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Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday that Xfinity Series Champion Ty Gibbs will move full-time to the NASCAR Cup Series next season, taking the place left vacant by Kyle Busch and marking the next step in his rapid ascent to the major stock car leagues. -to race.
Gibbs will drive the No. 54 Toyota for his grandfather, Coach Joe Gibbs’ team. The 20-year-old driver will carry the car number he campaigned for in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a departure from the No. 18 that has been with the JGR organization since its 1992 Cup Series debut. 54, Joe Gibbs Racing plans to use the No. 18 car in the Cup Series in the years to come.
Chris Gayle, who was crew chief during Gibbs’ championship season, will move with him to serve as crew chief in the Cup Series.
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Gibbs excelled at every stage of his rapid climb up the NASCAR ladder. He ended the season as a seven-time winner in the Xfinity Series this year, capping his first full season of Xfinity competition with a title win at Phoenix Raceway. That triumph was marked by tragedy with the death of his father, Coy Gibbs, in the overnight hours just after his victory in Phoenix.
In parts of two Xfinity seasons, he has already won 11 times, including victory on his series debut in 2021 at the road course at Daytona International Speedway. But Gibbs also made an unplanned jump to the Cup Series this year, filling in for 23XI Racing—a JGR affiliate—when former series champion Kurt Busch was sidelined with a concussion after crashing during qualifying on July 23 at Pocono Raceway.
Gibbs was brought in for his Cup Series debut the next day and filled in for Busch in 15 races for the rest of the year. He withdrew from the Cup season finale following the death of his father.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s high-profile vacancy on its four-car squad officially opened on September 13, when Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing announced they would join forces starting next season. The move ended a partnership that dated back to 2008, a long-running union that yielded two Cup Series championships and 56 of Busch’s 60 wins.
The younger Gibbs’ rise to the top tier of NASCAR has been marked by success and a bit of controversy. Even as he almost immediately became a consistent challenger for Xfinity Series wins on a part-time schedule last season, Gibbs cruised to an ARCA Menards Series championship, winning 10 of 20 races in 2021. He is an 18-time winner at that circuit, and he also has multiple wins in each of the two ARCA regional tours.
Gibbs’ aggressive nature helped land him in Victory Lane, but it also upset some of his competitors. He was issued a conduct ticket and a $15,000 fine in April for making contact with Sam Mayer’s car on pit road after an Xfinity race at Martinsville Speedway. That disagreement led to fistfights between the two. On the Cup Series side, Gibbs also angrily crashed past Ty Dillon’s car on pit road during a September 25 race at Texas Motor Speedway, getting checked and fined $75,000 for unsafe driving near race officials and pit crew personnel.
The controversy came to a head in the penultimate race of the Xfinity Series, when Gibb’s teammate Brandon Jones crashed on the last lap at Martinsville Speedway. The maneuver denied another JGR driver the Championship 4 field, and a remorseful Gibbs apologized for the move.
Gibbs drove the No. 18 during his ARCA successes, with the car number his grandfather used when he founded Joe Gibbs Racing as an automotive outfit with Dale Jarrett as his driver 31 years ago. However, as an Xfinity regular, he established his own identity with the No. 54.
The last time the No. 18 did not rotate regularly in the NASCAR Cup Series was in 1991. JGR drivers were responsible for all but one of the car’s 80 wins – Marvin Burke was the first, winning in his only Cup appearance in 1951. Three of JGR’s five Cup Series championships are the No. 18 – the title held by Bobby Labonte in 2000 and the two crowns claimed by Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).
The No. 54 has not been used full-time in the Cup Series since 2003, when driver Todd Bodine partnered with team owner Travis Carter. The No. 54 has won just three times in NASCAR’s top division, most recently in 1978 when Lennie Pond recorded his only Cup Series win at Talladega Superspeedway.