Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: What Can Legacy Do To Turn Its Season Around?

With both its drivers outside of the top 20 in NASCAR Cup Series points, what can Legacy Motor Club do to turn its season around?

Taylor Kornhoff: It’s too early to be worrying about Legacy being in a bad spot. The team doesn’t need to do anything other than what teams usually do anyway: Find sponsorship, work on improving their programs, training and educating their drivers, and finishing races are all things they are surely striving to do anyways. Both Erik Jones and Noah Gragson have shown speed at Daytona International Speedway, Phoenix Raceway and Circuit of the Americas, three very different race tracks. They’ve really fallen back due to circumstances and bad luck at times, and you have to remember the Cup garage is the most competitive it has been in a long time. Give them a few races and they’ll probably be up in contention more often. Though it needs to find a good replacement or two for Focus Factor, I’m not stressing. Just let Jones randomly rip the field a new one at an intermediate and let Gragson pull a superspeedway win out of thin air.

Stephen Stumpf: Find sponsorship for its cars. Jones and Gragson have been sponsored by Allegiant Air and Sunseeker Resort in 10 of the 14 races this season, but both companies are property of co-owner Maury Gallagher; it’s essentially running out of pocket for more than 70% of the races this season. Get extra cash flowing into the team and Legacy will likely see an uptick in its performance.

Zach Gillispie: Legacy has the appearance of a dumpster fire. There are major sponsorship issues. Top executive Bruce Mosley has been kicked to the curb after just two months on the job. The results have been dismal, especially after Jones’ heroic campaign last year. This is an organization that needs help, but it seems help is a long way off.

Mike Neff: Jones always seems to get it together as the season unfolds. Don’t be surprised to see him win again. Gragson is a rookie, let’s give him some time to develop.

Ty Gibbs has three straight top 10s. As Seth Sharp noted, Gibbs’ rookie Cup season is similar to Joey Logano’s. Is Gibbs on the same career path as Logano?

Gillispie: What is funny about Joey Logano is that he did not find his groove until he found a change of scenery from Joe Gibbs Racing. The same has been true for Jones and Daniel Suarez. So there must be something that prevents young drivers from success while at JGR. The only problem is a driver with the last name Gibbs will never leave Gibbs.

Kornhoff: Ty Gibbs is on nearly the exact same trajectory as Logano. Similar to how Mike Joy mentioned how William Byron never got to perfect his race craft due to having superb equipment for most of his driving career, Gibbs will need a year or two to fully realize his potential as a championship-level Cup driver and hone his skills. He learns through reactive maintenance instead of preventative, but he catches on fast. This was evidenced by the fact that Gibbs was one-for-one in his NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the Daytona International Speedway road course and claimed the chip in his first and only full-time season. But still, he will go through a phase where he loses confidence and questions his talent much like how Logano did coming to the end of his tenure at Gibbs. The only difference is that Gibbs will not have the same anxiety due to being Granddaddy’s boy. It won’t be an exact carbon copy but they are both currently two of the most aggressive and hated drivers in the sport. So far Gibbs has kept his head down in Cup, but he’s a ticking time bomb and it’s only a matter of time until there is an incident. He’s surely in for a rough time surrounded by elite veterans and superstars, but in a couple of years we will see an evolution where he begins to own his aggressive driving style much like Logano does today.

Stumpf: Far, far too early to make any conclusions from Gibbs’ season so far, especially with how young he is. He’s shown promise in the last three weeks, but it will take years to see the path that his Cup career will have. After all, Logano didn’t truly establish himself as a Cup star until leaving JGR for Team Penske in his fifth Cup season.

Neff: I doubt it. I don’t picture Gibbs being pushed out of the ride and driving for a rival before he really starts to realize his potential.

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Can any of the double-duty interlopers sweep the race weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track?

Neff: We have seen in the past that great dirt drivers usually don’t transfer over to the NASCAR side. Jonathan Davenport can drive heavy cars on dirt, so he will have a shot. Chase Briscoe can obviously get it done as well. Briscoe probably has the best shot at the sweep.

Kornhoff: Briscoe, as a dirt racer, will have the best shot at sweeping Bristol dirt. He was really competitive last year and would have finished second if he didn’t pile drive into Tyler Reddick. You can’t count out Byron and Logano either, though. Logano, of course, has won there before and Byron is on fire early on this season. But still, all points considered, Briscoe has the best shot.

Stumpf: Logano has finished first and third in the two Cup races on dirt. Briscoe was battling for the win in the Cup race last season and won a Truck race at Eldora Speedway in 2018. Those two will have the best chances of sweeping the weekend, and it wouldn’t be a surprise by any means.

Gillispie: Logano has the best shot, but with only four double-dippers, it’s unlikely we see such a feat.

Will Carson Hocevar’s first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway propel him into serious title contention?

Stumpf: A win doesn’t propel a driver into title contention, a driver’s week-in and week-out performance (in addition to wins) does. Carson Hocevar needs to show more winning speed on a consistent basis before I can pencil him in as a championship threat.

Kornhoff: From a traditional standpoint, his victory doesn’t translate into title contention, but when looking at how the rules work in modern NASCAR, by default it does. He’s proved he can be there and deliver when it matters and that’s all you really need. I’m looking back to Daniel Hemric in 2021, almost Ryan Newman in 2014 and Tony Stewart in 2011, among others. As of late, the most aggressive drivers have come out on top, Logano and Gibbs in particular, and that isn’t a coincidence. The same can be said for any driver, though, as we’ve seen many of them acting out of character with the hopes of a good finish or a win, which I suppose is the point of the current rules.

Gillispie: The problem with modern-day NASCAR is that a victory automatically propels a driver into title contention. It simply doesn’t work like that. Remember when we thought Kevin Harvick was a serious title contender last year when he won two consecutive races? I wonder how that turned out.

Neff: Hocevar is still young and learning how to win. He needs some more seasoning to get to title contender status. It is a great step for his career but he isn’t a title contender yet.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Never at a loss for words, Zach Gillispie is a young, talented marketing professional from North Carolina who talks and writes on the side about his first love: racing! Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, Zach has served in numerous roles where he currently pens the NASCAR 101 column, a weekly piece delving into the basic nuts and bolts of the sport. Additionally, his unabashedly bold takes meshed with that trademarked dry wit of his have made Zach a fan favorite on the weekly Friday Faceoff panel. In his free time, he can be found in the great outdoors, actively involved in his church, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves or ruthlessly pestering his colleagues with completely useless statistics about Delma Cowart.

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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