Coach discusses a new crew chief alignment for 2015.
Huntersville, N.C. – Changes are coming for Joe Gibbs Racing’s line up in 2015 – but the current rosters are still up for review.
Team owner Joe Gibbs acknowledged on Wednesday that an announcement “may be in a week or two” and no moves will be made until after the 2014 season is over.
"We’ve already decided but we need to talk to the sponsors, have discussions with people.” Gibbs said. “It will all be towards next year. The biggest thing is talking to all of our sponsors – there still could be a change there. But I think I know where we are headed.”
The right stuff
Coach says it’s a “team effort” when it comes to determining the most advantageous alignments for JGR.
While there’s a clear division between competition and the front office, Gibbs says he and his son J.D. are both heavily involved in each side and it is still “very important to have that coordinated.”
Gibbs acknowledged that JGR overhauled its competition department five months ago and performed an organizational study on his front office. While he described his club as “crew chief-driven” the end game is about keeping the drivers happy.
As you know, the drivers run the show here.
"We spend a lot of time talking to all of our crew chiefs and making sure we have the right line up,” Gibbs added. “Then of course the other key people you have to have involved with that – it always kind of starts with the drivers.
“The drivers have strong feelings, who they feel they can match up, so it takes quite a while. So you have the crew chiefs, you have the drivers, then all the rest of us are trying to work through that, too. As you know, the drivers run the show here. They make all the money (laughs).”
It's all about the people
Given his history for building championship football teams, Gibbs understands the necessity for finding the right chemistry between drivers and crew chiefs. But over the last two decades, JGR has experienced few moves on the pit box.
After 22 years you see that a driver has to believe in the crew chief and the crew chief has to believe in the driver.
“One thing is for sure, after 22 years you see that a driver has to believe in the crew chief and the crew chief has to believe in the driver," Gibbs said. "Over the years, that’s a very hard thing to keep together…It’s complicated because you have such highs and such lows and that’s always tough on a relationship.
"I’m really sensitive to that. I think we’ve talked our way through all of that, had some intense meetings. Now, we want to go talk to our sponsors about that because it’s big to them, too.”
Gibbs acknowledged that when teams experience change, “you’re always worried that you’re going to have to start over in some areas.” However, with the addition of Carl Edwards and the No. 19 JGR team, that change is inevitable.
Although Gibbs wouldn’t tip his hand before laying out the lineups to his sponsors, the most popular scenario as of last weekend has Adam Stevens promoted from the Nationwide Series to the No. 18 Cup car with Kyle Busch. The No. 19 team will be led by Darian Grubb with newcomer Carl Edwards. Dave Rogers moves to the No. 11 with Denny Hamlin and the No. 20 crew remains intact with crew chief Jason Ratcliff and Matt Kenseth.
Gibbs also told Motorsport.com that JGR is working on a contract extenson for Grubb.
Joe Gibbs on the RTA
The Race Team Alliance may be working under the radar but Gibbs is pleased with the organization’s recent progress.
I think the guys there have got committees assigned I think I have seen some benefits of it already
With NASCAR currently working on the 2015 rules packages, there couldn’t be a better time for teams to be on the same page when advocating for their requests.
“I think the guys there have got committees assigned I think I have seen some benefits of it already business-wise from the business side,” Gibbs said. “I think some of things with the rule changes and stuff. We’ve had good discussions on that. We’ve spoke with one voice on what we think about some of these issues. I think that’s been beneficial. It’s underway and we have good people working on a lot of those committees, smart people. I think that’s good for the sport and good for us as owners.
“When we get a chance or when NASCAR asks us we have one statement on what would be the best."