NASCAR owner and Super Bowl winning coach Joe Gibbs and one of his three drivers, Denny Hamlin, visited Catawba County on Tuesday.
Both men played in the Dale Jarrett Shootout, which is part of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.
Gibbs owns three Super Bowl titles with the Washington Redskins (Super Bowls 17, 22, 26). His three Sprint Cup Series championships came with drivers Bobby LaBonte (2000) and Tony Stewart (2002, 2005).
Hamlin owns four of his 16 Sprint Cup Series victories at Pocono Raceway, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is racing this weekend.
He swept both Pocono races in 2006. He’s led a combined 498 laps of the 10 Pocono races he’s been in. In his last three races at Pocono, Hamlin owns three top-five finishes and two victories.
O-N-E Sports Editor Cody Dalton interviewed both men before Tuesday’s golf event.
Q: What’s it like being a part of the Dale Jarrett Shootout here in Catawba County?
Gibbs: Dale and the whole family have been real kind to us. Dale was willing to gamble and go with our team when we first started racing. He was our first driver, got us started and won the Daytona 500. That’s the only one we’ve won. He is a big part of our history. We appreciate him. We love being part of a charitable event and giving a chance to help out people. That’s really important.
Q: Joe Gibbs Racing is celebrating 20 years this season. What is the one moment that sticks out to you in those 20 years?
Gibbs: I don’t think I can pick one moment. Obviously, the three championships were great. Winning the Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett was great. When people ask me that, I always think back and there are so many things I’ve enjoyed over that long period of time. I don’t I can pick one. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this sport, have the chance to do things like this, have a chance to be in racing and fun to be a part of the NFL. I have been the luckiest guy in the world to live two dreams. Most people don’t get the chance to live one.
Q: You have three Sprint Cup Series titles and three Super Bowl rings. Which is harder to win — a Sprint Cup title or a Super Bowl?
Gibbs: I think they are both super hard and involve the best people in the world doing something. The second year I was a head coach, we were fortunate enough to win a Super Bowl. In racing, it took us nine years win a championships. Racing is so hard, but so is the NFL. I went back the second time to the NFL and couldn’t dent it. I would say they are both extremely hard.
Q: How do you feel about NASCAR’s simplified points system and the emphasis on wins?
Hamlin: It still pays on consistency. It is the guys that are in the top 10 that are consistent. There are guys outside the top 10 that have a bunch of wins. It’s really all about consistency. It hasn’t changed our mindset at all.
Q: You have 16 Cup Series victories. Which one of those sticks out to you?
Hamlin: My first win at the Bud Shootout was probably my biggest win. It was kind of my step into the Cup Series.
Q: Joe Gibbs Racing is celebrating 20 years this season. How does it feel to be a part of that legacy?
Hamlin: It has been awesome. I couldn’t be with a better organization. For me, Gibbs Racing is a family organization. The biggest part about it is Joe is at the shop working early in the morning and late at night doing everything to give us the best cars possible.
Q: What is the best advice Joe has given you?
Hamlin: You will have a job in this sport for a long time to come.