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Joe Gibbs Racing’s Master Prospect Plan

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

It’s hard to find a team more stacked with top prospects than Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR is also a team that may undergo a facelift sooner rather than later with aging drivers like Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. The stage is set for the next generation of Joe Gibbs Racing talent to take over in the next few years, and here is how it could work out.

  • Joe Gibbs Racing has 3 different prospects currently in their stable in Chandler Smith, Sheldon Creed, and William Sawalich. JGR is also a Toyota team, so, that could give JGR the inside track on nailing down Corey Heim.
  • Martin Truex Jr.’s future is very uncertain, and he could retire sooner than later. Denny Hamlin is sticking with JGR at least through 2025, but, he is 43 years old. Both of these drivers could open up slots for these new prospects.
  • Fans are excited to see how the new crop of JGR talent can do. JGR has arguably the best pipeline in NASCAR currently, and these drivers will have opportunities aplenty.

The Current Guard: Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin

Martin Truex Jr. was mulling retirement throughout 2023, and his plans for 2025 remain uncertain. That #19 ride could be a prime destination for any of the prospects on their way up. Truex Jr.’s retirement will happen sooner rather than later, so, he’s the one to watch for the Xfinity Series prospects.

For some of the younger prospects, the #11 car is one to watch. Denny Hamlin signed a multi-year deal to stick with Joe Gibbs Racing from 2024 onwards. However, Hamlin will be 45 years old when the 2025 season ends, and his future may be more uncertain than people thnk beyond that. While Hamlin is not as surefire of a bet as Truex for a young driver to take that seat, it is one to watch for as this decade reaches the midway point.

The New Guard: Chandler Smith, Sheldon Creed, and William Sawalich

Joe Gibbs Racing has two drivers in the Xfinity Series, Chandler Smith and Sheldon Creed. Smith is a particularly interesting prospect because he brings a lot of funding from QuickTie. He also won at Phoenix Raceway last weekend.

Sheldon Creed is probably slightly behind Smith in the pecking order as things currently stand. Still, Creed was very close to making the Xfinity Series Championship 4 in 2023. He is close to breaking out, and if he does, he could vault himself up the JGR food chain. Both Creed and Smith are potential candidates to replace Truex Jr. should he retire.

William Sawalich will make his Xfinity Series debut for the team in the fall, and he is competing in the ARCA Menards Series East and West this season. Sawalich is much younger and much more raw, but, he’s one to watch for if and when Denny Hamlin reaches the end of his career.

The Wild Card: Corey Heim

Corey Heim is the prospect that is tougher to predict. He drives for TRICON Garage in the Craftsman Truck Series, so, he is a Toyota prospect. However, when JGR was looking for Xfinity Series drives this past offseason, Heim was passed over. While he is definitely a candidate for future rides, is he a true JGR prospect?

Heim will have no problem getting opportunities higher up the ladder if he keeps performing, but, it may not come at JGR. Maybe a team like Legacy Motor Club could pick him up, but, as long as he drives a Toyota, he’s a candidate for an open JGR ride.

JGR is spoiled with many young prospects, and the rides could open up for them to race for JGR at the Cup level. When will they make the jump up?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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