Transcripts: Joe Gibbs – Press Conference – Richmond

Richmond Raceway

THE MODERATOR: We now joined by Joe Gibbs, team owner of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Coach, take us through the last laps from your perspective.

JOE GIBBS: Yeah, what happens at the end like that, we go all day, we have so many laps like that, and then at the end I’m holding my breath. Of course, you see a caution. Didn’t even know why until I looked up and saw everything.

I think what I reflect on is when you have four cars like that and you see those guys battle as hard as they do, each and every one of those cars, and you just hate it for Martin to have a night like that where he fought so hard. It’s one of those things you reflect on.

Really happy for Denny, Mavis, our new sponsor. Auto Owners was on Martin’s car. It was a battle really. I know the stage breaks, not a lot of cautions, but I think it was really, really a battle.

Appreciate our guys tonight. We love coming to Richmond. It’s a favorite place for us. I think our sponsors here, we had a large number of sponsors here tonight. It’s a big deal for us all the way around.

Really appreciate it. I know you guys are anxious to get to the important guys, Denny and Chris. We’ll get to them as quick as we can.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

  1. What did you think of the use of the wet weather tires?

JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think we all kind of felt like if that was going to be the case, and it wasn’t really raining hard, we didn’t have windshield wipers, but I heard a couple of guys comment they never use them anyway.

I felt like as long as it wasn’t a steady downpour, that would probably be the way we would get the race started.

  1. Hendrick Motorsports is going to do a big 40th anniversary celebration next week at Martinsville. Rick played a big role when you got into the sport. What did you think his impact was on your entry into the sport?

JOE GIBBS: I think it was major. I had an interesting phone call. I’m there in Washington. I was thinking about trying to get into racing. J.D. and Coy said, Dad, let’s get in racing in some way. Everybody had told me the person you need to call it Rick.

Well, when I called Rick, he said, Yeah, I’m going to put my general manager with you. That was Jimmie Johnson. That’s how we started out. Jimmie Johnson was taking me around to everybody. At that point Chevrolet, went with me to Interstate. Rick played a key role in getting us started.

We bought some stuff from him. We had a motor package with him for quite a while. Rick was instrumental. I think with our sport, almost everybody here knows to come into the sport, it really does help to have an alliance. In those days it wasn’t called an alliance, but that’s really what he was for us.

We had 17 people our first year. Just really appreciate him. We joke back and forth, kid each other all the time, have a good relationship.

I invited him to a football game. He comes to the football game. A quick story. You probably heard this. He wore these boots, fancy big boots. They came apart on the sideline. It was freezing cold. He almost died on the sideline the night he came. That was a side story.

  1. Great weekend for the organization.

JOE GIBBS: I think love coming here. It was obviously a big weekend for us. Just really appreciate that. Again, it emphasizes in Xfinity we got four cars, three of ’em have been running really good. Honestly, it shows you how hard our sport is. For Sheldon, I feel so bad. We’ve had three real tough races in a row.

It just goes to show you our sport is really tough. It’s not often you get to walk away from the racetrack and have all four teams happy. Tonight is a good example.

Anyway, I just really appreciate it. Appreciate coming here. The fan base here, always get along really good with them. When we go to hospitalities and stuff, a lot of Redskin fans here. They treat me great.

  1. Denny talks about his goals long range. What are your goals for Denny?

JOE GIBBS: Obviously, it’s all the obvious things. He wants to get to 60 wins. I think tonight made it 53. I told him I’m counting the Clash, so we’re at 54 (laughter). I think he wants to get to 60 wins. That’s a huge deal for him.

I think everybody – everybody – asks him the question about winning a championship. Obviously we would love to see that happen. I met with him up at Watkins Glen. We were talking. I told him for a guy that is where he is in his career, he struggled with road racing. It shows you, though, his desire and drive even at where he is in his career. He went to work on road racing and did a number of things. They put Tyler’s setup in the car for him. He did things like that. Had a tough time driving it. Went to work in a simulator. For him to come back at his age and sit on three poles is a huge deal. It shows you his talent and his willingness still at this point in his career to really work hard at something. That’s hard work.

Anyway, it’s been a great relationship when you think about it. 18 years. FedEx has been there. For us to enjoy this, it’s really been special.

  1. I don’t know if you were able to see post race, but Martin was not happy with the result and ran into Denny. Talk about how bittersweet that result is considering Martin’s dominance. What Martin did post race, is that going to be handled in the team meeting?

JOE GIBBS: Here’s what happens. These guys put so much into this. They’re all great competitors. These things are so hard to win. So when you have an experience the way Martin did tonight, to race that hard. At one point when the 5 got in front of us on the pit stop, he came right back and got it. He drove his heart out.

Then to have a caution, we go that far, with three laps to go, it was devastating. We came out of there, came out second on the pit stop. Honestly, that’s what I was trying to relate to everybody. You’re happy for Denny certainly and everything that happened tonight for him, but then you see Martin, how hard he fought for this, how much he wanted it.

That’s part of our sport. It’s really hard. You see these guys when it gets down towards the end of these races, they’re going for it because they are really hard to win. You can’t have that happen, particularly if you got good cars, good drivers. They all want it. They want it for their sponsor. They want it for themselves, their career.

You really feel for them when they go through a night like Martin went through this night. You just feel for them.

  1. You brought back Aric Almirola for this year. What are your plans?

JOE GIBBS: What happened on that, he was in our diversity program that we had had Reggie White was with us. He was the owner of the diversity team we had. Aric went through there. He’s of Cuban descent. Bubba went through there, Daniel Suarez went through this.

Aric, we got in a conversation about a year ago. I said, You need to come back and finish your career with us. He’s been 19 years ago when he was with us. He’s been really, really just a class person.

I mentioned to everybody what kind of guy he is. J.D. had a lot to do, my son, with getting him to our race team. J.D. got sick. It was over a five-year period he gradually lost all physical, just couldn’t converse with anybody or anything. Kind of hard if me to say.

Aric Almirola would come and sit with him even when he couldn’t communicate for two and three hours at his house. That’s the kind of person he is.

We had a chance to get back together. He said I can come over. I think he’s working with our young drivers, we’ve got a number of them in Xfinity. I just appreciate him so much, the kind of person he is. That started all of that.

Anyway, we want to certainly keep him as long as we can.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks so much for coming in.

JOE GIBBS: Thank y’all. Appreciate it so much. God has blessed us with a great group of people. Thank y’all for all you do to make us look good.

It was awesome today. We had a great service today. I appreciate NASCAR letting us do that. I really appreciate being a part of that on Easter.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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