Ty Gibbs laments late-race decisions at Pocono: 'All my fault'

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Ty Gibbs laments late-race decisions at Pocono: 'All my fault'
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LONG POND, Pa. — Ty Gibbs saw chance after chance slip away.

Hunting Noah Gragson for his fifth win of the season, Gibbs caught the No. 9 Chevrolet numerous times Saturday at Pocono Raceway — including on the final lap entering the ‘Tunnel Turn’ — but the 19-year-old fell 0.396 seconds short to his rival.

MORE: Xfinity results | At-track photos

It was a strong result, his first top-20 finish since winning at Road America on July 2, but Gibbs couldn’t help but lament losing Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

“I didn’t put myself in position to get past him so my fault. All my fault and I take responsibility,” Gibbs said. “I feel like I put myself in a weird position through ‘Tunnel Turn’ which I probably could have waited and packed air on him off the corner and got underneath him into Turn 3, but I just made a mistake and I apologize to my whole team and my crew.”

Gibbs wheeled his No. 54 Toyota to Gragson bumper plenty of times, able to pull alongside Gragson down the Long Pond Straightaway on the event’s final circuit. But Gragson maintained the edge on the outside lane as Gibbs bobbled, allowing Gragson to score JR Motorsports’ seventh victory in the last 11 races.

“We were faster,” Gibbs said. “I feel like it was surprising how good we were even on a tire disadvantage, which I feel like shows how good our car was. Just couldn’t get clean air. I feel like it’s just really hard to pass here, but that’s just the nature of this place.”

While Gibbs kicked himself for what he didn’t do, others praised him, including the man who beat him.

“That was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in a race car trying to hold someone off,” Gragson said. “Really gotta respect the way he raced us and hopefully we put on a show.”

Gragson’s boss, JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., also commended Gibbs for his drive, racing Gragson hard but not in an overaggressive manner.

“I was so impressed by Ty,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “He was in a situation where it would’ve been easy to use up Noah a little bit and race him even a little bit harder without any real repercussion. And he raced real clean, so I was just pretty taken aback by that and think now it’s on Noah when they’re in that same situation to give him that same amount of respect.”

Gibbs’ team owner and grandfather, Joe Gibbs, told NASCAR.com he wasn’t surprised at the level-headed but fierce racing and appreciated the fight to the finish.

“It was a great battle. They did a great job, both of them,” Joe Gibbs said. “Noah got him. I thought it was a great battle.”

The younger Gibbs, though, just wishes he made the winning decisions instead, admitting it was “not really” a conscious decision to avoid further contact with Gragson.

“I just didn’t put myself in the right position,” Gibbs said. “You can say I’m building maturity and sportsmanship, but I just didn’t win and we’re all out here to win.”