Saturday April 2, 2022 by Philippe Brasseur
For the third time in seven races this season, young Ty Gibbes (Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing) won a race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this Saturday. On the small oval of Richmond in Virginia, Gibbs, qualified in pole position, and John Hunter Nemechek dominated this race, disputed at a very high pace (less than two hours), with very few neutralizations and only 8 changes of leader all throughout the 250 laps.
To clinch his 7th lifetime victory in NASCAR Xfinity, at only 19 years old, Ty Gibbs came into contact with his teammate John Hunter Nemechek in turn 3, on the last lap. Pushing his opponent slightly to the outside of the bend, Gibbs took the lead to go on to win the event, with a slim lead of 116 thousandths of a second over Nemechek. Gibbs’ maneuver didn’t sit well with Nemechek who led more than half the race and was in the lead entering this penultimate corner. He expressed his displeasure to Gibbs once the two drivers got out of their cars.
Another young driver who is showing prowess at the start of the season in the series, Sam Mayer, 18, 3rd in his JR Motorsports Chevrolet for his very first career race at Richmond. He finished 3.733 seconds behind the winner, but ahead of AJ Allmendinger (Chevrolet/Kaulig Racing) and Riley Herbst (Ford/Stewart-Haas Racing). The Top 10 is completed by 2021 champion Daniel Hemric (Chevrolet/Kaulig Racing), Josh Berry, Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg and Parker Retzlaff.
Qualified 20th but forced to start from the back of the field following parts changes on his No.36 DGM Racing Chevrolet, Quebecer Alex Labbé finished 19th, on the same lap as the winner. « I struggled a bit with the car, whose road holding gave me some problems, although I was still competitive to the point of staying on the lap of the leader » confided Labbé, who specifies: « The good news it’s that we know exactly what needs to be corrected on this car to be even better. But it was just impossible to do it during the race. It could have been worse than this 19th place, but the Top 15 could have been within our reach”.
Favorite alongside Gibbs and Nemechek, last year’s Richmond winner Noah Gragson qualified third but slipped to 21st overall due to brake problems throughout the race. It is only the second time this season that the No.9 Chevrolet driver from JR Motorsports has finished outside the Top 5.
Saturday’s race in Virginia served as the season opener for the « Dash 4 Cash » and qualified drivers race for this symbolic trophy which gives the winner the very real sum of US$100,000. Sam Mayer, who passed AJ Allmendinger in the final laps, secured the best finish among eligible drivers (determined last week). Riley Herbst, Allmendinger and Ty Gibbs were the other drivers competing for this award.
For the complete ranking of the event, click here. For the best moments in pictures, watch the video below. Tomorrow, the NASCAR Cup series will be on track in Richmond, for a race which will start around 4 p.m.
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