It’s time to appreciate the legacy of Joe Gibbs, which continues to grow by the day.
Across the NFL and NASCAR, Gibbs has grown to be one of the most legendary figures in sports, and he’s arguably the most successful two-sport leader.
Last Sunday, he won his third Daytona 500 as an owner when Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line. But the 78-year-old’s legacy goes all the way back to the 1960s when he began his football coaching career at San Diego State.
The First Lap
- By 1973, Gibbs entered the NFL as an assistant coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, and by 1981 he was head coach for the Washington Redskins.
It didn’t take long for him to make his mark.
- 1982, a strike-shortened season, the North Carolina native took Washington to the Super Bowl. It is there where the Redskins beat the Dolphins 27-17. Gibbs got his team back to the Super Bowl in 1988 in which they blew out the Broncos 42-10 thanks to the arm of Doug Williams.
- 1992, Gibbs won his third and final Super Bowl in a blowout of the Buffalo Bills with Mark Rypien, Gibbs’ third-different quarterback to win a Super Bowl for him, at the helm. In the same year, Gibbs started Joe Gibbs Racing with South Carolina’s Dale Jarrett as his first driver.
- 1993, Gibbs and Jarrett won NASCAR’s biggest event, the Daytona 500, beating out legend Dale Earnhardt. Jarrett would finish fourth in the points that season.
- 1995, Gibbs signed Bobby Labonte to replace Jarrett in the #18 car.
- 1999, Gibbs expanded his operation to two cars and signed one of the best drivers to ever set foot in a race car— Tony Stewart.
- 1999, Stewart had one of the best rookie campaigns ever, posting three wins, 21 top 10s, and a fourth-place finish in the standings. His teammate, Labonte, finished second despite five wins, 23 top fives
and25 top 10s.
- 2000, Gibbs was a NASCAR champion. Labonte’s four wins were enough for Gibbs’ first Winston Cup championship, and he was just getting started.
- 2002, Stewart overcame a last-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a nearly season-long points lead by Sterling Marlin to be crowned champion for JGR.
- 2005, Stewart reclaimed his championship throne after a blistering second half of the season.
- 2008, Changes came to Joe Gibbs Racing, as the team switched to Toyota and lost Stewart, who moved on to his own team in 2009. But 2008 was a significant turning point when Gibbs picked up one of the most marquee “free agents” in NASCAR. After leaving Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch took over the No. 18 Toyota and made his presence known with eight wins in 2008. Busch would be Gibbs’
front man, winning 25 races in his first seven seasons with the team.
- 2015, Busch missed one-third of the season but still won the Sprint Cup championship after a furious comeback in one of the biggest comebacks in sports history.
- 2016, Busch’s JGR teammate Denny Hamlin won Gibbs his second Daytona 500 13 years after the first one in a photo finish with Martin Truex, Jr.
- 2019, Hamlin returned to victory lane in the Daytona 500 after Gibbs’ son, J.D. Gibbs, who was president of Joe Gibbs Racing, passed away. Joe Gibbs Racing has Busch, Hamlin, rising star Erik Jones and now the 2017 series champion Martin Truex Jr.
Everything Joe Gibbs touches seems to turn to gold. Three Super Bowls, three Daytona 500 wins, three Monster Energy Cup series wins are just some of the accolades he’s accumulated.
And with the future bright at JGR, his legacy will continue to grow.