NASCAR: One driver finds himself in an awkward position

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

As Ty Gibbs continues to dominate the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there is an awkward — and almost unfair — stigma with which he is faced.

Disclaimer: This article was published prior to the Martinsville fight.

The idea that Ty Gibbs has taken the NASCAR Xfinity Series by storm is an understatement to say the very least.

Gibbs, who was still competing full-time in the ARCA Menards Series at the time, won in his series debut at the Daytona International Speedway road course last year. He finished the season with four wins in 18 starts for Joe Gibbs Racing; the team’s three full-time drivers combined for just one win in 99 starts.

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It was expected that Gibbs would be promoted to a full-time driver role with his grandfather’s organization for the 2022 season, and while it took a while to confirm, that promotion did end up happening.

And the 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native continues to make a name for himself at the sport’s second highest level.

In the first seven races of the 2022 season, he has earned three more victories, and that success has even begun to heat up speculation of a Cup Series promotion, possibly as early as 2023.

Of course, despite the success and the fact that he now has seven wins in just 25 starts, Gibbs has been faced with quite a bit of criticism.

No matter what Gibbs does, whether he struggles or continues to have tons of success, there will always be those who criticize him because of his last name and the fact that his grandfather owns the team.

You won’t go a single Xfinity Series race weekend without hearing claims of “nepotism” or “granddaddy’s money” or “silver spoon” as it relates to the driver of the #54 Toyota.

There is a saying in racing, not just in NASCAR, that money is often valued more than talent when it comes to landing good rides, and it’s not an inaccurate statement.

Numerous far less deserving drivers have been given seats, whether it be in the Cup Series, IndyCar, or Formula 1, as a result of their funding, while more deserving and more talented drivers have been left watching races on Sundays because of a lack of it.

So why, then, are there those who resent actual talent — drivers who deliver when given those opportunities — simply because of their last names?

Isn’t talent exactly what we wanted?

Gibbs has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has earned the right to be here — and possibly even to be at a higher level.

Sure, he is in the fastest car on the grid. And sure, there is no doubt that his last name has something to do with why he is where he is.

But he actually delivers. Many others don’t. Isn’t that exactly what we want in NASCAR? Isn’t that what fans clamor for in any other scenario?

This isn’t to say that he is immune from any legitimate criticism related to actual racing. Just ask Ryan Sieg and John Hunter Nemechek how they feel about some of the moves Gibbs has made just seven races into his first full season.

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There are certainly a lot worse situations to be in than being criticized. But Gibbs is in an awkward and almost unfair position where if he struggles, he will be criticized relentlessly, and if he has success, it might even be worse. All he can do about is continue to do what he’s been doing; that seems to be paying off quite well.