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May 26, 2019

Joe Gibbs

Cole Pearn

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We've now been joined by our race‑winning crew chief, Cole Pearn, and race‑winning team owner coach Joe Gibbs of the No.19 Bass Pro Shops Tracker ATVs and Boats Toyota. We'll start with questions.

Q. Coach, the obvious question: What's the bigger deal, tonight or Wednesday?
JOE GIBBS: Or Wednesday? I'm trying to think what happened Wednesday?

Q. The Hall of Fame. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: It's been a long day.
JOE GIBBS: Obviously I'm excited about tonight. No, for me personally, obviously the Hall of Fame is such a huge deal. This is a good example of how I get pushed out front and get a chance to be in the Hall of Fame when you've got race teams like this, crew chiefs like this, and drivers and everybody‑‑ it was a great effort tonight by everybody, our pit crew‑‑ I think Cole will talk about everything. But just a thrill for me to be a part of it, thrilled to be going in the Hall of Fame, and just a great time for us.
I think about how much God has blessed me and how much I miss J.D., got Coy here with me, and for our family and everything, it's just a huge deal for us and the racing family at Joe Gibbs.

Q. Cole, how serious was that tire problem early, or were you just keeping Martin calm there early on, or was it‑‑ obviously it was a doable situation to get back.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I mean, I guess it looks doable now, but at the time it was, yeah, not good. We sustained quite a bit of damage there, and we were really fortunate enough that we blew the tire we did. 20 feet earlier in the corner we would have knocked the fence down and probably would have been out of the race. I think we just felt really fortunate to still be in the race at that point. And then really had to work on it a lot. It wasn't very good‑‑ from being as good as it was when we blew the tire to afterwards, I don't think we've had to make as many adjustments as we had to make on that car tonight. It was crazy.
And then we finally got on the other side of it and then were able to kind of keep up with it the rest of the night, but looking at it in Victory Lane after the race, it looked like we got done racing at Martinsville. As much time as we spend tuning the bodies on these things and getting them aerodynamically perfect, it was crazy to see the car be that good and be that banged up.

Q. Cole, Goodyear told us that they recommended to you guys to raise the air pressures. Did you do that?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, we did for sure. I mean, obviously when you're in those scenarios when they're all popping, it's probably too much camber and too low air. It's not real rocket since when it comes to that, so we had to react and then rebalance the car around being higher on air.

Q. I was trying to listen to your radio near the end of the race. What were you asking the 38 to do? Were you asking him to drop back to you or were you asking him to move?
COLE PEARN: I was just hoping they would take the top. I didn't want to have to be like stuck on the bottom going into 1. You never know how those are going to play out, but you just try and do everything you can to give yourself the best chance to win.

Q. Cole, did the track change much tonight? A couple guys I talked to said they were surprised is that it really didn't change much and they were adjusting, figuring that it was going to and then it didn't and they found themselves kind of playing catch‑up?
COLE PEARN: I don't know, I mean, I'm probably the wrong guy to ask on that. I think we were so focused on what we had going on balance‑wise, we had to keep adjusting on it, yes. I don't know if that was the track or just having to compensate the damage. 9 knocked us in the left rear and reflattened that and we had tire rub there. We had to do a play on the last pit stop just to get that pulled out like we were doing an adjustment just to get it off the tire. I don't know, we wrenched on it about every stop.

Q. Cole, mile‑and‑a‑half racetracks have kind of been your bread and butter the last few years. This year, kind of hit or miss. Seems like you kind of got your mojo back a little bit; is that fair to say?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's not been good for us here lately. I think we had a couple bad races at Texas and Kansas and just trying to figure out this new package. It's been a challenge. You kind of go down a path, and those‑‑ these weekends, how quick they go, you're kind of stuck with what you brought and it doesn't work and you're kind of in trouble. It's been that way, and we just kind of refocused coming here with kind of a different game plan and really took a positive attitude to it and try and figure out what Martin needed. We worked on him a lot to embrace the package and drive in a different way, and he did perfect tonight, and we did better for him. When you can complement each other and both do better, it shows a sign how good a team we have.

Q. Cole, kind of following up on what Jordan just asked, Martin said on Thursday that you guys needed to be better off the truck, and he felt that you guys had finally grasped that this weekend. Is there something, some way you changed the strategy of what you guys do when you unload?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, you know, we've had probably a rough couple weeks as far as that goes, and took kind of a different approach this time and felt like we just tried to learn from our mistakes that we had made before, and it seemed to go a lot better.
I think for really the first time in a while we came off the truck on Thursday and the balance was really close and everything was decent. So it was a good feel for us that way, and it kind of continued into Saturday, and then we made the right adjustments going into today.
It was for sure a first weekend with kind of this 550 package we've done that in while. It feels good. I don't know, the other weekends that didn't go good, you're trying to get better and you do what you think is right, and sometimes you go down a bad path and you've got to live with it.
You know, we just worked on it and came with a better plan and obviously it went better.

Q. Joe, I was just curious what you thought of the pass, the four‑wide pass there.
JOE GIBBS: I've got to tell you, I looked up several‑‑ I was so‑‑ there was so much happening tonight, and by the way, a great crowd. I really thought that was great for our sport. There was a lot of action on the track for sure. I was trying to keep track of our stuff because we had three of our cars kept bouncing off the wall, and I think we finally wound up with our fourth car bouncing off at one point. I was trying to keep up with all that. But I do think some of the restarts and everything I saw, everybody was talking about it, that you got four abreast there a couple of times.
I felt like for the weekend, just really super for our sport. A great, great attendance. I think it was an exciting race for a lot of ways, and so‑‑ I thought it was a big deal for us, and I think a big step forward for our racing, too. I think this year we're off to a good start in a lot of ways. We've had good racing. It's been close. And certainly tonight, I think it's one of our best nights.

Q. Cole, I know the race just ended, but how do you compare this win to the one back in 2016, and is one of the other more gratifying for any reason?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't know, it's crazy to think back that was three years ago. That was just such a perfect night and so special in its own way. Tonight was nothing like that night in any situation. But for us to kind of have been struggling like we've been on this package and then have to regroup and then come here with a different plan and come out stronger and have to win the race coming from behind like that, this one will definitely be one pretty special.
I don't know, I don't know how you compare the two of them. We've had a really good run in the Coke 600s. I think it's our fifth straight top 5 or something like that, and to get another one is really cool. It's such a fun race to win.

Q. Cole, after talking with Martin in Victory Lane, he said that the trouble early in the race kind of forced you guys to be more aggressive with the change in the car throughout the rest of the race. Would you agree with that?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, we weren't doing quarter rounds and half rounds and stuff like that. We were doing multiple rounds and multiple times. So it was a lot. And just trying to figure out what was going on with the tires. It was the same batch number that was popping so we were trying to sort them off the right front and we couldn't really do that because we had so many of them, and we had a couple runs there where we had to sit with our butt cheeks clenched together and hoping it wasn't going to blow again, and yeah, there was a lot going on there for sure.

Q. Cole, what's it mean to win just days after your boss goes into the Hall of Fame?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, really cool. You know, I'm just happy that we're delivering. You know, obviously Coach and everybody at JGR made a big stretch to bring Martin and I in and our team and have welcomed us with open arms. It just gives you an insight in the short time we've been there how special of an organization it is and what special people they are.
For us early on, a lot of times Coach would call and give me a motivational speech even when I didn't know I needed one, and you come away ready to conquer the world. So I think just being able to be a part of that organization and being able to deliver and now get some 19 win banners up on the shop wall is a great feeling.

Q. Coach, with bringing Martin on this year, I know you obviously hired him expecting performances like what he's been able to do, but did you expect the transition for him over to the 19 team to be as seamless as it's seemed to have been with three wins in the first 12 now?
JOE GIBBS: Well, we were so excited. And Toyota, I just want to say a big thanks to them, they're always a big part of that, strategy‑wise, and of course‑‑ by the fact that Cole and everything that happened with the 78 with Martin, they were in the Toyota camp. It was a big deal for us. And certainly we didn't want to lose them, because you could see how talented they were.
And so it was a big deal for us. But you never know when you make a move like that, it's a big deal, and I think particularly for them, Cole and Martin working in a small group in a small environment, I was kind of worried when they came over with us, is that going to bother them.
But certainly I think you can kind of see they've hit their stride, and it's obviously great for us. I think in our technical meetings, I'll say this, all four of our teams sharing everything, drivers, crew chiefs, and nobody holds anything back, and I think it's‑‑ the thrill of really this sport, which I really love, it's very unusual. You've got four teams, and four teams that have to work together. That's real teamwork. And it's hard to get done. Our guys, I've got to tell you, I think they really respect each other, the drivers do, the crew chiefs do, and of course that makes a big difference, and we've got a great support group there that just works their guts out.

Q. For Cole, playing off that, do you feel like the transition has gone as seamlessly as you've made it look? And to add to that, have you ever had a driver like Martin before where you two just seemed to work so well together and click like you have?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I mean, I guess the first part, yeah, the transition, looking at it now, it's going well, but it's come with a lot of hard work. It's been a lot of adjustment.
But when you land in a company like we did, you've just got to thank your blessings and realize how fortunate you are that we could easily have been out of a job and here we are with a great organization and we're winning races. So just incredibly thankful for that.
For me and Martin, yeah, it's just‑‑ it's always been an easy relationship between the two of us. I never, ever dreamt that when I kind of took over as crew chief that we'd be sitting here with as many wins as we've had together. It just still blows my mind. Seemed like we were just hoping that we could knock out some top 10s, and looking back what we've been able to do is great, and just so fortunate to work with so many special people on our team and now be part of a big organization with that many more special people, it's really cool. People are everything that makes this sport and makes the team, so it's really cool.

Q. Cole, would you please detail the damage that occurred on the car when it hit the wall after it cut that tire?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, obviously knocked both right side fenders, wheel openings in on the tires, so we had to clearance those. Fortunately we didn't break anything suspension wise. We knocked the left rear in later in the race when the 9 got into us and we had to clearance that. Really it was just a matter of just getting all the tires clear and then obviously the aero balance was a lot‑‑ appeared to be a lot more to the rear. We had to free the car up a ton to kind of get the balance back. It's so hard when you're doing that to a tight car. You don't know if you're a percent too tight or 2 percent too tight or 5 percent too tight, so we kind of had to take stabs at it and narrowed in on it and were fortunate enough to get it balanced.

Q. Cole, Coach said this is one of the races that's more exciting. Do you kind of agree with that sentiment? From your perspective how did this shake out in the spectrum of races that we've had this year with this package?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, for me this is the wildest race we've ever won. I was just really happy that we were going to be able to run and maybe we could nurse out a good finish. And then somehow we fought through it and ended up winning a stage and winning the race. So just easily the most wildest one I've been part of, and I think that's inherent with this rules package for sure.

Q. Coach, as a manager and obviously you're kind of good at it, you talk about‑‑ Cole talked about what he gets from the organization, what they get from the organization. What did these guys bring to your organization that maybe helped with the culture or anything within your team?
JOE GIBBS: Actually the thing that I mentioned there, having four teams, when we were able to bring Cole over‑‑ so you've got somebody that's real talented, and then by him fitting in the way he did with our other crew chiefs, that's kind of a core group that's making a lot of decisions for us, and so I think it really lifted our program. And then when you look at the other part of it, then you've got Martin fitting in with Erik, Denny and Kyle, and I think he did the same thing there with our drivers. I think the four guys really respect each other, and like I mentioned Cole and the crew chiefs, when you get that going for yourself, the chemistry there, then what you do is you kind of lift the whole program, and like I mentioned, it's so hard, I think, at least my experience has been, with four teams, it's hard.
Normally there's somebody upset, somebody is not running well, and then at times it's hard to get four groups to work together. We've been fortunate. I think Cole would testify to the fact that we've got a real neat group of guys together, and that's how you win, with good people and good teammates.

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