Two Toyota Racing Development teams are about to drop some big news. Both Joe Gibbs Racing and Sam Hunt Racing will reveal their NASCAR Xfinity Series driver lineups.
Davey Segal of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio reported the news on December 5. He noted that both Toyota Racing Development partners will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, December 8, for the big announcement. Multiple executives will also be in attendance while setting the stage for the future.
Sam Hunt Racing confirmed the report with multiple tweets. One used the eyes emoji while quote-tweeting Segal’s news. The other was a photo of team owner Sam Hunt looking off into the distance. The caption simply said, “Thursday” with a pair of eye emojis.
Both teams used a variety of drivers during the 2022 Xfinity Series season. JGR had Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones as full-time drivers while a variety of guests shared the No. 18 Toyota GR Supra. SHR, for comparison, had 10 drivers take over the No. 26 Toyota GR Supra. Jeffrey Earnhardt led the way with nine starts.
JGR Has Multiple Seats To Fill Ahead of 2023
There are numerous questions about both teams, but Joe Gibbs Racing tops the list. The reason is that there are no details currently available about the number of entries or the drivers that will control them.
Both of the full-time drivers from the 2022 season are no longer part of the Xfinity Series program. Brandon Jones moved over to JR Motorsports while Gibbs moved up to the Cup Series to replace Kyle Busch.
Sammy Smith, who made nine Xfinity Series starts for JGR in 2022, will be a likely option to take over one of the seats. He had multiple strong performances while pulling double duty. Smith also won six ARCA Menards Series races for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Another potential option is John Hunter Nemechek. The Truck Series championship contender no longer has a spot at Kyle Busch Motorsports now that the team is moving over to the Chevrolet family. Toyota Racing Development wants Nemechek to stay in the pipeline, and Joe Gibbs Racing will be a spot where he can pursue more wins.
One interesting name to watch will be Trevor Bayne. The former Daytona 500 winner made nine starts for JGR, and he posted seven top-10 finishes with five top-fives. JGR has expressed interest in having Bayne return on a full-time basis, but the team has acknowledged that sponsorship is the biggest hurdle.
SHR Will Create Conversations on Thursday
Sam Hunt Racing is an intriguing organization. The small team has only been in the Xfinity Series since 2019 when it made one start, but it has come close to Victory Lane on multiple occasions. Nemechek, in particular, has posted three top-five finishes in the past two seasons.
SHR clearly has strong equipment with its Toyota Racing Development partnership, and it has a key piece in place in the form of technical director/crew chief Allen Hart. The former engineer from JR Motorsports joined the team ahead of the 2022 season, and he helped elevate the performance.
The biggest question heading toward the lineup reveal focuses on SHR’s approach for the 2023 season. Will the team continue to focus on a rotating cast of drivers, or will it pick one to run full-time in the No. 26 Toyota GR Supra? Additionally, will there be any races featuring multiple entries after the team took two cars to the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway?