• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Toyota announces 2023 Xfinity Series driver lineup

ByBrenden Martin

Dec 8, 2022
John Hunter Nemechek

Photo courtesy of Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

After the announcement of Ty Gibbs moving on to the NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 54 car and Brandon Jones heading to the JR Motorsports No. 9 car next season, Toyota unveiled much of its driver lineup for the Xfinity Series in 2023.

John Hunter Nemechek to Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20

Headlining Joe Gibbs Racing’s retooled lineup in Xfinity is John Hunter Nemechek making the jump from the Camping World (now Craftsman) Truck Series to take the helm of the No. 20 Toyota Supra for JGR.

Nemechek spent the last two seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports where he won seven races and advanced to the Round of 8 each season. In 2021, Nemechek won five races en route to a Championship 4 appearance.

As KBM transitions to Chevrolet with Kyle Busch’s move to Richard Childress Racing next year, Nemechek remained in the Toyota camp awaiting his next ride.

Nemechek has plenty of experience in the Xfinity Series, where he has made 67 starts dating back to 2018. Last season, Nemechek ran 11 Xfinity races, three of which were with JGR. Nemechek won an Xfinity Series race with JGR at Texas Motor Speedway, the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335, in October 2021.

Ben Bashore, who was the crew chief for Busch’s No. 18 Cup team, will be the crew chief for Nemechek.

Ryan Truex returns to JGR part-time in the No. 19

The No. 18 Xfinity Series car was designated as JGR’s “part-time” car last season, as multiple drivers got the opportunity to run a few races in it across the season. Sammy Smith, who ran nine races at the end of last season in the No. 18, will be running full-time in that car next season. Brandon Jones’ move to JRM opens the door for the No. 19 to take that role this year.

Ryan Truex, brother of 2017 Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr., will once again drive part-time for the same organization his brother races in. Truex ran six races in the No. 18 last season and earned three top-10s and a top-five finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he finished third in the Alsco Uniforms 250.

He will at least match his six starts from last year. However, the races he will do have yet to be announced.

Truex has 84 career Xfinity Series starts going back to 2010, giving him experience that he will use next season.

Jason Radcliff, who led the No. 18 last season, will be the crew chief for the No. 19 and once again work with multiple drivers. Other drivers to drive the No. 19 in 2023 have also yet to be announced, but drivers like Trevor Bayne and Drew Dollar could be likely candidates as well as the occasional Cup driver from JGR.

Kaz Grala and Connor Mosack to Sam Hunt Racing full-time

Looking across other Toyota teams in the Xfinity Series, Sam Hunt Racing will field two full-time cars in 2023. The No. 26 car that Nemechek ran in for most of his Xfinity Series starts last year will be piloted by Kaz Grala.

Grala, who ran three Cup Series Races with The Money Team last season, will drive in the Xfinity Series full-time for the first time in his career. Grala ran in the No. 26 for SHR in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway last month and finished 23rd.

Allen Hart will be the crew chief for Grala and the No. 26 team.

Rounding out the Toyota Xfinity news, Connor Mosack will drive 20 races in the No. 24 car for Sam Hunt Racing.

The 23-year-old from Charlotte native made two starts in both the truck series and Xfinity Series last year. He ran in the No. 32 truck at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in his debut, finishing 34th for Brent Holmes Racing. He also finished 31st at Bristol later in the season.

In Xfinity, where he will be driving, Mosack made both his starts on road courses. He made his debut in the No. 18 part-time car for JGR at Portland International Raceway in a rain-filled race where he finished 28th. His most recent race was in the SHR No. 26 car at Watkins Glen in August where he finished 15th.

As Mosack will drive the No. 24 for 20 races, SHR will announce the lineup for the remaining 13 races at a later date. Mosack will make his season debut in the United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway on March 11.

Kris Brown will be the crew chief for the young Mosack and the No. 24 team.