NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel
Topics: Gatorade Duel
February 12, 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We're going to roll right into our post-duel press conference with our championship race team. That's Kyle Busch, team owner Joe Gibbs, team president J.D. Gibbs, and crew chief Steve Addington.
Kyle, congratulations. Had to feel good to get that victory out there today.
KYLE BUSCH: It was. It felt really good. This whole team has really worked hard. This whole off-season everybody has. From where we ended last year, it felt like it was pretty cool to start off the season this way.
We ran good at Daytona here last year. Same thing in the Duel race, as well as in the 500. We gave one away in the Duel. Gave one away in the 500. Maybe we can steal them back this year.
We won in the July race. I felt like today the car was driving pretty decent. We've been working on trying to get the thing a little better over the bumps. I've been telling Steve and the guys it looks terrible on TV. It bounces all over the place. But it's fast that way. For some reason it just likes to have that feel.
Whatever it is we got, it's pretty special. You know, car's fast. So whatever's fast works.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief Steve Addington, how did it look up top the box for you?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Well, it looked good. Guys on pit road did an awesome job on pit stops. They got us out and held our track position. Kyle and Jeff, they did an awesome job at these speedway races. You got to thank everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, from the fab shop, engine shop. Mark and all those guys worked hard this winter. Looked really good. I like that. Been a while since I've seen you guys.
KERRY THARP: Coach Gibbs, your thoughts about getting the season off to a good start, looking forward to Sunday.
JOE GIBBS: I think for our team we worked extremely hard. We don't have a long off-season, as you know. We had a meeting right after we finished the season, very next day. What came out of that was some initiatives that we embarked on. I think our guys really did work hard.
I really feel good. Talked to Denny. Talked to Joey. Denny likes his car. Joey does, too. So I think we helped ourselves in the off-season.
KERRY THARP: D.J., your thoughts?
J.D. GIBBS: No, I just appreciate y'all having me up here. I'm not sure why I'm here (laughter).
Well, it was a weird off-season for us. Obviously no testing. So to be able to come back here, be able to get going, was really an encouragement for the guys. I think for Kyle and Steve, having last year to be together was really a learning curve.
Now hopefully that will pay off this year and we'll get to grow some more together, spend some more time in Victory Lane.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for this 18 team.
Q. Kyle, with the way last year ended, was it important to kind of make a statement with yourself to kind of get back into it and win?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. Not here in Daytona. You know, the statement's more so when we get to California, Vegas, Atlanta, that we'll be a force to be reckoned with. Daytona we knew we'd run strong. We felt confident about that. Our restrictor plate package is good. Toyota has done a wonderful job for us. Mark in the engine shop has done a flawless job.
Every week they keep trying to find something for us, and they keep finding it. As long as we keep getting that, we're happy.
Besides all that, I mean, the reason I won this race today was from great teammate. Denny, that was the best restrictor plate race we've probably ever worked together. Really felt good about that. I hope it carries into Sunday. I'll be able to return the favor to him come time when it needs to be or whatnot.
Besides all that, I mean, we just look forward to trying to make sure that our standard track stuff is good and that we can run up front at those.
Q. Joe and J.D., your assessment of the way Joey did in the first race.
J.D. GIBBS: I think the reality of Daytona, if you haven't been here before, it's difficult. It takes years to learn to figure this place out. Our goal for him, go out there and just finish this thing. If you finish, you got a shot to run up front.
Really for him at this track, you're learning -- we got him all the stuff we can, running ARCA, Nationwide stuff. Hopefully that experience will pay off.
KYLE BUSCH: We got a truck.
J.D. GIBBS: We got a truck we couldn't afford. Kyle wanted to give us a truck. We couldn't afford his bill. I said, Give us something. We're paying you a fortune to drive. (Laughter).
For us really it was encouraging to watch it. Today it was just ride, ride, ride. He started working his way up. I kept going, Ride; just ride. It was encouraging to see.
It's going to take a while for everybody to learn this track. It was an encouraging start.
Q. Kyle, this event is kind of unusual. There is more attention paid to the guys that race their way into the 500 than the guy that actually wins this race. I wanted to ask you, what does it mean to win this race? If you were in contention in this race with like five laps to go, are you going to charge as hard for the win here as you would in a points race?
KYLE BUSCH: Probably not. I mean, if it was the 500, people would -- Mike Skinner has done it. He'd wreck his grandma to win (laughter.)
So the biggest thing is you got to mind your Ps and Qs. You have to bring the car home. We have practice tomorrow. We have practice Saturday. We have to make sure our car runs good for Sunday.
I could have rode the last five laps and pushed Mark Martin to the win. I thought that would be a Cinderella story. You would have something to write about. For us to win today, it was all right. It was good. I'm proud of the effort by Addington and all his boys. For M&M's and Interstate, Toyota, all the guys.
I probably would go crazy to win the 500. Today, no.
Q. Kyle, you alluded to you and Denny working together really well. As you know last year, the 500 was won by two guys ganging up. If you're coming down four, five laps to go, you're with one of your teammates working well, how do you decide who goes first, who pulls and who pushes? Do you know one car is better than the other? Do you wing it?
KYLE BUSCH: You kind of wing it. It pretty much depends who is out front. Last year I was trying like heck to push Stewart to Victory Lane, but I couldn't get to him. I hope it comes down to that this time. If it's Joey out front, I'm pushing.
I think when it comes down to the last straightaway, to me, being a teammate -- like my brother. He's the same way. He pushed Newman to the win. For me, it would be the same way. If I had Joey or Denny in front of me, I'd push them until I felt like it was time for me to go crazy down this last straightaway, and I'd tried to get up alongside of him and try to get to the line first.
Besides that, I'm going to be sure one of our cars is going to win. If one of our cars is going to win, we don't have a shot to screw that up, then I'll try for a shot for myself to win.
Q. Jeff Gordon said after the first race, the first qualifying race, the Shootout were two of the best races he's seen at Daytona in a long time. He said part of that was because of the car. You've been a critic of the car. What do you think about the quality of the racing here?
KYLE BUSCH: I think we're all learning to adapt. It's just so hard to drive these things. They're bouncing all over the place. They're erratic. It makes for a good show. The fans in the stands, I guess they love it. The people on TV love it.
As long as all those people are happy, NASCAR's happy. NASCAR doesn't care what the drivers say. If it's not a safety issue or a concern, then they're fine with it.
To me these cars aren't necessarily built for this track. Yeah, they're fine at Talladega. The track is smooth. Here, where you ride on stops and springs and whatever, there's no real suspension. When you're going over bumps, I mean, they're just terrible.
It is what it is. You can work around it. You can make cars drive like Cadillacs like some other guys, but you know they won't be up front and won't be fast sometimes. That's what we found out, Addington and myself, trying to make ours drive better. It wasn't as fast.
It wanted to be real loose, skatey and edgy. When we did some things back to where we had been running last year and earlier this week, the car seemed to feel better and was faster.
Q. Talking with J.D. earlier today, he said it was really neat to watch you and Denny mentor Joey along. Has that brought your team together as teammates?
KYLE BUSCH: I think so. You know, Denny and I were good friends anyway. We can work together. We weren't sure how Joey was going to be. But Joey is fine. He wants to learn. He wants to be better. He'll come around, ask questions. That's what he needs to do. He needs to feel that he's able to come to us any time and ask us questions and pick our brain.
He did it before the Budweiser Shootout, to myself and Denny. I didn't see him today yet, but I thought he did a flawless job in the race. There were some incidents there where he had nothing to do, couldn't do anything different than what he did. He held on to it, drove it home to a third- or fourth- or whatever-place finish. I thought he did fine.
He's learning. This is a place where it's hard to learn in your first year. I came here. I was all over the place. I was hitting the pit wall, the outside wall, driving through everybody.
My first couple years here I was bouncing off everything. The way Joey has been this week, it's normal. I think it's fine. I saw a couple times where Jimmie Johnson, it didn't look like he wanted to work with him, but he had to work with him. Kind of stayed in line with Joey in the final laps of the Duel.
Joey, he's going to get better. Him and Zippy will get better in communicating, and the cars will drive better for him. As soon as that all happens, he gets experience under his belt, he'll be one of the guys.
Q. Has that helped with your relationship with Denny?
KYLE BUSCH: No. I mean, Denny and I, we've had a good relationship anyway. I think just working with Tony and Denny last year seemed to bring us all together into a close-knit family. It's not any different having Joey on the team. We'll do the same with Joey.
KERRY THARP: Guys, great job out there today. Good luck on Sunday in the Daytona 500.
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