Ty Gibbs has proven in the past that he is a fast learner.
Gibbs snagged the championship in his first full-time season of competition in the ARCA Menards Series in 2021 and he followed that run up by doing the same thing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2022.
While nobody is expecting the 20-year-old racer to take his first NASCAR Cup Series title in 2023, (that would be crazy right?) the youngster is really starting to find his rhythm seven races into his rookie campaign.
After a solid ninth-place finish in this past Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry now has three-consecutive ninth-place finishes in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
For Gibbs, the excellent run has been predicated on not shooting himself in the foot. Gibbs has been great behind the wheel, and his pit crew has been equally as good over the last three events.
“It has been a pretty solid for us," Gibbs said after Sunday's race. "The biggest thing is just minimizing mistakes. I think my team is the best, and only going to get better. My pit crew did a great job today. I’m happy. My Monster Energy Toyota Camry was fast today, and I’m excited to be up there racing with those guys.”
While it's obvious that things are starting to click for Gibbs, the intriguing part about his recent stretch of great finishes is that they've all come at different types of race tracks.
The first ninth-place effort came at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is a 1-54-mile mini-superspeedway. Gibbs then changed gears, literally and figuratively, and recorded a ninth-place finish at Circuit of the Americas, a technical 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas.
Richmond, where Gibbs finished ninth this past weekend, is a 0.75-mile short track.
The other interesting thing about the strong stretch of races for Gibbs is the under-the-radar nature that he's gone about achieving the results. Not many are talking about Gibbs, yet he has quietly pulled out to a 60-point lead over Noah Gragson, his rival, for the NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year crown.
Gibbs also sits just 17 points below the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs cutline.
This week will present a new challenge for Gibbs, as the NASCAR Cup Series enters Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race.
As far as the NASCAR world goes, dirt is uncharted territory for Gibbs. However, this will not be the driver's first rodeo on the dirt. Gibbs snagged a pair of runner-up finishes on the dirt in his 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship run.
While he is no dirt ringer by any means, I wouldn't count Gibbs out as he and his No. 54 team have momentum on their side heading into this weekend's race at Dirt Bristol.
Photo Credit: John K. Harrelson, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing