NASCAR is attracting star power to the sport. A few years ago, the ownership model was aging. Who were going to be the new people to transcend this sport further down the road? Most of the successful owners were all 70+ years of age or older. Most were on the downside of their careers and how much longer would they stay around?
Now, that problem looks to be resolved.
Pitbull, Michael Jordan and now most recently Floyd Mayweather have each joined the NASCAR ranks in the last couple of years as owners. Pitbull teamed with Justin Marks to form Trackhouse for their debut in the NASCAR Cup Series last season with Daniel Suarez.
Jordan, teamed with Denny Hamlin for form 23XI Racing with Bubba Wallace for last year too. Now, both are not only back in 2022, but have expanded from a single car operation to a two car team.
Trackhouse, bought out Chip Ganassi Racing and brought over Ross Chastain while Chastain’s former Ganassi teammate of Kurt Busch joined 23XI Racing’s second car.
For Mayweather, he doesn’t have the luxury of a partner that has NASCAR ties. He’s doing this venture on his own and will start The Money Team that will debut this month in Daytona. While he does have resources from the now shuttered StarCom team, it’s not like he has someone like Marks or Hamlin who’ve competed at the highest level to bounce ideas off of.
That’s okay for Mayweather. He not one to resist a battle. In fact, not only has he’s never backed down from a fight, he’s undefeated in them. He’s a perfect 50-0, hence the number 50 that will don the side of the multi colored Chevrolet that will debut later this month during Daytona Speedweeks.
“I love fast cars and I love to compete,” says Mayweather. “I know NASCAR will not be easy but anything easy isn’t worth doing to me.”
The No. 50 Chevrolet will be driven by Kaz Grala and be one of the currently four non chartered teams going for the four spots into the 64th Running of the Great American Race (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN).
Tony Eury Jr. will be the crew chief with the team having Pit Viper Sunglasses as the sponsor ECR will supply engines as the team expects to be part-time for the upcoming campaign.
Grala, has made 74 NASCAR starts across all three national divisions.
So, with where we sit, how many cars are on the entry-list?
All 36 chartered cars are obviously there. Two of them have open seats but both are likely tied to drivers.
Hendrick Motorsports (Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Alex Bowman)
Joe Gibbs Racing (Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell)
Stewart-Haas Racing (Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, Cole Custer)
Team Penske (Austin Cindric R, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano)
Roush Fenway Racing (Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher)
Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick)
Trackhouse Racing (Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez)
Front Row Motorsports (Michael McDowell, Todd Gilliland R)
23XI Racing (Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch)
Kaulig Racing (Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley)
Petty GMS Racing (Ty Dillon, Erik Jones)
Spire Sports (Corey LaJoie, TBA)
Wood Brothers (Harrison Burton R)
JTG Daugherty Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)
Live Fast Motorsports (TBA)
Rick Ware Racing (David Ragan, Cody Ware)
The not yet named drivers are for Spire (No. 77 Chevrolet) and Live Fast (No. 78. But, those two rides more than likely be BJ McLeod (Live Fast) and Landon Cassill (Spire).
So, what about the open cars?
Beard Motorsports will have Noah Gragson again. MBM Motorsports announced their plans with Timmy Hill in the No. 66 Ford. Now you get The Money Team as No. 39.
All signs though are pointing to Team Hezeberg coming down to Daytona with Jacques Villeneuve in the No. 27 Ford. That’s entry 40 to fill the field.
MBM is now in the running to have JJ Yeley in a second car which would be 41. But, will it happen? What about NY Racing? Rumor is Greg Biffle will be in the NY Racing teams’ car. That would be 42.
If Yeley (MBM) or Biffle (NY Racing Team) show up, someone will have to go home, maybe even 2 of them among Gragson, Hill, Yeley, Grala, Villeneuve and Biffle. That would be 6 cars for 4 spots.
In 2018, there were no extra cars with 40 cars showing up for 40 spots.
In 2019, we had six open cars meaning two wouldn’t make it.
2020 saw seven open cars and 2021 with eight.
You may first be wondering, where did those eight “open” cars go from last year?
Kaulig found a charter. JTG dropped theirs. So did Penske who doesn’t need a fourth car this year since Austin Cindric is now a Cup driver.
That’s three of the eight open cars gone. It left the Gaunt Brothers, Front Row, MBM and Beard.
We know MBM and Beard are both back. I’ve not heard anything yet from Gaunt or FRR (3rd car) on coming back again for these respective teams so I sense that they’re out.
I don’t think FRR would just magically show up with a third car without having planned yet for one and the Gaunt Brothers have been quiet. So, that’s half the open cars from last year gone.
But, NY Racing Team and The Money Team have stepped up to make Speedweeks mean something.
Still, NASCAR has seen an influx of new team owners rising to the sport. Matt Kaulig brought Kaulig Racing to the Cup Series with two full time teams for 2022. GMS rose from the minor leagues to the big leagues this season and have teamed with Richard Petty Motorsports in doing so. Brad Keselowski bought into Roush Fenway Racing to form RFK Racing. Team Hezeberg is here as an open team. Matt Tifft and BJ McLeod formed Live Fast Motorsports for 2021. Combine that with Jordan/Hamlin, Pitbull and Marks as well as now Mayweather, NASCAR has found some younger but star packed power to start teams.
Then, you have Hendrick Motorsports setting Jeff Gordon and Chad Knaus in motion as eventually taking that ship over. Joe Gibbs Racing has Gibbs family members in place when ready. Tony Stewart and Gene Haas are still youthful enough to remain around for decades to come. Tim Cindric is in place at Penske.
All the sudden, you go from an aging ownership group to futures in place for years to come to propel NASCAR to a whole new level.
While the charters have made it harder to new people to join the sport in the sense that it’s harder to do without a charter, it’s not necessarily a deterrent. The Beard’s and MBM are still around. Mayweather is as an open team. Hezeberg is around.
Also, it’s allowing those older owners to sell and get something in return. Prior to the charter system, once you were ready to depart the sport, you would have been lucky to walk away with any money.
Racing is a tough business to make profits in but the charter system allows you to do so at the end at least. That’s allowing new people to come into the sport with a guaranteed spot into all 36 races as well as allowing owners to walk away with millions in their pockets.
For the ones that are staying around, they’ve got very good succession plans in place. For those that are coming in, they’re A-listers.
The open cars aren’t going away either which is a good thing to fill out the field while the line to get into the sport is still there as well. This was another big day for NASCAR.