JGR co-owner Coy Gibbs dies at 49

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Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Coy Gibbs, co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing and son of the eponymous owner, passed away in his sleep Saturday night at the age of 49. A cause of death was not revealed.

“It is with great sorrow that Joe Gibbs Racing confirms that Coy Gibbs (co-owner) went to be with the Lord in his sleep last night,” a JGR release said. “The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers and asks for privacy at this time.”

The tragedy occurred just hours after Gibbs and the team were celebrating his son Ty Gibbs winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship at Phoenix Raceway. Consquently, Ty excuse himself from Sunday’s Cup Series race and Daniel Hemric, who won the previous year’s Xfinity title for JGR, drove the #23 23XI Racing Toyota in his place.

A parent having to bury their child is a heartbreaking situation, and one that Joe Gibbs has had to face twice. Coy’s older brother and JGR chairman J.D. Gibbs died in 2019 of a degenerative brain disease. J.D.’s son Jackson is the tyre changer for Christopher Bell‘s #20 JGR Cup car, who was competing in the Championship Round; in Coy’s memory, Jackson taped “UNCLE COY” onto the back of his helmet.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Coy Gibbs,” said NASCAR CEO Jim France. “On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I extend my deepest condolences to Joe, Pat, Heather, the Gibbs family and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing on the loss of Coy, a true friend and racer.”

Gibbs was a standout American football player for Stanford University in the 1990s, and later worked for the NFL’s Washington Redskins (now Washington Commanders) from 2004 to 2006 when his father was the head coach.

“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Coach Gibbs’ son, Coy. Our hearts go out to Coach Gibbs and his wife, Pat,” reads a statement from Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya. “Coy was a part of our Washington football family, having served on our coaching staff from 2004 to 2006. We extend our deepest sympathies from the entire Washington Commanders family to his wife Heather and their four children.”

From 2000 to 2003, Gibbs raced for JGR in the Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series, the latter of which included a pair of top-ten points finishes in two full seasons. After retiring from driving and transitioning into ownership, he served as one of the team’s primary spokesmen for executive affairs. But perhaps Gibbs’ greatest contribution to JGR came outside of NASCAR when he formed a motocross team in 2008. Although JGRMX never won an AMA Supercross or Pro Motocross title, the Suzuki-backed team enjoyed success with the likes of Justin Brayton, Josh Grant, and James Stewart before closing in 2020.

Despite shuttering the motocross programme, Gibbs remained committed to JGR’s NASCAR operation and overseeing Ty’s breakthrough into NASCAR. Even as Ty became a polarising figure to the point of his Xfinity title being roundly booed, his dad stood by him.

“I’m definitely proud of him. I mean, I’ve always got his back as his father,” Coy said in a Saturday evening press conference. “Obviously, it’s heartbreaking to go through tough stuff and watch. It’s actually more heartbreaking to watch him go through it. I don’t give a rip. I’m old and don’t care. In fact, I’ve been racing with Chris (Gayle, Ty’s crew chief) since we were like 23 or something, so I’ve known him forever. We’ve kind of gone through a bunch of stuff in our life. But to see a kid hurting, and he knows he screwed up, and to go through all that, it’s tough. It’s tough as a parent for sure.

“Watching it today, just to see his determination, I think he’s got skills and he’s determined. It definitely made me proud. I think it made my wife—we were both proud, just because he just hammered down and did his job. If he wants to do this for a living, he’s going to learn how to do that.”

He is survived by his wife Heather and four children Elle, Case, Jett, and Ty.

Coy Randall Gibbs: 9 December 1972 – 5 November 2022

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