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J.D. Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and former NASCAR team president, dies at 49


By Liz Clarke Liz Clarke Reporter covering the Washington Redskins Email Bio Follow January 12 at 9:17 AM J.D. Gibbs, the elder son of former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, died Friday at age 49 following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease.

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The news was announced shortly after midnight Saturday by Joe Gibbs Racing, the family-owned NASCAR team that the Hall of Fame coach founded in Huntersville, N.C., in 1991.

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Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates everyone’s respect for the privacy of the Gibbs family during this difficult time,” the statement read, adding that details regarding a memorial service would be announced at a future date.

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Within hours of news of his death, the Gibbs family received an outpouring of condolences and support on social media from rival teams, racetrack owners, racers and fans alike.

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Joe Gibbs Racing’s longest tenured-driver, Denny Hamlin, tweeted : “His car. His number. His signature above my door. I will always be grateful for what His family did for mine and the opportunity he gave me 14 years ago.”

From seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson : “My heart goes out to the Gibbs family about JD’s passing this morning. He was always so kind and gracious to everyone.”

In the family’s NASCAR business, J.D. was more than his father’s right-hand man. Named president of Joe Gibbs Racing in 1997, J.D. was instrumental in expanding the business from a single-car team to a force in NASCAR that has won four championships at the elite Cup level. His younger brother, Coy, 46, was also involved in the team and raced for a time in NASCAR’s truck series.

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Affable and unfailingly optimistic, J.D. Gibbs was warmly regarded throughout NASCAR — held in high regarding by corporate executives, racecar drivers, mechanics and media alike

He took on added responsibilities in 2004 that enabled his father, who had retired as coach of the Redskins after the 1992 season, to return for a second stint as Washington’s head coach

A devout man and father of four, J.D. graduated from Oakton High School in Northern Virginia. He was a rock for his family throughout his own son Taylor’s battle with childhood leukemia. After having the disease diagnosed at age 2, Taylor is now cancer-free.nly

Joe Gibbs had acknowledged his son’s illness during a somber news conference before a NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway in March 2015. As president of the family’s NASCAR operation, J.D.’s absence from the track had become a cause for concern

Gibbs explained that J.D. had been dealing with brain-function problems since late 2014. The cause was unclear at the time, as was the diagnosis. But the symptoms increasingly affected his speech and cognitive function

“Basically, his situation medically — there’s very few answers,” Gibbs, now 78, told reporters at the time. “We’ve been dealing with this for about six months, and basically what the doctors say is that they really don’t know

In addition to playing football at William & Mary, J.D. Gibbs raced motorbikes as a child, snowboarded and had a brief career as a stock-car racer. But his father explained during that 2015 news conference that there was no single incident or head trauma that could be linked to his symptoms while acknowledging that “any injury” could have played a part

JGR, as the Gibbs NASCAR operation is known, currently fields four Cup teams (for drivers Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones); three teams in the Xfinity Series, one rung down; and funds development programs for a handful a handful of young racecar drivers