Gibbs Will Appeal ‘Severe Nature Of The Penalties’
Earlier this week, Joe Gibbs Racing was hit with severe penalties after the car driven by Matt Kenseth at Kansas Speedway last week was found to have a piston rod which was ruled to be of an improper weight – it was 2.7 grams too heavy.
Gibbs held a press conference on Friday at Richmond International Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.
The following is a transcript of that press conference:
JOE GIBBS, team owner, Joe Gibbs RacingOpening statement:“I’d like to start by saying that when you’re faced with something like this, you want to make sure that you do it the right way and go through it the right way. That’s very important for us. Obviously, all of our employees at Joe Gibbs Racing –all 450 of them and all of our partners, this is a very important deal for us. Hopefully, what I say here today comes across that way and the way we work through this — it comes across that way. This is very important for us and we want to treat it that way. First of all, I want to say that we value our NASCAR partnership very much. We’ve been together, working together for 22 years and we value our relationship with them. Certainly, we do not want to be on the wrong side of any rules. That’s our goal. I wanted to emphasize that. The third thing, I want to make a point of is we have a great partner in TRD (Toyota Racing Development).
“Over the six years we’ve been together at different times – this is a big deal, a lot of things come up — NASCAR’s a big deal for us and a big deal for TRD. It’s what we live. Through the process over these six years at different times we’ve stood behind them as we go through something – in support and be there with them. At different times, they have been behind us. That’s what good partners do. We think we have a great partnership with them and we’re going to stand together and work our way through this and again try to handle it the right way. We believe that we are going to be together for a long time. We have a long time partnership and we want to make sure we handle everything the right way and we want to make sure that we handle these things the way good partners do. I think everyone at this point has probably heard that in tearing down our motor after last week’s win, one of the connecting rods was found to be light. That goes against the rules and we understand that. We know that there’s going to be a penalty for that. What we’re going to appeal is the severity of the penalties. In looking at that motor and where all the connecting rods were placed and the weight of all the connecting rods, when you have motor experts look at it basically what they would say is there is no advantage to having that one light rod in that motor. That’s one thing that is very important to me is the intent here was not to get an unfair advantage in any way. That’s very important to me.
“The other point that I would like to make is since we started out this year there has been 10 TRD motors torn down — eight of them have been Joe Gibbs Racing motors. Nothing with those other motors has found to be wrong in those motors in anyway. Those motors were found to be legal there. I think basically that’s what our appeal is going to be. We want to go forward and go through that process and what we’ll be appealing will be the severe nature of the penalties.”
Question: Why do you believe the penalties were so severe when clearly there was no intent?
Gibbs: “Let me address one thing first there that you mention is intent. For me personally, in my entire life and every decision or just about every decision I’ve made — I felt like intent was very important. Whether it was somebody doing something in a situation where somebody has done something maybe against me, the first thing I wanted to know is what was their intent?Was it an accident? Was it a mistake or did they purposely try and do something. Intent to me is I think very important. In this case, I think that’s important to me. This motor and what happened — there was not an intent to circumvent the rules or to have an unfair competitive advantage. That was very important to me. I think, like I mentioned — we really value our relationship with NASCAR. We have I think an excellent relationship. When you come to something like this obviously, it’s a tough thing to go through. I don’t think I could comment on why the penalties were what they were.”
Question: What is the most severe part of the penalty?
Gibbs: “I think a lot of this is that we are going to go through the appeal process so I don’t want to be dealing with something that would affect that. I think you mention several things there. We will really address that in the appeals process and I don’t think that is something we want to talk about now or here. We want to go through this process the right way and do it the right way. We have not appealed anything in 22 years with the exception of our driver deal that came up with the Nationwide and that was a call-in thing where we just asked them something. This will be the first time that we’ve gone through this kind of a process.”
Question: What will your role be at the race track?
Gibbs: “I don’t know — I think that is still unclear to me. I think we’ll get that answer somewhere down the road.”What is the impact on the team if the appeal is lost?“I think that is something we’re just going to deal with. This is still fairly recent. We haven’t had long to kind of look at this and kind of digest it. Hopefully, we go through the appeal process and then I think whatever the outcome is, we have to just make good decisions and try and deal with it.”
Question: How does the penalty affect the team’s reputation?
Gibbs: “That is something that I think about all the time. I turn on the radio sometimes and hear things, you know. Those, to me, are real personal things because you spend your life trying to live a certain way. That’s a real personal thing, something that has a big effect on me. I don’t think it’s anything that you kind of talk about. Whatever, hopefully you live your life and you try to live it a certain way and that comes across and I think people will treat you — they will probably have their own opinion on that. That’s kind of part of life, particularly when you’re fortunate enough. When you think about it, I’ve been blessed beyond belief to be able to do something like this, have a chance to race cars and have a race team and be a part of a great organization like this with great fans and all of you guys. I get to enjoy all this, all the good things and every now and then you have to go through some things that you wish you didn’t have to go through. But, that’s part of my life and hey, I love that part of me being able to get up in the morning and have a race team and go to work and try to find out a way in one of the toughest sports in the world, try to find a way to win a race.”
Question: How will the penalty impact your presence at the track and potential new sponsors for the sport?
Gibbs: “First of all, I do know this, I still have two more cars here. I’m going to be at the race track. I think the way it would affect — we’re so blessed with our sponsors, honestly. You guys know, we have some of the biggest and best — we love it every time a sponsor comes into NASCAR, no matter who they go to or what race team. We love that aspect of our sport because all of our sport, particularly because of that. In football, you don’t need sponsors. You’re going to play no matter what. Over here, sponsors play a very important role. I love that aspect, the personal relationships you develop. I have great friends there. I really enjoy that and that’s the reason why this is a really important deal to us and we want to make sure we handle it the right way.
Question: ”How has this penalty affected you in the last couple of days?
Gibbs: “I think, like I mentioned, I kind of look at it as, when you’re in things that are exciting and they’re big and you get to do great things, you get to win championships and win races and the celebrations we have here. I look at that as the thrill of what I do. I look it as my life, I’ve been blessed and I love what I do. I don’t look at it as much as a personal thing. My worry to be quite truthful is always for all those partners and for my family. It’s Pat (Gibbs, wife) and I, and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) and Coy (Gibbs) and Heather (Gibbs, wife of Coy) and Melissa (Gibbs, wife of J.D.) and those eight grandkids running all over the place. That’s kind of my focus. I look at it as, hey I’ve been allowed to be blessed by some of the greatest experiences you can have in all of sports vocationally and with that comes a big responsibility and with that also comes the fact that you could be faced with something like this. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”
Question: Would you consider bringing the Cup engine program back to JGR?
Gibbs: “I don’t think you can kind of speculate and know what could or couldn’t happen. I do know this, we have no intention of bringing our motors back. We have a great partnership with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and matter of fact, we’ve worked extremely hard and long in that process and we’ve gone through some tough things in there — we did last year. We are committed to each other. I think we have some of the most professional people in all of sports as partners there at TRD and the guys here, David (Wilson, senior vice president, TRD, U.S.A.) and Lee (White, president and general manager, TRD, U.S.A.). We have a great team and a great relationship and so we have no intention of bringing that back in-house. I think what’s happened in this sport, I may not be correct on this, but I think we’ve counted up there are eight different teams over the last seven or eight years that have chosen instead of doing their own motors they have moved in a different direction. That’s part of the sport, that’s what has changed. Ford, you have all the Ford people depending on (Roush) Yates and in our case the Toyota people working with TRD and depending on TRD. That’s just been a move in this sport, what has happened in this sport.”
Question: Has TRD made any assurances this will not happen again?
Gibbs: “We have, like I said, some of the sharpest and best people with David (Wilson, senior vice president, TRD, U.S.A.) and Lee (White, president and general manager, TRD, U.S.A.) leading them. They’re on top of, I feel like everything. That’s the reason why it surprised us so much to have this happen. We realize the fact it did happen, there is going to be a penalty and because we’re not arguing that fact. We had a light rod. I think the intent, we know the intent was not to enhance ourposition there. I think the people there are very, very good at quality control and this was one that just slipped through there and sometimes in life, you hate that but it does happen.
Question: What bothered you the most about the penalty and where does it rank in comparison to other issues in your career?
Gibbs: “I think when something like this happens, when it’s this big, I worry more about the people around you. It’s the same thing I felt, and I’ll be quite truthful, coaching. Always worried a lot about the management, everybody is teamed up with you, the fans and everybody. I feel the same way about this one. I think I’m more focused, for me, how does it affect all of our partners and all of our employees? I would say this is very, very important and probably one of the bigger things that has happened in my life professionally.”No Comment