INTERVIEW: Ty Gibbs on ARCA glory, Xfinity joy and what’s next

Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

INTERVIEW: Ty Gibbs on ARCA glory, Xfinity joy and what’s next

NASCAR

INTERVIEW: Ty Gibbs on ARCA glory, Xfinity joy and what’s next

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On October 23 at Kansas Speedway, Ty Gibbs placed runner-up in the Reese’s 150, and in doing so, clinched the ARCA Menards Series championship at 19 years of age. Driving for his grandpa’s Joe Gibbs Racing outfit, it was one hell of a season for Gibbs, who took 10 wins in 20 ARCA starts.

And that wasn’t all of it, either. Also competing in 18 NASCAR Xfinity Series for his grandfather Joe and dad Coy, young Gibbs won four of them and was named the Sunoco Rookie of the Year, despite running just nhalf the races. Beginning with his Xfinity debut at Daytona last February –which he won — it has been a year of big drives and big accolades for the North Carolina native. So just how does Ty feel about it all?

Q: Now that the season is complete and you’ve had some time to catch your breath, how do you feel about how it all went?

TG: For sure, what a year. I definitely wasn’t expecting a lot of this to happen. It was God’s plan, so it’s super-cool to kind of see that unfold. You know to be able to have 16 wins in one season is just awesome. I would have never thought I could have done that. I feel like that in motorsports, in general, you really have to work hard at what you’re going to do. I feel like working harder than anybody else is the key to success in this sport, just because it’s so hard. Even if you’re a veteran, I feel like there is so much to learn. There was a lot of studying and putting the work in. I feel like that was the biggest key this year.

Q: Earlier this season you told me you were pretty good about not putting too much pressure on yourself. Your way of doing things was to just climb in the car, focus and drive. Did you feel like you adhered to that approach all season long?

TG: I feel like that was a goal for me. I enjoy racing and I like it. At the same time, I take it very seriously, so I feel like when all of that stuff gets put in to what I’m doing, it kind of just takes the stress out. I mean I definitely have my worries, but that’s life in general. I feel like I just want to be the best driver that I can be. I feel like that is the biggest key to winning and taking the pressure off yourself.

When it comes to race series, types of cars and different tracks, the more the merrier for Ty Gibbs. Matt Thacker/Motorsport Images

Q: You’ve also spoken about trying and striving to be a perfectionist when it comes to your racing…

TG: For sure. I think I’m more on the paranoid side of just making sure everything is right. I feel like that’s just how I am — that’s how I’ve grown up. If it’s on a test in school or if it’s racing, I just want to make sure that everything is right. If it’s something where it’s my fault, then I want to work on it. If it’s something else, I want to help.

Q: Mark McFarland, your crew chief for the No. 18 ARCA car, has mentioned how good you’ve become at giving feedback when it comes to dialing in and fine-tuning your race cars. Is this something that you’ve focused on?

TG: Yeah, with Mark, I couldn’t thank him enough. Same thing with my whole ARCA crew. I’m so thankful for everything that they have done. On and off the track, I feel like they have been close friends to me, honestly. I feel like they’ve been a big help for me when I’m at the track, even for the Xfinity stuff. They are just there and they have my back. I feel like being with them for the past two years has been awesome. They’ve helped me kind of progress my learning curve to be a little bit quicker. They’ve helped me out with feedback and just kind of helping me with all of the learning experience. I learned a lot from them.

Q: Between the ARCA cars and Xfinity cars and all of the different tracks you compete on, do you like all of the variety? Do you like the different equipment, tracks and even track surfaces?

TG: For sure. I have my favorites. It’s nice to go to Darlington or some track that is completely worn out. I feel like that’s a lot of fun. I like the change a lot. I feel like it keeps everything mixed up and you don’t really know what’s going to happen or what you’re going to get out of it.

Q: How do you feel about your competition?

TG: I feel like this year was probably the most competitive year that I’ve probably ever raced in. Both the Xfinity series and ARCA series were both really competitive for me. I think that racing against guys like Austin Cindric and A.J. Allmendinger was awesome and it was hard and I think I learned a lot from both of them. I learn a lot from them and it has been fun to race against professional athletes like them.

Battling the likes of A.J. Allmendinger this year was was as fun as it was educational for Gibbs. Rusty Jarrett/Motorsport Images

Q: Are there any drivers in particular that maybe you look up to or have influenced you and your racing along the way?

Yeah, I really like Ayrton Senna. He’s one of my all-time favorite drivers. I feel like having a hero or somebody you like growing up is good. You know, I grew up around a bunch of different drivers and athletes and stuff like that and I feel like having a hero when you’re younger, I feel like they’re far away. People you look up to are kind of far away. That’s kind of the way I’ve looked at it. I never got to meet Senna and of course I wasn’t alive then, but I feel like I have a connection with him. I feel like I really relate to him a lot in different ways. I feel like Ayrton Senna was somebody I’d do anything to go fantasy racing with or to even to just have coffee with him one on one.

Q: What’s Ty Gibbs got going for 2022?

TG: I feel like next year is going to be a super-big year for me and a surprise to a lot of people. I feel I’ve had my options with where I want to go race at, so hopefully that comes out soon. I’m excited. I think when you’re in love with a sport so much, it doesn’t really matter what comes at you. You just want to do it. Every night I get to go and race on my simulator and it’s like the first time I’ve ever seen racing. I enjoy it that much.

Q: And looking down the road beyond that?

Once we figure out what I’m doing, I want to be able to win championships and races on different levels. That’s my goal with my racing career, in general. I want to try some different stuff out there, some different racing. It would be cool to go and run sports cars and maybe go run open-wheel or go run on dirt. I’d like to try and race a bunch of different stuff just to kind of try it out. I love racing and I love driving stuff and competing in race cars. I want to try and do a lot of different stuff for fun.

 

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