Ty Gibbs turned in a historic NASCAR Xfinity Series debut Saturday night, as the 18-year-old won in his first series start — holding off reigning champion Austin Cindric on the Daytona International Speedway road course.
Gibbs took the lead on a restart in double overtime and held off the field by a comfortable 1.726 seconds at the finish line, dropping to his knees to reflect after climbing out of his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — a car owned by his grandfather, NASCAR and Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs.
With his win in the Super Start Batteries 188 at Daytona Presented by O’Reilly, Gibbs becomes only the sixth driver to win in his first series start — matching a feat achieved by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt in 1982 and most recently, Kurt Busch, 15 years ago.
Gibbs becomes the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series road course event. At 18 years, four months, 16 days, he breaks the record held by Cindric (20 years old).
By all measures, it was an emotional victory following an intense, exciting race on the 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course. Cindric led the most laps — 29 of the 56 — but could not catch Gibbs in the end.
“I just cannot thank everybody right now, really this is like a dream come true for me, it’s just awesome,” said an emotional Gibbs, who turned his first ever laps in the car and made his first career pit stop Saturday evening.
“I really didn’t think I had it there,” he said of the intense racing at the end. “I fought back and we won.”
Gibbs teammates Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones finished third and fourth, followed by Jeb Burton and another of the JGR family, Harrison Burton. Miguel Paludo, Brandon Brown, Justin Haley and Jeremy Clements rounded out the top 10.
A victory for Cindric would have been his second in as many races in 2021 and he turned in an inspired drive back to the front to contend for the win. He and A.J. Allmendinger — another road course racing star — collided while running first and second heading to the Stage 1 checkered flag. Allmendinger’s car was badly damaged and he ran laps down the remainder of the race.
Cindric’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford was damaged as well, but the team made repairs and Cindric went to work. He returned to the race after multiple pit stops in 33rd place, but still on the lead lap. His road racing skills and the team’s strategy calls ultimately put him in position to contend for the win.
“Obviously I don’t want to be racing to a stage that aggressively, I’d love to see a replay and hopefully we can avoid something like that because obviously A.J. and I were going to be fighting for a win later,” Cindric said.
“I hated having that much damage to our PPG Ford Mustang that early. Just seemed like he was trying to block there, don’t know if he knew I was there or not. Sucks it’s over with and we salvaged a good finish. Congratulations to Ty.”
Gibbs’ grandfather, who owns the team, climbed down from the pit box and stood behind it to watch the final moments of the race. Clearly Ty Gibbs’ win was an emotional achievement for the entire family.
During a late-race pit stop, the teenager Ty was asking his team for peanut butter crackers. An hour later, he was hoisting the biggest trophy of his young career.
“I don’t even know how to feel,” Gibbs said. “This is really hard for me to explain. After my uncle [JGR President JD Gibbs] passed away, it’s been hard for me. It’s just a dream come true. I’m just rambling. I’m excited. Mixed emotions for sure. This is just awesome.”
Of his tight-knit family, Gibbs again wiped tears.
“The family is everything to me, they do so much for me,” Gibbs said. “I just can’t thank them enough, this is just amazing; this is a dream come true. It’s all the man above, I’m sorry I’m a wreck. I didn’t think this was going to happen at all. This is awesome, I can’t thank everybody enough watching and last week I had a terrible interview. I want to apologize for everybody, I just can’t thank everybody enough. This is just amazing.”
Following the second race of the season, Cindric holds the points lead by 24 markers over Burton in second.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series races next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Contender Boats 250 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1 MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race — Super Start Batteries 188 At DAYTONA Presented by O’Reilly
DAYTONA road course
Daytona Beach, Florida
Saturday, February 20, 2021
1. (15) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 56.
2. (2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 56.
3. (5) Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 56.
4. (39) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 56.
5. (3) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 56.
6. (4) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 56.
7. (35) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 56.
8. (7) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 56.
9. (29) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 56.
10. (18) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 56.
11. (1) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, 56.
12. (14) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 56.
13. (8) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 56.
14. (13) Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 56.
15. (33) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 56.
16. (11) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 56.
17. (22) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 56.
18. (19) Kris Wright(i), Toyota, 56.
19. (10) Matt Mills, Toyota, 56.
20. (9) Joe Graf Jr., Chevrolet, 56.
21. (30) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 56.
22. (36) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 56.
23. (32) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 56.
24. (20) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 56.
25. (38) Cody Ware, Ford, 56.
26. (25) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 56.
27. (27) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 56.
28. (26) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 56.
29. (34) Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 56.
30. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 56.
31. (24) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 55.
32. (31) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 55.
33. (23) Preston Pardus, Chevrolet, Transmission, 49.
34. (17) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 46.
35. (6) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 43.
36. (28) Jade Buford, Chevrolet, Suspension, 38.
37. (12) Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, 33.
38. (40) David Starr, Toyota, Transmission, 20.
39. (16) Riley Herbst, Ford, Accident, 15.
40. (21) Natalie Decker, Chevrolet, Accident, 3.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 78.213 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.726 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 14 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Moffitt(i) 0;A. Cindric 1-10;A. Allmendinger 11-14;A. Cindric 15-17;H. Burton 18-20;T. Gibbs 21-32;G. Gaulding 33;D. Hemric 34-35;A. Cindric 36-51;R. Sieg 52;J. Burton 53-54;T. Gibbs 55-56.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Austin Cindric 3 times for 29 laps; Ty Gibbs 2 times for 14 laps; AJ Allmendinger 1 time for 4 laps; Harrison Burton 1 time for 3 laps; Jeb Burton 1 time for 2 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 2 laps; Ryan Sieg 1 time for 1 lap; Gray Gaulding 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,2,98,51,99,68,20,47,74,7
Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,20,18,11,7,22,19,2,90,51
–By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.