NASCAR Media Conference
March 11, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for spending a little extra time this afternoon. We appreciate it and good luck this weekend.
We are now joined by Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota. Thank you for coming in and join us. I guess we should lead off by saying everything looks sort of golden for you, doesn't it?
KYLE BUSCH: Everything's been going well. We've been fortunate with everything this year to run as well as we've run and to be as fast as we've been at the places we've been so far. So we can only hope that it continues to be that way. We have a long year ahead of us and look forward to going to the racetrack.
Q. We've all seen the last three years or so that some of the guys are able to run the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series full-time and you've actually done it yourself in 2006, minus one race. Is there any circumstances whatsoever that you could possibly run the Cup Series and the Truck Series full-time? I think there's nine out of the last 12 Truck races are companion events; so are there any circumstances where you might do that at all?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, the plan is to run all of the companion races. And the companion races, there are 14 of those, and those are the ones we are slated to do right now.
As far as anything right now, I think we need to find a driver to get in there and go do those races for us. It won't make sense to run a full Craftsman Truck Series schedule, but we have been looking at running the full Nationwide schedule this year and doing it. But if it wasn't for this past two weekends with blown tires or issues with the right front tire, then we would keep going, you know, and not have a question about it. We would probably have a 140-point lead or something like that on the Nationwide Series.
But with the way we've run the past couple weeks, hopefully we can turn that around a little bit and see what it comes to in the middle of the year to try to run for the Nationwide. But Trucks, it won't happen.
Q. Just talk about how much of an advantage did it give you with these companion races? You obviously have a ton of miles on the track before the Sunday Cup race.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, I think the most time that you can get on the track is obviously beneficial. And for me, it's fun. I'd rather go out there and race than I would sit in the motor home and not do anything and watch the race on TV, actually.
So for me, it's just about getting out there and getting my hands dirty and trying to get some racing laps in and stuff.
Running in the Truck Series is fun. I do it for the fun of it, to help out Joe and to keep his motorsports team going and to give some race wins to Toyota and those folks that have helped us out. On the Nationwide side, it's there to learn a little bit more for the Sunday stuff.
You know, the cars are so much different now between all three of them that you really don't learn much setup-wise between all three, but you can learn a lot from track time and how to drive the car and how to drive the tire and how to drive the racetrack.
Q. It seems everywhere you turn, everyone is saying nice things about you, more than nice things, great things about you. DJ was on a while back and he said some very nice things about you. How do you feel; are you taken aback by that or what's your thoughts on that?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm flattered really. It's pretty awesome to have him in the series that I'm racing in. But the biggest thing about that is that I've earned a lot of respect from the people in the garage area and different owners. And being able to go from the transition phase from last year and talking to Richard Childers and talking to Ray Evernham and Chip Ganassi and all of the other team owners that are out there that gave me their time; it was pretty special in order to do that. Everybody got a taste of exactly who I am. And I think all that did was help my stature throughout the garage area. And obviously people have always recognized the fact that I've got some talent, but you know, now that they are saying it means a lot.
Q. Now Toyota is in its second year with NASCAR, and I just wanted to ask you what your sense is of Toyota's winning over fans who are obviously -- many fans are adamant against Toyota. Just your sense entering the second year; do you think it's becoming more accepted or is there still some resistance?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think there's always going to be some resistance, but you know, I believe within the NASCAR community, they have become more accepted. I think Toyota, everybody's biggest problem with Toyota is that they spend -- they say they spend too much money.
And I think the biggest thing is just that they have got some great people that are working for them and they have got the resources and they utilize their resources all the time and do what they need to do in order to make their stuff go faster.
So for us, doing what we do at Joe Gibbs Racing, there's a lot of work that's done behind the scenes and we get to run the Toyota main plate and it just makes everybody look good
Q. You've obviously made the switch over to Job Gibbs very easy, looking back at your former team, did you feel underappreciated there, or do you feel that you had to be subservient to Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and all that? Are you more comfortable, I guess I'm trying to ask.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, definitely more comfortable with where I'm at. Yes, I feel I fit in more with Danny and Tony and more with the Gibbs folks than maybe I did over at the other side, and for whatever reason it is, I'm just not quite sure.
You know, I'm happy with where I'm at and being in my own skin and being able to do the things that I want to do and being supported in that. You know, I like racing Trucks and Nationwide, and before it was almost pulling teeth to try to get in some truck stuff, and now they support it. You know, JG is pulling his hair out still because I like to do it so much, but he supports it still and tries to help me go out there in order to run faster. I think it's only been able to help and benefit me. And with me being more relaxed on Fridays and Saturdays, it just makes Sunday that much more fun.
Q. Not to imply there were any ill feelings after you left Hendrick but there somebody a certain amount of satisfaction of reaching victory lane this year before a Hendrick car did?
KYLE BUSCH: No, it doesn't bother me before we reached a Hendrick car. We know they are going to be strong and they are going to be stout. I'm just fortunate we have been good everywhere we've been. And Steve Addington and I have been clicking and really been able to work good together and we've had fast race cars.
So the Hendrick stuff, they will come back and they will be strong; we're sure of that. But we feel like we have just kind of done our homework over the off-season and gotten our cars to the Hendrick standard, or I guess a little bit better than what they were last year.
Q. You're heading to a track you've won at last year and you're heading to a track that the COT ran in a previous year, which is the first time that's happening. What are your thoughts of being able to transfer those settings over or bring what you've learned last year this those races? And second, I hear cars in the background, are you practicing or testing somewhere today?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, we're testing right now. I'm testing my super late model team. My buddy is racing for me in the race here at Hickory (ph). We were here yesterday and today and I'll be many Martinsville tomorrow and Thursday testing the truck and I'm in Bristol Friday, every day at the racetrack.
Last year what we learned at Bristol, of course you want to take some of that to the racetrack again this year. But the first race, the race that I won last year, was still on the old concrete and the old configuration of Bristol, but we learned some stuff in the fall race that helped us some. We didn't run as well as we would have wanted us to. But when we got out front we were able to pull away from the leaders, and that was pretty satisfying
So we just need to make sure that we can go to Bristol and we try to qualify well and keep our car up front, get a good pit selection and be able to keep our car up front like we did this past weekend at an that. I think that's the key with this car is track position. It's more vital than ever before because you can't pass as well as you used to be able to; so you have to be able to keep your car up front all day
Q. Do you feel the rowdy part of your driving is really only your normal style with a new nickname, or are you changed your driving style since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing?
KYLE BUSCH: No, you can't really change your driving style as a race car driver. Just can't become somebody else that you're not.
So for me I've been the same race car driver since the beginning since I got into this Cup Series, and I think maybe it's just a bit of more maturity and selecting my moves a little bit differently and learning from those mistakes that I've had in the past and just being more in tune with instead of going left, you turn right, or instead of doing some gas, you do some brake or something like that.
So the driving style is still the same. I think I've just perfected it a little bit more and being able to learn more on the racetrack and doing more of what I think I need to be doing which so far this year has been pretty good. So unfortunately that's all worked out and we've had some fun.
Q. Does the Car of Tomorrow put more emphasis on the driver? Is it more of a driver's car?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's more of a driver's car, yes, but you still have to have a good-handling race car. It's still the team guys, the engineer and the crew chief working together to give you a good handling race car. There are a lot of cars this past weekend that were not driving well, including mine, but I won the race so I can't imagine how the rest of those guys must have felt battling for 30th or something.
Q. What do you think about the way you've been received by fans this year?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it's been good. Obviously there's been a lot more positive response than negative and there's been a lot more autograph requests and there have been a lot more people that have been wanting my time and stuff like that. And it's been cool that people have finally gotten a chance to not only recognize the talent that I have, I guess, but recognize me as a true person and being able to show them that I can really enjoy racing and that I do really enjoy racing.
It's just you've got to be able to go out there and enjoy what you're doing. In the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series, and being able to do that at a low-key level, definitely means a lot.
Q. Earlier Dale Jarrett was talking about the problems with the tires. He was suggesting that maybe Goodyear is not understanding the difference between the Nationwide and the Cup cars and how much different the tire demands are. Through the season, how much of a problem do you think the tires have been and what do you think has to be done to remedy it?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think that, you know, we knew coming in about halfway through last year, people were saying, well, this car is going to need a different tire because when they went from the old car back in the way, way, day, whatever year that was, to the old/new car, whatever you want to call it, the car we just got done racing to this car, there was a tire done between that one and that one, and now there needs to be a tire change between the middle one and this one. You're not going to have a tire you built for one car work on a completely different car that's the next car.
Goodyear has gotten a bad rap so far, and I wasn't a very big fan of the tire at Atlanta, too, and I believe they made a mistake in the tires they brought. But what they are trying to do is trying to make a tire that will work on all three vehicles, the Truck car, Nationwide and Cup car.
In Atlanta, the tire didn't wear out in any three cars. It didn't wear out in the Trucks; it didn't wear out in the Nationwides, which those are the two vehicles that go through the corner the fastest. You have a 15-mile-an-hour variance in corner between the Truck car and the Nationwide car, and you have a ten-mile-an-hour between the Truck and the Cup car, with the truck still being faster through the corner than the Cup car.
But the Cup car goes down the straightaways 15 to 20 miles an hour faster, so you have to build a tire that's different for all three vehicles, or at least different for the Nationwide from the Cup car in order to be able to make everything work out right.
At Atlanta, the tire was too hard for all three vehicles, and so I believe that they missed it completely on one of the cars, which was the Nationwide car; they should have made it right for. You should be able to make a tire for the Nationwide car that goes 70 laps. Your fuel run is probably about 45 or 50, give you some extra time on the tire, so make it about 60 or 70 laps to where you can run that tire and then it's wore out and you've got to change it, but they didn't do that. You could run that tire 120 laps at least on the Nationwide car, which was wrong.
Q. Goodyear announced they are going to come to Texas next month for the Cup race with the same compound they used last year with the old car, but with a different construction to fit the new car. Do you think that will have any bearing and make the racing better than what we saw in Atlanta?
KYLE BUSCH: I think so. The tires we used on the Cup car was fine because we go through the corners slower, and that doesn't put as much load on the tire and won't wear the tire out as fast.
You'll be fine. You're safe. If we ran every track last year and we never had a tire issue where we were wearing the tires out too quickly, you're certainly not going to see it with the new car; that's my opinion.
Q. Obviously Toyota struggled last year. How receptive were you going to a team that was running Toyota, knowing the struggles they had a year ago with Toyota?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think the team brings out a lot of what Toyota has to offer. The teams that Toyota had last year were relatively new teams. They were brand-new start-up teams. You had Michael Waltrip Racing; you had Red Bull Racing. You had Bill Davis, who runs great in the Truck Series, had some problems running in the Cup Series, he's only got a single-car operation right now. So that's part of it, as well.
And you bring in Joe Gibbs Racing. They have been around for a few years and contend and win championships and you put Toyota on their stuff and they run fine just as they did with the old manufacturer.
For me, I don't think it's necessarily Toyota's struggles last year. I think it's just the struggles of the team of getting them up to pace of what this Cup Series really is. This year we have been able to do that right out of the box, and you've seen Michael Waltrip Racing step up and Red Bull Racing step up because they are in the second year of a team and being a team and an organization for just that much longer. So obviously you are seeing improvements out of them, as well.
Q. Dale said it earlier when describing your talents, they use the word "fearless." Is that true?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, you've got to have some sort of fear, and obviously you know, when you're going through a corner or something and the car slips out from under you, yeah, you get a little bit scared; that's a little bit of fear.
You can't go out there believing that you're going to be scared. You've got to go out there and think that everything is going to be all right and that you're going to be able to go through the corner faster; and that you're not doing everything exactly what you need to be doing right, but you need to work on your car to make it better, to make it faster.
For me I'm always working on trying to get the play out of my race cars. My car has never, ever turned very well, and I'm here at Hickory trying to do the same thing right now. I'm a little bit tight, so I'm trying to get this thing figured out, not only for myself, but my buddy, and we've been working on that.
Fearlessness, that's not what you can have as a race car driver. You can't go out there and be scared or timid of running into the car or fence. You have to go through it, I guess, to braven yourself up some.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for calling in. We appreciate it. Good luck this weekend.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|