No official debrief, but Ty Gibbs, Nemechek reflect on Richmond rift

Jacob Kupferman | Getty Images
Jacob Kupferman
Getty Images

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Five days after their intra-team clash last weekend at Richmond Raceway, sometimes Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Ty Gibbs and John Hunter Nemechek indicated they had followed up with each other, but crossed signals kept them from hashing out any differences in a team debrief.

Gibbs came out victorious after a full-contact final lap in last Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, leaving Nemechek to lament a runner-up finish in his first start in JGR equipment this season. Thursday, the two were back at Martinsville Speedway but competing in different NASCAR series – Nemechek in Thursday night’s Camping World Truck Series race and Gibbs prepping for Friday’s Xfinity Series go, where he’ll start from the pole position.

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Coach Joe Gibbs had said last weekend he had encouraged his grandson to address the conflict head-on, to attempt to sort out any lingering bitterness among themselves. Thursday at Martinsville, the younger Gibbs said post-qualifying their talk didn’t take place in the organization’s debrief.

“Well, Coach doesn’t come to our Xfinity debriefs, and John Hunter didn’t show up,” Ty Gibbs said after Thursday’s Xfinity Series qualifying session. “So I got to call John Hunter, but he never showed up to the drivers’ meeting, which I was surprised about. But you know, it is what it is.”

Nemechek, a Truck Series regular for Kyle Busch Motorsports, confirmed before Thursday’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 the two had spoken since Richmond.

“I had a phone call with him. I was not in the team debrief when we had it on Tuesday. I guess it was my mistake for saying it was Monday,” Nemechek said. “That’s normally when our Truck debrief is, so just figured it was Monday. But I had Trucks then, trying to get ready for here, so I wasn’t able to be there for the team debrief. But him and I have had a call and exchanged some words and different things of that sort, so that’s pretty much it.”

Was a resolution reached?

“I mean, he pretty much told me the same thing that he said in his post-race interview and all that stuff,” Nemechek said. “We’ll just see where it goes. It’s hard racing, I guess.”

Gibbs, 19, has won three times already in his first full season of Xfinity Series competition, and Thursday’s pole was his third consecutive. His rise has been meteoric – seven total wins in just 25 Xfinity starts – but he has also become known for his tendency toward aggressive racing.

Asked if he felt additional pressure with those tactics becoming his calling card, Gibbs sidestepped: “Not really. You know, we’re all out here doing the same thing. I mean, last year, I got wrecked from the lead, so it’s not like it’s different, you know. So I’m gonna do the best I can.”

Nemechek, 24, is in his second full season with Kyle Busch’s Truck Series operation, and he was tapped just last month to drive in three Xfinity Series events in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota. The first of those was a doozy at Richmond.

Asked if he looked back on the last-lap proceedings any differently, given some time by Thursday to cool off and reflect with a fresh perspective, Nemechek maintained he expected a more sporting battle among teammates.

“I mean, I’m mad I didn’t win the race, right?” Nemechek said. “And I guess you can look at it from different ways, right, and you can think of it from you must win no matter what, but at the same time as a teammate, you I guess expect a little more respect than that, but it is what it is. We just move on and keep racing.”