It’s wild to think that the Busch brothers may have an indirect or even direct hand in determining Ty Gibbs’ immediate future within the Joe Gibbs Racing camp. It’s no secret that Joe Gibbs and family didn’t want to rush the younger Gibbs along to the NASCAR Cup Series too soon. I mean why do so when they know that he’s the future of this team eventually.
It’s not like you risk losing out to Gibbs to a rival team. He’s Joe Gibbs’ grandson for crying out loud. He’s not racing for anyone else outside of the Toyota camp without Gibbs’ hand on it. Not now, not ever.
So they had a smart plan in place. Limited NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in 2021, a full-time slate in 2022 and again in 2023 and then evaluate if he’s ready for a jump to Cup in 2024.
It was even more clear when Martin Truex Jr. finally signed a one-year agreement to stay in the No. 19 Toyota for JGR for the 2023 season. This was likely Gibbs’ seat for 2024. Truex could return on a one more year basis getting a retirement tour and Gibbs could groom for 2024 while knowing he had 1 more year in Xfinity competition in 2023.
I think that has had to have changed now. I have to think that the brass at JGR are questioning this plan moving forward. Does it do any good to make Gibbs come back to the Xfinity Series next year now? Kyle Busch’s future is now murky with JGR as we’re nearing the end of August and they’ve not yet made any progress on that 18 car’s future.
Then with Kurt Busch being injured at Pocono and Gibbs doing a marvelous job of filling in for him in the interim, the writing is on the wall, elevate Gibbs up to replace Busch. He’ll be cheaper, you can try that avenue to secure sponsorship for the 18 car.
Nothing against Busch but it’s getting more and more dire that his future with the Toyota camp is surprisingly getting bleaker and bleaker by the day. He admitted that he’d take a pay cut to stay. The amount on the paycheck seems irrelevant to the only multi-time champion in the sport. The ball is in Gibbs’ court to find a way to get that 18 car on track and have Busch in it.
The fact that they’re not done so tells me a lot. It’s why there’s rumors talks have stalled between the two sides.
Well you have your replacement right here. What good is it for Gibbs to come back to JGR in the Xfinity Series next season?
Yes, it’s rushing him up a bit, but compared to Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and William Byron, it’s not as quickly as them and one could say Gibbs is having more success than those Cup stars in the Xfinity Series than they ever did.
Logano had just 19 NXS starts and 1 Truck start before moving up to replace Tony Stewart in the 20 car with JGR for the 2009 season. Larson had 33 Xfinity Series starts and only 6 Truck races under his belt before being with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 Cup season. Byron also had just 1 full year in NXS and 1 full year in Trucks before moving up with Hendrick Motorsports.
Gibbs has 39 starts and counting in the Xfinity Series which is more than any of those three made before they went full time Cup racing. Gibbs has more wins (9) than those 3 had combined (5). He has 18 top 5’s. Byron has 12, Larson 9 and Logano 5. His 758 laps led is more than the trio combined to lead too with Logano leading 278 laps, Byron 262 and Larson 102.
He’s done more than the Cup guys now that were rushed up. What do you gain by having him come back to the Xfinity Series another season? The two cars are completely different now with the Next Gen racing nothing like the Xfinity Series car.
It’s also why that’s making Gibbs’ 4 Cup races in the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing so impressive in that because he had never even sat in a Cup car before hopping into Busch’s at Pocono the day of the race. No practice, no qualifying and a top 20 finish. He nearly scored a top 10 at Michigan in his 3rd ever Cup start.
He needs to be a Cup driver now. He’s proven to be ready. He’s shown that stashing him in the Xfinity Series for 2023 is pointless. Practice race craft? He clearly has it now. 9 wins speak for itself. An 11th place finish in his 3rd Cup start does too.
So what does that do to JGR’s future?
You know they don’t want to lose out on Kyle Busch but you have to keep a close eye on this Kurt Busch situation. Does Kurt even want to come back in 2023 now for his final year of his contract? If not, does Kyle end up landing there. What about Truex for 2024? He has a one year deal but if you have Gibbs in the 18, who’s the future driver of the 19?
There’s more scenarios that need to be played out but Busch being a free agent and his brother being sidelines have made one thing clear – Ty Gibbs is ready.