On Saturday, Ty Gibbs scored the biggest win of his racing career, defeating more than 30 of the best Late Model Stock drivers in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the Myrtle Beach IceBreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
The 125-lap race has served as the kickoff event for the discipline for the past four seasons and draws tough competition from throughout the Late Model Stock realm.
Gibbs took the lead from Will Burns late in the race, then held off 2018 Myrtle Beach Speedway track champion (and teammate for the day) Justin Milliken to secure the breakthrough victory.
Even a couple of days later, the victory still hasn’t sunk in for the 16-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs.
The win also carries sentimental value for Gibbs and his family. While Gibbs was driving a car prepared by Nelson Motorsports, it was the first win for the Gibbs family since the passing of J.D. Gibbs, Ty’s uncle, on January 11.
“It was a great moment, to celebrate that with my family and friends and the whole team,” said Gibbs. “And it’s great for my family as well. It just means a lot.”
Gibbs also acknowledged some of the pressure removed from his shoulders with the big win. The young driver had enjoyed several strong runs, as well as three previous career victories, but nothing on the scale of Saturday’s win at Myrtle Beach against a field of 34 drivers.
Add that it came in his first race with Nelson Motorsports, a team with Martinsville 300 victories and the most recent CARS Tour championship under its belt, and it was all the sweeter.
“It takes a huge weight off my shoulders,” Gibbs explained. “It gives me a lot of confidence to win my first race of the season. All those guys are great, and I think we have the right people in place to compete for wins.”
Before Saturday, Myrtle Beach had been a mixed bag for Gibbs. In his first appearance in the track’s signature event, the Myrtle Beach 400, in November 2017, he scored a top-10 finish. Gibbs also claimed the pole for a CARS Tour race at the South Carolina facility last year but faded to 22nd by the conclusion of the race at a track known for eating tires.
With lessons learned from that experience, Gibbs waited until the end of the race to make his move for the win.
“I learned a lot from that,” he admitted. “There were different people in place, of course, and it was against different guys, but I tried to learn from that and from the other experiences I’ve gained. Hopefully we can take this and carry it into Hickory.”
‘Hickory’ is Gibbs’ next scheduled appearance in the Nelson Motorsports’ Late Model Stock Car, when the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour visits the ‘Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars’ on March 23. Gibbs will miss the CARS Tour season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park, as he will instead compete in the ARCA Racing Series’ Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway on March 9.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Hunter Thomas / TheFourthTurn.com