The worst kept secret was put out in the open Tuesday when Joe Gibbs Racing officially announced that Ty Gibbs will be moving up to the NASCAR Cup series fulltime in 2023.
As former JGR driver Kyle Busch and the team grew apart in 2022, a divorce that started when longtime sponsor Mars said they would be leaving at the end of the season and culminating in Busch announcing a move to Richard Childress Racing in September, there was little doubt who would replace him.
The young Gibbs, grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, won the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity title at Phoenix earlier this month, but the celebration was cut short when his father, son of Joe Gibbs, and an executive at the team, passed away suddenly only hours after his son on the title. Understandably the team made Tuesday’s announcement in a low-key manner, with no quotes from the driver, the team, or Joe Gibbs.
Ty Gibbs will race the No. 54 Toyota for the team instead of the No. 18 Busch raced throughout his tenure. The team said that number will be used in the NASCAR Cup Series in future years. JGR drivers have scored all but one of the car number’s 80 wins, Marvin Burke was the first, winning in his only Cup appearance in 1951. Three of JGR’s five Cup Series championships have come with the No. 18 — Bobby Labonte’s 2000 title and the two crowns claimed by Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).
The No. 54 has not been used full-time in the Cup Series since 2003, when driver Todd Bodine paired with team owner Travis Carter.
Chris Gayle, who served as crew chief during his NASCAR Xfinity Championship season, will move with Gibbs to serve as crew chief in the Cup Series.
Gibbs made his NASCAR Cup debut this year filling in with 23XI Racing, a JGR affiliated team, when former series champion Kurt Busch was sidelined by a concussion after a crash during qualifying on July 23 at Pocono Raceway.
Gibbs made his Cup Series debut the next day, and he filled in for Busch in 15 races the rest of the year. He withdrew from the Cup season finale after his father’s death.
The young Gibbs has been somewhat controversial thanks to his aggressive driving, most recently drawing attention after he punted his teammate Brandon Jones at the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville.
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