Circle Sport owner Joe Falk and The Motorsports Group’s Curtis Key have agreed to merge their operations for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
The announcement was made Friday afternoon. “It’s great to join forces with Curtis Key,” Falk stated. “I’ve known him for a very long time and know we share the same feelings about racing.”
Now known as Circle Sport with The Motorsports Group (CS/TMG), the team will field the #33 Chevrolet for a yet-to-be-named driver. It marks the first time a #33 has appeared in a Cup Series race since Ty Dillon drove the car at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2015. The car has a charter from the #95 of Leavine Family Racing, whom Falk co-owned in 2016. Pat Tryson will serve as crew chief of the #33; Tryson served as TMG’s crew chief in 2015 and Premium Motorsports in 2016. Despite initial rumors of the team fielding a Toyota, the team has confirmed they will run with Chevrolet in 2017. CS/TMG also intends to field the #30 car, which was driven by Josh Wise and Gray Gaulding in 2016, part-time. The car does not have a charter and will run as an open team.
In accordance with the merger, the team unveiled a new logo combining traits of Circle Sport and TMG’s logos. “The Circle Sport w/ TMG logo was necessary to rebrand the team into one entity rather than the using two logo’s side by side,” Falk said.
With Falk onboard as co-owner, Leavine Family Racing improved upon previous milestones. Fielding the #95 and #59 for Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon, the former recorded the team’s best finish at a non-restrictor plate track with a 10th-place run at Homestead. McDowell will return to the #95 in 2017, while Dillon moves to Germain Racing’s #13 car. In their second Cup season, TMG often struggled, as Wise failed to qualify for five races and Gaulding missed the Homestead race. Wise recorded the team’s best finish at Kentucky after finishing 24th. In January, Gaulding announced his intention to run for Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors with TMG, but no announcement as to whether he would drive the new team’s #33 has been made.
CS/TMG’s first race will be the Daytona 500 on February 26.