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Gibbs to be inducted in TMS Hall of Fame
Joe Gibbs, once considered a rival to many in the state of Texas as the Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Washington Redskins, will now be hailed by the Lone Star State as he will be the latest motorsports icon inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Gibbs, who owns three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships (2000, ’02, ’05) as owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, will be honored Friday, April 16, during the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala held in the Speedway Club’s Grand Ballroom at Texas Motor Speedway during the Samsung Mobile 500 race weekend.

Along with Gibbs’ induction, Texas Motor Speedway and Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter will help recognize other outstanding individuals in motorsports – renown Sprint Cup Series team owner and engine builder Robert Yates, Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch, four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, JTG-Daugherty Racing’s Marcos Ambrose, veteran motorsports reporter John Sturbin – as well as recognize the top moment from the 2009 season at “The Great American Speedway!” 

“It’s a great honor to have been selected into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame and I want to thank everyone with the Speedway and all those that voted for me to receive this recognition,” Gibbs said. “I’m not so sure everyone in Texas would agree with them judging by some of the reactions I used to get on the sidelines with the Redskins. But in all seriousness, I have always felt that Texas has some of the best and most passionate fans in the country and certainly their support of the NASCAR community has been outstanding. Any success we have had at TMS should really be attributed to our drivers, crew chiefs and all the people here at Joe Gibbs Racing.”

Gibbs will become the 12th member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame, joining previous inductees A.J. Foyt (2003), Johnny Rutherford (2003), Terry Labonte (2004), Lee Shepherd (2004), Kenny Bernstein (2005), Jim Hall (2005), Eddie Hill (2006), Mark Martin (2007), Jim McElreath (2007), Bobby Labonte (2008) and Bruton Smith (2008).
With his induction, Gibbs becomes the first Sprint Cup Series team owner to earn a spot in the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. Gibbs has established one of the premier organizations in motorsports since opening the doors to Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992. He has won four championships in NASCAR competition (three Sprint Cup Series, one Nationwide Series), with his most recent coming last year as Busch was crowned Nationwide Series champion. Texas native and fellow Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Labonte guided the organization to its first Sprint Cup Series championship in 2000.

When it comes to Texas Motor Speedway, no owner has proven to be more dominate than Gibbs. As an owner in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, he has combined to amass five wins, 18 top-five finishes, 35 top-10 finishes and five poles at “The Great American Speedway!” In 2009, Gibbs joined Michael Gaughan as the only two car owners to earn four consecutive victories at Texas Motor Speedway, with Busch sweeping the Nationwide Series races at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008 and ’09.

Busch, Gibbs’ most dominate driver at Texas Motor Speedway, will be honored as this year’s Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year. Busch mastered the 1.5-mile speedway in 2009 as he earned his third and fourth consecutive victories in the Nationwide Series to join Brendan Gaughan as the only drivers to win four consecutive races in any major series at TMS.

Last November, Busch nearly became the first driver in NASCAR history to win three national series events on the same weekend. He captured his first career truck series victory at Texas Motor Speedway in the WinStar World Casino 350k and followed with a victory in the O’Reilly Challenge Nationwide Series race the following day. Busch came up two laps short in his bid for history as he ran out of fuel on Lap 332 of the 334-lap Dickies 500 Sprint Cup Series race, relinquishing his lead to older brother Kurt, who went on to victory.

Yates, veteran team owner of Robert Yates Racing and accomplished NASCAR engine builder, will be recognized as this year’s Bruton Smith Legend Award recipient. Yates established a dominant organization from 1989 to 2009. During that span, Yates earned 57 career Sprint Cup Series victories, including a pair at Texas Motor Speedway (2001, ’04). In 1999, Dale Jarrett led Yates to his lone NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Along with Jarrett, Yates’ stable of drivers included the likes of Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Ricky Rudd and Elliott Sadler.

Ambrose and Gordon will both receive the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award. Ambrose, in his second full season with JTG-Daugherty Racing, has continued to excel on the track. He finished 18th in the Sprint Cup Series points last year and earned a career-best second finish at Watkins Glen. Since making the jump from V8 Supercars in Australia to stock cars in 2006, Ambrose has climbed the NASCAR ranks starting in the Camping World Truck Series and moving up to the Nationwide Series before his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008. During that time, he tallied two victories in the Nationwide Series.

Gordon has established himself as one of the all-time greats in NASCAR, winning four Sprint Cup Series championships (1995, ’97, ’98, 2001) to go along with 82 career victories that rank him sixth on the all-time wins list. During the Samsung 500 in 2009, he earned that elusive first victory at Texas Motor Speedway in his 17th career appearance. His on-track success is only matched by what he has accomplished off it. Gordon has exemplified the ideals of sportsmanship through the development of the Jeff Gordon Foundation. He continues to make a difference in the lives of children facing critical illness, including the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital in Concord, N.C., and through his foundation in which he has raised nearly $10 million. 

The newest award, the Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award, will be awarded to Sturbin. He has covered motorsports for more than 35 years, most notably with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and currently for RacinToday.com. His work has been recognized by those in the industry as he received the prestigious Bloys Britt Award, as judged by The Associated Press, for a feature on Indy-car icon A.J. Foyt and his rehabilitation from devastating foot and leg injuries.

A new twist this year will allow fans to take part in the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony as they will vote on Texas Motor Speedway’s top moment from the 2009 season in the Fan Choice Award presented by 1310 The Ticket. Gordon’s first victory at Texas Motor Speedway; Helio Castroneves’ record-tying third career IndyCar Series win in June’s Bombardier Learjet 550k; and Jimmie Johnson’s early-lap wreck in the Dickies 500 that changed the complexion of the championship race at the time are the three moments being featured. Fans can vote at www.texasmotorspeedway.com to decide the winner and one lucky fan will have the opportunity to announce the winner and present the award during the festivities.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame, located in the outdoor atrium adjacent to The Speedway Club, is open year round and free to the public. The Hall of Fame atrium features pedestals of the inductees, including their career highlights. 

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala benefits Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter. The organization’s mission is to care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives. Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has distributed more than $6.7 million in grants to local children’s organizations in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties.

A VIP reception hosted by previous Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees will take place prior to the awards ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT on the ninth floor in the Grand Ballroom. The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will begin following the conclusion of the ARCA Racing Series Rattlesnake 150.
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