NASCAR: Does the path of Ty Gibbs match a former Cup champion?

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /

Ty Gibbs’s maiden NASCAR Xfinity Series win is a win that not many of his peers saw coming, and he is on a path similar to that of a Cup Series champion.

The 18-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs made history Saturday night in the Super Start Batteries 188 at the Daytona International Speedway road course, becoming the sixth driver to win in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut.

Of those six (Gibbs, Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Joe Ruttman, Terry Labonte and Kurt Busch), he is the only driver to do it without prior Cup Series experience.

Joe Gibbs Racing have been known for their developmental driver program and Toyota, bringing up many notable drivers to the Cup Series — not just current Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell, but also former Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones.

Speaking of Logano, Ty Gibbs’s path into NASCAR is similar to Logano’s route to the Cup Series.

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Logano made his NASCAR national series debut in the Xfinity Series back in 2008 for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he finished in sixth place at Dover International Speedway. In his third start at Kentucky Speedway, he led 76 laps from the pole to take the checkered flag.

That night, Logano defeated Cup drivers Marcos Ambrose, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch to show what he was made of, and he became the youngest ever Xfinity Series race winner in doing so.

Gibbs led 14 of the 56 laps in his national series debut and had a masterful restart in overtime to take down road course ace Austin Cindric.

Saturday night, he defeated Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton, Brett Moffitt, Michael Annett, Gray Gaulding, Justin Allgaier, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Andy Lally and A.J. Allmendinger, all notable drivers who have made numerous starts in the Cup Series.

Both Logano and Gibbs skipped the lowest national series, the Truck Series, and won quickly in the Xfinity Series. That’s probably the primary thing that stands out.

As for how they got here, Logano won the 2007 K&N Pro Series East championship (now ARCA Menards Series East), and he won the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway that year as well. A month before his Xfinity Series debut, Logano won in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Rockingham Speedway.

Gibbs? He finished runner-up in the 2020 ARCA Menards East Series standings while winning six races in the regular ARCA Series, finishing in fifth place in points due to age restrictions that prevented him from running the whole schedule. This year, Gibbs is competing full-time for the ARCA Menards Series championship. Many pundits have listed him as the favorite.

But now, the next question for Gibbs is this: can he be a star in the Cup Series? Absolutely. Having a Hall of Fame last name like Gibbs and having already showed what he is made of, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he moved to a full-time Xfinity Series ride and then got a full-time Cup Series ride within the next few years. The Xfinity Series is where “Names Are Made,” and Gibbs is already making a name for himself with his big win on Saturday.

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His next scheduled Xfinity Series race is the LS Tractor 200, which is scheduled to take place at Phoenix Raceway, a track where he won in his ARCA Menards Series West debut in 2019, on Saturday, March 13.