Justin Allgaier was solid throughout Stage 3 and Noah Gregson provided a great boost in the late race – but it was Ty Gibbs who rose above the rest.
The #54 car dominated the first two stages and proved its power when under siege in Stage 3, and the performance provided Gibbs a two-car length win at Phoenix Raceway Saturday night and his first NASCAR Xfinity Championship.
“My car was just as fast as Xfinity,” Gibbs told NBC Sports with a big smile, a mixture of cheers and shouts pouring from the stands. Then he laughed, “I guess that’s what I’m supposed to say.”
He added, “Thanks to the fans, even though I don’t have many of them. I hope to earn some respect again, and we will move on.”
It’s fair to say that Gibbs wasn’t the most popular driver to come on Saturday. His move in Martinsville last week – one He seemed to smash his teammate to clear his way to victory – He was the talk of the Xfinity series flagship in the championship weekend.
The 20-year-old made the move and apologized for it in his post-race interview several times.
“What I did last week was unacceptable, and I apologize again, but it was unacceptable because we could have had two points to win this deal, and that was stupid from the organization’s point of view. It’s all my fault,” he said. “I can sit here and tell you I’m sorry as much as I can, but that won’t fix it. I have to fix my actions. Today I felt like I had a good race, and I felt like I made some good moves.
“Me and (Allgaier) seven were racing hard. I felt like I was hoping to put in a great show for you guys, the fans. Thank you for everything you guys are doing.”
There appear to be several turning points in Saturday’s race. But the last one came with 40 laps: During the warning period from race two to last, all four championship drivers – Gibbs, Gregson, Algayer and Josh Perry – gave their way.
Gibbs, who was second at the time, had a season-determining pause to earn the lead early in the second half. Allgaier came by a pit in second, and Gragson lost five spots, and had to restart seventh.
Gibbs then used this bullet to find his groove, and although he raced Allgaier hard along the stretch – performing the trade three times in one lap at one point – it was Gibbs who was able to clear it with about 20 laps to go, and the #54 car didn’t You look back.
Gibbs, of Joe Gibbs Racing, beat three other GR Motorsports drivers.
“Great job for JR Motorsports, but a 25% profit,” Gibbs said. “Thank you to all the guys. I had a great time racing in the Xfinity Series this year, I am looking for more and I am very excited.”
Gregson finished second. Leger came in third place. Perry finished thirteenth.
For Gregson, Saturday marked the end of four years with Team Number 9 at JR Motorsports. Hell Join Petty GMS in one of the two Team Cup cars full time in 2023.
“Execution at the pit stop, we just need to be better as a Bass Pro Shop team all around, but we are still proud of everyone’s efforts,” Gregson said a few moments after the race ended. “I thought we had a really good car there in the second half. … Very tight there at the end, but still very proud of everyone.”
Unofficial results for the Xfinity Tournament
|1||54||Ty Gibbs (P)||–|
|2||9||Noah Gregson (P)||0.397|
|3||7||Justin Alger (P)||1.45|
|6||2||Sheldon Creed #||7.37|
|9||21||Austin Hill #||9.346|
|13||8||Josh Perry (P)||13.611|
|17||44||Raja Karuth (I)||18,063|
|22||38||Kyle’s Victory #||21.152|
|23||26||Kaz Grala (I)||21.547|
|26||68||Chris Wright (I)||27.127|
|28||45||Stephen Parsons (I)||-1|
|36||7||Joe Graf Jr.||-7|