Circle Sport – The Motorsports Group

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Circle Sport – The Motorsports Group
Circle Sport - The Motorsports Group logo.png
Owner(s) Curtis Key
Joe Falk
Base Mooresville, North Carolina
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Car numbers 30, 31, 33, 40, 42, 44, 46, 47
Race drivers 33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Boris Said (Road Courses)
Sponsors 33. Hulu, Starter, NICERIDE, Detail2U Mike's Tint Shop, Superior Logistics Services, Inc., Towne Bank,
Manufacturer Chevrolet
Opened 1993
Debut Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series:
2015 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (Atlanta)
Xfinity Series:
1993 Miller 500 (Martinsville)
Camping World Truck Series:
2004 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 (Daytona)
Latest race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series:
2017 Camping World 500 (Phoenix)
Xfinity Series:
2014 Ford EcoBoost 300 (Homestead)
Camping World Truck Series:
2009 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Charlotte)
Races competed Total: 562
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: 37
Xfinity Series: 439
Camping World Truck Series: 86
Drivers' Championships Total: 0
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: 0
Xfinity Series: 0
Camping World Truck Series: 0
Race victories Total: 0
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: 0
Xfinity Series: 0
Camping World Truck Series: 0
Pole positions Total: 0
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: 0
Xfinity Series: 0
Camping World Truck Series: 0

Circle Sport – The Motorsports Group (formerly Key Motorsports and The Motorsports Group) is an American professional stock car racing team that currently competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The team was founded by Virginia businessman Curtis Key. The team currently fields the No. 33 Chevrolet SS full-time for Jeffrey Earnhardt and Boris Said on road courses. The team is operated out of Mooresville, North Carolina. The team formerly competed in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. In 2017, longtime team owner Joe Falk joined TMG, bringing his charter and No. 33 to the team, allowing the team to successfully make every race during the season.

Curtis Key[edit]

Curtis Key is an American businessman and plumber from Chesapeake, Virginia. Key owns a plumbing business in Chesapeake, Curtis Key Plumbing. He founded Key Motorsports in 1993 when he purchased a team owned by Tommy Ellis. Key Motorsports started out racing in the NASCAR Busch Series between 1993 and 1998. Between that period, Key Motorsports' best finish was a 5th place at Hickory Speedway in Key's first start as team owner, with driver Tommy Ellis. After a few more top tens, in 1998, Key closed the team following a family tragedy. After a decade away from the sport, in 2008, Key rebuilt Key Motorsports, later renaming it to The Motorsports Group in 2012. Between 2008 - 2014, TMG was an unsponsored team that usually started the car, ran a few laps, and then parked it, to collect last-place money.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series[edit]

The Motorsports Group logo until 2016

Car No. 30 history[edit]

On September 15, 2014, the team announced they would begin fielding a full-time entry, the No. 30, in the Sprint Cup Series starting in 2015.[1] On January 21, 2015, it was announced that Ron Hornaday Jr. would be the primary driver of the team's No. 30 car for the 2015 season.[2][3] In the team's first attempt, Hornaday failed to qualify at the Daytona 500. The following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hornaday made the race, but finished 42nd because of a broken gear after 182 laps. The team chose not to run the "West Coast Swing", enabling them to get better prepared for Martinsville Speedway. Unfortunately, Hornaday wrecked the car during the first round of qualifying at Martinsville and failed to make the race. After failing to qualify at Bristol Motor Speedway, Hornaday left and was replaced with Jeff Green starting at Richmond International Raceway.[4] There, Green was able to make the field on speed, starting 33rd and finishing 40th.[5] Green made the Sprint Showdown and finished 19th in a 29-car field. But failed to qualify in the follow weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway. Green was later released by the team.

They returned to Kentucky with Travis Kvapil as their driver, but failed to qualify due to a rainout. They returned for Bristol as well, but again failed to qualify. They entered Darlington with Kvapil but failed to qualify again. At the September Richmond race, the team hired Josh Wise to run the car, but Wise could only muster 37th place in qualifying and thus missed the race. Kvapil returned at Chicagoland, but another rainout once again sent the team home. Wise was slated to return to New Hampshire, but was placed in BK Racing's No. 26 at the last minute and replaced by Kvapil, who once again failed to qualify. Kvapil was slated to attempt the second Dover race, but due to Hurricane Joaquin, the team chose to withdraw the day before qualifying. The team did not make an attempt for the remainder of 2015. Travis Kvapil left the team after the team temporarily suspended operations until the 2016 season.

Josh Wise rejoined the team in 2016. TMG and Wise announced that they expected to run the full season together. Wise didn't make the Daytona 500, but rebounded the next week, qualifying 38th of a 39-car field at Atlanta. Wise finished 39th after going down 13 laps but made it to the end of the race without any broken equipment. Because only 39 cars attempted the next 3 races, the No. 30 was guaranteed to qualify in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Fontana with Josh Wise. After a long string of races in which Wise easily qualified the No. 30 TMG car in the races, including at Richmond when more than 40 cars showed up for the first time since Daytona, Wise missed his second race at the 2016 GEICO 500 when he qualified 41st out of a 40-car field. The team then qualified for every race until the Coke Zero 400 when Wise failed to qualify after running 40th of 41, behind the other non-chartered teams. This second streak included Wise managing to qualify at Sonoma, when 41 cars were entered for the first time since Talladega. The team qualified for the next two races, with Wise posting TMG's best finish with a 24th at Kentucky in July; he then missed the 2016 Brickyard 400 after posting the slowest speed of 41 cars in qualifying.

In the week leading up to the 2016 Bojangles' Southern 500, Wise and TMG got a two race sponsorship from Incredible Bank, an online banking system. The sponsor joined TMG after Wise posted a request for sponsorship on Twitter. The sponsorship allowed them to participate in the throwback weekend during the Southern 500 race weekend, with a throwback scheme honoring Dale Earnhardt's 1976 No. 30 Army car. Having failed to make 3 of the superspeedway races (and not entering the fall Talladega race, due to 43 cars entering), TMG didn't field the No. 30 for the 2016 Hellman's 500 but rebounded at Martinsville Speedway, this time with Gray Gaulding as the driver. Gaulding ran two more races at Phoenix and Homestead, failing to qualify at Homestead. Despite rumors that Gaulding would drive the No. 30 for TMG in 2017, plans changed due to the Circle Sport merger and Gaulding was picked up by BK Racing.

In January 2017, it was announced that TMG would partner with Key's lifelong friend Joe Falk and Circle Sport Racing to jointly field the Nos. 30 and 33 Chevrolets in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This also meant that CS/TMG would partner with Richard Childress Racing as Falk's team is a satellite team of RCR. The team also formed an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, who would provide CS/TMG with a pit crew and manager.[6]

The No. 30 team is currently dormant, with CSTMG focusing on fielding the No. 33.

Car No. 33 history[edit]

Boris Said driving the No. 33 at the 2017 Toyota/Save Mart 350

On January 6, 2017, it was announced that longtime team owner Joe Falk would partner with Key and field a second car for TMG, bringing a charter and the No. 33 from Circle Sport Racing. It was announced that former TMG crew chief Pat Tryson would return to the team after being released by TMG in 2015.[7]

It was announced on January 31 that Jeffrey Earnhardt would be the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet for CSTMG for the Daytona 500. Earnhardt brought sponsor Starter Clothing Line to the team.[8] He finished 26th after being involved in a crash on lap 143.[9] Veteran road course ringer Boris Said was hired to run the two road courses for the team at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, with these being his last two NASCAR starts. Before the 2017 Toyota Savemart 350, CSTMG, again, released Tryson from the team and replaced him with veteran crew chief Frank Stoddard for specifically, Boris's races. For the rest of the season, Eddie Pardue was the crew chief for the #33.

Xfinity Series[edit]


Key Motorsports was formed after it was purchased from Tommy Ellis in 1993 and debuted at the Miller 500 as the No. 05 Moen Faucets Chevrolet with Roger Sawyer driving. He qualified 14th and finished 22nd. Bobby Hamilton drove three races later at Dover International Speedway, where he finished 29th after suffering handling problems. He ran two additional races for Key later in the season, finishing 17th and 32nd, respectively. Ellis drove for Key in their final race of the year at Hickory Motor Speedway, and finished fifth. Randy MacDonald drove for two consecutive races for Key at the beginning of the following season, his best finish being 21st. Tommy Ellis returned to run a part-time schedule for Key. In nine starts, he had two top-ten finishes but failed to finish the other seven. Tom Peck finished out the season for Key, failing to finish both races due to engine failure.

Key Motorsports made its first race of 1995 at the Hardee's 250 with Steve Boley. They did not run until the fall Richmond race with Chuck Bown driving. After finishing 38th due to an engine failure, Bown finished 9th at the following race at Charlotte before suffering another engine failure at North Carolina Speedway. Bown returned to Key in 1996 at Richmond, where he finished in 31st place. Later in the season, Jeff Burton drove for Key at Charlotte, finishing 42nd with Exide Batteries sponsorship. In 1997, 19-year-old Jimmy Foster was hired to drive the No. 11 Outdoor Channel/Speedvision car, running ten races with a best finish of 16th at New Hampshire. He was released and replaced for a pair of races by Larry Pearson. After the season, a lack of funding coupled with a family tragedy forced Key to close his team.

Key Motorsports reopened in 2008.

Car No. 31 history[edit]

Key Motorsports returned to the then Nationwide Series in 2008. Jeff Green took the wheel of the No. 31 Chevy for three races with a best finish of 28th.

Car No. 40 history[edit]

Lewandoski racing the No. 40 in 2011

In 2009, the team changed the number to No. 40 and signed Scott Wimmer as the primary driver. Wimmer ran 24 races for the team with a best finish of 7th in Memphis. During the races Wimmer spent with JR Motorsports, Green, Aric Almirola, Jeffrey Earnhardt, and Bliss drove the car.

For 2010, Bliss signed on as the driver of the car for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. Bliss ran 31 races with a best finish of 8th at Bristol. Jeff Green drove four races for the team when Bliss drove for Kevin Harvick Incorporated with a best finish of 20th at Kentucky.

In 2011, Scott Wimmer started with the intention of running full-time for the No. 40 team. After 11 races and the best finish being 12th, Wimmer left since the team began starting and parking. Rookie of the year candidate Charles Lewandoski began driving the No. 40 after Wimmer left. Lewandoski had the best finish being 24th with the team while keeping them in the top 30 in owner's points to remain locked in.

For 2012, Josh Wise drove the car for the first two races before switching to the No. 42, to ensure Erik Darnell ran a full season.

In 2013, Reed Sorenson was scheduled the run the full schedule, but subbed for the injured Michael Annett in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 until his return. Josh Wise ran the car for 5 races. Sorenson departed at season's end, moving to Tommy Baldwin Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.

In 2014, Wise returned to the No. 40, but left at mid-season to focus on his Sprint Cup obligations to Phil Parsons Racing. Matt DiBenedetto, previously driver of the start-and-park No. 46, moved over to the No. 40 at this time, running full races. DiBenedetto left for BK Racing at season's end, and the No. 40 was sold to MBM Motorsports due to the formation of TMG's own Cup team.

Car No. 42 history[edit]

Key Motorsports began fielding the No. 42 at Michigan (race 15) as a third car for Tim Andrews. The team is another start and park operation like the No. 46 and No. 47. All three cars help fund the main car, the No. 40. Erik Darnell drove the car for the first two races until he switched with Josh Wise in order for Wise to run for Cup rookie honors and Darnell a full Nationwide season. Wise was replaced by Matt Frahm at Iowa and Tim Schendel and Road America.

In 2013, the No. 42 team returned with Wise, though J. J. Yeley drove the car until Wise returned from the No. 40. The team shut down after the season, and Wise moved to the No. 40.

Car No. 46 history[edit]

Key Motorsports began fielding the No. 46 at Iowa (race 12) as a second car for Chase Miller. The team is another start and park operation like the No. 42 and No. 47. All three cars help fund the main car, the No. 40. Former Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Matt DiBenedetto drove the car at Dover. In 2013, the No. 46 team and Miller returned. Miller left after the season and DiBenedetto returned again in 2014, then moved to the No. 40 at mid-season. Matt Frahm, Wise, Josh Reaume, and Carl Long all took turns in the car after this, before Ryan Ellis closed out the year in the car. The No. 46 shut down after the season.

Car No. 47 history[edit]

Key Motorsports began fielding the No. 47 at Kentucky (race 18) as a fourth car for Danny Efland and Scott Wimmer. Efland attempted Kentucky, but did not qualify. The team is another start and park operation like the No. 42 and No. 46. All three cars help fund the main car, the No. 40. The No. 47 was shared between Scott Speed and Brian Keselowski for 2011. For 2012, Speed drove the car for most of the races, being replaced by Tim Schendel at Iowa and Matt DiBenedetto at Michigan and Road America. In 2013 the team returned with Scott Riggs and Jason Bowles as drivers. The team attempted Texas, Richmond and Darlington and failed to qualify for all three.

Camping World Truck Series[edit]

Key Motorsports returned to NASCAR competition in 2004 starting at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. Joey Clanton drove for the first two races of the season in the No. 40 Optech Chevy, wrecking out of both of them. Tony Raines attempted the fall races at Richmond and Martinsville for Key, but did not qualify. Key did not race in 2005 until the summer Bristol race when Andy Houston drove the truck to a 33rd-place finish after a wreck. Their next attempt at Richmond resulted in a DNQ.

Chad Chaffin attempted the first six races of 2006, finishing eighteenth at Auto Club Speedway, and a 26th-place finish at Gateway. Beginning at the City of Mansfield 250, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. development driver Ryan Moore was named the team's new driver. He had three top-twenty finishes before resigning his position after the New Hampshire race. Tim Fedewa drove at Las Vegas followed by Derrike Cope at Talladega Superspeedway, who ran in the top-ten before becoming involved in a late crash. Shane Huffman finished out three of the final four races of 2006 for Key.

In 2007, Mike Bliss drove the first four races in the 40, posting a tenth-place finish at California. Clay Rogers and Huffman shared the ride for the rest of the half of the season, with Stacy Compton driving at Memphis. Brandon Miller drove for the next five races with Westerman Companies sponsoring, before Chaffin returned to finish out the season in the 40. Key also debuted a second truck, the No. 44 in 2007. Larry Foyt drove first at Daytona, finishing last after an early wreck, followed by Morgan Shepherd the next two races, who finished 34th and 33rd, respectively. Frank Kreyer raced in two short track races in the truck, bringing Culver's sponsorship. His best finish was 28th. Chaffin began the 2008 season in the No. 40, but was replaced by Jeff Green and Pete Poulter later in the year. Mike Bliss took over the No. 40 Chevy for ultimately a part-time schedule in 2009. Lance Hooper drove two races in the No. 44 Chevy.


  1. ^ "TMG to Enter Sprint Cup in 2015". The Motorsports Group. September 16, 2014. Archived from the original on September 18, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ron Hornaday Signs As the Primary Driver for The Motorsports Group for 2015 Season: Mooresville, NC Jan. 21, 2015". The Motorsports Group. Mooresville, North Carolina: The Motorsports Group. January 21, 2014. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Hornaday Joins TMG, Team Targets Cup". National Speed Sport News. Turn 3 Media LLC. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hodges, Jim (February 11, 2017). "Chesapeake's Key, Falk ready to take on NASCAR heavyweights ... sort of". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  7. ^ "CIRCLE SPORT, THE MOTORSPORTS GROUP JOIN FORCES FOR 2017". NASCAR. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2016. 
  8. ^ Pockrass, Bob (February 2, 2017). "Jeffrey Earnhardt to make first career Daytona 500 start". ESPN. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  9. ^ "2017 Daytona 500". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 


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