Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway was high-contact, as the track’s brand of short track beating and banging was on full display with 16 yellow flags. And drivers beating on each other extended well past the checkered flag, with two of the series’ young stars getting into an ugly brawl on pit road.
On the final lap, Ty Gibbs lost the lead to Brandon Jones in the final corner and attempted a final drive off the corner when Sam Mayer ran into Gibbs from behind, moving him up the racetrack and creating a three-car logjam for second place. Mayer ended up driving Gibbs into the wall, relegating the driver of the No. 54 to an eighth-place finish after leading much of the race.
Gibbs expressed his displeasure by running into Mayer after the checkered flag, and things escalated once the two stopped on pit road. Gibbs quickly confronted Mayer, and the two exchanged words and shoves before Gibbs began punching and grabbing Mayer by the head. The two went down in a pile before being separated.
The two drivers have previous history with each other from racing against each other in ARCA. Gibbs — the grandson of Pro Football and NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs — explained his side of the story to a cacophony of boos from the Martinsville crowd.
“I tried to talk to him, and he got all in my face. At that point, we’ve got to start fighting,” Gibbs told Fox Sports. “We got put in a bad position there. The only thing I’m mad about … He wasn’t going to get past the No. 16 there and I just got hit in the left rear. It’s just frustrating. I just got drove in the fence at the end.”
Mayer, who was left with a black eye and some bruising to his face, attributed his racing Gibbs hard on the final lap to the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program — which would have awarded $100,000 to Mayer had he passed Gibbs to be the highest-finishing Dash 4 Cash-qualified driver.
Mayer criticized Gibbs for getting upset for being on the receiving end of getting moved out of the way despite his willingness to do the same to other drivers (Gibbs moved John Hunter Nemechek for the win at Richmond, a point which Gibbs himself conceded), as well as for keeping his helmet on while throwing a punch.
“He threw a couple punches — They were weak, so I can’t say much about that. It’s kind of funny,” Mayer told reporters at the track. “I just put the bumper to him for $100 grand, and he got upset about it. But he’s been doing that to everyone else every week so far. I don’t understand how it can be that one-sided.”
Unfortunately, a NASCAR official ended up being injured in the fracas. As noted by Noah Lewis of TSJSports, an official was placed on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance with unspecified injuries.
As for Brandon Jones, Friday night’s victory was the fifth of his Xfinity Series career and his first since Darlington in September of 2020. Landon Cassill finished second, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, Austin Hill, Mayer, Riley Herbst, Ryan Truex, Gibbs, Ryan Sieg, and Jeremy Clements.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his annual one-off appearance in the Xfinity Series, finished 11th.