Ty Gibbs has been a force throughout his two-plus years in the ARCA Menards Series, but he took his domination to a new level Saturday in the Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas Speedway.
Starting from the General Tire Pole, Gibbs was rarely challenged as he became the ARCA Menards Series’ first flag-to-flag winner in nine years. Along the way, he cleaned up in the series’ various special award categories.
The morning practice/qualifying session was paced by Gibbs with a fast lap of 30.573 seconds/176.626 mph, nearly half a second quicker than his closest competitor. The result was Gibbs’ third General Tire Pole Award in a row.
Gibbs then led all 100 laps of the race, the first ARCA Menards Series driver to do so since Kevin Swindell led all 100 laps at Chicagoland Speedway in 2012. Gibbs was the lone candidate for the race’s Valvoline Lap Leader honors. He increased his season total to 237 laps led, giving him a comfortable early season advantage over Drew Dollar’s next-best total of 51 laps led.
Gibbs this season had not yet managed to be the Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader until Saturday. He became the fourth different halfway leader in as many ARCA Menards Series races in 2021, joining Dollar (Talladega) and the Gray brothers, Tanner (Daytona) and Taylor (Phoenix).
Gibbs of course left Kansas as the Bounty Rookie of the Race, though it was not his first series start at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. He ran in last year’s season-ending Kansas race to end a partial-season schedule. It was afternoon to forget, as a lengthy stay in the garage with mechanical woes left him 40 laps down at the finish.
There is still some ground for Gibbs to make up in the Bounty Rookie of the Year chase, currently led by Corey Heim, who ran third at Kansas and has 169 rookie points after four events. Kyle Sieg, competing for his family-run operation, came home eighth at Kansas and slots in second behind Heim with 151 rookie points. Gibbs is third with 143 points, 26 behind Heim, still feeling the impact from a 27th-place result at Talladega.
Gibbs’ Kansas win was a boon for the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team. His Talladega crash left No. 18 car owner Coy Gibbs 14th in the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge point standings, and the bounce-back victory lifted Coy and the No. 18 to sixth.
With three of the seven superspeedway races on the 2021 schedule in the books, Billy Venturini’s No. 20 team leads the way with 127 points, narrowly edging the No. 15 team car owned by his father Bill Venturini with 124 points. The General Tire Superspeedway Challenge will return May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sweeping the General Tire Pole Award and the race victory earned No. 18 crew chief Mark McFarland the Cometic Crew Chief of the Race at Kansas. McFarland is third in the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year standings, trailing overall leader Shannon Rursch of the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports entry as well as present runner-up Billy Venturini from the No. 15 VMS pit box.
A pair of smaller, single-car teams also managed to shine in their own right at Kansas. Race fans voted Greg Van Alst the driver who made the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race for his narrowly avoiding a spinning Bret Holmes on the first lap. Van Alst parlayed the near-miss into a seventh-place finish, improving on his previous career-best mark of 15th at Chicagoland in 2002, one month before Ty Gibbs was even born.
Alex Clubb teamed up with the father-son duo of Dave and Tim Richmond over the offseason to form the new Illinois-based Richmond Clubb Motorsports team. After Tim Richmond drove the first three races on the schedule, Clubb qualified 19th for his season debut and drove all the way to 10th for the checkered flag, picking up his first top 10 and the K&N Filters Hard Charger award for improving nine positions over the course of the 100-lap event.
The ARCA Menards Series will give way to a pair of ARCA Menards Series East races over the next two weekends before returning to action May 22 for the Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Toledo Speedway.
Also the opening round of the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown, the Herr’s Potato Chips 200 is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET and broadcast live on MAVTV Motorsports Network.