NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing #18 car announcement flies under the radar

Bubba Wallace, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed who will drive the #18 Toyota in this coming Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Entering the week, this Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was one of three races on the remainder of this year’s 33-race calendar for which a driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 Toyota, also known as the “star car”, had not yet been confirmed.

Instead of confirming an eighth different driver for the “star car”, Joe Gibbs Racing opted to expand the schedule of one of the seven drivers who has already been behind the wheel earlier this season. This was confirmed when the entry list for Saturday’s race was revealed earlier this week.

While it wasn’t initially planned, Ryan Truex is set to make his fifth appearance of the season behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota in this 163-lap Alsco Uniforms 250, around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) high-banked oval in Hampton, Georgia.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is the first track on the schedule to host its second race of the year. This Saturday’s race is the 17th race of the season.

Trevor Bayne, who has competed in six races for the team so far this year and plans to compete in two more, competed in the race at the track back in March.

Truex competed for Joe Gibbs Racing in the races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season.

In those four races, he recorded two top 10 finishes: a seventh place finish at Martinsville Speedway and a season-high sixth place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

He also competed in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway for Sam Hunt Racing behind the wheel of the #26 Toyota and finished in 12th place.

This announcement leaves just two races for which a driver has not been confirmed for the #18 Toyota this season, including the late regular season race at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, September 3 and the round of 12 playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Saturday, October 8.

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The Alsco Uniforms 250 is set to be broadcast live on USA Network beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET this Saturday, July 9. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now if you haven’t yet done so!