LOS ANGELES — Ty Gibbs was on his way to his first win at the NASCAR Cup Series level — and then it all went horribly wrong.
In the last 11 green-flag laps of the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Saturday night (Feb. 3), Gibbs went from leading the race to falling to sixth to being spun off the bumper of Kyle Larson. Instead of having a breakout race, he left Los Angeles in 18th place.
“It just was unfortunate,” Gibbs said. “I guess I got to get better at restarts. My team brought me a great car, as we saw, and they did a great job. It was a great showing.”
And to make matters worse, Joey Logano confronted Gibbs at the No. 54 hauler after the race in the latest chapter of their feud.
Gibbs and Logano had a few disagreements last year, with the feud coming to a head when the No. 22 sent the No. 54 into the wall in the fall Martinsville Speedway race.
The two were racing hard for the lead in the Clash Saturday.
“He’s [Logano] just mad that I ran him up,” Gibbs said. “But if you go back and look at the replay, the 12 [Ryan Blaney] kind of chucks him out of the way too. It’s hard racing at the end. This place is really hard to get your tires warm once the caution comes out, as we all see everybody sliding around.
“I just got in there too deep and washed up into him. We just kind of got all tangled up after that. He just came over and said that to me in a bunch of different words. But I knew what happened.”
The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year seemed primed to make the statement that he had arrived. Gibbs qualified in third and took the lead from eventual winner and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 50 of the 150-lap event.
Gibbs led 84 of the next 91 laps and was driving off into the sunset when a caution with 11 laps to go bunched the field back up. On the ensuing restart, Hamlin got under and around Gibbs.
Despite multiple attempts, Gibbs was unable to get back around his teammate. He then drifted all the way back to the sixth position.
“We were definitely faster at the time,” Gibbs said. “He [Hamlin] had left-front lock-up issues, so did I. I think that’s something on our side as an organization with the left-fronts. But I just overdrove it trying to get to him and kind of messed up and lost position.”
On lap 149, Larson got hit from behind and into Gibbs, sending the No. 54…