If it appears 21-year old Ty Gibbs is getting closer and closer to hoisting his first NASCAR Cup Series winner‘s trophy, that‘s because he is — proving himself statistically and otherwise with every passing week.

His start to the 2024 season in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota isn‘t just impressive for a young, second-year driver, it‘s been a high-mark for the entire more-experienced field he‘s competing against.

Gibbs‘ five top-10 finishes through the opening six races are most in the series and have propelled him to second place in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, only a mere five-points behind his JGR teammate former series champion Martin Truex Jr., as the series prepares to compete Sunday in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway (7 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

This lofty position in the championship may be unchartered territory for Gibbs in NASCAR‘s premier series, but he‘s collected titles and big-time hardware every step of his progression up the ranks — from the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship to the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors last year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Currently surrounded by veterans in the championship standings, Gibbs‘ early-season effort is remarkable. The five top-10 finishes through six races are half as many as he had in the entire 36-race 2023 season. His three top-five efforts — including a third-place showing Sunday at Circuit of The Americas – tie him with JGR teammate Christopher Bell, reigning series champion Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman for most in the series. He had only four top-five finishes in all of 2023.

As importantly, Gibbs has led 195 laps — easily eclipsing his 112 laps led in all of 2023 — but another big statement considering only two other drivers — JGR teammate Denny Hamlin and 2022 series champion Kyle Larson have led more laps.

And. … Gibbs is tied with Larson and teammate Bell for most Stage wins (2) on the season.

This isn‘t just a case of early season mojo. The series has raced on a superspeedway, 1.5-milers, short tracks and a road course. And Gibbs has been stellar everywhere. Everywhere.

And last week‘s third place work at COTA was particularly telling for the young driver, who vied for contention with his teammate. A couple years ago as Gibbs was coming up the ranks, he may have been frustrated fighting for position in the closing laps, even been described as “aggressive” in his style. This week his teammate Bell passed him for second place in the closing laps Sunday at the Austin, Texas road course, but this championship contender Gibbs was calm and thoughtful in his post-race comments and analysis.

“This Monster Energy team is all good and we will keep digging,” he said, even offering a confident smile to the television audience.

This weekend at the three-quarter mile Richmond oval represents yet another legitimate possibility that Gibbs at last hoists his first NASCAR Cup Series hardware.

Last year, he finished a strong ninth-place in the Spring Richmond race and answered it with a 15th-place showing in the Fall. Although Gibbs has never led a lap in three NASCAR Cup Series races there, that feels like an impending possibility.

In 2022, he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from pole position and led a dominating 114 of the 250 laps.

The statistics are there. The performance has always been there. And now Gibbs has proven himself “ready” to claim the next big milestone — a race victory – in what many predict are merely the early glimpses and promises of a championship NASCAR Cup Series career.

–NASCAR Wire Service–

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