NASCAR: The best-case scenario for Joe Gibbs Racing

Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Martin Truex Jr. is set to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, which is the best-case scenario for the team.

For the last few months, Martin Truex Jr. had said basically the same thing about his future — or lack thereof — in the NASCAR Cup Series.

It was clear that if he wanted to return to Joe Gibbs Racing’s #19 Toyota for what would be a fifth season next year, he could certainly do so. But he admitted that he wasn’t quite sure exactly what he wanted.

On Friday, after several months of speculation, he finally made the announcement, confirming that he is set to return to the team in 2023.

And the return of the 2017 series champion is the best-case scenario for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Ty Gibbs, who currently competes for his grandfather’s team in the Xfinity Series, is poised for a promotion to the Cup Series at some point in the near future, and Truex retiring would have created an opening at the four-car powerhouse.

But Joe Gibbs has said that the goal is for his grandson to run two full seasons at the sport’s second highest level before he is promoted to the Cup Series.

The 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native did compete in more than half of the races on the 2021 Xfinity Series schedule, but the 2022 season is still only his first season as a full-time driver.

So what would the team have done if Truex had decided to retire?

Would they have rushed Gibbs anyway?

Would they have signed somebody else for the sole purpose of keeping his seat warm for a year?

Or, would they have hired somebody they felt could be a long-term answer — but then risked not having a seat open for Gibbs for 2024 (unless, of course, Denny Hamlin opted to give up his seat behind the wheel of the #11 Toyota and move to the 23XI Racing team he co-owns, an option that was recently discussed on The Dale Jr. Download?)

Now that’s not a scenario they have to worry about.

Provided that everything works out in terms of finding sponsorship for Kyle Busch and the #18 Toyota with the impending departure of M&M’s, this is the ideal situation for Joe Gibbs Racing.

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Of course, on the off chance that a deal doesn’t come together for the two-time champion to return to the organization for 2023, the team will be facing the exact same dilemma. However, at least they would only be facing it with one car instead of two.