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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: CHAMPIONSHIP 4 MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 16, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to Championship 4 weekend at Homestead‑Miami Speedway for the start of our media availabilities here in the media center. Today we welcome back to the media center the Championship 4 owners. Here with us today, sitting from left to right, Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president, Penske Corporation and vice‑chairman of Team Penske; Joe Garone, president at Furniture Row Racing; Joe Gibbs, owner, Joe Gibbs Racing; and Tony Stewart, co‑owner of Stewart‑Haas Racing. Huge number of wins and championships up on this stage, and congrats to each of you for making the Championship 4.
One of you will add a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series trophy to your trophy case. Before we open it up for questions, gentlemen, we'll start with you, Walt, and go down the row. All of you have worked extremely hard to get here. What would it mean for each of you and your teams and your drivers to win a championship?
WALTER CZARNECKI: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate my colleagues up here with me. Again, you said it, we know how hard it takes or how much works it takes and how hard it is to get to this point, so I want to commend you and your teams for what you've done to be able to be here and compete. We're certainly looking forward to this weekend.
But every championship is different. As an organization Team Penske has had an interesting year. We got off to a bit of a slow start and had to play catch‑up probably the first two‑thirds of the season, but I think we've reached a point I won't say of parity but where our team has, again, worked diligently to gt our Shell‑Pennzoil Ford to a position where we think we can compete effectively for this championship.
Having said that, as I said in my opening remark, championships are always special. We don't take anything for granted. We take nothing for granted this weekend at all, and again, with the year we've had and with some of the struggles and challenges, I don't want to dwell on it, we lost one of our teammates here last week, and I think that's served to be an additional motivation for the team to a certain degree. But we're all professionals, and we're approaching it that way. We're coming into this weekend with our eyes wide open and ready to compete fully.
JOE GARONE: Yeah, I have to follow Walt as far as when you think about NASCAR as a whole and the level of competition, to have the teams that are competing in this Final Four, and several of them that didn't make it at this level, when you are in position to win a championship, and at Furniture Row we were lucky enough to get it done last year, you realize that you've beat the best there is in the world, and it truly is an honor to be in that position.
Especially important to us this year, facing Furniture Row being the last year as this group, to be able to be in this position again to compete, and just an opportunity to say thank you to all the teams, because it really does come with a lot of support to be able to be successful from not just a close group but really everybody in the garage, and our partner in Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD have been right there for us along with our sponsors. It would mean the world to win it again.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think for us, I think back for us, family‑wise, J.D. and Coy and our entire group. We're just thrilled to be a part of this, when you look at the table up here. I will say this, that our season and the way we go about getting here, really rewarded, I think‑‑ if you think about the cars up here, it's outstanding. The Penske group and Walt and everybody over there, Joe and Barney and the guy on my left here gave us 33 wins. He helped build our race team, by the way. So we owe a lot to Tony and certainly respect him right now.
So for us, it's a real thrill to be in this position. I get so excited to get a chance to go every Sunday and sometimes on Saturday and race against some of the best race teams in the world. And for us to be‑‑ we're thrilled to be a part of it.
For Kyle, Kyle really for us and Adam, when you get that right combination‑‑ I remember Tony and Zippy. When you get the right combination, it's really interesting to see what can happen, and it's very hard, like Walt said. It's hard to get that.
So for us today, obviously our sponsors with that race car, Interstate Batteries, norm got us going 27 years ago. He's still with us, a big part of our founding sponsor and still with us. And then we have Mars Corporation and everything that they've done. Everybody knows in this sport, you're not going to be up here‑‑ our sport is different. Football, basketball and baseball, you can play, go. You don't need a sponsor. But here they're our partners with us. So for Mars and Interstate, I'd just say a big thanks.
So for us a thrill, just excited about being here and having a chance to do this. It's so hard to get here.
TONY STEWART: I mean, to say it hasn't been an amazing year is an understatement. For our organization at least, it's the first time internally we've set so many different records, and not only set records this year but then broke our own records in the same season this year. I guess at the end of the year to have‑‑ for the whole company, I guess, to have all four drivers win races during the season, both Xfinity teams to win races in the season, you know, and get all four of our cars in the Round of Eight is something we're extremely proud of.
But it comes down to obviously this weekend, and correct me if I'm wrong, aren't we the same four that were here last year in this same position? And the fun part is I think what I've seen this year is just how hard our organizations push each other to make ourselves better, and that's the fun part about this sport is you never have a chance to rest. Even though it's the same four organizations as last year, I can promise you that all four of our groups are different than we were a year ago at this time.
It's really fun to see how far the sport has gone in a year and see how hard these teams push each other to be the best. That's what this is all about at the end of the day.
We're excited about being a part of this again this year and really proud of all four of our teams, but obviously we only have one in this final race, but extremely proud of the entire organization for what they've been able to accomplish this year.
Q. One for Tony and then one for Walt. Tony, I know that Tony Stewart racing, Haas F1, Stewart‑Haas are all kind of treated as separately, but there's sort of kinsmanship there. Donny's championship, Haas F1 having a banner year, you guys put four cars in the final eight. Is there sort of a shared spirit or culture that you guys try to cultivate between the three that bleeds over, that goes into all three?
TONY STEWART: Not necessarily, but I think when one organization of the three has success, then it kind of trickles down and bleeds over. I think that sense of pride bleeds over, and it kind of encourages the other two entities to do the same. They are three totally different entities, but at the same time, because of the connection between the three, we all take pride in the others' success. Like I said, I don't know that we really piggy back off each other when it comes to the work side of it, but for sure we all encourage each other and are proud of the other groups.
Q. And for Walt, you guys at Penske were very instrumental in having that car go over to Australia and start the conversation between NASCAR and Supercars. What is the latest on that, and how involved is Penske in kind of bridging the gap between Supercars and NASCAR, having that conversation?
WALTER CZARNECKI: Well, I think, first of all, having the Shell‑Pennzoil Ford go to Australia about a month ago ‑‑ in fact, that's a show car that we actually keep in our shop over there, so it ran publicly for the first time and created a whole lot of interest I'm sure you all saw.
As a point in fact, we are competing for another championship next weekend in Australia. It's the final race of the Supercars Series. I know we're here to talk about NASCAR, but Scott McLachlan, our driver, has got a 14‑point lead going into the last race, so that'll be our first driver championship.
But I want to touch on something a little bit earlier as it relates specifically to Stewart‑Haas. Having them come into the Ford camp was a huge plus for everybody who runs the Ford oval. I think Tony and Gene and everybody over there helped us elevate our game, and I think that under the corporate aegis of Ford Motor Company, they got us working together, and I think, frankly, it's one of the reasons we're here today. We're still competitors, and we make that very clear, but I think in some ways we might have been able to help SHR, and I think in some ways they've been able to assist us, so I want to make sure that we recognize that point, our friends in Dearborn for doing that.
Q. Tony, we all remember when you started this team and you left Coach. Did you see then or even think that it could be as great as where you are, Walt thanking you for getting them involved with that organization?
JOE GIBBS: Thanks for mentioning he dumped me.
TONY STEWART: That's what I was getting ready to say, too. Thanks for reminding him. He's getting older and he doesn't remember those things all the time until somebody brings it up, so thank you. I'm sure I'll get kicked under the table here. What were you asking again? I'm so fearful with him next to me now.
Q. Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that you would be where this organization is at this point? You went out and got a championship, Kevin got one a couple years ago, but from where y'all started and where y'all are and then to have Walt say those things that he just did, how does that make you feel to know that you are at the pinnacle?
TONY STEWART: It's very humbling. You know, obviously 10 years ago we were a two‑car team. We didn't know where we would end up 10 years later, and then we knew what we wanted to do and what our goal was, but still with that and the technology is so great and changes so fast in our sport, you can never predict where everything is going to end up. You have to do the work. You have to have the right people in place, and the rest of it has to work itself out.
It's very humbling. Obviously Roger Penske is probably the greatest car owner the world has ever seen in motorsports as far as all the spectrums of racing that they cover. That's a huge compliment. You know, and it's fun. It's been, like Walt mentioned, amazing to work with Ford. It has helped us take our program, obviously, to a level that it's never seen before, and the Penske side and the partnerships that we have together, I mean, we help raise the bar for ourselves amongst each other, and that transfers on the weekends to the rest of the competition.
We're proud of that partnership with Ford. We're proud of the working relationship we have with Penske and Roush and the other Ford organizations. Together we continue just to press each other harder to make our programs better.
Q. Joe, you guys when you started out in Denver, it was a roller coaster ride. Everybody is like, you can't do it from out there, it's not possible, you'll never compete. You get a win, and then you go on, you get another driver. We all know your history. But when that last truck loaded up this week, we all saw that, too. Hows that that roller coaster ride been and what's it like coming to a close this weekend for you guys?
JOE GARONE: Well, it's been brutal at the end here. But in the beginning, it was just so much fun to‑‑ every weekend‑‑ for Furniture Row, it was such a linear uphill climb starting from scratch, and there's a lot of pride that can be taken and satisfaction when you're building a company that's constantly growing and improving, and really it took several years before we actually had a dip, and then once we went through that dip, we were able to start climbing back up again. Better equipment, better people, year after year, more money gets poured into it, but the rewards come back better, and it just‑‑ it's an amazing story.
Along with that, you can also imagine how sick you feel when you see it coming to a close. You deal with those emotions and look at what life's next great adventure is going to be, and I think that's where we're at, but we want to close this out on top first if we can beat these guys.
Q. Tony, it seems there's a feeling in the garage that there's no car that's 100 percent legal kind of with the way the rules are and the measurements. Is it still the nature of the sport that there will always be a gray area, and does your team's penalty last week show that it is inherent there will always be a different between the rule book and the inspection process?
TONY STEWART: Well, racing in general, the sanctioning bodies have to write the rules. It's the team's job to interpret the rules and to try to take advantage of every gray area that's available to them. That's been a part of racing from the beginning of time, and it's not going to stop at the end of this season. It's part of the sport. It always will be part of the sport. And like we mentioned earlier, technology changes so fast, it's a very hard process for NASCAR to keep up with and stay ahead of.
My time in NASCAR they've had to react to most things, and it's very hard for them to get ahead of things. In the perfect world if they could get ahead of it, it would make all this a lot easier, but the teams are very creative, and it's very, very hard for the sanctioning body to anticipate what we're going to produce out of the rules.
With that, I don't know if they can ever get caught up to what the teams are doing, but they keep‑‑ and this year is a perfect example with the Hawkeye system. They keep coming out with better ways to tech the cars, but that's going to have to keep evolving to keep up with what these teams are doing.
It's just part of the process. It's part of the cat‑and‑mouse game that's always been a part of auto racing no matter whether it's NASCAR or any other sanctioning body.
Q. For all you guys, the sponsorship outlook, obviously we all remember a time when it was people knocking on your doors and that's obviously changed. Hendrick Motorsports just signed a full season deal which, as you know, is tough to do. Do you guys see that loosening up any at all in the sponsorship area industry‑wide?
WALTER CZARNECKI: To your point, it's very interesting because simultaneous with Ford Championship Weekend, we are conducting Team Penske our annual sponsor partner summit at the Intercontinental Hotel. I left there in morning, and we had a dinner last night. We have 100 people there, largest group we've ever had, representing 40 organizations. 45 of those people are with us for the very first time, and in the last 18 months, we've added 15 more. So there's an appetite out there as long as you're delivering the value. And as long as we can deliver the value as teams‑‑ now, the ground rules have changed a little bit. We understand that.
I know Roger loves to tell the story, maybe you've heard it, but he started as a driver, the Xerox Special, SCCA didn't allow any sponsorship on the cars. So he had DUPONT as a sponsor. He tells the story about putting DUPONT on the side of a car with a piece of tape, and by the third lap he said it would blow off and he was legal. So he complied with the rule.
Now here we are in a situation where as an organization we have 40 different companies that work with us as sponsor partners, business partners, strategic partners on very many different levels. I think it's indicative of the strength of the sport, that there's still an appetite to get involved.
Q. But the 78 did everything, right?
WALTER CZARNECKI: That's true, but companies are different and companies change, and you have to recognize that. So they have to understand what their individual priorities are. Theirs is a unique situation. I can't speak to it. But I think it's a little bit unique.
JOE GARONE: Yeah, it was absolutely unique. NASCAR is still a place to be for corporate sponsorship. There's no question about it. When you look at where else corporate sponsorship can be, it can't be in stick‑and‑ball sports, and we're still drawing enormous crowds. So it does have to fit the partner. It's got to fit their business model, and some of the sponsors have been around as many years as the one we lost, they flatten out, the economy changes, and sometimes they need to look for something different, and that was a unique situation.
JOE GIBBS: I would say that for us, NASCAR, Walt, to what he says there, it works. Let's take our situation. We're racing 11 cars in four different series, and the Lord has blessed us. We've got some of the biggest and best partners, and in the last year and a half, we've added nine new partner situations for us. NASCAR works, and I think the fact that we have a window of 38 weekends, and I think last year in 22 of those we were first or second, in TV and attention on the weekends. And everybody today wants content, and so that works. But I think also it's B‑to‑B. It's social and digital. It's become a huge deal. NASCAR works, and I can say it works for us, and I just want to say that I think that was a great point that Walt made.
We have a summit, also, over 18 months or so, and it's some of the biggest and best companies in America. And some of them, if you take a look at it, we've just signed up long‑term deals, and it's a thrill for us to be representing Toyota. Some of the biggest and best companies in the world are on our cars, and it's a thrill for us to see those companies, be in a relationship with them, and I think the companies that invest in NASCAR, we're seeing for us long‑term extensions in what we're doing.
I know that there's downturn. Everybody talks about things. But I would just say that there's so many positives to this, and I think NASCAR is working extremely hard. Our meeting yesterday, all the things that we're talking about doing, what's the ways we can strengthen our sport, some of the things we've done on the racetrack, segment racing and things that's got excitement going, I think this weekend.
So I think a lot of sports are going through a time where there's trouble and they've got to work hard. I think we're certainly working hard, and I know from Jim France on down, for us, to be quite truthful, it's exciting. And it's kind of exciting where we are.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, we've had new partners this year, as well. So there's obviously value there.
I think just in general how societies change and how people get‑‑ how they get their content these days has forced everybody to reevaluate how they advertise and market their products. You know, a lot of‑‑ we also have a sponsor conference, and to get our partners together and cross‑pollination of how they can work together but at the same time share ideas about what works and doesn't work for their companies is really valuable for us and our partners.
You know, the sport from that side at times can look like it's not healthy, but at the same time when you look at the new partners that come in, it's had a lot of sustainability for a long, long period of time. As we say, the way marketing changes and the way people advertise, as those change and those values and priorities change for these companies, that's why you see some companies decide to go a different direction, but then for new companies that come into the sport, it's something that works for their company. So it's not necessarily like it was in the old days where it just was the thing to do. Now organizations and companies are more strategic about where they spend their advertising dollars, and the fact that you see so many new partners that come into the series are proof that it's still a very, very valuable asset to corporate America.
Q. Tony, to hear you sit there and talk about sponsorships and all that, 10 years ago it was your last race for Joe, for the coach‑‑
TONY STEWART: You're going to bring that up again?
Q. I'm trying to spin a positive on it because you couldn't imagine yourself being able to talk about sponsorships and everything you do now from your owner's side. What did you learn from Coach? How big of a mentor was he to get you to where you are today, and do you rely on his advice to this day?
JOE GIBBS: Go ahead and lie.
TONY STEWART: I'm not going to lie. I learned it was a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. That was the biggest thing I learned.
I mean, you look at what Joe has done in professional sports, to be a part of the NFL, NHRA and NASCAR and be successful in three different areas, that's three totally different areas of professional sports, and when you're successful, there's obviously things that he's figured out and knows how to do right. So if you're in his organization and you're not smart enough to pay attention and learn from him, you're doing an injustice to yourself.
Pretty much everything I've done, and I hate saying it with him here because he already gets a big head sometimes, but it'll get bigger. I mean, everything from starting TSR to Eldora Speedway to being a part of Stewart‑Haas, I would not have done any of that if it wasn't from what I learned being a part of Joe's organization and being able to learn from Joe personally, and that's something that until the day I die, I'm very blessed and grateful that I got an opportunity to work with a great man like Joe.
Q. I was thinking the other day, and we get used to stuff, how when it was first announced that the championship would be four drivers going after it, he who finishes first wins the championship, and when I first heard it, my mouth was hanging open. I couldn't even believe it could play out like that, and now we're used to it. Tony, what did you first think of when you heard that, and now as a driver you're on the outside owning. What did you think about how that plays out, and also for Coach?
TONY STEWART: I mean, it's exciting, but at the same time it's terrifying. I mean, because you're putting all of your eggs in one basket on one event, and it's not four guys just racing each other. There's 36 other guys that have input on what can or can't happen during that race.
I still think what should happen is that the four drivers should run the first half of the race and then the owners should get in and run the last half of the race, and that's what I'm really going to be pushing hard for in the next couple months and see if we can get that adopted.
JOE GIBBS: I would say our playoff when that got announced, you could kind of look at that thing, and I said to myself, oh, my gosh, three race‑‑ it's like a little three‑race series and three‑race series, and we've seen what can happen. And so I'm so uptight getting here, and I think‑‑ I don't know how the other guys feel, but I'm a little more relaxed when you get here because that's a lot to go through.
And so I think you've got to admit, NASCAR, they have guts to step out and change, dramatically change, the way our champion is crowned. I do think that having‑‑ as we get to the 10‑race‑‑ the last 10 races, saying the first part of our competition, there's a winner, and I think that probably deserves a lot of credit, and I think that's what we're doing, and we get points there and everything, so I don't know how the other guys feel. But I think that's really good, and then we start our playoffs, and I think for the fans, I think it's certainly very exciting.
But I admire NASCAR taking that step. I will say that. But it puts some tension out there. I'll promise you that.
Q. As finances have been a key issue this year, are your organizations willing to have some sort of spending limitations implemented, or is it a matter of it's NASCAR's responsibility to provide more revenue to help bridge the gap on your sponsorships?
TONY STEWART: I'll start with the easy part. I spend Gene's money, so I don't have a problem either way. These guys gotta worry about a different deal.
WALTER CZARNECKI: I don't think to answer your question from our standpoint, I don't think it's incumbent on NASCAR to help fund our organizations. They provide us a venue. They provide us so many other things to give us this opportunity.
In terms of spending caps, there's a lot of discussion about should there be one, should there not be one. There's a lot of work that has to be done on how you structure something like that for this sport. This is not the NFL. This is not the NHL, not major league baseball. There are so many other‑‑ in my view, so many other moving parts that need to be addressed.
Now, could there be a cap on how much you spend for spindles or something? I suppose. But there's a long way to go before we get to that point, I think.
JOE GIBBS: I think for our sport, NASCAR and all of us, our meeting yesterday, everything that takes place on that, everybody is working extremely hard. And what I've kind of found in pro sports, both in football and over here in racing, it changes roughly 30 percent a year. There's constant changes going all the time. It certainly has been that over here.
So what we're doing, and we're setting out the discussions yesterday, hey, how do we take money out of the sport as far as the race cars and how do we go about doing that, and there's a lot of different ideas, but it takes a period of time. And we're constantly, I think, in our sport adjusting things to make better racing and to make it a better financial picture for the owners and NASCAR and for the fans. And so it's very complicated, and it takes a lot of hard work, but I will say this: I think our teams are totally dedicated to working on all the new ideas, and part of it is what was brought up.
And so I think we're going to discuss and go after it hard, and I think everybody is committed and everybody thinks it's something we need to be‑‑ you can't push it off. We need to get on with it and make some good decisions here.
WALTER CZARNECKI: Just as a final point, I want to make sure you understand, a couple of years ago with the establishment of the charter systems, that our revenue streams as teams did increase, and I think it was a recognition on the part of NASCAR to help us there. So I want to make sure I make that clarification. So yeah, they have.
But in terms of coming and providing subsidies, I don't foresee that happening. I don't think that's something that they'd want to do or that we would want, frankly.
Q. Tony, one thing I feel like was present in your generation of drivers that I don't see as much today is that sometimes you guys will get out of the car and be like, man, I had so much fun racing that guy, and there would be a lot of smiles. It doesn't seem like the drivers are having as much fun today, or we don't see that. What has to happen within NASCAR to get the drivers back to having fun again?
TONY STEWART: I don't know, I'm not really where they are when they get out of the car. So I really don't ‑‑ I'm not sure I'm really the guy that can answer the question because I'm not in the car anymore. I don't know what their feelings are. I don't even know how these cars drive, and I can promise you in just the short period of two years, I'm sure they drive quite a bit different than they did two years ago. I'm not sure I really know the answer to that.
I know when I was still driving, something I was really adamant about when I was talking to NASCAR was I wanted to feel like I was the variable that mattered the most in the car. I wanted to feel like if I did a better job than the guy beside me, not which engineer did a better job, that mattered a lot to me. I wanted to be the deciding factor at the end of the day, not an engineer that sits behind a computer.
Q. Joe, what's next for you? And how many employees did FRR have, and what is the percentage of placement or moving on or moving to other teams for everyone involved in that organization?
JOE GARONE: Yeah, we're‑‑ we had a total of about 63 employees, and I believe our last count we're about 22 from everybody having jobs. Barney was‑‑ he has a lot of companies, and he was open to‑‑ there was a lot of positions that were open, and a lot of the guys filled those positions. And these are championship caliber guys. They've been being entertained by a lot of teams right here at this table and some others. They're good guys to have on your team for sure.
As far as for myself, I'm not really sure right now. My heart wants to certainly stay with Barney. He's just unbelievable and just a crazy player. I love him, and I want to stay with him. On the other side, I need to race. It's in my blood and DNA, and I'm looking all over even in different series, and hopefully in the next month I'll be able to announce something that will lead me down a different path.
Q. Joe, are you still contemplating doing speed boats or something along those lines? Or were you just joking about that?
JOE GARONE: No, I'm doing a deep dive study into the offshore power boat series from a marketing side to analyze the value that those series can bring to sponsors, and if the profit and loss sheet looks like it's going to balance, I'm going to try and get the sponsorship put together to run an offshore power boat team.
Q. You mentioned earlier what it meant to have Stewart‑Haas come into the Ford camp. Pretty successful season when there are seven teams. Both your organizations got all your drivers into the playoffs. That's a hell of an accomplishment. Can you see where this could even get bigger going forward?
WALTER CZARNECKI: Do I see getting, what, Ford's involvement?
Q. Well, just the success of the seven Ford organizations.
WALTER CZARNECKI: You're absolutely right. It was quite an accomplishment. I think we had all seven of our‑‑ four, and three got in. I just see a continuum of this. I don't see any abatement on the part of Ford Motor Company. They're enjoying the success, and I think I'm correct that Ford is in a position to win their first manufacturer's championship in 14 years, and that's a big deal. That's a big deal to them. And so we want to be part of that.
But I don't see anything changing. I don't see it slowing down. I just see it getting more and more, increasing more and more.
Q. Coach, at the risk of setting up more punch lines, when you were dealing with Tony as a driver, in your mind did you ever see him making such a successful transition as he has as an owner?
JOE GIBBS: I actually, after he left us and went over there, all of a sudden his personality and everything changed, and I asked somebody, did he have a lobotomy or what, because we had a few uptight meetings in there.
No, I think that whole relationship and the time that we were together, I think it was interesting hearing Tony talk about modern day cars. Somebody asked a question about modern day‑‑ listen, if Tony Stewart got in one of these things, he'd be to the front of the field in no time.
I think with him, I think he recognizes teamwork. I think he certainly‑‑ the passion he has for this sport. I remember when I sat down and talked to him over at Indy, he had negotiated the entire contract sitting across the table with nobody helping him, no nothing, and we just went right down every list, and when we got to the end, he goes, now, I want to run some late model dirt stuff, and so that started our discussion, and I went, what are you talking about. I said, we're going to pay you this and everything. He goes, no, no, just late model dirt. And within six months he was in winged whatever.
But his passion for the sport, owning the racetrack, everything. I think with Tony‑‑ if there's somebody that can speak to every part of our sport, and now he's an owner and the stuff that they're doing with Haas and the partnership they've got with their manufacturer and everything, I think Tony understands teamwork and is a team player, and what they've put together over there is pretty awesome. It has been a great year for them, too.
Q. Joe, you mentioned earlier that the end of this roller coaster ride has been sort of brutal. I was wondering if you could take us back through the conversations with Martin letting him know what was going to be happening, and if you get a sense from him if that's fueling him in any way this weekend.
JOE GARONE: We've had some time to talk about it. It didn't happen real quick, so there was time for us to be talking about the potential for things to actually‑‑ to where we got in a situation where things would have to end. And we had some‑‑ you don't like talking a whole lot about that when you're having a season that could be leading to sitting at this table right here for a championship. So it's kind of a tricky path when you're having those conversations.
But Martin handled them really well. Pretty early on I'd say Barney realized we were going to probably be in a position where we weren't going to be able to continue, and he let Martin know and a couple of the guys, go ahead and start talking to some guys, and we don't want you to get hung out.
So it was‑‑ again, they're rough conversations. This group did not want to come to a halt. Barney, his intention was not to stop. In fact, he absolutely did not want to quit. We tried to put it together to where we could continue running, and we just weren't able to do it.
We worked together to get to this point, and Martin, man, I don't think it matters. He is hungry. He wants to get out here and close off his time with Furniture Row on a high, and I'm sure he's looking forward to his future, as well. This will be a great closure here at Homestead, I believe.
Q. Joe, what remains left for Furniture Row Racing as you wind this thing down like the next couple of weeks? Is there an official end date? Do you guys know what you're doing with the shop and that space? Do you know what you're doing with the cars, the equipment? Is everything being sold? Take us through the finality.
JOE GARONE: It's a bit of a moving target. I've had equipment for sale behind the scenes for about a month now just getting it out there, what we'd be moving and what we'd be keeping. For the most part, the majority of everything will be sold. The shop is going to stay intact at the moment. Barney is funny, you know, at one moment he wants to keep it like in a showroom condition with as many cars as we can keep so people can still come see and remember the history, and at other times he wants to change it into a different manufacturing plant. So I'm not exactly sure what our future is, but he has a real heart for this and wants to preserve for as long as he can, possibly for years with his kids this moment in history that he's gone through.
JOE GIBBS: If I could mention one thing, with Tony sitting here, I want to make sure that everybody here, J.D.'s input with our race team and everything that‑‑ when Tony was there, was so critical. Lots of times I get put in a position where I get up here and get to represent our company, but I just want to reflect on everything that J.D. has done, and the fact that he's not with us now, from being here this weekend.
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