USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters



Can the fresh faces in Joe Gibbs Racing's Xfinity team bring home a win at Pocono?

Joe Gibbs Racing is about to witness a personnel shakeup at the Pocono Xfinity race. And it signals some big consequences for the rest of the field. This season’s winningest team in the second tier will exchange the pit crews of its #19 & #20 Toyota Supras across 4 races starting at next weekend’s Enjoy the Pocono Mountains 225.

As per Joseph Srigley of TobyChristie.com, this switch will also be visible in Atlanta on September 7, and at the playoff races in Kansas & Talladega. The #20 crew captained by Kyle Busch’s 2017 championship-winning race engineer, Tyler Allen will take over from Austin Dillon’s former RCR crew member, Seth Chavka’s #19 crew chief operations in those four races, and vice versa. But what does this mean in the grander scheme of the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series?

Pocono Xfinity race to witness crew chief shuffle at Joe Gibbs Racing


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A JGR spokesperson told TobyChristie.com: “It is a unique situation where we have two all-star cars, so we have the opportunity for teams and drivers (both veteran and young drivers) to work with different groups within our organization… “The goal is to simply utilize all our resources to optimize growth and performance across the program.”

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Long overdue


Speaking of growth, in 2024, JGR expanded to a four-car team in the Xfinity Series with the arrival of rising star Chandler Smith in the #81 Toyota, paired with the experience of veteran crew chief Jeff Mendeering. It is also important to note that only Smith’s #81 & Sheldon Creed’s #18 are announced with one permanent driver for the entirety of the season. The #19 & #20, on the other hand, feature “rotational lineups.” That means no set driver will wheel those cars full-time across all races in the 2024 Xfinity Series season.

Yet, contrary to the notion ‘consistency breeds rewards,’ it is not the #81 or the #18, but the #20 of Tyler Allen that visited the victory lane most times out of any car in the last 18 races of the season. Additionally, the #20 has overseen five race wins for JGR in the Xfinity Series, courtesy of John Hunter Nemechek, Aric Almirola, Christopher Bell, and Ryan Truex. To add to those impressive statistics, until now, only the #81 crew and Chandler Smith are the other team to claim wins in 2024 for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series.

On the other hand, #19 under the leadership of Seth Chavka has managed to finish on the podium twice this season. Once with Taylor Gray at Richmond, and more recently with Ty Gibbs at the Loop 110 Xfinity Street Race. Although the biggest disappointment for JGR in 2024 has arguably been Sheldon Creed and CC Sam McAulay’s winless #18 camp, the second-biggest outlier for Coach Gibbs (statistically at least) has been the #19 squad.


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Therefore, that could be why the organization decided to shake up its operations by sending the better-performing crew (the #20) to the other side that might need it the most (the #19). Also, considering that #20 has made headlines recently for some contentious reasons, to say the least, it might even act as a necessary measure to get some eyes away from that car currently. Nevertheless, those are only speculations. But now, that we know about the big changes awaiting Joe Gibbs Racing and their Xfinity quartet, come Saturday. Let’s also look at the announced wheelmen and their potential circumstances awaiting at Pocono.

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When Allen sits atop the #19 pit box at Pocono, his designated driver will be Truck Series regular Taylor Gray, who will make his 8th outing in the 2024 Xfinity Series. Likewise, Chakva will prepare with his crew and Ryan Truex, brother of the soon-to-retire Cup champ Martin Truex Jr. Ryan is one of those drivers to have won a race with Allen & the #20, earlier this season. It remains unclear who gets to drive either of the two cars in the next three races at Atlanta, Kansas & Talladega.


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However, before Xfinity Charlotte in May, a behind-the-scenes altercation between Aric Almirola & Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing resulted in the former getting suspended, and temporarily losing his part-time seat in the #20 car. Although JGR’s official statement indicated that Almirola was the aggressor, this should also serve as a fair warning to anyone willing to drive either one of those four Xfinity Supras belonging to Coach Gibbs – he does not tolerate nonsense, not even from a 16-year Cup Series veteran like Almirola.

But on a brighter note, the #20 pit crew has been averaging the fourth-fastest times during races, and the best out of all four Joe Gibbs Xfinity Series cars. Figures by the Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet suggest that a typical pit stop under Tyler Allen’s guidance generally takes around 15.070 seconds to get done with. Quite ironically, #19 and Seth Chavka have registered an average time differential of about 0.49 seconds slower than the #20 team. But how do these differences play out in the long run aka, the NACAR Xfinity playoffs? We take the next step at the Enjoy the Pocono Mountains 225 Xfinity Race next weekend!