During last week's NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, we had ourselves a heated battle between two Ty's, as Ty Gibbs veered into Ty Dillon on pit road in an apparent payback move for Dillon hitting Gibbs while the 23XI Racing driver was exiting his pit box.
While Dillon's contact with Gibbs appeared to be accidental, it was Gibbs' retaliatory move that made headlines, because when Gibbs door-swiped Dillon's car, it subsequently swerved and nearly took out NASCAR officials and pit crew members who were working to fix Chris Buescher's No. 17 RFK Racing Ford. Dillon had to brake hard to avoid what could have been a disastrous situation. Needless to say, Gibbs earned himself a ton of enemies in the immediate aftermath of his reckless decision.
Now, the Texas incident was personal for Brad Keselowski, who is the co-owner of Buescher's car. During a guest appearance on NASCAR Race Hub alongside Jamie McMurray, Regan Smith, and Shannon Spake, Keselowski made it clear that the 19-year-old Gibbs is still finding his way in NASCAR's highest level. But, Gibbs' youth and inexperience is creating huge safety problems for other drivers on the track. Keselowski's solution? No more teenagers in the NASCAR Cup Series.
"Pit road is not the place to fool around." @keselowski shares his thoughts on Ty Gibbs and the penalty issued by #NASCAR. #RaceHub@jamiemcmurray | @regansmith | @shannonspake pic.twitter.com/nH2qKDsamQ
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) September 28, 2022
"Ultimately, what I see here is a teenage kid who is working his way through it," Keselowski said. "He's making mistakes on the biggest stage in our sport, and it's a really difficult situation. I can't be mad at Ty. I did a lot dumber things when I was a teenager, but I wasn't on this stage. So this goes to a bigger problem of why we don't really need teenagers at this level because this is not the place to learn those lessons."
On Tuesday, NASCAR fined Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 Cup driver points while also taking away 25 car owner points from 23XI Racing's No. 23 Cup car. But, Keselowski thinks NASCAR should've done more to punish Gibbs.
"I think this penalty is not severe enough," Keselowski said. "I think we're to the point now where, when you have the body of work that Ty Gibbs has here, it's time to take a race off and send a strong message here, 'We're not doing this on pit road, guys.' These people have families. They're exposed to being hit by a car at 50 mph. And it's not just crew members. It's officials, too. This has to stop right now."
As Keselowski alluded to with his "body of work" comment, Gibbs has a history of making boneheaded decisions in the heat of the moment. He had a full-on fist fight with Sam Mayer after the Xfinity Series race at Martinsville back in April. The week prior, he pushed John Hunter Nemechek, his own teammate, out of the way to win the race at Richmond. Clearly, the kid is a loose cannon and then some.
Gibbs -- who is the grandson of Joe Gibbs, the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing -- got his first shot at the Cup Series replacing Kurt Busch in the No. 45 Toyota following Busch's season-ending injury during qualifying for the Pocono race back in July. Ahead of the playoffs, he swapped cars with Bubba Wallace so that the No. 45 car would have a better shot at the owner's championship.
He'll be in the No. 23 car for the remainder of the playoffs, but looking ahead to 2023, Ty is expected to join Joe Gibbs Racing and helm the No. 18 Toyota recently vacated by Kyle Busch. Given the hate that Busch used to get behind the wheel of the No. 18, some have joked that Gibbs would be a perfect fit for the ride. But, all jokes aside, everything points to Gibbs simply not being ready for the big stage. At least not yet.
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