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Earlier this month, Ty Gibbs appeared to have the 2020 General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway done and dusted. After dominating the race right from the onset, it was Gibbs’ race to win before a late race stop for tires pushed him back to third when the checkered flag waved. After that, the coronavirus found its way into stock car racing, and all of us are now in the garage and up on jacks.
“Right now I’m at JGR,” said Joe Gibbs’ wheelman grandson. “I’m the only one in the race shop. It’s kind of scary and all dark. Usually, it would be packed with happiness, and it’s all negative and dark because of the coronavirus, so I’m going to go run the simulator and get some practice, and then I’ll see what goes on for the rest of the day. It’s getting warm out, so I kind of want to go out on the lake, but I think it’s still a little too cold for that. It’s all so weird right now.
“I’m now going to go practice my next track. I’m going to go practice on the ones I think I’m going to run in the near future, because I don’t know what the schedule is going to be. I’m going to practice on the three or four tracks I think I’m going to do – Bristol, Pensacola, Salem and maybe Mid-Ohio – and do 200 laps on each of them. I just want to get as much seat time as I can.
“I always have a backup plan. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m just staying in this simulator seat because it wears you out pretty good. I usually do this on off weekends because I want to be the best driver I can be. And everybody here at JGR knows what to do. When you work here, I feel like everybody wants to be the best that they can possibly be. We have really good resources and really good drivers, so I feel like everybody kind of knows what is going to happen, and I feel like they just want to be the best. Everyone will just keep working no matter what happens. No matter what happens, we’ll always work our hardest and that’s what we do every weekend, and we’re doing pretty good.”
Times being what they are, Gibbs has taken a bit of time to catch his breath and to look to the future.
“I’ll definitely race in ARCA this year,” he said. “There was supposed to be a Trans-Am race this weekend or next weekend, but it got cancelled because of that stupid virus. I don’t know what the deal is right now. I want to practice as much as I can before this whole thing goes down.
“I’m definitely going to do full-time ARCA because I’ll turn 18 this year in October. I’m going to try and do full-time ARCA next year and try and go for the championship in that and then probably move on. I don’t know… I definitely want to do a lot of road course stuff. I’ve always been involved in road course racing. I drove everything when I was younger, like racing dirt and all that, and got a real good feeling for everything. I definitely want to do a lot of road course racing because I think it helps me out a lot.”
Gibbs, while rooted in oval-based stock car racing, has found himself a big proponent of both street and road course racing. “Yeah, I love the road course and street stuff,” said Gibbs. “That would be really cool if they would do that. I think they’re going to move to a lot of road courses. And hopefully, street courses. I really want to do that. That would be a ton of fun.”
Still quite young by ARCA and NASCAR standards, Gibbs is still trying to sort out his future trajectory.
“Sometimes I catch myself looking at stuff in the future and I get myself all psyched out,” he says. “I always want to be the best driver that I can possibly be and I want to work the hardest. I will always work the hardest. Anybody around me knows that too. I want to be the best driver that I can possibly be in anything that I ever get into. Kind of like Kyle Busch.”
Still, the 2020 racing season is here, and as abbreviated as the year has been, Gibbs looks back to earlier in the month where he came up just short on another big career triumph.
“I thought it was pretty good at Phoenix,” he reflects. “I think we led 85 percent of the race, and in the end, the line got messed up and we had to work our way back. It was frustrating. I feel like a lot of these races at these smaller tracks and in these smaller series are like practice for the future. I was really angry, but I just took it as practice and I just moved on and kept my head down. I was definitely angry, though.”
So 2020 and, perhaps, 2021, where does Gibbs see it all going?
“I want to be doing something different than ARCA and K&N,” he says. “Maybe it’ll be Trucks or something; something higher. It just depends on what all happens in the future. I’m so grateful with what I am doing now that if anything happens, I’m still driving race cars.”