MARTINSVILLE, VA — Ty Gibbs took no prisoners Saturday with a race-winning move that dramatically altered the composition of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 field.
On the final lap of the third attempt at overtime, Gibbs rammed soon-to-be-ex-teammate Brandon Jones so hard the contact buckled the hood of Gibbs No. 54 Toyota.
The contact sent Jones, who had taken the lead on the previous lap, into the outside wall in Turns 1 and 2, and Gibbs had the lead when NASCAR called the 14th caution of the race because of wreck.
By then Gibbs already had clinched one of the two remaining spots in the Championship 4 Round, but the bulldozing move deprived Jones of an opportunity to race for the series title next Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.
As a chorus of boos rained down from the grandstand, Gibbs was unapologetic for that tactic that made him a race winner for the sixth time this season, for the first time at Martinsville and for the 10th time in 50 Xfinity Series starts.
“It was definitely not a clean move, for sure,” Gibbs said. “I definitely didn’t want to wreck him, but I definitely wanted to move him out of the groove so I could go win. I felt like we lost the spring race getting moved by him.
“He’s my teammate, but definitely want to get the win here. It’s important to get the win. And now we’re going to the championships. It’s cool. Hopefully, I don’t get hit by any cans or anything right here.
“We got moved out of the way earlier this year so, it’s part of it.”
Jones won the pole and led 98 laps to Gibbs 102, but finished 23rd, the last driver on the lead lap.
“I know Ty enough to where I know he doesn’t care about what he did,” said Jones, who will move to JR Motorsports next season. “He’s pretty much, well—he wasn’t ‘pretty much’—he was locked into the next round. So really, what did that do?
“I don’t really understand the move. I understand trying to get aggressive—you want to win the race. But to just destroy the race car, I don’t see it. I don’t get any satisfaction from it. Maybe he does. Maybe he likes to win that way? But I never have and never felt strong about racing that way. So we’ll just take it and go for it.”
Jones’ misfortune elevated veteran Justin Allgaier, his soon-to-be-teammate at JR Motorsports into the final Championship 4 berth. Jones needed a victory to claim the spot, but Allgaier was in a position to advance on points, which he did by 12 points over Regular Season Champion AJ Allmendinger.
Allgaier finished fifth and Allmendinger 16th after contact between their cars cut Allmendinger’s left rear tire as the drivers played bumper tag and swapped positions during the closing stages of the race. Allgaier was happy to advance but less than thrilled with the way it happened.
“I can’t even describe it,” Allgaier said. “It’s disappointing that it’s gotten to the point where it’s—unfortunately easier to drive through somebody than it is to pass them. Really proud of our team. We never gave up until the checkered flag fell. Had a ton of damage right there (from a collision on Lap 262 in the second overtime) but made it to the final round.”
After the race, Allmendinger sought Allgaier out on pit road and congratulated him.
“You get down to the end, (Allmendinger) was pushing pretty hard,” Allgaier said. “He chose to run into us enough times that you get to the point where you have to go for it. He knew when he turned back left that we were going to hit.
“I hate it for those guys. I don’t know if we could have run 25 laps battling as hard as we did there at the end. They’ve had a great season. We’ve had a great season. It’s just so hard when it comes to the last race, especially at a place like Martinsville.”
Gibbs and Allgaier will race for the series championship at Phoenix against Josh Berry and Noah Gragson, who earned their spots in the Championship 4 with respective victories at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami in the Round of 8.
Non-Playoff drivers Sheldon Creed and Riley Herbst finished second and third after the late-race melee, followed by the JR Motorsports trio of Gragson, Allgaier and Sam Mayer. Nick Sanchez, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill and Blaine Perkins completed the top 10.
Along with Allmendinger and Jones, Hill and Mayer were eliminated from the Playoffs.
Gibbs’ Actions Were Busch League
I truly am baffled at how Ty Gibbs handled the closing laps of Saturday’s race. Like completely flabbergasted. That’s no way to treat a teammate and I can’t for the life of me understand why on Earth Gibbs raced Jones the way that he did and purposely kept a teammate out of the Championship 4. Instead, he’ll race 3 JR Motorsports cars for the championship next Sunday and will have a future JRM driver out to get him.
What does Jones have to lose now? Once the checkered flag drops next Saturday, he’s no longer employed by Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s moving to JR Motorsports to replace Noah Gragson in 2023. Now, the younger Gibbs has a new enemy in a list of those against him right now.
All for a grandfather clock? Is that truly what a 20-year-old kid desires?
“He’s my teammate, but definitely want to get the win here. It’s important to get the win,” Gibbs admitted. “And now we’re going to the championships. It’s cool. Hopefully, I don’t get hit by any cans or anything right here.”
The thing is, outside of the grandfather clock, there’s nothing to gain by Gibbs winning on Saturday. Absolutely nothing. He gets 5 playoff points for the win, but it’s not like you can take them with you to the Championship 4. They’re pointless, pun intended, for him at this point.
Instead of taking a teammate with him to Phoenix, he wrecked his teammate to keep him out instead. All for “payback?”
Like who pays a teammate back for a spot to the Championship 4? Why would you not concede? I get he was upset for a move Jones made earlier this season or maybe even pushing Gibbs out of the way on a late race restart. But Jones had nothing else to lose. He had to win. Gibbs didn’t. He was already through to the final round.
Instead, while Jones was in the lead, Gibbs knocked him out not just once, but twice. The second time was the final blow.
It looked pretty deliberate to wreck him but even if it truly was just to move him out of the way, why? Why do that? Why not block for him to ensure he wins?
When your last name is the same in the company name, this is something you absolutely just can’t do. With the same surname as his grandfather, you should hold it in higher regard. You’re supposed to be a leader. A man. Even at 20 you need to grow up.
What message does this send to the folks on the 19 car? They’re employees too.
However, Gibbs is moving up to a Cup seat in 2023 and may not truly be as ready as we thought he once was.
Gibbs Embracing Villian Role
The only good thing to come out of this incident is that Gibbs is truly a villain. Not many fans like him at this point. It’s going to make him a polarizing figure in the Cup Series because in order to truly succeed, you need a protagonist and antagonist. The problem is, not many want to play that bad guy role. Kyle Busch made a nice career being that guy. He never had much company for that role.
Ironically enough, his replacement in 2023 is already okay being in that limelight. Gibbs showed no remorse for his actions on Saturday, and it shows that he’s okay with how he’s perceived right now.
Does Xfinity Series Now Outweigh Cup Series For Attention?
Poor NASCAR. They can’t seem to get the focus on the premiere series’ playoff action. After Daytona (regular season finale) it was focused on officiating and not bringing out a stoppage for the impending rain. After the Southern 500 it was about the “crappy parts.” After Kansas it was about tires, Kyle Busch moving on from JGR and into RCR and the 2023 schedule. After Bristol it was more about tires and mechanical failures.
That was the first round.
After Texas it was about officiating again as well as tires. Also, safety was brought to the limelight. After Talladega it was more about safety, the future and penalties. After the ROVAL, it was about more penalties.
That’s the second round.
After Vegas it was about Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson. Finally, after Homestead it was quiet. It was back to the focus of on track action. Now, it’s all gone. It was short lived. Now, it’s about the Xfinity Series. Ty Gibbs’ move on a teammate, Brandon Jones, will be discussed for some time after. This isn’t going away. We’re going to the Championship 4 next week and unless the Cup Series has an enormous amount of drama on Sunday, all we’re going to talk about is Ty Gibbs.
Which is bad for the Cup Series. The postseason was squandered by drama with very little attention to the postseason. Even if the Cup race has drama on Sunday to surpass the attention of Gibbs, it’s going to push more storylines about drama and not on track so either way, this has been a terrible postseason for NASCAR.
Does NASCAR Need To Step In?
On a day that Bubba Wallace spoke to the media in admitting that he’s okay with the 1 race suspension levied against him last week, ironically enough, his interim Cup Series teammate took matters into his own hands too. Wallace spoke earlier about consistency in the officiating and says it shouldn’t matter what track or what scenario that another occurrence that happened between he and Kyle Larson happens in, a suspension should be necessary.
He’s asking for transparency and consistency.
A few hours later, Ty Gibbs purposely moved his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Brandon Jones out of the way to win Saturday’s Dead on Tools 250 at Martinsville. So what happens now?
Does NASCAR step in? It could be a mistake to swallow the whistle here when everyone is clamoring for consistency. No one is debunking Wallace’s actions and that he definitely needed the actions taken against him. But what happens when a wreck happens on a slower track and between teammates?
Gibbs says he didn’t purposely wreck Brandon Jones. He just wanted to move him. However, where’s the line? What’s the limit? I mean at the end of the day, his actions were on purpose. He meant to move Jones. Did it overstep the line?
The only difference between Jones and Gibbs’ situation in comparison to Larson and Wallace’s was that Gibbs didn’t march down the track to confront Jones and physically try to harm him. But according to NASCAR, that’s not why Wallace was suspended. It was for his role inside his car to crash Larson.
Isn’t by definition that what Gibbs just did?
How does NASCAR judge intent here when they did with Wallace? How much stock do they put in Gibbs’ words and even his wording on what transpired?
Does it matter Gibbs is a Championship 4 driver now? Do you suspend a final round driver from the race he’s trying to win a championship in?
That’s where this gets tricky because the whole garage and fan base are watching…
What about if Jones gets payback next week? Do you swallow the whistle too? Isn’t that manipulating a championship? Isn’t that just what Gibbs did? If Jones wins, he’s in and Allgaier is out. Gibbs took matters in his own hands.
By all definitions that NASCAR set against Wallace, it applies to Gibbs here too.
Lap 194 Caution Causes Split Decision For Allgaier/Allmendinger
Prior to the 6th caution of the day that fell on Lap 194, Justin Allgaier was 2 points ahead of AJ Allmendinger in the standings. It was 30 points for Ty Gibbs over Allmendinger prior but that was because Brandon Jones was leading and had the guaranteed spot if he could hold everyone off. Instead, Gibbs passed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate on Lap 177 which pushed Allmendinger back to the plus side of the cutline.
Then came that caution.
Allgaier stayed out. Allmendinger didn’t. He and Austin Hill hit pit lane on Lap 196 and came out 16th (Allmendinger) and 17th (Hill) respectively. Allgaier was running in 6th and coming to the restart with 48 to go, he was up by 11 points.
However, Allmendinger had fresh tires for the final 48 lap sprint to the checkered flag. He quickly made his way forward. From 16th to 15th to 12th to 9th to…Allmendinger found Allgaier’s bumper late and when he did, he raced him as hard but respectfully as one could in that situation.
The two had a hard nosed battle for that 4th and final playoff spot and while this was going on, Brandon Jones was vying to get the lead bad to keep them both out. It was great, edge of your seat, thrilling racing in the end.
However, it ended up all for not. Ty Gibbs wrecked Brandon Jones and Allmendinger’s tire cut down after contact with Allgaier.
The pit call nearly propelled Allmendinger to the final round..
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 3rd Annual Dead On Tools 250
Saturday, October 29, 2022
1. (4) Ty Gibbs (P), Toyota, 269.
2. (2) Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 269.
3. (8) Riley Herbst, Ford, 269.
4. (5) Noah Gragson (P), Chevrolet, 269.
5. (6) Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, 269.
6. (22) Sam Mayer (P), Chevrolet, 269.
7. (24) Nicholas Sanchez, Chevrolet, 269.
8. (37) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 269.
9. (36) Austin Hill # (P), Chevrolet, 269.
10. (23) Blaine Perkins(i), Chevrolet, 269.
11. (11) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 269.
12. (18) Rajah Caruth(i), Chevrolet, 269.
13. (21) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 269.
14. (14) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 269.
15. (15) Derek Griffith, Toyota, 269.
16. (9) AJ Allmendinger (P), Chevrolet, 269.
17. (10) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 269.
18. (3) Sammy Smith (P), Toyota, 269.
19. (27) Brandon Brown, Ford, 269.
20. (13) Josh Berry (P), Chevrolet, 269.
21. (7) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 269.
22. (33) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 269.
23. (1) Brandon Jones (P), Toyota, 269.
24. (34) CJ McLaughlin, Ford, 268.
25. (32) Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 265.
26. (31) Kris Wright(i), Chevrolet, 261.
27. (12) Joe Graf Jr, Ford, 260.
28. (19) Howie Disavino III, Chevrolet, 259.
29. (29) Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, 248.
30. (38) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Accident, 242.
31. (25) Stefan Parsons(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 219.
32. (30) Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, Accident, 215.
33. (17) Ryan Sieg, Ford, Accident, 206.
34. (28) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Brakes, 176.
35. (26) Matt Mills(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 145.
36. (35) Chad Finchum, Toyota, Brakes, 137.
37. (16) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Accident, 108.
38. (20) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, Accident, 55.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 60.41 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 20 Mins, 32 Secs. Margin of Victory: Caution Seconds.
Caution Flags: 14 for 91 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Jones (P) 1-66;N. Gragson (P) 67-87;T. Gibbs (P) 88-107;B. Jones (P) 108;T. Gibbs (P) 109-111;J. Allgaier (P) 112-116;T. Gibbs (P) 117-124;J. Berry (P) 125-164;B. Jones (P) 165-177;T. Gibbs (P) 178-217;N. Gragson (P) 218;T. Gibbs (P) 219-242;B. Jones (P) 243-248;S. Smith (P) 249;B. Jones (P) 250-260;T. Gibbs (P) 261-266;N. Gragson (P) 267;B. Jones (P) 268;T. Gibbs (P) 269.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ty Gibbs (P) 7 times for 102 laps; Brandon Jones (P) 6 times for 98 laps; Josh Berry (P) 1 time for 40 laps; Noah Gragson (P) 3 times for 23 laps; Justin Allgaier (P) 1 time for 5 laps; Sammy Smith (P) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,54,7,8,18,98,2,16,1,21
Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,7,16,9,48,8,21,27,39,23