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September 15, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the winning owner and winning crew chief for the No.19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota. We have owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Cole Pearn.
We'll start with questions.
Q. Cole, going into the Roval last year, you were leading going into the final turn until Jimmie messed all that up for you guys. How much of a relief is it knowing you don't have to worry about a similar situation where the short track of Richmond can produce so many different variables of unknowns?
COLE PEARN: It's huge, yeah. I mean, you never know what can happen. You can go in, think you're going to run well, something bad happens to you. The 20 was just pitted next to us, had a good car. Something weird happened. All of a sudden you have a bad day.
Yeah, winning and not having to worry about that is huge. But Richmond, Roval, they're two really good tracks for us. We're going in with the approach of keeping our foot in the gas, hopefully rack up some more Playoff points at those two places.
Q. Cole, you haven't quite had the results the last few weeks. Martin said Thursday, I have a good feeling about this week. Did you share that optimism?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, honestly we've ran really well. We had really good car at Bristol, had a tire go down. We had a pit road incident at Darlington with a good car. Got wrecked on pit road at Indy with a good car. Stuff like that happens. You fly under the radar.
Coming here, we were optimistic with it being hot, similar to Charlotte where we ran really well with this package. For us, when it's hotter and slicker, it's a lot better. That's where Martin is really good at it.
We got to actually wheel the thing, not just hammer down, who has the least drag kind of deal. For us, we were optimistic coming here.
Q. For this race, you were good at long runs, did you anticipate that would be a better strategy for you?
COLE PEARN: That seems to be our strength, right? You have to play to your strengths. The one caution, the 4 got the lead. He was flying there for a bit. The track had cooled down after the yellow. Their kind of approach is to be pretty trimmed out.
Even towards the end of that run, we were starting to make a lot of time on them. If it stayed green, really good for us. If we had a late yellow there, could have been a totally different story.
Short run or long run, it just has to play out for you. Kind of nerve‑wracking. Kind of having that stuff outside of your control, it is what it is.
Q. Cole, with restarts and gaining advantage on pit road, what did you do to the car that allowed Martin to catch Kevin in the closing laps?
COLE PEARN: With night, the track cooling down, we don't have any history of that. We never have run day to night here at Vegas. That was a little bit unknown. When it first got dark, we were a bit too free. He couldn't drive it hard enough to kind of stay with him.
Fuel burned off, tires wore out, we started being able to close on him. We knew the direction we needed to go on the last stop. Luckily we hit the balance right, it was back on the good side again.
Martin did a great job getting to pit road. He closed up a lot on the 4 doing that. That helped us. The pit crew had one of their best stops of the night.
To win these races, it just takes everybody and everything going together at the same time.
Q. Coach, couple cars didn't do so well tonight, one car great. Talk about the emotional aspect of that.
JOE GIBBS: Our sport is very different in that you got to have four teams work together to really gain knowledge, what happens at the racetrack, make the right calls, the right adjustments.
To show you how hard our sport is, last week we had all four cars that had issues. Four cars, they all had issues. This week we had three of them. It shows you how hard our sport is.
Hats off, real compliment to Cole and what he was able to keep the 19 up there, he and Martin. Also we had great pit stops at the end. It was a total team effort.
I think what the last two weeks for us just highlights how hard our sport is. Yeah, it is hard. Our meeting tomorrow, our technical meeting, will be tough because three of them had a real tough day.
I think what you need to do is try and figure out what happened, how do you keep it from happening again. Learn from those tough nights. So many different things can happen to you in motorsports.
Q. Cole, how do you as the crew chief work with Adam and the other crew chiefs, being your first year over there, to kind of figure out what you need to do to get the entire organization up a little higher?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I mean, we have a great relationship, all four of us really, on the crew chief side. We've all worked together now for a few years. Even when I was out in Denver, we all got along really well.
It's funny, we have meetings where we got to decide what we want to do as a group. I would say it's very rarely that we all disagree. We're usually all on the same page.
I think when you got everyone has the same understanding of what we need to do, takes the same approach, it keeps the company pulling the whole right direction. I think that's one of the greatest strengths of JGR. Credit to coach and all the other guys there that kind of put all those people together.
The fact that we have a system that we can work so well together, pull the rope the same way, you get seasons where you got 14 wins.
Q. Coach, you've won 14 of 27 races this year. All four of your guys have won. How did you get to that point where you're so dominant?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, in pro sports what I've said is in pro sports, big‑time sports, if you got any weakness, it's going to find you. I think the key is to try and be as strong as you can all the way across. You got to have great pit stops, obviously got to have the engineering group, Cole, the crew chiefs. It just takes everything.
I think we've worked extremely hard at our race shop. Coy, myself, all the leadership there, everybody, we go to work every day, this is all we do, we try and make sure that we don't leave a weakness.
That's hard. You can't really cover everything. But I think it's just a lot of hard work, being careful with the people you add. I would say this, it's all about people. You get the right people together, you're going to be successful.
I want to really thank Toyota and our other partners, Bass Pro Shops, Johnny's, Jeff from Auto Owners, Norm Miller was here. It's a thrill to see companies like that.
Our sport is totally different. For them, to put everything they put into this, then see them get a victory, it's great. It's a thrill for us.
Q. With the way your organization has dominated, you have all four cars, are you going to be disappointed if you don't win a championship?
JOE GIBBS: I think you're always disappointed because that's the goal. I think you also realize, Man, it is just so hard. I think it's illustrated by tonight, what happened to us, our other three cars.
Yeah, I think you work so hard, that's the goal. For any driver or crew chief, these guys, they've got so many years to drive a car, so many chances to win a championship. You don't want to see them miss one.
We'll put everything we got into it and see what happens.
Q. Cole, Keselowski's car was totally off. They somehow flipped a switch, he ends up P3. Hamlin, they fall off. Does stuff like that happen because the sensitivity of the cars, making adjustments, or was it the change from day to night? Why do we see cars have such differences in speed?
COLE PEARN: It's because you have no horsepower, right? The speed is about being able to be in the gas. If you got a bit of a handling issue where you can't be in the gas, you don't go a little bit slow, you go way slow. The magnitude of these cars, how sensitive they are right now with not having any horsepower, is insane. I can't describe to you how frustrating it is to work on. The slightest little thing can just completely unhinge the whole thing.
Early in the race, it was really slow, the pace was a lot slower than practice. The 2 was good in practice, and was struggling. As nighttime came and it cooled down, the pace picked up similar to what we were running in practice. All of a sudden he was better. Probably went the other way for other guys.
It just really comes down to all your speed is being in the gas. If something goes on where you can't be, you go terrible.
Q. Would you tell me how big a deal it is to win the first one in the Playoff, what kind of statement that makes, what does that for your team to win this particular race?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think it's huge. I think it's huge for a lot of reasons. First off we've had a stretch of six or seven races, maybe six, that we've been really strong in. We feel like we've had cars capable of winning. We honestly don't have a whole lot to show for it. We had no bonus points in that stretch. It was getting frustrating.
But we knew we were really fast, we knew we were working on the right things. I knew the team was doing a great job. It's kind of like for us inside of our minds, it's kind of an indication that, hey, we were doing the right things, we are doing the right things. When we can get things to roll our way, not make any mistakes, this is what we can do.
Great time with the Playoffs starting to be able to do it. I think a lot of people have been like, Where has the 19 been? We don't expect them to be that strong. We know what we can do. When we live up to our potential, it makes us all happy.
I know everybody that makes this happen, coach and Johnny, Jeff, all the men and women back at the shop, they've seen this, knew what we were capable of. For me, that just feels good to do the job we're here to do. Hopefully we can carry this momentum on.
Most importantly the Playoff points are huge. We got six tonight. Two more weeks to try to get some more with no consequences.
COLE PEARN: Echo what he said there. Racing is a pretty depressing sport. You work really, really hard just to be disappointed every week. Yeah, it's huge when it goes right. You think about it, you can win eight races in a season and have the best career year, but that means you're probably miserable 30 other weeks. The ratio is not very good.
Definitely a lot more fun to win, just to get the monkey off our back. Hopefully, like Martin said, just keep running well these next couple weeks.
Q. Coach, I asked you before the race what your concerns are. You talked about it's a three‑round elimination. You were concerned with cleaning up some stuff from Indianapolis. One of the teams looked like they got it cleaned up. A lot of other struggles. Are you concerned with that as you move forward?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, actually we've had two weeks where we've had a lot to overcome. I think we understand kind of what happened with Erik. The biggest thing about motorsports is making sure that you figure out what it was, then try and put in place procedures so it doesn't happen again.
Now, if it's just a wreck or something, obviously I think Kyle, what happened to him... But Denny, we need to figure it out. Then Erik, we need to make sure we understand what happened.
It's really tough from that standpoint. It shows you, as good as we've kind of been, won races, for two weeks in a row we've had a lot happen to us.
Q. Martin, with the restarts being basically chaotic, how concerned were you with the starting position of 24?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, honestly I think the start of the race is always a lot more calm than restarts. Nobody really knows what they have yet. They know it's the beginning of the race, a lot is going to happen. Everybody kind of feels the car out for a couple of laps. The initial start is a lot calmer than restarts.
I feel like as you go through the race, every restart gets a little more crazy because everybody's cars of getting a little more better dialed in, everybody is getting more confidence. Usually the track, especially at a place like here where it's cooling down, the track is getting faster, you can be more aggressive. They definitely ramp up throughout the night.
Definitely the first one is the most chill.
Q. Try to infuse a little bit of positivity. Two years ago you won the Playoff opener and went on to win the whole thing.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It's over, perfect (laughter).
Q. How do you think you can duplicate that here?
COLE PEARN: Year before it, we won it, too, we were knocked out of Talladega.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah.
Q. Any thoughts on the potential here to continue on and challenge when you get to Homestead?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I feel awesome about it. I think if we can get to Homestead, we're going to be really tough to handle. With that being said, it's tough to get there. Nine more weeks or eight more weeks now. We got to be really good. No mistakes. Can't beat yourself, that's first and foremost. I know we have the team and the performance.
If we all do our jobs, not have any crazy things fall out of the sky and hit us, I think we'll have a chance at it. Look forward to that opportunity.
Q. Cole, you talk about the different ways you can set up the cars. When you look at the 4, what he's done here, Indianapolis and Michigan, how much of a concern is that or challenge is that?
COLE PEARN: I think each week is a bit different. Michigan, it was interesting, we were really good there, just kind of didn't‑‑ the way the restarts worked out for us, it didn't play out.
Yeah, I mean, that's their MO, right? They're dragging the pipes, slamming the backs, just going for all that speed. It's working for them. All the power to them.
I think for us, we've had a couple races where we've gone more that way and they haven't been very good for us. I think everyone has their own take. I think you generally look at JGR as a whole, how well we've qualified this year, I think we got one pole, 14 wins. That's the variance in the strategy.
Q. Were you surprised with the amount of cautions we saw tonight?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'm not surprised. I think any time we go to a track that has multiple grooves, it helps keep the cautions down. With these cars, with this package the way it is, you're trying to run in clean air as much as you possibly can.
The risk of guys hitting each other goes down because you're trying to get clean air, you're trying to stay away from people. Of course, you can run anywhere on this track.
I was a little nervous at the end of the race knowing there were so many guys running up against the fence, just praying a caution wouldn't come out there. Aside from that, we just get spread out. You're trying to stay in clean air, keeping your car stuck to the track as much as possible.
Q. Coach, with the four drivers you have, the four different personalities, after a night like tonight, are you the type of person that takes them in one by one to speak with them about their night and give them peace of mind and calm them down?
JOE GIBBS: I think generally it kind of depends on what happened. For me, we text on the way home, then our big day is tomorrow at 2:00. We have our competition meeting. I think everybody, the guys will tell you, we kind of share everything. If there's issues and problems or somebody is upset about something, that happens, too. You have some arguments, this and that.
But I think during that meeting, you kind of hash everything out. Then if there's anything that I feel like is left over, I try and see the guys afterwards before they leave. We try to get it all kind of taken care of on Mondays.
But that's the time I kind of text, talk tomorrow, then talk after, then our meeting. I think with all that, you kind of have a chance. I just feel awful with Erik tonight. I just feel awful something like that. Two years in a row. Last year he was minding his own business, got in a wreck he couldn't avoid. Here tonight we have a crazy thing happen to him.
You're heart broke when something like that happens because he's been very consistent for the last 12 weeks or so, really done his part. The last two weeks we've had tough things happen. That's part of our sport. You got to try and overcome that.
Q. Martin and Cole, you guys were affiliated with JGR in your previous two Playoffs. Now that you're fully inside, does it feel any different?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'll let him answer because for me it doesn't really.
COLE PEARN: Oh, yeah, it's way different (smiling). Yeah, Charlotte, you can't go outside, it's too hot. My kids ask me every day, Can we go back where there's snow?
Q. Is it any more secure or stable that you're inside instead being like the stepsister?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, for sure. Obviously that's huge. Coach and everybody at JGR put a lot of work into getting us there and make a home for us. We easily could have been out of a job. Yeah, it's huge. It's great to have their support. It means a lot.
I miss Denver. I miss Furniture Row. I'll look back on probably the greatest time in my career. It's fun to be here and building a new path at JGR. So definitely it's kind of crazy that you can go leave a team, you kind of go to the team you've been working with and be able to hit the ground running. Pretty unique opportunity.
JOE GIBBS: Out of a job? I don't think so (smiling).
COLE PEARN: Let's try and tell you how important the sponsors are.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the victory. Good luck next week in Richmond.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports