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Stewart Q&A on car owner Gibbs' return to the NFL
"I'm excited for him. It's exciting to see a guy who is 63 years old and who has worked hard all his life and doesn't want to stop working. It's an exciting time for all of us I think.
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How did you find out about it? "He called us out to the airport last night and said he had something to talk to us about."
Did you get a sense that he missed the NFL? "He's always been involved in it even when he hasn't been coaching. He's kept a close eye on what's been going on in football."
Were you surprised? "Well, at first I thought we'd bought a new airplane at Joe Gibbs Racing because of the plane from the Redskins. And then I was a little down because I found out we didn't have a new airplane at Joe Gibbs Racing. But maybe we'll get some time on it."
How will this affect the dynamics of Joe Gibbs Racing? "It's not going to affect anything. J.D. Gibbs has done a great job of following in his father's footsteps all these years. He's learned everything from Joe. I think everybody with the team is excited for Joe. It's neat to see a guys that's in the position Joe is in and know how hard he's worked all of his life to be where he is. A guy like him isn't ready to step down and ride it out the rest of his life. He's ready to get back to work and get after it and play with the big boys again."
What does he find in football that he doesn't find in NASCAR? "I don't think he's missing anything, I think it's just another challenge for him. It's an opportunity for him to go back to doing something that has been a part of his life that he loves. He gave it up to go auto racing which is another passion of his. But now his role in the race team has kind of gone down a little bit so to speak. He can go back to doing everything he loves to do."
Will you be going to more football games now? "I'm just worried about driving races."
Your team was joking around and said Joe has to take the job to pay your salary. What do you think of that? "I don't know. Maybe I'll renegotiate now that I know he's going to be making a little more (laughs)."
Jimmy Makar, senior vice president at Joe Gibbs Racing"I don't think Joe has ever given up 100 percent on coaching. The racing thing has fulfilled a little bit of that competition he has inside of him and those competitive juices flowing within him, but it's sort of running itself now. He's not nearly involved as much in the day-to-day operations like it used to be. The team has grown to the point to where it runs itself without him having to be there. This opportunity is something he can sink his teeth into.
How did he tell you about it? "He flew in last night (to Daytona) and he and J.D. (Gibbs, son) met with Tony (Stewart) and Greg (Zipadelli, crew chief) and myself and basically filled us in on what's been going on for the last couple of weeks and what he's been thinking about doing. He said we'd be hearing about it pretty soon. All three of us felt the same way. We thought it was a great opportunity for him. It's neat to see a guy his age (63) removed from the coaching business for as long as it's been to get fired up about doing it again."
What reasons did he give you for doing it? "He didn't really give us any reasons other than the fact that he's 63 years old and that the opportunity was there and that it was a challenge."