We're fresh off NASCAR Champion's Week in Nashville, and the news cycle surrounding stock car racing's highest level has shown zero signs of slowing down. It's only Tuesday, so who knows what off-season news will be buzzing by the end of the week. Right now, the headlines are all about Richard Petty Motorsports, 23XIRacing, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But, enough build-up. Let's get into it.
Richard Petty Motorsports Is Rebranding
After it was purchased last week by GMS Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports has been rebranded as Petty GMS Motorsports, the team announced Tuesday.
The team is still slated to field two cars in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, and will be headquartered at GMS Racing's current 25-acre, three-building complex in Statesville, North Carolina.
Erik Jones is still set to drive Petty's iconic No. 43 car for a second year. Before the merger, Ty Dillon was set to drive GMS Racing's No. 94 Chevrolet. Now, the former Germain Racing driver will pilot the No. 42.
While the number had been associated with the now-defunct Chip Ganassi Racing for the last decade and more, the 42 has a rich history with the Petty family. It's the original number Lee Petty ran from 1949-1961 and won three championships and 54 races with. Kyle Petty raced the number from 1979-1982, and again from 1989-1996, when he competed for SABCO Racing.
"(Team owner) Maury (Gallagher) and (president) Mike (Beam) have built a really solid organization at GMS," Richard Petty said in a press release. "They've won a lot of races and a couple of championships in the Truck Series, and I really look forward to doing the same in the Cup Series. Maury's commitment to competing and winning is obvious in everything he does, that's something we really needed. The opportunity to combine our two organizations on the Cup front makes a lot of sense for all of us for a number of reasons, one of which is the talent we have between the two organizations; this will make us a lot stronger together."
Petty will serve as Chairman of the new team. Beam will oversee the day-to-day operations. Brian Moffitt, Petty's son-in-law and former CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, will serve as Executive Vice President of Sales.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity to work with Richard, arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history, and form Petty GMS Motorsports," Gallagher said the press release. "Petty GMS will have a sole focus of winning. Both teams have a track record of winning and we have a strong desire to continue this legacy in a new chapter. Ty and Erik have proven themselves through the years and we are looking forward to the success they will have as teammates."
GMS Racing, which has raced primarily in the Camping World Truck Series since 2013, will continued to field multiple entries in that series next year.
McDonald's Expands Partnership Deal With 23XI Racing
Ahead of its second season of NASCAR Cup Series competition, 23XI Racing announced an expansion to its existing partnership with McDonald's.
The fast food giant will sponsor both of the team's Toyotas, the No. 23 driven by Bubba Wallace and the No. 45 driven by Kurt Busch, in multiple races. The expansion includes placement on Wallace's car for the Daytona 500.
Wallace delivered the team its first win in October at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the first Cup Series points win for McDonald's in the role of a primary sponsor since 1994 (Jimmy Spencer at Talladega).
I wouldn?t be where I am today if it weren?t for @McDonalds. Thank you for believing in me and trusting in the process. Here?s to 2022! See y?all in @DAYTONA. https://t.co/84Cs4lBt96
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) December 7, 2021
"McDonald's has really stepped up over the years and played a large part in my career," Wallace said in the press release. "To be a part of the McDonald's family and be involved in programs like Black and Positively Golden and work toward similar goals both on and off the track also means a lot to me. I'm excited to continue to build on our relationship and get the 2022 season started with McDonald's on our Camry TRD for the Daytona 500 -- hopefully with another trip to Victory Lane."
With the McDonald's news, Busch now has the backing of two companies known for giant "M" logos. McDonald's joins Busch's long-time supporter Monster Energy. Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, will seek to achieve his ninth consecutive Cup season with at least one victory.
"Racing with Monster Energy over the last decade together has been an incredible ride," said Busch said in the press release. "We win, we have fun, we promote together, and I am very grateful for their partnership."
"It feels like family racing for them, and I believe McDonald's will have the same feel. The power of these brands elevates the No. 45 Camry TRD to a top tier level before we even take the green flag."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reveals Paint Scheme for 2022 Race
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car for his lone NASCAR start of 2022 is set. JR Motorsports unveiled the scheme Earnhardt will drive in the April Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway. The design of the No. 88 Chevrolet was the winner of a fan vote where three options were available.
This is the fan voted designed I?ll run @MartinsvilleSwy in April. Appreciate everyone who participated in the vote. @RyanW_Design did a great job on this car. pic.twitter.com/nLCkkBbPoC
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) December 7, 2021
Earnhardt will again be sponsored by Hellmann's. Since he retired from full-time Cup competition after the 2017 season, Earnhardt has made one Xfinity Series start each year for the team he owns.
Earnhardt unveiled the scheme on Instagram Live. During the announcement, he revealed that the team considered a different number for him in the race, the No. 03.
It would have been based on a car Earnhardt drove in his pre-NASCAR days. He also shared a mockup of what the car would have looked like with the No. 03 instead of 88.
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