In 1981, forty-year-old Joe Gibbs started his professional football head coaching career with five straight losses. A tough start for sure, but his Washington Redskins team would recover to win eight of their final eleven games and end the season at 8-8.
The slow start belies what would become an NFL Hall of Fame career. The team would go to the Super Bowl the next two seasons, winning in 1982. Gibbs and the Redskins were perennial playoff contenders and won the Super Bowl a second time in 1987.
In 1992, while in his final year of his first stint as head coach of the Redskins, Gibbs created a NASCAR Cup Series race team. Much like his initial season as a football coach, his first season as a car owner was trying as well. But, in his second year, just as he did as coach of the Redskins, his race team won the “super bowl” of racing when driver Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500 in 1993.
Now, 27 years later, Gibbs is perhaps more known for his NASCAR accomplishments than he is his hall of fame football career.
JGR has won 374 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series, NASCAR Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series, AMA Pro Motocross, and in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. And to further prove that Gibbs is more racer than footballer at this point is the fact his sons, J.D. and Coy, both followed him into racing.
J.D., who passed away in January after a long illness, was a former driver who was groomed to take over JGR when “Coach” retired. Coy, who was also a former driver and worked with his father during his second stint as head coach of the Redskins, is now back at JGR. In addition to his duties with the team, he’s also the father of the newest member of the family to pursue a career in motorsports.
Ty Gibbs, still just 16 years of age, made his ARCA Menards Series debut at Five Flags Speedway in March. He stayed in the fight all night long and made a pass for second in the final corner of the final lap. In his second start four weeks ago at Salem Speedway he recovered from a spin to finish sixth. He finished second in the most recent ARCA Menards Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Not yet old enough to be eligible to race for the overall series championship, Gibbs will compete for the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship. The series within the series takes place on all tracks, paved and dirt, one mile in length and under. The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway will be the fourth start of Gibbs’ brief ARCA career.
Gibbs has tested a couple of times at the Glass City half mile last year in an effort to familiarize himself with the cars raced in the ARCA series. He will test again on Monday to work on race day setups and to continue to acclimate himself with crew chief Mark McFarland.
“Last year we came to Toledo Speedway to get some seat time in the ARCA car and some laps on the track knowing that we were going to be racing here during the 2019 season,” said Gibbs. “I was really surprised at how fast the track was but feel like I was able to learn some things that will help me when we get to the race weekend. I know Mark (McFarland, crew chief) and the No. 18 team will have a fast Monster Energy Camry and we’ll be ready to battle for the win at Toledo.”
Unlike his grandfather, who lost those first five games, Gibbs has come out of the box strong. In addition to his strong performances in the ARCA Menards Series, he also won a big late model event at Myrtle Beach Speedway to start the season off on the right foot.
“The 2019 season has started out awesome with a late-model win in Myrtle Beach and second at New Smyrna for the K&N East race and at Five Flags and Nashville for my first ARCA races. I feel I did a lot of preparation during the off season to make sure my fitness and driving skill set stayed sharp and I was ready to get in the car and contend for wins each week. I had a rough time a few weeks ago at Salem and didn’t finish where we wanted to, but I’m ready to rebound at Toledo.”
With a limited number of opportunities to win in 2019, Gibbs is forced to maximize every chance he has behind the wheel. That’s not to say he feels extra pressure to perform. He places a lot of pressure on himself, just as every driver in his position would. One person that doesn’t put any added pressure on him is his grandfather.
“Coach has always supported me in racing and anything I have been involved with,” continued Gibbs. “I feel like there isn’t too much pressure on me this year, but in the years to come they will be expecting results, just as they do from all of the JGR drivers.”
Practice for the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway is scheduled for 12:30 pm ET on Saturday, May 18, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 4 pm ET. A 35-lap ARCA late model sportsman feature event will close Saturday’s activities at the track. The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 will go green shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, May 19. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live user chat throughout all on-track sessions at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. Tickets are available by calling the Toledo Speedway ticket office at (419) 727-1100. Discounted tickets are available at Northwest Ohio Menards locations for $15, a savings of $10 from the raceday ticket price.
-ARCA Menards Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51