AVONDALE, Ariz. – The last time Ty Gibbs raced at Phoenix Raceway, he was standing in victory lane to close out the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season.
He’ll return Friday night as part of the ARCA Menards Series’ inaugural race at the Arizona 1-mile oval, and while the series name has changed, the 17-year-old Charlotte, N.C., driver heads West with the same mindset.
“I look at every single race with the same mentality, no matter what happened the race before,” said Gibbs. “I want to try to win every single race I can; I go in to be positive and learn as much as I can.”
The race will also serve as the first of 10 races as part of the Sioux Chief Showdown. The series, which draws the best of the ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, is a championship that will play out over a variety of short tracks and road courses, culminating at Memphis Int’l Speedway in September.
In his win last year at Phoenix, Gibbs started 22nd after a technical inspection infraction, and then marched to the front. He passed teammate Riley Herbst on lap 71 and then held off East champ Sam Mayer over the closing laps to secure his second NASCAR victory.
“I was focused the whole time about getting my car the best and getting to the front,” Gibbs said. “It was really slick when the sun was out, after the Xfinity Series race. Once I got my car dialed in, we were ready to rip at the end.”
Gibbs had six top fives in East competition, including a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He also had two wins and seven top fives in 11 ARCA Menards Series starts. He kicked off 2020 with a third-place finish at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway, after losing the lead to Mayer with 13 laps to go.
The Gibbs-Mayer rivalry has been one to keep an eye on. Gibbs got his first ARCA Menards Series win last June at Gateway with a perfectly-timed bump-and-run on Mayer on the final lap. Of his four runner-up finishes in the East in 2019, two of them (Iowa and Bristol) came in Mayer wins.