Coy Gibbs, co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, dies at 49

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Coy Gibbs, who followed his father’s path to success in NASCAR and football, has died. He was 49.

Gibbs was the vice chairman and chief operating officer for Joe Gibbs Racing, which confirmed his death in a statement Sunday. He was in attendance Saturday at Phoenix Raceway as his son, Ty, claimed the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

“It is with great sorrow that Joe Gibbs Racing confirms that Coy Gibbs (co-owner) went to be with the Lord in his sleep last night. The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers and asks for privacy at this time.”

23XI Racing said Sunday that Ty Gibbs will miss Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series finale. He was scheduled to drive the No. 23 Toyota in Sunday’s season-ending race at the Phoenix-area track. Daniel Hemric, last year’s Xfinity Series champion with JGR, was named as a replacement driver.

Coy Gibbs had been a fixture with Joe Gibbs Racing, joining his father’s racing business after finishing his college football career at Stanford. Coy Gibbs was a standout linebacker for the Cardinal and Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, and later served as an assistant coach with his father’s return to the football sidelines in Washington.

Gibbs worked in the front office of Joe Gibbs Racing alongside his brother, J.D. Gibbs, who died after a long battle with a degenerative neurologic disease in 2019. He was also 49 years old.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Coy Gibbs,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement. “On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I extend my deepest condolences to Joe, Pat, Heather, the Gibbs family and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing on the loss of Coy, a true friend and racer.”

David Wilson, president of TRD Racing said in a statement: “Racing is a family and the relationships within the entire garage go so much deeper than on-track competition. 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.”

Coy Gibbs spoke of his son’s accomplishment in a post-race news conference Saturday, marking the culmination of a turbulent week for the 20-year-old driver. Ty Gibbs’ bump of teammate Brandon Jones from a spot in the championship-eligible field last weekend had brought a measure of scrutiny and criticism, which his father had tried to help him weather leading into the finale.

“Watching it today, yeah, just to see his determination,” Coy Gibbs said. “I think he’s got skills and he’s determined. It definitely made me proud. I think it made my wife — we were both proud, just because he just hammered down and did his job. If he wants to do this for a living, he’s going to learn how to do that.”

Coy Gibbs also raced for his father’s NASCAR organization, finishing second in the Xfinity Series’ Rookie of the Year standings to David Stremme in 2003. Gibbs made 39 Xfinity starts and 58 Truck Series appearances from 2000-2003, netting a best finish of second place in a Truck event at Texas Motor Speedway in September 2002.

Ty Gibbs was born three weeks after that runner-up result. Coy Gibbs was asked two months earlier by the Portland (Maine) Press Herald if the son he was expecting with his wife, Heather, would follow the family’s influences and play football or race.

“I don’t know,” Coy Gibbs said then at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Football is brutal. I played it and I saw what it did to my dad. You can’t talk to your family before the game, you can’t hold your kids. You’ve got to get ready to beat the crud out of another man. Here, family is all around.”

Coy Gibbs was a lightly recruited defender, until Stanford saw the grit and talent in the slightly undersized player and offered him a scholarship. He graduated with a degree in history, a journey he completed after battling through bouts with childhood dyslexia. Gibbs carried that flinty determination into his sports careers.

“After playing football, I know I’m physically tough, mentally tough, too,” Coy Gibbs said in 2002. “You take a big beating on and off the track in this sport. But I like challenges. As a kid, the funnest thing I ever did was being the ball boy for my dad. Now it’s driving a race car. What can beat that?”