Transcript: Media Conference – Joe Gibbs – Sonoma Raceway

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our race-winning owner, Joe Gibbs.

We’ll open it up for questions.

Q. Coach, I’m curious, seeing how the team struggled so much last year on the road courses, to see what Toyota as a whole has done this year, to see Denny get the pole, Martin pull off the victory, what has been the change that you have seen over the course of the last year?

JOE GIBBS: Well, you’re right. When we came here last year, it’s probably one of the worst races we’ve had at our race team. We just really struggled. We got off to a slow start all of last year, as everybody knows.

I think really what happened, what I’m proud of, as the year went, I felt like we got a little better, little better, little better, little better. I think that’s what happened.

We wound up at the end of the year winning the Roval. We start off at COTA and we had Tyler win there in a Toyota. I think when we came here, I just really, really appreciate everybody back home, everybody that has worked as hard as they have worked.

I was standing down there so nervous the last 10 laps. I just realized how hard it is to win one of these. I know you guys in here know it. You witness it every week. But I’m just going to tell you it’s extremely hard. I was thinking of all the things that could happen. A late caution, whatever.

Really appreciate Johnny Morris, really appreciate him. Jamie. Auto-Owners. Norm at Interstate. All the sponsors that go on this car and make it possible. It’s a big deal for us. Reser’s is also a part of that sponsorship team.

As you guys know, our sport is different than any other sport. You’re not going to race cars unless you have great partners. I look at them as a partner really. They’re not really sponsors, they’re partners.

Q. This is Martin’s fourth win here. What has made him so good here?

JOE GIBBS: Well, he flew out on the plane with me this morning. There was only two of us on the plane. I kind of said to him early, I said, Hey, look, they reconfigured the track here not long ago. The three wins, what did you win? He said, On both of them.

I really think he’s confident when he comes here. It really feels like he’s got a real feel for Sonoma. Why that would happen with a driver, we all know, we see it from time to time, drivers seem to have a real I think confidence about some tracks. He’s that way here.

Our team this year, we got off to a slow start really I think for us. There’s a couple of areas that we’re working extremely hard on. Our qualifying was really, really encouraging here. Then we got some other issues that we’re trying to really get after.

Proud of our guys. They work hard when they get behind.

Q. Coach, it seems like Martin Truex Jr. has a little extra swagger this year, pump in his step. What do you attribute that to?

JOE GIBBS: Well, I think our team, James has got the guys… I think we’ve been fast. I think he gets excited when he has fast cars. Top fives the two weeks previous to this. That gets him excited.

I guess it would be like almost any driver who goes to the racetrack with a lot of confidence. I think it’s very important he and James have a great relationship. Martin – James will tell you this – may be one of the absolute best at dealing with adversity. He is just even, you know what I mean?

In our technical meetings and everything, he’s the driver that’s real calm, thinking through stuff. That’s just his personality. That’s the way he deals with things.

But we kind of got off to a slow start. This is a big deal for us. It was great to be out in the Coliseum, have him win there, kind of get started. Now we have two more, so it’s a big deal for us.

Q. You talked last year in the contract stuff with Kyle, you hope you never have to race against him. Three wins, finished second today. What is it like to have to race against Kyle Busch?

JOE GIBBS: It’s not fun. We don’t like that, okay (smiling)? Certainly we didn’t want that to happen. It did.

He’s a real talent. Got such respect for him. We don’t like racing against Kyle. I think he’s going to win a bunch. We know it. So we got to work our guts out to try and stay in front of him.

I’m just thankful today that Martin was able to stay there.

Q. A lot of expectations with Ty. How do you view what he’s been able to do so far the first 16 races?

JOE GIBBS: Yeah, he gets discouraged. He gets mad. He was mad today. Qualified good.

I got to tell you, again, that emphasizes I think how hard this is. You try and keep him calm, but he gets revved up. He just really wants to get after it.

We’re proud of what he’s done. I think he and Chris have kind of got a good relationship. We’ve had some different things happen to him. But I think he’s after it, so we feel good about that.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time. Congratulations.