MARTINSVILLE, VA — By the sounds of it, both Coy Gibbs, Ty Gibbs’ dad, as well as Joe Gibbs, Ty Gibbs’ grandpa, were as flabbergasted as I was by the nature of Gibbs’ aggression against teammate Brandon Jones during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series elimination race at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
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.”
By virtue of that maneuver, Justin Allgaier, a veteran in the sport, will join Gibbs and two others in the Championship 4. Instead of having the opportunity to have two cars racing for a championship on Saturday in Phoenix, JGR has just one in the Xfinity Series and the only reason as to why is because of Ty Gibbs’ immature actions.
“Yeah, yesterday is disappointing,” said Coy Gibbs. “That’s not what we wanted for our race team. We haven’t met as a group yet because we’ve been at the racetrack and all over the place. We’re going to meet and deal with that internally and handle that.
“I agree with it, it would have been awesome to have two cars. I thought we had two cars today until a white missile went by at the last second.”
Does this give Gibbs reservations of his son moving up to a Cup ride next year?
“Yeah, I mean, I think when you’re young, you make mistakes. Hopefully you learn from ’em. I think that’s the message that we’ll deliver to him,” he said of that topic.
“Obviously with teammates, that’s a whole different ballgame. There’s a couple things we need to go over. Like I said, we haven’t met as a group yet. Our leadership group will meet and we’ll deal with the situation.
“I think that’s part of the process and why you work your way up, so you can make those mistakes typically at a lower level.
“So, you know, look, he’s my kid. I appreciate his aggression. But sometimes you got to pull back a little bit. This is a place where we need to pull back some.
“Just talked to him and explained to him that doing that affects not just him, it affects our whole company, all our sponsors, all the people we deal with, Toyota, obviously affected Brandon. Those are things maybe you’re not thinking of in that split second, but hopefully we can get with him and educate him on those things.”
Joe Gibbs talked with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after Sunday’s Cup Series race and echoed what his son said about his grandson.