One year ago, less than 24 hours before the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway, 19-year-old Ty Gibbs was told he would make his debut in the sanctioning body’s premier series, substituting for an injured Kurt Busch. That day Gibbs finished 16th.
On the anniversary of Gibbs’ Cup debut, the 20-year-old driver placed fifth, the first top-five of his young Cup career.
“It’s been a long year,” Gibbs says when reflecting on his life since his Cup debut at Pocono. “It’s crazy where time takes you.”
Gibbs realizes he’s young and still has a great deal to learn, but he knew his experience at the 2.5-mile Pocono track would pay dividends.
“Coming back here (Pocono) is definitely nicer (than) coming to a new track and in a new car, scrambling for experience,” Gibbs says. “It’s been crazy and I’m very thankful for the experience that I’ve had. I definitely want to be a way better driver than I am.”
Stenhouse Turning It On Late
Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. attributes good track position in the second half of Sunday’s Highpoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway to providing him with his second top-10 finish in the last three races.
“We didn’t have track position at the beginning,” Stenhouse said after his seventh-place finish. “We got it there in the middle stages of the race, but just wasn’t good enough to keep it. The guys made some really good adjustments, and we got better.
“The final Stage when we ran long, we were running good lap times when we got clean air. We took two tires and that gave us really good track position for when the cautions came out. It was just about timing those restarts there at the end. We messed up every restart there at the beginning, and then nailed everyone there at the end.”
After the race, NASCAR announced it was taking Stenhouse’s Chevrolet to the wind tunnel.
Burton Claims Second Top-10
Harrison Burton has described his 2023 season as one of “missed opportunities,” but he managed to capitalize Sunday at Pocono Raceway and record his second top-10 finish this season.
“We were mired in traffic all day, and that makes it hard,” said Burton, who finished eighth. “We struggled for handling but made a few changes at the end and that got the car pretty good right before the long green flag cycle.
“A lot of those guys pitted themselves into traffic and we were able to have clean air and click off faster lap times. We pitted and came out in front of a lot of those guys. I just tried to be aggressive and keep moving forward.”
Burton’s only other top-10 finish this season came at Darlington in May.
Logano’s 'Firesuit' Comment Still Haunts Him
In 2010 at Pocono Raceway after being involved in a wreck with Kevin Harvick in the race’s final laps, Joey Logano made a comment that today he admits he shouldn’t have made and describes it as embarrassing.
At the time, Harvick’s wife DeLana wore a firesuit when she sat on the pit box. Following the accident, Logano said, “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in his family and tells him what to do, so it’s probably not his fault.”
During this year’s Pocono Race weekend, the Kevin Harvick Foundation donated $12,000 to the Joey Logano Foundation and reminisced about the “I Wear the Firesuit in This Family” T-shirt campaign in 2010.
“This year as we look back on moments from my career, that one stood out for what we were able to do off the track for the foundation and raise money for a good cause,” Harvick said. “We wanted to bring the shirts back this year, have some fun with it and this time, donate money to Joey and his foundation.”
Logano admits it’s tough to grow up in the public eye.
“Yea, Kevin wrecked me that day and I was mad about it,” Logano says. “I probably shouldn’t have brought his wife into the middle of it or made it that personal, but the fact they made a joke out of it … Kevin and I get along really well now. I still regret saying it, but at least some good things came out of it.”