Trevor Bayne Has Earned a 2023 Ride … But Where?

Joe Gibbs Racing must figure out how Trevor Bayne fits into its plans for next year, if at all. For now, however, JGR has more issues blowing around than a magazine stand in a hurricane.

Between the ongoing saga of Kyle Busch, the inability of its pit crews to change tires with any consistency, speculation about Ty Gibbs’ NASCAR Cup Series readiness, and intrigue over whether Tyler Reddick might land at JGR instead of 23XI, the team has plenty to keep it busy.

And that’s just the thing: Bayne would like to be busy, too, in 2023 and beyond.

Trevor Bayne produced another stellar result at Loudon

Trevor Bayne looks on during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2022. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Trevor Bayne looks on during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2022. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Another Xfinity Series race, another stellar performance by Trevor Bayne in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Competing Saturday in the Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bayne scored his second straight runner-up finish.

Though he couldn’t run down Justin Allgaier after the JR Motorsports driver took the lead from Landon Cassill with 19 laps to go, Bayne led 17 laps early en route to his fifth top-10 result in six starts. He’s led double-digit laps in four of the six appearances.

Ryan Truex has three top-10 finishes in five starts in the same car, and John Hunter Nemechek placed second in it at Richmond. But Bayne is far and away the top performer in the car while racing alongside JGR full-time drivers Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones.

Unfortunately, Bayne’s only remaining confirmed rides are at Las Vegas on Oct. 15 and Homestead-Miami the following weekend.

Joe Gibbs Racing will have to sort out its lineups

Silly Season kicked into high gear this week as Tyler Reddick announced a move to 23XI Racing beginning in 2024, Petty GMS said Ty Dillon won’t be back next year, and speculation picked up that perhaps Aric Almirola won’t be retiring.

Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing faces continued uncertainty about the future of Kyle Busch, who is losing his longtime primary sponsor, and perhaps Christopher Bell, the subject of frequent speculation that his job is on the line.

The uncertainty means denials that Ty Gibbs will be promoted from the Xfinity Series cannot be counted on. Add in the remote possibility of JGR returning to a four-car Xfinity lineup, and there could be one, two, or three open seats available in 2023.

Sponsorship money always plays a disproportionate role in settling driver lineups, but Bayne, 31, a veteran of 185 Cup Series races (he won the 2011 Daytona 500) and 158 Xfinity starts, certainly has displayed racing chops worthy of full-time work.

If not JGR, where does Trevor Bayne land next season?

Though his name may slip into occasional speculation, a return to the Cup Series likely isn’t in the cards for Trevor Bayne, so the Xfinity Series is the natural focus.

The fact that he has driven for all three manufacturers in his NASCAR career may mean he has influential contacts, but that won’t be much help. Instead, Bayne’s ability to shore up sponsorship beyond Devotion Nation will be the key to landing as something other than a fill-in.

If the money falls into place, then Bayne’s next task becomes aligning with a team with resources. JR Motorsports and Kaulig Racing come to mind because of their records of success. However, they have deep benches at their disposal through their Chevy connections.

That severely limits his options if Bayne has his heart set on being competitive.

One other option, and a less desirable one at that, would be to return to the Camping World Truck Series. Bayne was out of NASCAR for a year and a half before driving in eight truck races in 2020, then he missed all of last season.

His truck stint was with Niece Motorsports, where he registered two top-10 finishes. Niece is running four full-time trucks this season (Ross Chastain won a race in their fifth Chevy).  Assuming they have one for Bayne to sit in next year, filling out a roster of sponsors for 23 races is easier than doing it for 33 in an Xfinity car.

From NASCAR’s perspective, adding another driver with name recognition (Matt DiBenedetto dropped down from the Cup Series last offseason) would be a win for the Truck Series.

All stats courtesy of Racing Reference.

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