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May 27, 2018

Joe Gibbs

Adam Stevens

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in the media center by our race‑winning owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Adam Stevens. To both of you guys, knowing how hard Kyle has worked to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, what does tonight's race mean to you guys?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think for the team, I just appreciate everybody that's a part of our family, the racing family, all the guys at the race shop. A lot of them don't get to come to the racetrack and experience this. I appreciate J.D., the leadership that we have with everybody there, and it's just a total family effort, and tonight it was a total team effort. I mean, Adam just did a great job calling things. Our pit crew was great. It's a team sport, as everybody knows, and I've got to tell you, Kyle is just‑‑ when he puts a helmet on on race day, I think he's one of those unusual people, and he has unusual talent, and to be able to do what he's done at the age he is just special. I appreciate the way he and Adam have teamed up in a relationship. We appreciate Toyota. Everybody in the background. When you think about M&M's, we know in our sport, you've got to have a great sponsor, and we have the Mars Corporation, which has been in the sport for a long, long time, a big part of the sport. We appreciate them so much. And we have Interstate Batteries, Norm Miller and Scott and everybody down there. So we're blessed to have great sponsors that are a big part of our sport, and they were in this race. They were on the car and in the race for four hours tonight. It was special and a great night for us.
Lord blessed us with a great group of people.
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, just for me, as a team here, we've been so close to getting Kyle a victory at Charlotte. I feel like we had the car to beat this race last year and got snookered on fuel mileage there, and today to come out in a dominant fashion and win all the stages from the pole and keep him out front and the pit crew to do such a good job and be able to keep up with the track and kind of close that gap maybe that we've been missing some speed here to some of our competitors, it felt really good. It's important for me to help Kyle accomplish his goals, and this was a big one for him, and makes the victory a little bit more sweeter.

Q. On pit road, it looked like, although I know you guys were excited, it looked like you were a little subdued by the time the race was over and it was time to celebrate. Is that because you knew how dominant you were and how the race played out or is it because this was something you were wanting for so long?
ADAM STEVENS: I really don't know how to do cartwheels or back flips. On the inside I was. But part of it is we were so good all day, you know, you're constantly thinking of how‑‑ what could go wrong or if the caution comes out how am I going to manage this pit strategy? A lot of times when you're that strong, it's more of a sense of a relief as it is celebration. It's more a sense of that. We'll do some celebrating later.

Q. Adam, a question for you, we always hear about the transition from day to night and the changes the track makes. Were you able to stay that close to it all night, or is it the fact that Kyle is a special enough talent that you can swing a little over the top to anticipate it and he can make the adjustments to live with it?
ADAM STEVENS: It was definitely both of those things. I think this weekend what made it a little bit different than some other 600‑mile races here were the clouds. We started green flag at 6:15, 6:20, and it was pretty cloudy. We didn't have the sun beating down on the racetrack all day with a major 30‑ or 35‑degree track temperature swing. We only saw eight‑ or ten‑degree difference, so that really lessened the transition into the evening. Made it more like the daytime I should say. On top of that, KB is one of the best if not the best of being able to put his car in different positions and find whatever grip is out there, and he's not scared to move off a line if it's not working for him anymore or just to do it to try something different so he knows what he's got when he has to, passing lap cars or racing somebody for the lead.
A lot of things played into our favor, and I don't think it hurt that he ran the Xfinity race, too, just getting some more laps with the PJ‑1 treatment and the upper grooves and knowing how many laps it takes for that to come in and how that changes with the life of the tire.

Q. For Coach, with Kyle becoming the first driver in the modern era to win at every active track, you've been at this and had quite a few drivers come through your stable. How big of an accomplishment from your eyes is it to see him check that box tonight?
JOE GIBBS: I think everybody in this sport and everybody that follows the support, and particularly you guys, I think everybody realizes how hard that is, and to be able to accomplish that, when you think about road racing at Watkins Glen, Michigan, Indy, all the different places we go and the different racetracks, I think everybody just around the sport really appreciates how hard that is. For him to do that, particularly Kyle is young, and for him to be able to get that done at this age I think is special. I think everybody around the sport really appreciates it.

Q. Coach Gibbs, we saw Erik Jones up there with Kyle Busch, particularly at the beginning and throughout the race, and if he hadn't had those circumstances go wrong, he may have been up there at the end, so how close do you think he is to getting that first win?
JOE GIBBS: I felt so sorry for him, and I went down and found him on pit road, and I'll tell you, that young guy is‑‑ I think he's like‑‑ we just think so much of him, Toyota, all of us that's worked with him. I think tonight he showed the talent he has, and I felt just‑‑ we had three very unusual things happen on pit road, and it just destroyed his night, and I hate it. He was up there, and I felt like he was very fast, and of course‑‑ in the last practice he was P1 in the last practice, and the good thing about it is we just feel like he's got a great future. All of us are devoted to getting all the things around him to help him, and so it was just an extremely tough night for him. I really felt bad for him.

Q. I know you're a guy who's paid to worry about everything until everything is all over, but were there any real worrisome moments for you out there today, or did you think‑‑ did you allow yourself to think, Kyle has got this?
ADAM STEVENS: No, that thought never, ever crosses your mind. You're just‑‑ anything can go wrong. Hang a lug nut on a pit stop, we can make a bad adjustment, we could hit pit road under green and the caution could come out immediately. There's plenty of ways to lose track position or even lose a lap when you don't deserve it. There's plenty of ways for me to screw it up. I've done my fair share of that, too. You never feel like it's in the bag until ‑‑ the first sense of relief you have is when you see the white flag. But until the checkered falls, it's never done.

Q. Joe, you've certainly been around football players. You said when Kyle puts on a helmet, he becomes a special driver, but what is he like? Can you explain it to us? What is he like? Does he become different? Does the intensity pick up?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, you see football players, and I've had some that are real easy during the week, jovial, and when they put the helmet on, it's big time. They're going for it. And those are the kind of guys you want.
I think Kyle has that. I don't know that I've ever seen him when it's race day to back off some. He's always after it. He's always aggressive. And he carries that emotion with him. So some people are just special when it comes to game day, and I think Kyle is one of those.
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, I guess for me, it's just a hundred percent focus and a hundred percent commitment to winning. Nothing makes him happy unless he's in Victory Lane. Doesn't settle for less in himself, and he doesn't settle for less in the people around him. I take comfort in that, personally. You know what you're going to get, and he's hard to beat.

Q. You mentioned earlier about worrisome moments that can happen at any time in a race. Was one of those happening late when Kyle had a six‑second lead I believe on second place and then you see Martin Truex coming down, trimming that lead down to three? Was that one of those worrisome moments?
ADAM STEVENS: No, not really. We were kind of bottled up lapping cars. A lot of guys were really fighting hard to stay on the lead lap, which they should, and at that point in time, Truex had a little bit more clean track. He was running some pretty impressive lap times. It would have worried me more had we got a caution because I felt like he was pretty strong at the end of the race, but we had such a gap and such a number of cars in between us that the two of three tenths that he was making, he wasn't going to be able to close that gap.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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