Joe Gibbs Racing teased a new driver announcement for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, and they have now finally confirmed their first driver for the “star car”.
There has been plenty of uncertainty about Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program for the 2022 season throughout the offseason.
For much of the offseason, the only confirmed driver for the upcoming 33-race campaign had been Brandon Jones, who was named the full-time driver of the # 19 Toyota for the fifth consecutive season.
The only other confirmed details were the fact that the team would be downsizing from four cars to three, presumably with Ty Gibbs, one of the drivers of the team’s “star car”, the # 54 Toyota, in 2021, being promoted to a full-time role; that change still has not been formally confirmed.
Daniel Hemric, who won the championship in his lone season behind the wheel of the team’s # 18 Toyota, is set to move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Kaulig Racing, replacing the Cup Series-bound Justin Haley behind the wheel of the # 11 Chevrolet.
Harrison Burton, who spent two seasons behind the wheel of the team’s # 20 Toyota, is set to move to the Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing, replacing the Truck Series-bound Matt DiBenedetto behind the wheel of the # 21 Ford.
But on Tuesday, Joe Gibbs Racing indicated that they would finally be making a new driver announcement, with that announcement coming on Wednesday.
Some speculated that this announcement would be official confirmation of Gibbs’s promotion to full-time driver, but the “new” in their tweet indicated otherwise.
On Wednesday, Trevor Bayne became the first confirmed driver of the team’s “star car” for the 2022 season, and the star car was confirmed as the # 18 Toyota as opposed to the # 54 Toyota like it was last year.
Bayne is set to compete in seven races behind the wheel of the # 18 Toyota this year, beginning with the Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, February 26th.
Bayne, who is set to compete with sponsorship from Devotion Nutrition, last competed in NASCAR in 2020 when he competed in eight Truck Series races for Niece Motorsports.
The 2011 Daytona 500 winner and former full-time Cup Series driver has not competed in the Xfinity Series since 2016, when he competed in just one race for Roush Fenway Racing, the team with which he most recently competed in the Cup Series in 2018.