Joe Gibbs Racing unveiled their 2024 Xfinity Series driver lineup for the upcoming, featuring some surprises in regards to part-time drivers and even a return if you will for the team.
The announcement, featuring two full-time drivers and a grand total of six part-time drivers, came early this morning from the team, with members of the media also releasing the car tandems that will be involved.
As far as the full-time drivers are concerned, Chandler Smith will pilot the #81 (very odd number for JGR) with Jeff Meendering as the crew chief, while Sheldon Creed will be behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota Supra for next season, one of the worst kept secrets this offseason.
Creed, who spent last season with Richard Childress Racing, comes over from Chevy to Toyota, looking to try and add another NASCAR championship to his resume after a dirty fallout with RCR late in the playoffs this past season.
Truth be told, it will be interesting to see how Creed will transition over to running in Toyota equipment, but, he should do a solid job for the team and be a sure fire contender in 2024.
For Sheldon Creed, he will be teamed up with Sam McAulay for next season as his crew chief.
In regards to part-time work for the team, the #19 entry will feature four drivers behind the wheel of the car next season, with Ryan Truex, Taylor Gray, Joe Graf Jr. and William Sawalich all competing behind the wheel of that entry for the team.
The #20 car, on the other hand, will be more so the Cup series entry in terms of part-time drivers, featuring John Hunter Nemechek, driving for Legacy Motor Club next season with their switch to Toyota, and Aric Almirola, who had announced his retirement from NASCAR just two months ago
Almirola, although not a surprise to be tabbed as a part-time driver, comes over to Toyota for the first time since racing in the Truck Series in 2011.
Also, this is a return for Almirola to JGR in a sense, having raced three seasons for the team early in his career from 2005-2007.
Although he has competed for JGR, the team at that time was in Chevy equipment, meaning this will be Almirola first time behind a true Toyota stock car.
Nevertheless, having Almirola should help the team and it will be interesting to see if he may find himself in a cup ride for a one-off at some point next season.
JGR surely has the pieces there to be a competitive team next season and, with Smith and Creed taking the reigns full time, there is a certain level of expectation for this team heading into 2024.