NASCAR: The driver who changed teams without changing teams

Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Erik Jones is set to represent a fourth different team name in as many years during the NASCAR Cup Series season, yet he has only switched teams once.

During the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, Erik Jones was fairly confident that he was going to be re-signed by Joe Gibbs Racing to continue driving the No. 20 Toyota.

But the team were faced with a predicament: sign Jones and presumably lose Christopher Bell, who was then competing for the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Leavine Family Racing, or sign Bell and lose Jones.

They opted to sign Bell and release Jones, who then ended up signing with Richard Petty Motorsports to replace Bubba Wallace, who had signed with Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan’s new 23XI Racing team for 2021.

Jones has been behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet ever since, and he is set for another season with the organization in 2023.

Yet ironically, he hasn’t represented the same NASCAR team name since his final two seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Richard Petty Motorsports planned to continue competing as a one-car team in 2022, with Jones again behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet, and GMS Racing planned to make their Cup Series debut with Ty Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 94 Chevrolet.

But those two teams ultimately teamed up to form Petty GMS Motorsports. Jones continued driving the No. 43 Chevrolet, while Dillon drove the No. 42 Chevrolet, which was renumbered as a nod to the Petty family legacy.

Late in the 2022 season, it was announced that Petty GMS Motorsports had brought on seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson as not only a part-time driver but as a co-owner for the 2023 season, at which time majority owner Maury Gallagher mentioned the possibility of another name change.

Johnson admitted that it would have been a bit “clunky and clumsy” to include his name in a name which already contained nods to fellow seven-time champion Richard Petty as well as Gallagher, so the team ultimately opted to rebrand as Legacy Motor Club.

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So after driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020, Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021, and Petty GMS Motorsports in 2022, Erik Jones is set to drive for Legacy Motor Club in 2023. Yet during that four-year span, he has only switched teams on one occasion.