KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Ty Gibbs did what he needed to do Saturday at Kansas Speedway to clinch the 2021 ARCA Menards Series championship.
He took the green flag to start the Reese’s 150.
Gibbs, the 19-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, entered the final race of the season with a 34-point edge in the standings over second-place Corey Heim. That lead grew to 35 points when Gibbs qualified on the General Tire Pole on Saturday ahead of the Reese’s 150, his 11th General Tire Pole Award of the season.
A car count of 25 on the initial entry list for the 100-lap race on the 1.5-mile paved oval meant Gibbs only needed to start the event to win the title.
Which is fitting considering how dominant the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has been all season.
Despite leading 99 of 102 laps in the race, Gibbs finished second to Nick Sanchez at Kansas to close the season. Which, in Gibbs words, did not matter at the end of the day.
Gibbs, who also won the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown and the CGS Imaging Four Crown in the ARCA Menards Series, ended the year as the runaway Valvoline Lap Leader award winner with a mind-boggling 1,689 laps led through 20 events.
That was 1,284 more laps led than second-place Heim’s 405.
Gibbs entered the finale already haven broken the modern-era record for laps led in a single ARCA Menards Series season. Tim Steele previously held the record with 1,514 laps led in 1996, and he did that in 25 races to Gibbs’ 20.
Steele in 1997 also set the modern-era record for wins in a season when he scored 12 checkered flags. Gibbs with his 10 wins in 2021 tied all-time ARCA wins/championships leader Frank Kimmel for the third most in a single season during the modern era.
Gibbs’ 10 wins in 2021 entering the season-finale included victories at Phoenix Raceway, Kansas, Toledo Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Iowa Speedway, Winchester Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile and Bristol Motor Speedway.
He won four races in a row from the Kansas Race on May 1 through the Mid-Ohio event on June 4.
That Kansas spring race was one of Gibbs’ three flag-to-flag wins in the ARCA Menards Series this season. He also led every lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and at the Milwaukee Mile in August. He led all but one lap in two more races, at Iowa Speedway in July and at Michigan International Speedway in August. He also led all but three laps in his Bristol Motor Speedway victory last month. He led all but two in the finale.
Gibbs had logged 19 top-five finishes in 20 races, with his only finish outside the top five being his 27th-place run at Talladega Superspeedway after a crash.
Simply put: Gibbs’ 2021 season was as dominant as anybody’s in ARCA Menards Series history.