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Dale Earnhardt Jr. before race

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Has Emotional Conversation About Ty Gibbs Losing His Father, How He Can Relate, and His Plans to Dramatically Change How He Treats the Driver Going Forward

Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed his emotional response after the news of Coy Gibbs' death, how he can relate to Ty's situation from his own experience, and his plans to dramatically change how he treats the 2022 Xfinity Series champion in the future.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just another media member last week critical of Ty Gibbs after his move at Martinsville, dumping his teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap for the win. Then, on Saturday night, the NASCAR Hall of Famer wasn’t pleased watching the Joe Gibbs Racing driver beat his three JR Motorsports drivers to win the Xfinity Series championship.

On Sunday morning, when news broke that Coy Gibbs had died in his sleep just hours after he had celebrated the happiest moment in his son’s life, Earnhardt was in complete shock. This week Junior candidly talked about the raw emotions he had experienced since the tragic news, including how he could relate to Ty better than most, having been through a similar experience with his father. And he also interestingly revealed his personal plan in dealing with the 20-year-old and how he thinks the rest of the industry will react with the driver in the future. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. critical of Ty Gibbs after Martinsville

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just as bothered by Ty Gibbs’ move at Martinsville on Brandon Jones as everyone else. He made that clear during last week’s episode of the Dale Jr. Download and discussed why the young driver’s pattern of missteps this season has become a regular occurrence. 

“I think there needs to be a small adjustment or a big adjustment on how they are internally communicating with Ty because it felt like he got out (of his car) thinking I did what they wanted me to do,” Earnhardt said. “Look how happy they’re going to be. I did from what I’ve been listening and hearing over the past several weeks or several months that I’m going to get some fist pumps from my guys. You see the guys fist-pumping him from the crew across pit wall? That’s affirmation and this was a good thing. They’re not mad. They’re not ashamed. 

“Will he get the real talk from Coy and Joe after this scenario or will he get more, ‘Hey man, we’re going to work through this. This is part of it. This is part of the process.'”

Earnhardt revisits his criticism of Gibbs after Coy’s death

Dale Earnhardt Jr. before race
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on camera prior to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff South Point 400, on October 16, 2022, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. | Photo by Christopher Trim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Earnhardt was in agreement with everyone else that Gibbs had made repeated miscalculations in judgment and no one within the JGR organization was holding him accountable. Unfortunately, the two-time Daytona 500 winner had the same feelings as the rest of the NASCAR community after learning of Coy Gibbs death on Sunday morning, hours before the Cup Series Championship 4 race in Phoenix.

“We wake up in the morning to the news that Coy Gibbs passed away. Everybody was floored by that news,” Earnhardt said. “A lot of us had been really really hard on Ty Gibbs over the week. There’s this debate of — hey man, if you’re here and you’re racing in this industry, you’re a grown man, you can handle everything coming at you. If the media’s got an opinion, you got to take it. You don’t get a pass because you’re 19 or 18 or whatever. If you’re in the big boy league, you take it just like everybody else.

“So there was this opinion about what was going on with Ty and when we go to the media day on Wednesday, it continued. A couple of hours into the media day and I was thinking, ‘I kind of feel sorry for the guy.’ I think he’s picking up on what we’re all putting down.” 

Admits being emotional, opens up about his own experience after his dad’s death, and reveals his plan going forward 


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Admits Frustration After His Drivers Failed to Race Ty Gibbs Aggressively at Phoenix, and His Mixed Messages Are a Big Reason Why   

Earnhardt, who stood and talked with Joe Gibbs after the Xfinity Series championship race congratulating him on Ty winning the title, said the news of Coy’s death hit him particularly hard for understandable reasons.

“It was hard and it has, to be honest; it has screwed me up the past 48 hours just thinking about how similar we are in age. That’s a reality check for anybody that’s around that 50-year mark. Were we too hard on Ty? Where is he today? What is he doing right this minute? Who’s with him? How does he feel? It was a really hard thing to believe was real.”

Several minutes later, Earnhardt opened up about what he went through after his dad died in the 2001 Daytona 500

“With Ty Gibbs, I just worry about him obviously having lost his dad at such a young age. He’s under such a focus right now because of his on-track racing incidents and so forth and his season. He’s a champion,” he said. “There will be, I assume, more news at some point about an announcement of his future next year, whether he’s going Cup racing or staying in the Xfinity Series. 

“I guess my point is he’s got a lot on his plate and he has this massive tragedy and loss. And so, for me, I’m wiping the slate clean with Ty. I’m going to give him all the grace I can imagine. I was given the same sort of open canvas when I lost my dad. I’m not going to worry about what he says, how he talks, words he uses, what he does on the track. I’m going to let him do what he wants to do. I’m talking for a while I’m not going to be critical and judgmental of anything going on with him. 

“And I’m hoping, like I’m sure a lot of people are, that there will be an opportunity to connect. I think one of the things that really helped me is Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Mike Helton. Obviously, when you lose somebody, your family, your friends, all of the people that you know and connect with and communicate with are there. They’re there and supportive. They’re there for a hug or a conversation or a cry or whatever it is. When guys that typically aren’t in that circle reached out to me, that made the most difference to me. To have Dale Jarrett comfort me, or Mark Martin or Bobby Labonte, Mike Helton, constantly asking if I was OK, asking me to accompany them to the race track or something. Just to be around anybody. To be around those guys especially that knew my father was so helpful.” 

By the sounds of it, Earnhardt plans on connecting with Gibbs at some point in the future. It’s hard to argue that there would be anyone better to do it. In addition to being similar in age to Coy, as Earnhardt mentioned, he’s been down the rough road Ty is beginning to walk on right now. He can be there for Gibbs with a shoulder to cry on, as a father might do, but also to offer him counsel in ways that only those who’ve experienced that type of tragedy can fully comprehend.

It’s an incredibly tough set of circumstances for the young Gibbs, but it feels like Junior is the perfect person to help shepherd him through.