Avondale, Ariz. – Ty Gibbs felt he embarrassed himself, and more importantly, his family by destroying one of his teammates on the last lap last week.
The only way to make up for that would be to win a championship with a clean, hard race.
Gibbs pulled it off, wiping away some of the spots with a shiny new cup.
Gibbs took the lead with 21 laps left and beat challenger Noah Gregson in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday night.
“I can sit here and tell you I’m sorry as much as I can, but it just won’t fix it,” said Gibbs, who drove 125 laps in the race. “I have to fix my actions. Today I felt like I had a good race, and I felt like I made some good moves.”
The only driver outside of JR Motorsports in the Take All Winner Final, Gibbs started on pole at the one-mile oval and stayed close to the front in changing conditions throughout the evening.
The hyper-aggressive driver kept his cool after smashing teammate Brandon Jones out of the lead last week in Martinsville to give Toyota a second Xfinity Championship in a row ahead of his potential full-time move to the Cup series next year.
Gibbs got rid of his #54 Toyota under Justin Algayer shortly after the restart and continued his lead until Gregson drove my linear two cars late. Hall of Famer’s 20-year-old grandson and team owner Joe Gibbs kept Gragson away and crossed the checkered flag for an emotional victory.
“When you start this day, you just want to get over it, you just want to get over it,” said Coy, father of Gibbs, vice president of JGR. “I think he doubled down and did his job after making a terrible mistake last week. It was fun to watch.”
Gibbs was the wild card in the fourth final after he faced some flappers in his second Xfinity season. Gibbs got into a fistfight with Sam Mayer after the Xfinity race and NASCAR fined him $75,000 for a Cup Series pit road accident that nearly sent Ty Dillon’s car to the individuals.
Gibbs took his aggressiveness to a new level last week by knocking Jones out of the championship role only to win the race.
Gibbs was feeling remorse in preparing for the end of Xfinity, saying he hoped to learn from his mistakes. Sure enough, he seemed to drive aggressively but not carelessly, to win a title for himself and his grandfather.
“Just think about how strong you are, and how resilient you have to be after going through this last week,” said Gibbs crew chief Chris Gayle. “The hardest thing for him was all the things that led up to him. When I got between those two walls on the racetrack, that was where he shined today.”
24-year-old Gregson had been near the lead most of the evening until a slow pit stop dropped him in eighth with 40 laps ahead. He has been one of Gibbs’ biggest critics having smashed him in the past, saying he would retaliate if given the opportunity.
Gragson never had it, rallied to finish second on his final Xfinity start before heading into the Cup Series with Petty GMS next year.
“I felt like if I had been close, I would have picked him up, but I wasn’t,” said Gregson, who shook hands and congratulated Gibbs after the race.
The 36-year-old Allgaier had his best chance of winning his first Xfinity title in his fifth qualifier, keeping No. 7 Chevy ahead. He lost momentum as he tried to climb and was overtaken by Gibbs, adding a third to the second he earned in the 2020 Xfinity Qualifiers.
“The night was tough, but Ty had the best car,” Algaer said. “They executed all night, did good mods and were good on the pit road. …Probably the hardest part for me was none of us winning from JR Motorsports.”
Perry had to fight his way back after an early slow stop that took him to 15th, and he was third at the start of the second half by 30 laps. He tried to climb high around the first turn, wiggled and bounced off the wall, dropping to 23rd in his first Xfinity Qualifier.
“I can tell I made a mistake, maxed out, and had a moment, but I had every intention of running in there and creating some momentum on the back,” Berry said.
Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.