Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Ty Gibbs, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media after practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway on Friday.

TY GIBBS, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

How was the car?

“I was just a little too tight. We are making adjustments to fix that and be better. You know the way this car is – being lower power – sometimes when you get bogged down, you just pay for it.”

Did you notice anything different with the car from last year?

“Not really too much. I can feel the rear diffuser downforce – they pulled some stuff off that thing. I feel more over body downforce on it, but besides that, it feels pretty dang close – just a little sloppier, which is what we were expecting.”

Did you feel like you had more speed in your car than last year?

“Yeah, once we make our right adjustments for sure. Just got to get there. We are trying different stuff.”

How would you assess your season so far?
“It’s been good. Just trying to get some good finishes. Kind of hard to judge my season because, we had two speedways to start out with, but I think it’s been good so far.”

What has been the feel with the 54 team?

“It’s been really normal. We’ve been around our guys a lot. I’ve been with them since Xfinity, so it been good. We will keep working.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Brakes Plus Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

Can you talk about the speed of the Toyotas?

“We are not our normal three tenths off in practice that we are usually are. We made some big setup changes, from our car in the past over the last couple of years, just trying something different to try to get better at this track. It’s been the 11’s car by far weakest oval, so trying to get better at it. I think we’ve taken a step in the right direction, but to see other Toyotas up in the front is good, because that is where we will feel a difference, it is not going to be in how the car feels aerodynamically, because we are not that good to be able to tell that, it just matters if it shows up on the speed chart.”

So you would say the setup changes are affecting it more than the changes to the car?

“Yeah, from the 11 standpoint, for sure. I don’t know about the other guys, but I know for us, we have to do something different than what we have done in the past, and we are trying that now.”

How was it traffic wise?

“I would it say that it was probably a little bit better in traffic. Very small from what I could tell. Nothing earth shattering. If you got caught behind somebody, you would really get caught behind someone, but that is typical of what we’ve had before, but I would say – I thought my car was better than the person I was catching though, so if they are equal cars, I would say it is going to be tough to get around anyone, but it seems like package wise, maybe a slight bit of change better.”

Could you tell any change in the new diffuser?

“I couldn’t, no. I think some of the changes where it is supposed to be better, I think it’s just not supposed to be worse than what we had before. It is just a far less expensive piece.”

Could you tell a difference in the tire?

“Yeah, that is a good thing for Goodyear to continue to evolve on and try to get better at is trying to find a tire that is going to continue to drop off. I think this one is showing some signs of that, so I think that it is definitely a step in the right direction on the tire.”

When you talk about the tires, does that mean it’s more on the drivers?

“Of course. Anytime you can have lap time variability from good to bad and new to old, you are going to see more passing. The more that we can create that, the more the drivers are going to have a hand in their finish in any given weekend for sure.”

How would you prepare those who are watching at home about setting realistic expectations?

“I think it is not going to be worse than we had. What we had was really, really bad for sure. This is a 10 percent fix. If back in the old heydays, where aerodynamics didn’t matter and that is a zero and what we had is 100, this is like 90. It is going to be a very, very small change, but anything that can allow us to run closer together, cross each other’s wake without the air blocking we have seen over the last few weeks, that will be a good thing, and I certainly think that this package, this tire is heading in the right direction. It’s not all the way there, but it’s certainly heading there.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What did you learn that you can apply to Sunday?

“Honestly, just a normal practice. You give updates on the balance of your car and what direction you need to go with it – kind of where you sit on speed. Car felt close. Need a little work to be better. We need a good chunk to be a winning car, but we will make adjustments and see, but as far as feeling different from past times here, not really.”

Was traffic the same?

“Terrible. No change.”

As terrible as it has been?

“It felt similar. I couldn’t honestly tell. The teams, engineers make the car’s as close to balanced as they can, so I felt exactly like I did here last fall. Traffic, it still sucked. Will it be worse in the race? It will be different when everyone’s out there. Maybe it will be a little better, who knows.”

With the new body on the Toyotas, were you paying any particular attention to the new parts of the body?

“No, not really. The team is just trying to figure it out the best and quickest they can and figure out how to have a car capable of winning. We’ve really started the season off strong and consistent. We’ve had really good speed every week. I think top-five speed in every race, I feel like so far, and maybe a little closer than that last week when we were at our best. We are getting where we need to be, just need to capitalize a little more, but as far as the car – when you are in them, they all feel the same. It is just the setup and the things the guys are working on can make such a difference, you can’t say wow, this body is so much better than last year. Really hard to tell a big difference right now in only a couple of races in. We have a lot more data points to put in the old notebook.”

What would you want to see to say that this package is a little bit better?

“Just the ability to turn better than somebody when you are behind them and get under them like we used to race. What I noticed in practice, I got within a car length or so, and just plowed out from behind the guy when I caught him. Doesn’t seem a whole lot different, but tomorrow a whole lot more cars on the track will be a a different data point, and we will see if it’s a whole lot different.”

The Toyotas were fast in practice. Does that mean anything?

“We’ve been working hard on it. I don’t think we’ve found the magic just yet. I feel just like I did last year so far, so hopefully, we can learn a little bit from our teammates, they seem to be a little bit different than us and hopefully, we can try some new stuff. It was nice to have a practice under our belt to be able to try a few things. We tried a few things and it made a difference for sure. We got better. We just ran out time, ran out of things to change. Hopefully we can make a few more adjustments here before tech this afternoon and get it right for tomorrow and Sunday.”

Toyota Racing PR