Ty Gibbs

ARCA Menards Series

Rain hampers first of two-day ARCA test at Daytona

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Friday’s first day of a two-day open test for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway was cut short due to rain.

A total of 37 cars – out of 50 that were entered – took to the 2.5-mile oval, with Connor Hall of Chad Bryant Racing turning in the fastest lap of 181.046 mph, followed by Ronnie Osmor (180.890 mph) and Jacob Heafner (180.843).

“We were working on single car runs this morning,” Hall said in an ARCA media release. “We had a game plan to work on the car and getting air where we wanted it.

“We made some gains and learned some things we liked and didn’t like. That’s what testing is all about. We were focused on what we needed to be better on last year. We have a great racecar. We are happy but not totally happy so we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

Added Heafner, “It was a learning curve at the beginning. I calmed myself down and got to driving. It is a big change coming from late models on short tracks. We worked a little on single car runs and then got out there in the draft a little. We’re learning a lot and ready to come back in February.”

Other notable names in the field included Ty Gibbs, grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, who was fourth fastest (180.825 mph), Riley Herbst (seventh, 180.552), Tanner Gray (17th, 176.602), Hailie Deegan (18th, 176.167) and Sam Mayer (30th, 172.894).

2020r01 Daytona Test Friday Speeds

Teams hope the weather is more cooperative Saturday, the second day of the two-day test, which is in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 on Saturday, February 8. A morning session begins at 9 a.m. ET, while the afternoon session is set to start at 1 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring will be available throughout the day at ARCARacing.com.

Here’s a video, courtesy of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, of an interview Deegan gave before the rain came:

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Friday 5: Youth movement expanding in NASCAR

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While the focus during the offseason is on which drivers will fill what seats in Cup, Xfinity and Trucks, there’s also a lot taking place for younger drivers seeking to reach NASCAR’s top levels someday.

Toyota Racing Development spends the end of the year evaluating talent and seeing what roles those drivers can have in the coming season.

“When I look at kind of that 16- to 21-year old group … there’s some pretty fantastic talent in that group,” Jack Irving, whose duties at Toyota Racing Development include overseeing the organization’s driver development program, told NBC Sports earlier this month. “(Also) we’ve literally tested 14- and 15-year olds that I’m extremely excited about in the same way.”

The question is where might that talent go if it remains in Toyota’s pipeline.

Toyota has five Cup seats with three filled by drivers who competed in the championship race this season — 2019 champion Kyle Busch, runner-up Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin, who placed fourth in the points. Toyota’s other two Cup seats are filled by budding stars Erik Jones (23 years old) and 2020 Cup rookie Christopher Bell (24).

Joe Gibbs Racing’s 2020 Xfinity lineup includes Brandon Jones, who turns 23 in February. This will be his third consecutive season with JGR. Joining him is Riley Herbst, who turns 21 in February, for his first full season with the team, and 19-year-old Harrison Burton for his rookie campaign.

Kyle Busch Motorsports will have 18-year-old Raphael Lessard compete full time in 2020 after running five races for the team this past season. The team also will have 19-year-old Christian Eckes, who won the ARCA title this past season, drive full time. He made eight starts in 2019 and four starts for the organization in 2018. A third truck will feature several drivers. Chandler Smith, who doesn’t turn 18 until June and is limited in what tracks he can run before then, likely will run some races for the team.

Then there’s Derek Kraus, the 18-year-old who won the title in what is now known as the ARCA West Series. There’s also 18-year-old Hailie Deegan, who finished third in points in the ARCA West Series and shows signs of climbing NASCAR’s ranks. And Ty Gibbs, the 17-year-old grandson of car owner Joe Gibbs, who won twice in ARCA and once each in what is now ARCA East and ARCA West Series in 2019. Many others are in the pipeline, which stretches to the formidable Keith Kunz Motorsports midget teams.

As each season nears an end, the work increases for Toyota Racing Development to evaluate drivers and where they will race for next year. The competition can be intense.

“I think there is a point here somewhere quickly where you get pushed pretty hard to start winning and competing,” Irving said, “to compete for top five in all the races and not have wrecked cars and do all these things and then also be a good teammate and a good person and all those kinds of things that you don’t necessarily always talk about that are pretty important for what we do from a structure perspective.”

Another key factor can be how a young driver ends a season, even if it doesn’t end in a championship.

“You typically want to see them under pressure, so the end of the season really does matter in the whole scheme of things,” Irving said. “If they’ve had a tough season, how are they finishing? If they’re having a good season, then how are they finishing?

And there’s more that is examined.

“We typically go through an analytics run through with the group,” Irving said. “A few of us will get together and kind of go through … some of the things from the coaches, some of the things from the engineers who work with them and what they’ve done with the team, so we’ll start talking to the individuals in the team, if it’s the team owner, if it’s crew chief, car chief.”

It’s all about seeking to find the next talent for the Cup Series.

2. New Generation

Based on what driver lineups that are set for next year, the 2020 Daytona 500 could see half the field age 29 and younger.

Drivers who will be age 29 and under as of next year’s Daytona 500 (Feb. 16) and have rides announced are:

Age 22: William Byron, Cole Custer, Quin Houff

Age 23: Erik Jones

Age 24: Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick

Age 25: Christopher Bell

Age 26: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace

Age 27: Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson

Age 28: Matt DiBenedetto

Age 29: Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Ryan Preece

One also can add Corey LaJoie (age 28), Ross Chastain (27), Parker Kligerman (29) with the expectation they will each be in a Cup car for next year’s season-opening race. That would put the list at 20 drivers age 29 and under in next year’s Daytona 500. And there could be even more, including Daniel Suarez, who turns 28 in January, and John Hunter Nemechek, 22.

Compare that to 2015 when there were 13 drivers age 29 and under in that year’s season opener.

3. 99 Club

Five drivers completed at least 99% of the 10,255 laps run this season in Cup, the first time any driver has reached that mark since 2015.

Joey Logano led the way, completing 99.67% of the laps (10.221). That’s the highest percentage of laps completed by a driver since 2010 when Matt Kenseth ran 99.93% of the laps. Kenseth ran all but eight of the 10,778 laps run that year.

Also completing more than 99% of the laps this Cup season were Paul Menard (99.63%), Ty Dillon (99.18%), champion Kyle Busch (99.14%) and series runner-up Martin Truex Jr. (99.00%).

4. Ticket deals

With all the sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many tracks also have announced special deals for tickets to NASCAR races this coming season.

NBC Sports’ Daniel McFadin has compiled what deals many tracks have starting today. You can find the information here.

5. Banquet week

The NASCAR Awards Show, which will celebrate Kyle Busch’s championship, takes place next week in Nashville, Tennessee. Festivities will be Dec. 3-5 with the Awards show taking place Dec. 5.

NBCSN will air Burnouts on Broadway at 11:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 4. and replay it at 7 p.m. ET Dec. 5. NBCSN will air the Cup Awards show from 8-10:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 5 with a replay immediately afterward.

The Xfinity Awards show will air from 9-11 p.m. ET on Sunday (Dec. 1) on NBCSN.

Sonoma/Gateway winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — Martin Truex Jr. wins at Sonoma Raceway and Kyle Busch finishes second, giving the organization its 10th victory in 16 Cup races this season. For car owner Joe Gibbs, it capped off a weekend that included his grandson Ty winning his first ARCA race on Saturday at Gateway.

Matt DiBenedetto Finished a career-best fourth and was his first top 10 for Leavine Family Racing. DiBenedetto celebrated by thanking those who have given him a chance to run in Cup.

Ross Chastain A week after his win was taken away when his truck failed inspection, Chastain simply came back and won at Gateway after a call by crew chief Phil Gould to pit for fuel only late. Chastain only needs to be in the top 20 in points to be headed to the Truck playoffs and that will happen soon.

Ryan BlaneyHis third-place finish tied for his best finish of the year, matching what he did at Phoenix in March.

LOSERS

Daniel Suarez Had to start at the rear because of an engine change. He was running fourth when he made his last scheduled pit stop. However, the team was called for an uncontrolled tire. The penalty dropped Suarez to 27th with 24 laps to go. He finished 17th. The bigger issue, though, was that although he finished two spots ahead of William Byron, Suarez actually lost 16 points to Byron based on the difference in stage points. That’s important because Byron is now two points behind Suarez for 13th in the season standings.

Clint Bowyer Was running fifth on Lap 27 when he came in to pit because of a loose wheel. He fell to 37th and went on to finish 11th, a nice recovery but losing all that track position made his day longer. What might have been had he not had that loose wheel?

Chase ElliottEngine failure ended what looked like would be a top-five day, if not better. Instead, he finished 37th.

Ty Gibbs, grandson of Joe Gibbs, wins first career ARCA race with last-lap pass

World Wide Technology Raceway Twitter
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Ty Gibbs, the 16-year-old grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, won his first career ARCA Menards Series race Saturday with a last-lap pass at Sam Mayer at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Gibbs made contact with Mayer as he passed him for the lead and went on to beat Christian Eckes. Mayer finished third.

On the cool-down lap, Mayer showed his displeasure with Gibbs by bumping his car, but Gibbs was able to keep control of it.

The race ended in a six-lap shootout. During the final caution, Gibbs was among the drivers who pitted. Mayer and six others stayed out.

Gibbs restarted eighth and was in second within one lap.

The win comes in Gibbs’ sixth career ARCA start. He has finished in the top two in four of those races.

Gibbs told MAV TV his contact with Mayer was fair game after Mayer made contact with him in a race earlier this year at Salem Speedway.

 

Ty Gibbs, grandson of Joe Gibbs, to make ARCA debut Saturday

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Ty Gibbs, the 16-year-old grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, will make his ARCA Series debut Saturday in the Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The younger Gibbs will split driving duties of the No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers Toyota this season, competing in all of ARCA’s short track races, while 2017 ARCA Rookie of the Year Riley Herbst will wheel the car at superspeedway races.

We’re obviously excited to get to Five Flags and get my season started,” Ty Gibbs said. “But we’re equally excited to get to all of the tracks we’re going to race at this season. They’re all different and every one of them has their own challenges. Mark (McFarland, crew chief) has told me a lot about all of them.”

McFarland has stepped back from his duties as co-owner of MDM Motorsports to focus on serving as Gibbs’ crew chief. MDM Motorsports announced at the end of last season that it was withdrawing after two years on the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series circuit and that it would scale back its NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and ARCA programs to just two cars in 2019.

“It’s a lot less stress this year than last year, for sure,” McFarland said. “I am back to having fun. I enjoy being a crew chief. Once I transitioned from driving to being a crew chief, I really came to enjoy working with these young drivers. It’s fun to see these guys figure things out in two or three races that might have taken me a couple years to learn.”

When he takes the green flag Saturday, Gibbs — who also competes in the K&N East Series for DGR-Crosley Racing (a team owned by NASCAR driver David Gilliland) — will be seeking his second win of the racing season. He won a late model race at Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Speedway on February 2, with his grandfather in attendance.

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