Ty Gibbs dominates for first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship at Phoenix

In a season highlighted with competitive runs and big victories while also mired with controversial run-ins towards his fellow competitors amid his aggressive driving style, Ty Gibbs silenced his critics and responded back with redemption by winning the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after muscling his way to a dominant victory in the Xfinity Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, Nov. 5.

The 20-year-old Gibbs from Charlotte, North Carolina, led seven times for a race-high 125 of 200-scheduled laps and took care of business during the first half of the finale by sweeping both stages. Despite being pitted in a head-to-head matchup against a trio of JR Motorsports’ competitors highlighted by Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry throughout the final stage, Gibbs did not relent by remaining competitive and battling towards the front with a strong race car and stellar work from his pit crew. After assuming the lead from Allgaier with 21 laps remaining, he then fended off a late charge from rival Gragson before claiming his first Xfinity title in his first full-time campaign in the series along with the second consecutive title for Joe Gibbs Racing in recent years.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, Ty Gibbs, a Championship 4 finalist, claimed the final pole position of the 2022 season, which marked his fifth of this season, after posting a pole-winning lap at 134.298 mph in 26.806 seconds. Joining him on the front row was teammate Sammy Smith, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 134.058 mph in 26.854 seconds. Gibbs’ title rivals that included Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier qualified fourth, ninth and 11th, respectively.

Prior to the event, Rajah Caruth dropped to the rear of the filed for missing driver introductions along with Joe Graf Jr., who fell back in a backup car.

When the green flag waved and the race started, Gibbs launched ahead with an early advantage as he retained the lead through the first two turns as the field fanned out through the dogleg. With the clean air to his advantage, Gibbs went on to lead the first lap followed by Nick Sanchez and Sammy Smith while Noah Gragson was in fourth ahead of Brandon Jones, Landon Cassill, Sheldon Creed and Daniel Hemric.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Gibbs was leading by more than a second over Smith followed by a hard-charging Gragson while Sanchez fell back to fourth. Brandon Jones retained fifth ahead of Cassill, Creed, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry and AJ Allmendinger while Hemric, who got bumped and nearly turned sideways by Allgaier early in the event, was back in 11th in front of rookie Austin Hill.

At the Lap 10 mark, Gibbs extended his advantage to more than two seconds over Gragson, who overtook Smith three laps earlier, as Sanchez and Jones started to close in on Smith for more. Meanwhile, Allgaier was in seventh after overtaking Creed while Berry remained in ninth.

Ten laps later, Gibbs, who was approaching lapped traffic, continued to extend his advantage as he was out in front by more than three seconds over runner-up Gragson. While Smith and Sanchez remained in third and fourth, Allgaier was up in fifth place ahead of Cassill and Brandon Jones while Berry, the fourth title contender, was in eighth in front of Creed and Allmendinger.

Another 10 laps later, the first caution of the event flew when Brandon Brown blew a right-front tire and went dead straight into the outside wall in Turn 2 as he sustained significant right-side damage to his car. By then, three of the four championship finalists were running first through third on the track, with Gibbs retaining the lead by more than two seconds over runner-up Gragson and more than seven seconds over third-place Allgaier. By then, Berry, the fourth championship competitor, was still mired in eighth behind Brandon Jones.

During the first caution period, some led by Smith and Sanchez pitted while the rest led by Gibbs remained on the track.

With eight laps remaining in the first stage, the race proceeded under green. At the start and as the field fanned out through the dogleg, Gibbs fended off Gragson to retain the lead as Gragson also fended off teammate Allgaier for the runner-up spot through the first two turns. Behind, Cassill was in fourth ahead of Berry while the field continued to fan out to multiple lanes through the frontstretch and entering the backstretch. In the midst of the hard racing towards the middle of the pack, Sanchez and Smith were trying to carve their way back to the front on four fresh tires.

When the first stage concluded on Lap 45, Gibbs struck first early as he claimed his ninth stage victory of the 2022 season. Title rivals Gragson, Allgaier and Berry settled in second through fourth, respectively, followed by Cassill while Creed, Sanchez, Smith, Brandon Jones and Allmendinger were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, the majority of the field led by Gibbs pitted while four competitors led by Sanchez remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Gibbs was the first competitor to exit pit road first followed by teammate Brandon Jones, Cassill, Allmendinger, Gragson and Allgaier.

The second stage started on Lap 53 as Sanchez and Smith occupied the front row. At the start and as the field fanned out through the dogleg again, Smith launched ahead of Sanchez followed by a hard-charging Gibbs through the first two turns. A lap later, however, Gibbs muscled his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra back to the lead as teammate Brandon Jones joined the battle. Meanwhile, teammates Allgaier and Gragson were mired back in eighth and ninth while Berry was in 12th. Shortly after, Gragson pulled off a bold three-wide move on Allgaier and Riley Herbst through the dogleg for seventh place as he tried to march his way back to the front.

By Lap 59, the caution returned when JJ Yeley spun in Turn 1 following contact from Kris Wright. At the moment of caution, Gibbs was leading both the race and the championship by nearly two seconds over Smith followed by Jones, Cassill and Hemric while Gragson, Allgaier, Sanchez, Herbst and Berry were running in the top 10.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 65, teammates Gibbs and Smith dueled for the lead through the first two turns until Smith rocketed ahead through the backstretch with the lead. A lap later, however, Gibbs fought back on the inside lane, though Smith did not relinquish the lead. In the midst of the battle for the lead, Gragson overtook Jones for third place as he started to close in on the two leaders. With Gragson in third, Allgaier was in fifth as he tried to close in on Jones for fourth place.

Then on Lap 68, Gragson pulled a bold three-wide move on Gibbs and Smith through the frontstretch and the dogleg to take the lead entering Turn 1. Smith, however, fought back on the outside lane through Turn 2 and the backstretch as he retained the top spot by a hair. Then as Gibbs tried to overtake Gragson for the runner-up spot, Gragson fought back and retained the spot while Allgaier tried to close in while in fourth place.

At the Lap 74 mark, Gragson muscled his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro into the lead through the frontstretch and the dogleg. Not long after, Gibbs overtook teammate Smith for the runner-up spot through Turn 3 as Allgaier made his way into third place, thus dropping Smith to fourth place. Behind, Cassill was in fifth followed by teammate Allgaier while Jones was being pressured by Sam Mayer and Berry for seventh place.

On Lap 79, Gibbs reassumed the lead from Gragson, who then was being attacked by teammate Allgaier for the runner-up spot. Despite attempting to fend off his JR Motorsports teammate for the spot during the next few laps, Gragson lost the spot to Allgaier as Smith and Cassill closed in to join the battle. Meanwhile, Gibbs started to pull away with the clean air to his advantage.

When the second stage concluded on Lap 90, Gibbs captured his ninth stage victory of the 2022 season as he swept both stages in the finale and struck again in his quest for his first Xfinity title. Allgaier settled in second followed by Gragson, who recorded the most stage victories of this season at 16. Smith and Cassill were scored in the top five followed by Mayer, Jones, Allmendinger, Creed and Berry.

Under the stage break, the field led by Gibbs returned to pit road. Following the pit stops, Allgaier emerged with the lead after exiting pit road first ahead of Gibbs, Jones, Gragson, Smith and Cassill while Berry was mired back in 10th.

With 102 laps remaining, the final stage started as Allgaier and Gibbs occupied the front row. At the start, Allgaier and Gibbs dueled for the lead for a full lap as the field behind jostled for positions. During the following lap, Gibbs used the outside lane to his advantage as he reassumed the lead through Turns 1 and 2 while Allgaier was trying to fend off Gragson and Jones for third place. By then, the event surpassed its halfway mark. 

On Lap 101, however, the caution returned for a multi-car wreck that erupted in Turn 4 when Smith got into the left rear fender of Mayer and ignited a chain reaction with Herbst, Anthony Alfredo, Kaz Grala, Kyle Weatherman, Ryan Sieg and Stefan Parsons all wrecking and sustaining damage to their respective cars.

When the race restarted with 92 laps remaining, Gibbs and Allgaier dueled again for the lead through the first two turns until Gibbs pulled ahead on the outside lane during the following lap to retain the lead. Behind, teammates Gragson and Allgaier battled for the runner-up spot while Allmendinger was in fourth in front of Creed, Jones and Berry.

With 90 laps remaining, the caution flew when Smith, who had a good day gone bad during the previous caution period, had his race gone from bad to worse when he spun and wrecked along with Kyle Weatherman, Joey Gase and Mason Massey in Turn 2.

During the following restart with 84 laps remaining, Gibbs and Gragson briefly dueled for the lead through the dogleg until the former pulled ahead through the backstretch. Then through Turns 3 and 4, Gragson muscled his car into the lead on the inside lane. Gibbs then tried to fight back on the inside lane during the following lap, but Gragson retained the spot while running the outside lane.

With 80 laps remaining, however, a side-by-side action for the lead was instigated once again between Gragson and Gibbs, with the latter trying to pressure the former for the top spot. Gragson, however, refused to relinquish the lead through every turn, every straightaway and through every attempt made by Gibbs as Allgaier started to close in on the two leaders. By then, Berry was in fourth place as all four championship finalists were running first through fourth.

With 75 laps remaining, Gragson was out in front by two-tenths of a second over teammate Allgaier, who pressured Gibbs for the runner-up spot before succeeding, as Berry was trailing the lead by a second. 

Five laps later, Gragson retained the lead on the track and for the championship battle by four-tenths of a second over teammate Allgaier, seven-tenths of a second over third-place Gibbs and more than a second over fourth-place Berry. By then, Jones was in fifth while Creed, Cassill, Allmendinger, Hemric and Sanchez were scored in the top 10.

Then with 55 laps remaining, the battle for the lead started to intensify as Gragson was starting to be intimidated by teammate Allgaier for the lead through the turns and the straightaways followed by Gibbs while Berry trailed by more than two seconds. By then, the leaders were also starting to catch lapped traffic. 

With 53 laps remaining, Gragson went wide in Turn 3, which allowed Allgaier to assume the lead followed by a hard-charging Gibbs. Despite gathering his car back to his groove, Gragson was losing ground of the two leaders. Not long after, however, Mayer, who was on the track and multiple laps down, briefly stalled Gibbs’ momentum as Allgaier retained the lead, which allowed Gragson to close back in.

Then with 47 laps remaining, Gibbs ignited a side-by-side battle for the lead against Allgaier, but Allgaier defended the top spot while running on the outside lane. Two laps later, however, the caution flew due to possible fluid on the track when Dillon Bassett’s No. 77 Chevrolet went up in smoke before coming to a stop below the apron in Turn 3.

During the caution period, the field led by Allgaier made the left-hand turn to pit road for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Following the pit stops, Gibbs exited with the lead followed by Allgaier, Berry, Creed, Allmendinger, Jones and Cassill while Gragson fell all the way back to eighth following another slow pit stop from his pit crew.

Down to the final 36 laps of the event, the race restarted under green as Gibbs and Allgaier occupied the front row. At the start, Allgaier received a push from Creed to assume the lead through the dogleg and the frontstretch. He then went wide in Turns 1 and 2, which allowed Gibbs to rocket by with the lead as Allgaier, who had light smoke coming out of his car prior to the restart, was being challenged by Creed and Allmendinger for the runner-up spot in a three-wide battle. During the following lap, the caution returned when Gragson, who was trying to fight his way back to the front, got into the left-rear fender of Jones as Jones spun his No. 19 Menards Toyota Supra towards the pit road entrance in Turn 2. By then, Allgaier retained second ahead of teammate Berry and behind title rival Gibbs.

During the following restart with 30 laps remaining, Allgaier, who had light smoke puffing out of his No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro again prior to the restart, received a strong start on the inside lane as he fended off Gibbs to assume the lead. Behind, Berry’s No. 8 Tire Pros Chevrolet Camaro washed up the track and he lost a bevy of spots through the first two turns while Gibbs launched a side-by-side attack on Allgaier for the lead. As Allgaier retained the lead ahead of Gibbs, Gragson was trying to fend off Creed for third place, which he persevered as he then tried to close in on the two leaders.

With 21 laps remaining and following several laps of Gibbs and Allgaier trading spots back and forth between each turn and straightaway, a three-wide action for the lead occurred as Allgaier, Gibbs and Gragson dueled for the lead. Then in Turn 1, Gibbs crossed over on Allgaier’s Chevrolet to reassume the lead. Gragson then overtook teammate Allgaier for the runner-up spot while trying to keep rival Gibbs close enough to his front windshield.

Down to the final 15 laps of the event, Gibbs was leading by more than half a second over Gragson while Allgaier trailed by a second in third place. Meanwhile, Berry was mired back in 14th place.

Five laps later and with 10 laps remaining, Gibbs continued to lead the race and the championship by six-tenths of a second over a hard-charging Gragson while Allgaier was behind by a second in third place. In the midst of the battle for the lead, Berry was back in 14th as his title hopes were evaporating.

Down to the final five laps of the event, Gibbs retained the lead by half a second over Gragson, who was slowly running out of time. By then, Allgaier was also losing ground as he was more than a second behind in third place. 

Then with two laps remaining, Gibbs’ momentum was briefly stalled by Mayer, who was multiple laps down, as he drew himself alongside Gibbs’ Toyota with both competitors battling through the backstretch. This allowed Gragson to slightly close in, but not enough as Gibbs pulled ahead of Gragson through Turns 3 and 4.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Gibbs remained as the leader by three-tenths of a second over Gragson. Through Turns 1 and 2, Gibbs overtook the lapped car of Dawson Cram to try to increase his light advantage over Gragson. With a final opportunity to steal the victory and title, Gragson stepped on the gas through the backstretch as he overtook Cram. He then tried to get to Gibbs’ rear bumper, but the gap was not close enough for him to pounce. With Gragson unable to close back in, Gibbs cycled back to the frontstretch and streaked across the finish line in first place to win both the finale and the championship. 

With his accomplishment, Gibbs, who won the 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship and won in his Xfinity debut at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course during the same season, became the 32nd different competitor to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship as he recorded the fourth Xfinity drivers’ title for both Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. He also became the fourth-youngest competitor to win an Xfinity championship at age 20 years, one month and one day old. The title was also the seventh Xfinity Series owner’s championship title for Joe Gibbs Racing and the first for crew chief Chris Gayle.

Upon performing his victorious burnout and waving the championship flag on the frontstretch, Gibbs’ championship celebration was met with an unpopular response from the crowd through a chorus of boos. The unpopular response from the crowd did very little to damper Gibbs’ celebratory mood, with the driver taking responsibility for his aggressive actions last weekend at Martinsville Speedway that eliminated teammate Brandon Jones’ opportunity to transfer to the finale.

“First off, I just wanna say thank you to my team,” Gibbs, who notched his seventh victory of the season en route to the title, said on USA Network. “Every one of these guys. My pit crew. They did an awesome job. They put us here. Great job to my team. What I did last week was unacceptable. 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 organizational standpoint. I will sit here and tell you I’m sorry as much as I can, but it is not going to fix it. I’ve got to fix my actions. I feel like today I had a good race. We made some good moves. Me and [Allgaier] were racing really hard. Hopefully, we put on a good show for you fans. Thank you for all that you guys do.

“I don’t want to be the one with the boos,” Gibbs added. “I’m the one that put myself in that position, but whatever. I don’t want this championship to be remembered for boos. I want it to be remembered for the hard work on our team. Awesome job. Let’s go, Monster Energy! Thank you to the fans. Even though I don’t have many, hopefully, I earned some respect back. We’ll move on. Thank you, guys. I focused out the windshield. I felt like we had a great race with [Gragson]. Great job to JR Motorsports, but the 25% won. I had an awesome time racing in the Xfinity Series this year. Looking for more and I’m very excited. We’re champions. We’re champions.”

Joe Gibbs, the team owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, added, “It was a tough week. We hated last week. We’re just trying to walk through this, since then, trying to do it the right way. Our family’s walking with Ty. Today was a huge day for all of us and particularly for the Xfinity group. They worked so hard. This is confidence [for Ty]. I felt like that race today was really exceptional. I think everybody was up there and everybody was battling. I appreciated the sportsmanship with the way everybody raced. I thought it was a great race. To be a part of that and somehow come out winning is just great. We’re excited about tomorrow [for the Cup Series finale], but we’ll kind of see what our guys do.”

While Gibbs celebrated a championship on the main stage, Gragson was left disappointed on pit road after finishing in second place on the track and in the final standings, thus falling one spot short of winning his first NASCAR national touring series title in his final season with JR Motorsports. Nonetheless, the 2022 season was a career-defining season for the Las Vegas native, who notched a series-leading eight victories, two poles, 21 top-five results and 26 top-10 results throughout the 33-race schedule. For the 2023 season, Gragson is set to graduate to the NASCAR Cup Series to pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet for Petty GMS Motorsports.

“[The difference was] Executions on pit stops,” Gragson said. “We just need to be better as a Bass Pro Shops team all around, but so proud of everyone’s efforts. Thought we really had a good car there in the second half. Restarted eighth on that last restart, got up to second. Just too tight there at the end, but still super proud of everybody. Just didn’t have enough for [Gibbs] at the end. It wasn’t from a lack of trying. I was gonna drive it in, if I was any closer and get that POS. Definitely sucks to lose to someone like that, but it’s not from a lack of effort.

“This Bass Pro Shops team was really good all year,” Gragson added. “Eight wins, led the most laps, most top fives. Just come up one race short, but just so thankful for everybody at JR Motorsports. It sucks. As a team effort, we win and lose as a team. Still proud of everyone’s efforts all year. We’ve been in position to win a lot of races and have executed them all. Just come up one spot short. Definitely bittersweet moving on to the Cup Series next year with Petty GMS [Motorsports]. Big thanks to them for putting me in the No. 42 car next year for them, but I’m gonna miss this JR Motorsports team. I know everyone’s pissed, but still an unbelievable year. Just gotta keep working hard. That’s all there is to it.” 

Like Gragson, teammates Allgaier and Berry were also left disappointed after falling short of winning the title for JR Motorsports. For Allgaier, he capped off the season in third place both on the track and in the final standings. On the other hand, Berry settled in 13th place on the track and back in fourth place in the final standings.

“Honestly at the end of the race there, we had some issues going on,” Allgaier said. “Not so sure the engine’s not blowing up. We didn’t have any gauges all night and it definitely was a struggle at the end to hold on. We just got a little bit too loose. Nothing to hang our heads over. Obviously, we’re dejected not one of our JR Motorsports’ cars went to Victory Lane or got the championship. It’s gonna make me even hungrier to go back to work on Monday and try to make this program better. Just proud of our team. Proud of the effort. We wanted it. I gave these guys 110%. I was actually yelling in the car just because I was frustrated at the end there not being able to catch [Gibbs]. My voice is gone. Just proud of the effort all year. You come to Daytona at the beginning of the year to make a shot at the Final Four and we did that. We’re gonna go back to work and we’ll come back next year ever stronger. Try to do it all over again.”

“[It] Just was a long day,” Berry added. “Just a tough day. All weekend, we’ve just been fighting it a little bit. Just super, super loose at the start. Worked on it and got better. Got some track position. A couple restarts went our way. We were able to get up there, but the last restart, I don’t know. It’s so hard to tell with that traction compound. Sometimes, you go up [the high lane] and you can look like a hero. Sometimes, you look like a zero. I went up there. It just wasn’t cleaned off and got loose and got up too high. Lost all those spots. Just a tough day. I hate I made that mistake, but we were behind all day. Just wasn’t our day. Gonna work hard over the off-season to be better. Maybe, we can be back here next year.”

Kaulig Racing’s Cassill and Allmendinger came home in fourth and fifth on the track while Creed, Herbst, Hemric, Hill and Sammy Smith completed the top 10 in the final running order.

With his 21st top-10 result of the season, Hill clinched the 2022 Xfinity Series Rookie-of-the-Year title. With 24 victories throughout the 33-race schedule, Chevrolet capped off this season with the manufacturer’s title.

There were 15 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured eight cautions for 49 laps.

Results.

1. Ty Gibbs, 125 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

2. Noah Gragson, 35 laps led

3. Justin Allgaier, 26 laps led

4. Landon Cassill

5. AJ Allmendinger

6. Sheldon Creed

7. Riley Herbst

8. Daniel Hemric

9. Austin Hill

10. Sammy Smith, 10 laps led

11. Brandon Jones

12. Nick Sanchez, four laps led

13. Josh Berry

14. Kyle Weatherman

15. Josh Williams

16. Jeb Burton

17. Rajah Caruth

18. Alex Labbe

19. Bayley Currey

20. Ryan Sieg

21. Parker Retzlaff

22. Kyle Sieg

23. Kaz Grala

24. Joey Gase

25. Myatt Snider

26. Kris Wright

27. Jeremy Clements

28. Stefan Parsons, one lap down

29. Brennan Poole, two laps down

30. JJ Yeley, three laps down

31. Dawson Cram, four laps down

32. BJ McLeod, four laps down

33. Mason Massey, four laps down

34. Sam Mayer, five laps down

35. Anthony Alfredo, six laps down

36. Joe Graf Jr., seven laps down

37. Brandon Brown – OUT, Suspension

38. Dillon Bassett – OUT, Engine

*Bold indicates Championship finalists

Final standings.

1. Ty Gibbs

2. Noah Gragson

3. Justin Allgaier

4. Josh Berry

5. AJ Allmendinger

6. Austin Hill

7. Sam Mayer

8. Brandon Jones

9. Daniel Hemric

10. Riley Herbst

11. Ryan Sieg

12. Jeremy Clements

The NASCAR Xfinity Series competitors and teams enter an off-season period before returning to action on February 18, 2023, at Daytona International Speedway to commence a new season of competition.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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