One of the greatest phenoms in the sport currently is Ty Gibbs, the grandson of legendary owner Joe Gibbs. In what has been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far, Gibbs has essentially become one of the best drivers in the Xfinity field in a short amount of time. He has looked like a prospect well into his second year of development when his development in NASCAR proper has yet to even truly begin.
With him being related to a team owner, it comes with a heavier weight than just a generational driver like Chase Elliott or Ryan Blaney. Nepotism will be a key issue with his career from here on forward, and it’s not an unfair claim, but at the end of the day how do you deny the talent? He is getting the same equipment as Harrison Burton, Daniel Hemric, and Brandon Jones and beating them in almost every race.
The biggest red flag for Gibbs is his attitude. At only 18-years old he already has the reputation for being a bit of a complainer. Earlier this season he had a bad interview experience where he was disappointed and expressed it in a sore loser fashion at Daytona, and this past Saturday he had a similar moment. Racing for the lead on a restart, A.J. Allmendinger took Gibbs and Cindric three-wide and made contact as he captured the lead. It was a move that was quite impressive and purely a great racing move on Allmendinger’s part, but Gibbs took exception. Gibbs referred to the move as dirty after the race.
“Kind of sucks,” Gibbs said. “The 16, that was a little dirty there. There’s a point where it’s, you know, we’re racing Xfinity cars on a road course, it’s always going to be rough, but he took it to the next level.”
It’s comments like these that will not do any good for a driver with his last name. When you walk into this sport with a famous last name, you immediately have a target placed on your back. Drivers like Elliott, Blaney, or LaJoie must earn their spot in NASCAR despite being generational drivers with connections. Those connections only get you so far unlike when you have family that owns a race team with a seat almost waiting for you.
The only modern-age drivers that he has anything in common with would be Austin and Ty Dillon. Both are the grandchildren of Richard Childress and have both found success in NASCAR. Neither has had the hype around them that Ty Gibbs currently does though; despite Austin winning a Truck and Xfinity championship.
Both Austin and Ty have been faced with a lot of scrutinies, but none more so than Austin. The oldest Dillon not only followed a well-executed plan to get him to his grandfather’s top ride. He also took on the #3 that had been dormant since Dale Earnhardt’s passing, adding even more ill-will from fans that “spoiled rich kids” already get.
Ty took a somewhat different route, he elected to race for Germain racing and keep his head down for all his stint in Cup. He now is attempting to scrap for a new ride, but to this point has not relied too heavily on his grandfather.
They each took different paths, but their attitudes outside of the car are much different. While I wouldn’t call Austin arrogant, he has his moments where he comes in with a lot of confidence that can be taken that way. Because of his family, this confidence is the most time taken as arrogance. Although that’s not to say he is completely innocent, there have been more than a few times where his communications on the radio raise some eyebrows in terms of how he treats his crew members knowing his grandfather is listening and nobody can defend themselves.
Ty on the other hand has always carried himself in a very lunch pale sort of manner. He shows up to the race and keeps his head down and just competes to the best of his abilities. In this past year with all his struggles, he has also been very open with fans about his struggles on and off the racetrack. Overall, he comes off as very humble even though he has a lifeline in RCR waiting for him at all times.
These two brothers give drivers an example of how to carry yourself and how not to carry yourself. To be honest, Gibbs is already coming off a little worse than Austin ever has at any point in his career in terms of seeming spoiled. I think that he needs to desperately take a page out of Ty Dillon’s book and not lose his personality but keep in mind the extra weight his last name carries with his public persona.
Gibbs has the opportunity to follow Ty Dillon’s layout close with the expansion of 23XI Racing happening quickly. With this, it gives him an outlet to break away from JGR, even if it’s still under the same umbrella.
I do not want Ty Gibbs to lose his personality, I think that’s what makes him fun and we need more drivers like it. You can have personality without being a sore loser and coming off spoiled. It might not be fair that because he is the grandchild of a NASCAR team owner and because of that he has to carry himself differently than other drivers to avoid scrutiny. However, other drivers also won’t have as easy of a path getting to NASCAR as he does. Everybody in the field is racing as hard as they can, and nobody will be intimidated by his last name as he climbs the ladder; best he learns that lesson now.