Joe Gibbs celebrates ‘biggest win’ weeks after son J.D. Gibbs’ death

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Three Super Bowl championships and two previous Daytona 500 wins could not compare to Sunday night for Joe Gibbs.

Watching Denny Hamlin — a driver signed by Gibbs’ late son J.D. — win the Daytona 500 five weeks after J.D. Gibbs’ death was unlike anything Joe Gibbs has won as a Hall of Fame NFL coach and NASCAR car owner.

“This is the most emotional and the biggest win I’ve ever had in my life in anything,” Joe Gibbs said after his cars finished first, second and third Sunday night. “J.D. built our race team and was the guy that ran day-to-day operations for 27 years. He invested his occupational life in our race team. As a part of that, he went up to purchase some Late Model stuff from Denny and struck up a relationship with Denny, put him in a test, put him in a Truck, put him in an Xfinity car at Darlington and finally said we had to sign this guy. That started the relationship.”

J.D. Gibbs died Jan. 11 from complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. He was 49. The family held a public memorial service Jan. 28 that provided a mix of tears and laughter for those who attended the event at a college basketball arena. 

Sunday, J.D. Gibbs’ widow and four sons were at Daytona International Speedway as NASCAR honored him on the 11th lap of the race — tying in with the number he used when he raced.

That it is Hamlin’s number is only part of the what makes the No. 11 car special to him. Hamlin also has had J.D. Gibbs’ name over the driver’s side door since 2017.

“The whole family – they did so much for me over the course of my career,” Hamlin said after winning his second Daytona 500 and 32nd career Cup race. “This one is for J.D. We are desperately going to miss him the rest of our lives. His legacy still lives on through Joe Gibbs Racing and (I’m) proud to do this for them.”

Former Joe Gibbs Racing driver Joey Logano also celebrated J.D. Gibbs’ memory after the race.

“For what J.D. has done for my career is the reason why I’m sitting here today,” Logano said after finishing fourth. “As bad as I want to win it, it is pretty cool to think that the first race after his passing, to see those guys one, two, three, it just says he’s up there watching and maybe gave you guys a little extra boost there at the end. Congratulations to them.”

Joe Gibbs knows that Hamlin’s win was divine.

“I honestly believe it was ‑‑ I think the Lord looked down on us, and I know J.D. and everybody in my family was emotional,” Joe Gibbs said. “I called home to (wife) Pat, and I called sponsors that were emotional, too.

“It was just an unbelievable night, unbelievable crowd. The whole thing was just a special memory for me, and it’s one I’ll never forget, and it was the most important night of my occupational life.”

Cup Series Thursday night racing factoids

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When it comes to 1.5-mile tracks like Charlotte Motor Speedway, no one driver is getting comfortable in Victory Lane.

Entering tonight’s 310-mile race at Charlotte (7 p.m. ET on FS1), the second Cup race in five days on the oval, the series has seen eight different winners in the last eight visits to a 1.5-mile track.

That streak dates back to June 2019 when Alex Bowman earned his first career Cup Series win in a race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Between that race and Brad Keselowski’s win in the Coca-Cola 600, winners on 1.5-mile tracks included: Kurt Busch (Kentucky), Martin Truex Jr. (Las Vegas), Denny Hamlin (Kansas), Kevin Harvick (Texas), Kyle Busch (Miami) and Joey Logano (Las Vegas).

The Cup Series hasn’t seen a stretch of parity like that on 1.5-mile tracks since 2011, when the last eight 1.5-mile races were won by a different driver.

Here are some other interesting tidbits heading into tonight’s race.

Jimmie Johnson is entering his 37th and likely final Cup Series points start on the Charlotte oval. His eight points race wins and four All-Star Race wins there lead all drivers.

– Johnson has led 1,936 laps on the Charlotte oval, second most all-time to Bobby Allison (2,338).

– Hendrick Motorsports has 19 points wins at Charlotte by seven different drivers. That number of drivers is tied for the most all-time. Hendrick has seven different winners at Pocono and Talladega. Wood Brothers Racing has seven different winners at Daytona.

– Joe Gibbs Racing has 21 Cup wins since the start of 2019, which is 49% of races. Denny Hamlin has eight of those wins, which leads all drivers. Team Penske is second with nine wins.

– Tonight’s Cup race at Charlotte is scheduled for 208 laps. Only two races at Charlotte were scheduled for less laps and both were qualifying races in 1961 at 67 laps each for the 1961 World 600.

 

Jeff Burton joins Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN

Lunch Talk Live
NBC Sports
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NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton will be on today’s Lunch Talk Live with host Mike Tirico. Today’s show airs at noon ET on NBCSN.

Also on Thursday’s show will be Supercross points leader Eli Tomac.

“Lunch Talk Live” focuses on the current state of the sports world and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, providing guests with a platform to discuss the state of sports, voice their personal stories and detail how they are adapting their daily lives during this challenging time.

You can also watch the show online here.

Today’s scheduled guests are:

  • Noon – Robbie Earle, Premier League on NBC
  • 12:05 p.m. – Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians manager
  • 12:15 p.m. – Chris Simms, FNIA/PFT/Unbuttoned/Notre Dame
  • 12:30 p.m. – Jeff Burton, NASCAR on NBC
  • 12:40 p.m. – Chris Mullin, Basketball Hall of Famer
  • 12:50 p.m. – Eli Tomac, Supercross current points leader

NASCAR adjusts Xfinity Dash 4 Cash schedule

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NASCAR announced changes to the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash races on Thursday.

Here is the schedule:

June 1 – Bristol Motor Speedway (will determine four eligible drivers for first Dash 4 Cash event)

June 6 – Atlanta Motor Speedway (Dash 4 Cash event No. 1)

June 14 – Homestead-Miami Speedway (Dash 4 Cash event No. 2)

June 20 – Talladega Superspeedway (Dash 4 Cash event No. 3)

TBA – Next scheduled Xfinity series race after Talladega (Dash 4 Cash event No. 4)

Each Dash 4 Cash event will have four eligible drivers racing for the $100,000 bonus.

The driver who wins the bonus advances to the next Dash 4 Cash event. The next three-highest finishing Xfinity Series drivers eligible for the series title, qualify for the next Dash 4 Cash race.

Previously, Miami was to have served as the qualifying race and was to be followed by Dash 4 Cash races at Texas, Bristol, Talladega and Dover. All those events were postponed because of the COIVD-19 pandemic.

Cup, Xfinity entry lists for Bristol Motor Speedway

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Almost two months it was originally scheduled, NASCAR will finally hold its first Bristol Motor Speedway race weekend of the year.

The Cup and Xfinity Series continue their marathon of races this weekend. The Cup Series will race on Sunday and the Xfinity Series will compete Monday night.

Here are the entry lists for this weekend’s races.

Cup – Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 (3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

Forty cars are entered into the race.

JJ Yeley is entered in Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 7 Chevrolet.

Gray Gaulding is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s 27 Ford.

Kyle Busch won this race last year over his brother Kurt Busch.

Denny Hamlin won last year’s night race over Matt DiBenedetto.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Cheddar’s 300 (7 p.m. ET Monday on FS1)

There are 37 cars entered.

Modified driver Patrick Emerling will make his Xfinity Series debut in Our Motorsports’ No. 02 Chevrolet. Brett Moffitt drove the car in the first six races of the season.

Carson Ware makes his Xfinity Series debut driving SS Green Light Racing’s No. 07 Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger is entered in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevrolet.

Myatt Snider is entered in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Christopher Bell won this race last year over Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer. Chase Briscoe, who finished fourth, is the highest finishing returning driver from that race.

Reddick won last year’s night race over Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek.

Click here for the entry list.