Jimmie Johnson will make his return to the NASCAR circuit on Sunday when he brings up the rear at the Daytona 500 but how he muscled his way to the front of his race team is something that’s not sitting well with stock-car racing legend Richard Petty.
Petty, 85, was essentially stripped of power inside his former eponymous team that rebranded and rebuilt once the 2022 season concluded. Petty became Legacy Motor Club’s ambassador and expressed his dismay with Johnson’s rise in power.
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“It’s been strange to me,” Petty said Saturday. “Most of the time, I ran the majority of the show. Jimmie brought all his people in. His way of running things and my way of running things are probably a little bit different. We probably agree on about 50% of what it really comes down to.”
Legacy Motor Club was known as Petty GMS Motorsports until January. Johnson purchased an ownership stake in the group in November.
“They don’t take over the racing part, they take over the front office,” Petty said. “With sponsorships, appearances and all that stuff, Jimmie’s crowd is kind of controlling that. That’s something I never had to put up with, I guess.”
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He added: “He’s basically going to wind up running the show in four or five years completely. He’ll probably be the majority owner or the owner of our operation. They’re looking at things completely differently.”
Petty and Johnson are the only living seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champions.
Johnson told The Associated Press he was “disappointed” after hearing Petty’s comments.
“He’s not expressed them to me, for starters,” Johnson said. “Honestly, there are a lot of moving pieces to this. There are business decisions that are taking place between Mr. Gallagher and the Petty family before I ever arrived. Those are details that are just not my place to say.
“But a lot of what Richard is speaking to is based on business decisions that he and his family have made and they aren’t relative to my involvement.”
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Legacy Motor Club will be running two cars full-time and one car part-time. Noah Gragson and Erik Jones are the full-time drivers and Johnson is the part-time driver.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.