TOLEDO, Ohio – In 1981, 40-year-old Joe Gibbs started his professional football head coaching career with five straight losses, enduring a tough start before his Washington Redskins team recovered to win eight of their final 11 games.
Now, nearly four decades later, Gibbs’ grandson is trying to rebound from his own series of near-misses to capture his first major-league stock car victory.
Ty Gibbs, still just 16 years of age, made his ARCA Menards Series debut at Five Flags Speedway in March. He stayed in the fight all night long and made a pass for second in the final corner of the final lap.
In his second start, four weeks ago at Salem Speedway, the young Gibbs recovered from a spin to finish sixth. He crossed the line second in the most recent ARCA Menards Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
While all of those results are nice, they aren’t what Ty Gibbs wants. He wants to win.
Not yet old enough to be eligible to race for the overall series championship, the teenager will compete for the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship. The series within the series takes place on all tracks, paved and dirt, one mile in length and under.
The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway will be the fourth start of Gibbs’ brief ARCA career, as well as the next race he is eligible to run at his young age.
Gibbs has tested a couple of times at the Glass City half mile last year in an effort to familiarize himself with the cars raced in the ARCA series. He will test again on Monday to work on race day setups and to continue to acclimate himself with crew chief Mark McFarland.
“Last year we came to Toledo Speedway to get some seat time in the ARCA car and some laps on the track knowing that we were going to be racing here during the 2019 season,” said Gibbs. “I was really surprised at how fast the track was but feel like I was able to learn some things that will help me when we get to the race weekend.
“I know Mark (McFarland, crew chief) and the No. 18 team will have a fast Monster Energy Camry and we’ll be ready to battle for the win at Toledo.”
Unlike his grandfather, who lost those first five games handily, Gibbs has come out of the box strong. In addition to his strong performances in the ARCA Menards Series, he also won a late model event at Myrtle Beach Speedway to start the season off on the right foot.
“The 2019 season has started out awesome, with a late-model win in Myrtle Beach and second at New Smyrna for the K&N East race and at Five Flags and Nashville for my first ARCA races,” noted Ty Gibbs. “I feel I did a lot of preparation during the off season to make sure my fitness and driving skill set stayed sharp and I was ready to get in the car and contend for wins each week. I had a rough time a few weeks ago at Salem and didn’t finish where we wanted to, but I’m ready to rebound at Toledo.”
With a limited number of opportunities to win in 2019, Gibbs is forced to maximize every chance he has behind the wheel. That’s not to say he feels extra pressure to perform. He places a lot of pressure on himself, just as every driver in his position would.
One person that doesn’t put any added pressure on him is his grandfather.
“Coach has always supported me in racing and anything I have been involved with,” continued Gibbs. “I feel like there isn’t too much pressure on me this year, but in the years to come they will be expecting results, just as they do from all of the JGR drivers.”