For the third consecutive Sunday, Ty Gibbs crossed the finish line ninth in a NASCAR Cup Series race as he and the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team continue to have a quietly strong start to the season.
The rookie driver kept his car clean in Sunday’s 400-miler at Richmond Raceway and avoided costly mistakes like speeding.
“I feel like we’re just finishing better,” said Gibbs. “I feel like we’ve had speed all year, but we haven’t finished well from my mistakes. So, I’m happy with it, and let’s keep going and working hard.
“We needed a little more in our Monster Energy Camry, but I’m happy with it and thankful to be racing at the top level of motor sports. I’m having a good time.”
It was a long day of tire fall and managing pace, and Gibbs averaged a top-15 run throughout the afternoon.
“Tire fall off was really big, but I really enjoy stuff like this,” said Gibbs. “I feel like it suited my team well, and they worked really hard and never gave up on me.”
Execution has been a work in progress for Gibbs and his team, and although the day ended on a high note, crew chief Chris Gayle said the team did have a few mishaps on pit road.
“We’re all making mistakes,” Gayle said. “Obviously, his (Gibbs) are more easily visible to everyone. We got blocked in on the first stop where we knew we should have topped shorter, so that cost us some positions. We had a pit crew mistake – we had one stop where the gun reversed. So, it’s part of it.”
Through the first seven races, Gibbs has managed an average finish of 17th. Gibbs is 20th in the championship standings after the last three races.
“It does feel good to get the results,” Gayle said. “What I liked better (Sunday) was our execution was better. The last two, we got top 10s, but they were racetracks where maybe our execution wasn’t good on pit road, but you could overcome it because of what happened either at the end of COTA or Atlanta, and that race being a superspeedway.
“This one, we had talked about before the race, if you make mistakes – you saw it speeding and stuff late – it’s the end of your day. It’s hard to come back through the field. He did really good there. It’s nice to get three top nines, but for us, we talked at the beginning of the season, 10th to 15th, and anything better than that is a good day. So, another good day.”
The most impressive stat for Gibbs is that the rookie has completed every lap so far this season. Gibbs has been on the lead lap at the end of five of the seven races.
“I think it’s really important to look at the big picture like that, and we’ll keep going and keep knocking these finishes out,” said Gibbs. “I think we could have finished maybe a little bit better, but we missed it by a touch. So, we’ll keep working hard.”