No expectations for Gibbs’ surprise Cup debut, just learning

Ty Gibbs did not expect to be the driver filling in for Kurt Busch at Pocono Raceway, but he’s naturally excited to get behind the wheel of a NASCAR Cup Series car.

“I’m very thankful to come into this whole thing,” Gibbs said outside the 23XI Racing team hauler after spending time getting acclimated to the car in the garage. “I just want to say, first of all, all prayers up to Kurt, and I hope he gets better. He’s been a tremendous help to this team. We’ll see what we can do. They look like they have a fast McDonald’s TRD Camry.”

Busch’s team has thrashed in the garage since he crashed the primary car in qualifying late Saturday. Once that was done, the adjustment to a new driver began. Seat insert, belts, and pedals were among the things on the to-list for the No. 45 group early Sunday.

Gibbs will drive a backup car and start at the rear of the field in the M&Ms Fan Appreciation 400.

Busch was not cleared by doctors following another evaluation Sunday morning. He crashed and hit the wall in Turn 3 during qualifying and said he is still suffering from concussion-like symptoms.

The 19-year-old Gibbs makes his Cup Series debut a day after finishing second in the Xfinity Series race. Gibbs was already back home in North Carolina when he was told he’d compete in Sunday’s race and was in the simulator around 1 a.m. ET trying to get a feel for what to expect.

“I’m very excited,” Gibbs said. “[The car] was very fast in practice, and even in qualifying they were really good, so hopefully I can help them out and they can learn something today, and maybe they can put it toward the whole Toyota program.”

Gibbs is focused on getting track time and did not have an answer when asked what his expectations are.

“We’ll find out,” Gibbs said. “All I want to come and do is have a good finish and do the best I can. If that’s winning, that’s winning. If that’s finishing 30th, that’s 30th. I just want to learn as much as I can.

“Having the Jumpman logo on my shirt is super cool to me.”