NASCAR Cup Series
By Zach Sturniolo
4 Minute Read
Todd Gordon is heading back to a NASCAR Cup Series pit box – on his terms.
Gordon, the longtime Team Penske crew chief, returns to the premier level of stock-car racing to call the shots for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 84 LEGACY Motor Club Chevrolet’s part-time effort in 2023, the team announced Monday.
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Gordon is a title winner in his own right, collecting the 2018 Cup championship with Joey Logano. Now paired with seven-time champ Johnson, Gordon said he felt his chance to compete all over again was too good to pass up despite stepping away from the role after 2021.
“I’m really looking forward to working with another champion that still has the desire to compete and win at the highest level,” Gordon said in a team release. “In my conversations with Jimmie, I found we both miss the competition – but don’t want the grind of a full-time schedule – so this is a great opportunity for us to still race and help LEGACY MOTOR CLUB build on the success they saw in 2022.”
That success includes a win by Erik Jones and crew chief Dave Elenz in the 2022 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, collecting the 200th win for the No. 43 that team ambassador and seven-time champion Richard Petty made so famous. LEGACY M.C. also announced Monday that Elenz has signed a contract extension to remain Jones’ crew chief through the 2025 season.
The new duo of Gordon and Johnson – a different spin on Johnson’s partnership longtime Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon – will hit the track later this week for a test at Phoenix Raceway, giving both crew chief and driver their first tastes of the Next Gen car that was introduced after both respectively stepped away from the sport.
“I’m thrilled to have Todd come on board as my crew chief,” Johnson said in a release. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him over the last few weeks. I have known and respected him as a competitor for many years and have always appreciated his professionalism, work ethic and results. His wisdom and experience will be beneficial to LEGACY M.C. as a whole. I believe he will work very well with Dave, Luke (Lambert, No. 42 crew chief) and the entire team.”
Gordon is a 25-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series and sat atop pit boxes for both Logano and Ryan Blaney at Team Penske. His most recent stint came with Blaney from 2020-21, collecting four wins, 22 top fives and 37 top-10 finishes.
Johnson will attempt to qualify for the 65th annual Daytona 500 in pole qualifying on Feb. 15 and in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Feb. 16. The No. 84 Chevrolet is unchartered and therefore will have to fight for one of four “open” spots in the 40-car field to reach what would be his 20th Daytona 500 and first since 2020.
“Having the pressure of ‘making the race’ through qualifying and the Duel races is going to be a little stressful with a car that Jimmie and I haven’t worked with yet,” Gordon said. “But the team had really good cars on superspeedways last season, so we have great resources, great teammates and a good starting point.”
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Jones led laps in each of the four races at Daytona and Talladega in 2022, earning sixth-place finishes in both Talladega outings.
Johnson has not competed in the NASCAR Cup Series since retiring at the end of the 2020 season. Tied with Petty and Earnhardt for a record seven championships, the 47-year-old sits with 83 career victories, tied for sixth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list with Hall of Fame champion Cale Yarborough. His last victory came at Dover Motor Speedway in June 2017.
Elenz returns to the No. 43 team’s pit box for his sophomore season as a Cup crew chief. He and Jones mustered an impressive first outing for the recently renamed LEGACY Motor Club, which operated as Petty GMS in 2022. Together, they earned one win, three top fives and 13 top 10s.
“I’m excited to continue my career for 2023 and beyond at LEGACY M.C.,” Elenz said in a release. “We had a great season last year thanks to Erik and everyone at the team. There is a lot of excitement and opportunity right now at LEGACY M.C. and I’m really looking forward to getting back to the track.”
According to the release, Elenz entered the sport as an engineer in 2001, working at Jasper Racing before advancing to Ginn Racing, Red Bull Racing and ultimately Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. There, Elenz began serving as an engineer for Johnson’s famed No. 48 Chevrolet, aiding the team on the way to the 2013 Cup title, Johnson’s sixth.
Elenz went to the Xfinity Series in 2015 with JR Motorsports, where he served as a crew chief for six different drivers, collecting 15 wins in addition to consecutive Xfinity titles with William Byron and Tyler Reddick. His final stint at JRM came as Noah Gragson’s crew chief for three seasons. Gragson will pilot the No. 42 LEGACY M.C. Chevrolet in a Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign in 2023.
The Busch Light Clash serves as the NASCAR Cup Series’ exhibition opener from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET (FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).