Crew-chief Dave Rogers was part of an off-season shakeup at Joe Gibbs Racing when he switched from Denny Hamlin’s team to Carl Edwards’ No. 19 Toyota. Under Rogers’ guidance, the Edwards team has performed well this season, capped with a victory Sunday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Rogers spoke with the media after the race:
Q. You’ve said you’re having more fun than you have in a long time. Why is that?
A. Coach (team owner Joe Gibbs) taught me long ago that it’s all about people, and that’s why I’m having so much fun. This 19 team is full of good people. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve been there 18 years or so, and I mean, it’s just – there’s good people everywhere.
This 19 team, the pit crew, the road crew, everyone gets along so good, and Carl treats us with a lot of respect. He keeps a level head when we have down days like Martinsville. He doesn’t get too excited when we have good days like (Sunday).
So that even keel just lets you perform at your best, and you’re always having fun when you’re performing at your best.
Q. What does he do on the track that might be a reason why he didn’t have tire issues at Bristol like his JGR teammates did?
A. I just think Carl drove a brilliant race. There were plenty of times that he was running, and someone would be tracking us down, I’d read lap times and let him know that, hey, we’re a 10th (of a second) off, we’re a 10th off, we’re a 10th off, and then all of a sudden he would run a 10th-and-a-half quicker to show me that the car had it and then back it down. So I think Carl did a great job of managing the tires. It was just our day today, I guess.
Q. What more is there for you to learn from each other?
A. I think at some point you don’t know what you don’t know. I think my main focus right now is to keep bringing good race cars to the racetrack, consistently, each week.
We ran really well at Texas, and we ran really well here, but two races don’t make a season. We need to do it all year long.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. Days like Martinsville, where we started out being literally a 45th-place car out of a 40-car field and managed to make it a top-5 car. That was just probably one of the worst cars that I’ve ever been associated with, and Carl did a great job of managing and getting to the pit stop, and then the pit crew did a great job of making some changes, and we clawed ourselves back into it.
So far, those are the moments I’m most proud of, and we can’t lose sight of that. Like Carl said, this competition is extremely strong. This is the best of the best, and you’re going to have days like that, and we need to be able to weather that storm every time it comes up.
I know later on in the season, it’s going to be a lot more pressure to do that than it was at the first Martinsville, so we’ve got to stay focused on that. But I think the biggest thing right now is keep bringing fast race cars and let Carl display his talents.”
Q. Do certain drivers fit a crew chief’s style?
A. I think the biggest thing is chemistry, just the way we communicate about the car and the way we communicate about life. That’s a big thing.
You’re always trying to get the most out of your driver. You’re always trying to tell him what you need to tell him to allow him to perform, and the driver is doing the same for the crew chief.
The relationship that Carl and I were able to build this winter, I just feel really comfortable being me calling the races. I call them the way I want them. I don’t have to take on an adaptive personality of any sort, and it works for Carl.
Likewise, I hope he feels very comfortable being Carl and communicating the way he wants to, and that’s a big deal. That’s a real big deal.