November 6, 2021
Avondale, Arizona, USA
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Coy Gibbs and Dave Rogers.
We'll start with questions.
Q. Dave, you were really confident on the restarts. Did you just know that Daniel was going to get it done?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, all this started weeks ago, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing preparing a great race car. We knew we were going to have a good piece out here. Missed the balance a little bit. Didn't have quite the speed we wanted. But we knew we had a good race car.
Daniel and I have been talking all week. We've watched these races. It's going to come down to a green-white-checkered. We talked about it every day this week. We got to go, we got to make things happen at the end. I knew where Daniel's mind was. He had great restarts all day. I was confident he could get it done. Heck of a race with Austin. Austin is a great defending champion. To beat him heads up at the end was a lot of fun.
Q. Coy, is it going to be a big weekend?
COY GIBBS: We hope so. It's been good so far. Obviously Dave brought one home for us. We'll see what we can keep going with here. It's been exciting.
I'm still a little nervous for tomorrow obviously, so... Wait and see how that plays out.
Q. Did this one surprise you at all tonight?
COY GIBBS: No. I definitely think we had a shot at the championship, for sure. I think the win is the greatest part of it for me. I think Daniel now can say, I've won a race, so get off my back (smiling). That will probably be the biggest thing if I had to guess.
Q. Dave, was there any thought that Daniel maybe didn't have it in him to make the contact he needed, I don't want to say, but think not like he's going to want to do it without making contact?
DAVE ROGERS: I was hoping Austin didn't come home on a rollback. I knew we were going in there and get aggressive.
That's racing there. I have to go back and watch the film, but I don't think we got into him too hard. For a championship you're going to race pretty hard. I knew he had it in him. We just had to show everyone he had it in him.
Q. Dave, do you know what you're doing yet next year?
DAVE ROGERS: Tonight I'm going to celebrate all night long, yeah.
We don't know. Coy and I have some things to talk about. It's going to be good no matter what it is.
Q. Dave, I wanted to tell you that five years ago tonight was Carl Edwards' last Cup win. That's the other backfliping driver. Does that have any significance or memory for you?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, Carl back in '16 we got to work together. We became best friends. He's still a best friend of mine.
I always tell my guys, you just never know, you never know when your last one's going to be. 2016 we won Texas, sitting on top of the world. I thought Carl and I are going to make a run atmosphere it for the next 10 years, win five championships along the way. Things just turned a different way at the end of the season.
Wow, I thought about it a lot. That might be my last race win as a crew chief.
So to come in here in a must-win type situation, get it done with Daniel, not make that my last win as a crew chief, is really special, means a lot to me.
Q. Dave, did you feel like things were going to go your way this weekend?
DAVE ROGERS: Coach says it all the time, you measure people when their back is up against the wall. Anybody can do it when it's easy. Coach, Coy, the whole Gibbs family, they've been great mentors to me for over 20 years now.
When adversity struck the other day, the first thing you do is look at your guys. I saw that none of them were shaken, didn't bother any of them. We were coming up with a new game plan every five minutes. At first we were going to have plenty of time, car is going to get here, plenty of time for practice, no sweat. Then it wasn't even going to make practice. Then it was going to come right before.
As those scenarios kept unfolding, we kept adjusting the game plan. If it does this, we're going to do that. We had a plan for every situation. Nobody buckled.
We have awesome teammates. When we unloaded, if you look at that car, there's just a swarm of bees on it. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing was on the car just putting on the shark fin, helping get the TV cameras installed, getting our reference measurements.
Everyone just performed like professionals. So I think for them to get this championship right now just caps it off nicely.
Q. Dave, you've been in the sport for 16 seasons as a crew chief. Finally won a championship with a driver. What does that mean to you?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, it's hard to put in words. You dream about this. We count the owner's championship in '08. Yeah, we count 2016, too (smiling).
You grew up watching this sport, dreaming about being in it, dreaming about winning, winning championships. As a little kid, that's all you want to do. It's all I wanted to do.
To come here and get it done is just awesome. But what's best about it is the team, it's the people. Again, coach, you win with people, you win with people, you win with people.
What's great is over the 20-plus years I've been with Gibbs, I've worked with amazing people, people that have taught me a lot, they've cared for me, mentored me, we won together, lost together.
Now I'm the guy with gray hair, I'm the old guy. To watch our young guys win races and see the excitement in their face, to be part of Daniel Hemric's first win, his first championship, the excitement comes from just watching them guys have so much enjoyment. Those were probably the memories I'll take away most.
Q. Dave, Daniel has been so close so many times this year alone. What does this moment do to change how you look at those particular near misses?
DAVE ROGERS: Oh, I don't know. They're in the rearview mirror. The windshield is so big, the rearview mirror is so small, you always look forward.
The great thing is -- that question is horrible, for the record. I mean, I dreaded it more than Daniel did. I knew when we walked on the grid we were going to hear, When is your first win? Is tonight the night? That probably puts more pressure on you than anything else.
As a crew chief, that's the last thing you want someone to put in your driver's head. Put up the window net, Hey, is tonight the night? What you want him focused on is good restarts, wise decisions behind the wheel.
Now he's got that. Can't ask that no more. I think Daniel Hemric is going to be a completely different driver from today forward just because of the mental aspect.
Think about it. Yeah, we had some near misses, we could have won a couple more, but he just stepped up and beat the best of the best with all that pressure. The 22 didn't wreck out. We beat him. So Daniel Hemric is going to have a lot of confidence, and he should have a lot of confidence.
Q. You mentioned focusing forward. How much of that mentality attributed to the success you had this season?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, certainly we know Joe Gibbs Racing is building great race cars, teammates in the 54, they won so many races. I can't even count. I don't have enough fingers, I don't think. They've won so many races. We're racing the same stuff. We all have the same cars. There's days that Chris, a great crew chief, there's days he makes better calls than me, and there's days that Daniel gets out-dueled.
The equipment at Joe Gibbs Racing is first class. Everybody back at the shop builds really good race cars. We knew that. When knew when we came here we would have a car fast enough to win. We just had to execute. We've been chomping at the door.
In life, if you keep knocking at the door, eventually somebody answers. May not be as soon as you want, but they eventually answer. We knew it could happen. We were pretty confident it was going to happen tonight, and it did.
Q. Dave, Daniel has been very complimentary of you this year. He said you've gotten another gear out of him. What is your relationship with him like?
DAVE ROGERS: Well, that's an amazing compliment. Getting back to the people, the gray hairs, trying to be a positive role model or leader or person in someone else's life. I mean, that's the most important, right? Racing cars is fun, but influencing people and being a positive role model is a wonderful opportunity.
I said it already. I've been at Gibbs for 20 years. JGR has the best people in the sport. The Gibbs family, Coy here, Joe, J.D. there's just so many people there that make you better. They just teach you. They don't teach you by telling you. They teach you by doing and showing.
I've had just great mentorship. I've had great leadership over the years. If Daniel thinks that some of that bled off onto me, that's a huge compliment and I appreciate it.
Q. Coy, can you explain the decision-making process at JGR for bringing on Hemric this year.
COY GIBBS: I mean, I think for our organization, it was more of a challenge. We thought Daniel could win. Obviously they've been fighting, Dave and Dan, all year to get that win. So to get it is fantastic.
I think pairing Dave and Daniel together was the right thing to do. Dave is extremely encouraging, probably the most encouraging crew chief I've heard on the radio ever. I think the kid just needed a little bit of encouragement, a little break, to get in some good equipment. We thought we could win with him. It's nice to have done that.
Q. How hard will it be to see him walk out the door now going to another team?
COY GIBBS: I didn't say he's going to win in the future. I just said he was going to win at Joe Gibbs Racing (laughter). Just kidding.
No, I mean, he's our guy. After the banquet, he's not our guy anymore. It's our sport. We'll go toe-to-toe with him. But I think my personal beliefs are his best chance to win are in our organization. We'll see how he does in the future.
Q. Dave, you talked about how drivers can tend to get in their heads being in the situation that Daniel has been in this year. Were there moments this season where you saw that affect him?
DAVE ROGERS: No, I can't put my finger on a time that this affected him. But there's plenty of times I've asked, How does it not? We're sitting there talking about code words and strategy, what we got to do. A reporter pops in, Hey, is today the day? It's just a distraction.
When you're trying to compete, distractions are part of the competition, right? When you're trying to compete, you just try to silence the noise, kind of shut down the outside voices, just focus on what's at hand.
To answer your question, no, I never saw a time where that affected us. There's plenty of times, Gosh, man, I feel bad for him having to answer this question every week.
I'm happy for him he never has to answer it again.
Q. He obviously had to show a lot of restraint at Martinsville. Were there any conversations leading up to this race about what strategy would be like in not having to do that for this one?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, you know, Daniel coined the phrase 'house money'. We didn't have any wins in the season, probably a lot of people counted us out, didn't think we'd be in the Final 4 to begin with.
We didn't count ourselves out. We got a situation there at the end of Martinsville where we lost control of the race late. Honestly we had a really good shot at winning it, and we didn't. We put ourselves in a situation where we just had to protect points. That's so challenging.
That racetrack is great. I love Martinsville. To go from one lap in contention to win, a few laps later, okay, now we have to survive so we can play tomorrow, that's an emotional heartbreak. It's really tough to swallow as a competitor.
The talks this week were house money. They counted us out. There's no points on the line. It's just smash the gas and go. It was definitely a more aggressive mindset at Phoenix than Martinsville.
Q. Coy, kind of flew underneath the radar tonight, but Ty was able to get the Rookie of the Year tonight. I want to know your thoughts on that and emotions moving forward.
COY GIBBS: No, that was great. We were excited for him. I think it's kind of weird because you start the year with all the COVID stuff, you don't know if you're going to practice, qualify, what's going to happen. Honestly we were going to run, like, 10 races. We started looking at it, if we don't run the next race, we may not get in the next race. We kind of built out a whole year for him.
Obviously got John Hunter in there. We call it the All-Star car because you have Kyle every once in a while, Denny, Martin. I didn't expect that honestly. That was special.
THE MODERATOR: Coy, Dave, thank you for the time tonight. Congratulations. Enjoy the championship.
DAVE ROGERS: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports