The Cup Series finale at Phoenix Raceway marks the end of a bittersweet season for Toyota Racing. The OEM will lose some key pieces, but it will also walk away with some new hardware. So how does TRD President David Wilson navigate the emotions? He just keeps everything in perspective.
Wilson met with members of the media after Ty Gibbs won the Xfinity Series championship on November 5. One of the questions he faced during the session focused on how he will handle the upcoming losses of Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports, as well as the overall future of TRD.
“Wow. Yeah, this whole year has been a roller coaster for me personally, for Toyota, for TRD,” Wilson said during his post-race press conference. “I don’t like being in the news cycle like we have been every week it seems like. But this is just one of those years where a lot of things are going on, and in the end, I’m able to find perspective. I’ve got a two-and-a-half-year-old at home that keeps me grounded. I find peace with that.”
Wilson Will Also Celebrate the Future of TRD
Losing Busch after 15 years is no small thing, especially with Rowdy delivering 56 wins and two Cup Series championships. Wilson is well aware of this fact. However, he also noted that there will be some other drivers that can step in and shine for TRD for years to come.
Christopher Bell is a prominent example considering that he won three Cup series races in 2022 while turning the best season among JGR drivers. TRD also has a new pipeline in the Craftsman Truck Series after joining forces with David Gilliland Racing — now TRICON Garage.
“But the reality is that we have so many wonderful things happening,” Wilson added. “We get to watch Christopher Bell race tomorrow night. I was sharing with some of you here yesterday, 10 years ago next month I was in Indianapolis celebrating his USAC national midget championship, 10 years ago, and tomorrow he’s racing for one of the biggest motorsports trophies in this country, and he’s racing because of TRD and Toyota, because we built a ladder for him.
“I’m awfully proud of that. I’m going to focus on all the terrific opportunities we have and the terrific team that we have around us. Yeah, I think that’s what I’ll do.”
The 2023 Lineup Will Undergo Some Changes
Toyota Racing will lose Busch and Chandler Smith as two of the main drivers, but the OEM will move forward with a stacked lineup in 2023. Though the Xfinity Series lineup awaits some official announcements.
The Truck Series will have such names as Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Corey Heim, Tanner Gray, and Taylor Gray as guaranteed starters. Others will join once Hattori Racing Enterprises and ThorSport Racing finalize their lineups.
On the Cup Series side, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Bell, Tyler Reddick, and Bubba Wallace will headline the lineup. The assumption is that Ty Gibbs will join them in the No. 18 Toyota Camry. Joe Gibbs Racing has not made any announcements, but Wilson believes that Gibbs is ready for a new challenge.
“Ty is ready. He’s there,” Wilson said. “Because of his last name, because of the race team that he races for, obviously he is under a microscope, and he is always going to face — he has faced this question of does he deserve to be there, how much is he there because of his family.
“Anyone who really watches the sport and watches what he has done can easily recognize that he’s earned his spot, and he’s ready to go to the next step. There’s nothing more he needs to do. There’s nothing more he’s going to learn at the Xfinity level, given how radically different these cars are to the next generation cars.”