JGR/James Stewart Teleconference
For the hardcore fans, here's the complete transcript of last week's James Stewart/JGR teleconference.
For those of you die-hard fans who want to know everything you can about the signing of James Stewart to Joe Gibbs Racing, here’s a complete transcription of the phone conference conducted between various members of the motocross media and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Joe Gibbs, Coy Gibbs and James Stewart. Enjoy.
Motocross.com: This is Steve Cox. Do you guys have any other announcements for any other racers on the team yet?
Coy Gibbs: Not currently. We’re obviously still working on that. This was our primary goal [signing Stewart], so we kind of put everything on the back burner until we had James on board and all signed up. And now we’ll turn our direction that way.
This is Kit Palmer, Cycle News. I was just curious, when did this actually finally get finalized?
Coy Gibbs: James officially signed… It was Tuesday last week.
Was there any debate about whether there was going to be a different motorcycle involved? A different brand? Or was it always going to be Yamaha all along?
Coy Gibbs: It went down that road and we had offers from another manufacturer and kind of just weighed the pros and cons there and decided that we were going to stay on Yamahas. We’re excited about that relationship. They’ve been with Joe Gibbs Racing since day one and obviously James had been on the bike. We just felt that was a better fit for us going into the future. And this again, this is both Supercross and Outdoors…
Steve over at VitalMX… James, obviously you had some options. What went into the decision-making process for you?
James Stewart: Actually, I think the decision as far as coming here and racing for Joe Gibbs Racing, I think that part was the easiest decision. It took a while; I felt like with not racing Outdoors this year and how the season went this year I needed to make some changes. I wanted to switch up the program and kind of start off fresh. I felt like last year there was just a lot going on and I felt, with the help of what these guys can do and stuff like that, I thought it would be a great fit for me. But at the same time I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision, so I took my time and made sure that I had every possibility in front of me and every chance I had, every manufacturer offer and stuff like that. But I felt like Joe Gibbs Racing was the best fit for me, and working with Yamaha again… I think what we can do is to just make it more comfortable and get out there and win some races. I thought it was a good opportunity.
This is Steve Cox again. James, watching the video this morning, you seemed really happy and usually a happy you is a fast you. How do you think being happy will change your performance this year?
James Stewart: Well, I mean, obviously I think that’s going to help a lot. When you’re out racing and stuff there are so many things and you just look at how the Outdoor season went and how when it started off Chad [Reed] was super happy and he got to the race and he actually was really fast. Things changed his mentality. And in this industry and this sport there are so many things; it’s a lot mental. And I felt like watching the Outdoor season and what I went through last year, it just felt like I needed to be happy where I was. And there were just so many different things going on, whether it was from the team, on the track, racing, all that… It was just too much. I felt like coming over here it was a chance for me to step back and not be the lead guy in the development or out there trying to come up with ideas, “Hey, let’s try this.” And I felt like with these guys, they want to win. And it’s cool to really come to a team that is all about winning, from the motocross side to the NASCAR side. And with Coach [Joe Gibbs here, everything is about winning. But it’s also a family. We do things right. So, yeah, I’m super-happy. Ever since I signed and kind of got this deal behind me to where this is the direction we’re going, I’ve been super-excited about being here. And I know how it is; I know how when you first start off everything’s happy, but this is truly the first time I’ve been this happy probably since I won those all races in Outdoors [in 2008, when Stewart went 24 out of 24 in the AMA Nationals].
Amanda, Supercross.com, to kind of follow up with that question. James, you have a lot of fans who follow you through Supercross.com. What would you like to tell them going into 2012? What are you most excited about? Is the bike different this year? Are there new components on it? Also about yourself, Joe Gibbs, and your goals for 2012?
James Stewart: I think, going into 2012, as far as the fans, I think it’s just kind of hard to go racing when things are not going right on the track. When you’re not feeling comfortable, it’s hard enough to try to do that, but I think it’s really hard when you’re trying to run a program or whatnot and things are still not going right. So, I think for the fans, it just puts me back to a place to where I know when it comes down to the bike and the team they’re doing a hundred percent, maybe even more work than I’m doing as far as on the motorcycle. So that part, it just kind of makes it easy where I show up at the races, I won races, I have chances to spend more time with my fans and just kind of be happy and be around. But goal for next year is obviously just going for the championship; to be happy and just try to win some championships and stuff like that. I think coming over here with coach and Coy the atmosphere is just super laid back. We’re serious about racing but we also want to have fun doing it. If you’re not having fun, it’s hard to go racing. I think that’s the biggest thing as far as going into next year is for me just feeling it out. I’m excited about going testing. I’m excited about showing up at the races. And I think that’s going to be two good things.
Now, is there much different on your bike this year or is it a lot different from last year? I know you’re running an FMF pipe this year.
James Stewart: Obviously, with Joe Gibbs Racing, they have a relationship with FMF and there are a couple different sponsors: Renthal, Toyota… I think that’s a great sponsor for us. I actually think it’s good. I think it’s good to have different products and stuff like that but we’ll just continue testing and with Showa to help suspension, and I think it’s going to be good. I’m really excited for it.
This is Steve Cox. James, it cut out a little bit there so I’m not sure exactly what she asked but it did bring up a good point, which is that FMF has an energy drink and you have a Red Bull sponsorship. Is there going to be any sort of a conflict there?
James Stewart: I don’t think so. I think we understand where we’re going. I think where Red Bull is at and with that whole situation, FMF is for the pipes. We’re using it for the pipes. So, I don’t see it being a problem. I think this relationship is not about that. I think everybody wants to go win races and I think we’ll keep it separate and where Red Bull is happy and FMF is happy with what they’re doing. So, at this point, I don’t see a problem. There hasn’t been anything that’s come up and I don’t expect anything in the future.
Last Supercross season, can you talk a little bit about what wasn’t working and then what’s different on the bike now; the setup or just engine or tires or whatever else that’s better for you now?
James Stewart: I think the biggest thing is just being surrounded with a good team. I think that’s number one. Last year, obviously I did struggle during the year. I think what it came down to, it was just too much going on. Trying to set up the motorcycle and trying to go racing and figuring out it didn’t work and stuff like that… Last year, it wasn’t a secret; I did struggle with the bike. But I think this is the opportunity to come here and do something special with these guys. And just seeing their motorcycle compared to what we had over at L&M is a lot different. I believe when you’re unhappy and struggling I think everything’s a lot bigger than maybe what it really is and I think just being happy and knowing that the team is doing a hundred percent, I think that’s the best part.
Lex, Supercross.com. I just had a comment because we’re on a crummy speaker phone, but I worked with Coach Gibbs way back in the day when he was here in San Diego on the television side, and I know the hard work that the team has done in different disciplines and I just want to congratulate all of you about how much work you put into it and Coach Gibbs. Just congratulations and we appreciate your hard work and thanks for including us in.
Coy Gibbs: Well, thank you.
Joe Gibbs: This is Joe. When Coy first… When we were first working together and coaching he said, “Hey, Dad, I think I want to come back and do something in racing.” And I said, “What do you think that is?” He said, “Supercross, motocross.” And I went, “What?!” I said, “That’s a step!” And it was pretty much his dream. He jumped out on it and we got going. The thing that I was going to say – I appreciate those comments, but I think for our series next year and for the race fans, this thing is going to be awesome. It’s going to be very competitive. I think it’s going to make for great racing. Our sport itself is taking off. I think we’re still gaining viewers and fans and I see us having a great year next year so we’re kind of all excited; everybody here, Coy and all of us are excited about where we’re headed. I appreciate those comments. One thing I do take from this Press Conference: Do you mean to tell me if James is not happy that we’re going to have a tough time here? [Laughs]
Steve Cox here, yes, that’s exactly what we’re saying.
Joe Gibbs: Okay, just checking!
Joe, this Lex again. I don’t know if people appreciate me calling you Joe, but last time we got together was at a Bruegger’s Bagels outside of that small town there in North Carolina. But you said, “Hey, just call me Joe.” You might not remember my name but we used to work together a lot. I did a lot of a stuff for the Chargers. It’s just really neat to see how far you’ve come. Like you said, when Coy came to you and said “I want to race Supercross” which is something brand new and you guys embraced it and are taking it in maybe a new direction that other people have not even thought of… So, again, congratulations and we appreciate you including us in on this.
Joe Gibbs: You bet. Thank you.
Steve Giberson. James, can you talk a little bit about the team you’re going to surround yourself with this year? Are you still working with Johnny [O’Mara] for training and have you got a mechanic yet?
James Stewart: No, I actually talked to Johnny… That was a couple days ago. Our relationship’s still good and things like that. Johnny is such a good guy. And I talked to Sergio [the suspension guy James hired at L&M] and was thinking I was going to keep him on board and just kind of have him mowing my grass at the house because I like the guy so much and I didn’t want him to work for anybody else, but I wanted to give him an opportunity to go. And I think he’s actually going to work for Reed’s team. So that should be exciting for him, and to get a chance to learn something different over at the Honda program. So, I think for me it’s these guys up here. I think those are the biggest changes going on as far as the team and stuff. My program will pretty much be the same. I always felt like I was always in shape and things like that. My training regiment is good. I’ve had a lot of trainers, through Aldon [Baker] and Johnny, so I know what to do and plus they’ve got a really good guy up here. I think it’s going to be great. I think I’ll be able to take everything I’ve ever learned and put it up here and do it for 2012.
How excited are you to go racing now? No racing all summer long… I don’t want to say you were on the couch, but on the sidelines…
I’m very excited. What makes me excited is just the competition. I felt like, coming into 2010, I was expecting to win and obviously I didn’t; I got hurt the second race. And obviously this year was supposed to be a great year. But now it’s kind of fun because you’ve got Ryan [Dungey] switching to a different bike and the other Ryan [Villopoto] winning everything. Chad [Reed] and Trey [Canard], those guys are ready to rebound also. So, I think it’s fun. I look forward to that. I used to get out of bed and what really made me get up was racing against Ricky [Carmichael]. It’s just that level of competition; knowing I had to be perfect and be the best. The way I look at the season and how closely I was to still winning it last year, and obviously I didn’t win, and how watching those guys progress through Outdoors… I’m more excited than I’ve probably every been.
This is Steve Cox again. Can you talk about being back with Jeremy Albrecht again and what that means? I know you guys really got along when you were at Kawasaki way back in the day.
James Stewart: I think, with me and Jeremy, it’s just kind of coming in in my career with him. He’s the first real pro mechanic I ever had. We just had a good relationship. I think it was just that he saw me grow up from being 16 years old to winning my first ever Supercross title. So I think he kind of knows me because he’s seen the good and bad days obviously and stuff like that. And obviously when he came over here and he came to work for this team obviously I was bummed because he was my right-hand man. He was my crew chief on this whole deal. But it’s an opportunity to work with him again. It’s just funny hanging out with him; I forget how fun he is and how much fun we had. You throw him and Coy together, and Coach, I think it’s going to be party city over here.
With the new contract with Yamaha, is it kind of a more formalized feel than you had before? Do you get more technical support? How is it going to differ from before?
James Stewart: Well, I think the difference between being at L&M besides the resources we have as a team over here, at Joe Gibbs Racing, I want to say the biggest difference is that we’ll run whatever is best. You’re not really being tied down to this and that. I think we’ll make whatever is best to work for Yamaha and stuff like that. So I think in support, Yamaha has always supported me ever since I’ve been over here. Obviously they’re going to support us just like they did last year, which was great. They’re going to do the same thing here. But I think what we can do is honestly take what they give us and just continue to make it better. There’s always work going on; development and stuff like that. I honestly believe, I don’t know if some of you guys ever had the chance to come up here but, I see for sure once we show up and hopefully we win some races next year, I see this as definitely being the factory team; the new standard of race teams. Because I’ve been at Kawasaki, I’ve been at Factory Yamaha, factory teams teams; I’ve seen them all. And what these guys [at JGR] have got in resources we have up here, it’s just unbelievable. It’s amazing what these guys can do. I know what we have can win races. Obviously, I had that and I won races on the Yamaha but I know what we have this year is going to be a lot better and I’m looking forward to making it happen.
Steve Cox again. I was curious about team sponsors and whatnot. What do you know as far as next year as of now and do you plan on adding or changing anything before Anaheim 1, or is that a possibility?
Coy Gibbs: I’m hoping to add some, Steve. [Laughs] We’d like to add some sponsors. I think that probably goes back to the same thing where we spent all our time and effort going after James. It’s the same old story; you can go to sponsors day-in and day-out and they’re going to always ask you, “Who’s the rider?” So, it was kind of futile to go shopping until we had him done, but now I think we can start moving forward with some sponsors that we’ve been working with the last couple years and hopefully put something on the table.
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