SPEED Quotes on JGR Move to Toyota
Following are quotes from SPEED on-air talent regarding yesterday's announcement by Joe Gibbs Racing that the organization will switch manufacturers in the 2008 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season from Chevrolet to Toyota.
Wendy Venturini, reporter for NASCAR RaceDay:
“I don’t think this move will hurt Joe Gibbs Racing at all. Gibbs is pretty strong in every department. Going into it, Mark Cronquist, the head engine builder at Gibbs, wanted to make sure the team would be just as strong under the hood with Toyota, and he and everyone at Gibbs is confident with the motor package with Toyota. I certainly don’t think Joe Gibbs Racing is going to show up at Daytona next year and fall on its face. I still expect all three drivers to be in The Chase next year.
“Joe Gibbs Racing has definitely positioned themselves as the top team for Toyota, whereas they weren’t necessarily the premier organization with Chevrolet. I talked with JD Gibbs and Jimmy Makar at Joe Gibbs Racing and Lee White of Toyota for more than an hour today for Saturday’s NASCAR RaceDay segment. Everyone at Gibbs said that everything was going to change over anyway with the new Car of Tomorrow, as they were going to have to rebuild all the car bodies for next year, so it isn’t that big of a deal to switch manufacturers. Toyota is looking at their acquisition of Joe Gibbs Racing as a huge jump for them, a jump that is changing their expectations of themselves, which I thought was pretty cool. In the long run, both Gibbs and Toyota are looking at this switch as beneficial for both companies as a whole.
“Chevrolet will definitely keep on going without Gibbs and be just as successful. With Hendrick, RCR and DEI, I don’t think we’ll see a falloff in performance from Chevy. The chassis and bodies aren’t going to be much different from manufacturer to manufacturer. The key lies in what’s under the hood – the horsepower will really make the difference.”
Dave Despain, host of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED:
“This is the logical and inevitable next step for Toyota in the evolution of its NASCAR program. There was never any question whether Toyota would sign a big team -- the only questions was when and which one. We now know the answer to that.
“With Joe Gibbs Racing switching to Toyota, the manufacturer will do a lot better next year than it did this year but for Gibbs, that remains to be seen. Logic will tell you that in the short term, it’s probably a step back for Gibbs but apparently the team believes that in the long-term, this switch is going to be beneficial for them. Joe Gibbs Racing believes Toyota will be a very powerful presence in NASCAR in the long haul and by being the first big team to sign with Toyota, Gibbs will have the opportunity to lead that charge.”
John Roberts, host of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED:
“I think Toyota is really the big winner in this whole deal. If Joe Gibbs Racing raced Yugos, they would be eventually prevail and be back on top of the heap again because NASCAR is a people-oriented business these days. It’s not necessarily the manufacturer that equals success. Of course, Gibbs will have growing pains but those growing pains will not be that bad. The team has three of the best drivers and one of the best engine builders in the business. Toyota is really going to be the big beneficiary in the long run and anyone worried about Gibbs losing a step might be surprised.
“I don’t think that losing Gibbs will hurt Chevrolet nearly as much as it would have hurt another manufacturer. Chevy has been on top for so long because their teams are so strong and Chevy will still have some very strong teams.”
Krista Voda, host of NCTS Setup on SPEED:
“This is a huge feather in Toyota's cap. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch are three drivers who are contenders each and every week. To have those three representing Toyota in 2008 speaks volumes for the manufacturer. In addition, the learning curve just shortened drastically ... because if Tony Stewart can't figure out how to win in a car ... nobody can!”
Kenny Wallace, analyst on NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED:
“I really think that Joe Gibbs Racing is trying to position itself to be the number one team in what they do. As the sport becomes more and more competitive, it is hard for teams to share information anymore. The more Joe Gibbs Racing can separate itself from the other teams, the more of an advantage they will have on some of the tougher competitors.
“I see Toyota’s acquiring Gibbs as a steppingstone to bringing Toyota up to par. In my opinion, Gibbs and its driver line-up and sponsors will do more for Toyota than Toyota will do for them.
“With the Car of Tomorrow, I simply do not see Joe Gibbs Racing struggling one bit because each team’s car bodies are the same and everyone knows that Toyota is coming with a whole bunch of horsepower. Jack Roush told us to beware because Toyota will outrun everybody eventually and I do see that coming.
“Chevrolet has a really strong team lineup and I don’t think losing Gibbs will hurt or help them. I know that Gibbs has a lot of victories but when you look at Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing, I don’t think this will take down Chevrolet because they’re too strong. I think history repeats itself and this reminds me of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and the sport is becoming more and more of a manufacturer war now. It will be really interesting to watch.”