Ty Gibbs, NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion in Phoenix

This article was written prior to the news that Ty Gibbs would miss the NASCAR Cup Series championship race due to his father’s passing. We send our thoughts and condolences to the entire Gibbs family.

After a full season of triumphant highs and controversial lows, and 200 laps of racing in the 2022 Xfinity Series championship finale at Phoenix Raceway, it was 20-year-old Ty Gibbs lifting the championship trophy to close out the 40th season of NASCAR’s second-highest division this Saturday (Nov. 5) night.

Born October 4th, 2002, the grandson of Hall of Fame team owner Joe Gibbs is the first NASCAR national series champion to have been born in the 21st century.

Gibbs’ No. 54 looked to be the best car for much of the afternoon, but throughout the final stage the youngster had to fend off aggressive challenges from his Championship Four rivals Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry. Often two- and three-wide, the tenacious stars of the Xfinity Series used every inch of the Phoenix pavement, from the dog-leg shortcut to way up against (and even into) the outside wall. 

Gibbs, Gragson and Allgaier traded the top spot back and forth for what felt like hours. The race looked over at several points: Gibbs’ pit crew got him the lead on lap 160, but a great restart from Allgaier kept the No. 7 right up there.

But after Allgaier overdrove Turn one with 20 laps to go, Gibbs pulled clear for the final time, holding off Gragson all the way to the checkered flag.

“Remember, humble, ” urged spotter Tony Hirschman III on the victory lap. 

“First off, I just want to say thank you to my team,” Gibbs told NBC Sports from the frontstretch, seemingly heeding the advice. “Every one of these guys, my pit crew, they did an awesome job. They put us here … I don’t want this championship to be remembered for boos, I want it to be remembered for hard work and our team.”

With both Gibbs and runner-up Gragson likely headed to the Cup Series full-time in 2023, that leaves JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry the highest-finishing contenders returning to the series next year. Allgaier came home third, while Berry bounced off the Turn 2 wall on a restart with 31 laps to go, dropping way down the order and recovering only to 13th.

After Gragson and Allgaier, the first of the non-championship drivers was Kaulig Racing’s Landon Cassill in fourth, followed by regular-season champion AJ Allmendinger to complete the top five. Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill and Sammy Smith rounded out the top ten. 

Stage one was all about Ty Gibbs. The 20-year-old grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs kept his Monster Energy GR Supra at the front of the pack every single lap, as his three championship rivals battled their way forward into the top five.

While the lap 32 caution for Brandon Brown let Nick Sanchez, Sammy Smith and others stay out on split strategy, the four leaders hit Pit Road. A quick stop from the No. 54 crew kept Gibbs ahead, while all three JRM drivers lost spots with delays resulting from issues while jacking the cars.

The competition amped up in the second stage, but despite a fierce four-way battle for the race lead among championship rivals Gibbs, Gragson and Allgaier as well as the 18-year-old phenom Sammy Smith, it was once again Ty Gibbs out front by lap 90, able to sweep the stages of an Xfinity Series race for the first time in his career — in the only race all season where stage points don’t matter. Ultimately, the only things that counted were the race win and the championship, and despite the rest of the field’s best efforts, Ty Gibbs won them both.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will return with the Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner 300 from Daytona International Speedway, February 18th, 2023.

Photo credits to our own Pat Vallely

Published by Jack Swansey

Originally from North Carolina, Jack has been a NASCAR fan since 2008, and his favorite driver is Bubba Wallace. At Wesleyan University, he studied film and anthropology and wrote his senior thesis about the fan culture of American stock car racing. When not watching NASCAR, Jack is probably looking for some other motorsport to watch, scouring antique stores for hard-to-find diecasts, or investigating the history of some obscure backmarker team or another. To fund his HotWheels collection, Jack works in television production.

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