Ryan Truex, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
In addition to two full-time drivers, another driver was announced as part of Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver lineup for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
Joe Gibbs Racing needed to replace both of their full-time drivers in their NASCAR Xfinity Series lineup for the 2023 season.
Ty Gibbs is moving to the organization’s Cup Series team as the replacement for the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch and Brandon Jones is moving to JR Motorsports as the replacement for the Cup Series-bound Noah Gragson. Gragson is set to replace the Spire Motorsports-bound Ty Dillon at Petty GMS Motorsports.
The team announced both new full-time drivers earlier this week, confirming that Sammy Smith and John Hunter Nemechek are set to take over.
Smith is set to drive the No. 18 Toyota, which had been used as the team’s “star car”, full-time after driving it in nine races throughout the 33-race 2022 season.
Nemechek is set to drive the No. 20 Toyota, which wasn’t used in 2022, after driving the “star car” in three races during both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The No. 19 Toyota, which had been driven by Jones, is now set to become the “star car”, while the No. 54 Toyota will not be used.
In addition to the announcements that Smith and Nemechek are joining the team full-time for 2023, the team also announced one driver of the No. 19 Toyota.
Ryan Truex is set to drive the car in six races on the 33-race calendar. After not competing in the series since 2019, he competed in five races for the team in 2022 and recorded a top finish of third place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He also finished in sixth at Texas Motor Speedway and seventh at Martinsville Speedway. His exact schedule for the 2023 season has not yet been determined.
Should Smith or Nemechek end up moving to Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup Series team, either to replace Martin Truex Jr. or Denny Hamlin, at some point in the near future, Ryan Truex could very well be considered as an option to run full-time for the Xfinity Series team.
Truex’s confirmation for six races in 2023 means that the No. 19 Toyota still needs drivers for 27 events. Throughout the 2022 season, nine drivers spent time behind the wheel of the “star car”.