MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 11, 2018
DARIAN GRUBB, CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 24 CAMARO ZL1 WHO WILL BE TRANSITIONING TO THE ROLE OF TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AND JEFF ANDREWS, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMPETITION, met with members of the media at the Hendrick Motorsports campus. Full Transcript:
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN MAKE IN THIS NEW ROLE?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think a lot of it is areas I have helped identify with Jeff (Andrews) and those guys while being on the road these last two years. Working within the teams and actually taking on the crew chief role and things too, we have seen where we thought we had been deficient in some of the aero development and even some of the chassis development. We have been kind of playing from behind the trees from where we thought we needed to be. We just didn’t have the performance and weren’t exactly sure what to put our finger on to increase performance the way we needed. Now, we think we have narrowed down a few of those areas where we can direct focus where we can make some gains on in the next few years.”
THIS ROLE IS IT SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU WERE DOING WHEN YOU TOOK OVER THE CREW CHIEF ROLE ON THE NO. 5 CAR?
DARIAN GRUBB: “A little bit of what I was doing before was more production based and more about trying to get the systems in place doing a lot of things like set-up the merger between the two buildings, get the teams working together, the chassis shop and the body hanging shops working more in a constant flow for production. Some of that had to do with the engineering and the resources and putting towards that too and how to feed the area. But now it’s going to be much more of the technical side of things. As for the production, Brian Whitesell is really handling the production side of things really well from what we have set-up the last few years. The transition hasn’t been seamless, but it’s gotten better for sure by leaps and bounds this year.”
DOES THAT MEAN YOU WILL STILL BE GOING TO THE TRACK WEEK TO WEEK OR ONLY GOING TO THE BIG TRACKS OR WILL YOU BE SPENDING TIME IN WIND TUNNELS?
DARIAN GRUBB: “All of the above. I think Jeff (Andrews) and I have talked quite a bit about that position. I feel like you have to be at the track or at least in tune with the teams as much as you possibly can to know what the teams are fighting. I felt like I was a little disconnected from that from what time I did spend at home before because you weren’t working directly with the crew chiefs daily. You would only get their feedback on Tuesday. You are not there in the trenches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to see what they really need. I think I will probably be doing at least three to four weeks probably depending and then take a weekend off or something like that. We will see how the schedule works out.”
IS THIS A CHANGE YOU WELCOME?
DARIAN GRUBB: “Well, I think so. It’s not something I have really wrapped my whole head around yet. It’s kind of what I was doing a little bit before. So, it’s stepping back into that role, at that point for sure I was ready for that. I was ready to come off the road, try to work on my family life and time with my kids and that is definitely still a forefront in my mind is my family. So, making sure that my kids are growing up very quickly … luckily it is raining today so I’m not missing the soccer game this afternoon. It’s been quite a change for me in the last few years in my personal life, so I think this is going to give me a little more time to continue working on that.”
WHAT EXACTLY DOES TECHNICAL VERSUS PRODUCTION MEAN? IS THAT SIMULATION STUFF?
DARIAN GRUBB: “Simulation, engineering, design, aerodynamics, pretty much everything, every aspect even our carbon fiber shop and all the things developing new parts and programs that will bring performance in. Simulation is probably one of the biggest tools that we feel like we need to continue to work on. We are working really hard with Chevrolet on that program and then the development of new cars coming down the line and some new stuff they are all kind of encompassed in the technical side of development.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAD KNAUS/WILLIAM BYRON PAIRING?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think it’s going to be really good. Obviously, Chad is even more senior… one of the reasons they wanted me to come in last year to do that was having that senior crew chief experience to help a young rookie come along and Chad is much more senior than I am. I started under him as well in 2003. So, having that experience is going to be another huge wealth of knowledge for William to be able to rely on and kind of get his feet under him as he keeps growing through the sport.”
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think it will be good. William is a sponge. He takes all the information he can get and we were doing a really hard engineering effort to try to keep that feed and Chad is a very detail-oriented guy where I think that information is going to keep flowing even more.”
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS HAVE YOU SEEN IN WILLIAM FROM THE START OF THE SEASON UP UNTIL NOW?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think a lot of it is just realizing the focus and intensity that it takes for the longer races. It was a big shock to him you could tell. With the stage racing it hasn’t been quite the change of what it used to be if you had to do 400 laps straight, but we have had a lot of green flag runs where you do 100, 125 laps or something like that before the stage breaks. That used to be the entire race. Now, you’ve got to reset, retune and go again. The feedback it is fun to try to tune that because we got more time to work on the cars, but there are times now too the competition level is so much higher we have to get the tuning done early so you don’t fall laps down, you don’t put yourself behind too early in the race because you have to be able to make it up. There are varying intensity levels he has had to learn for sure the way the races run differently.”
DARIAN GRUBB: “He has. That specific incident was one I took personally as well. I actually confronted the individuals that were blaming him for the blocking the next weekend in Kentucky. That was very much a bullying move that they had done trying to push the new rookie down and try to keep him down. He did absolutely nothing wrong. He did nothing out of the ordinary. He did an incredible job leading the race and putting himself in position to win. They didn’t like that. So, they tried to bully him and tried to cover it up by bullying him and making him look like the bad guy and that 100 percent was not the case. I took that personally with a few of those guys and made sure they knew the team was behind him, the team was behind his decisions and his growth as a race car driver.”
DARIAN GRUBB: “He is. I think the sensitivity level drops after you go through that once. Then you realize it’s just people talking. They are trying to get under your skin, they are trying to get in your head and the next time don’t make it easier for them to pass you, you’ve just got to be strong and go deal with that and push forward.”
IS THAT SOMETHING CHAD WOULD BE ABLE TO DO FOR HIM? I GUESS I HAVEN’T SEEN CREW CHIEFS GO AND STAND UP FOR THEIR DRIVERS:
DARIAN GRUBB: “Yeah, it usually happens behind the scenes. It’s not something you want to go out and air your dirty laundry, but it is definitely something. You protect your team, you protect your driver and you go out there and you make sure they know that they have to be given the same respect as the other 39 that are out there. We all do this for a living, we all work really hard at it and you can’t be taken down from the inside.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY THAT THE ORGANIZATION THINKS SO HIGHLY OF YOU THAT YOU GET TO PUT YOUR HAND ON EVERY TEAM?
DARIAN GRUBB: “Yeah, I have been very blessed in that. Ever since I came here from 2003 working through 2008, Mr. Hendrick has been a great leader for me and anything he has asked me to do I have been able to go forward and actually improve myself and my career on that. He is actually the one that asked me to go take over the Tony Stewart role at Stewart-Haas. I was scared. I didn’t want to leave this organization. He gave me the pat on the back and told me everything was going to be good and as soon as I wanted to come back to the organization I had an open door waiting on me. That means a lot to me. I know I have his personal support and then working with Jeff Andrews and the guys here on the technical side of things in the last few years, it is just expanding the role and those same friendships, we were friends when I was here early, gone for seven years and come back, and it just still feels like home. It’s a big move for me.”
YOU HAVE SEEN DRIVERS WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS AND WIN RACES. WHAT DO YOU GUYS SEE ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON THAT TELLS YOU HE IS STILL COMPETITIVE AND CAN WIN RACES?
DARIAN GRUBB: “He has just become that senior leader of the organization. He is still typically the first guys to debriefs. If there is an issue he is the first one to send out the group text to make sure we are all working on it. He is the communicator. He is the instigator. He is the one that kind of pushes the buttons and says ‘this is where we are lacking’. He is one of the guys I’m going to be leaning on in the next few years. Like this is what we are doing, are we making progress? Is this changing? He has the experience, he has lived it all. So now, he can be that guy that can be the voice of reason of are we going the right way or not?”
JEFF ANDREWS: “For me, you take a guy like Jimmie who has had so much success and you have years like the years we have had the last two and especially this year. We have never seen Jimmie Johnson as dedicated and as focused as he is this year. He has the drive, he is determined, he is wanting to be part of the solution to get this place back to the level that it once was before. It would be really easy for him to rest on what he has accomplished. I don’t think any of us could argue the point if that was the path he wanted to take, but he has done the opposite. He has been incredible in terms of in our competition meetings and our debriefs. His level of commitment to the team, himself personally, his physical training, it is the best it’s ever been that I have seen.”
HOW BIG OF AN ADJUSTMENT IS IT FOR A CREW CHIEF TO WORK WITH A YOUNGER DRIVER?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think you just stay the same. I think if you go with what we have already done with William this year and teaching him about what is different about Cup, what is different about pit road entries, how the car has performed differently now he can just expand on those things. I don’t think there is anything that William has a lack of a grasp on that he needs to maybe tune on it. I think it is just going to be now most of those kinks and the bugs are worked out of a rookie. The pit road speeds and some of those things and how progressed some of the cup drivers are versus what you are getting with the Xfinity series is completely different. So, now, he has gotten accustomed to that. He has had the training, he knows what questions to ask when we get to the race track about how to perform during practice with those things. So, I think a lot of that, it’s not really going to change Chad’s outlook on how he is going to approach him. I feel like most of the ground work has been laid for that, but there are always things that are going to continue to brush up on all those things because the competition level is so high.”
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN WILLIAM ADJUST WITH HIS EMOTIONS DURING THE YEAR?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think he has done really well. That has for sure developed over the season. He has found his voice. He has found comfort in being able to come in and being able to talk. What are we missing? What did we do right last week? What did we do wrong last week? How can we improve? He has been able to voice those things. I have been able to take it and take it to the organization as well on a lot of items and we have been able to improve. He knows that his voice does command reaction out of the organization to improve on.”
IS THAT JUST MORE QUESTIONS BECAUSE HE DOESN’T KNOW OR IS THAT MORE QUESTIONS BECAUSE HE IS FEELING MORE CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE?
DARIAN GRUBB: “I think it’s a little bit of both. Some of it just comes with pure experience of going through the situation, racing and thinking your car is not up to par with what you think you need out there to compete, which we know we haven’t had a lot this year. We have been making big strides on making that better. Of course, when you don’t have that you doubt your own abilities at times too. You can see your competitors and your own teammates perform better so then you start looking within about what you are missing. I think he has learned what you can and can’t do of that and trying to beat himself up versus keeping the team pumped up and making sure we all have the momentum going forward to improve.”
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