Saturday, October 29, 2022 by Julie Bouchard
Aged 20 and grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs Racing, official Toyota team in NASCAR, Ty Gibbs won probably the most shameful victory of his young career this Saturday, when he voluntarily sent in the wall teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway, Va.
The race was played in extra time, as multiple collisions in this 2 hour and 20 minute event slowed the pace in the last of the 269 laps finally contested, instead of the planned 250.
Jones, who had taken pole position and won the first segment, needed to win the event to join the group of 4 qualified drivers for the season finale which will take place in Phoenix next Saturday. Gibbs was already guaranteed to be in the Top 4 qualifiers thanks to the points scored. This did not prevent him, during the last restart of a race which was chaotic to say the least, from crashing into the rear bumper of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, who was then in the lead on the last lap. The contact sent Jones’ No.19 Toyota into the outside wall, giving victory to Gibbs and qualification to rival team driver Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet/JR Motorsports).
However, Allgaier hardly deserved his place in the 4 qualifiers given his performance this Saturday, when he caused multiple contacts with AJ Allmendinger (Chevrolet / Kaulig Racing), who was also fighting for the last qualifying place. Allgaier finished 5th and Allmendinger 16th.
Ty Gibbs’ maneuver therefore sealed the fate of the 4 qualified for the final, ie three drivers from JR Motorsports (Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Allgaier) and him, the only driver from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Needless to say, the boos from the crowd outnumbered the applause when the young driver, rather pleased with his victory, got out of the car at the finish. Without a doubt, if Joe Gibbs was looking for the new Kyle Busch by entrusting one of his cars next year in the NASCAR Cup series to a disrespectful young driver on the track, he found him with his grandson!
The penultimate restart had already gone badly for Joe Gibbs Racing, as Brandon Jones and Sammy Smith were jostled by Ty Gibbs who tried to pass Turns 3 and 4 inside his two teammates who were moving then side by side. Smith was hitting the outside wall, causing his left rear tire to puncture and any hope of a Top 5 finish. He ranks 18th while Jones finishes 23rd.
In addition to these tough battles among the candidates for the Final Top 4, the race saw Sheldon Creed (Chevrolet / Richard Childrass Racing) take a fine 2nd place, ahead of Riley Herbst (Ford / Stewart-Haas Racing) and a trio of drivers JR Motorsports with Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer in order. Nicholas Sanchez, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill and Blaine Perkins complete the Top 10.
Quebecer Alex Labbé shone during this penultimate meeting of the 2022 season. Qualified 21st, Labbé finished stage one 14th then stage two (won by Ty Gibbs) 22nd before finding himself in battle in the Top 15 at the end of the race.
Managing to avoid the 11-car pile-up in the last quarter of the event, the driver of the No.36 DGM Racing Chevrolet (photo above) crossed the finish line 13th. “The end of the race was quite intense, it was quite a stir! comments Alex, who adds: “I had a fairly fast car, with a good top speed but I was losing a bit of time in the corners. We made adjustments during each pit stop and at the end the car was really competitive but there were a lot of yellow flags and you had to start again for only a few laps each time. It’s a good day anyway. I finished Top 10 here last year but in Martinsville you never know what can happen so it’s still a good result”.
For the full ranking, click here… For video highlights, see below.