Monday, February 27, 2017

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Daytona 500 Winning Crew Chief, Tony Gibson

by Stacey Owens

New season. New points system. New rules package. Is everything new this year? Nope. The winning crew chief is an old man. Well, that's not exactly true, but Tony "Old Man" Gibson is thrilled about his win as crew chief in the Daytona 500.

He wasn't just excited about winning the series' most storied race, but it was an honor for him to win at his home track.

"It's insane. I grew up five miles from here. My mom retired from here. My dad raced here all of his life," Gibson said. "To come here -- and I've won it in the 500 before, but not as a crew chief. To come here and do this is amazing. I'm getting old, towards the end of my deal.
           
"It's nice to be able to get this done. It still hasn't really sunk in. Other than Stewart beating on me in '71 at Daytona 500, I didn't really realize we did. I just think everybody, especially Gene, Tony, Ford Motor Company, Doug Yates, Monster Energy, Haas Automation, everybody just back at the shop.  I'm just a small part of what goes on here.
           
"
I just happen to be the fortunate one that gets to sit up here. All my guys, most of them have been with me for over 13 years as a crew. We were fortunate enough to be with Dale Jr. for one of these things. To see those guys stick with me for so long and finally win it, it's truly amazing."
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Gibson was obviously emotional as the race ended.

"Like I said, this is where I grew up. I was born in Halifax Hospital across the street. Like I said, my mom retired from here. My dad raced all his life. He's had some great drivers drive his stuff.
           
"To come here and win the Daytona 500, anything I do, my dad, he worked two jobs. I had two other brothers that raced. Dad had to work night and day and everything he had to make sure we could race and have fun. So my mom and dad are the ones I thought about very first thing.
           
"Growing up, where I'm at today, my wife Beth, she's been my biggest supporter for the last 26 years, sticking with me when things are bad, I'm laid up in the hospital, whatever.
           
"All those emotions just clamp on you at one time. It takes a few minutes for it to sink in. It's pretty incredible," Gibson explained.

Unlike Kurt Busch, this win wasn't Gibson's first win at the track.

"It doesn't get any better than this. I've been fortunate enough to win it before," Gibson said. "To win it with this guy beside me right here, Gene and Tony Stewart, Smoke, those guys support us. It's just a different feel.
           
"In today's times to win, it's so competitive, so hard to win. Each time you win, it means more because it's harder and harder to win each time.
           
"You're only as good as your last win.  So this means more to me than anything I've done. I won the championship in 1992 with Alan Kulwicki, but this here is huge."

Yes, a win in the Daytona 500 is definitely huge and sets a tone for the rest of the season. Welcome to 2017. It's going to be a great year!

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 Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.

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