Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs delivered a message on July 2 by cleanly passing Kyle Larson and winning the Xfinity Series race at Road America. Now former crew chief Steve Letarte has said he has “zero concerns” about moving the 19-year-old up to the Cup Series.
Letarte made the comments during the July 5 episode of “Backseat Drivers.” He explained that there are no doubts about Kyle Busch’s ability behind the wheel. He believes that the driver of the No. 18 is capable of rattling off an eight-win season at a moment’s notice. Though Letarte noted that he wouldn’t have issues moving Gibbs up to Cup if JGR can’t reach a new deal with Busch.
“Let’s start with this — we haven’t heard an announcement about Kyle Busch,” Letarte said. “Kyle Busch is a two-time champion and assuming that they can agree on his value and the sponsorship and the business side of Kyle Busch, I would prefer him back in the [No.] 18 if I’m Joe Gibbs Racing.
“…I will say that if I am Coy Gibbs, Joe Gibbs, and the decision-makers at Joe Gibbs Racing, and I don’t feel that I can get it done with Kyle Busch, I have zero concerns with putting Ty Gibbs in the Cup Series.”
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Letarte Has 1 Main Reason for Making This Statement
The crew chief-turned-analyst turned heads with this comment, but he had a reason for making it. He explained that it doesn’t matter when Gibbs moves up to the Cup Series. He will still have to deal with a difficult learning curve.
As Letarte explained, there are numerous Xfinity Series standouts that moved up to the Cup Series and struggled to quickly gain ground. He specifically mentioned Cole Custer and Austin Cindric, who each won a race during their rookie seasons but could not consistently contend for wins.
Another fitting example is Chase Briscoe. The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang only posted three top-10 finishes during his rookie season, but he has performed at a much higher level in 2022.
He won at Phoenix Raceway, and he has two other top-five finishes. Briscoe was in position for multiple other wins before unexpected moments. This includes Bristol Motor Speedway when he attempted to pass Tyler Reddick on the final lap and spun them both out.
Gibbs Has Achieved Success in Only 34 Starts
The reason for the conversations about Gibbs is the amount of success that he has achieved in a limited number of starts. He has only suited up for 34 races in the Xfinity Series, but he has won at a staggering rate.
Gibbs made 18 starts during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2021, but he posted top-10 finishes in 10 of them and reached Victory Lane four times. This includes his first-ever start at the Daytona Road Course. He could have had more, but a transmission issue ended his day early at Road America.
Fast-forward to the 2022 season, and Gibbs has made another 16 starts while driving full-time. He already has matched his 10 top-10 finishes, and he is two top-fives away from matching his career-best of nine from the 2021 season.
Of course, the most important number is four. Gibbs has won four more times in 2022, which has helped him take the second spot in the championship standings. He is the only driver in the series with more than two wins, and he is well on his way to setting a new career-best mark.