Ty Gibbs triumphs, claims Xfinity Series title in rookie year

ty gibbs celebrating a win
Meg Oliphant
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Ty Gibbs’ rookie campaign has been full of non-stop headlines throughout 2022. Whether it be his six wins entering the Championship 4 finale at just 20 years old or his aggressive driving style, Gibbs has been the star – for better or worse – in the Xfinity Series.

His stardom shined the brightest Saturday evening at Phoenix Raceway as Gibbs claimed the series title in his maiden Xfinity season. The No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing driver held off a JR Motorsports trio of rival Noah Gragson and his teammates Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry in the championship race.

RELATED: Race results | Ty Gibbs driver page

At 20 years, 1 month and 1 day old, Gibbs became the fourth-youngest champ in series history, coming close to the likes of current Cup Series veterans Chase Elliott and William Byron. Elliott is the youngest NASCAR national series champ, winning the Xfinity title in 2014 at the age of 18, while Byron grabbed his NXS title in 2017 at 19.

Gibbs dominated the ARCA Menards Series on his come-up, winning 18 races across three seasons and grabbing checkered flags at a ludicrous rate of 38.3% in 47 starts. He was nearly perfect in 2021 across all three ARCA banners, winning 10 of 20 races in the Menards Series and all six of his combined starts in the West and East Series.

Having shown full command at the ARCA level, the teenager was called up for a part-time role with his grandfather-owned JGR team. He piloted the No. 54 Toyota and immediately made his name known in the series where names are made.

His first career Xfinity start? A rousing victory as a then-18-year-old Gibbs won on Daytona’s road-course layout, leading 14 of the 56 laps in the process.

Gibbs continued to shine in 2021, winning three more races, and while he wasn’t championship eligible, the Xfinity contingency got the message loud and clear that the fast-rising prospect was bound to be a title contender soon.

His official rookie year brought that contender status to fruition as Gibbs earned five victories prior to the start of this year’s playoffs.

While wins and top-five finishes are always remarkable for someone as young as Gibbs, his shining moment came in the summer at Road America as the No. 54 driver outdueled the 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson through the left and right-hand turns of the 4.048-mile road course.

It was the race that reaffirmed Gibbs as a top-tier talent who’s ready for potential limelight in NASCAR’s premier series.

While not how drivers would want to get their first shot in the Cup Series, Gibbs – in addition to his Xfinity role – filled in the remainder of the 2022 Cup Series for Kurt Busch after the 2004 champion was injured in a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway.

Gibbs scored three top-20 finishes in his first three Cup starts with the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota, including a career-best top-10 run at Michigan International Speedway. While never collecting another such finish heading into the title race, Gibbs learned how to drive the Next Gen car and earned valuable seat time that should have him prepared to make the full-time jump to the Cup level when the time comes.

His sixth win in the penultimate race of 2022 at Martinsville Speedway didn’t come without its criticism, but the victory cemented his position in the Championship 4 – which has now culminated in his first title of what could be many more to come for the 20-year-old.

With a jump to the Cup Series perhaps right around the corner for Gibbs on his grandfather’s team, he’ll have a lot of eyes on him as he continues to mature into a championship-caliber driver at the sport’s highest level.

But for now, it’s time to celebrate.