After announcing that Richard Petty Motorsports had agreed to sell a majority interest to GMS Racing owner Maury Gallagher on Dec.1, Tuesday marked the beginning of a new era for one of NASCAR's most iconic figures and a top Camping World Truck Series team.
On Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Richard Petty and team owner Maury Gallagher announced the formation of Petty GMS Motorsports, which will field two full-time cars in the NASCAR Cup Series. Erik Jones will continue to drive Petty's No. 43, while Ty Dillon -- who had been slated to drive the No. 94 for GMS Racing -- will now drive a Petty-branded No. 42.
Petty, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion who holds the all-time record for Cup Series wins with 200, will serve as the chairman of the team as well as its public face. Gallagher, who has won two championships as the owner of one of the top teams in the Truck Series, will serve as majority owner.
Former NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Mike Beam, who began his career with Petty Enterprises as crew chief for Kyle Petty in the early 1980s, will serve as team president and oversee day-to-day operations.
"Maury and Mike have built a really solid organization at GMS," read a statement by Petty. "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."
According to Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, the deal between the two teams involves the two charters owned by Petty, which were used for Petty's No. 43 as well as for Rick Ware Racing's No. 51. The charter that had been leased to Rick Ware Racing now transfers to the No. 42, guaranteeing it a spot in each Cup Series race in 2022.
The acquisition of the No. 42 by Petty GMS is a significant one given the history of Petty Enterprises. The No. 42 was the number used by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty, who drove the number to three Cup Series titles and 54 wins, including the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. The number was last used by a Petty car in 1982, when Kyle Petty drove it to a 15th-place finish in the Winston Cup point standings.
The deal for majority interest of what had been Richard Petty Motorsports has merit for both teams ahead of the introduction of NASCAR's Next Gen car in 2022. With the acquisition of a charter through their partnership with Petty, GMS will now be guaranteed a spot in every Cup Series race as they seek to build on their Truck Series success. The move also serves as a potential boon to Petty's team, which has not won a race since 2014 and scored only six top-10 finishes with Erik Jones in 2021.
"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," read a statement by Maury Gallagher. "Ty and Erik have proven themselves through the years and we are looking forward to the success they will have as teammates."
In addition to their Cup Series team, GMS Racing will also continue to field two full-time trucks in the Camping World Truck Series. In 2022, GMS' trucks will be driven by Grant Enfinger and Jack Wood.