NASCAR Media Conference
May 5, 2009
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone, welcome to this week's NASCAR Cam video teleconference. We're in advance of this weekend's events at Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina. Joining us today from Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters Huntersville, North Carolina, we have Kyle Busch. Driver of the No. 18, M&M's Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and the No. 18, Z-Line Designs Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Kyle comes into this weekend leading the Nationwide Series points, and he's fifth in charging in the Sprint Cup points. Kyle will race in both of this weekend's events Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200, and Saturday night's return of the Southern 500.
Kyle, you're coming off a great weekend sweep at Richmond. Maybe just to start off today, can you just talk a little about some of the reasons for this great roll that you're on right now to start 2009?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, to start 2009, it's been a great year. We had a good run at Daytona, a good run at California. We won at Vegas, we won at Bristol. So we've had some good runs so far this year. We've also had a couple of mishaps this year, some not so good runs with Martinsville, and Atlanta wasn't great for us, and, of course, the last four weeks here before Richmond we didn't do as well as we would have wanted to.
So things are looking ahead right now. We won at Richmond this weekend, so that's three on the year. And myself and Steve Addington, we feel like we're really trying to work towards making ourselves better and making our team better, trying to keep up with the competition the way the things changed throughout the year. So we've got that going.
We're heading to Darlington this weekend where we won last year. We feel like we have a good basis on where we're heading, hopefully, and have a good, solid run this weekend to get ready for the All-Star race. And try to get ready for the Coca-Cola 600 as well, too.
Q. Steve Addington is a guy who was probably waiting in the wings with so much talent and never had a marquis driver or somebody who could take him to the top. And the second is, isn't tonight your birthday party and are you looking forward to that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, Steve's been a key inspiration to this team for a long time now. And he's been really good at what he does for a long time, even before coming to Joe Gibbs Racing.
So I knew Steve coming into this deal was going to be good. Somebody new to work with, somebody with a new set of ideas and stuff like that. So really look forward to it. Kept an open mind about it, and it's worked out well. It's worked out very well.
For him to have me as a driver, I guess it sort of worked out a little bit better than maybe most expected. You know, he's been with Jason Keller for years. Won a lot of races. Finished second in the championship a few times. Then he was with Bobby LaBonte, and they came very close to winning the Coca-Cola 600 years ago.
And had some other solid runs, too, but never quite looked as flashy as with myself. So it's good to have that.
Yes, tonight's the birthday party. We're looking forward to it. The girlfriend and a couple of buddies of mine are throwing it for me. So I'm not even sure where it's at yet or what time it is, but we're getting there and we'll figure it out when I show up, I guess.
Q. Earlier today, Darrell Waltrip wrote, I saw Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon and none of them were as good as Kyle when they were at their best. Does that put extra expectations on you, or are you okay when people say things like that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I'm all right when people say anything, really. Nothing seems to get to me a whole lot. But it's cool about what Darrell wrote. I haven't seen it, I haven't read it. So I don't know what the fine print is.
But those are some great drivers that he has in there. Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, and all those guys, you know.
It's been a dream for me just to get to the Sprint Cup series. Now to be racing here has been awesome. And to be as successful as I've been, I owe a lot of that to all the people that have gotten me here, and to all the people that have worked on my cars and stuff.
Hendrick Motorsports was a great team to be with. Joe Gibbs Racing is a great team to be with, and all those guys that made it possible for me to win races is what it's all about. I don't do this alone; I do it as a team. So I've had a lot of great people surround me throughout my career, so it makes it a little bit easier.
Q. I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about how or what, if any, impact your success has had on Denny Hamlin? What I mean by that is do you feel like at any point Denny has almost wished he was in your shoes a little bit?
KYLE BUSCH: To be honest with you, I can't answer that. I don't know. From what I've seen from Denny, Denny hasn't really changed over the time that we've been together or been teammates.
So we used to hang out a lot more than what we do recently, just because he's been busy, I've been busy. We haven't had much time. So we've been heading in a little bit different direction.
But we seem to meet up at the racetrack, and work together as a team and in our team meetings and stuff and talk about our race cars and what not. I haven't seen Denny change. I think it's all about the wellness of Joe Gibbs Racing and how we're doing here. We're both trying to help Joey out to make Joey a better racer and get him up to speed a little quicker.
So we've been good teammates in that respect. Just making sure that it doesn't matter who is winning races, I'd be proud of Denny if Denny was winning races, and I'm sure he'd be proud of me if he was winning races, so it goes both ways.
Q. At age 24 you've got 50 wins under your belt across all three series. So what are some of the records that you'd like to break down the road?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I don't know what all the records are, but I've broken a few. I know that the youngest pole winner, the youngest race winner, I guess, the most wins before the age of 25 is another.
But at some point I'd like to be able to win 200 races over all three series. I think that would be a good number. It's a pretty big number. It's not as good as Richard Petty's 200 in the Sprint Cup series. But still I think without being able to run that many races and with the competition as stiff as it is nowadays, that there is going to be awful hard to reach for anybody.
So we feel like we've got a shot at that hopefully. I've got plenty of years ahead of me, and we'll see if we can't give it a shot. But I think Mark Martin's at 48 wins in the Nationwide Series. I think that is something we can reach, hopefully.
I'm not sure about the truck series. I think Hornaday's got like 38 or so. That is probably too many to reach. But we'll get as many as we can.
Q. Talk a little bit, you mentioned Steve, but your other crew chief in the Nationwide Series, Jason, they're both from South Carolina. How special was it to give Steve that win last year and try to give Jason the win this year in the Nationwide Series?
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, it would be cool for sure. Coming up with Darlington this weekend, they're both from down there. You know, I like Darlington as a racetrack. I think it's a little easier for me to drive now with the fresh pavement than the on old pavement. For whatever reason I wasn't that great at the old stuff. But finished second in the Nationwide a couple times, I think.
This time going around there is going to be the second year on the new asphalt. So it should still be pretty grippy. And I'm looking forward to it. I think Denny had the tire test out there, so we'll talk to him and get some of his feedback on what he learned.
But I'm looking forward to going back there and winning a race for Steve Addington, and Jason Radcliffe, his home state. So hopefully if we don't get two, we get at least one. I'd really like to win the Nationwide race there, that would be cool.
Q. Wanted to ask you about another race which is going to come up at Iowa Speedway the day after the All-Star race. I know you've been there before, but what do you think about that? And the last two guys to come there after an All-Star race both won it.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's kind of funny the way that they've picked it. Hopefully that the tradition continues for the third year in a row. But we're coming up to Iowa to run at Iowa Speedway for the Camping World East series. I'm looking forward to that. It's with the Joe Gibbs Racing car.
Couple of years ago I believe Joey won that race. So hopefully we'll have a good enough car where we can do the same thing. I'm looking forward to it.
We're teaming up with Toyota of Des Moines, they've been good supporters of mine. We're looking forward to bringing it up there and hopefully winning a race on Sunday so they can sell more cars on Monday.
Q. Nobody races as much as you do doing everything you do in truck, Nationwide, and also with some dirt races you do during the week. Do you feel like any of the drivers love racing as much as you do?
KYLE BUSCH: I feel like there are some out there, yeah. Some don't like to race all the time. I know the guys in the Sprint Cup series love racing. Jimmie does, Jeff Gordon does. I think Denny does. We raced the late models last week at his home track.
So I think there are a lot of guys that love racing, and don't feel like they need to go back to that level or back to those racetracks for whatever reason and run.
But I love doing it. It's fun for me. It's fun for me and it's cool to see the fans and to give them a show, and to hopefully be able to win some more races.
To me I'm always going around to different areas and racing different types of vehicles. You're racing against the best of that car, the best of that class, the best of that racetrack. Some people say it's not the competition of the Sprint Cup series, but it's the competition of that series in general. Those guys have been there for a while, and they're the best at what they're racing in. So it's always hard on its own to try to beat those guys sometimes, too.
Q. Darlington Saturday night, how do you tame Darlington?
KYLE BUSCH: Darlington's a tricky place, man. It's fast and it's fun, and yet it's so difficult and so challenging because you can't ever take the racetrack for granted. You can't ever go out there and try to get a little bit more lap time out of it because it will suck you right into the fence.
I did that a few times last year and fortunately we were still able to win the race. We'll see how it goes this time around. Last year we were tight in the beginning of the race and we kept freeing it up. The more we freed it up, the more I kept hitting the wall.
But the faster we were going. So I don't know, man. It's a hard place to understand sometimes. But I like it. It's neat to go there and to race under the lights on Mother's Day weekend is really something.
To have all the moms there is pretty cool as well. To have my mom, she goes there, so that's nice. Then we get Sunday at home with her and the family, so Darlington should be a fun weekend.
Q. Going back to some of the late model racing you did. Is that more of your golf game, would you say? Or do you think you can pick up stuff that kind of helps your psyche when you get into the top three NASCAR divisions?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I've never looked at it that way. That's pretty good. That's for sure my golf game because I have no golf game. So that's pretty much all I've got for going back and doing something fun that I enjoy.
And it's during the week sometimes, Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The Prelude's coming up in a few weeks, so I'm looking forward to going there.
And my late model stuff, I own a team. I've got a couple super late models of my own. Those guys race all over. I like to race them as well. We had a race cancel this weekend, so I wasn't able to go, and I was disappointed about that. Wanting to race that again, I haven't been in it for a while.
It's neat for me. I love running those cars. They're my favorite type of car. So to just get in it and get back to the old feeling of what I grew up with is always fun.
Q. With the exception of your win at Vegas this year, it seems you've struggled a little bit on the intermediate tracks. A couple of 18th place finishes at Atlanta and at Texas. Does that worry you at all heading into the summer and knowing that getting into the Chase those are the kind of tracks that dominate those final ten?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, Atlanta worried me a little bit. We weren't good there at all. Never during the day did we have a car that could pass people or keep up with the lap times that the leader was running. So we have some work to do there.
Texas doesn't bother me as much. I screwed up that day more than anything. I got into it with the lap car because he wasn't out of the way and cut my own left rear tire. Ended up going two laps down, but I got my two laps back. Unfortunately by the time I got my second one back, it was like 15 to go. By then it ran green all the way to the end.
So we had a fast enough car that day. Passed a lot of guys, came up through there. Passed the leader actually and pulled away at one point and ran our own times up front in front of the leaders.
So I feel like Texas will be okay when we get back there in the Fall, but we'll see how the other ones go. Chicago we ran well last year. Kansas was a bit of a struggle because we had fuel issues. We weren't picking up fuel very well. So we'll have to play it by ear a little bit more.
Charlotte we were really fast last year. Great car in the All-Star race. Should have won that thing, broke a motor. Great car in the 600, we broke an alternator wire, so we lost a battery and we ran a lap down, went and got our lap back and ended up in the Top 10, I think.
Then in the Fall race there I got caught speeding on pit road. Second to last pit stop, I think. Got a lap down, got the lap back. Ran all the way up through there. There seems to be a recurring theme here. Got a lap down, got my lap back. So if we can ever stay on the lead lap, we'll be all right.
Q. Good afternoon, Kyle, I want to skip ahead to Chicago and Watkins Glen. You had a great weekend in Chicago last year. Kind of talk about Chicago and getting your first road course victory there at Watkins Glen last year.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm looking forward to Chicago this year. We had a great year last year with the Nationwide and the Cup series. We swept that weekend. It was my first sweep ever in the sports. So that was very cool.
Of course, that's very, very close to my girlfriend's hometown. So it was special because her family was there. So it was a it was a good weekend for me.
Looking forward to running the truck series. We'll do that. The truck race is on a Friday night, I believe, and we go Saturday and Sunday to Montreal.
Then you mentioned Watkins Glen, that was sweet to get the sweep of the road courses last year. Winning at Infineon early in the year in June, and going to Watkins Glen in August and being able to pull the sweep, that was fun.
I like Watkins Glen, it's a neat racetrack. It's a fast road course. Not so technical as Infineon, but it's fast, and still you've got to know what's going on. The interloop is really fast, the carousel. So we were close to winning the Nationwide race there. We finished second, and we won the Cup race there with our teammate Tony finishing second, too.
So it was a good week overall. Looking forward to the road courses. Actually all three this year get to run Infineon, Montreal, and both Nationwide and cup events at Watkins Glen.
Q. A lot of people say with so much on his mind, how in the heck does Kyle stay focused each weekend? Is it just a love of racing or what?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, you've got to keep your mind focused. The way I do it is to not let outside things get in. You know, I don't pay attention to a lot of what goes on during the weekend. I don't pay a lot of attention to what goes on with other people, with other racers, with fans and that kind of stuff.
People always think that I might be a jerk or I might be not so social or personable because I'm trying to keep in the zone and stay focused on what I'm doing and what's coming up next. I'm always thinking ahead and trying to keep a step ahead.
That's what my dad always taught me. I'd get done with one thing and say what's next? And he said stop asking me. Just keep thinking what is is the next process? What is the next thing you need to do to get ready to go. Whether it's loading the car, tying it down, setting air pressures.
So I'm always trying to think ahead. How can we make the cup car better? What things have we done? What can we work on? I'm thinking about the Nationwide car. My mind never stops. So that's where it all comes from, and maybe why I'm so focused because I'm always thinking, trying to stay ahead.
Q. Along the same lines of the last question, is it strategy, training, instinct or maybe something else that most helps you get over bad laps and get on with winning laps?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it's a little bit of training and kind of how you've grown up. And just trying to -- you think about the bad laps, what did you do bad on the bad laps? What can you do better and make you run faster on the next one? There in Richmond, there was a time in the race where I wasn't running very good. And I was like, man, stop. Stop what you're doing.
The green flag is out, but I had to tell myself to stop. Rethink your lines, and you have to press the restart button and reboot. It's like turning your computer off and back on. Except you're doing it at 140, 150 miles and hour at the racetrack while you're still running under green flag.
There are situations where sometimes that happens and sometimes you know you can't get it done quick enough or what have you. It's always a process of what's next.
HERB BRANHAM: Kyle's got to get going. We want to thank you Kyle Busch for joining us. Best of luck this weekend.
KYLE BUSCH: Appreciate it.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|