NASCAR: One team made a car number change for 2023

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Of the 36 chartered entries in the NASCAR Cup Series this year, only 35 are using the same numbers that they used during the 2022 season.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season unofficially got underway on Sunday, February 5 with the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and the season is officially scheduled to get underway this Sunday, February 19 with the 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

There have been several changes made to the driver lineup from the 2022 season to the 2023 season, including two teams, Spire Motorsports and Kaulig Racing, that turned shared rides into rides for full-time drivers.

Ty Dillon is set to join Spire Motorsports after competing for Petty GMS Motorsports (now Legacy Motor Club) last year, while A.J. Allmendinger is set to join Kaulig Racing after competing part-time for them in the Cup Series and full-time for them in the Xfinity Series last year.

Six other teams made changes, with three bringing in drivers who did not compete in the series last year. Just two of those drivers are set to compete full-time, as one of those teams turned a ride that had been for a full-time driver into a shared ride.

But only one team made a number change for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, and that team is Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kyle Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing to replace the 23XI Racing-bound Tyler Reddick behind the wheel of the No. 8 Chevrolet, ending a 15-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota behind the wheel of the No. 18 car.

Reigning Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs is set to replace Busch, but the team have renumbered the car. Gibbs drove the No. 54 Toyota during his two-year stint in the Xfinity Series, and instead of keeping the iconic No. 18 on the car for his rookie Cup Series season, the decision was made to allow him to continue to use the No. 54.

Not since the 1991 season has there been a year without a No. 18 car in the Cup Series. Joe Gibbs Racing entered the Cup Series in 1992 and fielded the No. 18 Chevrolet for Dale Jarrett, and until now, they had fielded a No. 18 car ever since. At some point, they plan to bring it back.

As for the No. 54, it was last used by Rick Ware Racing in 2019, when Garrett Smithley and J.J. Yeley each drove it in two races. Yeley attempted to qualify the No. 54 Ford for the 2020 Daytona 500, but he failed to do so.

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

The No. 54 car has been driven to three wins in 465 races dating back to June 1950. Jimmy Pardue competed in 178 races in the No. 54 car, more than any other driver, and owns two of its three wins. Lennie Pond owns the other victory, having driven the car in 141 races. Both drivers used the number for the majority of their careers and didn’t win any races using other numbers.