NASCAR: New driver named for 23XI Racing’s #45 Toyota

Kurt Busch, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Ty Gibbs will no longer be behind the wheel of 23XI Racing’s #45 Toyota during the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series postseason.

Since Kurt Busch was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms following his qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway back in July, Ty Gibbs has filled in for him behind the wheel of the #45 Toyota in six consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races.

Busch was initially granted a playoff waiver, meaning that his missed starts would not count against his playoff eligibility, and he was still set to be one of the 16 playoff drivers.

In addition to being granted the waiver, he won the race at Kansas Speedway back in mid-May, he was locked into the top 30 in the point standings, and there could no longer be more than 16 different winners.

But the 2004 champion announced last week that he would not be ready for the start of the playoffs.

His spot ultimately went to Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. As the highest finishing non-winner in the regular season standings, Blaney is set to join the other 15 regular season winners in the upcoming four-round, 10-race postseason.

But because the #45 team’s wins and points are tied to the #45 team and not to Busch, the #45 team is set to be one of the 16 teams competing for the owner championship throughout the playoffs, leaving Blaney’s #12 team in a battle for 17th place.

So 23XI Racing made the decision to move Bubba Wallace, their full-time driver of the #23 Toyota, to the #45 Toyota for the playoffs.

The move makes sense, as Wallace is much more experienced than Gibbs and has made good strides throughout his second season with the team.

Plus, Wallace himself finished the regular season in 20th place in the standings without a victory, eliminating him from championship contention before the playoffs and ensuring that he can finish no higher than 17th. So this move is strictly aimed at bolstering the #45 team’s chances of a good finish in the owner championship, which is where the money is at for the race teams.

As for Gibbs, he is set to drive the #23 Toyota whenever he competes throughout the playoffs. The #23 team sits in 21st place in the owner standings and can finish no higher than 17th, highest among non-playoff teams. As a full-time Xfinity Series driver, Gibbs is not eligible to score Cup Series points of his own.

There remains no timetable on Busch’s return.

First points leader misses playoffs. dark. Next

Darlington Raceway is scheduled to host the playoff-opening Cook Out Southern 500 this Sunday, September 4. The race is set to be broadcast live on USA Network beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET, so don’t miss your opportunity to begin a free trial of FuboTV now!