Ty Gibbs’ dominance in the ARCA Menards Series in 2021 is made evident by the fact that he swept both the series championship and the rookie of the year award. That evidence is boosted by his father Coy Gibbs’ car owner championship.
So Gibbs at least left some special awards for others in the ARCA Menards Series to claim in 2021, right?
Gibbs and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team nearly swept the series’ special awards in 2021. Fittingly, though, the only driver and team able to compete with Gibbs over the course of the season — Corey Heim and the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports group — did not end such a great year with nothing to show for it.
Below are the season-long special award winners in the ARCA Menards Series for 2021.
Valvoline Lap Leader: Ty Gibbs
Simply put, nobody took charge of 2021 quite like Ty Gibbs. Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the extent of the 19-year-old’s success than the ease by which he collected the Valvoline Lap Leader award in each of the three ARCA-sanctioned national touring series.
Gibbs’ dominance in leading ARCA Menards Series races was unprecedented, recording the most laps led in a single season by any driver in more than 40 years. With 1,689 laps led, Gibbs handily set the modern series record, surpassing Tim Steele’s 1996 total of 1,514. Making Gibbs accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that the schedule in 1996 was 25 races long as opposed to the 20 races that has become the traditional calendar for the series since 2014.
In all, Gibbs led at least one lap in 17 races, failing to pace the field at only Daytona International Speedway and the dirt tracks of the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Gibbs in the spring race at Kansas Speedway led all 100 laps to become the first driver to go flag-to-flag in the ARCA Menards Series since Kevin Swindell did so at Chicagoland Speedway in 2012. After leading 153 of 200 laps at Toledo Speedway, Gibbs once again led all 100 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He would go flag-to-flag again at the Milwaukee Mile in August.
Gibbs dominated other races in laps led, as well. He became the first driver to lead more than 200 laps in an ARCA Menards Series race since Grant Enfinger in 2014 when he led 236 of 250 laps in a fourth-place finish at Elko Speedway.
Gibbs 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 in September. He led all but two laps in the season finale at Kansas.
In all, Gibbs won the individual Valvoline Lap Leader award 13 times for leading the most laps in a given race.
General Tire Victory Bonus: Ty Gibbs
Celebrating in Victory Lane 10 times in 20 races, Ty Gibbs and his Joe Gibbs Racing team easily secured the General Tire Victory Bonus. No driver had hit double-digits in the win column since all-time series wins leader Frank Kimmel won 10 of 22 races in 2002, the year Ty Gibbs was born.
Gibbs came up just shy of matching Tim Steele’s modern record for single-season race wins; Steele won 11 races in 1996 and 12 in 1997, running away with the championship in both years.
Gibbs’ victories covered almost all of the different track types that make up the ARCA Menards Series schedule. He conquered both one-mile paved ovals at Phoenix and Milwaukee and three of the four half-mile short tracks at Toledo, Winchester and Bristol. He took superspeedway wins at Michigan, Charlotte and the spring race at Kansas. Gibbs also added a win at the fast, 7/8-mile short track of Iowa Speedway and the twisting, 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the series’ first visit to the Lexington, Ohio, road course since 1965.
Including Corey Heim, Gibbs chief rival in 2021 who won six races of his own, six different drivers won at least one ARCA Menards Series race in 2021. Daniel Dye led 198 of 200 laps at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway to win in just his second ARCA Menards Series start, a feat matched by Landen Lewis when he made his second career start on the dirt at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Jesse Love and Nick Sanchez proved their mettle in the final two races of the year at Salem and Kansas to end the season with a string of four different winners in as many races.
CGS Imaging Four Crown: Ty Gibbs
As if he had not already proven to be a versatile driver at a young age, Ty Gibbs now has the hardware to back it up. He was the runaway CGS Imaging Four Crown champion in 2021.
Formerly known as the Bill France Four Crown, named in honor of the NASCAR founder and longtime ally of ARCA, drivers hopeful of winning the award must showcase their driving talents at four diverse venues throughout the season. The rules are simple: The driver with the most cumulative race points over the four designated races wins the Four Crown.
The 2021 CGS Imaging Four Crown schedule consisted of an intermediate superspeedway (Kansas), a road course (Mid-Ohio), a short track (Winchester) and a dirt mile (DuQuoin). Gibbs led every lap at Kansas and followed it up with an equally convincing victory at Mid-Ohio. He also wound up in Victory Lane at Winchester.
While he had an opportunity to become the first driver to sweep every round of the Four Crown, Gibbs and the rest of the field took a back seat to newcomer Landen Lewis at DuQuoin, as the 15-year old dominated on a chaotic Sunday evening at the Southern Illinois State Fair.
Gibbs settled for second at DuQuoin, but the result was more than enough to clinch the Four Crown by 15 points over Corey Heim.
General Tire Pole Award: Ty Gibbs
Much like how he was often found celebrating in Victory Lane, Ty Gibbs spent more time than anybody in the ARCA Menards Series posing for General Tire Pole Award photos.
Gibbs was even more dominant in qualifying sessions than he was in races, starting first an astonishing 14 times during the 2021 season.
Gibbs’ first two poles of the season came at Phoenix Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway, neither of which were the result of qualifying speeds. Phoenix qualifying was rained out, so practice speeds set the lineup. There was no qualifying scheduled at Talladega, so Gibbs started on the pole based on points.
Gibbs then added three General Tire Pole Awards at Kansas Speedway, Toledo Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway to make it five races in a row in which he started on the pole. The streak ended when Corey Heim qualified on the pole at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Gibbs went on to take poles at Pocono Raceway, Elko Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Salem Speedway and Kansas Speedway. He also rolled off first at Michigan International Speedway, where the lineup was again set on points.
Gibbs broke track records in the ARCA Menards Series with his fast laps at Watkins Glen, Milwaukee and Bristol, topping marks over a decade old in each case.
Heim was the only other driver alongside Gibbs to be a multi-time polesitter in 2021. In addition to Mid-Ohio, Heim turned the fastest qualifying lap at Winchester Speedway and the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Cometic Crew Chief of the Year: Mark McFarland
For the second season in a row, Mark McFarland’s careful guidance of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team in the ARCA Menards Series paid off. McFarland clinched Cometic Crew Chief of the Year honors yet again.
Using a scoring system that adds together the starting position (when General Tire Pole Qualifying is held) and finishing position for a given crew chief’s driver each week, crew chiefs that call every race over the course of the season aim to have the lowest combined score at the end of the year. This season’s battle for the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year was primarily contested between McFarland and No. 20 crew chief Shannon Rursch, representing on-track rivals Ty Gibbs and Corey Heim, respectively.
The battle on the track extended to the top of the pit box, as well, as McFarland ultimately finished the year with 97 points to Rursch’s 128.
Under McFarland’s tutelage, Gibbs posted a herculean stat line that included 10 wins, 19 top fives, 14 General Tire Pole Awards and a modern-record 1,689 laps led.
Gibbs led all ARCA Menards Series regulars with an average starting position of 2.0 and an average finishing position of 3.0 in his championship season.
General Tire Superspeedway Challenge: Billy Venturini
Corey Heim’s No. 20 group did not end the season empty-handed. Heim’s third-place finish in the season finale was more than enough to clinch the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge title for No. 20 car owner Billy Venturini, as the team excelled on the biggest and fastest tracks the ARCA Menards Series visits.
A winner at Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Pocono Raceway, Heim never finished worse than third at the seven largest ovals on the schedule, racking up 295 points for the team.
Venturini Motorsports took the top two spots in the superspeedway standings, with team patriarch Bill Venturini’s No. 15 car coming in second, 23 points out of first. Billy Venturini won his second individual superspeedway title and the fifth for the Venturini Motorsports team as a whole, tying Larry Clement’s Tri-State Motorsports team for the most all-time by a single organization.
Ty Gibbs landed his father, No. 18 car owner Coy Gibbs, the third slot in the standings with a trio of superspeedway victories of his own at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
S&S Volvo Laps Completed: Corey Heim
Another honor collected by Corey Heim in 2021 was the award for finishing atop the S&S Volvo Laps Completed standings at season’s end. Heim’s remarkable consistency throughout the season was evident when he had completed every lap of every race through the 16th event at the historic Milwaukee Mile.
There appeared to be a real chance Heim could join 2012 champion Chris Buescher as the second driver in ARCA Menards Series history to complete every lap in a given season. Alas, this did not come to pass for Heim, as he was one of many drivers challenged by the track conditions at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in September.
In the most memorable moment of that race, Heim briefly went airborne when the nose of his Toyota dug into the dirt in one of the corners, but he kept his foot in the gas and managed to wheel the car back to the attention of his Venturini Motorsports crew for repairs. After making several more pit stops, overheating woes ultimately doomed Heim’s chance at matching Buescher’s mark when he retired from the race nine laps shy of the full distance.
It would be the only DNF for Heim all year, and one of two races in which Heim failed to finish on the lead lap; two races later, Heim narrowly missed an opportunity for the free pass at Salem and finished seventh, one lap behind race winner Jesse Love, despite having one of the quickest cars on track in the closing stages.
All told, Heim completed 2,622 out of a possible 2,632 laps during the 2021 ARCA Menards Series season.
R.E. Lightning Challenge: Max Siegel
The on-track superiority of Ty Gibbs and Corey Heim left few scraps for the rest of the ARCA Menards Series grid in 2021, but one major award was scooped up by a team outside of the Joe Gibbs Racing and Venturini Motorsports groups.
Rev Racing team owner Max Siegel finished the season atop the R.E. Lightning Challenge standings with his No. 2 Chevrolet, ending 2021 as the premier car owner who ran the Racing Electronics contingency decal and used Racing Electronics radio products.
A longtime fixture in the East Series leading the way for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, Siegel oversaw a pair of major changes for Rev Racing in 2021. The team ran nearly the entire ARCA Menards Series schedule for the first time, tackling many venues that were new to the Rev Racing group. Rev also switched manufacturers to Chevrolet, ending a lengthy association the team had with Toyota.
Leading the way was No. 2 Chevrolet driver Nick Sanchez, who made 18 starts on his way to finishing third in the final ARCA Menards Series standings. The transition was rough on the rookie driver at times, but he also hit high notes with nine top fives and a flashy win in the final race of 2021 at Kansas Speedway.
Thanks to a partnership formed between Rev Racing and Rette-Jones Racing, Siegel was credited with an additional win when Landen Lewis parked his No. 2 Toyota in Victory Lane at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Siegel’s No. 2 car finished fourth in the overall owner standings. Siegel was able to win the Lightning Challenge quite handily over Andy Hillenburg’s No. 10 team, the next highest eligible team on the table.