Many fans may not want to admit it, by Ty Gibbs is emerging as one of the best NASCAR prospects outside of the Cup Series.
Before making a single start at NASCAR‘s top level, Ty Gibbs has already become one of the sport’s most hated drivers.
Naturally, as the grandson of Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs and the driver of the fastest car in the Xfinity Series garage, there has been the usual criticism directed at the 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native revolving around the idea of him being a “silver spoon” kid only here because of “granddaddy’s money”.
Gibbs hasn’t exactly helped matters, either. In fact, he has really only made things worse. The way he has acted in certain situations, especially over the last few months, has only furthered this criticism.
He made an extremely aggressive move on a much slower Ryan Sieg at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, ruining Sieg’s race. Sieg’s attempt at revenge failed miserably, and Gibbs went on to win.
At Richmond Raceway last month, Gibbs pulled a bump-and-run move on teammate John Hunter Nemechek in the final turn on the final lap.
While he said afterward that he was definitely owed one, many questioned how he would actually act if he were to be raced the same way.
Less than a week later, that question was answered when Gibbs, still wearing his helmet, threw punches at Sam Mayer after Mayer, who had already removed his, moved him out of the way at Martinsville Speedway on the final lap in an attempt to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize. The punches left Mayer with a bloody lip and a bloody cut above his left eye.
All of this, especially the fight, has only made the criticism directed at Gibbs worse.
But there is one thing that can’t be ignored. The “inconvenient truth” is that regardless of your opinion on his attitude and how he got to where he is, his talent is undeniably there, and he is one of the most promising NASCAR prospects not yet in the Cup Series.
He won his Xfinity Series debut last February at the Daytona International Speedway road course, and he finished the season with four wins in 18 starts as a part-time driver.
He was not playoff eligible, but he still finished in 13th place in the championship standings, highest among non-playoff drivers, despite missing 15 races, including 11 of the 23 regular season events. Had he been playoff eligible, he would have been a clear title contender.
And the Xfinity Series wasn’t even his main series in 2021. He competed in the ARCA Menards Series as well, winning 10 races and securing an additional six runner-up finishes in 20 starts to capture the championship.
Through 11 races in his first Xfinity Series season as a full-time driver this year, he leads the series with three wins and sits tied atop the provisional playoff picture.
Gibbs has won — and won a lot — in every category in which he has competed. Yes, it’s easy to point to the fast car, and the fact that he is the team owner’s grandson. That has, without a doubt, played at least some part in Gibbs getting to where he is.
But how many drivers get put in top-tier equipment and don’t perform? Gibbs has actually performed, and he has done it right away.
Will the same thing be the case in the Cup Series? It’s hard to think why it shouldn’t be. The question is really when, not if, he will receive a promotion to the Cup Series with Joe Gibbs Racing — and naturally, which current driver he will replace. And while his attitude could certainly use some improvement, the talent is there to justify the move whenever it takes place.