By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
MARTINSVILLE, VA – A hard-fought run in overtime spilled over post-race on pit road as fists flew between Ty Gibbs and Sam Mayer.
In the final overtime, Gibbs led the field to the green flag. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver dominated much of the Call 811 Before You Dig 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The duo lined up side-by-side entering Turn 1. The battle between the two longtime rivals allowed Brandon Jones to sneak through for the win. The rivalry between Gibbs and Mayer started in the ARCA Menards Series several years ago.
Further contact between the two drivers saw them slip further down the running order. Out of the final corner the duo slid wide. Mayer took the checkered flag in fifth while Gibbs finished eighth. The driver of the No. 1 Accelerate Pros Talent Chevrolet Camaro SS headed to pit road with the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry hot on his tail.
Once stopped, Gibbs confronted Mayer. The heated discussion led to Mayer pushing Gibbs. Then the fists started flying.
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“He walked over to me, made the first move,” explained Mayer. “I wasn’t going to do anything because I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was put the bumper to him, like how he has been the last couple weeks to everybody. Obviously, it’s very one-sided, but that’s okay, I’m just going to keep my head down and do my own thing and move forward.”
As the fight escalated crews from both Gibbs’ No. 54 team and Mayer’s No. 1 team surrounded the drivers. In the chaos, a NASCAR Xfinity Series official was knocked to the ground and injured. Once the fight was broken up, Gibbs and Mayer were led in separate directions. The JR Motorsports driver and last week’s Xfinity Dash 4 Cash winner had several cuts to his face.
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“That’s on him, not me,” an adamant Mayer stated. “That’s his decision making if he wants to start that. I couldn’t care less. He’s going to put the bumper to everybody else in the garage and expect nothing in return. That doesn’t make any dang sense. I’m just going to do it to him because that’s what short track racing is all about unless it’s to him, I guess. He can throw all the punches he wants, they’re weak as hell. It doesn’t bother me.”
The fifth-place finish is the third consecutive top-five for Mayer this season. It marks an uptick in performance in his first full Xfinity Series season.
“We’ve been racing in the top-five every week the last couple of weeks,” reflected Mayer. “We’ve had so much speed. It just took a lot to get there. He was up there all day because he had a good qualifying run and I had to work for it. When I got up there, racing for $100,000, I got a taste of it. All I did was put the bumper to him, moved him up the racetrack. Then he threw a couple punches.”
Despite the chaotic finish and ensuing fight, Mayer sits sixth in the championship points standings. The 18-year-old is 107-points behind leader A.J. Allmendinger. Mayer is 34-points ahead of the playoff cutline held by Landon Cassill.
This story will be updated with the condition of the injured NASCAR official when possible.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.