NASCAR Mailbag: We’re Getting Ahead of Ourselves in Contemplating Ty Gibbs vs. Sammy Smith

Given the choice between the two, I think Sammy Smith has more NASCAR upside than Ty Gibbs over the long term. My question is whether they can co-exist at JGR when the time comes, especially because of the Gibbs family dynamics. (From E.G. via Gmail)

Everyone is quite aware of the baggage associated with Ty Gibbs, but I think that’s perhaps clouding judgment here. Then again, no one else has punched Sam Mayer and wrecked Brandon Jones out of a potential Championship 4 in the same season.

Gibbs is already an Xfinity Series champion at the age of 20. And that’s on the heels of his ARCA Menards title in 2021. On top of that, he was thrown into the NASCAR Cup Series for nearly half a season and did OK.

NASCAR drivers Sammy Smith and Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing. | Getty Images
NASCAR drivers Sammy Smith and Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing. | Getty Images

Sammy Smith, 18, has a couple of ARCA Menards East championships in his portfolio but only nine Xfinity Series races (and no wins) for Joe Gibbs Racing under his belt. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of him having more upside. Just keep in mind, though, that “potential” is a fancy word that means you haven’t done anything yet.

The question about their ability to co-exist is legitimate, though there’s always the possibility we’ll never truly find out. After all, Smith isn’t going to reach the Cup Series any sooner than 2025 – and even that might be a stretch. His first bite of that apple presumably would be with Joe Gibbs Racing, but that doesn’t mean he has to stay there.

We know Gibbs isn’t likely to depart JGR while his grandfather is still alive, but will 23XI Racing expand to three cars someday and lure Smith? Could Toyota align with a third team to open a fresh option? For that matter, could one of the Ford or Chevy teams become a destination?

There are just too many variables to worry about Gibbs vs. Smith. The JGR rookie didn’t last long enough in the Xfinity Series to give us a real taste of a rivalry with Mayer. Now, we’ll have at least a couple of seasons of Gibbs vs. Noah Gragson before Smith even hits the Cup Series radar.

In that time, we’ll learn plenty more about what makes Smith tick.

Help! I need a fresh idea for a Christmas gift for my NASCAR-fanatic father. He already has every Diecast car imaginable and picks races to attend as his work schedule allows. (From J.E. via Yahoo mail)

Picture Larry McReynolds breaking down the projected fuel window for the sleigh as Santa travels from Homestead-Miami to Martinsville, followed by America’s Crew Chief extolling the virtues of swapping out four reindeer instead of all eight on the final pit stop at Darlington.

If you can write the script that you want, there are hundreds of celebrities from all facets of the sports and entertainment worlds who will record a custom video via Cameo.com. McReynolds is one of the many NASCAR figures available, and his $75 fee is reasonable.

Others range from Sam Mayer at $24 to Kurt Busch at $350. I’ve got to admit I’m considering dropping $325 on a Tony Stewart video in which my only request would be three minutes of his thoughts on the current state of NASCAR. I don’t know if he’d do it, but it has the potential to be epic.

Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at [email protected]