Ty Gibbs took no prisoners Saturday with a winning run that dramatically changed the makeup of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 field.

On the final lap of the third overtime attempt, Gibbs rammed soon-to-be former teammate Brandon Jones so hard that the contact damaged the hood of Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota.

The contact sent Jones, who had led the previous lap, into the outside wall in Turns 1 and 2, and Gibbs was leading when NASCAR called the race’s 14th caution for the crash.

By then, Gibbs had already clinched one of the two remaining spots in Round 4 of the championship, but the bulldozing move denied Jones the opportunity to challenge for the title next Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.

As boos rang out from the stands, Gibbs had no regrets about his tactics, which earned him his sixth race win of the season, his first at Martinsville and 10th in 50 Xfinity Series starts.

“It certainly wasn’t a clean move,” Gibbs said. “I definitely didn’t want to crash him, but I definitely wanted to move him out of the groove so I could go win it. I felt like we lost the spring race getting emotional from him.

“He’s my teammate, but I definitely want to win here. It is important to win. And now we go to the championships. That’s cool. I hope I won’t be hit with cans or anything else.

“We got pulled off the road earlier this year, so that’s part of it.”

Jones won the pole and led 98 laps to Gibbs’ 102, but finished 23rd, the last driver on the lead lap.

“I know Ty enough that he doesn’t care what he did,” said Jones, who will move to JR Motorsports next season. “He’s pretty much, well… he wasn’t ‘quite’ – he was shut down in the next round. So really, what did it do?

“I don’t really understand this step. I understand trying to be aggressive – you want to win the race. But to just destroy a race car, I don’t see it. I don’t get any pleasure out of it. Maybe it does. Maybe he likes to win like that? But I’ve never felt and have never felt strong in racing like that. So let’s take it and go.”

Jones’ misfortune pushed veteran Justin Allgaier, his soon-to-be JR Motorsports teammate, into the Championship Final 4. Jones needed a win to clinch a spot, but Allgaier was able to move up in the points, which he did with a 12-point advantage over regular season champion AJ Allmendinger.

Allgeier finished fifth and Allmendinger 16th after contact between their cars clipped Allmendinger’s left rear tire as the drivers played bumper and swapped places in the closing stages of the race. Allgaier was happy to move on, but not thrilled with how it went.

“I can’t even describe it,” Allgaier said. “Unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where, unfortunately, it’s easier to drive past someone than to drive past them. Really proud of our team. We never gave up until the checkered flag fell. Had a lot of damage (from a collision on lap 262 in the second overtime), but made it to the final round.”

After the race, Allmendinger sought out Allgaier on pit road and congratulated him.

“You get to the end, (Allmendinger) was very pushy,” Allgeier said. “He decided to run into us enough times that you got to the point where you had to go for it. When he turned left, he knew we were going to hit.

“I hate it for these guys. I don’t know if we would have been able to run 25 laps fighting as hard as we did at the end. They had a great season. We had a great season. It’s so hard when it comes down to the last race, especially at a place like Martinsville.”

Gibbs and Allgaier will battle for the series championship in Phoenix against Josh Berry and Noah Gregson, who earned their spots in the Championship 4 with respective wins in Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami in the round of 16.

Non-playoff drivers Sheldon Creed and Riley Herbst finished second and third after a close battle late in the race, followed by the JR Motorsports trio of Gregson, Allgaier and Sam Meyer. Nick Sanchez, Daniel Hemrick, Austin Hill and Blaine Perkins rounded out the top 10.

Along with Allmendinger and Jones, Hill and Mayer were eliminated from the playoffs.



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