Crew chief Tony Gibson was born and raised in Daytona Beach, Fla., so it was especially meaningful for him to be on top of the pit box when Kurt Busch won Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Here’s a sampling of what Gibson, 52, told reporters and the Observer’s David Scott after the race.
Q. This must be extra special, coming in your home town?
“It’s insane. I grew up 5 miles from here. My mom retired from here. My dad raced here all of his life. To come here – and I’ve won it in the 500 before [as a team member with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.], but not as a crew chief. To come here and do this is amazing. I’m getting old, towards the end of my deal.
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.”
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Q. How does this compare to other big victories and championships?
“It doesn’t get any better than this. I’ve been fortunate enough to win it before. To win it with [Busch] beside me right here, co-owners Gene [Haas] and Tony Stewart. 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.”
I just keep breaking down like an old car, I guess.
Q. You’ve had issues with your appendix, kidney stones and other health problems recently. How have they affected you?
“I don’t know what’s going on with me, to be honest with you. I just keep breaking down like an old car, I guess. I told Zippy [Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli] the other day, ‘Man, we’re getting way too old for this.’ My appendix last year and I have kidney stones all the time and now it’s my gall bladder. I had the flu at the same time my gall bladder went bad. I was finally in the hospital and I told the guy, ‘Look if there’s anything else in there that I don’t need, go on ahead and get it out now.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’ve got the spleen thing, but you kind of need it.’ I was like, ‘Well, OK, if it’s 50-50 then leave it in. I’ll roll the dice.’
“Kidney stones, I’m going to have the rest of my life. I can’t get away from them, but my wife, Beth, she’s right there with me, either she’s in the hospital – we’ve got a room over there we keep all the time. They just keep it open for us. I have no idea. It would be different if I drank a lot and it was self-inflicted, but I’ve only done that a couple times that it’s been self-inflicted out of work.”