When the tagline ‘Names Are Made Here’ was first introduced in branding for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, pretty much everybody chose to perceive it as the sanctioning body’s push to make the second-tier series even more of a ‘development’ series.
However, in light of events that have taken place over the last week, one NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, in particular, has been met with a somewhat harsh reality, that despite being in championship contention, his name has ‘been made’, so to say, but not in a very positive light.
Ty Gibbs, who with a victory at Martinsville became the youngest 10-time winner in NASCAR Xfinity Series history, is the only driver in the ‘Championship 4’ from an organization that isn’t JR Motorsports.
With that being said, it didn’t have to be that way, and probably wasn’t going to be, until Gibbs – who was already locked into the championship race – crashed his teammate Brandon Jones for the victory on the final lap of the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville.
Jones, being in a must-win situation, obviously didn’t advance to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway, allowing Justin Allgaier – who will be Jones’ teammate at JR Motorsports in 2023 – to advance via points.
Let’s just say, the reaction to the move wasn’t necessarily favorable. That opinion, got much, much worse, after Gibbs – whether intentionally or not – compared himself to Jesus in a SiriusXM NASCAR Radio interview with Claire B Lang.
Even before Gibbs’ comments on SiriusXM, Noah Gragson wasn’t overly thrilled with what transpired on track at Martinsville, something he made perfectly clear post-race, with a number of quotable phrases.
In a tongue-in-cheek manner, Gragson started by saying: “I guess you kind of have to deal with that when you’re driving that Ty Gibbs Racing, I mean, Joe Gibbs Racing car.”
Then, Gragson reassured that if he were in Brandon Jones’ shoes, Gibbs “wouldn’t be smiling, taking pictures next to a clock,” but instead would be “behind a stage with some extracurricular activities going on.”
Finishing off a trio of Gibbs-directed comments, Gragson said: “I don’t think I’m the biggest worry for the 54 right now. We’ve been collected in his stuff. Pretty much everyone down pit road has. Just dirtbag move and it’ll catch up to him.”
Fast forward to Thursday, two days before the running of the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship race, and comments have begun to fly again. Although, this time it started with Ty Gibbs, who seemed very remorseful for his actions.
“[Joe Gibbs Racing], we’re all one big family, and for me to break that apart from my selfish actions, it really hurts me because I grew up there, and it’s not cool,” Gibbs said. “These guys work so hard the whole year, and it’s just hard, it’s a lot.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 3, 2022
Given his previous encounters – and reprimands – in both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, and his repeated statement of ‘I will learn from this’, one begins to question the sincerity of the 20-year-old’s words.
On two occasions this year, Gibbs has been handed a fine by NASCAR for on-track actions that the sanctioning body found to be unfavorable. In April, at Martinsville, Gibbs was fined $15,000 for roughing Sam Mayer up on the cooldown lap, and on pit road.
Later in the year, Gibbs was penalized a much more significant $75,000 for his actions during a NASCAR Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, where he slammed into Ty Dillon on pit road, in an act of retaliation.
Sprinkle in a couple of other conflicts throughout the year, including one at Las Vegas with Ryan Sieg, one at Portland with Noah Gragson, and one at Watkins Glen with William Byron, and the talk suddenly shifts to a common denominator, Gibbs.
On top of all that, despite having the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Cup Series this season – and looking like he’ll start his full-time career in the series next season – Gibbs has seemingly not yet learned his lesson.
In the days leading up to additional comments from the ‘Championship 4’, the theme when it comes to NASCAR Xfinity Series discussion has been the behavior of Ty Gibbs, both on and off the track, and the potential objection to him racing at NASCAR’s top level.
Throughout the week, and into Thursday, the theme when it comes to NASCAR Xfinity Series discussion has been the behavior of Ty Gibbs, both on and off the track.
Although he appears remorseful in the public eye, Noah Gragson doesn’t really buy it, and was insanely transparent on multiple occasions on Thursday when asked about Ty Gibbs.
“I’m just voicing my opinion, I don’t like him,” Gragson said blatantly. “I’m just speaking what everybody doesn’t want to say.”
“What is there too [like], you know?” Gragson continued. “I’m excited to race with Justin [Allgaier] and I’m excited to race with Josh [Berry], I’m excited to race with a lot of the other guys, out there in the field, but I’m just over it.”
Delivering another blow to Gibbs, Gragson later went on to say: “The championship will come down to three-and-a-half men.”
If it wasn’t already obvious, the opinion of Ty Gibbs, whether it be amongst the fans or his competitors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, isn’t terribly high, at the moment, which seems to have fueled a culture of Ty Gibbs VS The Field, entering Phoenix.
The biggest question, that is heavy on the minds of everybody – Ty Gibbs included – is whether will it cost him a shot at the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, and keep his grandfather’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, for hoisting a trophy at season’s end.