Saturday's motors: Ty Gibbs takes lead late to win Xfinity race at Charlotte

Associated Press
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Concord, N.C. — Ty Gibbs is giving his grandfather plenty to think about.

The 18-year-old grandson of championship car owner Joe Gibbs took the lead with 20 laps left at Charlotte Motor Speedway and held off the field for his second Xfinity Series win of his rookie season on Saturday.

Ty Gibbs, left, gets a hug from fellow driver Ty Dillon after winning the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, NC.

If the younger Gibbs keeps this up, Joe Gibbs might not be able to keep the hard-charging young driver out of the NASCAR Cup Series.

“You're getting me all excited now,” Ty Gibbs said. “I think about a lot of stuff all the time, processing stuff. I definitely think about that.”

It might be a tight squeeze since Joe Gibbs Racing currently fields four teams, all with championship drive in past series champs Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., along with Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell.

“They belong there,” Gibbs said. “I'm still trying to figure it out.”

Gibbs obviously has something figured out. About five hours after celebrating his Xfinity win, the teenager led all 100 laps to take the ARCA Menards Series race. It was his fourth win in five series starts this season.

“I got to burn out two (cars) in one day,” Gibbs said Saturday night.

Gibbs won the Daytona road course event in February with a late pass through a grassy area. In this Xfinity win, Gibbs overcame a spin at the end of the second stage and kept his patience until the end when he came out on top of a side-by-side duel with NASCAR Cup Series racer Chase Briscoe, who lost control and surrendered the lead to Gibbs.

Gibbs had one final challenge on the last restart but pulled away from the pack when the green flag flew like so many JGR drivers of the past to gain the win.

A proud Joe Gibbs beamed from the pits, a big smile on his face.

“It's definitely nice to win on an oval, especially so nearby hometown,” said Ty Gibbs, who was also competing in the ARCA Series race at Charlotte in the evening.

Ty Gibbs apologized to Briscoe if he had any part in the spinout, although replays seemed to show their cars did not touch.

Briscoe made his first Xfinity start of the season and led 60 laps. “We just made the wrong adjustments at the end. We were too tight. I felt he was going to get me either way," Briscoe said. "It's definitely frustrating.”

Reigning Xfinity Series champ Austin Cindric was second, followed by Harrison Burton, Brandon Brown and Tyler Reddick. Briscoe finished sixth.

Cindric, the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, is flying out of Charlotte to Indianapolis to watch the Indy 500 with his family.

It was the latest racing disappointment for Daniel Hemric, who led the most laps — 105 of 200 — and yet again left without a victory in eight years in competing in NASCAR's top three series.

Hemric dominated much of the first half of the race, sweeping the first and second stages. But Briscoe passed him for the lead with 85 laps to go. Hemric's struggles got worse during a caution when he had to back up to get out of his pit stall, then was tagged with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire.

Hemric fell from second to 27th. He rallied back into the top 10 before an accident on a restart 14 laps from the finish ended his chances. Hemric has gone 187 starts in the Cup Series, Xfinity and Camping World Trucks without a win.

The race had a sense of the old, pre-pandemic days, with practice Friday and qualifying Saturday morning before the event. Riley Herbst won the single-lap qualifying to start on pole with Briscoe right beside him on the front row.

The most serious crash came on a restart on lap 150 when Ryan Sieg, who had just taken the lead out of the pits, lost grip and slid near the apron for a stretch before turning back up the track where his car was slammed hard by Josh Berry and Brett Moffitt.

All drivers walked from the their cars unharmed, with Berry and Sieg getting the OK from the infield care center.

Hendrick eyes all-time Cup Series win record at Charlotte

Concord, N.C. — Those who’ve been around Hendrick Motorsports over the past few years know all about the record.

It’s impossible not to.

Kyle Larson fist bumps a member of his crew after qualifying in pole position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Car owner Rick Hendrick has made no secret to his employees about how badly he wants to surpass Petty Enterprises for the most Cup Series wins in NASCAR history. That long-term goal can become a reality Sunday when Hendrick goes for win No. 269 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had 268 circled for so long, I don’t even know what 269 is going to be like yet,” said Chad Knaus, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re really excited to be right there, close to being able to get that. The 600 would be an awesome time for us to get it right here in Hendrick Motorsports’ backyard.”

Hendrick's quest for history got off to a roaring start on Saturday when Kyle Larson captured the pole, while teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron qualified third and fourth, respectively. Hendrick’s other driver, Alex Bowman, will start seventh.

All four Hendrick drivers already have won this year, including Elliott’s rain-shortened victory last week at the Circuit of the Americas.

“It’s an important thing to Mr. Hendrick and he’s made that very apparent over the last couple of years,” Elliott said. “When your leader cares about something that much, we all care about it equally as much and we want to achieve that for him."

Hendrick said last week: “The respect and admiration I have for Richard and Kyle (Petty), that whole family, it’s a big deal for me to be just mentioned with him.”

Knaus said he can’t wait to celebrate with his boss — whenever that next win comes.

“I’m a huge Rick Hendrick fan,” Knaus said. “He has been a metric to me since I was 21 years old and has really helped me along with my career. I’m just happy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to give him a big hug after we get it and we can go and hopefully get more.”

To reach the winner’s circle, Hendrick will have to beat Martin Truex Jr., who has won the Coca-Cola 600 three times.

“This place here, we’ve found some things that work for us and we’ve been able to ride that horse for five, six years now,” Truex said. “It’s getting more challenging, the track is getting rougher and the teams are all getting closer together setup-wise and what everybody knows about these cars these days. Things have really come together in a smaller box. It’s going to be tough.”

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