One of the teams without a NASCAR Cup Series charter has unveiled its plans for the 2022 Daytona 500. Beard Motorsports, the team behind the No. 62 Chevrolet, will try to qualify for the season-opening event, as well as the other races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
Speedway Digest posted a press release on Tuesday, Sept. 7, confirming that the team with only one full-time employee — crew chief Darren Shaw — obtained a Next Gen chassis and will use that to attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500. The team will continue its alliance with Richard Childress Racing and will only focus on the superspeedway races on the 2022 schedule. The press release did not reveal the identity of the driver that will join Beard Motorsports for the races.
“Beard Motorsports has always over delivered and it’s a testament to its people and the relationships they have within the industry,” said former driver Brendan Gaughan, who has a new role as Beard Motorsports’ vice president of racing operations. “We have to outwork and outthink the competition, and we feel that the NextGen car plays right into our hands because it levels the playing field. We’ll have similar equipment to the big teams, but no one is going to beat us when it comes to want and desire.”
Mark Beard Sr. initially founded Beard Motorsports and used the race team as part of a marketing tool for Beard Oil Distributing, a third-generation family business. The founder passed away on Jan. 31, 2021, at the age of 72. His wife, Linda Beard, now runs the team with daughter Amie serving as executive vice president.
Gaughan Has Contended for Top-10s With Beard Motorsports
The Beard Motorsports Chevrolet has never been a stock car that competed on every track on the NASCAR circuit. Instead, the small team focused on the superspeedways, achieving success overall considering the stacked field of drivers and high-level equipment.
Gaughan made his Beard Motorsports debut during the 2017 season, suiting up for the season-opening Daytona 500. He started 39th overall after qualifying and raced his way to an 11th-place finish after avoiding on-track incidents that wrecked 15 other stock cars.
Gaughan started 17 races for the team from 2017 until 2020 — eight at Talladega Superspeedway, eight at Daytona International Speedway, and one at the Daytona Road Course. He did not reach Victory Lane during these races but still frequently contended for top-10 finishes, racking up four overall. The list includes seventh in the 2020 Daytona 500 and eighth in the 2020 Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Beard Motorsports Turned to a New Driver in 2021
Following four seasons with Gaughan behind the wheel, the team turned to a new driver for the 2021 Daytona 500. JR Motorsports star Noah Gragson agreed to join the team for the race and prepare for his inevitable Cup Series future. Gaughan knew Gragson due to them both being Las Vegas natives, and he hand-picked the young driver to take over the No. 62.
“I loved racing for the Beard Family and even though I’m retired, I’m honored to be a part of their team and I’m very protective of what they’ve built,” Gaughan said in a January press release. “I’ve known Noah a long time and I know he’s a very good racecar driver who is ready to do some Cup racing.
“Just as importantly, he takes good care of his equipment and he’s there at the end of races. In his entire Xfinity Series career, he’s only had four DNFs. That’s important no matter who you’re racing for, but it’s especially important for Beard Motorsports. I’m proud to see Noah have this opportunity and proud to see another Las Vegas guy in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Gragson came close to securing his spot in the Daytona 500. However, an incident in the second Bluegreen Vacation Duel ended his night early and sent the No. 62 back to the hauler. Garrett Smithley attempted to force his way between Brad Keselowski and Gragson, but he turned the No. 2 Team Penske Ford into the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet. This maneuver kicked off a large wreck that also damaged stock cars belonging to William Byron and Ross Chastain.
With Gragson knocked out of the qualifying race, Beard Motorsports ran out of opportunities to compete in the 2021 season. None of the other superspeedway races featured qualifying laps or practice sessions. Instead, NASCAR would determine the starting lineups based on points and factors from the previous races on the schedule.
The 2022 season, however, will most likely feature a different setup. NASCAR has yet to release the schedule, but the expectation is that the majority of races will feature the return of practice and qualifying. If so, Beard Motorsports will once again have the opportunity to compete in all of the races at Daytona and Talladega.
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