Joe Gibbs is one of few people who have been inducted to multiple major sports hall of fames. He won three Super Bowl championships with Washington, which led to his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, before going on to win five NASCAR Cup Series championships as an owner. Gibbs was recently inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020.
While Gibbs' primary focus these days is NASCAR, he's still connected to his former NFL team. Gibbs spoke with coach Ron Rivera before he took the job in Washington and spoke directly to CBS Sports about the benching of Dwayne Haskins hours after the news came out.
At 79-years-old, Gibbs continues to own one of the top teams in NASCAR. His driver, Kyle Busch, is currently seeking a second-straight Cup title alongside fellow Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin, who just punched his ticket into the playoffs Round of 8 with a win at Talladega.
CBS Sports: You've made a winning combination between Denny Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart. Seven race wins on the season including most recently at Talladega. What do you make of this whole season you've had with the No. 11 team?
Gibbs: "I think it's a great story. Think about this, in 2015 Denny didn't want to race. Ha, and so you're kind of looking at that and you're saying oh my gosh and for him to come back the way he has and obviously pairing him with Chris Gabehart has been a huge deal too. I think Denny just personally in his life has matured. I think when you come look at him now, the confidence he has when he gets in the car, the way he talks to us. I think he feels like that he has a chance to win each and every weekend. This particular race, Talladega, was wild. There was so much happening at the end and Denny was kind of conservative for the entire race and had a chance at the end because he wasn't in one of the wrecks that we had, which were a bunch of them. So Denny to have seven wins right now it's a huge deal for us but it's also a huge deal for FedEx. As you know, our sport's different. Football, basketball and baseball you don't have to have a sponsor. Here, you have to have a sponsor and they're more than a sponsor they're a partner. They own that car, they're in the game, they're in the race for three and a half hours. So it's a huge deal for us and FedEx."
"Think about this, in 2015 Denny didn’t want to race."— Matt Mayer (@MatthewMayerCBS) October 7, 2020
Joe Gibbs says Denny Hamlin has matured over the years as a person and now has a level of confidence where he believes he has a chance to win each and every weekend. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/CyZMlu6S8d
CBS Sports: Joe Gibbs Racing has had some committed sponsors. We've also seen Kyle Busch with Mars for many years now. I understand you have a new initiative called Treat Town with Mars Wrigley. Talk to me about that.
Gibbs: "Yeah we're not going to cancel Halloween okay? COVID has made us cancel everything in the world. We're not cancelling Halloween. Mars Wrigley has put together a digital way for us to get our treats for Halloween and if we go to the treat town app, it's going to let you actually be able to digitally get our treats for Halloween. I think it's a fantastic promotion and it's a creative way for us to celebrate Halloween. We're excited about it. I appreciate Mars Wrigley, all they do here supporting us. That company, obviously Halloween is a huge deal for them. All of our young people, I have eight grandkids, they all have a device okay? It's different today. Every time I turn around and look at them they're looking at their device and not looking at me. So they can take the device and celebrate Halloween by going to the treat town app and I think it's going to be an exciting, creative way to experience a holiday."
CBS Sports: Kyle Busch has had a great relationship with Mars and always makes sure to give his sponsors love in interviews. However recently, Kyle has been showing frustration saying he'd be eliminated in the Round of 12 and then said he hates it when he's right after crashing at Talladega. As a coach who has dealt with a lot of different personalities, what's your take on Kyle?
Gibbs: "I think Kyle is one of the most competitive athletes I've been around. When he gets in the car, he's totally focused. This guy has won so much for us and for M&M's. They've had a great relationship. I think he also gets totally frustrated if things don't go well for him. He is so competitive that sometimes he'll say things, you're never quite sure so that makes us nervous sometimes, but I think from a competitive standpoint I've talked to him twice this week and we also had a competition meeting that he was in and I think he will go after this. He's got a huge hurdle, okay, and it's gonna have to be done here at the Roval but I think this is the guy that can win every single week when we go to a racetrack and it's been wild what's happened to him this year. The fact that we've had so many changes because of COVID, there's no practice, we go and just get in the car. I think all of those things have affected Kyle and the 18 team this year. Also, we can definitely say, you could never count him out. I think he knows what the challenge is this week it's going to be a huge hurdle with the wrecks he had last week, the final wreck he had at Talladega which put us in such a hole. We're 22 points down but I think this guy is capable of doing it. It's going to be exciting for us and for M&M's. If I was going to pick somebody that could do this, this guy can do it."
Joe Gibbs calls Kyle Busch "one of the most competitive athletes" he's been around and admits he gets nervous not knowing what Busch is going to say sometimes.— Matt Mayer (@MatthewMayerCBS) October 7, 2020
Gibbs blamed COVID-19 for the 18 team's struggles this year but believes they can turn it around at the Roval. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/YD0Q4rcOmH
CBS Sports: Some more news to get to. Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan recently bought a team to field Bubba Wallace as the driver. What do you make of that team and is Joe Gibbs Racing going to be involved as an alliance?
Gibbs: "I think first of all it's a fantastic deal for us and NASCAR and our sport to have Michael Jordan, an icon in sports. So many people respect him and what he's done. To have him coming into our sport, here's a guy, this guy doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do okay? And for him to say I want to do this, he kind of grew up here in and around racing and has always had an interest in it. We've seen him at the racetrack some. He's friends with Denny. They play golf together and it started with a conversation on the golf course. For him to say I want to get into our sport is a huge deal for us and Bubba as the driver. It's a huge deal from a diversity standpoint, I love that and I think it will also bring a lot of new fans to our sport. As I mentioned, everybody has got a device and our sport has made a huge effort from a digital and social media standpoint. We've got five people here working in the social-digital area for us on our race team right now. So I think this is a big part of our sport. I think for them to come into the sport, for he and Denny to team up, and to have Bubba, I think that's going to bring some real excitement the next year. I think we will probably be a part of that. We're still working through things but I think they'll wind up being in Toyota and Toyota of course is our OEM so we're excited about that whole deal."
CBS Sports: In terms of alliances, you've had a few over the years. Furniture Row won a championship and then shut down. After that you formed an alliance with Leavine Family Racing, who is set to shut down at the end of the season. It's easy to blame the mothership in Joe Gibbs Racing in these situations, but as the owner, what's your side of the story?
Gibbs: "I think each one of them is a little bit different and separate. You take the 78 and Barney (Visser) and those guys when they came to us I think they had two wins before they came with us. Then the period they were with us they won 16 times. They won a championship. The car went from being with very little sponsorship to being fully sponsored. I think there were some things that took place there with Barney from a standpoint he lost a sponsor and I think he evaluated what was going on in his life there and made a decision to step out. I think with Bob Leavine, when we got in an alliance with him I think that was an exciting thing for us. It was an exciting thing for Toyota and for Bob. So our alliance, we worked it up there but I think with COVID and everything that happened I think Bob will tell you that his company in Dallas, it's a construction company, and everything that had happened there caused him from a financial standpoint to say hey look he needs to concentrate on his business. So each one of them were different. I think what alliances do okay? I think alliances allow for a team to enter a sport or up their program. I know it helped us get into the sport. We originally had an alliance with Rick Hendrick and they supplied motors and some technology stuff for us that allowed us to get into the sport. I don't think we've been able to do that. I think it's a part of our sport where you can help teams get started and so I think it's a big part of our sport. We love our relationships. We're careful with them. I think certainly with Toyota and ourselves we kinda look at it and we have a number of people come to us at different times but we're very selective. I think in this case with Michael Jordan and Denny it's going to be a situation where you can help somebody get started. Sometimes it's a way to help people up their program."