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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Toyota/Save Mart 350

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Steve Addington
Kyle Busch
J.D. Gibbs
June 22, 2008


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Busch, Steve Addington and JD Gibbs.
Kyle, how was the race today? Tell us about it.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it was a pretty good race considering where we thought we were going to be, where we unloaded with and everything.
I've got to thank Steve and I've got to thank Andy Graves from Toyota and AP Brakes, Mac Tools and all of those guys that work so hard with us and work so hard this weekend, all of the guys on the team.
We changed everything from Friday to Saturday and the guys did an awesome job and Steve made some great calls on what to change and how to get the thing better. Judging by where we started, we didn't think we would be that great.
And once we got through happy hour, we thought we would be okay and we passed -- I don't know, we came from 30th to 13th or 12th or something before the first green flag pit stop took place, and I thought that was awesome and pretty sporty.
After the first green flag pit stop, caution came out and we were up front when it mattered most and both cautions fell our way, and we were able to stay up front and run only as hard as we needed to, conserve just a little bit of fuel, not much, and we were able to win here.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, what did it look like at the top of the pit box today?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Kyle did an awesome job. We talked about it and had to be patient and we had a game plan on when we would pit. And surprised me the car was good enough to get from 30th to 13th on the first green flag run; and caught the cautions right, and it worked out for us that everybody on this race team needs to be, you know, recognized because they worked their tails off this weekend. It was really big to have these guys work their guts out and come out with a win. That's awesome.

Q. Steve and Kyle, have you ever had a weekend where you've had such a turnaround?
KYLE BUSCH: No. When we were here Friday, literally, I thought it was just going to be a dismal weekend and was trying to figure out what tire barrier we were going to put it in, because it wasn't fun.
We came so far. I've never turned a race car around that much, and when you turn a race car around that much, you know that there's obviously some progress that's been made.
You know, I mean, it means so much to me that these guys were able to do that, and you know, it sucks that we tested and we unloaded as because as we did, but it was cool we were able to make that many changes here this weekend and get that good in order to win here today. And now we can take our stuff that we've got here and go test it and see exactly how to make this stuff better.

Q. Usually when there's a lot of late race restarts, the guy behind you will rough up the leader or at the very least get up close to him at some point. Nobody even came close to you over the last few cautions. Were you surprised by that and what was the reason for it?
KYLE BUSCH: I got good restarts, so that was probably a little bit of the reason, just being able to get off the line really well, and get up the hill. I mean, my stuff would turn up the hill okay.
You know, David Gilliland was behind me there in the last restart, I think it was, and he's a really good friend of mine and I wasn't sure exactly how hard he was going to push it to get his first win but he did a phenomenal job today; and that team, and those guys for being underbudgeted and everything, that was pretty cool and pretty special.
Besides the rest of the guys that were behind me, I guess Harvick got into McMurray who got into Stewart; that's just a bummer deal. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, but when Harvick comes up to me and runs his mouth last weekend like at Michigan, he sort of stuck it right back in his mouth here this weekend, so that was good to see (chuckling).

Q. Everyone is going to say, well, this is a result of only running one race this weekend. You guys got to talk about that, but two weekends in a row, you're stumbling over everything and then now one race and here you are, back again.
KYLE BUSCH: Pocono was bad, and I don't think I've ever really run that great and I'm not making excuses but I think I've got a fourth place finish there and the rest are in the teens or 20s.
Last weekend we went fourth to sixth all day, bided our time and led some laps in the beginning there, got up as high as second and faded and stuff. We ran okay. We just got -- fell behind a little bit on fuel strategy and finished 13th.
But you know, for what we had last weekend going, it was going to be a decent weekend for us. It was going to be a good points day and didn't turn out as well as we wanted and when you get into a slump of two weeks, it's not that bad. I mean --
JD GIBBS: From our standpoint, I still feel the same way. This weekend would have been harder. Milwaukee is hard. That's different. The other ones to me aren't really anything, you know, out of the ordinary, he's been doing it his whole life and I don't really worry. This one was a big drain and he had to go a long ways.
I don't attribute it to that, but obviously if we go in the future and have more issues, we'll revisit that in the future. I think he can go run long and hard. He's still young and strong.

Q. You've been a bare on road courses the last two years now, and you don't have -- I don't know if you have any road course experience in your background. Why have you taken to these circuits so well in the last two years?
KYLE BUSCH: In the beginning I was lost to be honest with you. I raced legends cars and road courses here five years ago and stuff, and learned the technique and stuff of shifting and braking and all that and then got to the Cup cars and they are so different. I was just lost.
I give a lot of that credit to testing with Jimmie and Jeff a lot of the times and learning a lot from those guys when I was at Hendrick and working with them.
And, of course, more of that expertise goes to Max Pappas, our test driver at Hendrick and learning stuff from him and reading reports that he did and picking up on it, following guys like Boris Said and Robby Gordon, the guys that are good at it and fast at it.
Here this weekend, and we won at Mexico City, that was pretty cool in the Nationwide Series; that was my first road course win and here again we won here this weekend.
So it feels pretty special to be able to do that in the Cup car now and be known as a road course winner in a Cup Series, but there's plenty more road course races here to come, and hopefully we can keep the success going.

Q. Along the same lines there's a lot of times people talk about winning road courses and told today only six active drivers that were here this weekend that had ever won on a road course and you were not among them; to put your name on the list of guys who have won at road courses, that's another line on your resume on a season you've won on every track there is; does that mean a lot to you?
KYLE BUSCH: It does. You've got Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart who are probably the most well known road racers in our garage and Robby Gordon is on that list and Boris, he's sort of nicknamed "The Ringer," he's one of those guys.
Here this weekend, it's just you know, it means a lot to be able to put my name now on that list but I'm not going to say I'm a road course ace or anything. Today we are just in the right positions at the right time and had a great race car and I was just able to drive it around to a win. And it feels special, YES, and hopefully we can do it again come Watkins Glen.

Q. David said he set up your very first Southwest Tour car, can you talk about how that relationship evolved?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, he's cool, we've been friends through the years I guess. It's been about five or six years, when I came up here -- well it wasn't that long ago I guess. I ran my first Southwest Tour race here at Infineon with him and those guys, they had a two-car deal and I talked to them and they gave me a ride. It was funny, I was leading him on the last lap and he went into 11 and moved me out of the way for a spot.
We just kind of became friends. I raced another race with him at Phoenix and he got into the Nationwide Series and had his win at Kentucky and I had some connections and obviously led him to a couple guys that I felt like were able to move him up the ranks and then he got his Cup deal with Robert Yates.
So I've got a little bit of friendship with him obviously, and so I knew racing with him at the end of the race, it was going to come down to that hopefully and to whether we were going to be able to race each other clean, and obviously it was that way.
I've got to thank David for being a great racer behind me, and I've also got to congratulate him for the way he ran this weekend. It was cool.

Q. Steve, do you have more sleepless nights trying to get a team into contention like you did before Kyle's arrival, or trying to keep a team up on top?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It's a little bit of both. If you talked to me Friday night or Saturday morning, I didn't sleep much. I thought a lot on Friday night trying to figure this out and when we left VIR testing I thought we were in good shape, but it's about equal.
When you're doubting yourself when you're not running good and then it takes a lot of time and effort and trying to come up with new things to stay on top, you know, you spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking about different things that you might do to make him happier.
Even winning races, the thing that he does is push us to get better even though we've won four or five races this year; he pushes us to get better, and that's why it works.

Q. You said two weeks, a slump, isn't really that bad but your behavior and mood said otherwise. So why did that get you so down, and I guess does this victory just put it all back together?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm not happy unless I'm winning to be honest with you; I'm a miserable person. It means a lot to be able to come out here and run well today and to be able to win.
Just coming here on Thursday I was okay. I was like, okay, let's get to the road course weekend and see how we can do and it will be all right and then Friday, it was like, whew, it was just bad.
Yesterday it kind of came back middle and now today, we're back to thumbs up. I'm a moody person, I guess, I don't know. All of us drivers are when we are not having a good day. We are sort of upset or PO'd or however you want to put it, but when you have a good day and run well and you're winning races, it kind of sums up.

Q. You've been booed after plenty of wins this year; talk about the reception you got today at a place you've never won at before.
KYLE BUSCH: I think they are happy maybe that their guy won last weekend. They are over it. It means a lot that they are actually taking up some all talent out there winning some races.
I think the West Coast has a little bit to do with it. I'm from around this area being a Vegas boy and whatever and coming up to California over here, a lot of friends I know were here this weekend and spent some time with them here and of course on Thursday, we went out a little bit and stuff.
So you know, it must be a West Coast thing, and other than that, I don't know.

Q. Did the boss have any words of encouragement for you today?
KYLE BUSCH: The who? I'm sorry.

Q. The boss; your coach.
KYLE BUSCH: He wasn't here today. And I didn't talk to him this weekend unfortunately and he missed the trip. You know, I feel like he was still here, and you know, he coached us through this one, that's for sure.
Hopefully he enjoyed this one on TV back at home.

Q. Considering all the obstacles you had getting into the race, does this make this win as good or better than your other ones this season in?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes, because you know, the way that we came so far this weekend, I mean, yeah, it means a lot, but does it mean any more than the rest of them this weekend? Not really.
It means a lot because of the way that we are able to transform everything from a bad car to a good car and everything, but you know, I think all of my Cup career wins so far have been at different venues, and so that's something that's pretty special, too.
I haven't won at the same place twice and we keep knocking them off the list which is fun and hopefully we can just keep going and win some more.

Q. Wondering if maybe you don't get booed, would you be a little disappointed?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I wouldn't be disappointed, whether it's good reception or bad reception, as long as it's reception, you're doing something all right.
Fortunately this year, it was good in the beginning and actually I thought I was making some strides towards the better side of things, and then here come Richmond, I sort of just went way down ever below where I ever thought you could be. And today was good, so we're making our way back up again.
It's all right. Any noise is good noise.

Q. Road course sweeps don't happen all that often; will this validate the season even more if you can pull it off when you get there in August?
KYLE BUSCH: Winning at Watkins Glen, it would, it would be something pretty cool obviously. But right now we just have to look to running well there, it's a race that's close to the Chase and hopefully we will be up in contention where we are safely in.
And now that we know we have won here, we can feel like we have a better base point for unloading there and running up front and trying to win there, so hopefully we can.

Q. This morning I saw you talking to fans doing a Q&A, what kind of questions are they asking you?
KYLE BUSCH: Some about the reception, you know, what do you think about the fans booing you. They ask you about the heat; how the heat was this weekend. Today it was not that bad so that was nice. They ask you about what kind of things do you look forward to at road course races.
It's kind of all over the board. There's a little bit of personal stuff involved, you know what do you do in your spare time to; what kind of dogs do you have to anything racing related. So it's all over the board all the time.

Q. Jeff Gordon was talking how earlier in your career he was not sold on you as a road course driver; and even today he saw you and you were a little squirrely or out of control; do you recall that moment and what that was like?
KYLE BUSCH: (Turning to JD) Good advice from JD Gibbs there.
I passed Jeff, and when you pass somebody, I never look up in the mirror, but I didn't know if he was right on my tail still or not.
But I was just trying to drive away and when you try to drive away, you tend to get a little loose times and you tend to let it hang out a little bit and stuff and just try to get further way; and once I looked up and he was about ten cars back, I sort of slowed back down a little bit and got more into my rhythm and stayed smooth and felt like I was doing my job right.

Q. Jeff and David both said it was extremely slippery out there the last two restarts and they were worried about keeping it on the track and here you are out front going to a win; were you nervous?
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, yeah, it was slick; every restart it was. The first restart, I was scrubbing my tires everything and getting ready for the restart and doing everything like that.
I felt like I had a flat tire and it was just all the marbles built up on the tires from scrubbing back and forth. And we did a restart and went up the hill and that's when Biffle got off course and I passed Montoya.
The next restart, I didn't scrub my tires at all. I didn't move back and forth one bit and didn't have anything on my tires and was able to go up the hill just fine. So it was weird.
But you know, up the hill was okay. It was slick off of Turn 2; 3A and 3 were fine; 4 was fine; 7 was fine; and as soon as you got to the S's, you were all over the place. You were just barely hanging on. I was just barely hanging on trying to keep it on the racetrack.
I knew when I was going through those areas and stuff being slow like you were driving on ice or something like that, that the guys behind me had to be feeling the same feeling so I wasn't worried about getting run over. I just kept trying to keep the things on the racetrack and not get too out of shape and some other guys had some issues I guess.

Q. Kyle Petty was talking about the evolution of NASCAR drivers, and he mentioned you as the guy and possibly when it's all over, your name will be up there with Dale and Jeff or whatever. Do you have any visions of how you want to -- what you want to do in NASCAR and how you like to be remembered?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. To me I just want to be known, I guess, as a Jeff Gordon or as a Dale Earnhardt when it's all said and done. You know, I've got a long way to be as good as they are. Obviously Dale is a seven-time champion and Jeff is a four-time champion; I've got none; and Jimmie, he's going to be known as a great racer, as well, one of the best, as well as Jeff and Dale.
You know you look at Terry Labonte; he was known as sort of the "Iceman" and character of smooth, one of the guys that was really smooth. And Ricky Rudd was sort of that same way, too. He was smooth yet would spike off wins 17 years in a row or something like that. So to be known in the elite level of Dale or Jeff would obviously be something, and that would be the ultimate goal and I've obviously got a long ways to get there.

Q. Kyle, you've got as many wins with Joe Gibbs Racing as your teammates do with their wins in 2007 and 2008 combined. Does that surprise you, and from here on out, is it just about points as you head towards the Chase?
KYLE BUSCH: It doesn't really surprise me, but sort of, it does. When you look at it in the way that switching teams and coming to a new organization and working with Steve, I was telling somebody outside, when I first started here with Steve, it was descriptive and I was telling him everything, telling him what I felt there, telling him what the right front was doing and all that.
And now I've toned back and now I could just tell him it's tight and he fixes it and he sort of gets what I mean and so we've just -- it's come a long ways for us and our chemistry as well as being able to work with everybody as JGR; and they have great equipment and great cars and Toyota has definitely come a long way this is year with their engine and development and our cars.
Like I said earlier Andy Graves came out and helped us out this weekend and gave some support. So it's surprising, yes that there's five wins, and hopefully it's not too surprising when the season is over that we have more.
I want to also say congratulations for Jarno Trulli on his first podium finish with F1 today. That was special.



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