By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ty Gibbs on Thursday declined to discuss the death of his father, which occurred just hours after the young NASCAR driver clinched the Xfinity Series championship last month.
Gibbs was asked about his grandfather, Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, telling the employees at Joe Gibbs Racing they all had to move forward, even as they mourn the sudden death of 49-year-old Coy Gibbs.
Coy Gibbs died in his sleep just hours after his 20-year-old son won the Xfinity Series title on Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway.
“For right now, I’m not going to touch on any other subject at all, so I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and I will go from there,” Ty Gibbs said before NASCAR’s annual awards ceremony.
The Gibbs family has made no public statements since confirming Coy Gibbs’ passing shortly before the NASCAR season finale. Ty Gibbs did not race in the Nov. 6 finale and had made just one public appearance before Thursday, courtside at a Charlotte Hornets game with his younger brother, a cousin and another driver.
Ty Gibbs was promoted to NASCAR’s top Cup series on Nov. 15, an expected announcement void of any celebration as JGR mourned the loss of Gibbs’ father. Ty Gibbs took the spot left when Kyle Busch left for Richard Childress Racing.
Joe Gibbs, the NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer, lost both his sons one month before their 50th birthdays. J.D. Gibbs also was 49 when he passed away in 2019 of a degenerative neurological disease, and Coy Gibbs was the NASCAR team’s vice chairman at the time of his death.
Ty Gibbs, who turned 20 in October, said he never thought about skipping NASCAR’s awards ceremony. That included picking up his championship ring that he wore to media appearances, along with a cap commemorating his Xfinity title.
“I got a little paranoid because it got tight on one finger and I pulled it off and it was, like, tight,” Ty Gibbs said of his new ring. “So I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to leave it on and not touch it.’ So I really enjoyed it. It’s cool. It’s definitely a different, I’ve never had a ring before, so it’s definitely really cool.”
Ty Gibbs also went to a Toyota event and tried some of Nashville’s hot chicken. He also talked about taking the No. 54 with him to his new Cup car, the same number he used the past two seasons while winning 11 of 51 races in the Xfinity Series and the championship in the season finale at Phoenix.
Gibbs will be moving up with Chris Gayle, his crew chief during this year’s championship season.
His first national series title ended a bumpy season for Ty Gibbs, who scrapped with other drivers, was fined by NASCAR, and then cost JGR driver Brandon Jones a spot in the championship finale by spinning him out of the lead on the final lap at Martinsville Speedway.
If Gibbs had simply stayed in second behind Jones, both JGR drivers would have made the championship race and Toyota would have had two entries. Joe Gibbs promised consequences would be coming for his grandson, but the team had to get through championship week first.
Then Coy Gibbs died at a Phoenix-area hotel the morning after the Xfinity Series season finale.
“Hopefully I can make the best of this whole situation next year,” Ty Gibbs said.
He said he’s also working hard to learn more about how his grandfather’s race team works.
“It’s my family’s business, and so we’ve been taking care of that,” Ty Gibbs said. “And there’s a lot of great people and we have a lot of great spotters, a lot of great drivers and a lot of great crew chiefs. So now it’s time to go and put it together and go do the best we can in 2023.”
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.