Even though Ty Gibbs is scheduled to make just his 15th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he’ll hope to kick off a championship run in the series, albeit a different kind of championship.
While the Xfinity Series playoffs for the driver title begins this weekend at Las Vegas, Gibbs will kick off the final seven-race stretch of the season with the No. 54 team very much in the hunt for the owner title. He’s shared the car this season with Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Christopher Bell, along with Cup Series veteran Ty Dillon, who joined the team for a handful of early season races. The No. 54 team arrives at Las Vegas third in the owner standings, 16 points behind the leading No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing.
Adding to the excitement for Gibbs this weekend is another chance to drive the No. 54 Supra featuring the colors of Interstate Batteries, as JGR’s founding sponsor returns for the second time this year with the next generation of the Gibbs family behind the wheel after he drove it during Throwback Weekend at Darlington back in May. For JGR and Interstate Batteries, this weekend continues the 2021 celebration of their 30th anniversary together.
In addition to the Cup Series history of Interstate Batteries, the soon-to-be 19-year-old Gibbs has joined several other drivers who have made Xfinity Series starts for JGR’s founding partner, including Busch, Hamlin, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler, and Daniel Suarez.
While it’s only the 15th Xfinity Series race of the season for Gibbs, the start of his career has been impressive, to say the least. He won in his very first start on the Daytona road course back in February, then backed it up with a runner-up finish in his second start at Phoenix Raceway. Two more victories would come this season for the young driver – at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May and last month at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International.
While Gibbs is set to compete in 18 total Xfinity Series races in 2021, he is competing fulltime in the ARCA Menards Series, where he is first in points and has won at Phoenix, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Toledo (Ohio) Speedway, Charlotte, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Iowa Speedway in Newton, Winchester (Ind.) Speedway, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, The Milwaukee Mile, and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His 10 ARCA wins are just two short of Tim Steele’s modern-era single-season record of 12 wins in 1997. Gibbs has 18 ARCA victories in all and is tied for 14th on the all-time series wins list with Ken Schrader.
So as Gibbs heads west to Las Vegas for the first time, he’ll not only focus on trying to get his Interstate Batteries Toyota Supra to victory lane for the fourth time, he’ll look to kick off the team’s playoff-within-the-playoffs run in style with JGR’s founding partner riding along.