Ty Gibbs captures ARCA Henry Ford Health System 200 at MIS

By Steve Kornacki
Special to The Detroit News

Brooklyn, Mich. —  There isn’t much doubt as to who gets the checkered flag in this season’s ARCA Menards Series. Either Ty Gibbs or Corey Heim have won 13 of the first 14 events.

Ty Gibbs

That tendency continued Friday in the Henry Ford Health System 200 at Michigan International Speedway. Gibbs won for the eighth time, and is three wins ahead of Heim.

The two budding racing stars, born three months apart in 2002, both drive Toyota Camrys and have developed quite a rivalry. Gibbs drives the black No. 18 and Heim the white No. 20.

They swapped some paint on the first lap and went after one another for 100 laps on the two-mile, D-shaped oval.

Gibbs had a great re-start after the 82nd lap, jumping ahead of Heim, who then got challenged down low by Sam Mayer and never could overtake Gibbs.

More: Kyle Larson hopes to continue dominance in NASCAR Cup at Michigan International Speedway

When it was over, Gibbs did burnouts near the finish line, jumped atop his roof and extended both arms in victory as fans cheered loudly.

“It’s definitely real refreshing to do that,” Gibbs, 18, from Huntersville, N.C., told The Detroit News after the race. “This place has so much history, and to make history here, to win here, after watching races here as a kid, definitely means a lot. This is one of my favorite tracks and it’s a fun time for how fast it is.”

However, Heim, 19, was only 0.237 of a second behind in reaching the finish line.

What’s at the source of the competitive edge Gibbs displays?

“I just feel like I want to be the best I can be,” he said. “That’s what I want to do, and I want to work as hard as I can. God’s given me great gifts and blessed me so much. I just want to keep my head down and keep working.”

Gibbs is the grandson of Joe Gibbs  —  a rare two-sport Hall of Famer as an NFL coach and NASCAR team owner. Ty drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, but his father, Coy, owns his car.

“Ty’s always wanted to race,” Joe told The Detroit News. “He gets up early in the morning to work, and just had a real strong desire at a really young age. He felt this is what he wanted to do.

“The family prayed about it, and Coy has been the one directing his racing. Coy’s keeping it real easy, slow. Doesn’t want to rush him. His dad raced trucks and everything and understands it.”

Five drivers in the race were from Michigan (finishes in parentheses): Morgen Baird, Grass Lake (7th); Jeffrey MacZink, Brownstown (9th); Scott Melton, Rockford (14th); Brad Smith, Shelby Township (11th); and Brandon Varney, Richmond (10th).

Upcoming MIS weekend action

NASCAR’s Xfinity Series New Holland 250 begins at 3:30 p.m., Saturday. …The NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 drops its starting flag at 3 p.m. Sunday. ... Ty Gibbs also is entered in Saturday’s race.

Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.