With the championship finale looming over the NASCAR Xfinity Series competition and spots to battle for the title up for grabs, Ty Gibbs spoiled teammate Brandon Jones’ opportunity to compete for this year’s title by wrecking him on the final lap before proceeding to claim a controversial victory in the Dead on Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 29.
The 20-year-old Gibbs from Charlotte, North Carolina, led seven times for a race-high 102 of 269 over-scheduled laps and took care of business for the majority of the event to secure a spot for the Championship 4 round based on points. Under the final 10 laps and pushing his car for more, however, Gibbs found himself squared off against teammate Brandon Jones, who was placed in a “must-win” situation to maintain his title hopes through a series of late restarts and incidents that sent the event into overtime three times.
During the third and final overtime attempt, Jones, who traded paint with Gibbs throughout a series of late restarts, managed to navigate his way around Gibbs and the field for the lead, but Gibbs delivered the final blow on the final lap by bumping and sending his teammate backward into the wall. The incident netted Gibbs an unpopular victory from the grandstands while Jones was one of four competitors to have their championship hopes for this season come to a late end.
By claiming his sixth victory of the 2022 Xfinity Series season, Gibbs is set to square off against JR Motorsports’ Josh Berry, Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier for this year’s Xfinity title that will determine a champion next weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, Playoff competitor Brandon Jones scored his fifth pole position of the 2022 season after posting a pole-winning lap at 95.482 mph in 19.832 seconds. Joining him on the front row was rookie Sheldon Creed, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 95.333 mph in 19.863 seconds.
Prior to the event, the following competitors that included Playoff competitor Austin Hill, Derek Griffith and Kyle Weatherman dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective cars. Daniel Hemric also dropped to the rear of the field in a backup car after he wrecked his primary car during the practice session on Friday.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Brandon Jones rocketed with an early advantage through the first two turns ahead of Creed and Sammy Smith while Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson dueled for fourth place. As the field battled through two lanes for a full circuit, Jones went on to lead the first lap.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Jones was leading by seven-tenths of a second over Creed followed by Smith, Gibbs and Gragson while Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Riley Herbst, Anthony Alfredo and Jeb Burton were running in the top 10. Jeremy Clements, Joe Graf Jr., Josh Berry, Ryan Sieg and Landon Cassill occupied the top 15 while Sam Mayer was back in 16th.
Ten laps later, Jones continued to lead by more than a second over teammate Gibbs while Creed, Smith and Gragson were all scored in the top five. By then, six of eight Playoff competitors were running in the top 10 on the track, minus Mayer and Hill.
On Lap 32, the first caution of the event flew when Patrick Emerling got into the rear of Joe Graf Jr. entering Turn 1 as Graf backed his car hard into the outside wall while Emerling also spun in front of Jeremy Clements and Howie Disavino III. During the first caution period, some led by Gragson pitted while the rest led by Jones remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Gragson was penalized for speeding while entering pit road.
When the race restarted under green on Lap 41, Jones retained the lead over teammate Gibbs and the field. As the field jostled for positions, Jones was able to maintain the top spot for the duration of the first stage as he went on to claim his third stage victory of the 2022 season on Lap 60, which marked the first stage’s conclusion. Teammate Gibbs settled in second followed by Allgaier, Berry and Smith while Herbst, Creed, Allmendinger, Mayer and Hill claimed top-10 spots and the first round of stage points.
Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Jones pitted while Gragson and Rajah Caruth remained on the track. During the pit stops, Kyle Weatherman and Alex Labbe were both penalized for safety violations.
The second stage started on Lap 70 as Gragson and Caruth occupied the front row. At the start, Gragson took off with the lead and managed to cross over from the outside lane to the inside lane entering the first turn. Behind, the field fanned out to three lanes as Jones muscled his way into the runner-up spot while Berry and Gibbs were also scored in the top five. Behind, Allgaier battled Smith for sixth place while racing on the outside lane as the field continued to duel and rub against one another for spots.
Eighteen laps later, Gibbs emerged as the third different leader of the event after he overtook Gragson.
On Lap 106, the caution flew when Landon Cassill wheel-hopped his No. 10 StormX Chevrolet Camaro entering Turn 3 and smacked the outside wall hard while locking up his front tires. During the caution period, some led by Gibbs remained on the track while the rest led by Jones pitted.
With nine laps remaining in the second stage, the race proceeded under green as Gibbs and Allgaier occupied the front row. At the start, Allgaier gained momentum on the outside lane to move his No. 7 iRacing/BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro into the lead. Five laps later, however, Allgaier slipped up the track entering Turn 3, which allowed Gibbs to reassume the top spot. As Gibbs maintained his ground with the lead, Berry and Hill rubbed fenders while battling for sixth place.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 120, Gibbs claimed his eighth stage victory of the 2022 season. Allgaier settled in second while Allmendinger, Gragson, Sanchez, Berry, Hill, Jeb Burton, Ryan Sieg and Alfredo were scored in the top 10. By then, six of eight Playoff competitors were scored in the top 10 and were awarded a second round of stage points while Brandon Jones and Mayer were mired back in 11th and 18th.
Under the stage break, some led by Gibbs pitted while the rest led by Berry remained on the track.
With 122 laps remaining, the final stage started as Berry and Sammy Smith occupied the front row. At the start, Berry retained the lead and had both lanes to his control with clean air while Hill intimidated Smith for the runner-up spot by bumping him and trying to move him up entering the turns. Smith, however, retained his ground and the runner-up spot while Creed and Jones battled for fourth in front of Herbst and Hemric. A few laps later, Hill prevailed over his battle with Smith as he moved into the runner-up spot while Jones tried to issue a challenge on teammate Smith for third place.
Down to the final 100 laps of the event, Berry was leading by more than a second over Jones, who battled and overtook Hill for the runner-up spot, while Herbst and Gibbs were scored in the top five. Smith, Mayer, Allmendinger, Gragson and Creed were running in the top 10 ahead of Allgaier, Sanchez, Hemric, Perkins and Snider while Alfredo, Labbe, Sieg, Weatherman and Derek Griffith occupied the top 20.
Eleven laps later, the caution returned when Yeley wrecked in Turn 3 after wheel-hopping entering the turn and sustaining significant rear-end damage to his car. During the caution periods, the leaders returned to pit road and Jones managed to reassume the lead after exiting pit road first followed by Berry, Gibbs, Gragson and Herbst.
When the race restarted under green with 81 laps remaining, Jones rocketed with the lead entering the first turn while Berry settled in the runner-up spot behind Jones and in front of Gibbs before Gibbs assumed Berry’s spot during the following lap. Behind, Herbst was in fourth while Allmendinger and Gragson battled for fifth place in front of Hill.
Then with 72 laps remaining, Gibbs muscled his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra into the lead over teammate Jones’ No. 19 Menards Toyota Supra through Turns 3 and 4 as Jones was placed back into a “must-win” situation to maintain his title hopes.
Sixteen laps later, the caution flew when Kris Wright got bumped by Disavino III as both spun in Turn 3. During the caution period, some that included Allmendinger and Hill pitted while the rest led by Gibbs remained on the track.
With 48 laps remaining, the race proceeded under green as teammates Gibbs and Jones occupied the front row. At the start, Gibbs, who restarted on the outside lane, rocketed away from the field entering Turn 1 before he crossed over to the inside lane entering the backstretch to block Jones, who was being challenged by Gragson for more. Not long after, however, the caution returned when Ryan Sieg spun towards the outside wall in Turn 1 after getting hit by Hemric’s No. 11 AG1 Chevrolet Camaro.
As the race restarted with 40 laps remaining, Gibbs took off with another strong start while Jones and Gragson dueled for second in front of Smith, Berry, Mayer and Allgaier. Three laps later, however, the caution was displayed when Hill, Clements and Parsons came together as all three wrecked entering the backstretch. The incident prompted Hill to pit his No. 21 Global Industrial Chevrolet Camaro from the top 20 during the caution period as his hopes of advancing to the Championship 4 round were placed in jeopardy.
When the race restarted with 32 laps remaining, Gibbs and Gragson dueled for the lead for nearly a full lap before Gibbs, who officially clinched his spot for the Championship 4 finale, cleared the field and had both lanes to his control through Turn 4. It did not take long, however, for the caution to return for a multi-car stack-up that struck entering Turn 4 when Snider got turned and collected Hill, Emerling, CJ McLaughlin, Disavino, Kris Wright, Stefan Parsons and Mason Massey. During the caution period, Berry surrendered seventh place to pit along with Labbe, Hill and Josh Williams while the rest of the competitors remained on the track.
During the following restart with 23 laps remaining, Gibbs took off with the lead while Jones battled Gragson for second place in front of Smith, Mayer, Herbst and Allgaier. Jones prevailed over Gragson during the following lap as he moved into second place while Allgaier and Allmendinger dueled and rubbed fenders for seventh place.
With less than 20 laps remaining, the battle for seventh place on the track and for a championship finale spot ignited between Allgaier and Allmendinger as Allgaier, who got moved up the track following a bump by Allmendinger a few laps earlier, ran into the rear of Allmendinger in Turn 3 as both dueled against one another. Then with 17 laps remaining, Allgaier, who got moved up the track again by Allmendinger in Turn 1, delivered the final blow as he pounded into Allmendinger’s rear bumper twice entering Turn 3. With Allmendinger moving up the track, Allgaier seized his opportunity and made contact into the side of Allmendinger as Allmendinger nearly got loose in Turn 4 before falling off the pace after cutting a left-rear tire amid the contact. With the caution flying, Allmendinger pitted his No. 16 Action Industries Chevrolet Camaro for fresh tires as his hopes of transferring to the finale were placed in jeopardy. The incident also erased Gibbs’ steady advantage over teammate Jones.
Down to the final nine laps of the event, the race restarted under green as Gibbs and Gragson squared off against one another on the front row. At the start, Jones, who restarted behind teammate Gibbs, made his move for the lead after getting into the rear of Gibbs. Just as Jones started to pull ahead of Gibbs with the lead, the caution flew due to Weatherman wrecking in Turn 1 along with Brandon Brown and Jeb Burton. The incident was enough to send the event into overtime.
During the first overtime attempt, Jones, who restarted on the inside lane alongside teammate Smith and in front of Gibbs, dueled against Smith for the lead entering Turn 1 before Gibbs shoved his nose beneath Jones entering the backstretch. This resulted in all three Joe Gibbs Racing competitors racing three wide for the lead entering Turn 3. That was when Smith got rubbed by Jones as Smith went for a spin as the caution flew and the event was sent into a second overtime attempt. At the moment of caution, NASCAR ruled that Jones was the leader followed by teammate Gibbs as Herbst, Gragson and Creed completed the top five.
At the start of the second overtime attempt, Jones briefly pulled away from the field entering the first turn until he barely slipped up the track, which allowed Gibbs to stick his car beneath Jones and challenge him for the lead through the backstretch. By then, however, the caution returned when Berry got turned in Turn 2 by teammate Allgaier after he got bumped by teammate Mayer. At the moment of caution, Gibbs was scored as the leader ahead of Jones, who fell back to a “must-win” situation as Allgaier, who continued to run towards the front, moved back up into contention to make the finale.
The start of the third overtime attempt favored Jones, who made his move beneath Gibbs and Gragson in Turn 1 before all three competitors fanned out to three lanes in a battle for the win through the backstretch. Jones then managed to pull ahead with the lead with a push from Creed through Turns 3 and 4 as he commenced the final lap followed by a hard-charging Gibbs. Then entering Turn 1, Gibbs ran into the rear bumper of Jones, which caused Jones to spin as he backed his No. 19 Toyota into the outside wall in Turn 1. With the caution being displayed, the event was deemed official as Gibbs hustled his way back to the frontstretch and claim the victory.
By winning for the sixth time in 2022 and for the first time at Martinsville, Gibbs claimed his 10th career win in the Xfinity circuit as he will be making his first appearance in the Championship 4 round as a championship contender, all of which will come in his first full-time Xfinity campaign.
Gibbs’ victory was met with mixed results as he received a chorus of boos from the grandstands with the winning driver saluting them before claiming the checkered flag.
“I definitely didn’t want to wreck [Jones],” Gibbs said on NBC. “I wanted to get him out of the groove. I felt like we lost here earlier in the spring race just in the same way. I’m just pumped to get this win. It’s so awesome, especially at a track I feel like I’ve been coming to forever. It’s super cool to win here.”
The last lap incident involving Jones knocked Jones out of the 2022 Xfinity Series Playoffs as his hopes of competing for this year’s title evaporated along with the hopes of Allmendinger, Mayer and Hill, who was involved in a post-race altercation with Snider on pit road. On the contrary, the incident fell in the favor of Allgaier, who ended up in fifth place and managed to secure the fourth and final transfer spot to the Championship 4 Round. This season will mark Allgaier’s fifth appearance in the final round as a title contender, where he will contend for his first NASCAR national touring series championship alongside Gibbs and teammates Berry and Gragson.
“I had the race won, I think,” Jones, who ended up 23rd, said. “I love my guys. I love everyone on this No. 19 group. I’m excited to make my move to [JR Motorsports] next year and be a part of that organization. A little bit more respect over there, probably, given next year. We got one race left at Phoenix. I know we can go out there and win that, shake this [title fight] a little bit still yet and try to steal a little thunder there. I have no words. I know that we had some fun beating and banging back and forth a little bit, but I’ve never wrecked [Gibbs] or done anything for a win. It kind of shows where that level was there. I think [racing Gibbs earlier] opened up the opportunity to get moved, but I don’t know about dumped, destroyed and finished dead last. At the end of the day, I needed to win the race. Second and last, it is what it is. [I] Just expected to, maybe, have a little bit more of a shot at it there. To me, that’s what’s fun about this sport is having a duel, not just completely destroying somebody’s day.”
“It was definitely a long day,” Allgaier, who finished fifth, said. “We just didn’t have the handling that we wanted to on our iRacing/BRANDT Camaro. We were OK. We were a top-five car all day. Obviously, AJ and I battled a lot today. We were both pushing each other really hard. I hate having to use the bumper, but our team has done such a good job this year and gave themselves a shot to go for a championship. I had to make the most of it today. Proud of our team at JR Motorsports. To put three cars in the final four. We got a long work this week to be ready for Phoenix, but it’s a great racetrack for us. We’re gonna go there. We’re gonna lay it all on the line. It’s gonna be a battle, for sure.”
“[The battle with Allgaier]’s all fair,” Allmendinger, who settled in 16th, said. “We knew it was gonna be a battle. Thank you to everybody at Kaulig Racing. Our Action Industries Chevy, we were making the best of it. It’s disappointing to end it like that, but still a great year. [We] Did everything we could.”
In addition to this year’s driver’s championship battle, the final four title contenders (Berry, Gragson, Gibbs and Allgaier) will contend for the 2022 Xfinity owners’ championship next weekend at Phoenix.
There were 18 lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured 14 cautions for 91 laps.
1. Ty Gibbs, 102 laps led, Stage 2 winner
2. Sheldon Creed
3. Riley Herbst
4. Noah Gragson, 23 laps led
5. Justin Allgaier, five laps led
6. Sam Mayer
7. Nicholas Sanchez
8. Daniel Hemric
9. Blaine Perkins
10. Austin Hill
11. Jeb Burton
12. Alex Labbe
13. Rajah Caruth
14. Myatt Snider
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Derek Griffith
17. Sammy Smith, one lap led
18. Jeremy Clements
19. Brandon Brown
20. Josh Berry, 40 laps led
21. Anthony Alfredo
22. Josh Williams
23. Brandon Jones, 98 laps led, Stage 1 winner
24. CJ McLaughlin, one lap down
25. Mason Massey, four laps down
26. Kris Wright, eight laps down
27. Joe Graf Jr., nine laps down
28. Howie Disavino III, 10 laps down
29. Ryan Vargas, 21 laps down
30. Kyle Weatherman – OUT, Accident
31. Stefan Parsons – OUT, Accident
32. Patrick Emerling – OUT, Accident
33. Ryan Sieg – OUT, Accident
34. JJ Yeley – OUT, Brakes
35. Matt Mills – OUT, Engine
36. Chad Finchum – OUT, Brakes
37. Landon Cassill – OUT, Accident
38. Bayley Currey – OUT, Accident
*Bold indicates Playoff contenders
1. Noah Gragson – Advanced
2. Ty Gibbs – Advanced
3. Josh Berry – Advanced
4. Justin Allgaier – Advanced
5. AJ Allmendinger – Eliminated
6. Austin Hill – Eliminated
7. Sam Mayer – Eliminated
8. Brandon Jones – Eliminated
The 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is set to conclude at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 5, where a champion will be crowned. The finale is set to commence at 6 p.m. ET on USA Network.