Ty Gibbs delivered a historic NASCAR Xfinity Series debut on Saturday night, when the 18-year-old won on his first series start, holding back reigning champion Austin Cindric at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Gibbs took the lead on a restart in double overtime and held a comfortable 1,726 seconds off the field at the finish, falling to his knees to think after getting out of his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – a car from his grandfather. , NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs.
With his victory in the Super Start Batteries 188 in Daytona Presented by O’Reilly, Gibbs becomes only the sixth driver to win on his first series start, which is equivalent to a performance by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt in 1982 and, most recently , Kurt Busch 15 years ago.
– Daytona International Speedway (@DAYTONA) February 21, 2021
Gibbs will also become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series event on the road. At 18 years, four months and 16 days, he broke Cindric’s (20 years old) record.
It was an emotional victory in every way after an intense, exhilarating 14-corner, 3.61-mile race on the road circuit. Cindric led the most laps – 29 out of 56 – but was unable to catch Gibbs in the end.
“I can’t thank everyone now, this really is a dream come true for me, it’s just great,” said the younger Gibbs, who did his first laps in the car and made his first pit stop in his career on Saturday night.
“I really didn’t think I had it there,” he said at the end of the intense races. “I fought back and we won.”
– NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) February 21, 2021
Gibbs teammates Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones finished third and fourth, followed by Jeb Burton and another member of the JGR family, Harrison Burton. Miguel Paludo, Brandon Brown, Justin Haley and Jeremy Clements completed the top 10.
A win for Cindric would have been his runner-up in as many races in 2021, and he put an inspired ride back forward to battle for the win. He and AJ Allmendinger – another racing star on the road – collided while running the first and second on their way to the checkered flag of stage 1. Allmendinger’s car was badly damaged and he drove the rest of the race rounds.
Cindric’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford was also damaged, but the team made repairs and Cindric got to work. He returned to the race after several pit stops in 33rd place, but still on the first lap. His skills on the road and the team’s strategy ultimately put him in a position to compete for victory.
“Obviously I don’t want to race to a podium so aggressively, I would like to see a repeat and hopefully we can avoid such a thing as it is clear that AJ and I would fight for a win later,” said Cindric. .
“I hated having so much damage to our PPG Ford Mustang so early. It seemed like he was trying to block there, I don’t know if he knew I was there or not. It’s just over over and we’ve got a good finish saved. Congratulations. to Ty. “
Joe Gibbs climbed out of the pit box and stood behind it to watch the final moments of the race. Ty’s win was clearly an emotional achievement for the whole family.
During a late race pit stop, the teenager asked his team for peanut butter crackers. An hour later, he hoisted the biggest trophy of his young career.
“I don’t even know how to feel,” he said. ‘This is really hard to explain. After my uncle [JGR president JD Gibbs] passed away, it’s hard for me. It’s just a dream come true. I’m just wandering. I’m excited. Certainly mixed emotions. This is just great. ”
Gibbs wiped the tears of his close-knit family again.
“The family is everything to me, they do so much for me,” he said. “I just can’t thank them enough, this is just amazing; this is a dream come true. It’s all the man above, I’m sorry, I’m a wreck, I didn’t think this was going to happen at all. “I can’t thank everyone enough for watching and last week I had a terrible interview. I want to apologize to everyone, I just can’t thank everyone enough. This is just great.”
Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service.
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