Joe Gibbs Racing made a key addition to its driver lineup for the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Tuesday, moving Sammy Smith into a full-time role in 2023.
Smith is set to drive the No. 18 Toyota in all 33 Xfinity races next season, with veteran Jeff Meendering serving as the team’s crew chief. Pilot Flying J will return as primary sponsor, joining partners Allstate Peterbilt, Renda Group, Sinclair Tractor, and Mobil 1 in backing Smith’s efforts.
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The news comes two days ahead of a press conference scheduled Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Toyota is scheduled to announce the full driver lineup for its two Xfinity Series organizations – Joe Gibbs Racing and Sam Hunt Racing.
Smith enters the national-series ranks full-time after netting back-to-back championships in the ARCA Menards Series East. He won six times last year in the overall ARCA Menards Series, joining that circuit after his 18th birthday on June 4. Smith also made his Xfinity Series debut last summer, competing in a nine-race slate and recording a best finish of third place at Watkins Glen.
“Sammy is a fantastic addition to our 2023 Xfinity lineup. He proved to have the passion and the talent necessary to compete for wins in the races he ran for us in 2022,” said Steve DeSouza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity Series and Driver Development, in a news release provided by the team. “We are excited to get him in the No. 18 full-time and know he will be competitive from the jump.”
Meendering returns for his fifth season with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series operation. He has worked the last four years with Brandon Jones and the No. 19 Toyota team, collecting five of his seven career wins during that span. Meendering also won twice with Cole Custer during their time together at Stewart-Haas Racing.