Joe Gibbs Racing/new sponsor, driver press conference

Joe Gibbs Racing/FedEx Press Conference Quotes CHARLOTTE, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 -- FedEx Corp (NYSE: FDX), a worldwide leader in the broadest range of transportation, e-commerce and business services, will sponsor a third...

Joe Gibbs Racing/FedEx Press Conference Quotes

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 -- FedEx Corp (NYSE: FDX), a worldwide leader in the broadest range of transportation, e-commerce and business services, will sponsor a third Joe Gibbs Racing car for the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season with Jason Leffler as the driver, officials from FedEx and JGR announced Oct. 13.

The following are quotes from today's announcement that was conducted at the FedEx Express Ramp at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport:

JASON LEFFLER (Driver, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet):

Is this the biggest day of your career?

"Definitely, definitely the biggest. This is the greatest opportunity that I've ever had to be associated with Joe Gibbs Racing again and with a sponsor like FedEx. It's just incredible."

How does this differ from when you first raced from JGR in the Busch Series in 1999-2000

"I'm more ready for it. I'm more seasoned and have a lot more seat time under my belt. I think I'm a lot more grateful about getting this opportunity than I was before. To be with a championship caliber team like Joe Gibbs Racing is awesome. They've won two championships with two separate drivers, which is incredible in this day and age. Their commitment to win is second to none. To have them pair with FedEx's 245,000 employees, who are all excited about us getting involved in NEXTEL Cup, is just incredible"

About goals for 2005

"To get to the winner's circle, that's for sure. That's a plan, and we think we can do it. We have all the tools to do it. I think we have the desire to do it, to get there and dig down deep and to get to victory lane. That's one of our main goals."

When will you start testing?

"As soon as the checkered flag falls at Homestead. Dave Rogers (crew chief) is in the midst of a championship battle with Tony Stewart because he still works on the 20 Home Depot car. They are right there in the thick of things. I don't think Greg Zipadelli (Stewart's crew chief) will let him go, which is totally understandable, because he's got a job to do over there until the end of the year."

About Busch Series plans for the remainder of 2004

"I possibly might pick up a ride for the last five races. Today is a real bright spot to look forward in my future, especially with the way the last week was. It's just great for everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx, and everybody in my family. It's an incredible opportunity."

JOE GIBBS (Owner, JGR; Head Coach, Washington Redskins):
Via videotaped message

"I wish I could have been there, but as you guys know this is practice day at Redskins Park, and I'm trying to find a way to win a game. I think things are in great hands with J.D. being there. We're very excited about partnering with FedEx. We are proud to have them team up at Joe Gibbs Racing. In 13 years we've built some great partnerships with some of the most prominent and well-respected companies in America. We're excited to have FedEx on board with the No. 18 Interstate Batteries car and the No. 20 Home Depot car. Our team partnerships have also built friendships over the years, and we look forward to the lasting friendship that we are about to start with the all the folks in Memphis. Obviously, this couldn't have been more appropriate for JGR, with me coaching at FedExFeild and now JGR racing the FedEx car, we're excited to make a run for the championship with the No. 11 FEDEX team, and we know that our goal is to beat that UPS car."

J.D. GIBBS (President, Joe Gibbs Racing):

J.D.'s wife, Melissa, gave birth to the couples fourth child, Zachary Tyler Gibbs, early Wednesday morning.

"Everything went fairly quick last night, and I'm going back after this press conference. I told my wife before I left this morning 'Hey, wouldn't it be neat, because this is a special day with the FedEx announcement, if we named him Fed with the middle name being Ex?' (laughter). She's not going for it. I just talked to my Dad. He does wish he could be here."

About the length of the contract with FedEx

"It's a multi-year deal. That gives you the stability to know that you have a long-term partner there that that's going to be with you for a while."

How big of a day is this for you?

"I'll tell you in about four months. I'll let you know, but so far, so good. It's a different reality when you hit the track. You've got to come out running, and that's our plan. It's neat to watch this organization grow from (Jimmy) Makar (Senior Vice President of JGR) and just 15 of us at the time, and grow to where it is now. We'll be approaching close to 300 people working on race cars. It's crazy, but it's a testament to NASCAR and our sport and how much it's grown."

How do you managed all that?

"We're going to find out. I don't have the answer right now. I have some ideas. It's a hard sport. You look around and who has three cars and they're all running well? Who has all their cars running well? It's hard to do. With us right now, we're trying to get the 18 (Bobby Labonte) back where it needs to be, so I think brining the 11 on is going to help the whole situation. It gives you more tests, more information, and allows you to bring some more people on board, and those are all great assets if you use them wisely."

About the selection of Leffler as driver

"We watched him in the truck series, and he had great success. If you look at guys and you are going to start a team, there's not a whole lot of guys that are going to be on your list. He was our guy at the top. Our guys always keep track of who's out there and what's going on. I think that's one thing that we do pretty well is keep track of what's out there that not only FedEx can get excited about, but our guys in the shop need to get excited about it, too."

About Tony Stewart's role in getting Leffler and JGR together

"Actually, Tony was the one that helped get him here to begin with. I think Tony is excited about it. Bobby is excited about it, excited about working with him. That's a huge deal, because any time you get a conflict there, you are almost dead in the water. To have those guys excited about it means a lot to Jason and to our crew guys."

Did Leffler do anything in particular to impress you?

"Running well in the Busch Series. Ultimately, you've got to run well. You can be the greatest PR guy, greatest marketing guy, but if you don't run well, it's a moot point. He has that ability. He has that experience. He's just grown a lot in the last several years. I think his working with corporations and doing the media things that he's had to do, I think he's prepared for that as well."

DAVE ROGERS (Crew Chief, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet

"I want to thank FedEx and Joe Gibbs Racing for giving me this opportunity. It's very exciting to team with two companies that are driven to compete and succeed on and off the racetrack. Thanks very much."

JIMMY MAKAR (Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, JGR)

"It's a very exciting time. It was exciting to start Joe Gibbs Racing back in '91 when Joe (Gibbs) gave me that opportunity and to be able to start a second team was quite an endeavor. It was a lot of fun. To see it grow and succeed was even more of a great feeling of an accomplishment at Joe Gibbs Racing. And now to have the opportunity to start a third team at Joe Gibbs Racing, which not a lot of teams get the opportunity to do, with the backing that we have from FedEx and what we have going on at Joe Gibbs Racing is another exciting opportunity to do something that not so many other teams have been able to do."

About the selection of Jason Leffler

"Jason has got all the things that it takes to come race with us. We were grooming him a few years ago to possibly take over a third car if and when we had that opportunity. As he said, he had an itch to go try something before he was ready for it. We certainly felt that he was, and I think he learned a lot from that as he said that he can bring back to the table with us now. We didn't get to have to go out with him and do all the training with him. He got to do that on someone else's penny. We're excited about Jason's driving ability and what he can do behind the wheel. We've seen him grow over the last couple of years. He's the right guy for us to come back and sit behind the wheel and win races for us."

About the management of three cars

"It's tough, it really is. It's kind of learning on the fly for me. I'm trying to do this time, like I did last time when we started the second team, is look around at teams that have gone down this avenue and tried to see thing that they have done well and things that they have done not so well and kind of mix all those together and try to copy the things that they have done good and stay away from some of the other things. Some of that helps to make the decisions that we make. And the other part of it is that you have do it on the fly. Figure out what works well for Joe Gibbs Racing. We've been talking about this opportunity for a while now, so it's not like it's crept up on us. We've been trying to prepare the organization to absorb what it's going to take to run three cars instead of two and hopefully we'll be ready."

About the driver development program at JGR

"I think it's a very positive thing. Bobby (Labonte) is over 40 now and Tony (Stewart) is creeping up there. They aren't the younger group that's coming along now, and we recognize that, and I think they recognize that. We've got another good five years in those guys. But, we've got to prepare for the time when they decide they don't want to race full-time anymore, and they want to do different things with their lives. We've started a program in the company developing younger drivers to have them ready when the time comes that these guys want to step down and do something a little bit different."

Thoughts on what the career span is of a driver in NEXTEL Cup

"I don't know that there is a number. (Dale) Earnhardt, in his late 40s, was still successful. Harry Gant, years ago, into his 50s. I think it really depends on the individual. I think it's tougher today to continue being successful in this business because the competition has gotten so much keener. There are so many more good teams and good drivers out there that you have to stay on top of your game. I think that's true in any sport that you look at: football, basketball, baseball. A guy over 40 that's competing on the field with 20-year olds is very, very limited to having success. I don't think that it can't be done. I would love to see our guys stay around to they were 50 but you just never know. I think we have to be smart, wise, and be ready to do something different when the time comes that we have to."

LAURIE TUCKER (Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, FedEx Corp.

"I can't tell you how excited FedEx is to be here in Charlotte today to officially announce the entry of FedEx into NASCAR racing, one of the fastest growing, most exciting spectator sports in the world. Our strategy all along has been to partner with leaders in sports and to associate with leaders such as NFL, PGA, and others. This partnership will help us achieve our goals of being where our customers are and being apart of what our customers love. It's also important that our brand be associated with the best of the best and our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and the No.11 car. It's also important for us to say today too that the FedEx No.11 car is also going to work to further instill the pride among our own FedEx employees who, I have to tell you, love NASCAR. FedEx is absolutely, positively thrilled to be entering this relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing. As you just heard from Joe, it's a very special relationship. We're together on the football field, and now we're together on the track. It brings together two organizations that always strives to be the best at what they do, and, as a result, we know that we'll succeed both on the track and in the marketplace together. As a result of our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing, you can expect to see us very involved with advertising and other marketing programs that will be based around our sponsorship. For example, we are very enthusiastic about our ability to present different paint schemes on our car. That means that through the course of the season you're going to see purple and orange FedEx car, and purple and green FedEx Ground car, the purple and red FedEx freight car, and the newest addition to our family the purple and blue FedEx Kinko's car. With more than 245,000 employees and contractors around the world, FEDEX has always had the reliability and precision and the teamwork and the speed that we will now be able to flat-our beat our competition. Getting into racing has been our number one request from our employees for a long time so we know that our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing is going to be a source of pride for FedEx for years to come. JGR has chose a world-class driver for us, someone who is a perfect match for a world-class team. We know that he's going to do whatever it takes to have FedEx find that groove in the races ahead. We cannot wait to see that FedEx car running in the NEXTEL Cup Series next February in Daytona."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing