At long last, Martin Truex Jr. made his decision on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, leaving Joe Gibbs Racing with just one open seat for next year.
Martin Truex Jr. put an end to several months of speculation on Friday when he announced that he is set to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for a fifth year behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Following some of his recent comments, many believed that Truex, who has competed full-time in the series since 2006, would call it quits after the 2022 season, leaving Joe Gibbs Racing in need of a new driver for the #19 Toyota.
Truex returning was obviously the preferred scenario for Joe Gibbs Racing, as it not only prevents them from needing to seek out a driver for the #19 Toyota for the 2023 season, but it prevents them from needing to land significant sponsorship for a second car, as his sponsors are just that — his sponsors.
That’s also what they’re already trying to do for the #18 Toyota, which is currently driven by Kyle Busch.
Before the 2022 season began, longtime sponsor M&M’s announced that it would be their last, leaving the two-time champion seeking new sponsorship for 2023.
Busch is only under contract through the end of the 2022 season, and he has admitted that if significant sponsorship cannot be found, it could very well be “goodbye” from Joe Gibbs Racing — and possibly even the Cup Series.
There have been a few sponsorship developments pertaining to Busch and the #18 Toyota since the sport’s winningest active driver made the cryptic comments he made at Talladega Superspeedway back in April, but nothing has been announced.
Now with Truex confirmed for 2023, Joe Gibbs Racing’s focus must turn to filling that lone open seat.
Denny Hamlin is set to return for another year behind the wheel of the #11 Toyota, and Christopher Bell is set to return for another year behind the wheel of the #20 Toyota.
Had Truex decided to call it quits, many believed that Ty Gibbs, grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, might be called upon to replace him.
However, Joe Gibbs has said that the goal is for his grandson to run two full seasons in the Xfinity Series, and while he did run more than half of last year’s races, he is only in his first full season in the series. So full season number two for the 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native would be 2023.
So will a deal get done with Busch? If not, would one and a half seasons in the Xfinity Series be enough for Gibbs, who is backed by Monster Energy, or would Joe Gibbs Racing turn elsewhere for a new driver of the #18 Toyota? Either way, Joe Gibbs Racing’s role in this year’s silly season is not done quite yet.