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Xfinity at the Glen: Ty Gibbs, the visiting pre-rookie, overwhelms the favourites

Watkins Glen, NY, Aug 7/21 (John Davison): Ty Gibbs is a 'Monster' in the Xfinity series for 2021. Gibbs, grandson of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, dominated the Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200 at Watkins Glen, beating the veteran road race experts in capturing his third victory of ten races contested this season.

[GRW: It all came down to the final restart with three laps remaining. Gibbs lined up at the head of the inside row alongside A.J. Allmendinger – a questionable choice. At the green and the land rush into the first turn both of them went wide – but Allmendinger went wider and as he squeezed down back onto the track at the corner of the ‘cement grandstand’ Allmendinger had a clear lead.

But, somehow, Gibbs found the speed to challenge the veteran driver and, by the time they reached the ‘bus stop, chicane at the end of this first long straight, he had regained the lead. And on the few remaining laps he only stretched out this lead leaving Allmendinger frustrated. Austin Cindric, the other favourite to win on a road course like this, had to settle for third, lacking the speed to challenge either of those ahead of him.

Gibbs is just 18 years old and is running for the championship in the ARCA Menards Series which ran here the previous day. He finished that race in third place. NASCAR forces drivers to choose which series in which they will contest the championship – and Gibbs has opted for the ARCA series this year. He is driving the Joe Gibbs No. 54 car which Kyle Busch has driven with such success in his limited number of starts in this series this year. It seems inevitable that he will be driving full-time in the Xfinity series next year and going for the championship.

The last time I remember a star of a driver like this bursting into NASCAR was when Kyle Busch was so young and driving so well that NASCAR changed their age-eligibility rules to slow down his rise and give him some chance to mature. Yes, Gibbs does remind one of the young Kyle Busch – but he has far better manners and seemingly none of Busch’s often abrasive attitude. This is a young man who is destined to make history as a NASCAR driver.]

Gibbs headed the race for 43 laps, just shy of twice the number headed by Austin Cindric. "That was probably the most fun race I've ever been in with AJ (Allmendinger) and with the 7 (Justin Allgaier) and the 22 (Cindric), those guys are very experienced veterans in this racing series. To be able to race and beat them just means a lot. I learned a lot from them too," Gibbs commented after the race. "Those two – the 22 (Austin Cindric) and AJ (Allmendinger), the baddest dudes on the road course ever. I don't really know how I beat them

Third place finisher and current series champion Austin Cindric commented: "We just weren't quite good enough to fire off. I felt like Ty was probably better than me and AJ most of the race, but I gave it my all and took the lead on the restart and probably wasn't good enough to hold it. We'll take it and move on. It was a solid day for points with our Ford Mustang. Like I said, I just wish we would have been able to hold the lead after that restart, but probably not good enough."

Cindric continued to commend Gibbs, commenting about some slight contact: "Trying to win a race, so I'm not overly bothered by it. I ran him wide in turn one to take the lead. He ran me wide in turn six to take the lead. It's hard racing. He deserved to win. He was the fastest car and feel like when he had to save fuel he probably saved a bit in his tires. I was trying to catch up, but maybe I should have played that a little bit different. That's probably my only minor regret in the race, otherwise probably just weren't quite good enough.

"I'm not gonna put myself and A.J. on a pedestal. Obviously, we've got experience and I expect to run up front every weekend and I expect the Gibbs cars to run up front every weekend no matter who is driving it. It seems like whoever is in that 54 car is doing a great job. Not to take credit away from Ty, obviously he's got a lack of experience and he's done a great job with the track time that he's had. Like I said, you can't take anything away from him. He's in victory lane and that's what we're all here to do. He beat all of us."

There are six more races in the ‘regular season’ before the seven-race eliminations playoffs begin at Las Vegas. The next race will be contested on the Indianapolis speedway road course next Saturday, August 14th.

• Click HERE for the results of the Watkins Glen Xfinity race.

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