Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs is set to move to the NASCAR Cup Series for the 2023 season, but he will not drive the #18 Toyota like many expected he would.
At long last, Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed on Tuesday what many have known for quite some time: Ty Gibbs, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, is set to be promoted from the organization’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team to their Cup Series team for the 2023 season.
The move comes following the departure of Kyle Busch, who spent 15 seasons behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota. With longtime primary sponsor MM’s leaving after the 2022 season and a once promising sponsorship development having fallen through, Busch ultimately signed with Richard Childress Racing, reuniting him with Chevrolet for the first time since 2008.
Gibbs won the 2022 Xfinity Series championship in his first full season in the series, winning seven of 33 races on the schedule. He competed part-time in 2021 and won four races in 18 starts.
While the initial plan was for him to run two full seasons at the sport’s second highest level before a promotion to the Cup Series, he proved he was ready for a promotion with Busch’s seat vacant.
Gibbs also got the unexpected opportunity to compete in 15 Cup Series races in 2022, doing so as the replacement for Kurt Busch at the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated 23XI Racing after Busch was sidelined with a head injury he suffered in a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway.
But even with the 20-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina moving to the Cup Series as Kyle Busch’s replacement as expected, he won’t drive the #18 Toyota like many thought he would.
Gibbs drove the #54 Toyota for 50 of his 51 Xfinity Series starts, and he is set to continue to use the number 54 in the Cup Series.
Joe Gibbs Racing stated that the number 18 is set to return “in future years”, though no further details were given. Joe Gibbs Racing are set to continue running the #11 Toyota for Denny Hamlin, the #19 Toyota for Martin Truex Jr., and the #20 Toyota for Christopher Bell next year.
The team have used the number 18 every year since making their Cup Series debut in the 1992 season, meaning that the 2023 season is set to be the first since 1991 without a #18 car in the Cup Series.