Ty Gibbs’ goal is to make NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as a rookie

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 06: Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, walks the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 06, 2023 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By his own admission, Ty Gibbs didn’t have his best race last Sunday at Richmond.

Nevertheless, he salvaged a 15th-place finish and gained both positions and points in the standings at the expense of other bubble drivers—Daniel Suarez, Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger—who fared worse at the .75-mile short track.

Gibbs comes to Michigan International Speedway 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 18 points behind McDowell for the final Playoff-eligible position.

There are potential good omens for Gibbs at Michigan. Not only did he win last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 2.0-mile track, but he also scored his best Cup finish of 2023 (10th) in a substitute role for injured Kurt Busch.

“I think for me and my team, we just have to execute every week,” said Gibbs, who qualified third for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “We didn’t really good last week, or I didn’t really do good last week, and we gained a bunch of points still.

“I’ve just got to do better than that, and I think we will have a better shot. I’ve got all the confidence in my team. I know they are bringing great race cars to the track, and we’ll see what we can do.”

To make the Playoffs in his first full season in the Cup Series would be a significant accomplishment for Gibbs.

“First of all, it’s a rookie season,” Gibbs said. “That’s what everybody has been telling me. It’s all right—just do the best you can. For me, I feel like I go into each race the same—just try to complete the mission and do the best I can and do the best I can with my car…

“It’s a mental game. Racing is really, really hard. Cup is really, really hard, and I think the Xfinity-to-Cup jump is three times as hard as it has ever been. You have a whole different car, and track position means more than anything, but I really enjoy it and my team does a great job and works really hard. We have a great pit crew, and we’ll keep working hard.”