‘That was the greatest victory I’ve been a part of’: Emotional Gibbs reflects on last year’s Daytona 500

Big Race - Daytona

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A member now of both the NFL and NASCAR Halls of Fame, Joe Gibbs is looking forward to the 2020 running of the Daytona 500. However, nothing will ever be able to compare to the way the race finished last year.

“That was the first race that we had after J.D. went to be with the Lord,” Gibbs to WRIC sports director Natalie Kalibat. “I realized when Denny Hamlin won that race with J,D.’s name over the door, that was a thrill for us.”

J.D. Gibbs’ death was roughly a week before last year’s race. Joe Gibbs Racing, his father’s race team, announced the death saying the 49-year-old died from, “complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease.”

“God was there,” Gibbs said reflecting on the victory. “I felt like J.D. was right at his side.”

And Gibbs knows a few things about victories. As the coach of the Washington Redskins, his team won three Super Bowls. When he made the transition to racing, he collected five NASCAR Cup Series championships.

“And then I come over to NASCAR and have a chance also there to be around the right people and to have 500 teammates here working with me. And to be able to be a part of this and get a chance to be honored with being in the Hall of Fame in racing,” said Gibbs. “Unbelievable.”

Because of his success in racing, Gibbs was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame last week, with Denny Hamlin, as well as Kyle Busch, introducing him. Gibbs’ son, Coy, gave him his Hall of Fame ring.

“I think the last two weeks have just been a thrill. I had a chance to do this, obviously, because of all of the great support. The ownership when I was with the Redskins, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Snyder, and then to have the assistant coaches, all the fanbase there,  and to be able to win games and win Super Bowls and get pushed to the front and have a chance to be in the Hall of Fame there was a thrill for me,” Gibbs added.

As you might imagine, Joe Gibbs Racing is looking forward to this month’s Daytona 500 and the week of racing that precedes it.

“We hope everybody is going to be watching,” Gibbs said.

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