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Ty Gibbs Eliminated From Playoff Contention After Massive Crash at End of Stage 2

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was a factor at the front of the field for the first half of the race but an ill-timed push turned the rookie driver and ended his Playoff hopes.


hero image for Ty Gibbs Eliminated From Playoff Contention After Massive Crash at End of Stage 2

Ty Gibbs appeared to be on his way to a much-needed Stage win in the closing laps of Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but before he could exit the fourth corner on Lap 94 his car was destroyed and his playoff hopes vanished.

Leading the top line and chasing Ryan Blaney who was leading the bottom lane, Gibbs got a shove from behind by teammate Christopher Bell, which sent his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota down the track and into the right rear of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

The contact sent Blaney’s car head-on into the wall nearly at full speed as the rest of the field scrambled to avoid the incident or piling in behind. In all, 12 cars were involved in the largest wreck of the night to that point, including Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Blaney, Bell, Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst, Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Gibbs.

Entering the regular season finale, Gibbs was chasing Bubba Wallace for the final transfer spot into the Playoffs on points, and was in position to potentially win the Stage or at least secure more Stage points than Wallace. Instead, he was out of the race after only 94 laps.

“Just got hit in a bad spot there and didn’t make it in (the Playoffs),” a clearly dejected Gibbs said after being released from the infield care center. “I’m OK, just a hard hit. I felt like all of our JGR cars worked well together tonight, just got in a bad spot trying to go for a Stage win.”

Blaney said he could tell the intensity in the pack was ratcheting up, he just hates it happened while he was out front with the lead. Following the hard hit, Blaney was in good spirits after being cleared from the infield care center.

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I’m all right, just a big hit. I’m glad (the wall) had a SAFER barrier on it.

Ryan Blaney

"That was large," said Blaney. "A big testament to the new front clips. That would have hurt a lot more if it didn’t have the new front clip on it. So that was positive about that. Still, it was pretty hard.”

The race leading up to the incident saw intense two- and three-wide racing throughout the field, one of the first times the Gen 7 car has seen such intense racing like that at Daytona. Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. explained the cars were getting really tight on the bottom lane off Turns 2 and 4, which allowed the middle and high lines to form, thus creating the intense racing seen throughout Stage 2.

“The 20 just got to the 54’s bumper at the wrong time,” said Stenhouse. “It was easy to push people on the straightaway but it just didn’t seem like the corner was a good spot. It seems like a lot of people’s cars were not handling very good.

“I would say (he was) too aggressive, just because I’ve been too aggressive before,” he said of Bell’s push to Gibbs. “Especially when his teammate is the one trying to get into the Playoffs. At worst, he finishes second or third in that stage and still gets a lot of points. Definitely too aggressive.”

The Lap 94 incident involved the most amount of cars in any caution during Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 and brought out the red flag for nearly nine and a half minutes.

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

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