For one, Gibbs is the 19-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs — elected to both the NFL and the NASCAR Hall of Fame — and he drives race cars for the family business NASCAR.
And second, and perhaps most importantly, Ty is very good at it.
Ty’s racing career spans around seven years and he has won – and often dominated – in every series he has entered.
He won 10 of 20 races and the ARCA Menards Series championship last year and made 18 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While the level of competition in NASCAR was much higher, he quickly came out and won in his series debut. He added three more wins and a pair of finalists by the end of the year.
Racing full-time in the Xfinity Series this season, he has already matched his four wins from a year ago and is a strong contender for the 2022 Championship.
Then came last Sunday.
With veteran and fellow Toyota driver Kurt Busch unexpectedly sidelined from Cup Series racing at Pocono Raceway with lingering effects of a concussion, 23XI Racing – co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and driver of the JGR Cup Denny Hamlin – turned to Gibbs to replace.
It was not easy. Gibbs’ team leader in the Xfinity series, Chris Gayle had to track down the team’s transporter – which had already left Pocono – to grab Gibbs’ helmet, HANS device and any other comfort items he might have. need for the driver’s cockpit.
On Sunday morning, Gibbs donned a driver’s suit borrowed from Busch and a pair of driving shoes from Hamlin to make his debut.
“My main concern last week was with Kurt and I was hoping he was fine, but it was really cool to get a call to see if I wanted to drive on Sunday,” Gibbs told Motorsport.com. “I was definitely a bit worried about doing it because it’s a completely different car.
“I wasn’t used to anything with it. It was going to be totally different.
But as he has done so many times in his motorsport career, Ty surprised with a trouble-free performance.
He had to start the race from the back of the pack due to the driver change and repairs to Busch’s #45 and opted to relax early as he tried to get a feel for the Next car. Gen.
Gibbs stayed in the lead lap throughout the race, made green-flag pit stops, avoided any mishaps on the track and flirted with a top-15 finish before finally settling in 16th place.
“We had a great project. It was basically just sitting down and riding for stage one and stage two so I could kind of get a good idea and figure out where I needed to be,” he said. “In the last stage they kind of let me go and I ran it forward at the end.”
Ty Gibbs, 23XI Racing, McDonald’s Toyota Camry
Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images
Gibbs said he was filled with emotions last Sunday, but after the race he was mostly “just happy”.
“It was cool to race with all the guys in the Cup. I’ve really never raced with them before except for a handful that sometimes works in Xfinity,” he said. “At one point I ran Brad Keselowski for about six laps in a row. It was cool and definitely a great learning experience.
Gayle said he and others with JGR and 23XI Racing tried not to put high expectations on Gibbs before the race.
“It wasn’t the one he was prepared for,” he said. “There was no simulator work, there was no practice laps. In my opinion, if he went all the laps, got a taste of what those cars felt like, it would be a successful day.
“The only way it was going to be a bad day would be if he tried too hard too soon and made a mistake just because he didn’t know the car. That didn’t happen. He spent the first half from racing to understanding how to drive the car.
“I really don’t see how it could have gone better.
Here we go again
Just as it looked like Gibbs would look back on his Xfinity Series season this week, he was asked on Wednesday to replace Busch again at this Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Busch has not yet been medically cleared to race by NASCAR.
This time, however, Gibbs won’t go blind. He will compete in the car all weekend – practice and qualifying on Saturday and race on Sunday.
And the track may be more favorable to him, as Gibbs proved to be a prolific road racer during his brief career with victories at the Daytona Road Course, Watkins Glen (NY) International and Road America. Gibbs also got time in the simulator on Wednesday.
“Training and qualifying this time around will definitely help me, take the stress off my weekend a bit,” Gibbs said. “It’s definitely better than showing up on race day without even having sat in the car.”
Gayle thinks this weekend’s situation gives Gibbs a much better opportunity to test his Cup Series competitiveness.
“Without a doubt, on-road prowess has been a strength for Ty in the Xfinity Series. It would raise your expectations a lot,” he said. week, so he understood that better. And he has an Indy Road Course race under his belt in the Xfinity car last year.
“I think it should run really well. Now the caveat with that, if I’m being totally honest, is that Toyota/JGR/23XI Racing haven’t really run well on the road courses this year. is the unknown.
“But he should be as talented as anyone on the grid. He knows that. He might not have a lot of experience, but most of these guys have little experience in these Next cars. Gen on the road courses, he should probably set his goals based on the situation of his Toyota teammates.
What awaits us
No matter what Gibbs does or doesn’t do on the track the rest of this season or even his career, he will always have detractors.
He is well aware of the criticism that sometimes comes his way from those who think the only reason he has the chance to race is because of family ties. Or maybe they don’t like the way he races on the track or has faced confrontations with other off-track riders.
Either way, Gibbs is determined to forge his own path and appreciates that his father, Coy, and grandfather give him the freedom to pursue his chosen career.
“Of course if I’m racing they want me to work as hard as I can on that,” Ty said. “It’s not pressure, but they remind me that I have to work hard and make the effort to be the best I can be.”
Gayle said it was easy for people to forget that Gibbs could have chosen a career out of the spotlight, even a desk job if he wanted to escape criticism.
“Coy raised it in a tough way, where you learn you don’t get anything for free, and I think that’s the difference,” Gayle said. “It’s a choice on his part to do this.
“He knows it won’t be easy. He knows it’s going to come with criticism and yet he still loves it and wants to do it enough despite all of it. I think that says a lot in itself.
For Gibbs, whether the road ahead is hard or easy, his goals remain relatively simple: compete to win.
“I don’t let the pressure get to me too much. I just go out there and do my thing the best I can. If I can’t win with the car I have, I finish as best I can,” he said.
“I really want to win an Xfinity championship and a Cup championship. I would love to do other races in my life in the future, other forms of motorsport. I just love driving cars and competing.
“I’m just enjoying every second.”