April 11, 2021
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our winning team owner, Coach Joe Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing.
Coach, what a run you're on right now, especially with Martin Truex Jr., your third win on the season. Walk us through the emotion you have right now winning this race.
JOE GIBBS: What I'm excited about is, yes, great race. I was just praying that Denny and Martin didn't get together up front. That was my biggest concern.
Anyway, I was most thrilled with the fact that all four of our cars wound up in the top 10. Didn't go well for Kyle today, but he fought so hard. I was really proud of him getting back to 10th. Christopher was fast all day. Then, of course, Denny.
I just think Martin's car was better on long runs than what Denny's was. Denny fought so hard.
Anyway, it was a real good day for us. We love Martinsville. I think everybody at our race team gets excited every time we come here.
THE MODERATOR: We're going to go to questions.
Q. Where do you think Joe Gibbs Racing stacks up right now compared to Hendrick, Team Penske? Where are you at right now?
JOE GIBBS: I think it's always hard to say. We're really only just getting started really. Eight races in or whatever it is, eight or nine. I would say that it kind of constantly has been going through the year, somebody gets up pretty good, then somebody else steps up.
I think it's going to be hard-fought all year. I was really happy today about short track for us. That was a good deal. I get excited when all four of our cars run well. But I think it's up in the air as to who you could say is the strongest team right now.
Q. Coach, NASCAR is going to start letting some select people in the garage area in a few weeks. What were the parameters that you want to see in the garage for your guests who I assume you want to get in as soon as possible?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, we got so many guys that love racing, key people that support our race team. I'm sure other race teams are the same way. We need, as quick as we can, get those people in, inside, back where they can get and enjoy racing again.
I think most of our key sponsors, the CEOs, upper management of our sponsors, most of them as I continue to talk to them have both vaccines. So hopefully that's going to make a difference, too.
I have. I know a lot of people on our team have. So I'm hoping that's our breakthrough. But it's a huge deal for us. We need to get our partners back with us. So I'm sure hoping, I know NASCAR has talked about it, I know they're doing everything they can, but that would be a huge deal for us.
Q. How difficult as a team owner is it to balance letting your guys race hard but trusting them not to cross that line and end up taking each other out?
JOE GIBBS: Well, let me say this: it has happened, okay? It's happened a number of times over the years with us. Of course, what you realize is each one of the drivers, each one of our sponsors, the crew chiefs, everybody on that team is so important to the individual teams.
We're back at the race shop, we act as one big team. But when you get to the racetrack, when it gets down to actually the race, at the end of the race, it is each one of our teams, they want to win for their sponsor and for their career and everything that's wrapped up in it.
You always worry about it. It has happened to us numerous times over the years where two of our guys will be up front and get together. I will say this: that's the most nervous that I get in the race, is when two of our guys are up front like that. The whole time I'm praying, Just don't wreck each other (laughter). I got to admit that.
Q. You had four cars in the top seven in the Xfinity race. Everybody but Kyle ran strong at the end of the Cup race. Do you feel this is maybe one of the strongest positions JGR as a whole has been in in a long time?
JOE GIBBS: Well, certainly I think our Xfinity program, we put so much into that. It's really been something that really supports. We had so many people come from Xfinity to Cup. It's so important to our overall program.
I think our four cars there in Xfinity, I think our crew chiefs there, are all veteran guys. Our drivers there, I think they all get along really well. I am so happy with our Xfinity program and the way everybody has worked together.
I think we're really, really strong in our Xfinity program. Then, of course, to come back today with Cup, here at a very tough place, we love Martinsville by the way, all of our guys do, and to come back and have everybody in the top 10, I really get excited about that.
But besides the win, it was great for Fast Pro, Johnny, auto owners, Jeff. I just really appreciate those guys, the way they support us.
Q. On the business side of it, you're talking about wanting to get the CEOs and folks back to the track. How important is it for you when you're trying to attract some new sponsorship to be able to bring those folks to the track? What kind of lessons have you learned during all this COVID shutdown, lessons that you've learned to maybe help you with sponsorship now and in the future?
JOE GIBBS: Well, I think you're right, it's so much harder when you can't entertain potential companies that could possibly come to the racetrack with you and get to see everything that takes place at a NASCAR race.
The thing about NASCAR as opposed to other sports, the fact that you can be here, you can be in the hauler area, you can be on pit road, you can have hospitalities, have the driver come up, get autographs, ask questions. I go up and do the same thing.
When you're missing all that, it's really hard. So I appreciate our sponsors. I know that other owners do here. Everybody that has worked so hard with us. I'm hoping we reach the time now where we can start getting a lot of the key players for us, from the sponsor standpoint, back at the racetrack.
I know NASCAR wants to do that. They're working hard to try to get that done. But it's a huge deal, as I mentioned earlier, because they play such a key part. Over here you can't race these cars if you don't have a partner, a sponsor partner. That's not the case in other sports, but it is here.
I think we've learned a lot through COVID. Everybody has handled everything I think about as good as you can handle it. NASCAR has done a fantastic job. We've learned a lot coming to the racetrack only bringing one car, no practice. I know that's been a big adjustment for the tracks, no practice and qualifying. It's been a huge change, but I think everybody has done a good job of fighting their way through it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Go forth and enjoy your win and good luck next week in Richmond.
JOE GIBBS: Thanks, guys. Appreciate everybody.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports