Joe Gibbs Racing initially wanted Ty Gibbs to run two full seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series before a promotion to the Cup Series, but they decided he was ready to move up after one.
On Tuesday, the announcement that many knew was coming was finally made, as Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed that Ty Gibbs is set to receive a promotion from the organization’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team to their Cup Series team for the 2023 season.
While Gibbs will not drive the #18 Toyota next year, he is set to replace the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch. Busch is set to reunite with Chevrolet after spending 15 years with Joe Gibbs Racing behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota.
Busch’s departure was effectively set in motion by the announcement that longtime sponsor M&M’s would not be returning to the team in 2023, and when a once promising sponsorship development ultimately fell through, it appeared as though something new was indeed inevitable for the two-time champion.
Gibbs is instead set to drive the #54 Toyota, which is the number he used for 50 of his 51 Xfinity Series starts. The most recent Cup Series season not to feature the number 18 was the 1991 season, as Joe Gibbs Racing had used it every season since their Cup Series debut in 1992.
But the initial plan was for Gibbs to spend two seasons in the Xfinity Series before a promotion, in an effort to avoid rushing him.
Gibbs did compete in the Xfinity Series in 2021, but he only ran part-time, winning four times in 18 starts throughout the 33-race season. His first full season came in 2022, meaning that his second could not take place until 2023.
Needless to say, when this plan was laid out by Joe Gibbs back in late spring/early summer, it looked as though Busch would still return to the team for a 16th season in 2023.
However, Joe Gibbs Racing were still faced with the possibility of having an open seat, as Martin Truex Jr. had hinted that retirement was a possibility following the 2022 season. Yet the plan still seemed to be to have Gibbs run two seasons in the Xfinity Series first.
Truex ultimately decided to stay behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota for another year, meaning the only potential opening within the team would be the #18 Toyota.
Of course, sometimes plans change, and these plans had every reason to do so.
Gibbs unexpectedly got the opportunity to compete in 15 Cup Series races as the replacement for the injured Kurt Busch at the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated 23XI Racing, and he won the Xfinity Series championship with a seven-win campaign.
While his best result in the Cup Series was only a 10th place effort, he proved that he was ready for a promotion, demonstrating that there was very little for him to gain by spending another year competing at the sport’s second highest level.