Denny Hamlin dedicates Daytona 500 victory to J.D. Gibbs

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — There he was, hanging out in the back. Victory Lane at the Daytona 500 is always an overcrowded place. There are hundreds of people packed into a fenced-in lot designed for dozens. A mob of sweaty, overstimulated corporate executives, NASCAR officials, media members, fans who managed to sneak in through a side gate and … oh yeah, Denny Hamlin and his team, the ones who’d just become Daytona 500 champions. On Sunday afternoon, as confetti cannons fired into the setting sun, the architect of that team had blended into the background. But the men that he’d assembled were having nothing of it. The call began to echo through the FedEx crew. “Where’s J.D.?!” The sea of black uniforms parted and they guided the man to the front of the stage to take his place with Hamlin, alongside the Harley J. Earl Trophy, just in time for the ceremonial champagne spray. The driver grabbed the man and hugged his neck. “We love you,…
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