NASCAR Cup: Denny Hamlin honors J.D. Gibbs
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
By AMANDA VINCENT
Defending Daytona 500 winner and Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Denny Hamlin, his honoring J.D. Gibbs, son of car owner Joe Gibbs, on his No. 11 Toyota for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, beginning with Daytona Speedweeks, including Saturday night’s Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition race and the Feb. 26 Daytona 500 official season-opener. The name above Hamlin’s driver-side window will be J.D. Hamlin, instead of the usual Denny Hamlin. It just so happens, Hamlin’s first and middle initials are J.D., too.
“It’s very tough to figure out what is the right thing to do to pay tribute to J.D.,” Hamlin said. “That car is No. 11 for a reason. Although people always think it’s that number because it always has been throughout my career, that was J.D.’s number, his college number, when he played football.”
J.D. Gibbs previously handled the day-to-day duties of operating JGR, but has had to step back from those duties to battle health symptoms that affect his brain function. Gibbs is credited with persuading his father to hire Hamlin to drive one of his race cars.
“It’s a very special thing for him, and it’s always been his car,” Hamlin said. “He was there that very first time and made the call to sign me to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing, so I tried to do the best I could to pay tribute to him, as well, and his family. We’re going to leave it on for the year. I think it’s important to do that.”