NASCAR Media Conference
January 29, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We have with us Kyle Busch, driver of the M&M's Toyota.
Before we get into the competition and testing, we also have a small announcement. He's been joined by Tom Waite, president and CEO of Boystown of Nevada. This year the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is going to play host to the first NASCAR Foundation Track Walk and it's going to benefit Speedway children's charities, the NASCAR Foundation and the Kyle Busch foundation.
Kyle, I'll turn it over to you. Talk about your involvement and the fact of who your beneficiary is there.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's a great opportunity for me to work with the NASCAR Foundation and Speedways Children's Charities for the NASCAR Foundation Track Walk. For me to be involved with the Kyle Busch Foundation, obviously the founder I guess I was.
But to be able to have this opportunity to help others and to be able to take some time to spend some time with some fans and walk around this beautiful mile-and-a-half facility, teach some people the racing grooves, show them some bumps and grinds of what this place is all about, and also to raise money for a great cause.
So really excited and fortunate to be in this position. Hopefully we can all have a great time in benefitting everybody involved.
THE MODERATOR: Tom, do you want to make a brief comment?
TOM WAITE: Boystown Nevada exists to save children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected and help them become contributing members of society. It's an honor and a privilege to have Kyle Busch, a famous Nevadan, as well as a NASCAR star, to work with us and to help Nevada's kids have a better future and life.
In fact, the kids of Nevada are excited to have Kyle visit their homes. They wanted me to present him with a hat from Boystown, Nevada. Thanks so much, Kyle.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open it up for questions.
Q. You've had some experience with the Car of Tomorrow already. Now you've been testing it on the track. How are you finding it running? Do you like this car better than the previous car? What would you say are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of the Car of Tomorrow?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's been a work in progress since we raced it last year at the short tracks and the mile tracks and stuff like that. It's gotten better. We've just been making progress on it here, making it a lot better. It tends to have a little bit less grip than what the other car did, but it sticks still pretty well through the corner.
We're just trying to find the balance of it and where we want it as tight as we want it, as loose as we want it. Trying to make that to where the car handles well through the corners and we can get fast lap tracks with it. The more mechanical grip we can get out of the car the better.
When you get behind somebody you lose the aero grip of the air going over the race car, so you tend to get a little bit looser getting into the corner and a little bit tighter through the middle part of the corner. To help all that out we've just been trying to work on some stuff and getting behind a couple guys and trying to pass and see what all it does out there.
Fortunately I've got a great bunch of guys with the M&M's Toyota Team and Joe Gibbs Racing. The foundation we've got to build from has been awesome. The test has gone really well, not only here but Daytona and Atlanta as well.
Q. Can you talk about growing up in the spotlight, having to basically mature with people watching you. Do you plan to change your attitude off the track now that you're at Joe Gibbs Racing?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's different, you know, growing up not as a normal guy or a normal person, having to go to work every day. My jobs are on Sunday and on TV. It's definitely different. It's something that you take for granted sometimes, but you try not to.
The thing you do is just to make the best of the situation you possibly can. When there's stuff going wrong or there's stuff going haywire, you try to calm it down and weather the storm, per se.
But I've been getting better at that. I think the way that things are have been pretty good this year, with the way that Joe Gibbs Racing organization and everybody has been over there, they've welcomed me with open arms. The guys on the team and everybody has been really awesome, really supportive, telling me how excited they are about the year.
My attitude's pretty much the same: to go out there, to do my best, to win as many races as I can, to lead as many laps as I can, and to go after the championship ultimately.
The other side of things as far as the off-track stuff is just about trying to make some friends and throw out some M&Ms of course this year and some Snickers and whatnot, but to also help out with some foundation stuff, do a little bit more with that.
Of course the Track Walk, that's going to start off things a lot sooner than what we did last year. The foundation was founded in May of last year, so starting it up this year at Las Vegas, in the beginning of March, will definitely lead into a lot more things throughout the year.
Q. Denny talked yesterday about communication, there being more communication than in years past. Can you talk about that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, the communication has been awesome. It's been really, really great between Ollie, myself and Denny, but of course Tony as well. It's been cool because Denny and I, we're real close friends. It's easy to talk back and forth with them. I'm not saying it's a challenge, but I knew the harder part was going to be to get Tony involved a little bit more and stuff like that. He's been great, too.
Everything has really worked well. I've talked to Zippy a lot already this weekend. Working with Denny and Mike Ford a little bit. Of course, my guys, we've been communicating all the time. Steve and I haven't stopped talking to each other or texting each other at night and stuff. We're back and forth all the time.
I think it's just going to benefit the organization more to have us that close together. Over there on the Hendrick side, we were all pretty good. The 5 and the 25 were in the same shop. 24 and 48 were in the same shop. There was a little bit of separation there.
But with the 11, the 18 and the 20 all being in the same building, underneath the same roof, with the engine shop underneath the same roof, the fab shop where the chassis are made, the bodies are built, all that is in one complete -- underneath one complete roof.
I think it just makes it that much more simpler, I guess if that's a word. But all the guys in the shop on the floor, there's no specific team. They all work for Joe Gibbs Racing and they all work on all the different cars. It's definitely a great system.
Q. You dominated last year, led a ton of laps, but had trouble finishing. Talk about finishing.
KYLE BUSCH: The toughest part is when you're leading races or running up front in races, stuff like that, and you come down towards the end of them and you have problems on pit road. Some of that might be your doing by sliding through a pit box or speeding down pit road.
But when it's out of your hands then it's nothing of your doing. It's just something -- that's what teams are made of. You go through the thick and the thin together.
Last year there was a lot of times where I made the mistakes and yet the team stuck behind me; then the team made mistakes, I still stuck behind them. We did what we needed to do, especially in the tough circumstances when I was leaving the race team.
This year it's all going to be different. It's a whole new team, a whole new process of learning those guys on pit road, them learning me in the pit stops and stuff like that. I can't wait to get going and get down to Daytona.
Q. Do you see things shaping up as a Toyota versus Hendrick situation?
KYLE BUSCH: I think we all kind of pictured this last year when all the announcements were made of where everybody was going. But it's probably going to be the Joe Gibbs versus Hendrick Motorsports arena here.
But there's still great race teams out there, like Evernham, Childress, Roush, those guys. They're going to be right there, too. They're going to be fast. They're going to be wanting to take the spotlight away from us, too.
I think the biggest thing that Joe Gibbs has on our side is the Toyota factor. Everybody is worried about Toyota, how well Toyota is going to do. Everybody knows how well Hendrick Motorsports has done and will probably still do this year with Jeff, Jimmie, even Dale and Casey. We'll see how all that plays out. All I can do is go out there, worry about myself, worry about my No. 18 M&M Toyota team, and try to kick some butt.
Q. Can you talk about how you look at the data? Some drivers are into it. They match it with their seat of the pants. Others, like Kasey Kahne said, he really needs an engineer with him. What is your level of looking at the data and at the test dissecting what that means in the car?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know all the shortcut keys and stuff like that. I know a couple. But I can pretty much sit there and look at it myself. I couldn't set it up and stuff like that with the car and make the thing communicate between the car, but I can flip between the pages. I can upload, you know, a run from two runs ago with the run that I'm looking at. I can overlay them together, stuff like that.
I can kind of figure all that out and flip between the little tabs at the bottom, between the driver tab and the shock at that point, the yaw tab and stuff like that. I've got a pretty good sense of the pie data. I always look at it. I normally go up to it when I'm having issues or having problems or wondering why I'm not as good as my teammates or wondering why I'm struggling in a certain area. It really helps out.
So far here at this test I only went over and looked at it one time. That was when I about wrecked myself over in turn two. There was 19 degrees of yaw in the car, and the steering wheel was moving a full revolution in a third of a second basically. It was pretty amazing, I guess.
Q. When you go out and do your charity work, I remember your brother said people get a certain perception of him and how he is. What is the most surprising, the people you work with, what surprising them most about you?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, the biggest thing are the kids. They don't recognize the fact that I'm only 22 years old. I'm not too far away from what they are, you know.
I know a little bit of that way because it wasn't too long ago that I was a kid. I remember what it was like being one and being with siblings, of course friends at school or people like that.
It's cool with that fact. They can look up to me and respect that because I'm right there with them. I'm not too far.
The other thing is, some of them see what I'm like on TV or what I'm perceived as in the media and stuff. I get there and I'm hanging out with them and whatnot. They're like, Who are you again? This isn't exactly what we expected.
It brightens my day a little bit, makes me feel a little bit better that actually people with sense and see who you are, so it makes it cool.
Q. You mentioned you're 22 years old. About five or six years ago, truck race at Fontana, California, NASCAR would not let you race because you were not 18. I've call it the Kyle Busch rule. With them flirting with this rule possibly of having it be 21 years old to participate in the Cup Series, what would your thoughts be on that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, right now NASCAR has their own discretion on whether they can let you run or not. What I mean by that, is they can approve anybody they want to or they can disapprove anybody they want to run anywhere.
In the Truck Series you go from the half mile to the three-quarter mile to the mile to the mile-and-a-half and so on up to the two-and-a-half-mile. Busch Series, same way; Cup Series same way.
Normally when you run the two mile racetracks in the Busch Series then you're cleared for, say, the miles, mile-and-a-halfs in the Cup Series. When you run Daytona in the Busch Series then you're pretty much cleared for Daytona in the Cup Series.
You're always watched under a watchful eye. There are some guys racing in the Busch Series this year that aren't necessarily cleared to race until they go through some ARCA races. That's why a lot of people run ARCA in Talladega and Daytona, stuff like that, to get their approval process.
What I'm getting at, is they don't really need to make an age requirement because they can allow anybody they want to to race in the Cup Series at that level determining by their ability to race.
Who I'm talking about basically is Joey Logano. You've got a 17-year-old kid who is the best talent that we've got that we've seen. Not just Joe Gibbs Racing, but NASCAR, that we've seen coming up through the years and the ranks and stuff that has the ability, that can get the job done.
You get him into a Busch Series car this year. He wins a few races this year. You get him into the Busch Series next year, he dominates and wins the championship. The following year he wins the championship again.
You're going to make him run again because he's not yet 21? That's stupid. You know, put him in a Cup car. He's got the ability to do it. It's just about NASCAR going through the approval.
If they think a person isn't quite qualified to race in the Cup Series they can hold them back. I think a lot of this might have to do with just the off-track stuff, the way -- I don't know if I brought it on, which is going to be the Kyle Busch rule again for others again, I'm sorry.
But the ability to handle all the pressures: the media, the sponsors, the scheduling of the Cup Series and what it all entails, because it's way different than the Busch Series.
I don't know if that's the reasoning or what it is. I'd say there's a better way to go about it than just requiring somebody to be a certain age.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thanks for coming in.
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