AVONDALE, Arizona -- The NASCAR world was in mourning Sunday as the death of Coy Gibbs cast a pall over the Cup Series’ championship finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Gibbs, the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing, died in his sleep at 49 just hours after his son, Ty, won the 2022 Xfinity Series championship with a victory in the season finale.
NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement that “we are heartbroken by the loss of Coy Gibbs.”
“Racing is a family and the relationships within the entire garage go so much deeper than on-track competition,” Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said in a release. “Today, we lost a dear part of our family. The loss of Coy Gibbs is devastating to everyone at Toyota and TRD. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with Joe, Pat, Heather, Ty, Case, Jett and Elle and the entire Gibbs family and Joe Gibbs Racing family.”
Longtime JGR drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch (who was making his final start as a Gibbs driver before moving to Richard Childress Racing next season) both tweeted they would be racing with heavy hearts on the 1-mile oval.
“Today we will do what we don’t want to do, but we will unite as a family and race for the name on our chest,” Hamlin wrote.
On the prerace starting grid, Busch appeared to be quavering during the national anthem, which followed a moment of silence for Gibbs in the invocation.
“Words can’t describe this day,” Busch posted on social media. “Today already was going to be tough enough, but it’s even more gut-wrenching now. Heartbroken.”
Joe Gibbs Racing was competing for the Cup Series championship Sunday with the No. 20 Toyota of Christopher Bell, whose pit crew includes front tire changer Jackson Gibbs. The son of the late J.D. Gibbs posted a tribute on his helmet to his Uncle Coy.
Several other NASCAR drivers (and Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks) also posted their support for the Gibbs family.
Ty Gibbs had been scheduled to drive in Sunday’s race but was replaced by Daniel Hemric in 23XI Racing’s No. 23 Toyota.
Words can’t describe this day. Today was already going to be tough enough but it’s even more gut wrenching now. Heartbroken.— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 6, 2022