A remorseful Ty Gibbs took responsibility for his actions in last weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville and called the wrecking of his teammate for the win “dirty and unacceptable.”
Gibbs faced the media and the ribbing of some fellow competitors during his appearance Thursday as part of NASCAR Championship 4 Media Day at the Phoenix Convention Center.
On the final lap of the third overtime in Saturday’s race at Martinsville, Gibbs – who was already locked in as one of the Championship 4 – wrecked then-leader Brandon Jones entering Turn 1 as he passed him for the lead.
NASCAR placed the race under caution, but since Jones had taken the white flag, the field was frozen with Gibbs as the leader and he claimed the win.
Gibbs’s his move denied Joe Gibbs Racing the opportunity to have two drivers competing for the series title on Saturday.
“My actions put myself in this position and I have to learn from it,” Gibbs said. “I think the biggest thing is that JGR – we’re all one big family – and for me to kind of break that apart by my selfish actions really hurts me. I grew up there.
“Doing things like that, I think definitely those things are dirty and unacceptable and not right.”
Asked if it was more difficult to deal with this situation with his father (Coy) and grandfather (Joe) executives within his team, Gibbs said, “It definitely makes it difficult, I feel like. I grew up around these guys. It’s my family’s team.
“For me to hurt the family aspect of the whole team, it hurts me. I feel like I had the respect from those people and now I probably don’t have as much and I have to earn it back.”
Gibbs, 20, said he has spoken to Jones since the race but said he was going to expand on a private conversation.
“It was something I wanted to do because I made that mistake,” Gibbs said. “I’ve got to say the right things, I needed to be the one to do that. It’s definitely hard, for sure, to do that, but I have to face the fact that I made a mistake and I have work as hard as I can to fix these issues.”
'Caught in the moment'
Gibbs said he was aware at the time that he was already locked into the series title race and although he didn’t know the exact situation regarding points, he knew Jones needed to win to advance.
“I was caught in the moment and selfish actions led to that. If I could redo it multiple times, I would. I’ve gone over the scenario millions of times and it’s hard for me because I have to live
with it now,” he said. “We could have had two JGR cars in the final four and I took out a 50-percent chance at a championship for Toyota and JGR by my selfish actions.
“Seeing people not happy with me, it does affect me. I’m the one who did that and I didn’t have to. That was selfish of me.”
Explaining post-race comments
Gibbs was also asked about a comment he made on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after the race in response to a question about the boos from the crowd in which he said, “Jesus was hated first and among all the people. That’s a part of it ... silencing out the crowd.”
The awkward comment drew ridicule and scorn from fans on social media.
“I wasn’t trying to say it like that, it came out the wrong way of course,” Gibbs said.
About 10 minutes into Gibbs’s session with writers, fellow Toyota driver Ben Rhodes, who is competing for the Truck Series championship on Friday night, approached where Gibbs sat on the stage with a microphone and camera in tow and said, “Hey guys, we’re over here to interrupt these interviews for a special broadcast.”
He then proceeded to ask Gibbs, “Are you walking on water?” apparently in reference to Gibbs’ Jesus comment.
Gibbs replied, “I’ve made some mistakes for sure and I’m looking to get out of this situation that I’ve put myself in.”
Rhodes responded, “I enjoyed it, so … I was just playing. See ya guys have fun,” and then left the area after each driver wished each other luck in their respective title quest.
Gragson rips into Gibbs
During his interview session on the other side of the room, Noah Gragson – one of Gibbs’ fellow title contenders in Saturday’s race – didn’t mince words about his dislike of Gibbs.
“I’m just voicing my opinion that I don’t like him,” Gragson said. Asked what he didn’t like about Gibbs, Gragson said, “What is there to?
“I don’t know. I’m excited to race with Justin (Allgaier). I’m excited to race with Josh (Berry) and a lot of the other guys out there in the field. I’m just over it. I’m sick and tired of the ‘I’m sorry, trying to learn’ deal. It’s been two years.”