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Friends, family honor J.D. Gibbs at memorial service

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DAVIDSON, North Carolina — Melissa Gibbs stood before 1,200 people who came to celebrate the life of her husband, J.D. Gibbs, and focused on her four sons sitting in the front row.

Looking at Jackson, Miller, Jason and Taylor, she told them: “Nothing you achieve in life will impress me more than the way you cared for your dad. Even in his decline and in his passing, dad was still teaching you guys, long past the point he had anything to give. His life was shaping yours. You are men of character and make me incredibly proud.”

She paused, her voice softening with those final words.

Family and faith were pillars of J.D. Gibbs’ life and they were shared throughout an emotional service Friday that was held in a college basketball arena and attended by former Washington Redskins and those who worked with and competed against Gibbs’ teams in NASCAR.

Gibbs, co-founder and co-chairman of Joe Gibbs Racing, died Jan. 11 from complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. He was 49.

Tears and laughter punctuated the service, which lasted close to 90 minutes.

Sniffles interrupted Joe Gibbs’ prayer as he spoke of his son. Jackson read entries of his dad’s journal through tears.

Then, there were the stories of J.D. Gibbs’ goofiness. Long-time friend Moose Valliere recalled the wild times he and J.D. had as kids – they’d stay up late, play video games, and make an occasional crank call.

“Clean ones,” Valliere quickly noted to laughs, while looking at J.D.’s parents, Joe and Pat Gibbs. 

“That was raising cain for J.D.,” Valliere said. “But we had a blast.”

Valliere also shared how Gibbs influenced his life and helped him with his faith from saying a prayer before every meal to “walk the walk” and value “Godly friendship.”

Melissa Gibbs

Melissa also used the service to remind those of the power of faith.

“You are here because his life mattered to you in someway,” Melissa told the crowd at Davidson College’s Belk Arena. “And I am standing before you to make sure his death does as well.

“I don’t intend to waste a bit of his suffering. It had meaning and value. Not that I wouldn’t take a time machine and a miracle cure to get back. But he’s gone and his struggle is over. Better than that, he is with God.”

Dave Alpern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, also shared how his faith had been shaped by his long-time close friend, along with all the fun times they had together through the years. 

He ended his time on the stage by addressing J.D. Gibbs’ four sons.

“You’re dad’s nickname was ‘Son of’ “ Alpern said, noting J.D. Gibbs was the son of a Hall of Fame NFL coach. “Today, we pass the title of ‘Son of’ to you. Consider it a great honor to be considered the son of J.D. Gibbs.”

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Chase Elliott wins Cup Most Popular Driver award

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chase Elliott was selected as the NMPA Most Popular Driver in a fan vote announced during Thursday’s NASCAR Awards show.

It is the second consecutive victory for Elliott in the category.

“Honored to have two,” Elliott said. “It’s really more than a trophy or award. It is about the people you see at the race track.”

It is the 29th consecutive year that either an Elliott or Earnhardt has won the award.

The last driver not named Elliott or Earnhardt to win this award was Darrell Waltrip in 1990.

Other award winners included:

The Bill France Award of Excellence, an award that is not given every year, was presented to car owner Joe Gibbs for his signifiant contribution to the sport.

The NMPA Myers Brothers Award for outstanding contribution to the sport was presented to Darrell Waltrip.

The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is Joe Vaughn, who has volunteered for nearly two decades, raising both awareness and funds on behalf of the Project HOPE Foundation, based in Greenville, South Carolina. The foundation’s mission is to provide a lifespan of services to the autism community to help families, open minds, promote inclusion and expand potential.

Watch NASCAR Cup Awards Show at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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Get settled into your favorite easy chair, make sure you have plenty of snacks and beverages on hand and get ready for the last big event of 2019 on the NASCAR schedule: tonight’s NASCAR Awards Show.

The show will be broadcast on NBCSN from 8-10:30 p.m. ET from Nashville, Tennessee, for the first time. And if you miss some of the show, don’t worry, there’ll be a replay immediately afterward, also on NBCSN.

Kyle Busch will be the main attraction for tonight’s show, being celebrated for winning his second NASCAR Cup championship this past season.

Also, the 2019 NASCAR Cup Most Popular Driver award winner will be revealed. Will it be defending winner Chase Elliott, reigning champion Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto … or someone else? You definitely need to tune in to find out.

And to get you in the mood, we’ll replay Wednesday’s Burnouts on Broadway at 7 p.m. ET, also on NBCSN.

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Will Daniel Suarez race for Richard Childress Racing in 2020?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The president of Richard Childress Racing said it is a “longshot” that Daniel Suarez will drive a third Cup entry for the organization in 2020 but said RCR would like to have Suarez drive its No. 2 Xfinity car next year.

Suarez has not decided where he’ll race in 2020 after losing his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing this year.

Suarez has been linked with RCR. A third Cup entry would require RCR to acquire another charter for that car. It also could mean that the organization would need to hire additional people if they expanded to three full-time cars.

“I think that would be a long shot in a Cup program,” Torrey Galida told NBC Sports about Suarez in a third RCR Cup entry. “We’ve talked to him about an Xfinity program. We’d love to have him in an Xfinity car, and we think we could win another championship next year with Daniel. He’s a very talented young man.”

Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Xfinity car will run the full season with multiple drivers in 2020. Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo have been announced to drive that car. Galida said the team is looking at Kaz Grala, Austin Dillon and possibly two-time series champ Tyler Reddick driving that car in select races.

RCR ran the No. 21 car in nine of 33 Xfinity races this past season. It ran the No. 2 car in every race.

If Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity champion, drove for RCR in the Xfinity Series next year, it would be with the organization’s No. 2 car.

“We could still do that and we would do that,” Galida said of a full-time Xfinity effort for Suarez. “That’s the kind of opportunity we would be interested in.”

Galida said it just is a matter of hearing what Suarez decides.

“I think he knows what we’ve got to offer, and I think he’s just weighing his alternatives and trying to determine what is best for him,” Galida told NBC Sports. “I’m sure that going back to the Xfinity Series is not his first choice. I think in the right equipment it could be a really good move for him.”

Galida said they could go into January before hearing from Suarez but noted that “the sooner the better. People are your biggest issue. You want to put the right people around him.”

Next April’s Xfinity race at Bristol to have new sponsor

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Bristol Motor Speedway announced Thursday that partner Alsco, along with Darden Restaurants and its Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen brand, will sponsor next April’s Xfinity Series race there.

The Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco will take place on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Alsco is a global leader in uniform and linen rental services. In addition to its entitlement at Bristol Motor Speedway, Alsco will take part in Xfinity Series entitlements at three other Speedway Motorsports Inc. racetracks: Kentucky Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Alsco’s initial entitlement at BMS came this past April with the Alsco 300 Xfinity Series race, won by Christopher Bell, who earned a $100,000 bonus through Xfinity’s Dash 4 Cash program.

Alsco is also a sponsor for Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and JR Motorsports.

“Bristol is the place for historic finishes and close, hard-knock racing action,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Alsco and our new friends at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen understand the reputation of racing at The Last Great Colosseum and we’re ready to show them an incredible experience. The Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco is a must-see event on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule.”

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