Ty Gibbs continued his phenomenal NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie season on Saturday with his fourth victory of the year in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.
Gibbs passed reigning series champion Austin Cindric on Lap 190 of 200 and beat the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the finish line by .759 seconds to earn his ninth top-five finish in his 16th start.
“He got a little bit free and kind of slowed down in (Turns) 3 and 4, and I could get to his left rear and side-draft him and get away from him,” the 19-year-old Gibbs said of the winning pass.
“I got loose a couple of times over there (pointing to Turns 3 and 4), but I was just trying to give it my all, trying to come back with a win. To have four wins this year in the Xfinity Series is just unbelievable.”
Gibbs’ victory as a non-playoff driver means that at least three drivers will advance to the Championship 4 on points after next Saturday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. That’s good news for Cindric and AJ Allmendinger (third Saturday), who have made a habit of swapping the series lead this year.
Cindric and Allmendinger leave Kansas 47 points above the cutoff for the Championship 4, and barring disaster at NASCAR’s shortest track, both will earn spots in the title race Nov. 6 at Phoenix Raceway.
“I feel like I could hold my own with the track position and we did a good job being consistent and not making mistakes today,” said Cindric, who won the second stage and led a race-high 151 laps to 14 for the race winner. “Maybe if I didn’t enter (the corner) as high, I could have maybe air-blocked a little better.
“The cooler it got, the freer I was getting. I thought the tire cycle would help me, but it didn’t help me. I would have loved the win to lock our way in, but it’s better than crashing out at a Kansas Playoff race like I have the last three years. We led a lot of laps but finished second, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Indeed. Cindric could have suffered the fate of Noah Gragson or Harrison Burton who wrecked out of the race on Lap 179 when a misjudged move by Sam Mayer sent Burton’s Toyota spinning into Gragson’s Chevrolet, and both cars clobbered the outside frontstretch wall.
Burton and Gragson finished 34th and 35th respectively, dropping Gragson to sixth in the playoff standings (24 points below the cut line) and leaving Burton eighth (51 points out of fourth and needing a win next Saturday at Martinsville).
“We were fast today,” Burton said. “We felt like this was a race we were finally showing what we were capable of, and it’s been a rough couple of weeks really. I don’t know—it’s just so frustrating.”
Ninth-place finisher Justin Allgaier is nine points above the cutoff for the Championship 4, two points ahead of Saturday’s polesitter, Daniel Hemric, who recovered from a spin with Gragson on Lap 97 to finish 15th.
Gibbs came back through the field to win despite a pit road speeding penalty under caution on Lap 93 after the completion of the second stage.
Justin Haley improved his chances of qualifying for the championship race with a fourth-place result, leaving him fifth in the standings and seven points behind Hemric. Non-Playoff drivers Ryan Sieg, Brett Moffitt, Michael Annett and Sam Mayer finished fifth through eighth, respectively.
Inspection note: The race-winning No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Ty Gibbs passed post-race technical inspection, making him the official race winner. The Nos. 16 and 19 each had one lug nut not safe and secure. The No. 23 Chevrolet of Patrick Emerling lost a ballast, which will result in a four-race suspension for crew chief Kenneth Roettger, crew member Robert Anderson and car chief Drew Beason. There were no other issues.