Gibbs, White - Toyota Motorsports teleconference

Toyota Motorsports

Gibbs, White - Toyota Motorsports teleconference

Toyota Motorsports teleconference with J.D. Gibbs and Lee White

Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

J.D. GIBBS, president, Joe Gibbs Racing

“Hey guys, J.D. (Gibbs) here. Just wanted to get together and kind of go over with Lee (White), just kind of our plan going forward. I know I talked to many of you all at the track the past several weeks. Lots of questions, and I answered most of them. Just want to give you a chance to get any detail, ask any questions you have about how us combining -- partnering with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) on the motor side. I’d be happy to answer them now. Basically, over the past several years, our motor packages, we’ve done more and more to get closer and closer with Mark Cronquist (JGR engine builder) of our group and TRD’s group in Costa Mesa (Calif.) and we’re kind of at the point now where I think we can combine a lot of the best attributes that JGR has, the best attributes that TRD has, and really have a better package going forward. With that said, I’ll go ahead and open it up to any questions that you guys have for me or Lee, and we’d be happy to answer them.”

Are you still going to have your engine shop and how will you partner with TRD? “Basically, we’re still going to have our motor shop. There are still projects and things that we’re going to do here and we’re going to kind of combine that with projects done in Costa Mesa. Our hope is, we’re looking to probably add a couple Nationwide programs, maybe a Truck program. I think the good news for our guys -- not one person will have to worry about being displaced from this partnership. We take all our attributes and maximize that, all TRD’s and maximize that, and kind of combine them going forward. I think that will work out well. I think really, Mark Cronquist (JGR engine builder), he will probably travel more and some of our key guys will be on the road more as we work through the whole fuel injection system going forward in 2012.”

How will this partnership help with the engine troubles JGR has experienced this year? “I think for us, really, that’s a first example of not just this year, but past years. The TRD group has really helped us in a lot of these areas. There are still areas we’re struggling with and bouncing around back and forth. Probably one of the hardest things that any team does in the garage is build motors. We’ve been doing it for a long time -- almost 17 years. So, we’ve been through a lot of that. I think that’s something we’re going to lean on TRD for and their research, their development. Again, we do certain things really well. Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) at the track is probably one of the sharpest guys you’ll find. I think TRD does probably a little bit of a longer range approach in the way they go through their projects and the detail they have in that is something that will really benefit us. I think, for us, we’re still for the rest of this year, we’re still going to make sure our stuff is right, consistent, durable and I think we’ve over the past several years done many projects together with TRD and kind of closed a lot of that and this is kind of the last piece working forward into the future.”

Can you explain in more detail what JGR and TRD will bring to this increased relationship? “I do think, even this year, some of the issues we’ve had, we’ve taken our stuff out to Costa Mesa at TRD and they’ve looked at it and gone through it and have already helped us out in some of the areas that we were struggling at from a vendor issue that we’ve had a few times. They’ve already partnered with us there and have already given us wisdom and direction there. They’ve done that over the past year, so that’s not new. It’s not like it all of a sudden starts 2012, it’s already been on-going and that partnership is already there and the help has already gone back and forth. Again, I think Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) and his team, when it comes to horsepower, when it comes to performance, they’re really good and I think TRD does a good job from a durability standpoint. Last couple years, they’ve been really good. I think for us, it’s just combining that. It’s not -- we don’t have it all laid out and mapped out perfectly, but most of it is laid out pretty well so you have a pretty good idea of who’s going to do what and where and how it’s going to combine.”

Are you looking at potential Nationwide and Truck Series engine programs for the JGR engine shop? “Yeah -- just customers. I think we have all our Nationwide programs we can have as a team, but I think if you add a few of those programs, the good news is there is not a person here that has to worry about a spot at JGR. I think, again, it’s taking our resources and using them wisely. There’s the Cup piece that we’re partnering on, there’s also, I think the Nationwide and Truck piece that our guys do a really good job on that we can add to.”

Have you had customers for your engines in the past? “We had Hall of Fame Racing a few years ago, and really for us, if we could have added a few partners that really helps in a lot of ways. So, in effect, this is adding a great partner through TRD. So, it kind of combines that. When we had Hall of Fame Racing that was really beneficial. When you partner on the car side, you build chassis, you build cars -- that gets more difficult setup-wise. When you partner on the motor side, it’s easier. Here’s the piece, you bring it to the track, you put it in, you take it out, you bring it back to the shop, you tear it down. I think that’s what we’re looking for here -- the part that for us makes the most sense in teaming up the gifts that TRD has with what JGR does.”

Where will JGR’s engines be produced? “It will be a combination. Right now, I think to start it will be mostly coming from Costa Mesa and then we’ll be adding our parts, pieces here and doing R&D (research and development) from a JGR standpoint. You’ll kind of combine that package. And then, when you go the track, the communication -- our guys will be right in the middle of the communication back and forth, ‘Hey, adjust this. Look at this. Here’s an issue.’ So, I think that will be valuable for our teams and for the Michael Waltrip group as well.”

Will long-term development come from TRD while day-to-day activities will occur at JGR? “I would say it would probably shift. More development would come from TRD, but the reality of it is, we’ll still be doing development. And, so I think the piece we have -- kind of go back to over the last really two, three years, we’ve done more and more projects together. The engines have become closer together and this is just kind of the final piece in just kind of putting the package together. We’ll still do the parts that we do well. They’ll do what they do well. And, you kind of come together and go forward and I think a year from now, Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) might say let’s go down this path, so it changes the whole shift but it’s not just JGR shifting, but it’s JGR and TRD shifting together. Likewise, they might come back and say, ‘Here’s a project that worked really well,’ and we kind of shift down that path. So we just feel like it’s much easier to kind of combine those resources and go down one path instead of trying to do two paths together.”

Will any current JGR employees move to TRD? “Most of them will all still stay JGR employees. A few guys will go under the TRD umbrella, banner, but they will still be working out of JGR’s complex. Again the hope is, we haven’t had a whole lot of conversations, but just from a -- if we can do, if you can imagine a few Nationwide, a Truck program here or there, then I think all our guys -- we’ll be set and that’s kind of what we want and give them piece of mind and we still have to dig this year for a championship with our teams.”

Could a JGR team use a TRD engine this year? “Not ruled out. We’ve already gone through a lot of the integrations of making sure the packaging, because it’s just different where it fits in the car. Our chassis are different than Waltrip’s (Michael Waltrip Racing) and there are things that have to be fixed. We’re going through that process now of making sure stuff fits and so if we wanted to do it this year at this point, we could do that this year. Right now, we’re just trying to make sure we have all that in place so it can work.”

What have you found to be the problem this year with the JGR engines? “It’s been a number of different issues. One kind of recurring theme I think for us, without going into a whole lot of detail on it, I think our guys do a good job kind of seeing what needs to be done and adjusting and TRD really this year -- over the past several years -- they’ve really helped us out, saying, ‘Here’s something we looked at. Here’s something we’ve done.’ So, it’s already become a closer and closer package over these past years anyway. So, we hope we evolve and take the best parts of what we do, the best parts of what they do, and put them together for a really good package.”

Was this something JGR planned to do or was this in response to engine issues this year? “We thought originally we would probably be a lot closer sooner than we did arrive. It’s just difficult. Our ordering process, TRD’s ordering process -- I think what has happened over the years is we have grown closer. The parts, the pieces, the direction we go, the testing -- that’s all come together. This is kind of the final piece of that. We did think it probably would go a little bit quicker than it has gone, but it’s difficult. And, I think part of it too is just in reality when you are building motors in California or doing them in North Carolina, there’s just a little bit of a time gap there so we’re trying to figure out that piece too and how to maximize that. I think, again, over the years a lot of that has already taken care of itself and I think it will be a good partnership like it already has been.”

What percent of NSCS engines will be built at JGR? “Again, it kind of goes back to a lot of the parts and pieces will be assembled in Costa Mesa at TRD. Then they come to JGR and that’s kind of our package that we’ll add to that. Part of that goes beyond just the motor part, it goes to the chassis part and it goes all of the way to the accessories that fit on it and how does that look. That’s kind of a combined process. So, it will be a little bit of both. I think right now starting off the bulk of the lifting will be at TRD and then we’ll add our parts and pieces and our package to all of the motors for (Michael) Waltrip (Racing) and for Gibbs out here. Then, our guys will go to the track with the motors and kind of work in conjunction with the TRD team making sure that the communication is up to speed.”

LEE WHITE, president and general manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development)

How do you see the partnership with JGR unfolding? “I think the statement that we’re looking for the strengths of both organizations going forward here is absolutely key. There are historically things that Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) and his group have really excelled at and there are also things that TRD has excelled at. We’re a more engineering driven company at TRD, where Mark is a more traditional NASCAR team builder. He’s able to react very, very quickly and move forward quickly with the developments and that’s something that TRD needs to be able to enhance that capability and learn how to do that better. Frankly, a lot of our engineering driven processes are things that a smaller organization like the Gibbs shop have suffered from relative to durability in the past, is something where I think we can add to the program. It’s really trying to harvest the absolute best of two programs and move forward and make us both a stronger, better and let us thrive long term.”

Did the Red Bull Racing Team’s announcement earlier this year play a part in this new enhanced partnership? “Certainly with Red Bull Racing leaving the sport, this gives a lot of security for TRD personnel as well as all the JGR personnel and frankly, it’s just a great deal for both organizations, as well as the Michael Waltrip Racing organization. It brings all three of the entities much closer together cooperatively it terms of engines, drivability, supporting the engines at the race track and also extending into chassis.”

Will there be a difference between JGR and MWR engines next year? “They will be the same. They will be, for all intensive purposes, virtually identical and whatever installation issues that there are that prevent a Joe Gibbs Racing engine currently from being installed into Michael Waltrip Racing car will be corrected by the team.”

Will TRD supply motors to whatever becomes of the Red Bull Racing Team? “We certainly don’t know the answer to the question because it’s still kind of -- we’re waiting for Jay Frye (general manager, Red Bull Racing Team) to see what he’s able to put together and certainly if he’s able to put together a viable package of sponsorship and drivers and ownership -- we would be very happy to entertain looking at that and see how we could fit it in the future. This marriage with JGR is not stretching TRD to its absolute limit of capacity. In fact, it increases our capacity. So, certainly we would be in our new partnership with JGR more than happy to look at that as a revenue producing opportunity in the future. And, I also might add here that this direction is consistent with the current consolidation of engine build activities throughout the NASCAR garage. If you look at today’s primary engine builders – Roush-Yates, Hendrick and Earnhardt-Childress -- they are all examples of engine build operations that support no less than six Cup teams, as well as Nationwide and Truck operations. So, building and developing engines for three teams or less is extremely expensive and inefficient. So, we’re hoping to recognize a tremendous economy of scale by spreading these costs across six or more teams in the future.”

Will all teams who want to participate as Toyota teams now get their engines from TRD/JGR? “That’s absolutely not the case. We are the only manufacturer that has multiple outside engine builders in addition to TRD and JGR. You are absolutely correct in that if you want to race a Ford, at this point to my understanding you have to get your engine from Roush-Yates, and certainly Chevrolet has Childress and Hendrick providing Cup engines to the Cup garage, as well as Nationwide and Truck engines. Toyota has always made a commitment to NASCAR that we would entertain and help develop independent builders. In addition to TRD and Joe Gibbs Racing, we have the Triad Racing group that provides engines throughout the Truck and Nationwide garage, as well as a few Cup engines. We also have Joey Arrington and Pro Motor that we sell parts to and provide engineering assistance to provide engines to those garages.”

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