Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program will undergo a complete overhaul in 2024. John Hunter Nemechek will move to Legacy Motor Club in the Cup Series, and Sammy Smith will move on to the JR Motorsports 8 car. This season, the 19 car has been an All-Star car, but, should Gibbs consider making this car a full-time car for 2024?
The Candidates for JGR in 2024
Joe Gibbs Racing has three drivers who are realistic candidates for the ride in 2024 as follows: Sheldon Creed, Chandler Smith, and Ryan Truex. Of course, a surprise candidate like Trevor Bayne or Myatt Snider could jump in there as well, but those are the three most likely based on on-track performance.
Well, JGR had only two cars run full-time this season. Truex, who won this year at Dover, admitted in April that his goal is to race full-time in Xfinity in 2024. Sheldon Creed’s plans to join JGR were potentially outed by Austin Hill at Martinsville, and Chandler Smith was reported to want to buy out of his Kaulig contract to get to JGR.
This means JGR may have too many drivers with not enough full-time seats. However, would it make sense to get rid of that All-Star car given what the purpose of it is?
What Benefit Does an All-Star Car Have?
All-Star cars are used by different race teams for owner’s points, particularly in the lower series. The idea is that you fill a car with drivers that specialize in certain types of racing throughout the season, and the result is you get good results for good owner’s points. This is how many Cup Series drivers get lower-tier series starts despite the current limitations on driver participation in lower series.
Sometimes, these cars can finish ahead of the full-time drivers in owner’s points. Daniel Hemric switched his car number from 11 to 10 for the Xfinity Series Playoffs so that he could race in both the driver’s and owner’s Playoffs. This can help race teams who may struggle with their full-time drivers to still finish well in the Owner’s Standings.
Now, JGR had both of their full-time drivers in the Playoffs this year, so, they do not need it as badly as other race teams may. The All-Star Car also allows Cup Series drivers to get some reps at different types of tracks in the Xfinity Series, so, that benefit exists for JGR as well. However, the Owner’s Points benefit is not as big for JGR as it may be for other race teams.
Should JGR Make the Third Car a Full-Time Driver?
Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not there is a third driver who can race full-time with the team. If they find that driver, then it could make sense. It gives JGR and Toyota an extra full-time driver that could be in place to take over for other Cup Series drivers or teams.
If they can find the driver, it may be worthwhile to at least think about it. JGR has to consider that getting rid of the All-Star Car could hurt their standing in Owner’s Points, and it gives them an extra full-time driver that maybe they do not need that much given how many drivers they already have. However, a third full-time driver could also have them add another driver who could become the next big JGR prospect.
Ultimately, it will take until JGR announces their 2024 Xfinity Series plans to see what they do. However, they may have a situation where there are enough drivers to have a third full-time driver. Could that 19 car have a permanent driver in 2024?