Whether he meant to do it, or he didn’t, the result is still the same, but…
When you compete at Martinsville Speedway, you can expect to be in the middle of chaos, in the form of banging doors, utilizing the front bumper, cars being spun out, and some tempers flaring.
All of that, and more, happened on the last lap of Saturday’s Xfinity Series event from the half-mile paperclip, which featured the sixth trip to victory lane for Ty Gibbs this season after the 19-year-old sent his teammate, Brandon Jones spinning on the final lap.
Granted, that wasn’t the beginning of the carnage in the Dead On Tools 250 either, which went 19 laps past the scheduled 250-lap distance, after the Xfinity Series field needed three separate attempts at the two-lap dash to the checkered flag.
The last-lap crash wasn’t the end of the carnage either, as there were at least two separate scuffles documented on pit road post-race, as well as one with unknown origins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage.
Shockingly, there was no known altercation between Gibbs and Jones, who arguably had the most egregious incident of the afternoon, which ultimately cost the Xfinity Series veteran a chance at the series championship.
Over the course of the race’s final stage, Gibbs and Jones were both battling inside the top-five, as both attempted to set themselves up to race for the victory. However, a rash of late-race yellows made access to the lead easier for both drivers, and that’s where things started to get chippy.
Jones was able to make his first move for the lead of the race with seven laps until the scheduled conclusion of the event, by giving the No. 54 a slight bump in the middle of the corner and easily getting by, a classic short track move.
As the cautions and subsequent restarts continued to unfold, the moves got less and less clean, and quite a bit sloppier. In fact, on the next restart, Gibbs and Jones found themselves in a three-wide situation with teammate Sammy Smith, which resulted in the No. 18 having significant damage (and another restart).
On each late-race restart, the driver running in second place would utilize the ‘Choose Cone’ to restart as the second vehicle on the inside lane, providing an opportunity to use the bumper heading into the first corner.
After two NASCAR Overtime restarts, the field was finally able to cooperate for a half-mile, with Jones getting to the white flag with the lead, after lightly using the bumper on the restart.
That lead for Jones, who will move to JR Motorsports in 2023, didn’t last very long, as Gibbs launched his Monster Energy Toyota Supra into the first corner, hitting Jones square in the rear bumper, and up into the outside wall.
With that, the caution was called, and the race was deemed complete, with Ty Gibbs scoring his 10th victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, which some could call redemption for losing to Jones at Martinsville Speedway earlier this year.
In the carnage of the final laps of the event, Sheldon Creed snuck into the second position, tying a career-best result for the Rookie in the Xfinity Series. Riley Herbst finished in third place, with Noah Gragson, and Justin Allgaier completed the top five.
Allgaier, who entered Saturday’s elimination race five points below the cutline, raced furiously with AJ Allmendinger throughout the event, including multiple instances of trading paint with the Kaulig Racing driver.
In doing just that, heavy contact cut the left-front tire of AJ Allmendinger’s No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro, causing the Kaulig Racing entry to dramatically slow on-track, calling another caution.
With his fifth-place result, in comparison to Austin Hill’s ninth-place finish, and Allmendinger’s 16th-place finish, Allgaier became the fourth driver to advance to the ‘Championship Four’ at Phoenix.
Sam Mayer, who was also in a must-win situation, came home in sixth-place, with Nick Sanchez, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill, and Blaine Perkins completing a wacky top-10 at the finish of Saturday’s 250-lap contest.
As the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Phoenix Raceway next weekend, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, and Ty Gibbs will be the four drivers in contention for the 2022 Xfinity Series championship.