NASCAR: J.D. Gibbs, Co-Founder of Joe Gibbs Racing, Passes Away at Age 49

The former team president had long been battling a degenerative neurological disease.

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HAROLD HINSON—HAROLD HINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

J.D. Gibbs, son of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs and co-founder of Joe Gibbs Racing, died Jan. 11, 2019, at the age of 49 as a result of complications from a degenerative neurological disease.

"Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates everyone’s respect for the privacy of the Gibbs family during this difficult time,” a statement from the race team read.

Gibbs stepped down from his role of President at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 after 18 years in the position, and the team announced then that he was suffering from brain-function problems. Between 2004-2008, Gibbs ran the team when his father returned to coaching the NFL's Washington Redskins.

Gibbs is credited with bringing driver Denny Hamlin to Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin has been with JGR throughout his entire NASCAR national-level career, racing in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series. Hamlin has raced with J.D. Gibbs’ name on his car since the beginning of the 2017 season.

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Gibbs at Daytona

J.D. Gibbs, far right, gathers with other NASCAR team owners at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 21, 2016, prior to the 2016 Daytona 500.

Hamlin won the 2016 Daytona 500, a race Gibbs was able to attend.

“He’s the guy that took a chance on me,” Hamlin said of J.D. after that race. "This is the biggest win of my life. He’s not at every race, but to have him here with me today, that’s just how it was supposed to be, wasn’t it?”

Gibbs competed in five Xfinity Series races as a driver between 1997 and 1999. His best finish 20th at South Boston Speedway in Virginia in 1998.

Gibbs is survived by his parents, Joe and Patricia Gibbs; his wife, Melissa Gibbs; and four sons, Jackson, Miller, Jason, and Taylor Gibbs.

The team announcement of Gibbs' death was soon followed by tweets of condolences from several individuals in the racing community, including NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski.