NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499
Topics: Aaron's 499
May 6, 2012
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post race for today's race here at Talladega Superspeedway. Our race runner‑up is Kyle Busch.
Kyle, you certainly had a super racecar out there today. As you said on pit road, the M&M Toyota was good enough to win. Take us through that last green‑white‑checkered.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, we knew we needed to have a good restart. Tried to get locked upped as soon as we could. Didn't do a good job of that, Brad and I. Kenseth and Biffle kind of got away and then we were able to get hooked up because of the help I had from behind me coming off turn two there. Just tried to keep pushing Brad to the front straightaway where I knew I could make a move.
Just unfortunately I must have screwed something up, because we got to turn three and come unhooked. Just gave the win away over there. Not sure exactly what happened. We definitely need to go back and figure out what it was.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions.
Q. Brad just said what happened up there. He said he would go up high, then pull back down on you. You said earlier if he had done something, that was pretty smart. If he did that, was that pretty smart?
KYLE BUSCH: I guess so. He won the race, right? You answered your own question.
KERRY THARP: We're also joined by our third‑place finisher, Matt Kenseth.
Matt, certainly up front most of the race. Take us through the final few laps.
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I think we had the winning car, really just didn't have the winning driver. On the last restart, Greg and I got hooked together like Daytona. Of all the cars I raced around today, Greg was really pushing me fast. Got clear in front of the 2, Kyle. As soon as we became clear, wasn't long after that I looked forward for a second, when I looked back, Greg and I were separated, those guys were already outside of him. With nobody behind him, lost his speed. With me not paying attention, keeping us hooked up, just cost us a shot at the win, cost Greg a shot at the win. Just didn't do a very good job of managing where he was on that last restart.
KERRY THARP: Matt Kenseth now second in points, seven points behind teammate Greg Biffle.
We'll continue with questions for Kyle or Matt.
Q. Yesterday Jeff Gordon said he thought there would be problems running in a pack. Were you surprised? You all survived. Was it what you expected or worse?
KYLE BUSCH: Pretty much what we expected from my vantage point anyways. We left pit road before the race even started at 230 rolling under caution. You could get it to 225. Racing out there, it was hard to keep it below 240 just running in a line, especially on the outside. A lot of guys being real tight up there, that's the only way to make that lane go, get your temps up there a little bit.
Ours were okay there. We just had to really work hard at making sure they didn't go over 240.
Q. When the sun came out in the afternoon, how did the track conditions change at all?
MATT KENSETH: For me it didn't really change much. Maybe lost a little bit of grip. Was actually loose at times. Depended where you were. I didn't think it really changed a lot for me.
KYLE BUSCH: Same.
Q. The Fords have the cooling thing well under control. The Chevrolets blew up a lot. Jeff Gordon said it was a joke, and they have to do something before you get to Daytona. What do you think of all this stuff? Do they need to give you more air, cooler engines?
MATT KENSETH: Well, the thing I will say is it's harder to lobby for something than it was before. They have all the information. NASCAR can sit down and look at every single car's water temp, oil, rpm, all that stuff, from the time you start the engine until the time you turn it off. I think NASCAR has a better idea of where everybody's stuff ran than we do.
It gets hot in the back when you start pushing. I was back there just a couple times. It was hard to push. I think that is what they were looking for. Could push for a couple laps, and that was about it.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of what all everybody wanted. We wanted to go back to the pack‑style drafting. You saw that today. Two lanes, three lanes wide most of the race. It was hard to make the outside lane go if you're not able to push a lot because you need to push to get the momentum of that lane going because it's kind of the longer way around.
Cooling issues, we all knew it was going to be the name of the game. You work as hard as you can as a driver to make it cooler because there's nothing else that's going to make the thing cooler for you.
Q. Matt, were you worried on that restart that something like that was going to happen? Kyle, did you and Brad have any sort of plan or did that just happen?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I mean, I was worried on the restart. In a plate race, you can only see a couple cars behind you usually. I don't know about Kyle, he's probably better at doing that stuff than me. I worry about it all the time because I can only see the first couple cars behind me. Bunch of people bail out of that lane, you don't get in front of that lane, even if you have one of the fastest cars, like I thought we did, you can get beat easily.
You could see that at the end. I think if I would have done a better job of managing, stayed on his front bumper, I think we would have run first and second.
Yeah, you're always worried at these places because you only have so much control.
KYLE BUSCH: For Brad and I, there wasn't really necessarily a plan before the restart. Whatever situation you get thrown in, that's kind of the guy you have to go work with at the end of the race. Yesterday it changed a couple times for us in the Nationwide race. At the end it was Joey and I, so that worked out well.
Today it was Matt and I on the first restart, then the lanes kind of changed where he could get hooked up with Greg. I went with Brad there. Just kind of falls into place.
Q. Matt, for somebody that might not understand, it almost sounds like the reason you didn't win today was because you were too good. You said you needed to slow down. Were you a victim of your own self today? Were you too fast, too good?
MATT KENSETH: I wasn't too fast. I was just too stupid I guess at the end to keep a win.
I think there's a lot of things that happened there and at Daytona in the 150s, 500. I didn't worry about the guy attached behind me. If he had two or three guys in the lane, he could push me out far enough. I kind of had that same strategy today. If I get pushed away, you know, I think we'll be okay.
I think if they would have stayed behind them until we got to turn three, we still would have been okay. When they bailed out, it made Greg's car go slower, lost momentum. I should have watched that and managed that a little better.
Earlier when Greg was behind me, he could push me hard, almost spin me out. On the restart, everybody kind of pushes each other, stays in line for a little while. I was hoping that bottom, once we got in front of those two, I was hoping all four of us would be locked together, at least until we got to max speed.
Q. When you became detached, it's just a matter of a second or two, you said you look forward, back, Greg wasn't there, they're already beside you. Does it happen that quick?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, it's a little harder on restarts for me. You can feel them pushing and everything. When you switch gears, you can feel it gets light. A lot of times when it gets light, you're still attached. The rpms are still coming up. As soon as I realized I was detached, we had two or three car lengths of separation between us.
Either way, if I would have slowed down and waited for him at that instant, weren't going to do anything. So I just kept going, hoped for the best.
Q. Matt, do you think maybe you were sort of a victim of your own confidence in the 17's plate racing ability going all the way back to Daytona? You were sort of a victim of knowing how good it was?
MATT KENSETH: No, not confidence, not that. I think over what happened at Daytona and throughout the course of the day, every time Greg was behind me, he could shove me so hard it would almost spin me out in the middle of the straightaway. Once we were attached, pulled down to the bottom lane in front of those guys, I didn't think there was a chance. He was pushing so hard, I didn't think we could have become separated.
Q. Kyle, you got detached from Brad. That was just seconds after y'all drafted to pass. Is that when you're talking about?
KYLE BUSCH: No, it was a full lap later.
Q. On the final lap?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah.
Q. (No microphone.)
MATT KENSETH: It's your turn (smiling).
KYLE BUSCH: He's no dummy, that's for sure. He's got good plate racing skills. I think he's got good short track, mile‑and‑a‑half skills, too.
Brad should be a title contender each and every year. Last year he did a great job through the summer stretch, one of the hottest guys going into the Chase, qualified his way in on wins.
This year he's probably in the top 10 in points, or close to, with two wins. Again, he's the top seed for the Chase guys. He's definitely no slouch. They've had some bad luck this year with some fueling issues and stuff like that where they've been taken out of some even better runs.
That Penske organization has been around for a long time. That Blue Deuce has been known for being in the top 10 and winning races. It's no surprise that Brad can do that.
MATT KENSETH: I think Brad can run pretty good everywhere. If you look at the races he's won, all different styles of tracks. Brad is really good. Kyle works hard as it, too. That's one thing people don't notice or give him credit for, he works really hard, and I think that's a lot of reason for his success.
Q. Tony Stewart just gave an interview and he said, presumably sarcastically, if 50% of the field is not wrecked, they need to extend the race. What are your thoughts on wrecking at Talladega?
KYLE BUSCH: I didn't understand the question.
MATT KENSETH: I did two in a row (smiling).
Q. Basically, Tony is protesting the emphasis on wrecks. Does that concern you how much emphasis is placed on wrecking cars at this track?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm not going to comment on what Tony had to say because that's Tony's comments.
For me, whatever Talladega and Daytona is, it's a restrictor plate race. That's what we all know going into the weekend. Some of us love coming here, some of us dread it. I'll be the first one to admit I hate restrictor plate racing. You don't have control of your own destiny I don't feel like. We saw today I think the 22 may have turned down a little bit on the 11 and then wrecked eight other guys. That's a product of what you get at restrictor plate racing sometimes.
Everybody is fighting for every square inch you can get. That's just what happened. I think another guy that would vouch for my opinion, who isn't even here this weekend, is Mark Martin because he don't want to restrictor plate race either.
Q. Matt, TV showed that your car had some damage, some flapping out of your side window, then almost like a hole in the hood. Where did that damage occur? How did it affect the car?
MATT KENSETH: Well, whenever you get damage, it doesn't help when you're the first car to see the air.
The right front fender got hurt when I had a big run on the 13. We were in the middle groove. I had room to get down in front of Brad. He kind of got me right front. Whatever happened to the fender there.
I don't know, the (indiscernible) just fell off the car. I don't think it probably helped us any.
KERRY THARP: Matt, Kyle, thank you very much. Good luck at Darlington.
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