Beard Motorsports is the first non-chartered NASCAR Cup Series team to announce its intention to compete in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
The generational race team founded by the late Mark Beard Sr., and now run by his wife, Linda Beard, has procured a NextGen chassis for its use in 2022, beginning with the Daytona 500. Plans are for the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing Chevrolet Camaro to compete in subsequent races at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. A driver has not yet been determined.
“My father was passionate about racing and he took a great deal of pride in coming to Daytona and competing against the biggest names in the sport,” said Amie Beard, executive vice president, Beard Motorsports. “He passed away just before this year’s Daytona 500 and his presence was definitely missed. We didn’t make the race, and with no qualifying available at the other superspeedway races, we didn’t have the opportunity to race again. We’ve got some unfinished business, and that’s why we’re coming back to Daytona.”
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. The team employs just one fulltime person – crew chief Darren Shaw – and has since its debut in the 2017 Daytona 500 when driver Brendan Gaughan finished 11th.
Beard Motorsports makes it all work by taking a strategic approach to its racing endeavors. It has an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and runs only the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. This singular focus has yielded solid results, mostly recently a pair of top-10 finishes at Daytona in 2020 – seventh in the Daytona 500 and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 – both at the hands of Gaughan.
“Beard Motorsports has always over delivered and it’s a testament to its people and the relationships they have within the industry,” said Gaughan, who has since retired from racing and now serves as Beard Motorsports’ vice president of racing operations. “We have to outwork and outthink the competition, and we feel that the NextGen car plays right into our hands because it levels the playing field. We’ll have similar equipment to the big teams, but no one is going to beat us when it comes to want and desire.”
The NextGen car represents a wholesale modernization of the stock car, designed for closer competition, cost containment and manufacturer relevance. It features NASCAR’s first-ever independent rear suspension, sequential gearbox, rack-and-pinion steering and single-lug aluminum wheels.
The NextGen car is currently in the midst of a two-day test at Daytona with eight teams participating, including RCR. The test will help NASCAR gather information about the new car’s aerodynamic characteristics as they race in a pack and draft off one another.
“The NextGen car is a whole new ballgame,” Beard said. “We’re ready to play.”