In terms of public perception, it hasn’t been a great week for Ty Gibbs, who has received tons of scrutiny after crashing his teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap at Martinsville Speedway, forbidding him a shot at the title.
For Gibbs, the best way to quiet all the outside noise, is to perform, and that’s exactly what he did during Saturday’s qualifying session at Phoenix Raceway, capturing the pole for the 200-lap season finale at the one-mile oval.
Putting down the quickest time of 26.806 (134.298mph), Gibbs earned the top starting spot for Saturday’s championship finale, beating out his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith by half a tenth of a second for his fifth pole of the season.
Smith, who won Friday’s ARCA Menards Series West event from Phoenix, will start alongside Gibbs on the front row, as he looks to secure his first career victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
In an incredible qualifying effort, Nick Sanchez posted the third-quickest lap in single-car qualifying for Big Machine Racing, scoring the team’s third career top-five start in its tenure in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Noah Gragson – one of the three championship contenders out of the JR Motorsports stable – will start the race from fourth place, with Brandon Jones completing the top five in qualifying.
Landon Cassill, Ryan Sieg, and Sheldon Creed posted the sixth through eighth quickest times in qualifying, while Josh Berry will have to come from ninth should he secure his first Xfinity Series championship. Daniel Hemric completed the top-10.
The only driver still eligible to capture the championship that failed to start inside the top-10 was Justin Allgaier, who will roll from 11th place in his No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro.
Dillon Bassett, who needed to qualify his way into Saturday’s event on speed, posted an incredible time to place him 12th, a career-best effort for the driver of the Bassett Racing entry.
With Bassett’s fantastic qualifying lap, Matt Mills – who had issues in Friday’s 50-minute practice session – failed to qualify for the event in his BJ McLeod Motorsports entry.