NASCAR Xfinity Series

Toyota Racing Development to support 5 NASCAR Xfinity cars

4 Mins read
Credit: Toyota Racing Development

As the division responsible for Toyota‘s NASCAR operations, Toyota Racing Development will provide full factory support for five Xfinity Series cars in 2023, an increase from four the previous year. Announced Thursday, TRD will continue to back three Toyota GR Supras for Joe Gibbs Racing while Sam Hunt Racing expands to two.

With Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs graduating to the Cup Series, his #54 has been replaced by the #20 which will be piloted by John Hunter Nemechek. Nemechek spent the last two seasons in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, winning seven races and the 2021 regular season championship. He also ran a part-time Xfinity schedule for JGR and SHR, winning with the former at Texas in 2021 and recording the latter’s best race finishes to date with a pair of top fives.

2023 will be Nemechek’s second full season in the Xfinity Series after placing seventh in points in 2019 with GMS Racing.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity to get back to competing full time in the Xfinity Series,” said Nemechek. “JGR is a group that I know I can win with after getting that win at Texas in 2021. I’m excited to get to work on the 2023 season so we can go out and win some races and compete for a championship.”

JGR’s #18 and #19 swap roles as Sammy Smith will run for Rookie of the Year honours in the former, which was previously their multi-driver car. This role will now be filled by the #19—vacated by Brandon Jones‘ move to JR Motorsports—with Ryan Truex as the first confirmed driver with six starts planned. Like Nemechek, Truex raced for both SHR and JGR in 2022 with one and five starts respectively, recording a best finish of third at Atlanta in the JGR #18.

His older brother Martin currently races the #19 Cup car for JGR.

“I am thrilled to be behind the wheel of the #19 for a few races next season,” commented Truex. “It was fun to run well with the team this past year. I appreciate the opportunity to race for JGR again next year. I think we can build from what we learned this year and get some solid runs in.”

Credit: Sam Hunt Racing

Meanwhile, SHR’s #26 will be raced exclusively by Kaz Grala after he shared the car with nine other drivers. He finished twenty-third in his first race with the team at the finale in Phoenix.

Prior to joining SHR, Grala was a bit of a mercenary as he raced for multiple teams across all three national series. He has never run every race in an Xfinity season, with his first crack at this in 2018 ending halfway through after JGL Racing shut down. His only full national campaign was the 2017 Truck Series where he placed seventh in points with a win at Daytona.

“I’ve scratched and clawed for each opportunity over the past several seasons, and while it hasn’t been easy, it’s made me appreciate this sport and its difficulty more than I ever could have if things had been easy,” Grala opined. “I feel like everything has finally come together at the perfect time in my life with the right team around me to start that next chapter in my career. I couldn’t be more proud and hopeful heading into 2023 with Sam Hunt Racing with a chance to compete for a championship. I’ve worked my whole life to get to this point, and I intend to make the absolute most of it next year and beyond.”

One of the #26’s drivers in 2022 was Connor Mosack, who will run twenty races in SHR’s second car #24. Mosack, a Trans-Am Series TA2 regular, ran his maiden NASCAR race at Portland in June with JGR before joining SHR at Watkins Glen.

“Being able to run twenty races in the Xfinity Series next year is a really big deal to me,” said Mosack. “Two years ago, I didn’t really know where I was going or how I was going to get there. Racing in this series is a big step toward where I want to go, and I’m excited it is with a team like Sam Hunt Racing. With SHR being a growing team, I know I can develop relationships with everyone involved and continue to learn from them. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Sam and trust that his team and values will help to develop me as a driver.”

The #24 was introduced in 2021 for a one-off with Will Rodgers before returning a year later with Truex at Daytona. Nemechek’s father Joe drove the car at the second Daytona date.

“Timing and patience have been pivotal components of our growth process at SHR,” stated SHR’s namesake and owner. “Expanding to two full-time teams in 2023 brings an excitement level only matched by the responsibility and expectation to compete at a high level every week.

“It goes without saying that having a full-time driver in the #26 for the first time is a blessing to our organisation and an important component of our growth. Kaz is a highly talented and experienced driver and has strived for an opportunity like this for a long time. Having Connor anchor the #24 team is something we are also really looking forward to. He is a very talented young man and has every trait and characteristic I look for in a young driver. We’re heading into 2023 with confidence in both teams and drivers, and I’m excited to continue to build this programme with each of them.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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