Togetherness, Gibbs Racing Style
I caught Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Greg Zipadelli (#20 Home Depot) in the garage today.
Zippy had walked down to the 11 car's garage for a pre-race confab with fellow Gibbs crew chief Mike Ford, and we talked on the way back to the Home Depot shop. Zippy says he talks to Ford and Steve Addington, crew chief of JGR's #18 Interstate Batteries car, at least once a day. They're trying to work together more closely this year.
I wanted to know if it was as interactive last year, when Tony Stewart won a championship while Bobby Labonte had his worst year as a driver.
Zippy says it wasn't that they didn't talk last year, but the two teams were doing different things, so the information they shared wasn't helping make any team stronger. This year, they plan to try to stay on the same page. "We're learning, They're learning. We can share what info we have to make us all better."
I asked him, too, how he sees Stewart doing in the 150 this afternoon. He likes their chances, but says "there are lots of cars. We'll see who's getting shuffled when. Who works with who."
And who will Tony be working with? Not sure, according to Zippy.
Tony did give the FedEx driver Denny Hamlin a nice push on the last restart of the Shootout that helped him get to Victory Lane, so you'd expect the teammates to work together since they're both in the first race today. Gibbs's other driver, J.J. Yeley in the Number 18 Interstate Batteries car, is in the second race. I guess he's on his own.
Zippy says they haven't really hooked up with anyone else yet this year.
What about Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Tony and Dale seemed to help each other sometimes a few years back. I wouldn't look for it to happen today. "We don't seem to be getting it back, so we're on our own," says Zippy.
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