Future Joe Gibbs Racing driver Chase Briscoe, Joe Gibbs Racing owner and founder Joe Gibbs and the crew chief of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team, James Small, were made available to the media as they announced Briscoe’s contract to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing beginning with the 2025 NASCAR Cup Series season.

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

JOE GIBBS, owner and founder, Joe Gibbs Racing

JAMES SMALL, crew chief, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

JOHNNY MORRIS, founder, majority owner and CEO, Bass Pro Shops

Johnny, can you provide some thoughts for us?

Morris: “Good afternoon and thanks for inviting me to this call. I just want to start off by (pause), Martin (Truex) can be somewhat modest sometimes, but the other evening, he sent me a text that was a picture of him on the back of a boat in the North Atlantic and he said, ‘I’m waiting for a good tuna bite.’ Well, a few minutes later, we get another picture and he’s standing up fighting this fish and then one of his buddies sends this picture, and maybe you guys have seen it, if you haven’t, you ought to ask Martin about it. He catches this giant fish, and he caught it on stand-up tackle, which is quite a feat. And I was just thinking, if Martin, he’s getting pretty old, but if he can still catch a fish like that, he can still win another championship. That’s the main thing I was thinking about is good luck to Martin and team on getting this championship this year. And I have to start with a thank you to Martin Truex Jr. As many years now, I think 21 now, that we’ve been aligned together in racing. Have had a lot of unbelievable, happy, fun times. And all that time, Martin has just been a champion every way you measure it. Just how he represents our brand and gets after racing on the track. I just want to thank you Martin. And for the last six or seven years for our relationship that we’ve been there with Joe Gibbs Racing. And Joe, you, and your team. Everyone that’s part of your racing family, your personal family, extended racing family. They’re great folks. And when Martin made his announcement, I think Joe started to look around a little, but recently introduced myself to Chase (Briscoe) and we had a chance to get acquainted. You guys know Chase’s record in racing as a young man. What I didn’t realize is his upbringing and how he started off, kind of reminded me of a country music singer, Chris Jansen, that pursued his career and lived out of his car for a year out of Nashville following his passion. I think how we started Bass Pro Shops out the back of my dad’s liquor store and America is the land of opportunity. Chase, we’re very excited Joe (Gibbs) picked you to be the driver of the 19 car. We’re all proud, grateful and excited we get to keep racing with the team. It’s very inspirational. Very grateful and excited today, and I say that for everyone in our company and from our customers. We’re excited to keep saluting the outdoors and have fun doing it. We wish everyone the very best and are excited about the future.”

Gibbs: “We appreciate, gosh, to have a relationship like this that’ll continue on the 19 car with one of the most iconic companies in America that everyone just admires. It’s a huge deal for us and the relationship too. The thing about Bass Pro, it’s a relationship. When you get a chance to know Johnny (Morris, founder, majority owner and CEO, Bass Pro Shops) and JP (John Paul Morris). The things that Johnny, he really feels passionate about are family, and then of course, is America. The reason I share these things is that they’ll show up on our car, which is a thrill for us. He cares about America, but all of those that have sacrificed for America. Johnny is very big on veterans. It shows up on our race car. And then of course, the outdoors. So, for all of those reasons, I think that logo the guys and I are wearing is one of the most iconic logos in America. People recognize it. I see teenagers running around with the hat on. Johnny, his family and team have built a fantastic company. We’re just thrilled to be a part of it and that will continue to be a huge deal for us. The other thing I was going to say about Martin (Truex).  Johnny touched on it there. Martin will be an ambassador for us for the years going forward. We’re still talking about the things he’ll do for us. And so that’s going to be exciting. If we can get him off a boat or a deer blind some place, we’ll have a chance. I told him ‘do you really think you can fish every day?’ So, this will be interesting. I think we can get him back for a few things. So that’s going to be big deal.”

Coach, can you share an opening statement on this announcement?

Gibbs: “So we have Chase (Briscoe) and that’s exciting for us. Marissa (Briscoe, Chase’s wife) is here, and our star is here running around, Brooks (Briscoe, Chase’s son). If he’s here, we need to get him up here in a few minutes. And then we’re waiting on some twins, I think. Here’s the deal that I thought really rang true on Chase. When you’re doing this, it’s a really huge deal for us. Our company, the people that work for us. It becomes a huge decision. We went through this for months and we talked to I don’t know how many people that could potentially come to our car. And so, what really hit all of us with Chase and his background. You can go back and look at Xfinity, he won nine races that year (2020). And some of the other things he’s done, he’s already won in Cup. But to hear him sit and talk about his background and the sacrifices he made to race. I think that hit Johnny (Morris). I think Chase is a big outdoors guy. He has a fishpond in the back of his house there, so they shared a lot there too. I think his story and how much he’s sacrificed to do what he does was really impressive. I know it impressed Johnny and JP and did me. But also, we have to win, and we came down to the end, we think Chase can win. That’s where we are and it’s a thrill for us to have him come onboard and he’ll take over the 19 car after this year. Now the emphasis for the rest of this year, we think we can win a championship with this car. I know James (Small) feels that way. We’re going to do everything we can to try to win a championship and let Martin go out on top. For that car, nothing much has gone our way, but that car is sitting there as the first in points behind those who have won. We’re in a good spot there.”

Chase, how do you feel now that this is finally official?

Briscoe: “I think it’s the worst kept secret in the sport for a while now. Christopher (Bell) I guess just couldn’t hold it in any longer. But yeah, super exciting to come to an organization where I feel like it matches my values and just the culture over here is different than wherever I’ve been before. It starts at the top with Joe, Dave (Alpern, president, Joe Gibbs Racing), Heather Gibbs (co-owner, Joe Gibbs Racing) and everybody. It’s been fun for a couple weeks now to learn that side of them and see what makes them as successful as they are. That’s the thing I’m excited about to come over next year and try to just add to that in any capacity I can. Obviously, they have amazing race cars, amazing people over here and then to do it, with what Joe was saying, with an iconic brand like Bass Pro Shops. I’m an outdoorsman myself. I love hunting and fishing. Literally, my son and I fish almost every single day. When I met Johnny for the first time, I was trying to figure out where I can get some of those bass in the aquarium as the bass in my house are not that big. Hopefully I can continue to get Johnny to maybe give me some bass. It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for me, the opportunity of a lifetime. Like Joe was saying, all the sacrifices I’ve had to go through during my career to finally come here and hopefully show what I can do. It’s obviously big shoes to fill. Martin is an incredible race car driver, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in my opinion. When he came over here, I think he had two wins, before he went to Furniture Row and Joe Gibbs, and that’s kind of the same situation I’m in right now, so hopefully I can have the same type of career as Martin where this was the skyrocket for him and hopefully be here for a really long time.”

James, what are your thoughts once Chase is added to the No. 19 team?

Small: “Yeah, we’re all super excited on the team. We’ve been in-limbo the past few years trying to work out which way he (Martin Truex Jr.) was going to go, but now, this just allows us to build for the future. Chase (Briscoe) is an amazing talent. I actually didn’t know him until last week, and then spent an hour with him and we had a really good chat. I think our goals both have a lot to prove. So yeah, very excited and looking forward to next season and prove what we can do to everybody.”

Coach, what were the criteria you wanted in the next driver and how many drivers did you evaluate?

Gibbs: “When it comes to picking talent, you know and you come from a football background with the draft and everything, the most important thing we do is our people and the people you have on your team. For us really here, it always starts with character. You’re always looking at what type of person you’re getting. And the thing that is different about our sport is that these guys have to represent companies and they represent us. You kind of see the drivers, and I’ve always really respected the drivers in NASCAR because you just don’t find people getting in trouble. It’s a very high standard, so that’s what we always start with and you’re looking at, because it’s so important and you just think about Bass Pro Shops and the fact that Chase (Briscoe) will be representing them. That’s such a big deal for us and so, our drivers, we feel like character and then of course that comes with us is we have to win. None of our sponsors say to us, ‘we’re good with running in the back.’ You have to compete; we want to win. And so, then it starts into the talent. I think it’s never easy and it’s complicated when we pick people or somebody like this to take over for us on our race team. Huge deal for us. I think, knowing, Christopher (Bell) was able to help me a little bit with Chase. I think he slept on Christopher’s couch, he was knocking on doors for three years. When you hear his story, there’s a miracle in there that really happened for him to get a chance for that Xfinity (Series) year. I actually met already with that person, and he told me this story, and it’s a crazy deal, he walked out of the store and Chase’s dad was there and started a conversation, which is crazy. I think it’s a good example of God putting his hand out. So, I think it’s the most important thing we do, is the people who work on our team and certainly felt Chase fit that for us.

What made you think James Small is the right fit moving forward?

Gibbs: “It’s obvious – we are not changing the crew chief, so relax, James (Small)? (laughter). Our team there – if you take a look at what we’ve done – if you take a look at this year, that car has overcome all kinds of adversity. It was again last week – and to fight all the way back, last week, and to wind up ninth is a perfect example. We’ve kind of been doing that all year. We’ve been the dominate car too at times, and things just didn’t go well at the end of the race, so we are sitting there in points – last year we won the regular season – I just think our team there, if we have a few things go our way, I think we could win the championship this year. We all feel that way. We are excited about that. I know that is hugely important to all of our sponsors there including, Johnny (Morris, founder, majority owner and CEO, Bass Pro Shops) and Bass Pro. It’s a huge deal for us. We mention Interstate (Batteries) and Reser’s being on that car, that is a huge deal for us. I think we’ve got everything it takes there to win a championship, so that is our goal.”

Coach, how important is it to find a driver that shares your faith?

Gibbs: “I don’t think we’ve here ever asked somebody, what is your faith? We’ve never done that. We want to hire – we start with character and what kind of person, and all of that. I do think it kind of comes out, in a process of doing something like this, because we go in real depth with every part of it. I think we are looking for high-character people, and certainly, we think that Chase (Briscoe) fits that. I think in our world – you’re going to go through highs and lows here, like you won’t believe. That is the thing about sports – sports will test you. You will try to get a feeling of how they are going to hold up, just like Martin (Truex) and the way he has fought in that car with everything that has gone against us this year. Two weeks ago, we ended up 17th and we came back from everything that could happen to a car, and again this week. That is what you are looking for. You are looking for people that will fight. I think their background says a lot about them, and I think Chase’s background says that he will fight.”

How will you balance his love for dirt racing?

Gibbs: “Now why did you have to bring that up? (laughter) Let me say this. I can tell you where we are. It is important to Christopher (Bell), and all of our drivers. So, what we have developed here, if someone wants to run a race outside of our Cup stuff, they just come to us. They go to the crew chief first, then they go to our competition guys – Michael (Guttilla, chief operating officer, Joe Gibbs Racing) – then we all talk it over. It has a lot to do with the car, the race track and whatever, and then we make a decision and go forward. In our Xfinity car, Christopher jumped in there last week. There will be times that they can definitely – we will just use common sense, so that is kind of what we have developed a plan going forward, because I know it’s important to them.”

Chase, can you walk us through the timeline to this opportunity?

Briscoe: “It really started the day that Tony (Stewart) told us all. He kind of asked us at the end, when he told all of the drivers, ‘do you have any questions?’ and I said, ‘what does this mean about us being able to talk to other people?’. He said, ‘you guys are free to do what you want.’. So really in the conference room, I just started texting all of the team presidents that I knew, and Dave (Alpern, president, Joe Gibbs Racing) was one of them, and just said ‘hey, Stewart-Haas told us today that we were free to do whatever we want, and would love the opportunity to talk to you guys if there is any potential there.’. I think the SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) announcement got done on Tuesday, I want to say. Wednesday night, Dave called me and asked if I wanted to go to breakfast on Thursday, and I think I was signed by Tuesday. It was a super quick thing – it was like four or five days, but yeah, it was literally sitting in the conference room at SHR.

James, can you expand on saying you and Chase have something to prove?

Small: “I think maybe a little bit the way that I got this job originally – working with Martin (Truex) – he’s a legend. You know what I mean? And coming into that. I feel like maybe think that – and he’s awesome and everything – but we really believe in ourselves as a team, and we know we can do it without him, so it was just touching on that. We can do it by ourselves, and Chase (Briscoe) is the absolute perfect driver to do that with.”

Chase, how do you feel you fit into the culture at Joe Gibbs Racing?

Briscoe: “I think just how Joe (Gibbs, owner and founder, Joe Gibbs Racing) is as a person. It starts at the top. The faith part of it was big, and obviously they want to do everything they can to win, but I feel like they do it the right way here. Out of all the teams that I met with; Joe was the only team that never said what can you bring. They just wanted me for me, and that meant a lot to me personally. They felt that strongly about me in the car and the other teams – Joe was the one that called me two-to-three times a day and reassure me how bad they wanted me in the car. That just made a difference for me personally, because it honestly helped my confidence in the race car – just knowing that he believed in me that much – and I haven’t even driven a race over here yet, so from that stand point, that was really important to me. And the culture and the faith side of it, how Joe is and even when we’ve been flying all over the place – he prays before we take off – and just things like that, that mean a lot to me personally. I definitely felt like from a culture standpoint it was a great fit. I just felt like what I believe in and how I try to go about everything, it was a perfect fit.”

Can you elaborate on your friendship with Christopher Bell?

Briscoe: “Yeah if it wasn’t for Christopher, I don’t know if I’d be in NASCAR period. You know, I think Jeff Gluck (writer, The Athletic) did a story a couple years ago. Christopher was obviously with Toyota and I’ve known Christopher since I was probably 12-years-old I want to say. We started racing online together and formed this friendship and lived together for a little bit. Back on 2015 I want to say it was, he called me and said Roush-Fenway Racing had offered him a deal for a development driver and he wasn’t going to take it, so I got the name from him and walked in the front door of Roush-Fenway and said ‘I need to talk to this guy.’ Somehow got a meeting, and that was the whole meeting that started me getting an opportunity in motorsports. And then, same thing, with this, Christopher texted me the week of SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) shutting down and he said ‘Hey, I think Martin might not be coming back. You need to be wearing them out over there.’ So I mean, without Christopher, he’s been a huge part of my career.”

Does taking over the No. 19 ease the pressure you’re going to face next year?

Briscoe: “I mean, I think there’s pressure to perform coming over here (Joe Gibbs Racing) in the first place, doesn’t matter who’s driving it, whether it’s Martin or whoever. This car is capable of winning. So, that’s the one thing with this opportunity as well is if I don’t win, my career’s over, so I have to go win and prove my worth. Yeah, I don’t think it changes with who you’re replacing. I think it’s kind of ironic, I was a diehard Tony Stewart fan and I’m doing the reverse Tony Stewart, going from SHR to Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) versus Gibbs to SHR. Yeah, I don’t think it matters who you’re replacing. But it is nice to know the car is fully capable, right? Martin’s won championships and in contention to win and won the regular season last year. So yeah, I think as a driver, you think you can get the job done and it doesn’t matter who you’re replacing, but it’s nice to know you’re coming into a situation that’s obviously proven.”

Gibbs: “There is one other thing I wanted to emphasis. It is a total team around here, and a big part of our team is Toyota. I just want everyone to know – we talk about making decisions like this – Toyota is a huge part of it. Tyler (Gibbs, GM, TRD, U.S.A.) is here today, representing Toyota. It is Jack Hollis (executive vice president and chief operating officer, Toyota Motor North America). It is David Wilson (president, TRD U.S.A.). it’s the whole team over there. Toyota wants to win. They are very competitive, and they also care about our race team for sure. It is a total team effort there. I want to emphasis that. They are a part of every decision we make. It is hugely important for us. We’ve got a partnership with them that is going on 16 years. One of the things about partnerships – when you go through things like racing – you’ve got highs and you’ve got lows. With Toyota, we’ve been through both. Once you learn, you develop a real strong relationship, and anytime we’ve been in a downturn for any reason, it always been together – we are just going to work, and we are going to find a way to get out of this. We appreciate Toyota so much. They have a huge influence with Johnny (Morris, founder, majority owner and CEO, Bass Pro Shops) too. They’ve done some interesting things with him and the other thing I wanted to emphasis. Heather (Gibbs, co-owner) is here today, taking on a huge role with our ownership now. Most of you are getting a chance to know her. Then of course, Michael (Guttilla, chief operating officer, Joe Gibbs Racing) coming on board to help us with our competition. Dave (Alpern, president, Joe Gibbs Racing) – not help us, but direct our competition – has been asset for us. As you know, we went through some tough losses here, and he has been a part of that and then Eric (Schaffer, chief commercial officer, Joe Gibbs Racing) sitting in here today too. He came on board through our reorganization after Coy (Gibbs) went home. Dave as you know, and come to recognize, he’s been here ever since the first nut and bolt has been put on. It is a thrill for me when I go through the shop and see people that have been here – we actually gave 30 years awards. It is awesome. I love that. Tim (Carmichael, chief financial officer, Joe Gibbs Racing) is here too. He’s been such a supporter of all of us from a financial stand point. He’s brilliant, and always keeps us in – I’ve got a tendency to sometimes go and spend the stuff – and he’s there to kind of reel us back in, so from our whole team and everybody else at Joe Gibbs Racing – it is a total team effort here. Just appreciate it, and I want to thank all of you for being here today. It’s a huge deal for us. Thank you for being here and being a part of it.”

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