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October 27, 2019

Joe Gibbs

Cole Pearn

Ridgeway, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the winning crew chief Cole Pearn and winning team owner Joe Gibbs. Cole, if you could just open up talking about this big win and what it means to advance to Homestead.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't even know what to say. Yeah, that was‑‑ I still don't feel like I've woken up today. I'm not sure how we did that to be honest. I haven't quite processed it. Pretty cool to be, yeah, going to Homestead. I think four of the last five years for us, and this is the first time we've ever been locked in this early. Haven't quite processed it all.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, same question for you.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I just am so thankful for this race, Martinsville, getting locked in. All the people that mean so much to our race team, Toyota, had a good chance to call Bob and everybody there, Jeff at Auto Owners, huge deal for us there you can imagine, Johnny Morris was here, Norm Miller. It's just when you reflect on that as an owner, all those people gamble, they come with you, and they're part of the team, and this sport is unlike any other because they truly are in the race part of it. We couldn't be here if it wasn't for them. So I always think about them.
For Coy and I, just really thankful for everybody back at the race shop, too, everybody there. Toyota, just a huge partner. Had a chance to speak to everybody there. So it's all about the people, I think. The people back working on the cars and everything, they don't get to enjoy this. We have a little celebration on Mondays, but I'm just really thankful to be a part of something like this, to have such great people and be in such a great sport and get a chance‑‑ we all love coming to Martinsville. You know there's going to be action, and tonight I think we had quite a bit of it.

Q. Starting with Cole, Denny was talking about how he felt like they lost the control of this race with the bad pit stops early. I know Martin had a really good car, but how much of this was a track position race and aero seemed to really come into play?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't know. I felt like we were pretty decent that first run and we made a good adjustment on the first stop and we kind of stuck with it from there. I know maybe track position didn't matter, but I felt like we worked lap traffic really well and we were able to open up the gap a few times pretty well. So yeah, I mean, I'm sure Denny thinks that, but I don't know. I mean, we led almost the whole race, so I don't really have a different perspective of it, to be honest.

Q. Now that you have qualified for Miami, Kyle Busch said when he won this race a couple years ago it felt like a two‑week hall pass, Logano talked about how they prepared with this two weeks. What does this do for your team?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's crazy. I've heard everybody talk about it, we've just never lived it until this year. Just going to enjoy this today, and then yeah, we'll get to work. We've kind of been working on Homestead already, but now we'll be able to kind of dive into it deeper. It's going to be a challenging year. I think every Homestead, we've never gone through a big rules change like we're going to experience this time. Usually you're able to work on last year's notes and things like that, and this year that's not the case. You're going to a track for the first time with this rules package and you've got two 50‑minute practices to figure it out. We can work all we want on it, but to know exactly what we want to do is still a bit of a guess.

Q. Coach, your thoughts on the altercation between Denny and Joey after the race?
JOE GIBBS: Well, we all know in racing there's so much at stake here, and I always kind of‑‑ I'm not sure exactly everything that happened, but I always leave that up to the drivers. But there was a lot at stake, and when there's a lot at stake and it's Martinsville, Martinsville seems to bring that out, and so I think there's two guys that really were going after it and had a lot of passion, and I think it's one of those things that can happen in our sport.
We'll just have to‑‑ I'll be talking to Denny and kind of get the full run‑down, but they're the ones that kind of know everything about it.

Q. Cole, when you look back at the last‑‑ you were talking about these last four or five years, what do you think of the numbers that you and Martin have put up? At one point some people considered him a journeyman driver. He's now a sure‑fire Hall of Famer over what he's done the last five years. You've done the same thing with your career, you're now a Hall of Fame crew chief in my opinion. What do you think of the things you guys have accomplished the last four or five years?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's crazy. I don't know, it still doesn't feel real. Just been really fortunate to get paired up together and just our whole team, and then to be able to have an alliance with JGR and those guys and then be able to come in house this year has just been amazing. There's just so many unbelievable people that are a part of this group, and to be that fortunate in that spot is crazy, and I know you've got to do everything right after that, but you can't do it without that platform, and it's just‑‑ I don't know, I feel really blessed. It's crazy. It's hard to believe.

Q. Do those numbers kind of blow you away, laps led, the wins, the championship?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, today did. The whole time, I was like, is this really happening, and then it continued to happen and ended up winning and you're waiting for something to go wrong, and nothing went wrong, so yeah, crazy.

Q. Coach, how does it feel to have at least one of your cars knowing for sure that you will have a car represented for the championship at Homestead?
JOE GIBBS: It's a huge deal. When you race as hard as you do for as long as we do in our sport, think about it, you're going 38 weeks of racing, and to have one of them qualify for that is just special, really. And so that'll give us a chance to do things a little different at the race shop. The focus now will go to Denny and Kyle. We've got to try to find a way to get them in, and we've got two big weeks to work on that, two tough racetracks, and we'll just go to work and see if we can get the other two in.

Q. Joe, you just mentioned that you've got to find a way to get Denny and Kyle in there. What's going on with Kyle? His playoffs have not gone at all how he ran the rest of the season.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think one of the things about Kyle, for instance, today, what I really admire about him, it doesn't matter what happens. That car got beat up. He got spun around, everything in the world happened to him, and he still finished, I don't know, what was it, 13th or something. Yeah, 14th.
I think he's going to fight no matter what. Now, you'd like for it to be a lot smoother than that and you do go through‑‑ we all know that you can go through something where you struggle for a few weeks and certainly he hasn't been winning races like he expects. He's really‑‑ I know he and Adam have spent a lot of time together trying to work their way through everything. So I think it's part of being in a real tough sport. It's the best people in the world that are racing in NASCAR. You've got the best owners, the best drivers, and it's a tough deal. And you can see somebody as good as Kyle is, and right now we've had a situation where we've not been able to win races here.
COLE PEARN: They could have easily won last week to be fair. I thought they probably had one of the best cars.

Q. He seemed particularly cranky. Is that from just not running how he expects?
JOE GIBBS: You want me to evaluate Kyle's makeup or what?

Q. He seems really cranky.
JOE GIBBS: One thing is for sure, I'm not sure we can analyze that, okay.
No, I think honestly, I would say this to you: Think about his whole life. He's got Sam and Brexton, but other than that, it's racing. And when something goes bad in racing for him, think about how important that is, and it upsets him. Normally the next day he's a lot better at the race shop and everything, but I think this has been a tough stretch for him, and I know tonight he was really upset, too.
You know, hopefully we break out of this, but I think it shows you how tough our sport is.

Q. Cole, this is the first time that we've really been at least scheduled to go into the night up here. We've had some races that have been pretty dark a few times, but it was kind of offset with it being so warm during the day, the hottest it's been in 15 years. Did the cars change much as we transitioned into night, or does the spoiler really kind of overcome it?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, there was definitely‑‑ I don't think we've ever had it that warm and then cool down like that. This track is so temperature sensitive it's hard to manage, but we kind of had a plan going into it and just stuck with it as it went, and it seemed to work out okay. I'll be curious to go back and look and see what the other guys fought in that transition and what they did to handle it. Obviously from our side, I feel like we did pretty good, so yeah, it's a bit of a challenge. We weren't really sure what to expect early on with it being so hot.

Q. Coach, obviously three guys eligible to make it to Homestead. You've got one locked in. At this point do you focus resources on Denny and Kyle, or are you still laying it across all three or are you taking the resources for the 19 and focusing them already to Miami?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, everything in our sport is so focused on sponsors and everything that happens with our race teams, obviously, but we can't afford to just be focused on one car or two cars. It's all the way across the board. Even Erik tonight, really upset with everything there, and Stanley Black & Decker is just a huge sponsor for us, so we work hard on all four cars. Obviously this will be a different situation with the 19, and so these guys, Cole and their team, they'll probably approach it a little bit differently, but you know with Denny and Kyle, we're going to be trying to win a race and so is Erik. I told Erik, the best thing for us to win one of these races down the stretch for them and for Stanley, and I think he feels that way. Qualified well this week and didn't run as well.
I'm just saying it's kind of all the way across the board. You never really focus because there's so much for us that we depend on all four cars. That's one of the things I love about our sport; it's very unusual. You've got to get four teams to work together, you know, to have a chance to compete at this level, and it's hard to do, but we need all four teams.

Q. Cole, you won at Vegas, you won Charlotte; how do you feel you'll stack up against whoever you face at Homestead?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I think Homestead is a little bit of an unknown, but it's definitely a lower grip track, so I feel like for Martin and our program, that falls into our wheelhouse. But it's going to be tough. It's going to be a battle of being good on the short run versus the long run and how that plays out for you. You're going to have to go and make your bed and hopefully it's going to be your day. It's crazy it can come down to that, but I think this year more than ever with these rules, it's going to be that way.

Q. Coach, in the last few kind of, quote‑unquote, fights that have happened on pit road after races, it seems like crew members get involved and it's hard to tell whether they're trying to separate or trying to exaggerate or go after each other or the drivers. What do you instruct your crew members to do in these situations?
JOE GIBBS: Well, we obviously‑‑ I think everybody's crews try and protect their driver, and I think generally what we try and do is separate guys. But we all know emotion runs high. It's a sport that brings a lot of intensity to the racetrack. Any about how hard, how much work you go‑‑ we're at 35 or 36 weekends. Everything you put into this, and if you see somebody do something to you that you think goes against your‑‑ what's best for you, there's going to be a price to pay for that.
So I just think it's emotion. It's part of our sport. You see it in most sports, to be truthful.

Q. Cole, can you answer that, about crew guys getting involved in driver fights?
COLE PEARN: I think it's emotion, right? I don't know. I grew up getting in a lot of fights in my life, so I don't have a problem with it.

Q. You were a hockey player‑‑
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't see why everyone gets so worked up about it here. I don't think it's a big deal. I was good at starting them. I don't know how many I won, I just made sure I had bigger friends to help me out when I got going.
JOE GIBBS: We ought to brush you up a little bit and stick you in the middle of some of that.

Q. Cole, even though you're qualified now for the championship, the playoffs you guys have had, by far better than any of the other seven remaining drivers. You're 20 points ahead of Denny and really I think Talladega was your only stumble. How do you approach the next two weeks? Do you want to try to win the next two weeks and prove to everybody, hey, we're the most formidable opponent left? How do you carry that going forward knowing that the big prize is still a few weeks away?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I think we're fortunate the next two weeks we're going back to tracks for the second time, so that makes it a little bit easier to prepare. I feel like Texas we struggled but we know where we kind of went wrong there the first time, so definitely optimistic for there. I think that's definitely a bit of a wild card with such low falloff and hard tires. It's going to be kind of a strategy game, how you shake out on that side of it. But feel really good about Phoenix. We finished second there in the spring and really kind of hit on some stuff that helped us the rest of the season. Definitely optimistic going there.
Yeah, I mean, it's still a NASCAR Cup Series, so if you have an opportunity to win, you want to go do it and do it for everybody on our team and our partners, so yeah, we're still going to try hard the next two weeks. But yeah, obviously Homestead is going to be important.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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