He may have been 50-0 in the ring, but multi-time world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s NASCAR Cup Series career is off to an “uh-oh” start. The wheels (well, one of them, anyway) came off the aspiring contender Sunday in the Daytona 500.
It was a disappointing development, though driver Kaz Grala was still running at the end of the race and salvaged a 26th-place finish for Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing.
However, the No. 50 Chevy now faces a rough road ahead.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is officially a NASCAR team co-owner
Former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather has jumped into NASCAR in a big way as the co-owner of The Money Team Racing, making his Cup Series debut in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“I love fast cars and I love to compete,” Mayweather said in a team release. “I know NASCAR will not be easy, but anything easy isn’t worth doing to me. With that being said, this move into auto racing seems to be a perfect fit for the Mayweather brand.”
TMT Racing intends to run a partial schedule with Kaz Grala, 23, driving the No. 50 Chevy. Grala, a veteran of the Xfinity and truck series, ran three Cup Series races in 2021 with a best finish of sixth in the Geico 500 at Talladega Speedway.
The team, in partnership with Willy Aucmoody, hired NASCAR veteran Tony Eury Jr. as the crew chief. It doesn’t have the sponsorship commitments to try running a full schedule, nor does TMT Racing have a charter.
A mishap early in the Daytona 500 has implications for Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s team
The first excitement in the 64th Daytona 500 arrived in unexpected fashion. Forty laps into the race, the entire right rear wheel and tire flew off the Chevy, destabilizing the car and creating a serious hazard. Any car hitting the tire head-on could easily have launched it into the infield or grandstand, potentially injuring spectators.
“Oh, that was terrifying,” Grala told TobyChristie.com. “I mean, everything was fine and then it wasn’t really quickly. It swapped ends on me. I don’t even know if we spun all the way out or if we got sideways, but at one point I had my hands off the wheel because I was like, ‘Oh, we’re wrecking.’”
Grala made it back to the pit for a quick replacement, but his confidence was not high.
“After that, for the next five or six laps, I ran the top to protect in case it did happen again,” Grala said. “Wouldn’t hit anything as hard, but everything felt fine. So, moved back to the bottom and raced the rest of the day. We still had various issues that hindered us the rest of the day. We didn’t get an awesome finish, but we finished. So, that’s a start.”
TMT Racing is facing a severe penalty
The part-time status means that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and The Money Team Racing won’t be on the ovals or road courses more than a handful of times this season. The next time out might be at Circuit of the Americas on March 27. Talladega and Watkin Glens have been mentioned as other opportunities later in the year.
If they compete again in the next month, TMT Racing will be traveling lighter because of the tire incident during the Daytona 500. NASCAR announced penalties Wednesday, and having a tire separate from the car on the track is about as serious an infraction, short of outright cheating, as there is under the rules.
The standard penalty is a four-race suspension for the crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., as well as two crew members. Understandably, that’s a hardship on the team, which is the point of the penalty.
The Kaulig Racing Chevy of Justin Haley also lost a tire in Stage 1, though not the whole wheel. That incident was also subject to review, but it had the appearance of a parts failure rather than an improper assembly or attachment. Unfortunately, NASCAR didn’t see it that way, and the team was hit with the same penalty.
The difference is that Haley’s team is definitely racing the next four weeks and will feel the full extent of the penalty. If TMT Racing stays parked for the next four weeks, then it effectively suffers no hardship.