Sarah Harbaugh: UM coaches' camp tour 'bittersweet'

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Jim and Sarah Harbaugh watch Sunday's FireKeepers 400 from Denny Hamlin's pix box at MIS.

Brooklyn – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a break from football camps to attend the FireKeepers Casino 400 Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway Sunday, watching from the No. 11 pit box of Denny Hamlin with car owner Joe Gibbs. Harbaugh was joined by his wife Sarah at the race.

Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1990s as head coach of the Washington Redskins, is the owner of the four-car team of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Hamlin. The Toyota team has won seven of the series’ 14 races.

Gibbs actually attended one of Harbaugh’s satellite camps Monday in Baltimore to watch his grandson, Jackson Gibbs, a quarterback at William Amos Hough High in North Carolina.

"We saw him (Gibbs) in Baltimore and he was racing here," said Harbaugh. "Technically, I invited myself. I knew the race was coming up. I’m a fan, who isn’t? Great seats. Sarah and I and Coach (Jedd) Fisch and Amber Fisch are really enjoying our day. It doesn’t get any better."

Harbaugh was co-owner of an IndyCar team in past years, Panther Racing, and actually drove the pace car, a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a few years ago to lead the drivers to the green flag at the Indianapolis 500 in 2013.

“I had Sam Hornish, J.R. Hildebrand, Scott Goodyear – had some great drivers," said Harbaugh of his ownership of Panther Racing. "This is really enjoyable, just soaking it in and couldn’t have a better Michigan day than today."

Michigan’s traveling men on board with Harbaugh’s mission

Harbaugh said he admires Gibbs’ leadership skills.

“Just spending the morning with him here – he runs a very tight ship and he’s a tremendous leader,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh also said he has a tremendous amount of respect for the drivers.

“The reflexes, hand-eye coordination, stamina and grit – I have respect of the highest level for them,” said Harbaugh.

Sarah was enjoying her time at the track, as well.

“I’m so glad that we made it out today,” Sarah said. “It’s such an awesome event meeting Joe Gibbs and he’s taken such good care of us today. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. I didn’t want to pass it up and (Jim) doesn’t pass anything up, obviously.”

Sarah called Jim’s aggressive satellite camp schedule this year “a little bittersweet.”

“It’s exciting in the sense he’s able to touch more people with football that otherwise might not be able to do a Michigan camp,” Sarah said. “The bitter part is they’re gone a little bit more, but they’ll get five weeks off in July, so I look forward to that. He will take that time off. He did last year. They’re worn out.”

Jim Harbaugh talks to Joe Gibbs before the FireKeepers Casino 400 Sunday at MIS.