NASCAR Media Conference
January 18, 2006
Q. How anxious are you to start this year after the great season last year?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm really anxious. Being able to come down here, I'm ready to roll and get the season started and with Chevrolet. Being able to get the same car two years in a row makes it a lot easier on the driver because I haven't been able to do that yet in my career. So it's the first time I don't have a rookie stripe on my bumper and looking forward to it. All of the success we had at the end last year has definitely rolled over into this season. Coming down here to Daytona with a great race car and having a really great test, working with the guys again, didn't have any turnovers, so it great to have everybody back with us. Looking forward to a great year hopefully and being able to get the season started in Daytona is going to be a good season.
Q. Two of the first sessions you've been the fastest, what do you make of that?
KYLE BUSCH: Just the way that everybody has been working through the off-season, the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been a great race car. We went and tested the downforce version that have at Kentucky before New Year's, so we definitely wanted to get a head start on things. We're not laying down at all. We're coming out here full-bore getting ready to get after this championship. We've got everybody on the same page working together and working hard and we're determined enough where I think we've got the capability.
Q. Can you compare yourself and your brother as a racer, how are y'all different and how are y'all the same? I would imagine that he probably feels like he's trying to cut down a lot of trees for you, and you Kurt seem like you run solid together.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, Kurt and myself, we get along great. I think it just has to do with the way our mom and dad brought us up throughout the years, being able to work on race cars and having a great learning experience with our father down in Las Vegas, and of course, mom, too. It was one of those deals where mom always made sure we went to school and got good grades and that kind of stuff, and dad always made sure we were in the shop working on our own race cars. Kurt and I have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, but there's always a sibling rivalry there, of course. The younger brother always wants to go out and outdo the older brother. So I've had that on me for a long time. But like I said Kurt kind of paved the way for me to get up here and knocked down a bunch of trees for me. I would say it's probably too easy for me to get here, of course and now that I am here, I have to be able to make sure that I can do the job at hand as well as anybody else can.
Q. You had such a good year last year, you won twice, Rookie of the Year, but you also had moments where you did not do as well. Going into 2006, how do you avoid that sophomore slump? How do you guard against thinking, "I've done this before, I can do it again?" Is it the level of competition that keeps you honest; is it Rick; can you talk about that?
KYLE BUSCH: Sure. The biggest thing is probably just being able to -- first off, I want to go there, and if anybody knew what -- I don't answer that part of the question for you. I can't tell you what it's going to take in order to bypass that. So hopefully we don't have any issues there that are going to take us out of anything as far as the running and racing and things like that. Coming out of the end last year being able to get into the off-season and get a new standard started here, we have a lot of work that we've had to do throughout wintertime, but we've also been fortunate as far as not having to reorganize people and not having to do that kind of stuff. We've been able to focus on brand new race cars right out of the box. It's all about trying to just get going, and like I said, there's not much we can do to try to figure out what the sophomore club is, what works, what to fix. We just have to try to prepare ourselves in every which manner and make ourselves the best possible prepared for the season.
Q. Testing last week and how strong the Hendrick cars were, how much did you follow that and share information? Kurt has discovering life outside of racing and seems a lot happier -- inaudible -- you guys have raced since you were kids, you seem to have found that a little bit, can you talk about that?
KYLE BUSCH: Sure, I'll go with that second part first. Being able to watch Kurt the past few years, it's a big deal for him to come and win races, his rookie season and came back the following year and won four or five races, had a good run for the championship race and also finished third the year after that. He's just trying to find a groove to put himself in and make his way through. It's been fun to hang out with him a little bit more so now. Since he's able to do a lot more things than I've been able to and stuff like that, I can get life lessons from him that maybe I don't have to go through and makes it a lot easier for myself again.
I enjoy being able to hang out with him -- inaudible -- quadrupled, can't ever get off of it. It's pretty neat, he enjoys being able to go out and enjoy the outdoors and things like and being able do things that he's never really been able to do growing up in Vegas and working on race cars all the time. He's probably finding his groove at the right moment in North Carolina.
Q. Last week the Hendrick cars were so strong here, that's got to give you confidence coming into this week. What about the information sharing?
KYLE BUSCH: The greatest thing about what Hendrick Motorsports has done the last couple of years, now we have about six or seven set guys that are just strictly building restrictor plate cars. We didn't have that in the past. Gordon always had efficient cars here. Now that we have those guys building restrictor plate cars, it makes it a lot easier in order for them to knock out cars, let alone relieve some of the guys in our shop. It's been pretty cool, a lot of information shared in the past week and being able to work on the stuff that, you know, we don't have. Basically there's so many different things that you want to try to learn in a test that you can't get it all in and you have to sit out on pit road and wait. You can keep going and right back out and get a lot more runs in. I want to be nice and courteous to the rest of the drivers out there, but being able to have a set of data makes it a lot easier, instead of looking at the telemetry and look at things, you have a set plan and you can knock it out. And with the chief we're able to work together and get it all set up and in line, it makes it a lot easier for everybody.
Q. Can you talk about the race that Dale Earnhardt lost his life, and what impact did that have on you that day?
KYLE BUSCH: That race is a very memorable one. Reason being is that was Kurt's first race on the 500, and I was here in order to see that. We were sitting up in the grandstands at the finish line with my mom and dad watching the deal. It's been an exciting race and it was a lot of fun especially coming down in the end watching Michael Waltrip leading -- inaudible -- Earnhardt was third. It was a pretty wild race. You were not quite sure, with five laps to go whether it was going to pan out. And all of a sudden the DEI cars jumped out front and Senior behind it. Didn't look like that bad of an accident. Of course, we all find out later exactly had happened and it was a tragedy and one of the biggest in the sport. It's had an impact on everybody, had an impact on safety more so than anything else as well as the racetrack and as well as the sport all around. It's definitely made us rethink a lot of different things as far as confidence in race cars. Everybody has worked tremendously hard on trying to make the race cars safer and trying to turn them around is something that we all feel comfortable with.
Q. You're one of the few guys here that -- inaudible. Can you talk about the fact that you're so young, you're one of the hot spots and you've got a car that has a good shot at winning the Daytona 500, how does that make you feel at your age?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm definitely blessed and I feel a lot of great things. But there's also been a lot of hard work and dedication to do everything that has put myself here. And just basically being able to grow up in Las Vegas and work on race cars and do everything that I wanted to do, this is what I love, and I have never really known anything other than -- anything differently besides this. I've played baseball and I did kind of the little league stuff here and there, but racing was one dream that I had set forth that that's what I wanted to do. And to be up here at the NASCAR's top level of racing is an amazing feeling, especially when you're only 20 years of age, and that just means that there's a longer road ahead of me. I'm going to be here for a long time, so looking forward to it.
Q. You mentioned Vegas and a lot of guys grow up with a long history of drivers from Alabama and Virginia, Carolina and they are following in the footsteps of a lot of history and although I'm sure there were regular drivers with the Vegas area and your brother, you and your brother are establishing your own Vegas tradition with another 20-year-old driver coming up. And the other thing is, last year Roush had five cars and Hendrick only had one and the first part, Roush and Hendrick -- Roush seemed to kept getting better and -- inaudible?
KYLE BUSCH: All right, first part of that question was about Vegas and having another 20-year-old coming up through the ranks. I hope I'm able to help that 20-year-old that you're speaking of. There's a kid back in Vegas named Alex Haas (ph) and he's been pretty cool to work with. My family has known his family for a long time. My dad has worked with his dad, pretty cool kid and been working with him. You know, it means a lot to be able to -- for Kurt and myself to come from basically nowhere. Nobody has ever heard of a race car driver that grew up or were even born in Las Vegas. So it's a little different story from the older NASCAR days were, where everybody was on the East Coast. I think it's cool the way everything is spread out now and on the West Coast, too. The second part of that was Hendrick versus Roush, I would not say there's a lot of pressure put on us in order to try to get our cars into the Chase, but it's definitely something that has been thought of. And why did it happen last year, we're still trying to figure that out. Jeff had a good start to the season and had a mid-year slump, and Jimmie had a pretty good start to the season and kind of got through the middle pretty decent and then slowed down into the Chase. But just, you know, being able to get out there, and Roush definitely has their stuff together and all their five teams were working really well together. Somehow for some reason, everybody was -- Roush, Hendricks, like you say beginning of the year, Tony Stewart comes middle of the year out of nowhere winning all of these races, going to the top of the standings and being able to win the championship. It's find of funny because nobody ever said anything about a Penske car or a Childers car for almost the first half of the year. As far as putting Hendrick cars in the Chase, I'm looking forward to trying to put all of us in there. It's going to be tough, but that's the task at hand that needs to be done.
Q. Can you talk about what you learned about racing outside the car and everything that goes with being a top driver at the NEXTEL Cup level?
KYLE BUSCH: It's a pretty busy life. Just last week I've been in five different states in four days and it's been pretty difficult. All in all it's been fun as well, too. I've been able to travel around and do a lot of different faces and things like that. I've had a good time being able to go out and see some of the fans and sign some autographs and give back to them because that's the main reason that we're all here. They are the ones that get the sponsors to put their names on the race cars so that we can go out there and have a good time and do what we enjoy best and race. Life outside the car has been different. It's changed quite a bit since the local short track days where you go and race and have a good time. You want to win, it's a local short track level. But now you're at the upper level of NASCAR racing, you can't win every week, you can't lead every lap, but you try your hardest in order to do that. You know, being able to recognize and understand how difficult the competition level is now, it's just something that it's inevitable that you just try to work at the best of your ability in order to figure it out.
Q. As a follow-up, Kurt made no secret when he first came into the sport that that was a weakness of his; that he tried to lead every lap and every race, and he's learned that he couldn't, as you said. Has that forced to you change your approach to racing?
KYLE BUSCH: Definitely. I had to learn a little bit of that myself as well, too, last year. That's why I put myself in a few bad spots and wrecked a couple of race cars because I was trying to take an 18th place car and I wanted to lead with it. But I was driving 12th, how hard I was driving driving 12th; you end up crashing or something like that. There are weeks you have a really great race car, like at Loews Motor Speedway, we had -- inaudible -- some bad luck or whatnot. Being able to put all that stuff behind you, you just go on. All you can do is what you can do is to prepare the car to the best of your ability. For me to try to go out there and try to be that much more patient, I think I'd be a lot better off.
Q. Is it more important to be fast here at this test session than in past years because you're not going to be able to go to Talladega and work on anything?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. I wouldn't say that. I think there are a lot of guys that are probably holding stuff back. They come down here and get a feel for what they have got. They can go out and run laps all day long and they know what kind of effort they are putting into their as far as cars what percent prepared it is. Yesterday we probably went out and made our qualifying run about 88 to 90 percent of what we're going to be able to do in the Daytona 500, so that was a pretty respectable lap and almost of what all we had. The rest of the guys, we don't know what their game plan is. We don't know what they are doing, if they are 100 percent or 80 percent or what exactly it is. It's kind of a guessing game. But as long as you know what you're doing and you're worried about yourself and you have exactly the knowledge that you need to take back to Charlotte and try to work on the race cars a little bit more, you'll be all right.
Q. Can you explain "holding back"? What would be the purpose of holding back ten percent?
KYLE BUSCH: Just for a team to not quite show exactly what all they have. You know, there's teams out there that, you know, they will hold back ten, 20 percent or whatnot. You know, they will be -- maybe they are second or maybe they are third on the speed turn and they are hold being back and when they comeback for the 500, you're like, "Whoa, where did they come from?" That's just what it's all about. You want to run well here, of course, for the test, but you want to run better when you come for the 500 because that's what matters. The test is just a test. It's exactly what we're here for, just to gather information and learn what we can and take it back to Charlotte and work on your cars a little bit better to make them better if at all possible. Basically, the teams are holding back to come back down here for the 500 and surprise you.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|