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Volume 22 No. 44
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Plugged In: Dave Alpern, president, Joe Gibbs Racing

Dave Alpern has performed almost every task the front office of Joe Gibbs Racing has to offer over the course of two decades, including working for the past two years as chief marketing officer. Now, he’s working from the president’s desk, having stepped into that job in February for J.D. Gibbs, who assumed the role of co-chairman. Alpern talks here about what it’s like being in charge of a team that’s seen all four of its Sprint Cup Series drivers pick up wins this year (including at Daytona) along with some of the pressing topics in the sport.

I still sometimes think of myself as the 20-year-old, unpaid intern I was when I started here and think to myself, ‘Why is this person asking me that question?’ So the hard part is I need to be involved in everything now. To some degree, I was before, but it was unofficial.

On moving from CMO to president: We didn’t replace the old job, so I’m still technically doing my old job and a new job at the same time. It hasn’t been a drastic change from that standpoint; my days look very similar. I think the biggest change is some of the topics I’m dealing in. … I go to the competition meetings now; I never went to those before.

On the team’s success this year: Every sport ebbs and flows, and we have had plenty of years where we all looked around and said, “Why aren’t we running fast?” And we’ve had plenty of years where we went to the racetrack and ran up front. I’ve been around long enough to know one thing: Neither usually lasts very long.

On JGR’s approach to sponsorship: It’s first of all about finding out, “What’s the secret formula that defines success for this sponsor?” It’s different for every sponsor, but our whole team has to know what that is, because at the end of every year, we have to know if we’re winning or losing. We are not a low-cost provider, so we expect that if they’re coming to Gibbs, they’re coming to win. So running up front and winning is great, but it’s only part of the equation.

On growth opportunities for NASCAR: I think a lot of the iRacing stuff definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. That whole esports culture is booming, and I think that could be an opening to get people involved in our sport, to get familiar with our racetracks and personalities in our sport. I think that’s going to be an entire industry in itself, without ever getting into a car.

— Adam Stern