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A Quotable 20 Years With Joe Gibbs Racing

December 15th, 2011 by
Editor’s Note: In honor of Interstate Batteries’ and Joe Gibbs Racing’s 20th anniversary together in NASCAR, a series of press releases highlighting 20 big moments have been distributed throughout 2011. This is the 20th and final release and it includes a collection of the best quotes from the previous 19 releases.


Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller, left, with Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller, left, with Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Copyright 2011 Autostock)

“He called down to Dallas and my assistant answered. I was down the hall doing something and she came and got me and said, ‘There’s a guy on the phone named Joe Gibbs and he wants to talk to you.’ And I said, ‘Oh that’s just some goofy friend screwing around.’”

–         Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries describing the first phone conversation with Joe Gibbs in 1991.


Joe Gibbs, Hall of Fame American football coac...

Image via Wikipedia

“I kid everyone today but, when we went down there, I almost felt kind of embarrassed. We met with them and we didn’t have a driver, we didn’t have a manufacturer, we didn’t have a building – we didn’t have anything. Basically, all we had was a dream.”

–          Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in describing his first meeting with Interstate Batteries in 1991.

“I remember I was downstairs in my house (on the phone with Norm). And Norm goes, ‘I’ve got to tell you the truth. We talked it over and we’re thinking about doing this.’ I thought, ‘Holy Mackerel,’ and I think I almost fainted.”

–          Gibbs describing his reaction when Miller informed him Interstate was interested in sponsoring JGR.


Jimmy Makar, Senior VP of Racing Operations for Joe Gibbs Racing

Jimmy Makar, Senior VP of Racing Operations for Joe Gibbs Racing. (Copyright 2011 Autostock)

“The first order of business was to go over to Hendrick (Motorsports) and find out what Joe bought because he literally had no idea what he bought.”

–          Jimmy Makar, the first employee of JGR, describing his first task upon being hired.

“It was a football coach and, at the time, Dale (Jarrett), who hadn’t won a race, yet. It was an unproven driver with a football coach owner starting from scratch. People weren’t anxious to jump on board to go do something like that.”

–          Makar about the challenge of getting people to come to work for JGR.


“We didn’t know what to do. What was really funny was, afterward, we all got separated, and myself, Pat, J.D. and Coy ended up with the trophy at a Steak ’n Shake down the road. A bunch of fans were there and we were out in the parking lot taking pictures with the trophy. And I think a few of the fans had a little bit to drink.”

–          Gibbs describing the post-race “celebration” following Dale Jarrett’s 1993 Daytona 500 win.


“We pretty much outgrew our second shop the day we moved into it.”

–          Todd Meredith, vice president of operations, about what led to the move to the third and current JGR shop.


Former Interstate Batteries driver Bobby Labonte

Former Interstate Batteries driver Bobby Labonte

“He (Ken Schrader) broke a motor with about 40 laps left and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’”

–          Bobby Labonte describing the emotions when he took the lead in the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Labonte held onto the point to score his first career Sprint Cup Series victory.


Kyle Busch, Victory Lane, Daytona 2008

Kyle Busch returned Interstate Batteries to Victory Lane, Daytona 2008

“I remember watching Bobby Labonte drive the Interstate Batteries car as a kid growing up. He and Dale Jarrett made that car famous, so to return it to victory lane at a place like Daytona was special to me.”

–          Kyle Busch after winning at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in July 2008 and giving Interstate its first victory since 2003.


“I remember being on the radio talking to the guys while I was going down the back straightaway going into turn three and saying, ‘I don’t know if I can get him or not, he’s pretty good – oh wait, hold on one second.’ I remember actually saying, ‘Hold on one second.’”

–          Labonte describing the radio communication just before he passed Rusty Wallace for the lead in the 2000 Brickyard 400 with 14 laps remaining. Labonte ended up winning the race.


“I tell everybody that we ran better in 1999 than we did in 2000, but we just had the consistency in 2000 more so than we did in 1999.”

–          Labonte about his championship year in 2000 after winning five races in 1999.


Norm Miller, Chairman of Interstate Batteries

Norm Miller, Chairman of Interstate Batteries (Copyright 2010 Autostock)

“I’ll say this about Norm: Norm has guts. If Norm believes in something, Norm’s going for it. Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen him over and over again in ministry and in different efforts we’ve put together in ministry. I’ve seen him just step out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this.’ Norm’s one of those guys who has guts and, if he believes in something, he’s going to go after it.”

–          Gibbs about Miller. 

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