NASCAR: Why Ty Gibbs will win the 2023 Daytona 500

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

Ty Gibbs finds himself in a situation very similar to that of the reigning Daytona 500 winner. Will the NASCAR Cup Series rookie repeat history?

The worst-kept secret of NASCAR silly season was confirmed shortly after the 2022 season ended, when Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed the promotion of Ty Gibbs to the Cup Series as the replacement for the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch behind the wheel of the No. 18-turned-No. 54 Toyota for 2023.

The 20-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native is set to make his official debut behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway — a race after which, if history repeats itself, he should find himself standing in victory lane with the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Gibbs shares quite a few similarities with last year’s winner, Austin Cindric. Like Cindric was last year, Gibbs is set to be a Cup Series rookie this year. Like Cindric did in his final Xfinity Series season before becoming a full-time Cup Series driver, Gibbs made select starts in the Cup Series in 2022.

Neither driver did much in their limited time in the Cup Series, with Cindric recording a top finish of ninth place and Gibbs recording a top finish of 10th.

Additionally, both drivers competed in one race at Daytona International Speedway the year before they became full-time drivers. The only significant difference here is that Cindric competed in the Daytona 500 and Gibbs competed in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Cindric finished in 15th place in his race, while Gibbs finished in 13th in his.

Both drivers also became full-time Cup Series drivers at the same organizations with which they won Xfinity Series championships. Cindric won his Xfinity Series title with his Cup Series team, Team Penske, and Gibbs won his Xfinity Series title with his Cup Series team, Joe Gibbs Racing.

Both drivers also have family connections with both teams. Cindric is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, while Gibbs is the grandson of Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs. He is also the son of the late Coy Gibbs, who co-owned the team before his death in November.

Cindric and Gibbs each won 11 Xfinity Series races in their final two seasons in the series before a Cup Series promotion, though Gibbs only competed part-time in 2021.

They also both earned one superspeedway win, and both of those wins came in their final seasons before a Cup Series promotion. Cindric won at Daytona International Speedway in 2021 and Gibbs won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2022.

But here’s the most interesting similarity between the two NASCAR Xfinity Series champions entering the Daytona 500.

Gibbs is replacing a Cup Series champion who never managed to win the Daytona 500, that being Kyle Busch.

Busch, despite winning two championships and 60 races, is winless in 17 Daytona 500 starts (14 with Joe Gibbs Racing), despite the fact that he owns wins in all of the other crown jewel races at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Coca-Cola 600), Darlington Raceway (Southern 500), and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Brickyard 400).

Cindric was in almost the exact same scenario, replacing Brad Keselowski behind the wheel of the No. 2 Ford.

Keselowski, a Cup Series champion himself, is a 35-time race winner who owns victories in the Coca-Cola 600, the Southern 500, and the Brickyard 400. Yet he went winless in 12 Daytona 500 starts, all with Team Penske, before leaving for RFK Racing after the 2021 season.

Of course, it all means absolutely nothing in terms of how this year’s running of the Great American Race will actually unfold. The Daytona 500 is a crapshoot, wild card-type race, at best.

Anything that can go wrong usually does at a superspeedway, and anybody can end up caught up in the “big one” at any given moment. Underdogs have historically performed just as well as favorites.

The favorite, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, is listed at +1200 (bet $100 to win $1,200) at FanDuel Sportsbook. Typical Cup Series favorites are usually in the +400 to +500 range, except in these types of races.

Gibbs’ odds currently sit at +5000. He is by no means a favorite, nor even close. Cindric’s closing odds last year were +3000. He was also by no means a favorite, nor even close.

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Tune in to Fox at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 19 for the live broadcast of the 65th annual Daytona 500 from Daytona International Speedway. If you haven’t yet started a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!