CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — Ty Gibbs was promoted to NASCAR’s Top Cup series Tuesday in an expected announcement that included no celebrations as Joe Gibbs Racing continues to mourn the loss of Gibbs’ father.
Coy Gibbs died in his sleeping hours after his 20-year-old son won the Xfinity Series championship on November 5 at Phoenix Raceway. He was 49 years old, the same age as his older brother JD, when he passed away in 2019.
NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs lost his two sons a month before their 50th birthday. Coy Gibbs was vice chairman of his father’s NASCAR team at the time of his death.
The Gibbs family has not made any public statements since Coy Gibbs’ death was confirmed shortly before the NASCAR season finale. Ty Gibbs did not compete in the November 6 finals and has made only one public appearance since, courtside at a Charlotte Hornets game last week with his younger brother, a cousin and another driver.
Tuesday’s announcement that Ty Gibbs will replace Kyle Busch in the JGR Cup roster came in a four-paragraph press release that said Gibbs would be stepping up with Chris Gayle, his crew chief, during this year’s championship season.
Ty Gibbs will drive the No. 54 Toyota Camry next year and JGR said it plans to use the No. 18 for future use. Joe Gibbs chose the number 18 when he started his NASCAR team in 1992, and Busch has spent the last 15 years with the number.
Ty Gibbs has raced the No. 54 in the Xfinity Series for the past two seasons, winning 11 of 51 races and the championship at the season finale in Phoenix. His first national series title ended a bumpy season for Ty Gibbs, who scrapped with other drivers, was fined by NASCAR, and then cost JGR driver Brandon Jones a spot in the championship finals by knocking him out of the lead on the final lap in Martinsville swirled expressway.
If Gibbs had simply stayed behind Jones in second place, both JGR drivers would have made the championship race and Toyota would have had two entries. Joe Gibbs promised consequences for his grandson, but the team had to get through championship week first.
Ty Gibbs then won the title, but learned of his father’s death the next morning at a hotel in the Phoenix area.
Before the Martinsville incident, Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson had defended Gibbs’ growth while noting that he is younger than most of his peers. He will join a JGR lineup that includes 42-year-old Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin, who turns 42 later this week, and Christopher Bell, who turns 28 next month. Bell raced for the Cup title in Phoenix and finished third in the title race.
“We have to keep in mind that he still has a lot to learn, especially considering he continues to race at Cup level. He just turned 20. He’s going to make mistakes,” Wilson said in October. “Not only did he get into arguments early in the season, but when he got out of the car he was aggressive about it. He’s much better at handling the emotions when he gets out of the car.
“But he’s still seeing things that are new to him and it’s going to be a very dynamic time for him.”
Ty Gibbs spent the week leading up to the finals apologizing for the incident with Jones, which he admitted was selfish and the whole Gibbs company lacked the bigger picture. He also coped with being overly aggressive and even dirty at times on the track.
He was booed both in Martinsville after filming Jones and again in Phoenix after winning the title.
“I definitely made some mistakes in the past and last weekend but the best thing for me is to keep going. And that’s what I did (in Phoenix) in my race and we won,” Ty Gibbs said after the race. “Just keep going and learn from my mistakes. I can’t go back and change the past; and if i could, i would. But we can’t, and the best thing for me is to learn from it.”
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