Race Weekend Central

Friday NASCAR Daytona Notebook: Jimmie Johnson Hopeful, Small Teams Have Big Plans

It’s a new year and that means new rides and fresh opportunities for many in the NASCAR Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series. Here are some notes Frontstretch learned while speaking with some of the smaller teams in the Daytona International Speedway garage.

  • David Starr will be the lone entry for Our Motorsports, who’s scaling back from three full-time teams to just one in 2023. Starr is running the No. 02 for a majority of the schedule, the 25th season the 55-year-old’s been a part of NASCAR’s top three series. “Hopefully, we’re going to run all year,” Starr said. “But I’ll be honest with you – we’re going to have to come up with some more funding to do that.”
  • Jade Buford is running a second car for Big Machine Racing, the No. 5, after being replaced full time in the No. 48 last year. It’s a one-race deal that’s “something the team wanted to do. In the past, having done the superspeedway races, it’s tough being a single car out there, not having someone to rely on and work with … two cars is better than one.” Buford is hoping to do most of the road courses and a few ovals, running a limited schedule for Big Machine’s second entry throughout the year.
  • MBM Motorsports informed Frontstretch they’re only planning on one full-time NXS entry this season with Timmy Hill the top candidate to fill the seat. Hill is in the No. 13 this weekend while Dexter Stacey drives the No. 66
  • Bret Holmes is, at 25 years old, the youngest owner in any of NASCAR’s top three series, making him a little extra careful as a driver in order to conserve equipment – and expenses. So why do it? “It’s a different level of pride in it,” Holmes said. “It’s not like you’re coming to another team and driving their stuff… part of it is you know what equipment you’re going to get, too. ” Running for Rookie of the Year this season in his No. 32 Chevrolet, Holmes had a rough start to his campaign: he was wiped out in a wreck around halfway Friday night (Feb. 17) and wound up 31st.
  • Clay Greenfield told Frontstretch exclusively he’s planning a limited schedule of races this season, including Talladega Superspeedway. The Cook Racing Technologies team was wiped out in the first major wreck Friday night, winding up 34th.
  • Todd Peck was among six who failed to qualify in his No. 96 Toyota, but he’s hoping Daytona won’t be the last you see of him. The plan is to reassess after this race and run “hopefully Pocono and some of the road courses.”

A few notes from the Cup side…

  • Jimmie Johnson, who topped Friday’s practice session, said it was weird to hear his spotter say the No. 48 was alongside of him. “I thought it was me,” he said in terms of adjusting to his new life driving Legacy Motor Club’s No. 84, a team he co-owns. Johnson also had a moment of levity when describing how the Next Gen feels to him: “It drives like a stock car, thank God. It doesn’t drive like an IndyCar. We know how that went.”
  • Kurt Busch says his day-to-day is back to normal but he still hasn’t been cleared by NASCAR to drive again. “Go karting has been fine for me,” Busch said. “The simulator has been fine. It’s just been when I have the head in the head rest, that movement bothers me.” But if he never gets in a car again, the 2004 Cup champion is content with how it all worked out, perfectly content in his new role consulting and mentoring drivers and other young talent within 23XI Racing. “I told Denny [Hamlin] I had one good year in me [as a driver],” he joked. “And I signed a two-year deal.”

Jared Haas and Dalton Hopkins contributed their reporting to this article.

Follow @NASCARBowles

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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