Last night, the NASCAR Xfinity Series made their first of two trips to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Ty Gibbs scored the pole in his #54 JGR Supra, with veteran driver Justin Allgaier on outside pole in the #7 JRM Camaro. Behind them was Noah Gragson, last year’s winner at Martinsville in the #9 JRM Chevy (who dropped to the rear due to unapproved adjustments), and underdog Ryan Truex in the #18 JGR Toyota. A pair of Camaros behind them, Richard Childress’ Sheldon Creed in the #2 and Our Motorsports’ Brett Moffitt in the #02. Then it was Landon Cassill in the #10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and Ryan Sieg in the #39 RSS Racing Ford. Defending Xfinity Series Champion Daniel Hemric started behind them in the #11 Kaulig machine and Josh Berry in the #8 JRM Camaro rounded out the top ten. The Xfinity Series “Dash 4 Cash” was once again being held, with the drivers competing for $100,000 being #1 Sam Mayer, #54 Ty Gibbs, #98 Riley Herbst, and #16 AJ Allmendinger. The big story of the night’s race was the return of multi-time Most Popular Cup Driver, two-time Xfinity Champion, and son of the Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who started the race 30th in the #88 JRM Camaro.
The race was scheduled to go underway much earlier than it ended up, but was delayed due to rain in the area. Once they did get to the green flag on a dry track, the #47 of Brennan Poole had an engine issue, spreading oil onto the track, and bringing out the caution before the second lap. After a twelve lap cleanup, the race restarted. Ty Gibbs took the lead, with pressure behind from the #7 of Allgaier and the #2 of Creed, all while the #02 of Moffitt had mechanical issues and retired from the race. The three battled for a while, eventually simmering down until the caution came out once again, this time for the #44 of Howie DiSavino being stopped on the track.
The restart saw the #18 of Ryan Truex contend in the podium places, with Sheldon Creed falling back to fourth and battling with the #10 of Cassill. Creed gradually fell back, losing multiple positions. Meanwhile, Ty Gibbs built a comfortable lead over Justin Allgaier, and ended up taking the stage victory.
A handful of cars did not pit during the stage break, including the now race leader Noah Gragson in the #9. Gragson pulled ahead of Myatt Snider in the #31 and Austin Hill in the #21. Ty Gibbs, who did pit, was on his way to the front on his fresher tires. In the middle of the pack, the #2 and #07 of Sheldon Creed and Joe Graf, Jr. were having a bit of a scuffle, trading paint and bumping each other. Joe Graf’s problems with other drivers would only escalate, as a few laps later he dive bombed the #48 of Jade Buford, locked up the brakes and sent the #48 into a spin. The caution flag waved once again.
Noah Gragson restarted on the inside, meanwhile Ty Gibbs elected the outside lane, inheriting second place. The restart saw Gragson fire off better than Gibbs, though Gibbs would eventually pass him. Before long, Joe Graf Jr.’s aggressive tactics came to fruition once again, as he dumped the #99 of Stefan Parsons, bringing out another caution.
Ty Gibbs restarted with his teammate Brandon Jones in the #19 behind him. Jones took second from Gragson, making it a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2 for the time being. Brandon Jones, while not being too close to his teammate, was doing a good job of holding up Gragson as he threw block after block on the #9. The caution flew with six to go in the stage, as the #23 of Anthony Alfredo got to the rear of the #26 of Derek Griffith, sending him into a spin.
The race restarted as a one lap shootout for the stage win, with Brandon Jones leading after teammate Gibbs fell back under caution. Jones retained the lead for just the four corners he needed to, winning the stage.
Stefan Parsons was in the lead for the restart, and got a good jump off the line with the #98 of Herbst alongside. From the second row, Ty Gibbs made it three wide on the backstretch for the lead. Parsons gave in, but Herbst and Gibbs ran eachother hard for the lead. Within a few laps, Ty Gibbs was once again leading. Not long after, the #7 of Justin Allgaier wheeled hopped badly, sending him into a spin hitting the outside wall.
The restart shook things up once again, with Sheldon Creed in the #2 and Matt Mills in the #5 were on the front row. The green flag once again wouldn’t last long, as the #36 of Alex Labbe got to the bumper of the #18 of Truex, spinning him.
Jones and Gibbs once again were up front, though that hardly mattered as Josh Berry brought out another caution after spinning with a flat tire, after running into his boss Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
The same thing unfortunately happened once again. As the two JGR cars led, the #5 of Matt Mills spun and hit the wall, bringing out yet another caution.
The restart saw little change in the running order, with Ty Gibbs still up front and Jones, Mayer, and Gragson challenging for the lead. Three short laps later, yet another accident occurred, this time including last year’s champion Daniel Hemric in the #11.
After another handful of incidents later, including Dale Jr. spinning, Sam Mayer had his #1 machine on the outside front row next to Ty Gibbs with eight to go in the race after the restart. In what could have been his best chance at a win so far in his career, Sam Mayer missed a shift, got shoved from the #16 of AJ Allmendinger, turned into his teammate Noah Gragson, and ultimately spun Gragson’s #9 causing a huge pileup on the front stretch, bringing out the red flag.
The race restarted a while later for a Green-White-Checker finish, with Gibbs leading and Mayer to his outside. Going into the first corner, Gibbs took a shot from his teammate Jones, though he retained the lead. Within seconds it was JGR vs. JGR for the win. Gibbs took the white flag, but Jones passed him into the first corner. Behind Gibbs were two other Dash 4 Cash drivers, Sam Mayer and AJ Allmendinger in third and fourth. Mayer attempted a bump and run on Gibbs to claim the $100,000. Mayer’s plan ended up failing as moving Gibbs only let Allmendinger through. Meanwhile, Brandon Jones in the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Supra won at Martinsville!
It then ended up being Brandon Jones with his first win of the year, then Landon Cassill in second with a great finish in his #10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. AJ Allmendinger’s #16 Kaulig Chevy finished higher than the other Dash 4 Cash drivers, third, so he earned a hefty cash bonus, and fourth had Austin Hill in his #21 RCR Camaro. Sam Mayer and his JRM #1 Camaro ended up holding in to the top five, with Riley Herbst’s #98 SHR Mustang coming in sixth and Ryan Truex taking home a seventh place finish in the #18 JGR Supra. Ty Gibbs had a frustrating eighth place finish after that last lap scrap with Mayer, leading 197 laps in his #54 Supra. Ryan Sieg was behind him, finishing ninth in his #39 Mustang, and Jeremy Clements rounded out the top ten in his #51 Chevrolet. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. recovered from a spin and finished in eleventh in his lone Xfinity start if the year, salvaging a decent result from his self-owned #88.
After the race, Ty Gibbs expressed his frustration with Sam Mayer on the cool down lap, striking the rear of Mayer’s car with his own multiple times. On pit road, the two had a very heated argument, in which Gibbs, helmet still on, punched a helmetless Sam Mayer multiple times. As the two were separated by NASCAR Officials, one official was reportedly injured in the mess. As of right now, it is unknown if Ty Gibbs will receive any fines, penalties or suspensions for his unsportsmanlike behavior.
Photo Credit///John C. Tilton, Getty Images