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After win in Xfinity debut, Ty Gibbs returns at Phoenix

Team Penske driver Joey Logano and engineer Miles Stanley, Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Rodney Childers, and JTG Daugherty Racing owner Tad Geschickter detail how the pandemic has changed NASCAR, for better or worse.

Three weeks after stunning the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ty Gibbs is back for more.

Following his win in his inaugural Xfinity start Feb. 20 at the Daytona International Speedway road course, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs was tabbed for 14 additional Xfinity races this season. That’s on top of his full-time duties for JGR in the ARCA Menards Series.

The new docket begins this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, where Ty Gibbs is on double duty between those two series. He’s already halfway to a weekend sweep after holding off Corey Heim in a one-lap dash to win Friday night’s ARCA race.

For the 18-year-old Ty Gibbs, a driver who declares himself “obsessed” with racing, going between Xfinity and ARCA as often as he will this season is something he relishes.

“I’ve got 24 hours in a day to do what I love, and I’m gonna make sure I use every one of those hours and minutes and seconds to make myself greater,” he said this past Wednesday in a teleconference.

The desire to improve was one of several things Ty Gibbs repeatedly emphasized in his half hour with the press. Another was his focus on being an emotional “straight arrow” with no need for undue expectations.

“I tell this to everybody that asks me: I feel like I’ve got the same attitude and mental mindset going into a race weekend, and that’s just to get the best finish I can and get the most experience for myself, so I can be the best race car driver I can possibly be in the future,” he said.

“There’s not really expectations set up - just to go in there and win. No matter what series or what race I’m in, I’m gonna go and try to do the best I can.”

Last month at the Daytona road course, Ty Gibbs was the best at the end of the night. His charge to the front through two overtime sessions led to him becoming just the sixth driver to win his inaugural Xfinity start.

Finishing second that night was reigning series champion Austin Cindric, who recalled his battle with Ty Gibbs during his own teleconference Wednesday.

“I put him in some really tough spots trying to hang onto the lead,” said Cindric. “We had some damage and that made my life really difficult, and I knew if I got behind, my shot of winning was a lot less, so he handled everything really well and was in a position on those restarts and made some decisions and won the race because of it, so I thought they did a great job.

“I feel like he’s showcased that he has the pace and he has the talent and it’s for everyone else to observe and for him to decide how the next couple races are gonna go, so it’s cool for him. It’s a great opportunity and I’m sure he’ll do well with it.”

For Saturday’s Xfinity race, Cindric will start third. As for Ty Gibbs, he’ll start 27th, which he says will give him a chance to learn more on how Xfinity cars handle in traffic and how far he can push said cars on an oval.

He could become the first driver to win his first two Xfinity starts. But no matter the outcome, his gratefulness for the opportunity he has is clear.

“If I could sweep the weekend, if I could get top five in Xfinity Series - anything - I’ll be happy with it,” he said. “Getting experience in the Xfinity car - I’ll be very thankful for that.

“Like I said before Daytona, I couldn’t care less if I was 50 laps down, just to be able to drive in the Xfinity Series means a lot to me.”