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Between the Motos: Coy Gibbs

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“Let’s sit down,” said Coy Gibbs, shutting the door of the lobby area of the JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha/No Fear team transporter. Gibbs then grabbed a chair, sat down and let out a sigh while shaking his head. Less than 20 minutes earlier, in a shock upset, Gibbs’ rider Josh Grant stunned the near-sell-out crowd of 42,309 present in Angel Stadium by winning the first 20-lap main event of the 2009 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Series. It was arguably the most sensational rookie result since first-year rider Damon Bradshaw won the opening round of the AMA Supercross Series aboard a Yamaha on Saturday, January 27, 1990. As fate would have it, the victory marked the one-year anniversary of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based supercross outfit. And as an interesting historical footnote, when Joe Gibbs started to go NASCAR racing back in 1992, the team scored its very first victory at the first race of its second season: The 1993 Daytona 500. So here, in cold and drizzly Anaheim, California, history had repeated itself for the Gibbs family. All too aware of what had just shook out before his eyes, Coy Gibbs had so many emotions and thoughts running through his head, that the questions he answered below came as if he were almost talking to himself.

  • Jeremy McGrath wanted to make sure he congratulated Coy personally
Racer X: Coy, what were you thinking when the rear wheel of Josh Grant’s bike sucked up the Tuff Block plastic with less than three laps to go?
Coy Gibbs: Honestly, I was sitting up in Toyota’s box because they were kind enough to let me sit up there and film.

So you were running the video camera for the main event?
Yeah, I freaked out. I was sitting there thinking, “Good gosh, this is the slowest race in the world.” So I jumped up with about eight laps to go and sat in the tunnel and watched the laps count off on the board. I saw our bike go by and Grant on it and it was smoking. I was like, “Our you kidding me?” I just put my head down and started praying. I said, “Come on! Give us this one! Let us have it.” [Laughs]

Did you think the bike was going to make it to the finish line? I must admit, I was holding my breath...
I don’t know much about the bikes. I didn’t know. I was like, “Do they usually make it? Do they not make it?” I know they don’t make it 10 laps, but can you muscle it two? He did a great job of just making it happen. It just goes to prove that he works his tail off and it works out. It’s just nice to see that because this is hard to do. I keep telling people, “I’d much rather play football because there’s only two teams. Here, it’s like car racing. It’s hard. There are so many good teams and you’re out there battling.” I’m just so excited to have Yamaha and Toyota and get them some press. We have Snickers and Farm Bureau and Sport Clips and all of them on board. When you win the first one, it’s special. We had live TV and the whole nation was watching. We need some more sponsorship, so this might help! If this isn’t enough to do it, I don’t know what will!” [Laughs]

I’d imagine most of the NASCAR community was tuned-in as well...
You know, the only guy I can’t get a hold is my dad. I keep calling him, but he’s not picking up.
{QUOTE}
What are you feeling right now? Is it still sinking in?
I’m just pumped. I’m pumped for Josh. Honestly, at the start of the year, I was excited for the team because we had a shot. They both give you a shot. And Coops [Cody Copper], we’re going to get him up to speed and get him going earlier in the day. Of course, you’re down — you’ve got three guys here and only one makes it [Note: Gibbs’ riders Cody Cooper and Eric Sorby did not make the main event]. That’s hard. It makes you step back and realize, “Man, this is hard to do.” I almost doubted it, but God blessed us and gave us a win. You know, I had an old coach named Willy Shaw. He recruited me at Stanford. He used to tell us after we won, “I’ll give you about an hour and you better get down off the rafters and we have to go to work tomorrow.” That’s always been my mentality. I’m pumped.

The program is only a year old and you guys went out and won. That’s really saying something...
You know what’s ironic about that? I honestly think that in our second year in Cup we won the first race at Daytona. And in our second year here, we win the first race at Anaheim. Nobody knows that stat, I bet. [Note: In the second year of operation, Dale Jarrett won the season-opening Daytona 500 in the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet.]

  • The JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha/No Fear bikes
  • It was a season opener that won't be forgotten anytime soon
Have you talked with your brother, J.D., yet?
I talked to my brother. He’s awesome. He supports us. He helps me out so much. Not only financially, but he has a passion for racing and for motocross. He’s the one that helps me keep going. I can’t get a hold of my dad. I don’t know where he is. My dad, he’s a little goofy. He’s got a cell phone, but he’ll only call, but he won’t answer. It always baffles me. I talked to my mom, my wife and my brother. I tried to call my dad, but can’t get him. He’s the one always calling me from Victory Lane in the car stuff.

Is this the fulfillment of a dream?
Definitely. I’ve been lucky to do a lot of things and this is awesome.

Does this win validate the team’s approach? You guys are based way back in North Carolina and you’re racing program is very influenced by a traditional sports team mentality.
The thing was, I was so proud of Josh because late in the race, before the banner was stuck in the wheel, he wasn’t dropping off. He kept digging. It’s that first one or two years in football, there’s something to them where you’re under the gun and there’s a lot of pressure and you’re worked. Josh kept digging. I don’t know, I’m not here to say we’re always doing things right. We try our best and work hard. There are probably a hundred different ways to do things, but we’re excited. I’m just excited for the guys. Guys like Jeremy [Albrecht]. They made big commitments and sacrificed a lot and they’re away from their families a lot, so this just makes it fun.

Down deep, did you think Josh would be this competitive in his rookie year?
You know, I didn’t know Josh very well last year. I got to talk to him a couple of times at the track. And what he is is he’s serious. People don’t realize that about him. I think they get the wrong impression, but the kid is serious. When we talk to him, he’s going to be serious about whatever we’re talking about. You can get him to loosen up a little bit, but I think people mistake him a lot of times. Once I figured that out about him, really with both our guys, you don’t have to motivate them. They’re self-motivated. I don’t think it’s the money, I don’t think it’s the girls, I don’t think it’s the fame, I think it’s that they want it. That’s’ really what you look for in an athlete. If you look at the great ones in any sport, it’s not about the other stuff. It’s about, “I want it and I’m going to kill myself to get it.” I think they both have that.

{LINKS}Okay, Coy. We’re really happy for you guys. Something like this is just great for the sport.
I’m pumped. I’m pumped for No Fear. I’m pumped for No Fear Energy. I’m pumped for everybody, really. I just can’t name them all. It’s hard to do, that’s for sure.

What do you think will be going through your head when you wake up tomorrow?
I don’t know. It’ll be an easy plane ride home, that’s for sure. [Laughs]
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