Denny Hamlin win honors late car owner J.D. Gibbs

Big Race - Daytona

It is a race team dealing with loss.

And while Denny Hamlin in victory lane is a major win for Joe Gibbs Racing, it is still an emotional night for the Gibbs family.

“Right now, I would expect the big bear hug from him, coming right from behind,” Hamlin said after The Big Race on Sunday. “That’s just his signature thing he always used to do for me on victory lane. I never would have dreamed we would be in this position.”

Hamlin was discovered on a small track by a man named J.D. Gibbs, the son of legendary NFL coach Joe Gibbs, the founder of Joe Gibbs Racing. 

Their relationship blossomed into a job, and eventually a dominant team. Last month, J.D. lost his battle with a degenerative neurological disorder.

Hamlin has dedicated his season, and hoped to win this race in J.D.’s honor. 

“I knew his family was here, I saw them before the race,” Hamlin said. “It’s great that they’re able to enjoy this and take their minds off the tough month that they’ve had.”

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