley for the remainder of the season.

Lambert enters with a wealth of experience, dating back to his start as a race engineer for Richard Childress Racing to his ascent to the crew chief role in 2011. Since then, he’s made 332 Cup Series appearances atop the pit box – a stretch that includes one victory (2017) and a Championship 4 appearance (2014), both with Ryan Newman.

Lambert has been a crew chief for just two full seasons in the Xfinity Series, but those stints have been marked by rampant success. He more than doubled his victory total this year, adding Gragson’s eight triumphs to the four wins he shared with driver Elliott Sadler at RCR in 2012.

The hiring of Lambert means that Petty GMS will have two former crew chiefs for the JRM No. 9 team atop their pit boxes next year. Elenz worked with Gragson from 2019-21, collecting five Xfinity Series victories together and making the Championship 4 field in their final year with the No. 9 group.

Jones and Elenz have clicked this year, winning the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway last month and totaling 13 top-10 finishes so far in 2022.