NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing need more drivers for 2023

Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Joe Gibbs Racing still need to solidify their driver lineup for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, as the No. 19 Toyota is without a driver for 13 races.

Earlier in the offseason, after it was officially confirmed that Ty Gibbs would replacing the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series team after winning the 2022 Xfinity Series championship, Joe Gibbs Racing announced their full-time lineup for the 2023 Xfinity Series season.

Sammy Smith, who competed in nine races for the team during the 2022 season, is set to drive the No. 18 Toyota after winning the 2021 and 2022 ARCA Menards Series East championships for Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, respectively.

John Hunter Nemechek, who competed in three races for the team during both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, is set to drive the No. 20 Toyota after spending the last two seasons competing in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The No. 18 Toyota had been used as the “star car” in 2022, while the No. 20 Toyota was sidelined. Gibbs used the No. 54 Toyota, which is not present in the team’s Xfinity Series lineup for 2023.

What was also confirmed is that Ryan Truex, who drove the “star car” in five races during the 2022 season, is set to return for a six-race schedule.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s new “star car” for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is the No. 19 Toyota.

The No. 19 Toyota was vacated when Brandon Jones left the team after five seasons to join JR Motorsports as the replacement for the Cup Series-bound Noah Gragson behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet. He took longtime primary sponsor Menards with him.

The exact schedule for Truex, the brother of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup Series No. 19 Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr., has not yet been determined, and only three other drivers have been confirmed for that entry.

Those three drivers are Joe Graf Jr., Myatt Snider, and Connor Mosack. Graf is set to compete in five races at Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Kansas Speedway.

Snider is set to compete in six races at Daytona International Speedway, Portland International Raceway, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway. Mosack is set to compete in three races at the Chicago Street Course, Pocono Raceway, and Road America.

During the 2022 season, nine drivers spent time behind the wheel of the “star car”, including Smith, Nemechek, Truex, and Mosack.

Aside from Smith, Nemechek, Truex, Mosack, and full-time Cup Series drivers Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell, the car’s three other drivers were Drew Dollar (two races), Trevor Bayne (nine races), and James Davison (one race).

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After an impressive return to NASCAR in 2022, Bayne has long been seen as a candidate to re-sign with Joe Gibbs Racing for another part-time schedule in 2023. In fact, many believed that he should be considered for one of the two full-time rides, prior to the confirmations of Smith and Nemechek.