Ty Gibbs putting tough stretch of races behind: I think the team is strong and only getting stronger

Ty Gibbs putting tough stretch of races behind: I think the team is strong and only getting stronger

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It was only a month ago that it seemed like a given Ty Gibbs was going to be the next first-time Cup Series winner. The No. 54 team was a threat to win weekly.

After a middle-of-the-road Daytona 500, Gibbs reeled off five consecutive top-10 finishes, the longest streak of his career. The success kicked off with a 10th-place effort at Atlanta Motor Speedway before he picked up his first top-five effort of the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gibbs was in command for 57 laps at Phoenix Raceway and was third-in-class to a dominant final stage from Christopher Bell.

The Cup Series was thrown for a loop at Bristol Motor Speedway when tires were wearing at a rapid pace. Yet, Gibbs managed the first half of the race to near perfection, sweeping both stages and leading a career-high 137 laps. The No. 54 car finished ninth.

Going into the series‘ first road course at Circuit of The Americas, Gibbs was among the favorites to win. William Byron controlled the race, however, and a late surge from Bell dropped Gibbs to third in the finishing order.

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After six races, Gibbs was second in the regular season championship standings, five points behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr.

The No. 54 team hit a slump beginning at Richmond Raceway that spanned a month. In the four races between Richmond and Talladega Superspeedway, Gibbs had an average finish of 17.5.

“We have been really strong and just missed it for a week,” Gibbs said Saturday at Kansas Speedway. “With the way the cautions fall at the end of these races, it didn‘t help us out at all. Sometimes, it‘s just the nature of the racing and how it goes.”

The No. 54 team stopped the bleeding last weekend at Dover Motor Speedway by rounding out the top 10. Gibbs felt he could have finished even higher, but Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson were the beneficiaries of having a caution during the middle of a green-flag pit stop cycle.

“I felt like we were really fast, it was just track-position dependent, and we didn‘t have that,” Gibbs said. “Towards the end, we cleaned it up and got up there.

“It‘s always ideal to have a great weekend, but sometimes it just doesn‘t happen, and you have to take what it gives you.”

With the one-third mark of the season wrapping up on Sunday at Kansas, Gibbs has dropped to eighth in the standings, losing 82 points to the lead over the last five races. He still believes the No. 54 team can rattle off a victory at any time.

“I think the team is strong and only getting stronger,” Gibbs stated.

With how dominant Toyota has been at Kansas Speedway in the Next Gen car — the manufacturer is undefeated in four races — Gibbs has high expectations for the weekend. He won his first start at the 1.5-mile track in the Xfinity Series in 2021 but has a pair of DNFs in three Cup starts.