On November 5, 2022, Ty Gibbs held off Noah Gragson at Phoenix Raceway to win the 2022 Xfinity Series championship. Love him or hate him, the 20-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs did plenty this past year to evoke both admiration and disdain. There's no denying that Ty's championship win was the best Xfinity Series moment of the year. And his victory burnout at Phoenix was the perfect icing on the cake for a season filled with incredible ups and terrible downs.
BURNOUTS for @TyGibbs! ?
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 6, 2022
It'd be putting it lightly to say that Ty Gibbs' 2022 was filled with highs and lows. Coming off NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2021, Ty headed into the 2022 Xfinity season with a lot to live up to. He started the first half of the season off strong, winning the Las Vegas and Atlanta races in March, the Richmond race in April, and the Road America race in July, with top-five finishes at Dover, Charlotte, and Nashville sprinkled in between. Several weeks later, Gibbs was given the opportunity to step up to the big leagues. On July 24, 2022, he made his NASCAR Cup Series debut with 23XI Racing at the 2022 M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono, filling in for the injured Kurt Busch. Gibbs would run in 14 additional Cup races, with his best performance being a 10th-place finish at the FireKeepers Casino 400 in Michigan. But Gibbs would continue to prove his worth in the Xfinity Series most prominently.
Gibbs, of course, would easily make the Xfinity Series playoffs and dominate on the way to his first championship. But, the road would be paved with controversy. After the Martinsville race in April, he had a full-on fistfight with Sam Mayer, and during the September Cup race at Texas, he door-swiped Ty Dillon on pit road, nearly taking out crew members and NASCAR officials in the process. Perhaps Gibbs' most talked-about controversy came when he wrecked Brandon Jones, his own JGR teammate, at the Martinsville playoff race, ending Jones' playoff run in the process. After receiving incredible backlash for the incident, Gibbs bizarrely compared himself to Jesus Christ, only further angering NASCAR fans.
While he's clearly skilled behind the wheel of a stock car, Gibbs is still incredibly young by NASCAR standards and has plenty of learning to do. Thankfully, he showed his willingness to grow and learn from his mistakes after his title win at Phoenix. Gibbs remained fairly humble in victory, and during the post-race interview, he apologized for his actions at Martinsville.
"I know what I did last week was unacceptable, and I apologize once again," Gibbs said. "It was unacceptable because we could have had two shots to win this deal, and it was stupid from an organizational standpoint. I will sit here and tell you I'm sorry as much as I can, but it is not going to fix it. I've got to fix my actions."
Sadly, Ty Gibbs' biggest test of 2022 would come not on the racetrack but off. Mere hours after winning the Xfinity Series championship, Ty was forced to face the news that his father, 49-year-old Coy Gibbs, had died in his sleep. The death sent shockwaves through the NASCAR community and left Ty devastated during a time when he should have been celebrating with family and friends. Despite the immense tragedy he's been dealing with as a result of his father's untimely passing, Gibbs is looking forward to competing at the highest level next year. On November 15, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Ty would move to the NASCAR Cup Series full-time next season, taking Kyle Busch's vacant spot. It's obviously too early to tell whether or not he'll live up to the hype created by his Xfinity Series dominance. But one thing's for sure: given what he's been through this past year, we'll be seeing a much different Ty Gibbs in 2023.
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