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Busch to Gibbs with Toyota, Yeley to No. 21UPDATE #19 The Gibbs team today announced they are moving to the Toyota camp in 2008.
09/02/07 Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs indicated his team had not signed an agreement with manufacturer Toyota and would not confirm that a Sept. 5 news conference has been scheduled with the pair. JGR driver Tony Stewart indicated earlier this week that news conference would happen.
"I hate the fact that I can't say, 'Hey, here's the deal and this is what is going on,' but the reality of it is we're still in the process," Gibbs said Sept. 2 at California Speedway.
And what about incoming driver Kyle Busch's comments that he's been told that he will drive a Toyota next year? Busch is replacing J.J. Yeley in the team's No. 18 next season.
"God bless Kyle - he's going to fit right in with the rest of my guys," Gibbs said about his stable of outspoken drivers. "I can't really comment which direction we're going into at this point."
08/30/07 Joe Gibbs Racing, which has fielded General Motors cars in NASCAR competition since the organization's inception in 1992, will move to Toyota beginning in 2008, The Charlotte Observer reports. A news conference has been tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at JGR's headquarters in Huntersville, N.C., where the official announcement is set to take place, sources said on Thursday. Officials with Toyota, JGR and Nextel Cup drivers Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin are scheduled to be in attendance. Officials with Toyota declined to comment.
08/23/07 Last Saturday morning at Michigan International Speedway, Chevrolet and GM Racing announced that they were extending their longstanding relationship with Richard Childress Racing for 2008 and beyond. GM will also renew its deal with Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports in the coming weeks, possibly at the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 coming up in Richmond, if not sooner. The big question continues to revolve around whether or not Joe Gibbs Racing will re-sign with GM, a source of much conjecture in recent weeks. But judging by the tone and tenor of GM executives' statements last week - and their demeanor while avoiding comment on the situation - it's clear to me that Joe Gibbs Racing is as good as gone.
The easiest reason to suggest that it's already a done deal is the fact that Toyota is very disappointed in its inaugural effort in NASCAR this year. Even though the Toyota "Camry" entries have shown signs of life of late - especially in the hands of young hot shoe Brian Vickers - make no mistake, despite the public pronouncements, Toyota expected more. Much more. And they're not willing to show up at Daytona next February without a significant and aggressive upgrade to their effort. That means going after Joe Gibbs Racing with a serious demonstration of their commitment to win, which in NASCAR translates to money. Lots of money. Toyota is dangling huge numbers in front of JGR, according to one insider, a sum that may be as much as 50 percent more than what GM is offering the team to renew.
But it's not just about the money for Joe Gibbs at this point, because there's one thing gnawing at Gibbs even more - and that is the fact that Gibbs feels that if he stays with Chevrolet he will always be a "1A" team to Chevy's "A" teams fielded by Hendrick and Childress. And it's hard to argue with that logic, because Hendrick and Childress clearly hold sway over GM Racing - and it shows. Not only is Toyota offering Joe Gibbs Racing a ton of money, it is willing to make JGR its priority by offering the full technical resources of the company to Gibbs. That means no more second-class citizen status within the GM Racing family for Gibbs. And with JGR boasting arguably the premier driver lineup in all of NASCAR in 2008 - with Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and the meteoric Kyle Busch as his drivers - Gibbs feels that Toyota will give him the best chance to win.
As fellow NFL coach Herm Edwards once memorably said, "You play to win the game."
And for Joe Gibbs and Joe Gibbs Racing, that means going with Toyota in 2008. Autoextremist
08/18/07 Despite all the rumors that it's pretty much a certainty that Joe Gibbs Racing will become a Toyota team next year, Toyota's Lee White leads one to believe in this interview that is not the case and that Joe Gibbs Racing is just using the Toyota rumors to get a better deal with GM. White claims Toyota is not good enough for a top-level team yet.
08/17/07 Heard in the pits today at MIS that Gibbs is 99% done with his deal to move the team under the Toyota umbrella.
08/14/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today based on the Joe Gibbs Racing announcement this morning - see Hot News Page.
08/12/07 Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs has decided on a driver for his No. 18 car next year and won't deny that it is Kyle Busch.
When asked Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International if it was Busch, Gibbs said that the team will make a driver announcement this week. That will be Busch. All of the teams he has negotiated with have acknowledged that they are out of the running.
"We're probably going to put something out after the race [today] saying that we're going to have an announcement this week," said Gibbs, indicating that it likely would be Tuesday. "I don't want to announce it until it's done."
As far as the potential switch from Chevrolet to Toyota, Gibbs repeated what he has been saying for several weeks - his team has not made a decision.
"We're working our way through that," Gibbs said. "You wouldn't do it unless everyone [drivers and management] is signed up. That is the process we're going through. I want to make sure that long-term for JGR we are making good decisions."
Gibbs said he would like a decision on manufacturer "sooner than later." Scenedaily.com
08/10/07 Nextel Cup driver J.J. Yeley admitting he will not return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. “I don’t have a date set on when I’m going to announce what I’m doing, but I have talked to several other teams and I can assure you the teams I’m talking to are top-quality teams that want to make me a championship driver,” Yeley said. Yeley said the Wood Brothers and Dale Earnhardt Inc. were among the teams he had talked to in recent weeks. He would not confirm it was Busch who was replacing him at JGR.
08/09/07 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Joe Gibbs Racing will definitely be switching to Toyota in 2008.
08/07/07 Yeley’s agent, Kyle Chapman, said there is currently no signed deal between his client and Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, and that Yeley is in discussion with a number of teams about possible rides for next season. But sources with knowledge of the situation say Yeley will indeed be out of the #18 next season, and behind the wheel of the #21 Ford. Motorsports Soapbox
08/06/07 Kyle Busch has finally decided where he will race next season, agreeing to a deal to drive the #18 Interstate Batteries machine for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 and beyond. Busch will replace J.J. Yeley, who will move to Wood Brothers/JTG Racing next season to steer the #21 Ford. Busch made his decision after recently narrowing the field to three teams; Gibbs, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and Evernham Motorsports. An official announcement is expected within the next 2-3 weeks.
In addition, JGR will jump from Chevrolet to the Toyota camp beginning in 2008, joining Michael Waltrip Racing, Bill Davis Racing and Team Red Bull on the list of teams running Toyota Camrys. Neither Busch nor JGR have made any official comment on the move, but Gibbs officials have already informed Hall of Fame Racing that they will not continue to provide the team with engines next season, prompting Hall Of Fame to contact Richard Childress Racing about a similar engine-supply deal for 2008. Motorsports Soapbox
08/06/07 Joe Gibbs Racing still hasn’t announced whether it will switch to Toyotas next year, but the buzz is that it will. Some clues? Tony Stewart’s souvenir trailers were selling merchandise at 50% off regular price last week at the Brickyard, Stewart’s home track and a place where the Hoosier native is wildly popular. Also, a source at Richard Childress Racing said it has been approached by Hall of Fame Racing, a satellite Gibbs team, about buying engines from the newly merged RCR-Dale Earnhardt Inc., engine operation in 2008. Presumably, HOF is hedging its bets, if it ends up not being part of a Gibbs move to Toyota. Ford Racing
07/02/07 Joe Gibbs Racing's first choice is to re-sign with General Motors, not jump ship for Toyota. "We want to work this out with GM," team president J.D. Gibbs said before Sunday's race at New Hampshire. "I can't say a whole lot more than that. We've got a great relationship with GM. We've been partners with them for 16 years, ever since we became an organization." Gibbs said he's had several meetings with GM officials, the most recent last week. He brushed off a report that the organization had a "done deal" with Toyota. Gibbs reminded that none of the Chevy teams have re-upped with GM, but that he hopes the situation will become clearer soon so the organization can start preparing for 2008. ESPN.com
06/25/07 D. Gibbs would like to sign #20-Tony Stewart to an extension that will keep the two-time Nextel Cup champion at Joe Gibbs Racing at least through 2011. Stewart's contract at JGR runs through 2009. But with a talented stable of young talent in the developmental pool and Stewart joking about retirement several times this season, the president of JGR would like to find out just what his marquee driver wants. "Hey, we want Tony to be here for a long time,'' Gibbs said before Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway. "If he said at the end of '09 I'm done, officially done, hey, we understand that. Let's go get a plan. The reality is, I think he wants to go [on]. How long does he want to go? I want all of those guys on the same page.'' Gibbs denied reports that he has a deal to leave General Motors for Toyota. "I've got to be honest,'' he said. "That's just not true. That's speculation. We're sitting down with the GM guys [in a few weeks]. We've had conversations with them. I don't think any GM team has signed a deal yet. That was kind of frustrating.'' JGR has been with GM for 16 seasons between Pontiac and Chevrolet. While Gibbs plans to discuss a new deal, he never ruled out talking to Toyota. Gibbs also didn't rule out talking to driver Kyle Busch, who became a free agent when it was announced Dale Earnhardt Jr. would replace him at Hendrick Motorsports next season. ESPN.com
06/23/07 Joe Gibbs and Toyota are “a done deal” for 2008, according to several sources, though team executives said otherwise. Apparently one hang-up in the talks between the long-time Chevy operation (which features Tony Stewart) and the Japanese car maker is a clause in Gibbs’ current GM contract which bars the team from negotiating with any other manufacturer until the contract is up. So sources said Gibbs has had to go through an agent in the talks. Gibbs has a major negotiating session scheduled with General Motors in the next two weeks, which should provide the ‘yea,’ or ‘nay’ on that side of the issue. One of the big reasons for Toyota’s intense interest in Gibbs Racing is Gibbs’ engine program, headed by Mark Cronquist, one of the best in the business. Gibbs is also renegotiating his contract with Stewart to extend it another two years. The contract runs through the end of 2009; the new package would run through the end of 2011. Winston Salem Journal
06/18/07 Having lost the Dale Earnhardt Jr. sweepstakes, Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs says his team is focused on its current lineup of drivers. Gibbs says it's too early to talk about any interest in Kyle Busch nor whether his team will switch to Toyota next season. JGR has been with General Motors for 16 years. "We wanted to wait and see what happened with the Junior deal," Gibbs said Sunday prior to the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan. "And then we're going to sit down and evaluate. We've been a partner with them for 16 years. We're going to look at it and evaluate and make sure we're on the same page. "Is Toyota out there as a possibility? I think they have probably talked to a number of different groups... We just want to make sure, as the sport changes, how do we stay where we need to be at JGR to stay ahead of the curve? And a big part is manufacturer." SceneDaily.com
06/10/07 Roger Penske denied rumors at Pocono Sunday he was looking at switching from Dodge to Toyota. He said he has a good relationship with Dodge and his teams are running well at the moment.
"Our Dodge commitment is a long-term contract," Penske said. "I read in the paper where we were switching to Toyota. We haven't even talked to them about it.
"We've got to honor the commitments that we have. In other times when we've had contractual relationships with our business partners, the last thing you do is jump from one thing to another. You never have continuity that way."
06/04/07 Representatives from Penske Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing on Saturday disallowed rumors of an impending merger between the two organizations, which currently field Dodges and Toyotas, respectively, in a variety of NASCAR series. "I heard about it for the first time Friday," said Ty Norris, Michael Waltrip Racing's general manager. "I wish he would come and talk to us." Wally McCarty, Penske Racing's marketing director, was just as succinct. "We're racing Dodges through the end of next season, and right now we're most concerned about winning races for Dodge -- we have to be," McCarty said. "We have a beautiful new facility and so does Waltrip. There's no 'win' there. I don't know where people come up with these things. Roger Penske sells nearly every car make made in the world, and he has great relationships with all of them. We race Dodges, Hondas and Porsches out of the same shop, and we have great relationships with all of them. Would we race Toyotas at some point? When it's appropriate, we might talk about it, and if it's right, we might do that but right now Waltrip has three teams and we have two -- and you can only have four so it doesn't make sense." McCarty said Penske was considering a third team "depending on what Penske IndyCar Series driver Sam Hornish decides to do," over the next year or two. NASCAR.com
05/31/07 Sources say that Toyota has approached the Gibbs team with a proposal to leave Chevrolet, which would give it #20-Tony Stewart, #11-Denny Hamlin and #18-J.J. Yeley. Gibbs’ management doesn’t appear to be that interested, but the offer hasn’t been rejected, according to team sources. Penske, who has been with just about every manufacturer in racing over the years and who is one of the world’s biggest Toyota dealers, could be making the move to Toyota for next year. According to sources close to the situation, Penske could be looking at a merger with Michael Waltrip’s struggling Toyota operation. And there is speculation that Robert and Doug Yates may be willing to listen to Toyota offers, even though they have long-standing ties with Ford. Winston Salem Journal
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