Sanchez earns dramatic 1st win in Saturday’s ARCA race at Kansas, Gibbs clinches championship, how it all happened

All Ty Gibbs had to do was start Saturday’s Reese’s 150 at the Kansas Speedway and the 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship was his. Not only did he do just that, he led the first 100 laps of the race from the pole too. The thing is, instead of the race ending at Lap 100, we went to overtime, which allowed an opportunity for someone to steal the win away from his grasps.

Eric Caudell brought out the caution with six laps left in regulation. That came after Gibbs, Corey Heim and Nick Sanchez dominated the first 94 laps of the race as they were the only three on the lead lap up until the scheduled break. Drew Dollar got the free pass to become the fourth driver on the lead lap after.

Gibbs, would lead Heim, Sanchez and Dollar until the caution came out for Caudell. That pushed us into overtime. On the restart, it was Gibbs and Heim on the front row. Sanchez was lined up on the inside of Row 2. He made a great maneuver on the drop of the green flag to make it three-wide entering Turn 1. The move paid off.

Sanchez took over the lead and never looked back en route to his first career ARCA victory. By comparison, he was ninth at Kansas back in the spring race. For the diversity driver, this was his ninth top five of the season in his No. 2 entry allowing him to finish third in the final standings. He’s also the 11th straight different winner for the series on the 1.5-mile track too.

Gibbs, settled for second in his No. 18 Toyota for his seventh straight top two finish as well as his 10th in the last 11 races. The grandson of Joe Gibbs had 19 top four finishes in 20 starts this season as he easily cruised to a banner year.

The only one chasing him for this year’s championship as well as Rookie of the Year honors was Heim who finished third in his No. 20 Toyota. It was his best finish since his win in Illinois this past summer as well as his 14th top three result in 20 races this season. He won this race last year but was third in both races this season.

While Heim won the season opener to start a season of six wins, his four finishes entering the season finale this weekend was sixth, seventh, fifth and seventh respectively. That allowed Gibbs to pull away with him having finished first, second, first and second respectively in the same four races.

That’s why he’s a champion a few hours after him winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series race just prior to climbing aboard his Toyota.

Gibbs, took home the season championship, the Rookie of the Year , 14 poles and 10 wins which is two shy of Tim Steele’s 1997 record set with 12. Steele, also won 11 times in 1996 too. Gibbs, did set the record for most laps led in a single season with 1,690. Steele held that record for 24 years with 1,514 laps led in ’96 but Gibbs surpasses that in five less races though too. The next best this season was Heim with 405. Daniel Dye was third with 198 while Landen Lewis had 104 in fourth.

He led 200 of 202 laps in ARCA competition at Kansas this season and nearly led every lap of a race for a fourth time. He did so in Kansas, Charlotte and Milwaukee earlier this season. He led all but one lap at Iowa (July) and Michigan (August) too. Now, he led all but two laps on a misty, foggy Saturday night in Kansas.

He’ll hang his head high due to taking home a nice piece of hardware with him back to North Carolina.

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