Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the most dominant forces in NASCAR. The North Carolina native and former Candler resident has the team looking strong in 2020.
Gibbs driver Erik Jones, winner of Sunday’s Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway, says he’s never really met anyone like the Hall of Fame coach.
Gibbs, a former Washington Redskins coach, first started racing on the NASCAR circuit in 1991. Gibbs' son, J.D. Gibbs, ran the team with him until his death in 2019.
“I mean it was a tough year in a lot of ways, but it was also a great year in a lot of ways. I mean a lot of wins, a lot of success, a lot of, you know, hard times for coach. Missing J.D. and what happened there, you know I think we did what we could on our end to go out and have the best year we could for him,” said Jones. “That's what he would've wanted, that's what he cared about was NASCAR and putting his time and heart and soul into. We did the best we could there, but coming into this year I think it's an elevated mood, right? We had such a good year last year, we feel like we can carry that on and continue to have success."
Jones says he’s enjoyed being a part of the Gibbs team and working with a coach that’s such an inspiration to so many. "Yeah, it's been really cool to be a part of. Being at his Hall of Fame induction here a couple weeks ago down in Charlotte was really neat, seeing him be inducted there. Coach is really, a special guy. Someone that I've never really ever met anyone else like him,” said Jones. “The work ethic he has and the time he puts into whatever he gets involved in. You know, it being racing for the last fifteen to twenty years has been pretty cool to see in how he goes about it, how he handles people, how he handles the sport."
In the NASCAR Cup Series, the team currently fields four full-time entries: the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Denny Hamlin, the No. 18 Camry for Kyle Busch, the No. 19 Camry for Martin Truex Jr., and the No. 20 Camry for Erik Jones. In the Xfinity Series, the team currently fields three full-time entries: the No. 18 Toyota Supra for Riley Herbst; the No. 19 Supra for Brandon Jones, and the No. 20 Supra for Harrison Burton.
As far as football goes, Jones and Gibbs enjoy the season and the fact that their teams don’t have any kind of rivalry. "Yeah, I've talked to coach a little bit about football a few times I've traveled with him. Especially in football season he gets really into it and watches - watches the Redskins religiously but also broad in football,” said Jones. “I'm a Lions fans so he doesn't have anything held against me. I don't think he ever had much trouble with the Lions when he was a coach, so it's been fun hearing his football stories and everything he went through there. Obviously, a totally different sport, some real characters you know in football. So, it's been fun to hear some stories."
Gibbs was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, as well as being named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team. Gibbs was also inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020, making him the only person inducted into both sports' halls of fame.