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November 16, 2016

Dave Rogers

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, and thank you all for joining. The Championship Four field has been set, and NASCAR fans are anticipating a thrilling finish to the 2016 season at Homestead‑Miami Speedway this weekend. This morning we'll be joined by our Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship Four crew chiefs.
First we have Dave Rogers, crew chief for Carl Edwards and the No.19 ARRIS SURFboard Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. Dave, thanks for joining. You and Carl have made the Championship Four in your first year working together in the Sprint Cup Series. Talk about the strength of the team this year and working with a driver like Carl.
DAVE ROGERS: Well, I think the strength of our ARRIS Toyota Camry race team is the commitment to one another. This is just a great race team. I've had a lot of fun working with not only Carl but everyone on the road crew, everyone on the pit crew. Everyone watches each other's backs. It's been a lot of fun to work with these guys, and I think that's our ultimate strength.

Q. I was curious if you could talk a little bit about how maybe your experiences in 2005 maybe shaped and prepared you for this moment this weekend.
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, you know, there's lots of experiences, successes and failures that prepare you for this. You know, I've been at Gibbs for 18 years. I've seen Bobby win a championship and part of championship teams with Zippy and Tony. Last year we watched Adam and Kyle win it, so there's a handful of championships that I've witnessed.
This is obviously the first time that I've gone to Homestead personally as a crew chief prepared to race for the championship, but there's a winning pedigree here at JGR and everyone's open‑notebook policy has prepared me well for this weekend.

Q. I was talking to Carl and he feels like both you and him really appreciate the opportunity because of what you both have been through. Would you agree with that?
DAVE ROGERS: Yes, certainly. We've both been in situations where we've come up short, and we know what it's like to lose. Now we want to go down there and try to figure out how to win it. You know, like I said in the opening statement, one of the greatest strengths of this team is the commitment to one another and trying to put everything on the line for each other, and I know Carl was disappointed last year that he fell short. The 11 was disappointed last year that we fell short, but now we're teamed up together, our first year together, we're going down there with the option to win it, and we're just excited about it.

Q. We learned earlier this year just how close Gibbs and Toyota crew chiefs, how they work together, especially even communicating during a race about strategy. I just want to know what's that like this week working with Adam Stevens, and what will it be like Sunday, and how tough is that knowing what's on the line?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, it's a great question. You know, it's something we talked about all year. We do, we share everything here at Joe Gibbs Racing. It's an open‑notebook policy. We try to help each other, and we talked about it. The goal was to make sure that four Gibbs cars went to Homestead with a shot at winning the championship. It got narrowed down to two, but this is scenarios we talked about long before this race. How do we race. Once we get to that final race, how do we race, and our agreement all year was nothing changes.
The goal‑‑ we have two cars going down there. We have a 50 percent chance a championship comes back to JGR. That's the No.1 goal.
Adam, the 18 and the 19, we're going to battle as hard as we can to win, but we're going to do it the same way we have all year. We're going to help each other. We're going to try to settle it on the racetrack, but the main goal is that the championship comes back to JGR.
Open notebook policy. This week has been fun. Adam and I spent more time this week working on stuff than we have all year, just making sure that we're dotting I's, crossing T's and bringing the best two cars down there that we possibly can.

Q. Of all the Chase drivers, Carl has the most success of anyone at Homestead‑Miami Speedway. Granted, most of that success came during his time with Roush Fenway Racing, but given the success he's had at Homestead, does that give you any confidence that you guys will have a great run and possibly a third chance at the title this weekend?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, absolutely. You know, history is yesterday. You know, we have to go down there this weekend and perform on Sunday, but yeah, if you look back, Carl has a great history at Homestead, but also we had two strong runs at Texas, which is kind of similar to Homestead. The tracks are worn out, grip goes away. It's the same tire combination. So that coupled with Carl's experience in the past gives us a lot of optimism going to Homestead.
I think our fans are in for a real exciting race. You're going to see a lot of lap time degradation. You're going to see the handling go away. You're going to see a lot of loose race cars, and that plays right into Carl's strength. He is great at managing tires. He's great at driving a loose race car, and we've had some success with this tire combination. We're really optimistic going down to Homestead.

Q. Could you just go over briefly the histories of the two cars you are bringing this weekend to Homestead, and secondly, you talked about the tire degradation and the success at these tracks that you run at with this tire. We've seen short pitting be a factor at Texas and even Chicago to some degree; how much of it could it be a factor this weekend or how much is it a part of your playbook as an option or a strong option to use this weekend?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, two great questions. Both teams, the 18 and the 19, will be bringing down brand new race cars. Hats off to everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. They've developed great race cars. They continue to build great race cars. We feel like every time we build a car, we just polish on it a little bit more, and every car is a little bit better than the last. We had a strong race car at Texas. That's going to be our backup car.
Our primary car will be brand new, we'll be debuting it for the first time at Homestead. Really pleased with the way it looks. It looks really sharp. I think we're going to have a good piece to race with.
Tire degradation is a big deal. You give up so much lap time over the long run. It's going to be tempting to short pit each other and get that initial green flag speed, but then you can get bit by a caution, so it's risk versus reward. You have to see where you are, what stage of the race you're in, what you're battling. If you're the leader and you have a five‑second lead, you're probably going to stay out and let a few people hit pit road first just to make sure everyone gets onto pit road cleanly. Once they do, then you'll come down pit road.
On the other hand, if you're running sixth and you've got to make up lap time, you're probably going to gamble and short pit as much as you can. Everyone is going to be playing the strategy. All these crew chiefs know the game. It's going to be a battle on all fronts at Homestead.

Q. I wanted to follow up with you a little bit, and I understand what you're saying about the team all working together, and I guess my question to you is does that get a lot harder to manage with the drivers when you're having a big Gibbs kumbaya with their mindset and trying to win the championship? How will that be like managing it?
DAVE ROGERS: I guess that's the beauty of it. Adam and I, neither one of us drive the race cars. That's settled on the racetrack, and that's the way we want it. That's the way our fans want it. They want to see the action on the racetrack. So Adam and I have been working really hard together to make sure that both of us have the best cars we know how. But ultimately, we would love‑‑ everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing would love to see Kyle and Carl duking it out at the end for the win. That would be a dream come true for this organization.
But they've got to settle it themselves. One of the things I love about working for Coach Gibbs is despite what some people may think, there is no team order. The team orders is to try to win. We're going to try to win. We're playing everything on top of the table. We're not trying to undermine each other. But at the end of the day, it is a competition. Our pit crew is going to try to beat their pit crew. Our driver is going to try to beat their driver. There may be some strategy in play where one of us tries to short pit each other. That's in the spirit of competition, but everything will be up front and on the table.
But I know that the entire 18 team is going to be trying to beat the 19, Kyle included, and they know the same from the 19. It's just a fun experience. It's a great atmosphere here at Joe Gibbs Racing. We look forward to going down there and racing each other really hard.

Q. You were the only one of the four title contenders to test at Homestead last month. In this era of open notebooks and sharing information, does it matter that you tested, or how does it help you that you tested as opposed to having had a teammate there and not being able to run on the track a month ago?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I think testing there is an advantage. We talked early in the season about which teams want to test where, and then we all agreed on which teams would test at each track. It was important for Carl and I to test at Homestead because we do think it's an advantage. It's absolutely open notebook. All of our teammates have every bit of data. I took my personal notes, what I thought, things I saw, when the clouds came in, when the rain showers came in, how I thought it affected the race car beyond what you see in the data, and I gave that to all of our crew chiefs, including Adam.
So they have that information. But it's the personal experience. It's living it. It's seeing the cars with your own eyes. It's seeing the expression in the driver's face. That live experience, there's something to it.
I think our teammates are going to get 85 to 90 percent by looking at our notes and looking at our data, but that extra 10 percent is just being there and living through it.
I do think it's a small advantage, but I do think that the tools that all the lead cars have, all the big organizations have, kind of deteriorate that advantage to some extent. All four cars are going to go down to Homestead extremely prepared, whether they tested or not.

Q. How do you convince your teammates to let you guys be the ones to go down to Homestead when you were picking tracks? I'm sure they all wanted the same one just as you did.
DAVE ROGERS: You know, a lot of it is just priority. Some teams, the way I looked at it was the schedule. Homestead was right before Talladega. Talladega, typically the preparation on the cars isn't as tough or as time‑consuming as maybe an intermediate for our team, so I thought the timing played into our schedule.
Our teammates, on the other hand, wanted to put more emphasis on Talladega. They wanted their road crews here at the shop so they could fluff and buff the Talladega cars and get all the speed out of them they could.
There's just a lot of factors involved like that. Denny Hamlin is a great short track racer. It makes sense for him to go and test the short track. He can bring a lot of valuable knowledge back to JGR.
Carl has been extremely strong at Homestead, so it makes sense for him to go down there and test and bring back a lot of knowledge. We just work through all those pros and cons. We work through the different priorities, and it just turned out we got the lucky straw there and we did draw the Homestead test. That plan was set in place probably early February, so it's been on the schedule all year long.
We didn't know who was going to be involved in the Championship Round. We hoped for all four, but we didn't know if it was going to be zero, one, two or four, so we made that decision early on, and we just carried it out.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us today, and good luck this weekend in Homestead‑Miami.

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