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Ty Gibbs: It’s Been A Whirlwind

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 25 2022

Ty Gibbs made his Cup Series debut on Sunday. Did pretty well, too. (RacinToday.com photo by Deb Williams)

LONG POND, Pa. – Wearing Kurt Busch’s driver’s suit and a pair of Denny Hamlin’s shoes, 19-year-old Ty Gibbs climbed into a NASCAR Cup car for the first time Sunday at Pocono Raceway and capped a chaotic 24 hours with a 16th-place finish in his substitute role for an ailing Busch.

“I never thought I’d ever be able to be at this level no matter what anybody says,” Gibbs said shortly after exiting his car following Sunday’s M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400. “It’s just super cool. I graduated high school last year and I was in the fourth grade about, I feel like, two months ago. It’s crazy.”

Gibbs initially finished 18th in Sunday’s race at the 2.5-mile track, but after winner Denny Hamlin and runner-up Kyle Busch were disqualified, it left the teenager just shy of a top-15 finish which Joe Gibbs said his grandson wanted.  

“I still wish I could have put it together a little bit quicker,” the young Gibbs said. “We were scrambling to get everything ready in time. I didn’t get to take in the moment, but I will always remember it and always remember firing the car up for the first time and listening to how it sounds. Just all of these little things I will always be able to remember so I think that’s really special.”

After finishing second in Saturday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 225 NASCAR Xfinity race, Gibbs was enroute to the airport to fly home when he received a call to return to the track. Busch had possibly suffered a concussion when he crashed his 23XI Racing Toyota in turn three during qualifying. Gibbs spent the evening hours on the simulator, practicing until 1 a.m. Sunday. After doctors at the track’s infield care center evaluated Busch Sunday morning, it was determined he was still experiencing concussion-like symptoms and wouldn’t be cleared to race. 

“It was a whirlwind for sure,” said Gibbs, who noted he’d never sat in a Cup car until a few hours before (Sunday’s) race. Not having any practice and hardly a lot of SIM time in this thing it’s very hard to adapt. I don’t think the steering was that much different. I think it was just more of the rear end and how that handled and not having that much rear grip. It’s all a lot of front grip. It’s all different.”

Busch talked with Gibbs a great deal before the race and the teenager described the NASCAR champion as an “awesome teammate.”

“He (Busch) told me to just calm down and do it. Just do it!” Gibbs recounted. “That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten and the best advice I could give to myself.”

 Gibbs spent most of the 160-lap race’s first two stages becoming familiar with the car, confining himself to running in the rear. It wasn’t until the event’s final 65 laps that he began moving through the field.

“I followed the (No.) 24 (William Byron) and the (No.) 1 (Ross Chastain) and I was to the right side of them just trying to get different air on my car and I got way loose,” Gibbs said. “The aero is definitely worse than I’ve ever experienced. It was a little frustrating. The aero was probably the biggest thing that surprised me. The dirty air, just being behind people was horrible. I washed up once pretty big in (turns) one and two and I lost 15th, 16th, 17th.”

Gibbs is accustomed to racing with the traditional H-pattern gear shifter and he told his spotter and crew chief to “constantly annoy” him about the sequential shifter in the Next Gen Cup car because he didn’t want to accidentally shift into first gear. 

Gibbs doesn’t know when he will compete in another Cup race, but noted he hoped Busch would be able to return to his No. 45 Toyota soon. 

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 25 2022
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