NASCAR in Richmond: Richard Petty, GMS Grows with Eric Jones and Noah Gregson | NASCAR

When Petty GMS was created in December, it was hard to predict what the two-car team would eventually become. While they haven’t found their way to victory after this season, they have been knocking on the door. Now in his second full-time season with the organization, Eric Jones has produced solid results for the rebranded team.

After not finishing fifth last season, Jones scored third at Fontana and finished fourth last month in Atlanta. He’s led laps in eight races this season, and has also finished eight more in the top ten than he did in the whole of last year.

Jones nearly led the team into victory lane for the first time in April in Talladega. The 26-year-old made a split-second decision to foul Kyle Larson on the final lap of the race, only to lose the lead to another car coming to the finish line. It was a huge blow to Jones and the team, but also a learning opportunity.

“You’re trying to look at the positives from this race,” Jones said. “We had a fast car, drove laps, and were in the lead to get to where we need to be. It’s frustrating. You work so hard for 500 miles and it drops to the last few thousand feet. It’s hard. At the end of the day, it makes you Just want to work harder.” This is exactly what the organization has been doing since that day.

The team responded the following week by finishing another in the top ten. Their determination and patience have been tested, but they continue to thrive in the toughest conditions. Jones knows they can win – and not just at breakneck speed. During his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones won Daytona and Darlington. Petty GMS has done well on trails of all shapes and sizes this year.

Jones and his crew have been in good shape for the last five races. They got three laps ahead of those with the highest scores in Pocono and Michigan, as well as fourth place in the Atlanta score. Most of the focus was on the #43 car, and for good reason.

And the organization announced last month that Ty Dillon will not return to Chevrolet’s number 42 next season. Richard Childress’s grandson has only finished in the top 10 all season, a 10th in the Bristol dirt race. On Wednesday, they named his replacement in Noah Gregson.

Although the news comes as no surprise to many in the industry, it is in line with the direction this organization is heading. Back in 2019, GMS Racing began its driver development program with Chevrolet and JR Motorsports. Gragson is in his fourth full-time season in the Xfinity series, all with JR Motorsports.

Although he never won a championship in the series, Gragson has been a title contender every year, racking up eight race wins and 52 races in the top five. The Las Vegas native has another chance to get it done in the coming weeks, but Wednesday’s announcement was all about his future as a Cup driver.

“To be able to finally announce my plans for next season and officially say that I will be competing full time in the Cup Series is a dream come true,” said Gregson. “This is what we all dream about when we start racing at a young age, to be able to compete at the highest level with the best in the world. The sky is the limit here. Petty GMS wants to grow and make this a home for me.”

Team boss Mike Beam has high expectations, saying he hopes Noah can compete for wins next season and for the championship in three years. He added that this is part of an accelerated timetable to reach the organization’s performance targets.

We don’t have time. We have to go, and that’s just being true to God’s truth. We won’t mess around. We’re committed to this. How much does it cost to do it, it’s like there’s really no budget. We just buy what we need. Noah knows it. Eric knows it Our plan is just to work hard. If you destroy it, we will bring it home and fix it. That’s how it is.”

Noah has participated in eight Cup games this season for College Racing, and has run the Daytona 500 with Bird Motorsports. He only finished four of those nine races, as he was trying to learn the NextGen, the different style of racing at the top level of NASCAR. Gaining experience is vital for the junior season, but he will also need to work as he reaches maturity.

This is one of the main areas that he needs to improve in order to live with the seasoned drivers of the sport. He’s had several accidents with other drivers in his short career, including a situation at Road America with Sage Karam. Aggressive driving styles earned Noah a $35,000 fine, and he was penalized for 30 championship points. Richard Petty wants Noah to remain the same, but with a thoughtful approach to his behavior.

“We might have to calm him down a little bit, but the way the Cup races are going now, he should be aggressive. I think from that point of view, I just hope we can calm him down where he’s not too aggressive, but he’ll be in the learning process because Xfinity is a different group Little people. They race differently. When it comes to the Cup, he has to learn to respect his other drivers and he will have to respect them. So it will be fun.”

Two weeks ago in Indianapolis, Jones and the organization announced that they had a new multi-year agreement in effect to continue Michigan with the team. “I really like the group we have. Every week I feel like we’re getting better and putting ourselves in a competition to win. Knowing where I’m going to lead allows us to really focus on building the team and improving our cars. I’m looking forward to finishing this season strong, hopefully we can win, and keep going. Building on what we started this year.”

Jones qualified ninth for today’s race in Richmond, and is 14th in the regular season standings. While they are not currently in qualifying, that could change in the blink of an eye with a win in one of these last three races. Next weekend is a visit to Watkins Glen, followed by a trip to Daytona, where Jones has previously won.

With 15 different winners in 23 races this season, Jones thinks they can make it. “We want to win races. That’s my goal, Morey’s goal, and Richard’s goal. That’s everyone’s goal here. We’re building to get to this point. It’s a learning process, but overall, I’ve been happy with it.”

Petty GMS is now aligned with two young drivers (26 and 24) who could be groomed over the next few years. It has been proven, especially this season, that two-car teams can be very successful. The prime example would be TrackHouse Racing, which broke into the scene with Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain. This success model is exactly what Petty GMS is trying to forge with Jones and Gregson.

When Betty realized that something needed to change, he found the perfect partner in Maury Gallagher. The two formed a unique partnership that combines championship pedigree (GMS in Trucks, Petty in Cup) with brand recognition and exceptional marketing opportunities.

“We wanted to work with someone who knows the race, who wants to race, who wants to be a winner, who wants to spend the money in the right place,” Petty said. “It wins on one scale, we win on another. We put it together, we win all together. It’s one of those deals that I think as times change, I have to change. NASCAR changes. It was the time to bring in a new partner.”

Now that the organization has an extensive simulator to use, Petty is confident that success is coming. “We are better off this year than we were last year. You have to know when one team gets involved with another, it takes time to get everyone on the same page. So it took us probably half a year to get everyone to understand both sides, but this The team really comes together. I think we are very close to winning some races.”

“It’s definitely a great shot in the arm for all of these employees where there is hope,” Beam said. “We all need hope. I hope you are doing the right thing, but you are also investing in people and investing in sports. You have to have hope that you are going there.” Petty GMS will get there, it’s just a matter of time.

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