Ty Gibbs aces Indianapolis Road Course for first Xfinity victory of 2023

A late strategic move by exiting pit road ahead of AJ Allmendinger enabled Ty Gibbs to assume the lead and muscle away from the field during a 16-lap dash to the finish to win the fourth annual running of the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, August 12.

The reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion from Charlotte, North Carolina, led twice for a race-high 28 of 62-scheduled laps in an event where he started on the front row alongside Allmendinger before he made his presence known early after assuming the lead on the third lap. Despite losing the lead by Lap 13 to pit for slick tires amid an early lightning delay followed by a brief round of precipitation, Gibbs remained within striking distance of the front-runners throughout the event.

Then with 19 laps remaining, an opportunity struck for Gibbs, who managed to exit pit road ahead of Allmendinger amid a late cycle of green flag pit stops just as the caution flew for a stalled car off the course in Turn 1. Once a handful of competitors who had not yet pitted did so, Gibbs cycled into the lead. He then managed to fend off Allmendinger before distancing himself from the field during a restart with 16 laps remaining to cruise to his first Xfinity victory in his seventh start of the season and his first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, AJ Allmendinger notched his third pole position of the 2023 Xfinity season and the 11th of his career after posting a pole-winning lap at 92.985 mph in 94.428 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Ty Gibbs, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 92.352 mph in 95.075 seconds.

Prior to the event, the following competitors that included Brennan Poole, Jeremy Clements, Brad Perez and Blaine Perkins dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries. Joe Graf Jr. also dropped to the rear of the field for missing driver introductions.

When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Allmendinger rocketed away from the field while entering the new restart zone in between Turns 13 and 14 as he also fended off Ty Gibbs through the frontstretch entering the first braking turn. Gibbs then tried to pull a crossover move on Allmendinger through Turns 1 and 2, but Allmendinger retained the lead as the field navigated its way from Turns 2 to 6 before entering a long straightaway prior to another braking zone in Turn 7. With the field behind fanning out and jostling for early positions, Allmendinger continued to lead from Turns 7 to 14 before he returned to the frontstretch and led the first lap. By then, Ty Gibbs kept Allmendinger within his sights and within close margins while Josh Berry, Austin Hill and Daniel Hemric were in the top five.

Through the second lap, Gibbs drew himself alongside Allmendinger entering Turns 3 and 4 in a bid for the lead, but Allmendinger gained the upper advantage and the preferred lane through Turn 5 as he retained the lead while Gibbs settled in second. Allmendinger would proceed to lead the second lap while continuing to fend off Gibbs’ early challenge. By the third lap, however, Ty Gibbs gained a run on Allmendinger exiting the frontstretch and assumed the lead in his No. 19 He Gets Us Toyota Supra through the first braking turn.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Ty Gibbs was leading by nearly two seconds over Allmendinger while Berry, Cole Custer and Austin Hill were in the top five. Behind, John Hunter Nemechek, Hemric, Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst and Justin Allgaier were in the top 10 while Ross Chastain, Parker Kligerman, rookie Sammy Smith, Sam Mayer and Connor Mosack occupied the top 15 on the track. With Brett Moffitt, Josh Bilicki, Kaz Grala, Miguel Paludo and rookie Chandler Smith running in the top 20, Sage Karam was mired in 21st ahead of Jeb Burton, rookie Parker Retzlaff, Brandon Jones and Alex Labbe.

Another lap later, the first caution of the event flew due to lightning occurring near the speedway. By the seventh lap, the field led by Ty Gibbs was directed to pit road and the event was red-flagged amid the lightning strike and as light precipitation began to increase.

When the red flag was lifted following a delay period spanning nearly 44 minutes, the competitors returned to the track’s racing surface under a cautious pace on the eighth lap in spite of the track conditions still being slightly wet from the precipitation. Prior to the red flag being lifted, the pit crews were given the option to change to wet tires for their respective entries.

During the caution laps, however, some led by Allmendinger and including Sam Mayer, Chandler Smith, Retzlaff, Kyle Weatherman and Blaine Perkins pitted to change from wet to slick tires while the rest led by Ty Gibbs remained on the track.

When the race resumed under green flag conditions on Lap 11 and amid a single-file restart formation, Ty Gibbs retained the lead through the frontstretch and entering Turn 1 followed by Custer as the field fanned out. Then as the field navigated its way from Turns 2 to 7, Ross Chastain spun after getting hit by Connor Mosack’s No. 24 Toyota Genuine Parts Supra in Turn 7, but the event remained under green flag conditions as he proceeded without getting hit by the field. Back at the front of the pack, Ty Gibbs stretched his advantage to more than two seconds over Custer during the proceeding laps while Berry, Nemechek and Austin Hill were in the top five ahead of Hemric.

By Lap 14, Ty Gibbs surrendered the lead to pit for slick tires under green along with Custer, Moffitt, Kaz Grala, Chastain, Jeb Burton, Ryan Sieg, Brennan Poole and Josh Williams. More names that included Nemechek, Austin Hill, Miguel Paludo, Sage Karam and Josh Bilicki would then pit on Lap 15 as Berry cycled into the lead followed by Hemric and Creed, who would pit on Lap 16. Shortly after, however, Hemric overtook Berry for the lead as Parker Kligerman joined the battle. By Lap 17, more names that included Herbst, Sammy Smith and Alex Labbe pitted as Hemric continued to lead.

Then on Lap 18, Allmendinger, who methodically carved his way through the field while on slick tires and from starting midfield since the restart, overtook teammate Hemric for the lead in Turn 13. Allmendinger would proceed to stretch his advantage to more than three seconds by the time he entered Turn 7 over teammate Hemric before Mayer, who also pitted prior to the restart, overtook Hemric for the runner-up spot.

At the conclusion of the first stage period on Lap 20, Allmendinger captured his second Xfinity stage victory of the 2023 season. Mayer settled in second followed by Hemric, Kligerman and Allgaier while Ty Gibbs, Retzlaff, Chandler Smith, Berry and Custer were scored in the top 10.

With the race remaining under green just past the Lap 20 mark to start the second stage period, Allmendinger continued to extend his advantage to more than five seconds over Mayer while third-place Hemric trailed by more than 14 seconds. Nearing the Lap 21 mark, the following names that included Hemric, Allgaier, Kligerman and Berry pitted for slick tires. By then, Josh Williams nursed his car to the garage amid smoke billowing out of his entry nearing the conclusion of the first stage period.

By Lap 25 and with the entire field running on slick tires, Allmendinger was leading by more than six seconds over Mayer while Ty Gibbs was in third and trailing by more than 15 seconds. Behind, Custer and Retzlaff were in the top five while Chandler Smith, Creed, Austin Hill, Nemechek and Kyle Weatherman occupied the top 10 in front of Herbst, Moffitt, Grala, Paludo and Ryan Sieg. Meanwhile, Kligerman was mired back in 35th while a lap down after pitting a few laps earlier due to a flat left-front tire on his No. 48 Spiked Light Coolers Chevrolet Camaro stemming from a valve stem being knocked out.

A lap later, the caution flew when Brad Perez came to a stop on the oval circuit near Turns 13 and 14 as smoke started to billow out of his No. 53 entry due to a mechanical issue. By then, Allmendinger was leading by more than six seconds over Mayer while Ty Gibbs, Custer and Retzlaff continued to run in the top five.

During the caution period, nearly the entire field led by Allmendinger pitted while the rest led by Mayer and including Custer, Moffitt, Ryan Sieg, Allgaier and Berry remained on the track.

As the event restarted under green and in double-file formation on Lap 30, Mayer muscled ahead from Custer with the lead as the field fanned out through the frontstretch and entering Turn 1. From Turn 2 to Turn 6, Mayer retained the lead as Custer also retained second in front of Allgaier while Allmendinger, who restarted eighth, had quickly carved his way up to fourth while on four fresh tires. With the field continuing to jostle for positions around each of the remaining 14 turns, Mayer would lead the following lap, Lap 31, as the event reached its halfway mark.

By Lap 34, Allmendinger battled and reassumed the lead from Mayer through the first three turns. Allmendinger would proceed to increase his advantage to more than a second over Mayer during the following lap while Ty Gibbs, who overtook Custer for third place the lap prior, trailed by more than two seconds.

Then on Lap 36, Custer, who was battling Allgaier for fourth, made slight contact with Allgaier in Turn 13. Allgaier then ran over the curb entering Turn 14 and made contact again with Custer as Custer ran off the circuit and into the grass before he spun back onto the course while trying to straighten his car. Custer would manage to proceed without sustaining significant damage to his No. 00 Haas Ford Mustang and without drawing a caution while Creed, Herbst and Hill managed to overtake Allgaier for positions fourth through sixth amid the chaos. Another lap later, Allgaier pitted under green along with teammate Paludo, Moffitt, Custer and Andre Castro while Allmendinger retained the lead over Ty Gibbs and Mayer.

At the conclusion of the second stage period on Lap 40, Allmendinger captured his third Xfinity stage victory of the 2023 season and second of the day as he was leading by more than three seconds over Ty Gibbs. Gibbs settled in second while Mayer, Creed, Herbst, Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Hemric and Jeremy Clements were scored in the top 10.

With the final stage commencing under a continuous green flag period with 22 laps remaining, Allmendinger retained the lead by more than two seconds over Ty Gibbs. Another lap later, names including Nemechek, Mayer, Hemric and Chandler Smith pitted under green. Herbst would pit from fourth place with 20 laps remaining while Allmendinger continued to lead by nearly three seconds over Ty Gibbs with 20 laps remaining. By then, Nemechek and Herbst were penalized for speeding on pit road.

A lap later, Allmendinger surrendered the lead to pit under green followed by Ty Gibbs, Austin Hill, Grala, Brandon Jones while Creed cycled into the lead. Shortly after, however, the caution flew for Andre Castro parking his car off the course in Turn 1 due to a mechanical issue. By then, Creed had made a pit stop, but had failed to enter pit road in time just as the caution flew and was sent to the rear of the field for the proceeding restart.

During the caution period, some led by Clements and including Josh Bilicki, Karam, Retzlaff, Jeb Burton, Preston Pardus, Paludo and Kligerman pitted while the rest led by Ty Gibbs, who had managed to overtake Allmendinger during the green flag pit stops, remained on the track.

Down to the final 16 laps of the event, the race restarted under green. At the start, Ty Gibbs fended off Allmendinger to retain the lead through the frontstretch as the field fanned out. Then in Turn 1, Allmendinger tried to draw even with Gibbs, but Gibbs muscled ahead on the inside lane in Turn 2. Gibbs would continue to lead during the proceeding turns as Brandon Jones spun in Turn 1 after getting bumped by Sammy Smith, but without drawing a caution. After fending off another charge from Allmendinger amid contact through Turn 7 while Hemric went off the course after getting hit by teammate Chandler Smith and an oncoming Connor Mosack, Gibbs continued to lead while Mayer pressured Allmendinger for the runner-up spot.

Gibbs would proceed to lead with 15 laps remaining ahead of Allmendinger and Mayer while Allgaier and Austin Hill battled for fourth. By then, select competitors like teammates Chandler Smith and Hemric along with Sammy Smith pitted under green amid their contact and off-track incident in Turn 7. Gibbs would proceed to extend his advantage to more than two seconds over runner-up Allmendinger during the proceeding laps while Mayer trailed in third place by more than four seconds followed by Austin Hill and Allgaier. By then, Custer rallied to sixth while Grala, Nemechek, Moffitt and Kligerman were running in the top 10.

With 10 laps remaining, Gibbs continued to lead by more than three seconds over Allmendinger while Mayer, Hill and Allgaier remained in the top five. Behind, Custer, Grala, Nemechek, Moffitt and Kligerman also remained in the top 10 while Creed, Labbe, Jeb Burton, Herbst and Berry were mired in the top 15. Meanwhile, Brandon Jones was down in 23rd, Hemric was in 28th ahead of Sammy Smith while a lap down and Chandler Smith was in 33rd.

Down to the final five laps of the event, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to more than four seconds over Allmendinger while third-place Mayer trailed by more than six seconds ahead of Austin Hill and Allgaier. By then, Blaine Perkins, who went off the course in between Turns 8 to 10 after making contact with Ryan Ellis, was mired in 33rd as he eventually pitted. Chandler Smith, who was two laps down in 32nd, locked up the front tires and went off the course in Turn 12 while earlier, Ryan Sieg was assessed a stop-and-go penalty after missing Turn 6 as he was currently running in 27th.

Shortly after, trouble struck for Grala, who was running sixth before he went off the course entering Turn 1. Then as he tried to blend back into the racing surface, he clipped Nemechek and sent Nemechek’s No. 20 Mobil 1 Toyota Supra spinning in Turn 2 as Nemechek fell out of the top 10 on the track. Despite the incident, the race remained under green flag conditions as Ty Gibbs retained the lead by more than five seconds over Allmendinger.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Ty Gibbs remained as the leader by more than seven seconds over Mayer, who battled and overtook Allmendinger’s No. 10 LeafHome Water Solutions Chevrolet Camaro for the runner-up spot a lap prior. Amid the late on-track chaos and having a clear view in front of him, Gibbs was able to smoothly navigate his way around the 14-turn circuit for a final time and cruise back to the frontstretch to claim his first checkered flag of the 2023 NASCAR season and his first at Indianapolis.

With the victory, Gibbs, who is currently competing in his first full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, notched his 12th career victory in the Xfinity Series and his first since winning both the 2022 season finale and championship at Phoenix Raceway this past November. In addition to winning at Indianapolis for the first time and becoming the fourth different winner in four Xfinity events on Indy’s road course venue, he achieved his fourth victory on a road course venue and the second of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 “all-star” entry led by veteran crew chief Jason Ratcliff while also becoming the 13th different winner of this year’s Xfinity season.

Gibbs’ victory capped off an eventful IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader feature at Indianapolis on Saturday as six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon fended off pole-sitter Graham Rahal amid a late battle to win the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indy Road Course hours earlier.

“It’s definitely about time [that I won],” Gibbs said on USA Network. “Really cool to get one here at the Brickyard. I grew up racing go-karts at New Castle right down the street, so really special to me. Awesome car! Great car. Thank you, Jason Ratcliff. This is the man right here. Jason does such a great job. This is just so special. We got the Brickyard! Let’s go!”

Mayer, who led five laps in his No. 1 Huck’s Market Chevrolet Camaro, settled in the runner-up spot for the third time this season while Allmendinger, who led 21 laps and swept both stages, ended up third in his fifth Xfinity event of the season. Austin Hill and Allgaier finished in the top five while Custer, Kligerman, Creed, Grala and Moffitt came home in the top 10.

Notably, Nemechek ended up 13th in between Herbst and Berry, Brandon Jones settled in 21st ahead of teammate Miguel Paludo, Hemric ended up 27th in front of Sammy Smith and Chandler Smith retired in 34th due to a suspension failure.

There were 10 lead changes for eight different leaders. The race featured three cautions for nine laps. In addition, 26 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap.

With four Xfinity regular-season events remaining on the schedule, Austin Hill leads the regular-season standings by 11 points over John Hunter Nemechek and 34 over Justin Allgaier.

Results.

1. Ty Gibbs, 28 laps led

2. Sam Mayer, five laps led

3. AJ Allmendinger, 21 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

4. Austin Hill

5. Justin Allgaier

6. Cole Custer

7. Parker Kligerman

8. Sheldon Creed, one lap led

9. Kaz Grala

10. Brett Moffitt

11. Alex Labbe

12. Riley Herbst

13. John Hunter Nemechek

14. Josh Berry, two laps led

15. Sage Karam

16. Jeb Burton

17. Parker Retzlaff

18. Josh Bilicki, one lap led

19. Jeremy Clements, one lap led

20. Kyle Weatherman

21. Brandon Jones

22. Miguel Paludo

23. Anthony Alfredo

24. Preston Pardus

25. Brennan Poole

26. Connor Mosack

27. Daniel Hemric, one lap down, three laps down

28. Sammy Smith, one lap down

29. Ryan Ellis, one lap down

30. Kyle Sieg, one lap down

31. Blaine Perkins, two laps down

32. Ryan Sieg, five laps down

33. Josh Williams, five laps down

34. Chandler Smith – OUT, Suspension

35. Joe Graf Jr. – OUT, Axle

36. Andre Castro – OUT, Suspension

37. Ross Chastain – OUT, Suspension

38. Brad Perez – OUT, Brakes

Next on the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is another road course event as the series travels east from Indiana to New York for Watkins Glen International. The event is scheduled to occur next Saturday, August 19, at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.

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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