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We Now Know Who is Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series

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What’s Happening?

Joe Gibbs Racing announced their 2024 driver lineup on Wednesday, and it features a staggering 8 drivers across 4 cars. Sheldon Creed in the 18 car and Chandler Smith in the 81 car will drive full-time. Aric Almirola and John Hunter Nemechek will split the 20 car, and Ryan Truex, William Sawalich, Joe Graf Jr., and Taylor Gray will split the 19 car.

  • Joe Gibbs Racing expands to four cars from three in 2023. Their driver lineup shrinks from 9 drivers in 2023 to 8 drivers in 2024 despite the car expansion.
  • JGR won 11 Xfinity Series races total in 2023. John Hunter Nemechek won 7, with Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs, Ryan Truex, and Sammy Smith taking one apiece.
  • Fans are excited to see this new driving lineup for 2024. They commented on a myriad of aspects from the drivers, to the number change, to how many drivers JGR will have.

Here’s a breakdown of who is going where:

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18 Car: Sheldon Creed

Sheldon Creed to JGR rumors ramped up at Martinsville when then-teammate Austin Hill said Creed was going to Gibbs following an incident between the two. Now, it is official, and Creed takes over for Sammy Smith in the 18 car.

Creed is a former ARCA and Truck Series Champion who spent his last two seasons with Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series. While he has not won an Xfinity Series race, he came within half a straightaway of making the Championship 4 in 2023. This will not be Creed’s first ride with Toyota either, as his ARCA Championship in 2018 was in a Toyota.

This ride gives Creed a direct shot into the Cup Series with a top team. With Martin Truex Jr.’s future beyond 2024 uncertain, Creed could be auditioning for a Cup Series ride with the team.

81 Car: Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith reportedly bought out of his Kaulig Racing contract to re-sign with Toyota. This seemed like a surprise at the time given that Kaulig had a potential Cup Series ride for Smith. However, Smith officially joined JGR full-time for 2024.

Smith won 11 races in ARCA and 5 races in the Truck Series with Toyota before moving to Chevrolet and Kaulig Racing for 2023. He won his first career race this year at Richmond, but, that was his only win of the year.

Like Creed, Smith may be auditioning for a Cup Series seat in the near future. Maybe Smith chose to sacrifice a short-term Cup Series seat with a mid-pack team for a long-term seat with a Championship-contending race team.

20 Car: Aric Almirola and John Hunter Nemechek

Aric Almirola was accidentally outed by Joe Gibbs as a driver for 2024 while attending a Washington Commanders game in early December. JGR did not specifically say how many races Almirola would run in 2024.

John Hunter Nemechek returns to the team for 10 races after a 7-win season in 2023 alongside a full-time ride with Legacy Motor Club in the Cup Series. Since he has only 1 full Cup Series season under his belt, he is not limited in how many Xfinity races he can run in 2024.

JGR did open up the possibility of another driver slotting into this car. They said in their press release, “The majority” of the races for the 20 car will feature either Almirola or Nemechek. Could we see Ty Gibbs or Denny Hamlin slot into a race, or could someone like Trevor Bayne run in a one-off with the team?

19 Car: Ryan Truex, William Sawalich, Joe Graf Jr., Taylor Gray

The 19-car in 2024 will feature two veterans, Joe Graf Jr., and Ryan Truex, alongside two young drivers, Taylor Gray and William Sawalich. JGR was vague in what exact races most drivers would run, but they were very specific in what Sawalich would run.

The veterans are Joe Graf Jr. and Ryan Truex. Joe Graf Jr. ran a full schedule in 2024 combining 6 races with JGR with 30 races with RSS Racing. Two of his three top-10 finishes came with JGR, and he has 126 career Xfinity Series starts. Truex won his first Xfinity Series race at Dover in 2023 with JGR. He has run in some capacity in NASCAR in every season since 2010.

The young guns are Taylor Gray and William Sawalich. Gray joins JGR alongside a full-time Truck Series effort with TRICON Garage. He recorded 6 top-10s in the Truck Series with TRICON in 2023. William Sawalich joins JGR in the Xfinity Series alongside a full-time effort for the team in the ARCA Menards Series. JGR said that Sawalich will run the final three races of the season at Homestead-Miami, Martinsville, and Phoenix once he turns 18. Sawalich may be the next heir apparent at JGR.

JGR took a bunch of NASCAR free agents and combined them into their 2024 plans. It will be interesting to see which drivers compete in which races throughout the season.

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