NASCAR: The Joe Gibbs Racing seat still open for 2022

Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

Six drivers have driven the Joe Gibbs Racing “star car” during the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. But there are a few spots still open on the schedule.

For the first time since the 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Bubba Wallace competed behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Circuit of the Americas back in late March.

His bid for a decent result was derailed by a transmission issue in his #18 Toyota, and he had to settle for 28th place. But he is set to get another chance behind the wheel of the team’s “star car” in August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Wallace’s start in this race made him the fourth driver to drive the “star car” in 2022. John Hunter Nemechek then became the fifth in the following race at Richmond Raceway, when he was moved out of the way by teammate Ty Gibbs for the win on the final lap. He went on to compete at Dover Motor Speedway as well.

Connor Mosack became the sixth, driving the car in the inaugural Xfinity Series at Portland International Raceway.

The other three drivers to drive the car through 15 races on the 33-race schedule include Trevor Bayne, Drew Dollar, and Ryan Truex. Bayne has made five starts, Truex has made four, and Dollar has made two.

Four of these six drivers are set to return for more starts later this year. After competing in yesterday’s race at Nashville Superspeedway, Bayne is set to drive the car in three more races this year. Dollar is set to drive it in two more, and Wallace and Nemechek are each set to drive it in one more.

Most recently, the team confirmed reigning ARCA Menards Series East champion and current points leader Sammy Smith for eight of the remaining races.

Still, there are three more opportunities for somebody to drive one of the most competitive cars in the series later this year.

With one of those races being the race at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, September 3, it can be assumed that Denny Hamlin, who has driven in an Xfinity Series race for Joe Gibbs Racing at the track “Too Tough To Tame” in each of the last seven seasons, will get the nod.

But that still leaves two races: the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 9 and the playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Saturday, October 8.

Last year, the “star car” was driven primarily by Gibbs. But Gibbs, who drove it in 17 of 33 races, is now a full-time driver. Additionally, Kyle Busch, who had long competed in the maximum allowable total of Xfinity Series races each year, retired from the series after reaching 100 wins last year.

Busch drove the car in the summer race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last year, and Gibbs drove it in the playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. So the two drivers who drove the car in 22 of 33 races last year, including those two events, are out of the mix to drive it in 2022.

Bayne drove the car in the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway back in March.

Next. 3 possible drivers for the "star car". dark

Which other driver or drivers will land the opportunity to compete in top-tier equipment at NASCAR’s second highest level? Will any of the five drivers currently set to compete in 15 more races behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota this year end up expanding their schedules?