NASCAR Media Conference
January 9, 2008
(Teleconference connected with press conference in progress.)
KYLE BUSCH: Just looking forward to being able to get the year started, though, get down to business. It's been a short off-season. I was ready to get going as soon as the season was over, so it's going to be fun.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll take questions for Kyle Busch.
Q. Yesterday morning Toyota posted nine out of 15 of the top spots. Are you impressed or surprised by their capabilities?
KYLE BUSCH: Not, not at all. I mean, you know, we knew that the switch was going to be good, and the reason we went to Toyota was for the pure fact that, you know, they want to go out there and compete and win races and win championships, so that's what we're here to do with them.
The biggest thing was it was nice to see the Red Bull stuff up there, Bill Davis' stuff going fast. I'm not necessarily sure if it's a lot to do with their engines or just the way that the Camry's front end is shaped or what exactly it is. For what we've got going on with our program and the Gibbs stuff, we're proud of the way we came out of the box strong.
Q. Everybody is looking right now at Joe Gibbs Racing as kind of a barometer for these Toyotas, specifically towards you. Are you going to share some of this information with Tony next week? What are you going to share with him?
KYLE BUSCH: All the information's already been discussed. It's on a server, the Gibbs server. All the guys back at the shop have been looking at it. There's been phone calls back and forth about them already changing some of the stuff on their cars from what we've learned here with the 11 and the 20. So they've been doing a lot of stuff back there.
A lot of the engine stuff that we've been learning here has been getting translated back there. They've been running it on the engine dyno. It's been non-stop. Joe Gibbs Racing has been working 24/7. It's been a big deal to be able to come out here and run strong. We want to make sure we give the 20 and the 11 everything that we've learned so then, you know, they're coming back here the way we leave so they can keep going and keep going on the same path that we were.
Q. Can you talk more about the Joe Gibbs announcement. Now that you've learned more about it, it's digested, you probably talked with people back at the shop about it, your team.
KYLE BUSCH: Actually, I haven't really talked to anybody. I haven't even talked to J.D. about it. I found out like everybody else did. I was actually out on pit road, texting Dickerson. He told me while I was out there.
You know, it's cool to have Joe back. I'm sure he's not going to make it to all the races, but he's going to be at most of them, the majority of them. That will give time for J.D. to step away, be with his family, stuff like that, back at home.
It's going to be great to have Joe around again, to have him at the racetrack, and the support of him and to take care of his organization with Joe Gibbs Racing. It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty optimistic that we're all going to be, you know, running up front, hopefully having the capabilities of winning races for him.
Q. You're leaving behind a team that helped you make the Chase the last two years, win some races. Any regrets at all about that, second thoughts? Do you see that team as being a strong contender to make the Chase again?
KYLE BUSCH: No, no regrets, no nothing. You know, I've got a lot of great friends over there at Hendrick Motorsports still. As a matter of fact, went over there the other day during my lunch break. Almost missed lunch all in general because I was getting stories from Christmas, New Year's, what all everybody did, catching up on stuff.
Other than that, I'm fortunate enough to be with another great organization, with Joe Gibbs. The team that I'm with, the 18 team, has struggled a little bit the past couple years. You know, so far at the Atlanta test, we pretty much won that thing. Then we went to Lakeland and we were really good down there. We had J.J. Yeley and the 96 was there with us. We were I think -- I don't know what exactly the times were, but we were significantly faster than he was. And then here in Daytona, everything's went well here, too. Our single-car runs have been getting better. We seem to be pretty fast there.
Jimmie Johnson was the fastest one for the past two days. Yesterday, mid afternoon, we actually got to within half a 10th of him, so we were proud of that effort. I'm excited about the way all the guys are working, really digging in deep, making changes really fast in order to get out there and just get more track time.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about any difference you notice in how the Toyota feels as opposed to the Chevy. Talk about any difference you've seen in the corporate culture from GM to Toyota.
KYLE BUSCH: From Chevrolet to Toyota, for the restrictor plate stuff, with the COT, we only ran it at Talladega last year, so Talladega is completely different than Daytona as far as how the cars handle and stuff like that. The car is a little bit rough through the bumps and stuff like that, seams to bounce, doesn't seem to be on the racetrack as well as it needs to be. I think that's just a product of the car itself, not necessarily the manufacturer.
The motor stuff seems to be strong. We've learned some things. We've picked up some sometimes in our single-car runs by messing around with some motor stuff. We've also been messing around a little bit with it in the draft and seeing what kind of carburetors or air boxes or stuff like that that the Camrys like to have 'cause we're not familiar with it. You get all that data is good, take it back to the shop and learn all about it.
Then as far as the overall scheme of Toyota versus Chevrolet, I mean, they've got -- basically it's kind of the same thing. The organizations are outlined together. You've got a PR department, you've got, you know, the main guys that come to the racetrack, then the main guys that are back at the office and stuff like that working and whatnot. So it's kind of the same thing.
I mean, I've met not all -- I'm sure not all the people that are a part of the racetrack in the Cup efforts, but I've met most of them. You know, they all seem to be hanging around the Andy Graves is a big part of the TRD development, stuff like that. He's been hanging around a little bit. We've been going through some stuff. It's been good to have those guys here and being able to put a face to the name.
Q. You have a lot to adjust to in a short amount of time. New manufacturer, new teammates. How is that going for you right now?
KYLE BUSCH: It's easy. Everything's going great. You know, being back at the shop, working with the guys a little bit, getting seats all squared away, everybody's been real helpful, real eager, have been telling me about how excited they are.
So, you know, the morale back at the shop's great. Everybody's excited about the tandem that we have here with myself, Tony and Denny. You know, everybody's pretty pumped up and ready to get the season rolling so hopefully we can get going.
Q. Kyle, do you miss Alan, for one? Do you think that would have helped with your transition to a new manufacturer and team? Did you try to bring him along? Was there discussion at all about that between you and him? What was that like?
KYLE BUSCH: Alan and I really worked well together on the racing stuff. You know, it was a lot of fun to be able to race with him on Sundays and stuff. But, you know, I'm sure there will be some missed points there on the way he calls his races. To not know how Steve Addington calls his races, it will be a little bit different. Still have to get acclimated to that part of it. Steve and I communicating and working together has been great.
Then as far as me talking to Alan about bringing him over there, there was never any such thing of that 'cause Alan is real, real loyal to Mr. Hendrick. He's always been there, been there since the beginning, worked from the ground up with Gary DeHart and all the guys that have been with that 5 team. There was never any doubt that he was going to stay with Hendrick Motorsports. I never even bothered asking him to come over or anything like that, so...
Q. (No microphone.)
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know anything about the 48 stuff. I haven't paid attention to any of that so I can't really comment on that. Maybe they just wanted to see a change. I don't know. Maybe they wanted to go in, it was too easy to win a championship with the 48, and they needed something else to do.
Yeah, actually, I would be, because that means I wouldn't get a win, Tony wouldn't get a win, and Denny wouldn't get a win. It would be a pretty big deal. You know, there's no doubt in my mind that at least one of us can't get a win. So you're going to see Toyota in Victory Lane this year, for sure.
Q. I don't think people realize how much communication goes on between you, the driver, and your crew chief. With the cars that will be running on the tracks this year, some of them have never been on these tracks around the country, more conversation is going to be taking place between you and your crew chief, at the same time you're trying to race 43 other cars. Can you explain to the people how much this affects you during a race?
KYLE BUSCH: It's not necessarily during the race that it's going to affect us. It's more so with your practice. I mean, when you first unload at the racetrack, get the car accustomed to the track, yourself getting accustomed to the track with the car and everything else, that's the biggest part of it. By the time you get through practice, qualifying, Happy Hour, all that, you better be ready to go for the race.
The biggest part is just showing up to the racetrack for the first time. Luckily we get a test at Las Vegas and California, which those are going to be two pretty big tests with the mile-and-a-half stuff, guys not being on the mile-and-a-half's much with this car, besides the prototype testing and whatnot that went on with some of the teams.
You know, I think it's just going to be a learning experience for all of us, to get it all squared away, figure out what we need to know about these cars on the different racetracks. But, you know, we went to Dover last year without a test and everything seemed to go well there. Ourselves with the 5 team, we had a malfunction with the right front bump stop, ended up, you know, just hitting the wall and stuff like that. So we had a couple issues there with that.
I think a lot of it's been squared away now. You know, being here at Daytona, then Las Vegas and the California tests, that will be a lot of it, just trying to get everything squared away and get a baseline.
Q. How tempting is it to pull in the 5 stall after all those years driving that car? Do you think about that?
KYLE BUSCH: No, not one bit. It was pretty easy to recognize where I was. I was on the opposite side of the garage. If we were next to each other, might have been a little confusing. Being on the opposite side of the garage, it was pretty easy. When you pull up behind it and you see, you know, the Carquest logo on the back of it, it's kind of like, Huh? You get out there on the racetrack, minding your own business, doing your own deal.
It is kind of weird seeing Mears in a blue, red and yellow fire suit. I don't know if I can get accustomed to that. I guess it's weird seeing me in a brown and yellow one, too. It will take a little bit of getting used to.
Q. (No microphone.)
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, I'm not necessarily going to say that it's the team or myself. I'm confident enough in the Toyota, because we're talking about Toyota here, that they're going to make it to Victory Lane. I feel like the Gibbs organization, and everybody said it, is ultimately going to be the telltale story of how good Toyota's going to be. You still have Red Bull, who has been a strong effort. Obviously they came down here prepared and ready to go. They've been pretty fast, as well as Bill Davis, the 27 with Villeneuve, has been good. There's going to be a couple more down here next week. Be curious to see how the rest of them do. It's not a stretch at all to say that Toyota's going to be in Victory Lane, no.
HERB BRANHAM: Kyle, thank you very much.
KYLE BUSCH: No problem. Thanks, guys.
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