NASCAR’s Cup Series Gains New Full-time Drivers

NASCAR's 2022 Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs with grandfather and car owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Chris Gayle
There’s a lot of movement in the NASCAR garages

Two NASCAR drivers have been promoted to Cup Series competition for the 2023 season, continuing a youth movement that has brought change to NASCAR’s top series, as veteran drivers retire, move to different teams or fade – sorry – into obscurity.

Starting in 2023, there will be a new generation of wheel men looking to make their marks in stock car racing’s biggest amphitheater. For instance, who would have thought the final four of NASCAR’s 2022 playoffs would include Ross Chastain and Christopher Bell? At the start of the 2022 season, virtually nobody. 

But there they were, Chastain riding the Martinsville wall to gain entry, Bell earning a victory. This duo joined two other young guns in combatting for the 2022 title, that eventually went to Team Penske’s Joey Logano, the driver who dominated at Phoenix Raceway on Champion’s Week. The sport’s 2020 champion, Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott was also part of the final four who could take the title.

NASCAR’s 2022 Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs with grandfather and car owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Chris Gayle – Getty Images photo

With Kyle Busch trotting off to Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing elected to promote Ty Gibbs, who earned the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and who ran 15 races as substitute for injured Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing later this season. Ty Gibbs will compete full-time for JGR in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 54 Toyota Camry TRD, the team said.

Gibbs earned his 2022 Xfinity title with seven victories and 23 top-10 results. Consider this: in only 51 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, Gibbs has been victorious 11 times, for a 21 percent achievement rate, scored 33 top-10 finishes (64%) and has led a numerically interesting 1,234 total laps. In 2021, Gibbs was the ARCA Menard Series champion.

Coming along for the ride, Gibbs’ Xfinity Series crew chief , Chris Gayle joins him as crew chief in the Cup Series next year. The team announced it will use the No. 18 that was previously assigned to Kyle Busch in future years and will not make that car number available to other teams.

Not to be outdone, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has promoted Ryan Preece from his reserve driver role to the team’s No. 41 Ford Mustang, beginning in 2023. Preece, 32, from Berlin, Connecticut spent this past season performing simulator work, benefitting his new teammates, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer. 

4 MARCH 2022 During the VICTORIA”S 200 at LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY in LAS VEGAS,NV (HHP Tim Parks)

In addition to working the simulator at Ford’s Performance Center, Preece ran a mix of races across all three of NASCAR’s top national touring series: Cup, Xfinity and Truck. He earned a Truck Series win from pole position on June 24th at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, his second straight victory at the 1.333-mile oval.

Realizing Preece’s worth, Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas noted, “Ryan Preece has been a real asset to our race team this year as we’ve developed the NextGen car. The time and effort he’s put into our program, combined with his real-world racing experience, earned him this opportunity.”

Cole Custer has driven the No. 41 Ford Mustang since his rookie, 2020 season. He delivered victory that year at Kentucky Speedway in only his 20th career Cup Series start. He’ll stay with SHR but head to Xfinity competition, where he owns 10 race wins, to elevate that program and be teammate to Riley Herbst, who returns for a third straight season with the team and fourth full-time year in Xfinity competition.

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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