NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing driver joins new team

Sammy Smith, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Sammy Smith, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sammy Smith has taken on an additional role early in the 2023 NASCAR season, joining TRICON Garage for the opener.

After driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s “star car” in nine races throughout the 33-race 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and recording a top finish of third place at Watkins Glen International, Sammy Smith landed a full-time ride with the team for the 2023 campaign behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota.

Now the 18-year-old Johnston, Iowa native, who won the 2022 ARCA Menards Series East championship with Kyle Busch Motorsports after winning the 2021 title with Joe Gibbs Racing, is set to take on an additional role to start the 2023 season.

Smith, who has never competed in any Truck Series races, is set to make his Truck Series debut in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 17 Toyota for TRICON Garage.

TRICON Garage, which were known as David Gilliland Racing before an offseason rebrand, switched back to Toyota from Ford for 2023.

They still needed a driver for the No. 17 Toyota for the first three races of the 2023 NASCAR Truck Series season.

Taylor Gray is set to drive the car full-time throughout the 23-race season, but his schedule won’t officially start until he turns 18 years old. Drivers not yet 18 cannot compete in races on oval tracks that are 1.5 miles or more in length, and the first three races are all set to be contested at ovals measuring at least 1.5 miles.

The Artesia, New Mexico native, who made five starts for the team in 2021 and eight more in 2022, is set to turn 18 years old on Saturday, March 25, which is when the season’s fourth race at Circuit of the Americas is scheduled to take place.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

It was not revealed who will drive the No. 17 Toyota in the season’s second and third races. Those races are scheduled to take place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, March 3 and at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 18.