Denny Hamlin’s Second Daytona 500 Win Celebration Follows Gibbs Team Tradition

Denny Hamlin celebrates following his victory in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – Denny Hamlin was still grinning Monday morning at Daytona International Speedway, 12 hours after hoisting his second Daytona 500 trophy in victory lane.

He met with the media, signed special pieces of speedway memorabilia and received the traditional Daytona 500 winner’s leather jacket during the annual champion’s breakfast.

There was a distinctively different vibe from last February, when 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon was sharing stories of his victory tattoo and an all-night party.

Truth be told, Dillon’s rowdy celebration was more similar to Hamlin’s first Daytona 500 win in 2016, but this time around Hamlin has two young daughters, is nursing a cold and feeling all kinds of sentimental having won the sport’s biggest race only weeks after his close friend and Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs passed away.

Instead of burning the midnight oil, Hamlin joined his team owner – J.D.’s father Joe Gibbs – at a nearby Steak ‘n Shake for a more wholesome and fitting nod to his late friend. It’s a team tradition that took on significant meaning this year.

“We were running the streets,’’ Gibbs said jokingly of the celebration.

“Actually, this tradition started with our very first win [Dale Jarrett, 1993], we got lost in Daytona 500 winner’s circle, wound up grabbing the trophy, didn’t know you go to the media center, pulled out on the road from the track and went north and J.D. and (his other son) Coy said, ‘Hey dad, we’re starved,’ so I said ‘Steak ‘n Shake.’

“So we spent 30 minutes in the parking lot with fans and it was awesome. So a tradition started. Last night we did the same. We wound up with our whole group and a bunch of fans too.’’

As for any victory tattoos?

Again, Gibbs, Hamlin, and his winning crew chief Chris Gabehart laughed out loud.

“I got one,’’ Gibbs joked about the tattoo.

“Not me,’’ said Hamlin, who did however, receive congratulatory calls from NBA legends Michael Jordan on Sunday night and Charles Barkley on Monday morning.

While both Gibbs and Hamlin were able to smile about the celebration and trophies Monday morning, they both remained insistent, however, the best part of the victory was the opportunity to remember and honor J.D. Gibbs, who battled a degenerative neurological disease.

Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota carried J.D.’s name and there was a moment of remembrance during Lap 11 of the Daytona 500.

The outcome – the victory and the happiness it produced – was a fantastic way to remember Gibbs, who was a positive, always-smiling presence in the NASCAR garage for years as a driver and then executive on the JGR team. 

Winning was the expectation and Gibbs’ style of leadership certainly seemed to have worked the magic. The smiles, high fives and team celebrations this week are reminders of the J.D. Gibbs’ spirit that elevated the organization for years.

“The whole thing was just a special memory for me, and it’s one I’ll never forget, and it was the most important night of my occupational life,’’ Joe Gibbs said Sunday after the victory lane celebration.

It’s not only a sentimental accomplishment for the team, but also a strong signal of Hamlin’s competitiveness to come in 2019. The win assures him a position in the Playoffs this fall. 

First though, Hamlin heads out Monday night on the Daytona 500 victory tour. On Tuesday, he will appear on FS1’s “First Things First,” on Live! With Kelly and Ryan; on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take,’ and also at the New York Stock Exchange. He will make appearances on both The Weather Channel and CNN in Atlanta later in the week.

“There’s been a lot of one-time winners of big races, but certainly if you win a couple that’s a skill thing and if you put yourself in that position, certainly it’s validating for sure,’’ Hamlin said.

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Comments

  1. Help me out here.
    We had a great 500 party with Preece exceeding expectations but what I saw otherwise was just depressing.
    Correct me if I’m wrong. Three old guys Gibbs, Childress and Hendrick each with their own manufacturer affiliation and own stable of cars control pretty much everything. In fact they go back so far they controlled a good part of it when I actually cared about the Cup series.
    Is it good that there is so much conversation about the Fords or Toyota’s or Chevy’s working together? Doesn’t it make the driver seem like just a cog in the machine?
    There may be a couple exceptions but doesn’t it seem like most of these guys are like clones that it’s very hard to differentiate. No personalities, no characters, no color…………just sameness.
    After the big one the victims responses were clonish. It sounded like they were given a memo on what to say if it happened. Don’t whine. Say it’s the result of close racing and taking your shot at the end. Did I say don’t whine?
    Clearly I’m biased but I don’t think they gave the appropriate amount of attention to what Preece was accomplishing on the track until they had too at the end. They seemed locked into the elite teams and manufacturing angle at the expense of individual accomplishments.
    Waltrip was almost dismissive of Preece saying he was trying but didn’t have the power to push Logano. All true but how about the fact he was at the front and in a position to try to push him.
    I need a reality check.

  2. Look, if there weren’t those last several yellows, Ryan would have finished something like 20th. That’s where he was before all those yellows, maybe the high teens. He made it up to the top 5 through attrition and driving through those wrecks. He showed some incredible chutzpah, and was incredibly lucky. He took the shot and made it. If he continues to pull those things off, he’ll get the attention and respect from DW and other announcers. Jeff Gordon mentioned Preece and what he was achieving. Hopefully JTG Daugherty will get the same engines that Hendricks uses in their own cars some day.

    Hendricks, Gibbs and Childress are the big three, they pretty much own the show. They provide engines, chassis and more too many other teams. You know they aren’t going to be letting any other team get the really good engines, they keep those for themselves.

  3. Crazy in NY says:

    We ( as in north east racing fans especially Modifieds ) have a natural affinity because one of our own was on the big stage at the big show. I was disappointed they didn’t get down to interview RP because in a sense he wasn’t supposed to be there ( in the top 3 contending I mean). Was he lucky or skilled to get thru that hell? Likely both. Like vets hitting a beachhead under siege while they’re comrades go down all around them yet some survive. The big one is almost a given anymore. Everybody knows it’s coming but when is the only question. It’s all just a show anymore. Like DW faining surprise at the mass carnage at the end ( like he wasn’t watching the racing all week down there). The only question is who…who is going survive this war..blah blah blah. Stay tuned while we cram some more commercials up your……. How convenient though they got “their story” on JD Gibbs. Scripted?
    I might be and old cynic ( old for sure) but NASCAR lost me a long time ago. I look in every Feb though looking for a ray of hope……done with Cup for the year ( that was quick). Good luck the rest of the way RP and hope to see him this year on my favorite short track. ( On his terms of course).

  4. sour grapes of the past says:

    ITS RACING! sometimes the fastest car does not win the race . are you belittling preece because if there were no wrecks he would have finished 20th. remember Earnhardt at talledega ? I am sure everyone said dales done no chance he will win . cup racing stinks, has for years. plate racing ,drive around for a couple hours and if your around at the end see where you are after the big one..or big ones and all the overtimes.. yup great racing for sure !!!! another talented new England guy in sub par equipment .same old story . stefanick with all his championships should have succeeded at the top levels but never got good equipment. still not in the hall of fame. Geoff bodine did well. remaining bodine brothers and spencer not so much. jeff fuller,ronnie b. loganos been in great equipment since he got his shot. sacks,steve park did well but too many wrecks.truex doing well now preece ..sure I forgot some ..

  5. “How convenient though they got “their story” on JD Gibbs. Scripted?”

    Kind of like the 3 winning last year on the 20th anniversary of Dale E. finally winning the Daytona 500?

    I try not to think like that, but…

  6. NASCAR is slowly turning towards a Formula 1 model. with “Team Orders”, especially on Superspeedways. I DESPISE single file racing, pack racing, whatever you want to call it. Hate stage racing, though I get the reason they implemented it. Just let them race, like the old days, and I would limit team cars to TWO, no more. And close the loopholes to create more. Have to say Racing at Stafford and I am sure at many other short tracks is so more entertaining, as well as more VALUE for the dollar. Won’t go back to a cup race. BORRRING

  7. Sharpie Fan says:

    I really hate the side-by-side “so you won’t miss any action” commercials when you see something happening but they can’t break away from the commercials to give you the full coverage. So you are held hostage there as you fast forward or mute through the commercials to watch what is happening and then they have to replay it when they come back from the break to “explain” what you saw while they were away. This was especially frustrating during the truck race.

  8. Dareal, REALLY? Ryan ran well all race long, flirting with the top 5 at several points in the race. He missed the big wreck and a few more and comes home 8th, and may have finished stronger if he hadn’t been blocked by Logano, ending up pushing him. The kid did great brought the car home in one piece and now sits 12th in points. JTG spent some serious coin giving him better equipment than they’ve had in the past. Give Ryan some credit and let the season play out, he just may surprise all of us

  9. Rob p., geez, don’t have a cow man!!! Up until the last few laps, the race was pretty boring. It was a huge pack of cars, plate racing. I actually took a nap during the race, it was a big pack before and after the nap, just as if I missed nothing. Very little action or movement. Until that last flurry of yellow and red flags, Preece was around 20th place. Might have moved around a bit after pit stops, but that was just cycling. Preece was ~20th before all the crazy wrecking. The end of the race was like the last minute or so of a college basketball game. All the fouls and whistles, all the wrecking and yellow/red flags. If the end of the race would have gone caution-free, Preece would have finished about 20th. He wasn’t going to power up the middle and get in the mix with the Big Three powerhouse teams. It’ll be a while before other drivers will work with him, and trust him, in a draft on a super speedway.

    I’m a Preece fan, but I’m also pragmatic and objective. I’m not a loyal advocate.

  10. Had it on tape and can provide this sampler of positions for Preece during the race.
    Lap 28-35, Stage 1 , 14 to go-14, Lap 76-14, Stage 2, 14 to go-18, Stage 2 final lap-17, lap 129-23, lap 140-23, lap 154-21, lap 165-21,lap 178-25, lap 185-16, lap 188-15.
    Depending on pit stops he showed up 7th to mid 30’s. He was however running mid teens prior to the first big one. As near as I can tell he jumped from the low 20’s to mid teens in the final stage as the result of some fortunate smaller wrecks and good pit stops. He appeared to be competitive with the field as it stood approaching the final 10 laps and were there no major crashes seemed positioned for a mid teens finish which was my hope going in. I also hoped he would out perform his team mate which he did hands down.
    From what I understand they are using the news chassis package starting in Atlanta that some say may put more of a premium on driving savvy. Perhaps that and Hendrick power may land our guy in a more competitive position then we might have thought when the deal was announced.
    Fingers crossed.

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