Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Season Best Finishes for Gibbs and Berry at Darlington

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Both Ty Gibbs and Josh Berry made the most out of an unfortunate situation up front and crossed the line second and third respectively in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.

In the closing laps, Gibbs thrusted his way to second after both Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher’s intense battle for the lead went south after rubbing fenders in Turn 3. Both frustrated racers saw their day go south when their tires went flat and forced to make an unscheduled pit stop.

From there, Gibbs was a man on a mission, hunting down the now race leader Brad Keselowski, who had a 110-race winless streak entering the 13th race of the season.

Gibbs’ vision of becoming a NASCAR Cup Series winner will have to wait another time as Keselowski scored his first points paid win as an driver/owner of RFK Racing.

Despite losing out to Keselowski by 1.214 seconds, Sunday’s runner-up finish marked a career best for the 21-year-old standout. His previous best result were a pair of thirds at Phoenix and Circuit of the Americas.

After the race, Gibbs hopped out of his No. 54 He Gets Us Toyota and coincidentally crossed paths with a visibly angry Buescher.

Gibbs wanted none of the smoke from Buescher, who went out to confront Reddick for his driving style that dashed their afternoons. A situation Gibbs shared on Instagram, referencing a SpongeBob SquarePants meme where SpongeBob gets up from his chair and leaves with the caption “Ight Imma Head Out.”

When the dust settled on and off the track, Gibbs’ seventh top-10 finish was highlighted with top-five stage finishes and leading 34 of 293 laps.

Rather than needing more laps to best Keselowski, Gibbs said he needed more track position leading up to the finish.

“Getting out front before those guys started racing,” said Gibbs. It was really hard to pass today and that middle is super, super slick and honestly really gummy and slick. It was just really hard to pass, and it’s just really important to keep track position.

“But overall we had a great He Gets Us Toyota Camry. My 54 group did a great job. Thank you to Monster Energy. All glory to the man above, and we’ll keep rolling.”

Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

A spot behind Gibbs was Berry, who entered Darlington as one of a few drivers that’s yet to add a one in the top-10 tally.

Not only Berry was able to finally get the monkey off his back, he got his second career top-five in the sport’s premier series. Like Gibbs, the Stewart-Haas Racing rookie began thriving when it mattered most and was able to put on an all-around solid performance where the result backed up his run on race day.

Berry explained that his No. 4 Harrison’s Ford Mustang was strong all weekend, but after qualifying 33rd, he had his work cut out for throughout the 293-lap race.

“It was just a really good day. We had a really good car yesterday in practice, but unfortunately didn’t qualify like we should have,” Berry commented. “There’s a lot to take from that, but, overall, the car was really strong. We feel like we’re capable of days like this. 

“We just have to keep chipping away at it, keep learning, keep getting better week in and week out. I have a great group around me and this is a finish they deserve for sure.”

Darlington marked the final race for both drivers to advance into next Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway with a race win.

Since neither won Sunday, they’ll be competing in the All-Star Open (Sunday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1) where only the top-two finishers and the Fan Vote Winner will advance into the 200-lap main event (8:00 p.m. ET on FS1).

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.