Joe Gibbs Racing vice chairman Coy Gibbs was on the mind of NASCAR drivers as they raced in the championship event on Sunday hours after it was revealed he had suddenly passed away.
The team said Gibbs died in his sleep. He was only 49.
Christopher Bell, who was one of the four other NASCAR Cup drivers in contention for the championship, led the tributes to the late executive. Gibbs’ son, Ty, had just won the Xfinity Series championship and was set to race again for Kurt Busch as an emergency driver at Phoenix. Those plans were nixed.
“Congrats to @joeylogano and the 22 team,” Bell tweeted after Logano had secured his second NASCAR title. “They were the class of the field and deserving champions. Right now my focus is being with my @JoeGibbsRacing family and trying to process the news of Coy’s passing. We are all so heartbroken.”
Bell also talked about Gibbs’ death immediately after the race.
“Wow, wow, wow. Just from being out and then the wins at Charlotte and Martinsville and all of a sudden you wake up this morning, and you are racing for a championship, and you are happy, you are elated and then your world comes crashing down,” Bell said, via NBC Sports. “Whenever you get news like that, it puts it in perspective that there is more to this than racing. The whole Gibbs family is in all of our prayers. I’m thinking of them.
“Ultimately today, the best car won the championship. He was really strong. Proud of our 20 group, though. We fought hard, and at the end of the race – the last pit stop, or what we thought was going to be the last pit stop, we were right there battling for it. I’m just proud to be in this position, proud to be at Joe Gibbs Racing and race this no. 20 car. The DeWalt Camry was – we were there, and hopefully, we can come back here next year. I feel good about where we are at, for sure. I’m hopeful that my group stays the exact same, from mechanics, engineers and obviously Adam Stevens on top of the pit box because I feel like we have a good thing going. We feel like we are right there on the brink of being there every week and being a title contender, year-in and year-out. Just really thankful to be here and very, very incredibly saddened by the news today, and I’m thinking of the Gibbs family.”
The NASCAR world followed suit.
Coy Gibbs is the son of Joe Gibbs, the former NFL coach who started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1991. Coy Gibbs also served as an assistant coach for the Washington NFL team from 2004 to 2007 under his father. He played linebacker at Stanford from 1991 to 1994.
He ran in the Truck Series in 2001 and in the Xfinity Series in 2003. He finished with 21 top-10 finishes in the Truck Series and two top 10s in the Xfinity Series.