Race Weekend Central

1st Step to Remove Black Hat: Ty Gibbs Earns Respect With Clean Phoenix Drive

PHOENIX — One race won’t change a narrative, but Ty Gibbs certainly made huge strides to do that at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday night (Nov. 5).

Going into the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship race, Gibbs had been labeled by many, including his competitors, as a dirty driver who drove with no respect.

“I lost all respect today,” Brandon Jones said after Gibbs dumped him for the win last week at Martinsville Speedway. “I know a lot of guys on pit road have [lost respect] for him [too].”

See also
Xfinity Drivers React to Ty Gibbs Dumping Brandon Jones at Martinsville

Martinsville was one of at least seven instances this year where Gibbs drove dirty, and it brought on the question of whether some in the NXS field would do anything to prevent him from winning the title.

But Gibbs pulled through on Saturday. He won the race and the championship, getting around Justin Allgaier and holding off a late charge from Noah Gragson to do so.

“I focused out the windshield,” Gibbs told NBC Sports. “I felt like we had a great race with those guys. Great job to JR Motorsports, but the 25% won.”

JRM made up 75% of the Championship 4 after Gibbs cost Jones a spot with the Martinsville dump, allowing JRM’s Allgaier to get in.

“What I did last week was unacceptable, and I apologize once again, but it was unacceptable because we could have had two shots to win this deal, and it was stupid from an organization standpoint,” Gibbs said. “All my fault. I can sit here and tell you I’m sorry as much as I can, but it’s not going to fix it. I’ve got to fix my actions.

“I felt like today I had a good race, felt like I made some good moves.”

More importantly, Gibbs won it in clean fashion. The 20-year-old battled hard for essentially the entire final stage of the race with Allgaier and Gragson, but he never wrecked them. He never even bumped them.

See also
Ty Gibbs Brings Home Xfinity Championship After Winning at Phoenix

It seemed like Gibbs went above and beyond to make sure he made his passes on his championship rivals without any contact. His clean but tactful performance impressed both Allgaier and Gragson, the latter of which said, “I don’t like him,” about Gibbs just days before.

After the race, it was Gragson who went and congratulated every member of the No. 54 team and shook Gibbs’ hand.

“Because they did a good job,” Gragson said. “They beat us.”

Gragson still thinks Gibbs is a “douchebag” but noted that he “won the race fair and square [Saturday].”

“Pocono [Raceway] proved to me that he does have the potential, and he’s very, very talented,” Gragson said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to put him back in his place a little bit. He races really, really hard, but really, really clean. And he raced like a champion tonight, and he deserves it.”

Allgaier hasn’t had as many dustups with Gibbs as Gragson has, but the last time he has as fierce of a battle with Gibbs was earlier this year at Kansas Speedway when Allgaier used Gibbs up to complete a pass. That battle resulted in Gibbs angrily side-swiping Allgaier’s No. 7 after the caution flag. The battle was much cleaner this time around, even though the stakes were way higher.

“I think one time we made like slight contact,” Allgaier said. “I was pretty impressed because I felt like I tried to take as much room as I could without having contact.

“… I pulled a couple moves to try to get clear and get to the lead, and you never know how that stuff is going to do. He had the opportunity to stick it on my door, and potentially driving as hard as I do, and if he does at that point potentially we both wreck. I thought he did a good job in that regard.”

But Gibbs’ narrative and reputation can’t be rebuilt positively in a day. He didn’t win back the fans, as boos rained down on him during his celebration.

“Yeah, I don’t want to be the one with the boos, and I’m the one that put myself in that position,” Gibbs said. “But I don’t want this championship to be remembered for boos; I want it to be remembered for hard work and our team.

“Thank you to the fans, even though I don’t have that many of them. Hopefully, I earned some respect back, and we’ll move on.”

TRD President David Wilson noted that “one race isn’t a cure-all,” but that the Gibbs family doesn’t want to continue to see Gibbs be so disliked.

“I remember the Sunday morning after [spring] Martinsville, one, talking to his grandfather, talking to Coach [Joe] Gibbs, but I was talking to his grandfather, not to Joe Gibbs,” Wilson said. “He was terribly distraught because the last thing he wanted for his grandson was for him to be disliked from the fans.

“It really is personal. But what I said to Joe is — at the time he was 19 years old, and I didn’t believe that you’re going to shape your reputation based upon one race or one season. I think that comes with time.”

There have been drivers throughout NASCAR history who went from being disliked to being fan favorites — look no further than Darrell Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson. So while Gibbs was well on his way down the path to being NASCAR’s next big villain, that destiny may not be set in stone just yet.

“I don’t think the black hat is planted firmly on his head just yet,” Wilson said. “I believe that through his actions, through his words, through his sincerity that he can recover and be who he wants to be, be who he believes he is.

“But honestly, that’s up to him. We’re going to have to see how that plays out over his career. He’s going to be arguably in the sport another 15, 20 years, we hope.”

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

So unfortunate, very sorry to read he won.


Jimmie Johnson was never ever a dirty driver like Ty. Terrible comparison. And Jimmie was never big time disliked before he ran his first season in Cup. The fans spoke last week and this week. Now he’s being fake, sorry won’t cut it for being a douchebag all year.


So, the ‘repercussions’ for young Mr. Gibbs is that the fans booed him. Yup, THAT oughta teach min a lesson all right! He certainly gave all the right speeches, all the right answers, but I’m not convinced that it shows a fundamental change in his driving. His maturity level definitely leaves something to be desired, and winning the title will only make him feel more entitled. God better be on high alert to keep this kid on the straight and narrow.


There is a saying that goes “when someone shows you who they are, believe them”. Yesterday was an outlier. You heard his crew chief instruct him to “be humble” His default will be the entitled little rich kid we have witnessed. He lost me and I’m a long way from back.


The most interesting news, to me at least, from the broadcast is that Gibbs Martinsville fiasco created a lot of dissension amongst JGR employees themselves. Once a company gets an employee who may be talented but whose actions are odious and whose job is protected via nepotism, it’s like a cancer and the outcome is usually bad in the long run. Gibbs is still an immature child and maybe he’ll get straightened out, but it’s doubtful. He’s was a dirty driver in ARCA, he’s been a dirty driver in Xfinity. It seems to be who he is.


If Joe Gibbs really didn’t want his grandson to be disliked, he would have stepped up and put a stop to it all, long before it escalated to the point where it did to last week. He’s only concerned now because it’s effecting his pocket book.

He lost Menard’s last week, and I’m sure other sponsors are taking a hard look at a team that is happy to let one driver take out another, costing that team, their driver and the sponsor a chance to race for the championship. Gibbs doesn’t have to worry about a sponsor for the kid, he’s aligned with Monster, a company that seems to like to be associated with dirt bags. But he has 3 other Cup teams and 4 Xfinity teams, that all need sponsors. I don’t see FedEx leaving Hamblin, they’re a crappy company that seems to like dirt bags too. Bass Pro Shops has already upped there backing of JR Motorsports, and I assume they’ll move on when Truex retires, quite possibly to Gragson and Jones at Petty GMS? Carrier will be around only as long as Bell is.


Not really sure why Allgaier did not wreck him when I came up the track suring stage 2. Sure seemed like a great opportunity because Gibbs put himself in a position to get tapped, spun whatever and no one would have thought it was dirty. Burton even stated the 7 cut him some slack with that move.

Bill B

My hope for Gibbs is that he finds out next year that he wasn’t that good, it was just his JGR prepared cars were head and shoulders above most of the other teams’ cars. Humility is exactly what he needs. The only way that will happen is if he struggles mightily in his first full time season. His days of dominating may well be over once he gets to Cup. It’s not like he’s set the world on fire in his Cup runs thus far.


“Earns respect” my ass.

Tom B

Has anyone from FrontStretch actually tried ask John Menard what he thought about the car #19 that he sponsored and was taken out of the Championship 4 by a teammate who was locked in?
Phil, inquiring minds want to know.

Share via