Race Weekend Central

4 Burning Questions: Should Legacy Motor Club Keep Using the No. 43 Without Petty?

1. Where is Josh Berry heading for 2024?

In six NASCAR Cup Series races as a Hendrick Motorsports substitute driver, Josh Berry has scored three top 10s with a best finish of second at Richmond Raceway in April.

He has quickly become a hot commodity in the garage area, and after Larry McReynolds reported that Berry had signed a Cup contract for 2024 in a SiriusXM interview, the rumors have been flying.

While there are plenty of rides up for grabs — including a potential JR Motorsports entry into Cup — the past few days have pointed to one ride in particular: Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 4 car.

On Monday, Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal reported that Berry had signed a deal with KHI Management, an agency owned by none other than Kevin Harvick.

With Harvick retiring at season’s end and Berry signing with KHI, the latest signs scream SHR.

But that’s all the definitive evidence available at the moment. And when Berry was asked about 2024 after Saturday’s (April 29) NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover Motor Speedway, he didn’t budge on the topic.

See also
NASCAR Mailbox: What Does the Future Hold for Josh Berry and Ryan Truex?

2. With Richard Petty no longer involved, should Legacy Motor Club keep using the No. 43 in the Cup Series?

With the announcement earlier in the year that Richard Petty was no longer an owner of Legacy Motor Club, 2023 marks the first year since 1965 that a No. 43 car in Cup was unaffiliated with the Petty family or Petty Enterprises (while PE had been around since 1949, the ’50s and early ’60s saw unaffiliated teams use the No. 43 car for races on the West Coast).

The original Petty team ceased to exist after 2008, but Petty remained involved with the newly formed Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009 and successor Petty GMS Racing in 2022.

But after 75 years in the sport, the last remaining trace of Petty Enterprises has vanished. Should the No. 43 vanish with it?

There are only 110 numbers available (0-99 along with 00-09), and retiring a number would break precedent.

If numbers were retired, there are plenty of numbers that could be retired due to its accomplishments with a driver or team (Nos. 3, 11, 21, 24 and 48, to name a few). But all of those numbers — with the exception of the No. 11 — are currently in use with the teams that first made them famous; that is no longer the case with No. 43.

When Petty retired from driving after the 1992 season, PE switched to the No. 44 in 1993 before returning back to the No. 43 in 1994. There is precedent of not using the number, and with Petty’s lack of involvement with Legacy, 2023, in many ways, feels like the end of an era.

While I would be in favor of not using the number, the decision should ultimately come down to the wishes of Richard, Kyle and all the other members of Petty family.

3. Has anyone had an unluckier start to the season than Kyle Larson?

Kyle Larson has impressed to the tune of two wins in the 11 races of the 2023 Cup season, a number that included his first win at Martinsville Speedway.

Beyond those two wins, however, it’s been checkers or wreckers. Larson only has four top-five (and top-10) finishes in the first 11 races, and he currently sports an average finish of 18.2.

Even more absurd about Larson’s start to the year is that he’s spent more than half of the races (6 of 11) in the garage; Ty Dillon is about the only other driver that can say the same.

  • Daytona International Speedway: Larson was turned on the final lap of the Daytona 500 by Aric Almirola while battling for the lead; he was unable to drive his car back to the finish.
  • Auto Club Speedway: An electrical problem on the No. 5 car left Larson 15 laps down despite having one of the fastest cars on the track.
  • Atlanta Motor Speedway: Larson crashes out from second place after Almirola blows a tire in front of him.
  • Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track: Payback from Ryan Preece left Larson with a 35th-place finish after leading the first 75 laps.
  • Talladega Superspeedway: Larson got spun from sixth on an overtime restart and had an ugly T-bone collision with Preece.
  • Dover Motor Speedway: Larson had worked his way up to fifth when he collided with Brennan Poole after Ross Chastain spun out the No. 15 car while attempting to lap Poole.

That’s not even counting Circuit of the Americas, where Larson was swept up in an early collision and fell two laps down after crash damage. Two free passes in overtime allowed him to finish 14th.

Larson was a bystander in six of the seven incidents this season, and he has finishes of first, first, second and fourth in the four races where the No. 5 team didn’t have a cartoon anvil fall on it.

If the No. 5 car can consistently make it to the finish for the rest of the season, Larson will be a year-long winning and championship threat.

See also
2-Headed Monster: Should NASCAR Take Stronger Stand Against Interfering With Leaders?

4. Will the Kyle Larson vs. Ross Chastain extend beyond Dover?

Short answer: I would be shocked if it does. Unlike Denny Hamlin — who has a long history with Chastain and has been the only one to significantly retaliate — this has been Larson’s first major encounter.

Larson also got his point across by blocking Chastain in the closing laps as he was running down Martin Truex Jr. for the win at Dover. And although the block didn’t prove to be the deciding factor in the win after a caution bunched up the field, Truex won while Chastain finished runner-up all the same.

Still, Larson was frustrated. Chastain finished second, while Larson finished 32nd with a damaged car. And for both Poole and Larson, ‘I’m sorry’ won’t fix their cars or give them better finishes.

So while the Larson vs. Chastain feud is likely over for now, it’s important to remember that NASCAR in its current state is a self-policing sport. And if there’s no retaliation or penalties for overly aggressive driving, there’s no reason for anyone to stop doing it.

About the author

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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Ron

Keep #43 available but require that the font be changed from what’s now being used (and was used by Richard during his career).

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