When Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Wednesday that team president J.D. Gibbs would undergo treatment for "symptoms impacting areas of brain function," the NASCAR community came out in full support.
While JGR said J.D.’s trips to the track would be limited moving forward, less than a week after the announcement, his team members say Gibbs, the son of JGR founder Joe Gibbs, is in good spirits around the shop and remains an integral part of the organization.
"J.D.’s a huge part (of the team)," crew chief Jason Ratcliff told FOXSports.com Friday at Martinsville Speedway. "J.D. was the very first guy I talked to when I came over to Gibbs. First impressions are everything, so mine was really good about the Gibbs organization. He’s a great guy and still see him everyday at the shop. He still cuts up and has a good time.
"Everyone in that family makes themselves accessible to everyone in the shop. I think that’s the reason people really strive to work at Joe Gibbs Racing, because of that type of attitude."
The team’s newest driver, Carl Edwards agrees with his teammate’s crew chief.
"J.D.’s just been an awesome guy," said Edwards. "As a competitor all these years, he’s always been a great competitor of mine. Now working with him, he’s as good of a guy as he seems like. He’s always got something positive to say, never complains about anything. I just think a lot of J.D. I’m sure — in my opinion — I’m sure he’ll work through this and battle through this with a smile on his face and be an inspiration to all of us.
"I think everyone is just trying to understand exactly what’s going on," Edwards said of the mood at the shop. "I stopped by and talked to J.D. and it was business as usual."
Denny Hamlin has been with JGR since 2005, and has come to know J.D. well over the years. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota says he knew of J.D.’s condition for some time, but is confident he will overcome the setback.
"He’s obviously a very important part of the organization and how it’s run," Hamlin said of J.D., who served as the team leader when Hamlin joined the team and his father, Joe Gibbs, was still coaching in the National Football League in Washington. "It’s not like can’t still do those things. He’s still going to be at the shop doing some work and doing things, but obviously he’s got to overcome some obstacles."
As Edwards pointed out, Hamlin said J.D. is dealing with the situation well.
"He seems upbeat about it," Hamlin said. "I saw him last week at the race track and he seems fine. It’s not something he really harps on. Obviously, it’s something very serious and you’ve got to treat it seriously. They’ve got some of the best doctors in the world trying to help him and trying to figure out what’s going on."