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JOE GIBBS EARNS FOURTH CUP TITLE, SURPASSING THREE SUPER BOWL CROWNS
When Kyle Busch crossed the finish line at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 22, to win the Sprint Cup Championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, it gave the NASCAR team owner his fourth Cup title to surpass his total of three Super Bowl crowns earned while guiding the Washington Redskins as their head coach.
Gibbs’ first Cup championship was with Bobby Labonte in 2000, followed by titles with Tony Stewart and 2002 and ’05. So can the current NASCAR team owner and former NFL head coach compare the two?
“You can’t,” Gibbs said. “The Super Bowls were awesome. It was a different role for me over there. I came over here, and I told everybody that over here I’m not the technical person. My job is to try and help pick the people, and then I have the real thrill the first of every month of trying to pay the bills.
“It’s a thrill for me to be in two sports like that,” he added. “I loved football and everything I got to do there is just a thrill for me, and then to come over here and have two great experiences – you realize in life, most people never get one. They never get to have one, and I’ve had two. And so believe me, I know how blessed I am, and I appreciate that.”
The season started for JGR with a risk/reward scenario as they added driver Carl Edwards to the mix to make it a four-car organization. Gibbs believed adding a veteran professional like Edwards was worth that risk and that it eventually helped him win the title.
“It was definitely a risk to add another car to the team,” Gibbs said. “Each time that we decided to move to two and three we were pretty slow about doing that and I thought we had made great preparation to go to four, but you’re worried about that because in ’13 we ran extremely well, and so you’re kind of saying, hey, is it going to destroy our focus, and you worry about it.
“What I really appreciated, when you’ve got four drivers like we have, to have them and hear them share everything, trying to help each other, and I really think we’ve got a great chemistry, and I know that’s hard to get,” he said. “So we did worry about it, but we thought this was the time for us to do that.”
The championship comes on the heels of what Gibbs described as an “awful” 2014 season when the organization won just twice. The start of this season did not get off to a stellar start as the eventual Sprint Cup champion Busch was injured in a crash at Daytona that caused him to miss 11 races. Also, Edwards and the No. 19 team was struggling at the outset of the season before earning a win at Charlotte in May and then peaking for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“It shows you how hard our sport is, and so it takes total team effort, and you’ve got to have everything put together and you’ve got to have a great driver, obviously, to be able to win one of these,” Gibbs said. “It’s been 10 years since we won a title and we’ve finished second and we’ve finished third. These (championships) are just tough to get.”
JGR also has won four XFINITY Series titles over the years, giving Gibbs a total of 11 NASCAR championships over the years and more than enough for a championship ring on every finger.
“We try and keep those things (rings and trophies) at the race shop, and it’s fun for people when they come in and they go on a tour,” Gibbs said. “I would say this to everybody here: It’s amazing how many people come in our race shop every day, and they get the biggest kick out of seeing those things even though they are always asking if the drivers are here. I’m thrilled and blessed. But the whole point is I’m riding on somebody else’s shoulders all the time because I wasn’t a good enough athlete to do any of this stuff.”
Following the race, Busch knew all of the hard work his owner and team put in paved the way for his series title, the first of his career.
“I don't know that anybody could have ever dreamt of this year,” Busch said. “It’s certainly amazing to have the opportunity right now to be in this position with Joe Gibbs and M&M's and Toyota and (crew chief) Adam Stevens. But you surround yourself with good people in business and in sports, and it sometimes will more than likely pay it back.”
It certainly did this season for Joe Gibbs Racing and its championship driver.