Jones already sees an upward turn for Legacy Motor Club

By | February 15, 2024

It will take some time before Legacy Motor Club is firmly established as a Toyota team and all the changes and growth that comes with it become a reality. However, Erik Jones can already predict other prospects for the season.

“I think we were a little unsure last year, and after we announced the move to Toyota, we obviously knew it was going to be a long season,” Jones said Wednesday during the Daytona 500 media day. “This year it’s different. We feel like we’re starting out, probably not quite where we want to be because I don’t feel like we’ve had enough time and I think most in the store would agree with that. We just need more time to build these things out internally, which we need. But there is much more expectation and hope.

“We have a much clearer path and direction of where we will end up and what we need to do to build and where we need to build. Obviously we have great partners now (with) AdventHealth this weekend, Family Dollar and (and) Dollar Tree coming up. So there is a lot more optimism among everyone starting the year than in recent years.”

Entering his fourth season with the No. 43 car, Jones has been along for the ride through multiple iterations of the race team, different teammates and many other changes. It has certainly not been smooth sailing with the ebb and flow of performances, but Jones has entered each season with as much optimism as possible.

This time around, it doesn’t seem necessary for Jones to force any positivity towards the Daytona 500. Despite the continued work behind the scenes, there is potential and more stability.

“It was interesting; it’s just been a long road for me in the Cup and not just in the 43rd car,” he said. “I come into the series in my 20s, and then I come into my 43s, and we’ve gone through so many changes personnel-wise, ownership-wise, manufacturer-wise, internally, team-wise – so every year has been a grind. This year started no different. It’s a grind for us right now just because we’re working hard to try to hit the ground running in the right direction. So every year has been a grind, but this year doesn’t feel like a lost cause.

“Sometimes it feels like you just work and work and work, and everything is going against you. I feel like we work hard and things push us. We have a lot of people in our corner pushing and saying, ‘Okay, you guys are working hard and doing everything you can. We want to see you perform well.’ Toyota wants us to perform well. Our group wants to perform well. But I think the manufacturer’s support is the most important. Having a manufacturer who wants you to succeed can make a big difference.”

Legacy Motor Club switched from Chevrolet to Toyota in the winter, giving the manufacturer two (sometimes three) additional cars in the Cup Series. It is the first time since 2011 that Toyota has eight full-time teams.

However, the organization does not have an alliance partner as in previous years. Legacy Motor Club will be on its own starting this season, even the pit crews, while more resources are available through the Toyota partnership. It is also a partnership that allowed for workforce growth and expansion of the race shop department.

“Overall, the possibilities are somewhat endless, but we still need to use the data the right way and get things going the right way,” Jones said. “We’ve done the work that we can do at the moment, and now we have to go out and race and see where we do and go to work from there. That part isn’t much different from years past, but if we start on the wrong foot, we’ll probably at least have better direction and tools to get where we want to be faster.

Jones knows his team still has many questions to answer, but is encouraged by how things have gone so far with Legacy’s new format. Lesley Ann Miller/Motorsport Images

The expectation is that Legacy Motor Club can do nothing but rise this season. There are two superspeedways to start the year (Daytona and Atlanta) before the series heads west to a traditional mile and a half, followed by two short circuits (Phoenix and Bristol) and a road course before the end of March. Jones sees expectations changing as the season progresses, but believes Legacy will know where they stand fairly quickly.

“You want to set high expectations just because things are better now than they were for us, but they are also very different,” Jones said. “We’ve been relying on alliances since I’ve been in car 43 and that’s a huge department in itself that we’re currently building to fill that gap… Everyone is still trying to learn their role, and we’re still working hard on the sim. I was on the sim until yesterday trying to work on things to get better for the races here and Atlanta. So many things are still being developed, and of course we will get to work.

“There’s still a lot of work to do right now, but once we’re done with Vegas and Phoenix, we’ll have a good idea of ​​where we stand. Vegas has historically been a good track for us. Phoenix has been a little bit hit and miss, but I think we’ll have a good judgment on where our short track program probably stands. Excited to get there? No, but I hope it’s good too.”

The story originally appeared on Racer

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