For years, Joe Gibbs was known as the Super Bowl-winning NFL Hall of Fame coach of the Washington Redskins. But shortly before he retired from football for the first time in 1992, Gibbs formed Joe Gibbs Racing, a NASCAR-based team in the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) division. His #18 car was sponsored by Interstate Batteries, and driven by Dale Jarrett from 1992 to 1994. Over the years, Gibbs would add two more Cup teams, three NHRA Drag Racing teams, additional cars in other NASCAR series, and six championships to his racing resume. The current team of drivers in the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas consists of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano.
Hamlin began racing at age seven; at age 15, he won the World Karting Association’s manufacturer’s cup. He signed on as a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2004, running his first NASCAR race in the Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) at year’s end, qualifying 27th and finishing eighth. He made his Cup debut in 2005 in the #11 FedEx car, replacing Jason Leffler; in 2006 he ran the Cup and Busch Series full-time, taking Cup Series Rookie of the Year.
Busch’s career has been full of controversy and accolades alike. At age 16, in 2001, Busch started six Craftsman Truck Series (now Camping World Truck Series) races for Roush Racing. He was ejected at California Speedway by CART officials that year, because Marlboro was sponsoring the weekend (the Truck race was in conjunction with a CART race) and people under 18 were prohibited from participating in events sponsored by tobacco companies under the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998. Shortly thereafter, NASCAR imposed a minimum age of 18 starting in 2002 (rules were changed for some series in 2007). He drove for Hendrick Motorsports from 2003 to 2007 in the ARCA Re/Max Series, the Busch Series (2004 Rookie of the Year), and the Cup Series (2005 Rookie of the Year). Busch joined Gibbs in 2008, driving the #18 M&Ms Toyota in the Cup Series as well as co-driving the #20 in the Busch Series. Through the years, Busch has had on-track run-ins with Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and his older brother Kurt – a feud that may have lasted nearly two years.
Logano has the unenviable task of replacing Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot car in 2009. He began racing in 1996 at age six in Connecticut; by 1999, he had won six championships in the region. His family relocated to Georgia, where he went on to win three more championships by age 12. From there he raced in various Late Model divisions, USAR Hooters Pro Cup, and the NASCAR Camping World East Series Grand National division (2007 champion) – all by age 17. In 2008, at the age of 18, Logano made his Sprint Cup debut, becoming the youngest modern-era driver to compete in NASCAR’s top division.
Sources: “Joe Gibbs,” wikipedia.org
“Denny Hamlin,” wikipedia.org
“Kyle Busch,” wikipedia.org
“Joey Logano,” wikipedia.org