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Ex-coach to rejoin son J.D. as face of Joe Gibbs Racing

1/8/2008 - NASCAR NFL

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Gibbs is apparently headed back
to NASCAR following his resignation Tuesday as coach of the
Washington Redskins.

Gibbs formed his NASCAR team in 1992 during his first
retirement, but turned control of the three-car organization to son
J.D. when he returned to the Redskins four years ago. He made
sporadic appearances on race day, but spent most of his time in
Washington with the football team.

Now he's free to be directly involved again in racing -- his
teams have won three championships since 2000 -- but during a news conference in Virginia, he gave no clear
indication what his role will be during a news conference in
Virginia.

"We've got our family business there, it's real important to
all of us," Gibbs said. "We spent [16] years building it, and
it's a huge part of our family. That will be a big part of my life
and a big part of me."

Lee White, senior vice president of Toyota Racing Development,
said J.D. Gibbs called him Tuesday morning to inform him of the
elder Gibbs' decision.

"We discussed how it was great that it was Joe's decision, and
J.D. is very pleased and thrilled to think that he'll have Joe
close at hand," White said. "J.D. still runs the team. But as far
as renewing sponsorships and extending drivers and wining and
dining new sponsors, Joe is going to be available and be a help,
not a hindrance, in those things."

Joe Gibbs Racing ended its longtime affiliation with General
Motors last season to join Toyota, which is entering its second
season in NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup Series. The manufacturer
struggled in its first season and has been counting on JGR to help
shape its program.

"It can't help but put the team on a more solid foundation,
leadership-wise, at a challenging time," White said. "It's a
family business and the more members of the family in the business,
the better."

J.D. Gibbs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gibbs' announcement surprised Kyle Busch, the newest driver at
JGR, who was testing his new ride Tuesday at Daytona International
Speedway.

"I knew he had one more year left [on his Redskins contract],
so I figured he was going to keep digging," Busch said. "I don't
know what his decision process was about retiring, but I'm sure
it'll be for the better of Joe Gibbs Racing."

Busch said he's had few dealings with Gibbs, other than his
contract negotiations last summer and an occasional phone call. But
Gibbs was involved in the courting of Busch, and before that met
with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a failed attempt to sign NASCAR's most
popular driver.

Gibbs also made a surprise visit to the track in Chicago last July
to mediate a feud between drivers Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. He
summoned both of his stars into a hauler, forcing them to miss
valuable practice time, as he played peacemaker in an argument that
stemmed from an on-track accident.

Busch said he hopes Gibbs will be hands-on with the team now.

"I think it would be pretty cool," Busch said. "[Crew chief
Steve] Addington told me early today that whenever you really need
something or want something, you'd just go to Joe, and he's like,
'Fine, do whatever you need. We'll figure out a way to pay for it
later.' That will pay dividends for us, just being able to go out
there and get what we need when we need it.

"Having Joe playing a bigger role in the race team's always
nice. J.D. does a great job with it, but it's not like having Joe
Gibbs around to run this organization."

Gibbs said part of his reason for retiring from football again
was to spend more time with his family, which includes a young
grandson who was diagnosed with leukemia last year at the age of 2.
Taylor Gibbs, the youngest of J.D. Gibbs' four boys, completed his
first phase of treatment last September. His current status was not
immediately known.

"My family, as everybody knows, when I came here it was one set
of circumstances," Gibbs said. "It was a tough year for [wife]
Pat, which means a lot to me. J.D. and [youngest son] Coy being
back down there, and all the things we went through with Taylor.

"Almost all of them said the same thing. 'If you want to go,
then keep going, we'll go with you.' It's just that I felt after
sitting with my family, that's not something I should do."