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NASCAR Cup Charlotte

Ty Gibbs believes he's "definitely close" to first Cup win

Ty Gibbs has shown no signs of a “sophomore slump” in his NASCAR Cup career and in fact looks closer than ever to earning his first win, perhaps even this weekend at Charlotte.

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry

Ty Gibbs has shown no signs of a “sophomore slump” in his NASCAR Cup career and in fact looks closer than ever to earning his first win, perhaps even this weekend at Charlotte.

Gibbs, the 21-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs, burst onto the NASCAR scene with great fanfare – winning in his Xfinity Series debut race in 2021 and following that up with seven wins and a championship in 2022.

His first full-time Cup season last year wasn’t quite as flashy, but still solid for a rookie. He finished 18th in the series standings behind four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.

Heading into this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gibbs and his No. 54 Toyota team are far ahead of where he was a year go and inching ever close to that inaugural series win.

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry.

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Monster Energy Toyota Camry.

Photo by: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsport Images

“I think it’s just about more experience,” Gibbs said of his improvement from last season. “My team has more experience with this (new Toyota) and with me and how I like my car set-ups for this Next Gen car. I think they’ve done a great job and it’s slowly getting better.

“I think we definitely have been more in contention this year and then I feel like I’m definitely close to winning, for sure. That’s the biggest thing, is the experience.”

Gibbs’ crew chief, Chris Gayle, agrees.

“I think maybe Ty is a little more relaxed just because he just knows the routine and has got a full year with us under his belt, so there’s a familiarity,” he said. “There’s a little bit more confidence in knowing he can do it, and I think that builds on itself from this year, right?

“Like we every time we go run second or third or knock on the door right there. He’s like, ‘OK, I belong here. I know I can do this.’ We just got to execute, you know?”

Through 13 races, Gibbs has already matched his top-five finishes from all last season and has seven top-10 finishes. He’s also led 235 laps so far – more than twice as many from last season (112).

Heading to Sunday night’s race, Gibbs is seventh in the series standings, 96 behind leader Kyle Larson. That puts him in prime position for a playoff berth regardless of a win, but the victory is still the main objective.

Prior to last weekend’s All-Star Race weekend, Gayle said he and the No. 54 team did a little “self-evaluation” of the first part of their season and came away very satisfied.

“We were we were right on pace to some standards we set at the beginning of the season,” Gayle said. “We looked at the other three JGR cars (Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell) and compared where are those guys really running.

“These are guys with more experience, but they are where we know we want to be. You know, we need to get to 75 or 80-percent of where they are in Year 2.”

Closing in on first Cup win

Gayle said Gibbs and the No. 54 were on pace to match or exceed nearly all the standards they set for themselves outside of a couple of exceptions.

“We haven’t got the win yet, right? And there’s still 12 more races to do that (in the regular season),” Gayle said. “We haven’t got a pole even though we have started second twice.

“Then there were some markers with just some driver stuff that he’s doing, like on pit road, like rolling times and things like that were just a little off. Otherwise, I’d say it’s going to plan, so we’ll see.”

Asked if he felt Charlotte was a good opportunity to pick up his first win, Gibbs said, “I think our team is doing a great job. We are slowly getting better and I’m getting better, as well.

“We are going to give it our best shot.

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