In a classic short-track style of racing between two teammates who dominated and refused to lift out of the throttle, Ty Gibbs overtook, bumped, and fended off teammate John Hunter Nemechek on the final lap to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, April 2.
The 19-year-old grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs from Charlotte, North Carolina, started on pole position and was out in front for 114 of 250-scheduled laps, but came under attack from teammate John Hunter Nemechek, who led a race-high 135 laps, under the final five laps. Following a side-by-side duel, Nemechek appeared to have the upper hand at the start of the final lap until Gibbs bumped and mounted a challenge on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate entering the backstretch. He then made slight contact with Nemechek that sent the latter out of the racing groove before snatching the lead back and having enough momentum to win for the third time in 2022.
With on-track qualifying occurring on Saturday, Ty Gibbs notched his second consecutive pole of this season after posting a pole-winning speed at 121.836 mph. Joining him on the front row was John Hunter Nemechek, who posted a fast qualifying lap at 121.098 mph and was making his first of three scheduled starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Prior to the event, Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton and JJ Yeley dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to their respective cars.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Gibbs jumped ahead with an early advantage entering the first turn. Through the first lap, Gibbs retained the lead ahead of teammate Nemechek, Noah Gragson, rookie Austin Hill and Brandon Jones while a series of early battles ensued.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Gibbs was leading by nearly three-tenths of a second over teammate Nemechek followed by Gragson, Brandon Jones and Ryan Preece while Hill, AJ Allmendinger, Jeremy Clements, Sam Mayer and Ryan Sieg were in the top 10.
Two laps later, however, Nemechek muscled his No. 18 Safeway Toyota Supra to the lead over Gibbs’ No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra.
By Lap 25, Nemechek was leading by more than three-tenths of a second over Gragson, who was reeling in the leader for the top spot. Gibbs was back in third ahead of Allmendinger, the leading contender for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus, and Brandon Jones.
Twenty-five laps later at the Lap 50 mark, Nemechek continued to lead as his advantage was more than four seconds over Allmendinger, who continued his methodical march to the front with a fast race car. Gragson was back in third followed by Gibbs and Josh Berry while Brandon Jones, Hill, Ryan Sieg, Mayer and Parker Retzlaff were in the top 10. Meanwhile, Justin Allgaier was mired in 11th place.
By Lap 70, Nemechek remained as the leader by more than four seconds over Allmendinger while third-place Gragson trailed by more than five seconds. Meanwhile, Berry was up in fourth place ahead of Gibbs while names like Jeremy Clements, Ryan Preece and Brett Moffitt along with newcomers Derek Griffith and Rajah Caruth were a lap behind the leaders.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 75, Nemechek captured his first Xfinity stage victory of the season. Behind, JR Motorsports’ Gragson and Berry settled in second and third followed by Allmendinger, who was held up by the lapped competitor of Rajah Caruth. Gibbs settled in fifth ahead of Ryan Sieg, Parker Retzlaff, Brandon Jones, Hill and Mayer. By then, Creed was in 12th ahead of Riley Herbst while Daniel Hemric was in 15th ahead of teammate Landon Cassill, and Allgaier.
Under the stage break and prior to pit lane being open for the competitors to pit, Gragson pitted to address potential brake issues to his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro. When pit lane opened, the field pitted and Nemechek retained the lead. Following the pit stops, Hemric was penalized for speeding on pit road,
The second stage started on Lap 85 as Nemechek and Allmendinger occupied the front row. At the start, Nemechek jumped ahead to retain the lead followed by teammate Gibbs, who dueled with Allmendinger for the runner-up spot.
Three laps later, the caution returned due to a brake rotor reported on the track in Turn 1 that came off of Gragson’s No. 9 Chevrolet as the Las Vegas driver continued to battle with brake issues.
When the race restarted under green on Lap 95, Nemechek rocketed away with another strong restart with the lead followed by teammate Gibbs while Sieg challenged Allmendinger for third place.
At the Lap 100 mark, Nemechek was leading by more than a tenth of a second over teammate Gibbs, who started to pressure his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate for the top spot, while Allmendinger, Sieg and Berry were in the top five. Hill was in sixth ahead of Brandon Jones, Allgaier, Creed and Anthony Alfredo. Meanwhile, driver Kyle Sieg pitted after falling off the pace.
When the race reached its halfway mark on Lap 125, Nemechek remained as the leader by more than half a second over teammate Gibbs while Berry, Allmendinger, Ryan Sieg, Allgaier, Hill, Brandon Jones, Alfredo, and Creed were in the top 10. Herbst was in 11th followed by Mayer, Cassill, Parker Retzlaff and Hemric while Alex Labbe, Jeb Burton, Preece, Gragson and Clements were in the top 20. In addition, 23 of 38 starters were scored on the lead lap.
With six laps remaining in the second stage, Gibbs moved into the top spot and started to pull away from teammate Nemechek.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 150, Gibbs, who was mired in lapped traffic, captured his first stage victory of the season. Teammate Nemechek settled in second ahead of Berry, Ryan Sieg, Allmendinger, Alfredo, Mayer, Allgaier, Herbst and Parker Rtzlaff.
Under the stage break, the leaders returned to pit road for service and Gibbs retained the lead after exiting pit road in first place followed by teammate Nemechek, Berry, Allmendinger and Ryan Sieg. Following the pit stops, Berry was penalized for speeding along with Retzlaff for an uncontrolled tire violation. In addition, Stefan Parsons was penalized for removing the jack out of his pit box and onto the track.
With 90 laps remaining, the final stage started under green as teammates Gibbs and Nemechek occupied the front row. At the start, Gibbs muscled with the lead followed by teammate Nemechek, Allmendinger, Allgaier and Sieg, who was locked in a battle with Mayer.
Fifteen laps later, Gibbs continued to lead by more than a second over teammate Nemechek while Allgaier, Allmendinger and Brandon Jones were in the top five. Ryan Sieg was in sixth followed by Hemric, Mayer, Preece and Cassill while Hill, Alfredo, Herbst, Jeb Burton, and Brandon Brown were in the top 15. By then, 22 of 38 starters were scored on the lead lap.
Down to the final 50 laps of the event, Gibbs was leading by seven-tenths of a second over teammate Nemechek followed by Allmendinger, Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg, Preece, Hill, Mayer, Hemric, Herbst, Berry, Alfredo, Cassill and Jeb Burton.
Then under the final 40 scheduled laps, the battle for the lead ignited between teammates Nemechek and Gibbs with the former having caught the latter as they dueled amid lapped traffic. With both making slight contact in Turn 1, Gibbs continued to fend off teammate Nemechek on the outside lane. Following an intense duel, Nemechek managed to clear teammate Gibbs and reassume the lead with 33 laps remaining. Gibbs, however, fought back during the following lap after overtaking Nemechek entering Turn 3 and reassuming the lead despite getting bumped by Nemechek’s No. 18 Toyota.
With 25 laps remaining, Gibbs was leading by more than four-tenths of a second over teammate Nemechek while third-place Allmendinger, who was in position to claim the first Dash 4 Cash bonus, trailed by more than five seconds. Meanwhile, Sam Mayer, who was battling Allmendinger for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus, was up in fourth place ahead of Ryan Sieg while Allgaier, Herbst, Brandon Jones, Berry and Preece were in the top 10. Racing in 11th place was Austin Hill, who was also contending for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus.
Five laps later, the gap between teammates Gibbs and Nemechek dwindled down to less than four-tenths of a second with Gibbs carving his way through lapped traffic while also trying to fend off Nemechek for the win. Behind, third-place Allmendinger was less than a second ahead of Mayer in a battle for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus.
Another four laps later, Mayer overtook Allmendinger to move into third place as he placed himself to claim the first Dash 4 Cash bonus. By then, Gibbs overtook two lapped competitors to retain a steady advantage ahead of Nemechek.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Gibbs remained as the leader by half a second over teammate Nemechek while third-place Mayer was more than three seconds ahead of Allmendinger in a bid for the first Dash 4 Cash bonus.
With five laps remaining, Nemechek narrowed the gap to less than three-tenths of a second over Gibbs as he launched another challenge on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate for the top spot.
Shortly after, both dueled dead even for the next two laps until Nemechek peaked ahead with three laps remaining. Just as he cleared Gibbs for the lead, Gibbs fought back entering the first turn as he bumped his teammate. During the following lap, he bumped his teammate again in Turn 1 before drawing even with him through the backstretch. Gibbs then slid up the track and nearly spun his teammate, but Nemechek retained the lead by a narrow margin.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, teammates Nemechek and Gibbs were running in a close single-file line of one another before Gibbs bumped and launched a final challenge on Nemechek for the lead entering the backstretch. Then with both dead even entering Turn 3, Gibbs made contact against Nemechek’s No. 18 Toyota, which sent Nemechek wide on the outside lane and allowed Gibbs to reassume the lead and have all lanes in control entering the final straightaway. With Nemechek unable to regain his momentum, Gibbs streaked across the finish line with the win while nearly sideways by 0.116 seconds just ahead of Nemechek.
Just after both crossed the finish line, Nemechek was quick to run into the rear bumper of Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota to express his displeasure before nursing his car back to pit road while Gibbs celebrated with victorious burnouts on the frontstretch.
The Richmond victory was Gibbs’ third of the 2022 season, thus making him the first three-time winner of this year’s Xfinity season, and the seventh of his Xfinity Series career. All told, Gibbs and Nemechek led all but one of the 250-scheduled laps.
“I definitely deserve one back,” Gibbs said on FS1. “We’re racing for wins and they’re hard to come by. I had to take it. We were just fighting tight [conditions] all day. Just couldn’t hold the bottom. John Hunter was just a little bit faster and we had a great race. Good for Toyota to finish one, two. [I] Just got in there deep, had to bump him out of the way up the track, so we’re short track racing. Thank you to Monster Energy. What a great car. This is awesome for Toyota. Cool to get our third win, so hopefully, we can keep it rolling ”
“[Gibbs] and I will settle it on Monday,” Nemechek, who was left disappointed on pit road, said. “I don’t want to say too much to get myself in trouble, but [I] just got drove through. He didn’t even try to make the corner there, so racers never forget. That’s for sure.”
Meanwhile, Sam Mayer came home in a career-best third-place, nearly six seconds ahead of Allmendinger, and claimed the first Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus of the season. Mayer’s first Dash 4 Cash bonus also marks the fifth consecutive Dash 4 Cash initiative that has been claimed by a JR Motorsports competitor.
“By the end of it, our Accelerate [Professional Talent Solutions] Chevy Camaro was as fast as Xfinity Internet,” Mayer said. “That’s a really feels good moment for us. Obviously, my best career finish and a hundred grand to go with it. It’s unbelievable. This team definitely deserves it.”
Sam Mayer, race winner Ty Gibbs, fourth-place finisher AJ Allmendinger and fifth-place finisher Riley Herbst have qualified for the second Dash 4 Cash event that will occur next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
Hemric finished in sixth place while Berry, Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg and Parker Retzlaff completed the top 10. Jeb Burton, Anthony Alfredo, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier and Landon Cassill finished in the top 15 followed by Ryan Preece, Mason Massey, Austin Hill, Alex Labbe and Jeremy Clements. Noah Gragson settled in 21st place following his brake issues while Rajah Caruth and Derek Griffith finished 24th and 26th in their Xfinity debuts.
There were eight lead changes for three different leaders. The race featured three cautions for 24 laps.
With a fourth-place result, AJ Allmendinger leads the regular-season standings by 20 points over both Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson while Josh Berry trails by 76 and Justin Allgaier trails by 87.
1. Ty Gibbs, 114 laps led, Stage 2 winner
2. John Hunter Nemechek, 135 laps led, Stage 1 winner
3. Sam Mayer
4. AJ Allmendinger
5. Riley Herbst
6. Daniel Hemric
7. Josh Berry, one lap led
8. Brandon Brown
9. Ryan Sieg
10. Parker Retzlaff
11. Jeb Burton
12. Anthony Alfredo
13. Brandon Jones
14. Justin Allgaier
15. Landon Cassill
16. Ryan Preece
17. Mason Massey
18. Austin Hill
19. Alex Labbe
20. Jeremy Clements, one lap down
21. Noah Gragson, one lap down
22. Sheldon Creed, one lap down
23. David Starr, two laps down
24. Rajah Caruth, two laps down
25. Brett Moffitt, two laps down
26. Derek Griffith, two laps down
27. Josh Williams, three laps down
28. Kyle Weatherman, four laps down
29. Joe Graf Jr., four laps down
30. Myatt Snider, four laps down
31. Bayley Currey, four laps down
32. JJ Yeley, five laps down
33. Jade Buford, five laps down
34. Joey Gase, five laps down
35. Stefan Parsons, five laps down
36. Ryan Vargas, seven laps down
37. Kyle Sieg – OUT, Engine
38. Brennan Poole – OUT, Rear gear
Next on the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ first of two visits this season to Martinsville Speedway, where the second of four Dash 4 Cash events will also occur. The event is scheduled to occur on Friday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.