Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America on July 2 after a fierce battle with Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson. It was his fourth trip to Victory Lane of the year, and it helped him deliver a message to Cup Series teams.
Gibbs made some seemingly pointed comments after an intense two-lap overtime run to the checkered flag. He explained that he’s had to learn some lessons in his career and that he has to earn his respect back. Gibbs then made a comment about the people that were potentially watching him beat a Cup Series champion in a head-to-head race.
“It’s awesome. I just stayed the same the whole time,” Gibbs told NBC Sports after his win. “Hopefully, a lot of people were watching. It’s cool to be here, cool to race the Cup Series guys. Hopefully, that says something. Thankful for where I’m at.”
Larson had a nearly three-second lead with four laps remaining in the Xfinity Series race. However, the situation changed after Cole Custer’s single-car wreck brought out the caution flag. The incident erased Larson’s lead and opened up the opportunity for Gibbs to take the lead and capture his fourth win of the year.
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The drivers lined up for overtime after Custer hit the tire wall and brought out the caution flag. Larson and Gibbs were side-by-side through the early turns, but the defending Cup Series champion ultimately took the lead. However, Gibbs battled back and took advantage of a miscue by Larson.
Kyle Larson Made Some Favorable Comments About Gibbs
The driver of the No. 54 said that he wanted to earn some respect from the Cup Series drivers in the field. It appears that he achieved this goal after besting Larson, Ty Dillon, and Cole Custer among other drivers.
Larson met with NBC’s Marty Snider after the race and faced questions about the future Cup Series competitor. He said that Gibbs had definitely earned some respect for the clean way that he raced at the road course.
“He was able to pass me without even laying a bumper on me at all,” Larson said during his post-race interview. “When he passed me clean, I feel like I should not use him up like we’ve seen others do when they make a pass for the lead late. He ran me clean and then I was gonna run him clean. It just didn’t work out for me.”
Larson also spoke to NBC Sports’ Dustin Long after the race and said that he could tell that Gibbs was really good based on his success at the road courses. The defending Cup Series champion also continued and expressed anticipation for his upcoming battle against Gibbs at Darlington Raceway.
Conversations Continue To Focus on Gibbs’ Future
The race at Road America was Gibbs’ fourth in his Xfinity Series career. He now has started 34 races in the past two seasons, and he has reached Victory Lane a total of eight times. This means that he has won 23.5% of the starts that he has made.
With Gibbs achieving success so early in his Xfinity Series career, there will continue to be conversations about his future. The prevailing belief is that he will stay in the Xfinity Series for one more year before moving up to the Cup Series, but there will be questions about whether JGR will make any changes.
Obviously, the biggest hurdle will be the availability of an open seat. Martin Truex Jr. has agreed to return to the team while there are still questions about Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Christopher Bell. If one of those seats is without a driver, Gibbs will become the logical choice to fill it. Though it’s far more likely that he will continue to race in the Xfinity Series in 2023.