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September 22, 2018

Joe Gibbs

Adam Stevens

Richmond, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Coach Gibbs, owner of our race‑winning team, and Adam Stevens, crew chief of our race‑winning team. Congratulations, gentlemen.

Q. Adam, there's been some talk in here about whether the big three was still the big three since only one of you had won in the last six races, but you're one‑two‑three today. Does that mean anything?
ADAM STEVENS: Man, I don't know. Six races, I feel like you're kind of not giving us much margin there, six races. I don't know. We went 36 races not too long ago between wins.
You know, I still think the cream rises to the top. This time of year, though, a lot of guys make a lot of advancements in their programs. We saw the Penske cars with speed certainly, the 9 car with speed, the 42. There's plenty of guys that are getting better at the right time. But the three best still seem to be the big three. Seemed like we were racing those guys a lot, and without the 78 having an issue there, he would have been right up in the mix of it, and he got back there anyway.
You know, six races isn't a long time, and probably not a stretch of our best tracks in between those six races, but we're coming up to some good ones.

Q. Adam, on TV you talked about being part of Kyle's legacy. Well, they put crew chiefs in the Hall of Fame, too. Have you thought about that as part of your future?
ADAM STEVENS: No, not at all.
JOE GIBBS: He's got my vote.

Q. That was going to be my question to you, Coach.
ADAM STEVENS: The criteria for that are almost impossible to achieve anymore. The rate that we run at is tough to sustain for a super, duper long period of time. As much fun as it is, it takes a toll on you. I'm going to take all I can get between now and then, and I've got quite a few more years, and enjoy it. But geez, I think it would take a lot to even make that part of the conversation.
JOE GIBBS: I think what happened today, if I could chip in with Adam, he and Kyle just‑‑ we weren't that good early, and race after race what happens is they keep going in the race, they get better and better and better, and I think that's‑‑ a lot of that's attributed to Adam, and certainly he and Kyle have a chemistry there and can talk things over, make good changes. Just really appreciate everybody on our race team, pit crews, everybody back home, J.D. and everybody in the front office, and all it takes, and of course our sponsor, Mars, is just awesome and with us now, and they've been in the sport about 20 years, and it's great to have them. Of course as we all know, this sport is different. You've got to have a great sponsor to be able to race these cars. For them and Interstate Batteries and Toyota, it's just a big deal for us.

Q. Coach, last week at Vegas, you had a pep talk with Kyle on pit road, and y'all were breaking down the performance and how the team has gotten better. Obviously it worked, whatever that talk was, and just the focus on the team, but for your leadership, how does it make you feel when you know that you've got a team like this that can go out and compete for wins and championships?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, actually I do very well. It's Adam, and he works with the team. Adam is really‑‑ the way I look at the NFL, I was a coach, I was hands on, made it happen, had the coaching staff with me. It's so close over here to being the exact same thing. Adam and his 12 guys go to the racetrack, and they start in, they run the whole weekend. He has to make all the tough calls.
It's a huge responsibility really. Big deal for us, and for the crew chiefs, to be quite truthful, our sponsors know the crew chiefs. They know how important it is. And we all know in this sport, because everybody sees that, between driver and crew chief, it's a big deal, and the chemistry is a big deal. So anyway, we're thrilled to have the crew chiefs we've got, and Adam has just been outstanding from the very first time we put him together with Kyle.

Q. Adam, what is it like from the pit box to watch Kyle and Brad Keselowski race for the lead like they were?
ADAM STEVENS: A little bit nerve‑racking. You know, they're not going to give each other too much room. You'd expect maybe a little bit more room between two other guys, so it makes you nervous, but they raced each other with respect. That whole deal is probably a little bit blown out of proportion compared to what it's really like on the racetrack. They were probably a little bit better on the short run and we were certainly better on the long run, so it was a matter of time before we got around them. But you never know when the caution is going to come out, either, so he was pressing as hard as he could to keep us behind him, and Kyle was pressing as hard as he could to get around him, so if we did get a caution, we could at least lead them down pit road. But I was more worried that we were going to get to racing each other and then the 4 was going to put us three wide and pass us both is what my main concern was.

Q. You talked about cautions; only three cautions tonight, one for an incident on the track. The spring race only had six. Spring Martinsville race only had four. Isn't this supposed to be short track racing, beating and banging? Why so few cautions, and was the Roval next week a factor why people were conservative?
ADAM STEVENS: Oh, man, there's a lot of ground to cover in those questions. But I think what you see is the skill of the drivers and the teams and the ability to run more than one lane here. You can run, gosh, at least three or four different lines, and if you have a little bit of speed, you can get around somebody. You can go in the corner two wide and come out two wide. You know, it takes a mistake to really get into somebody.
When you get into later laps, you see guys lean on each other a little more. You don't really see that in the middle of a race in general. But this place is just so racy, and the tires fall off, and it rewards taking care of your tires, and it's a lot of fun for the drivers and fun for the teams.
I think even without the beating and banging, you see really good racing on the racetrack, for the lead or even all through the field.
As far as the Roval, you know, guys were probably trying to really maximize their days today because there's going to be a lot of people leave there disappointed next week. You know, it could be people that have a good car and wheel hop it one time or hit a curb one time too hard. It's going to be hard to find a place to pass. It was hard on tires at the test. The reasons to go down there and have a bad day, it's pretty long. But we haven't raced there yesterday, so we don't really know what we're up against. It's going to be fun to be a part of and fun to watch and fun to not really matter where we have to finish.

Q. Joe, you've seen Kyle through the years; how has he managed his emotions in situations like running with Brad, and how has he progressed to the point of having this success in 50 wins and how he's grown from your perspective?
JOE GIBBS: I think what happens with young guys, as they go and grow and experience‑‑ I think probably one of the greatest learning things that we can have is a bad experience, and so you have a few of those, and I would say that Kyle has had a few, and probably learns from them. I also think there's several other things in his life, Sam, Brexton, but I think also the fact that he's a car owner, I think that adds something to it. He has to think as an owner lots of times, and so I think that changes things, too.
And so I think it's just kind of a maturing process. The one thing I'll say about Kyle, though, and Adam, I think, will testify to this, I've seen it in sports, the two I've been in, when he puts the helmet on, all of a sudden‑‑ I've never seen him change. If it's something in front of him, he's got to‑‑ he's bent to go get it. And he's got that in him. It's amazing to me, I think all of us, his fans, who admire that in all sports. You see it in all sports. Some guys‑‑ not many, but some guys really‑‑ they really want it.

Q. Following up on that, with all the tension and pressure that's involved in this championship chase and the playoffs, how much easier will the week ahead be knowing that you guys are locked into the next round than it might have been if you were going to this thing that Harvick said he's terrified of, not knowing how it was going to come out?
JOE GIBBS: I don't know if I've seen more talk about something than the Roval, really. We've been talking about this thing. And I will say this: I think we wrecked four cars, didn't we, in practice getting ready for it? I finally said, nobody else goes over there. I'm tired of wrecking stuff. But no, I think it's going to be exciting. A, for the fans it's going to be unknown, like Adam says. I don't think we know until you get the cars out there and really get going. I think from Adam's standpoint, he can speak to that, about how he feels about going knowing he's in. But we've got two other cars that are on the bottom right now.
So from their standpoint, have at it. It's going to be kind of a wild deal. Daniel, too, he'll be going and trying to get everything he can get because it's big for his career.

Q. Also coming back from a Kyle standpoint knowing he can relax a little bit and might not be wound as tight this week as he would otherwise?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, that's probably a better question for him, but we just don't have any expectation other than to go down there and win, and that frees you up, probably make some more aggressive moves, and we're going to need that track to keep Kyle to have one at every single track that we go to because this is a new one for us.
We want to go there, and we want to try to win. The whole goal was to get locked out this weekend and we did that. Felt like we could have done that just by scoring some decent points, but we did it with a win. We're going to go there and try our best to get another trophy.

Q. Coach, what would be your advice to Denny and Erik going into next week? Denny seemed pretty frustrated after tonight, one of his best tracks and he struggled.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I agree. When he got spun there, I don't know how much that meant to the car or whatever, but it's been a very tough year for Denny. I think for both of them. I think obviously Erik's first go‑around on this, I think he'll just have at it, and I think Denny, what we've got to do is throw caution to the wind. That'll be two cars that I think will just be‑‑ we've got a lot of ground to make up, and so I think they'll be very aggressive.

Q. And just any insight on when we might know or when you might tell us what your team's 2019 lineup will be?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, it's so hard this time of year, and there's a lot that goes into it. There's a lot of things in contracts and everything else about what you can and can't do, and it's just one of those things that is hard for us. I'm anxious, too. I would like to be able to announce it, but there's still a lot up in the air with it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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