PLYMOUTH, Wis.—Ty Gibbs out-dueled Kyle Larson in overtime to win the Henry 180 at Road America.
The 19-year-old racer scored his third road course win in 34 starts and described beating the NASCAR Cup champ as “a dream come true” on Saturday. Gibbs grabbed the lead in Turn 3 on the final lap for his eighth Xfinity Series victory.
For Gibbs, who has earned a reputation for being overly aggressive at times, he was determined to close the deal sans controversy.
“I felt like we were a little bit faster in the first half of the track,” Gibbs said. “The last two sectors, I felt like we were not as fast.
“I feel like right now I need to earn respect back and that’s what I’m doing. I feel like I’ve got my lessons—just got to learn and not make mistakes. I made plenty of them today, I could have lost the race on that one restart, so thankful to get this one back, but I still have to work on the restarts—the first initial and the next-to-last.”
Larson led a race-high 31 of 48 laps. He appeared to be in control once he cleared Ryan Sieg for the lead on Lap 37. But Gibbs remained on his tail through the fifth and final caution then extended his lead to 0.858-seconds to the finish line.
“Sorry guys, sorry,” Larson said over the radio.
“Congrats to Ty, that was really impressive,” Larson added. “He was able to pass me without laying a bumper on me at all. He ran me clean and I was going to run him clean. It just didn’t work out for me.”
Josh Berry, Austin Hill and Brandon Jones completed the top five. AJ Allmendinger came from the rear of the field after brake issues on Friday to finish sixth. Riley Herbst, Noah Gragson, Jeremy Clements and Sieg rounded out the top 10.
Larson led the first 10 circuits until the action was slowed by an accident involving Brett Moffitt, Andy Lally and Anthony Alfredo in Turn 5. The first caution coincided with the end of Stage 1. After pit stops, Gibbs took the lead from Allmendinger on the restart. Larson cycled back to the front on Lap 16 and held the point until the end of Stage 2.
When the race restarted on Lap 24, Sage Karam crowded the No. 9 Chevrolet entering Turn 1—and Gragson retaliated. He turned his car right into the No. 45 Chevy. Not only did Gragson take out Karam, but his action also triggered a 13-car melee in Turn 4 with all the dust and debris that resulted in the aftermath.
“I guess he forgot the three times before that he’d throw it into the corner, door us and run us off the race track,” Gragson said. “After a while, you get sick and tired of it. I hate that people’s stuff got tore up…
“I take responsibility. I hate it for his guys but I’m fighting to race for a championship here and I’m really over getting run over.”
Gragson didn’t just end Karam’s race, Brett Moffitt, Myatt Snider, Landon Cassill, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric’s days ended after the wreck that took nine laps to clean up. Brandon Brown ended up on the ground following the hit and was eventually taken to the infield care center.
“I caught the dust pile,” Brown said while watching a replay of the incident. “It looks like the 45 (Karam) went around. A lot of cars went around. I couldn’t really see anything until I saw the 48 (Tyler Reddick) and plowed him.
“It was a real gut-check, a little kick to the area that you don’t want to injure.”
The race returned to green with 17 laps remaining and Cole Custer in the lead. Sieg claimed the point six laps later, just prior to Chris Dyson ending up in the kitty litter in Turn 12. Larson regained the lead on the restart but Gibbs was looming large in his rearview mirror.
Custer wrecked in Turn 5 on Lap 44 to slow the race for the fifth caution and send the race into overtime. Larson held the lead on the restart but gave it away on the final lap.
“I got a little bit tight and missed my apex and was late getting back to the throttle,” Larson said. “He got a run on me down the front stretch. Obviously, I had to protect the inside and that got my angles messed up for the two final corners.
“He did a really good job of executing—and I didn’t. Bummer. It was a really fun race all race along. I felt like it was me, the 54, the 07 (Custer), and AJ, if he had had a clean race he would be there as well.”
Gibbs led just five laps—but the last one was the only one that mattered.
“I had a fun time racing with Kyle,” Gibbs said. “I thought it was going to get a little rough there, but he’s such a great competitor and a great person. We played golf the other day – I want to tell him thanks for the golf lessons. I still suck. This is awesome. I can’t believe it. It’s wonderful.”
Gibbs narrowed Allmendinger’s Xfinity Series point lead to nine with his victory on Saturday.