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Jim Utter

Johnson: Legacy Motor Club "not where we wanted to be"

Erik Jones, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet, finished eighth last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway – his first top-10 of the season while his teammate, Noah Gragson in the No. 42 Chevrolet, ended up 12th, his best finish of the 2023 season.

Entering Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas, Jones is 21st in the series standings and Gragson, a rookie, is 27th.

Since last November when the former Petty GMS Racing announced its new part-owner in Johnson, the organization has undergone many changes, including new personnel and changes in responsibilities for several who already worked there.

Searching for improvement

Asked about LMC’s start to the year, Johnson said Friday the team was trying not to “overreact” to the performance so far this season.

“So much changes from year to year. You go to Daytona and we all feel like we all had good cars and were competitive,” he said.

“California is after that. We had some weird stuff go on with the splitter and all that dirt and rock and all the debris that was at the track that the splitters delaminated on our cars.

“It’s really easy to look at that and say that’s the reason why our performance wasn’t where it needed to be.”

Noah Gragson, Legacy Motor Club, Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet, Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, Allegiant Chevrolet (Photo by: Ben Earp / NKP / Motorsport Images)

With the series having competed on superspeedways, an intermediate track and a shorter track (Phoenix), Johnson said the organization has a good amount of data to better evaluate where they stand in the development of their cars.

“We’re not where we want to be, but there’s endless work going on in the shop. I’m very thankful for the crew chiefs, for Joey Cohen (vice president of racing operations) and his hard work and focus that’s gone into it and all the engineering that’s behind it,” he said.

“We’re digging along. We haven’t hit our peak for the season yet and I think we now have an idea of where our short-track cars are, what we need to work on – mile-and-half stuff and certainly the restrictor-plate tracks.”

Johnson's role at LMC

Johnson, 47, said to his surprise he has found himself working more on the business side at Legacy MC of late.

He is also trying to tailor the races in which he competes to help both the competition and business sides of the team. Right now, he is scheduled to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 in May and the Cup Series’ first street race in July in Chicago but will add more.

“My focus point still really has been on the business marketing aspect of the team. I sit in on plenty of meetings and debriefs and have a pulse of what is going on in our competition department.,” he said.

“If you would have asked me four or five months ago where I’d probably spend most of my time I’d think naturally on the competition side, but there’s really been more on the business side.”

In regards to future races for himself, Johnson said, “Fun cities, fun places and great energy – that’s where I can really help our race team is to help our team shine in those bigger markets to bring in more eyeballs, more corporate dollars, more partnerships.

“I think that’s somewhere I can really help.”

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