Petty GMS announced prior to the Cup Series championship that it would have a part-time third entry for Jimmie Johnson, who joined in an ownership role. Now the team has provided more details highlighting some big plans.
According to Joey Cohen, the Petty GMS Cup Series competition director, there are already discussions taking place about the third entry. Johnson has a set list of eight to 10 races in which he will compete, starting with the Daytona 500, but there are plans in place to have other drivers making starts in the third Chevrolet Camaro. Though there are no confirmed drivers on this list yet.
“Kind of through the rumbling of the circles, I think a lot of people knew that an open car was coming on our end, and it generated more interest, and there’s people out there that are looking to run races next year,” Cohen told NASCAR Media. “The road-course stuff always interests people, there’s people lining up to do those from other series.
“We have partners that have asked us about drivers that they could go in in our organization that they would be interested in supporting. So I think it’s gonna be a really interesting year. We looked at the 500, and I’m sure we’re just the very beginning of a multiple amount of teams considering running an open car. I would say that that car will have an opportunity to run more races with other drivers in it next year as well.”
Another Cup Series Team Runs a Part-Time, Open Entry
The focus at the Petty GMS shop will be The No. 43 of Erik Jones and the No. 42 of Noah Gragson. The team will also showcase the third entry that features Johnson and other drivers.
This is a similar approach that Trackhouse Racing took in 2022. The two-car Cup Series team focused on Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez as they both reached Victory Lane and the playoffs.
Trackhouse Racing also introduced Project91, the open entry built specifically for international drivers and those from other motorsports disciplines. Former F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen was the first and only driver to control the No. 91 during the 2022 season. He took on the Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.
As team owner Justin Marks explained during the weekend at Watkins Glen, the team hadn’t hired any new employees to run the Project91 program. The 2022 season was more of a test run to see if it would work.
Now, however, there are bigger plans for Project91. Marks wants to run at all of the road courses during the 2023 season. He also wants to enter the Chevrolet Camaro into big events such as the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.
Petty GMS Will Face a New Challenge in 2023
There will continue to be questions about the third Petty GMS entry until the team provides some details about the driver lineup. For now, there will be a different focus as Johnson prepares for a unique situation.
Johnson, the winner of seven Cup Series championships with Hendrick Motorsports, has competed in the Daytona 500 19 times. From 2016 until his retirement, he had a guaranteed spot due to the charter system.
2023 will be different for the seven-time champion. Petty GMS does not have a charter for the third entry, so he will have to race his way into the Crown Jewel event. Though none of the decision-makers on the team have significant concerns about the upcoming challenge.
“I will put a plug in. This year we were in Talladega, the front row of the last two starts,” said Maury Gallagher, team owner. “So Mr. [Mike] Beam here to my left, you go back and look at the GMS super track record, we’re as good as anybody in the business. I’m breaking my arm patting us on the back, but… He’ll have an advantage, we believe, in quality of car that he’s going to be in.”