Tony Gibson details health issues that surfaced earlier in the year

Tony Gibson is set to sit atop top of the pit box for Kevin Harvick; He’s already broken his personal record for the best season overall rank in NASCAR championship standings

Tony Gibson has served as a NASCAR crew chief since 1994. He’s taken the role with drivers like Kenny Wallace, Bill Elliott, John Andretti, Steve Park, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and now Kevin Harvick.

He’s better known as ‘old man’ because that’s what he calls himself and everyone else. Old man has sat on the pit box for 441 races, collecting 145 top-10’s along the way. But, after 15 years in the position, Gibson wanted a change.

In 2017, Tony Gibson served as the crew chief for that year’s Daytona 500, Kurt Busch. Heading into 2018, Gibson requested that the team pull him from the road.

Gibson was placed in the shop. His job is to make sure all four teams are competitive. He’s created an environment where all four teams operated as one large team instead of four individual operations.

It worked as Stewart-Haas Racing has collected 11 wins so far in 2018. That’s nearly twice as many as their previous best season in 2014 where they collected 6 wins.

On July 6th, 2018 Tony Gibson suffered from a blood clot in his brain. He over a month off, coming back to work on August 20th, 2018.

Tony "old man" Gibson at ISM Raceway with Kevin Harvick
Tony “old man” Gibson at ISM Raceway with Kevin Harvick

Tony Gibson details his former health issues

“I was actually just driving home from work. I just could not get my brain to function with my hands and my feet,” Gibson recalls when the issues struck back in July.

“I could not drive any further. I knew something was wrong, just wasn’t sure. I ended up going to the emergency room. Then, they put me in for observation that night.”

“About one-o-clock in the morning they came back. They had done several scans and told me I had a blood clot in my vestibular artery. That started the whole process.”

Gibson spent the next week in the hospital. He eventually went home for one day but went right back.

“As the blood clot started to dissolve it caused a mini-stroke in my optical nerve system, in my left side. Which caused me to lose 85% of my hearing in my left ear. And I lost most of the function of my left eye.”

“I was in and out of the hospital for about three weeks. I’d be home for a day, back in for four days. I was quite a deal. I was in Lake Forrest for awhile doing therapy to get everything back working right.”

“Actually, I have a neurologist appointment on Friday. But, I’m unfortunately not going to be able to make that one.”

“I’m on a lot of medicine for blood thinners, blood clots and things that I have to take everyday, twice a day. But, I’m managing it. It’s just part of life.”

“I was very lucky and I don’t take that for granted. There’s a lot of people, way worse than me. It’s just something I’ll overcome and I’ll get used to it.”

PHOENIX, AZ – NOVEMBER 11: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, pits after having a tire deflate during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on November 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tony Gibson returns as crew chief

Earlier in the year, Gibson filled in as crew chief for for Aric Almirola at Bristol Motor Speedway. At that time, Johnny Klausmeier was attending with family as they welcomed a new child into the world.

After Texas Motor Speedway, crew chief Rodney Childress was suspended. The team was found in violation of the rear spoiler rule.

The modifications skewed the rear spoiler 200-300 thousandths of an inch to the right. Childress was suspended for the remainder of the season and fined $75,000.

The team asked Tony Gibson to assume the role of crew chief following the event in early November.

“I wasn’t 100% sure. I told Rodney and Zipadelli that I had to call my doctors and make sure that I could fly. They all released me to go and fly.”

Related: Greg Zipadelli says no NASCAR race car in the garage is 100% legal to the NASCAR rule book

“They said I’m safer than anybody on the plane as far as blood clots, with the medicine that I’m on. Other than having to get up and walk around on the plane, they were pretty satisfied with me doing it.”

“If at all possible, I was going. There was no way I was going to let those guys down. I would do it for any of these guys.”


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Tony Gibson | Kevin Harvick | Stewart-Haas Racing | ISM Raceway | Texas Motor Speedway | NASCAR