Saturday, January 12, 2019

Rest In Peace J.D. Gibbs

Rest In Peace J.D. Gibbs

Co-Founder of Joe Gibbs Racing, Dies at 49

Rest In Peace J.D. Gibbs - NASCAR

J.D. Gibbs, who followed his famous father’s path from football to stock-car racing, died Friday evening. He was 49.

Gibbs’ passing was announced by Joe Gibbs Racing, the family’s racing team, citing “complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease.” Gibbs had undergone treatment for symptoms impacting areas of brain function in recent years.

Gibbs served as president and later co-chairman of Joe Gibbs Racing. Before joining the organization’s senior management, Gibbs was an over-the-wall crewmember and a part-time driver, making 13 NASCAR national series starts from 1998-2002. 

Rest In Peace J.D. Gibbs - NASCAR

“We were privileged to watch J.D. Gibbs grow within the sport, displaying an endearing personality, a keen eye for talent and the strong business acumen that helped grow Joe Gibbs Racing into a pre-eminent NASCAR team,” NASCAR Chairman & CEO Jim France said in a statement. “The NASCAR family has lost a truly special member. On behalf of NASCAR and the France family, I extend my deepest condolences to Joe Gibbs, Pat, Melissa, Coy and the entire Gibbs family.”

“I wasn’t really stellar from an athletic standpoint,” J.D. Gibbs told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2006. “So for me to go into business, starting a family business with my dad, was really great. I’m glad we had a chance to do that together.” 

J.D. Gibbs’ competitive spirit translated into his management style, fueling a period of dramatic growth for Joe Gibbs Racing. The organization expanded to a two-car team in 1999 and quickly snared its first two championships — with Bobby Labonte in 2000 and Tony Stewart in 2002.

The younger Gibbs was also instrumental in forming the JGR Diversity Program in conjunction with his father and the late Reggie White, an NFL Hall of Famer. That initiative groomed Aric Almirola for a career in NASCAR’s big leagues and continued with the ascension of Mexican-born standout Daniel Suarez to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ranks.

During difficult times, one guy was flourishing and that was Stewart, who had his greatest season and arguably, the best summer stretch in NASCAR history with J.D. running day-to-day operations in 2005. Stewart scored five wins and had career-highs in top-fives (17) and top-10s (25), good enough to bring home his second Cup Series title. It was JGR’s third title in six years and J.D.’s first and only Cup title as a sole owner.

On J.D.’s 47th birthday in 2016, Hamlin eked out future teammate Martin Truex, Jr. by 0.010 seconds in the closest Daytona 500 finish in history. Known for crediting J.D. as the guy that gave him his big break in NASCAR, Hamlin dedicated the victory to him. “It’s the pinnacle of my career, for sure. I haven’t got a championship yet. This is obviously the biggest win for myself,” said Hamlin. “It’s just the circumstances, J.D. Gibbs, who found me about 12, 13 years ago, it’s his birthday today, he’s been so pivotal to myself and my team and supporting me for the past 11 years.”

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