Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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With Ty Gibbs set to move to Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series team in 2023 and Brandon Jones off to JR Motorsports, who will replace them in the Xfinity Series?
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is officially set to join Richard Childress Racing for the 2023 season, ending a 15-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota.
Ty Gibbs, team owner Joe Gibbs’s grandson, has been promoted to the Cup Series as Busch’s replacement, despite the fact that the initial plan was for him to run two full seasons in the Xfinity Series first. He just finished his first full season at the sport’s second highest level.
With Gibbs set to move to the Cup Series, that leaves one of the most competitive rides in the Xfinity Series without a driver for 2023 — and another one opened up at the same team shortly thereafter, following the announcement that Brandon Jones is set to move from Joe Gibbs Racing to JR Motorsports next year, ending a five-year run with the former.
Who will replace these two drivers behind the wheel of the #54 Toyota and the #19 Toyota next year? Here are five possibilities.
Possible Joe Gibbs Racing 2023 replacements: No. 1 – John Hunter Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek makes the most sense here for a number of reasons. He competed for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series in each of the last two seasons, but after reuniting with Toyota in 2021 when he dropped from the Cup Series to the Truck Series, he will not remain with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which switched to Chevrolet amid Busch’s move to Richard Childress Racing.
Nemechek also made select Xfinity Series for Toyota in 2022, and he was originally the emergency driver for 23XI Racing.
Ty Gibbs, not Nemechek, ultimately replaced Kurt Busch following his concussion, and Tyler Reddick, the driver Kyle Busch is replacing, is set to replace Kurt Busch next year, effectively ruling out the possibility for Nemechek to move back to the Cup Series in 2023.
While Nemechek may not be considered a Toyota priority, the fact that there are two open seats, in addition to the “star car”, make it hard to pass him up. He is an experienced driver who knows how to get the job done in the Xfinity Series, and that was on full display in several of his starts with Joe Gibbs Racing throughout the 2022 season.