Heading into Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Xfinity Series race, Ty Gibbs has been incredibly impressive and unquestionably the surprise of the season. In six races, the 18-year-old has earned five top-5 finishes with a pair of victories, including last week’s win at Charlotte and the other, early in the season on the Daytona road course.
In his second Xfinity road course race of the season — a track he won on Friday night in the ARCA Menards Series — Gibbs looked solid throughout, running in the top three for most of the race. The youngster was in contention late but got squeezed on a late restart by eventual winner A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Cindric and never recovered. After the race, Gibbs was not happy and surprisingly called the winner “dirty” for his late-race move.
Ty Gibbs has impressed this season
Ty Gibbs’ meteoric rise in the NASCAR Xfinity Series has surprised most in the racing community. The 18-year-old, who has performed well in his limited stops on the ARCA Menards Series, wasted no time showing he belonged with the big boys, winning his first-ever Xfinity Series race on the Daytona road course during the second event of the season. Since that race, he’s continued to impress, racking up one top-five finish after another, including his second win last week at Charlotte.
While most are impressed by Gibbs’ accomplishments, his critics are quick to point to his bloodlines and his grandfather Joe Gibbs and the Joe Gibbs Racing team, which consistently fields some of the best cars in the Xfinity and Cup Series.
However, top-level equipment doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. Just ask fellow JGR Xfinity Series teammates Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones, who combined have raced 26 times this year and yet to make it to victory lane.
A.J. Allmendinger makes move late in race
Many considered Gibbs one of the favorites for the B&L Transport 170 Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after winning the ARCA Menards race on Friday night and starting on the front row of the event next to Xfinity points leader Austin Cindric.
From the drop of the green flag, most expected it to be a three-horse race between Cindric, Gibbs, and A.J. Allmendinger. And that’s exactly how it played out as Allmendinger quickly made his way up from his 12th-place starting position to take the lead and win stage 1.
After Justin Haley won stage 2 and pit stops were complete, Cindric opened stage 3 in front, Gibbs fell to eighth, and Allmendinger had to drop to the back of the field after incurring a pit road penalty.
With seven laps to go, a late-race caution came out, and Cindric held the top spot, followed by Gibbs, and Allmendinger, who had incredibly made his way up through the field.
Gibbs calls Allmendinger ‘dirty’ for late-race move
On the restart with four laps to go, Cindric chose the outside lane with Gibbs to the inside. As the cars crossed the start-finish line, Allmendinger dove to the inside, making it three-wide heading into the first turn. Cindric, Gibbs, and Allmendinger all came together, coming out of the first turn.
When it was all over, Allmendinger claimed the lead with Brett Moffitt sliding in behind for second. Gibbs fell to third and Cindric dropped to fourth momentarily, before he was involved in a multi-car incident and slid off track into the grass.
That was all Allmendinger needed, and he held on in overtime to win the race. After the race, Allmendinger was understandably ecstatic winning the race on the home track of team owner Matt Kaulig. Gibbs, however, wasn’t so pleased and pointed specifically to the late restart.
“Kind of sucks,” Gibbs said. “The 16, that was a little dirty there. There’s a point where it’s, you know, we’re racing Xfinity cars on a road course, it’s always going to be rough, but he took it to the next level.”
A few minutes later, Gibbs tweeted: “I want a redo.”
By all accounts, Allmendinger is anything but a dirty racer and that late incident was just racing. Gibbs might have extraordinary talent but at this young age, he’s still learning, like the difference between clean vs. dirty racing. He also would be smart to learn from his famous grandfather and his experiences racing and winning three Super Bowls that calling out your opponent right after losing is never going to be received well whether you believe it or not.