NASCAR: Ty Gibbs made history in a unique way at Daytona

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Daytona, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Daytona, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Ty Gibbs became the sixth driver to win in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut but the first to do so without Cup Series experience.

And he had never even competed in a NASCAR Truck Series race, either.

Ty Gibbs, the grandson of Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs, competed in a NASCAR national series for the first time this past Saturday evening at the Daytona International Speedway road course, a late addition to the 2021 schedule as a result of the cancellation of the Auto Club Speedway race weekend.

The 18-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native competed part-time in the ARCA Menards Series last year and won six races in 16 starts to finish in fifth place in the championship standings despite missing four races.

He made the jump up two levels in 2021, competing part-time for his grandfather’s Xfinity Series team.

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Nobody, not even himself nor his grandfather, expected him to win in his series debut at the Daytona International Speedway road course, but that is exactly what happened.

Gibbs was in the mix the whole race, and he ultimately prevailed against road course king and reigning series champion Austin Cindric to secure his first checkered flag in his first NASCAR national series start. He became just the sixth driver to ever win in his Xfinity Series debut and the first to do so since Kurt Busch won at Texas Motor Speedway in 2006.

Dale Earnhardt won at Daytona International Speedway in 1982, Joe Ruttman won at Dover International Speedway in 1982, Ricky Rudd won at Dover International Speedway in 1983 and Terry Labonte won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1985.

The difference is the fact that all five of these drivers had Cup Series experience when they made their Xfinity Series debuts. In fact, Busch, Earnhardt and Labonte were all Cup Series champions by the time their made their Xfinity Series debuts.

Gibbs didn’t even have a single Truck Series start under his belt, much less a Cup Series start.

Or a win.

Or a championship.

Gibbs is the youngest driver to secure his first Xfinity Series race victory in his series debut, although Joey Logano is still the youngest ever Xfinity Series race winner, with fellow Cup Series champion Chase Elliott ranking second to him in that category.

Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series driver Christopher Bell joined him as a first-time winner the following evening, winning Sunday’s Cup Series race at the same 14-turn, 3.61-mile (5.810-kilometer) road course in Daytona Beach, Florida after passing Logano with just over one lap remaining.

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Gibbs is set to run nine more races behind the wheel of the #54 Toyota this year, with his next start scheduled to come at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, March 13 in the LS Tractor 200.