Joe Gibbs Racing has elected to downsize their NASCAR Xfinity Series program from four to three entries ahead of the 2022 season, according to championship-winning crew chief Dave Rogers, who spoke to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.
The race-winning team, which fielded the No. 18, 19, 20, and 54 full-time in the series last season, collected 12 victories between Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek, and Daniel Hemric while placing three cars in the Owner’s Playoffs.
Rogers – who was announced early Tuesday as the new Performance Director for 23XI Racing — spoke about the process of him moving to 23XI Racing, which happened, in part, because of the team’s downsizing efforts in the second-tier series.
“The discussions, they were ongoing for a long time,” said Rogers. “23Xi Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota, everyone works really well together, so I’d been talking to Coach [Joe Gibbs] about what would happen next.
“We know the JGR Xfinity program was going to be reduced from four teams to three teams, and that left an odd man out,” Rogers continued. “Coach and I had been talking for a while, and said that if anything opened up at 23XI Racing, that he would bless my desires to entertain those conversations, and something was posted that was really appealing to me.”
The 18-time NASCAR Cup Series winning crew chief was one of seven key hires announced for the upcoming season at 23XI Racing, as the organization – co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin — faces its first season as a multi-car operation.
“It just seemed like a great opportunity for where I’m at in my career,” Rogers explained. “So I talked it over with him and he said he was okay if I applied, so that ball started rolling a while ago, but nothing was determined prior to Phoenix.”
I knew for sure at Phoenix, that I wouldn’t be returning to JGR Xfinity, but I didn’t know exactly where I’d land.
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) November 16, 2021
Rogers’ achievements as a crew chief across NASCAR’s top-three series are astonishing, collected 18 NASCAR Cup Series victories, and 21 NASCAR Xfinity Series victories, but was able to collect his first series championship with Daniel Hemric in 2021.
As for the upcoming season, Brandon Jones has already been announced as one of the drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program, as he and Jeff Meendering will return to the No. 19 Toyota Supra in 2022.
While not officially announced by driver or team, Ty Gibbs is expected to return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time in 2022, barring any major surprises piloting one of the team’s entries. In fact, Interstate Batteries has already committed to sponsoring the 19-year-old in three events.
As for the team’s third entry, it’s unclear if the car will feature a single driver or a rotisserie of drivers, as no indications have been made on the status of said car, at this time. However, Toyota has a myriad of drivers that could fit the bill for the ride, whether that be full-time or part-time.