Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gibbs Enjoying Journey Success Worth the Wait for NFL Coach Turned Team Owner

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gibbs Enjoying Journey Success Worth the Wait for NFL Coach Turned Team Owner

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The journey, not the destination, has been the driving force behind Joe Gibbs.

He won three Super Bowls as the head coach of the Washington Redskins, then walked away. The journey had become too routine, maybe even too easy.

Now he's one of the most successful car owners on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. His passion for organization and keen eye for talent worked in football, and it's working in stock cars.

Even though the opposition never changes, each race presents a new set of challenges because the playing field is always different. One week the NASCAR Winston Cup Series is at Alabama's fast 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, a raceway with five-story-tall turns and a racing groove wide enough for five cars. The next week the highoctane circus is at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway, a tract with flat corners and only one racing lane.

Maybe that's why Gibbs feels more at home at a race track than on football sidelines. As Gibbs learned while running a race team while still with the Redskins, the journey is forever changing.

"The decision to leave coaching was really independent of racing, but the fact I had already started a race team was a natural when I got out of football," Gibbs said. "I just made the dive into racing because that's where I wanted to be anyway. I'm still doing some things to make a living because it's hard to make a living in racing. You spend more money than you make."

Until this year.

Gibbs not only saw a lot of potential in Bobby Labonte as a driver, he saw even more in an untested driver named Tony Stewart. Gibbs signed Stewart away from the Indy Racing League. Gibbs figured Stewart's background as an open-wheeled racer would give him a different perspective in stock cars, a sport that seems to revitalize itself every five years with a new wave of talent. He was right.

A couple of weeks ago Stewart won at the Richmond International Raceway, a speedway located a little more than an hour away from Gibbs' old football digs with the Redskins.

The win made Stewart the first rookie winner since Davey Allison in 1987 -- and only the fourth driver in the sport's modern era that started in 1972 -- to win in his first year. …

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