NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Crown Royal Presents the Russell Friedman 400
Topics: Crown Royal Presents the Russell Friedman 400
May 2, 2009
KERRY THARP: We're joined by our race winner tonight, Kyle Busch. Kyle, happy birthday and just open up by talking about what it's like to win this race on your birthday.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you so much. It really means a lot. Thanks to Jenna, she had to point out I haven't won in a while. This is really nice to come out here and be able to do this this weekend, especially on my birthday week it means a lot. To do it three days in a row is always fun. Unfortunately, it wasn't a Camping World truck race that we won here on Thursday, but it was a late-model race. We could have swept the whole weekend.
This is a great effort by the whole team. Really want to thank Steve Addington. He made a great race call there to come and get our four tires when we did and stay out the rest of the way. Fortunately the caution never came back out and we were able to win this thing and had the right track position at the right time. Made that car worthwhile. That Combos Toyota was good. It wasn't great, but it was good, and good enough to matter most when we needed to win here.
KERRY THARP: Also joined by team owner Coach Joe Gibbs. Coach, Kyle Busch certainly put on an outstanding performance out there tonight. Your thoughts?
JOE GIBBS: My thoughts are we love Richmond. Great racetrack. Great fans. I always feel at home because there's a lot of Redskin people here. All the hospitality and everything is great for me. A big night and big weekend.
KYLE BUSCH: Wish there were as many Busch fans as there were Redskins fans.
JOE GIBBS: I'm sure they were all here to see me (laughter).
In any case, it was a great weekend for us. Mars family, to think we've only been together for two years now, it's awesome. We really appreciate it. It was a thrill. We really felt blessed on that.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief Steve Addington, made some outstanding calls out there tonight for that No. 18 team. Congratulations. Your thoughts about tonight's performance?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It was a great performance. Just very nerve-wracking. He gave me a win on my birthday in Daytona last year, so got him a win for his birthday tonight at Richmond (smiling).
KYLE BUSCH: I wish it was only that easy.
KERRY THARP: There's been only one other driver that won on his birthday, Cale Yarborough. Did it twice.
KYLE BUSCH: How old was he when he did it? Come on, statistician?
KERRY THARP: Older than you. That's all I can tell you.
We'll continue with questions for the No. 18 team.
Q. Kyle, believe it or not, I didn't think about this, when you took the lead, inside turn three, I had a good set of headphones on, didn't hear anything but cheers. For Kyle and coach, I know you've said before that doesn't mean a lot, but...
KYLE BUSCH: Pretty cool. They enjoy racing here at Richmond. I'm not sure how many passes there were for the lead out there. To make ours stick on the outside like that for the win, you know, really meant a lot. The fans enjoyed it. They saw a great race here tonight I felt like. There was a lot of close action - sometimes too close, and sometimes it was a little spread out. But the cars are so equal here. Man, it's hard to find an advantage. That's why I say our car was good, it wasn't great. It was just like all the rest of 'em. You got to bide your time and let the race kind of come to you a little bit more than trying to chase it down and also just being able to make adjustments to your car that fits your driving style and to make adjustments to your driving to fit the racetrack a little bit.
KERRY THARP: Coach, any comments about some of the cheers out there for Kyle?
JOE GIBBS: I got to tell you, what I hear is more and more cheers. I think generally fans appreciate great effort. I think they appreciate somebody that's really, really good at something. I think that's what's coming across with Kyle. I think he's special as a driver. I see more and more T-shirts. I stop going to hospitalities, thank guys that have 18 on. We also want to say a big thanks to David at Toyota back there. Great, great relationship and great support from them.
But, anyway, picking up more and more 18s I think out there.
KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.
Q. Coach, can you talk about how you've seen Kyle mature in the year plus that you've had him? For Addington, what was going on with tires tonight? I heard there were difficulties and guys getting sets of tires. You were able to get tires that helped win the race. There were people that needed tires that couldn't get 'em.
JOE GIBBS: I think for me, Kyle is pretty much his own man. I think he's bright and I think he's very smart. I think he's probably the best one to talk about himself.
But I think, you know, you kind of see him, I think he's a leader. He's a leader in our group. Denny and he, I really appreciate the way they've helped Joey. I think that says a lot about guys in a very competitive sport, taking a young guy like that, really trying to help him.
I really appreciate that. I think we got a close-knit bunch of guys and they're very young. The oldest is Denny at 27. Kyle is 24, and 18. Hopefully we can keep this going for a while.
STEVE ADDINGTON: It is up to the teams on how many sets they lay in their pit stall. Usually you lay 8 to 10. We were on pit road a good bit more with this tire than what we have been in the past here at Richmond. You had to get down to your last set before Goodyear would mount you another set before the end of the race. I think guys cut theirselves short on that.
We had one set of stickers still on the wall. Had took another set back down there to get mounted in case we used it. It was just a lot of teams down there trying to get tires mounted. It was just they didn't lay enough or they have to wait till their last set is put on the car before they can get another set mounted.
Q. Coach Gibbs, could you comment just a bit about Denny Hamlin, two years in a row to dominate this race and then have something happen, just your feelings about that.
JOE GIBBS: I think Kyle last night said it best when he won in Nationwide. Denny, we only had two cars in Nationwide last night, and I feel bad, and I told him today, that I feel bad he wasn't able to race the Nationwide Series with us because we only have two cars. I know how much it means to him. Kyle said it last night. Kyle knows that, too. This is a place where he'd love to win one. He's been real, real good here. He loves this place. Hopefully at some point he's gonna get one. I know at this point he's really disappointed now.
Q. Kyle, with your success this week, with everything that can take place in a race, how does momentum play a role, how does momentum help you in any way? And, Joe, looking at what Tony Stewart has done with his team, both his cars in the top 12 in points, what do you see that he's done there and how surprising has that been, the success at Stewart-Haas?
KYLE BUSCH: The momentum we had here this weekend was pretty good. The past four weeks have been struggles for us. We haven't finished, I don't think, in the top 17. It's been kind of a rough spell for us a little bit. We were looking to come back here to Richmond and get back on track, just to run a solid race and actually finish in the top 10 and hopefully the top five and have a chance to win the thing. Fortunately we were able to do that. Jeff and I last week flying home from Talladega, we were kind of dumbfounded that we hadn't been able to finish lately. We were just not able to close out the deal and get the finishes we need.
Fortunately for here this is good. It started on Thursday. Had a lot of fun over there for the Denny Hamlin race. Raised a lot of money for the Hamlin Foundation, which is great, that's what we were there for. Obviously set the tone for the weekend. We won last night, which was great. Come out here today, had a smooth race. There were a couple issues there in the middle of it. But we sorted that out. Made it up there towards the end. Passed Jeff for the lead and won the race, so that was good.
JOE GIBBS: I think with Tony, he's done a great job obviously. I think he obviously has some great stuff coming from Hendrick's. I think he's got a real good partner there with Ryan. I think he's done a real good job putting everything together. I think we give him a big thumbs up for what they're doing over there.
Q. Kyle, at the beginning of last year you said you wanted 200 wins total. You have 50 now. Is it realistic? Are you serious about that goal? Can it actually be done?
KYLE BUSCH: It could if I can keep this pace up. But I know the older I get I'll start slowing down some way. You know, hopefully I can achieve that goal. It would be sure nice to get that. I know it's not 200 Cup victories like Richard Petty has. It will still be a phenomenal mark for me. I don't know how long I'll be in the Truck Series or Nationwide Series, but hopefully for as long as Joe will let me in the Truck Series, and as long as there's a Nationwide car at Joe Gibbs that we can run, I'll be there running races and fulfilling some duties and deals there. Cup stuff is the ultimate priority. Hopefully we can win some more races here with myself and Steve. Steve will probably be gone before I'm gone out of this sport. Hopefully he'll stick around a little longer than he wants to (smiling).
STEVE ADDINGTON: You going to get rid of me or something (laughter)?
KYLE BUSCH: No, you're just a little older.
Q. Coach, this is Kyle's 24th birthday. Now he and Denny, who is 27, have a wealth of experience and race wins already. Do you find that surprising? Do you think that's the future in Cup, that organizations are going to start with very young people and see a lot of their success perhaps on the earlier years rather than as they get older?
JOE GIBBS: I really think it kind of goes all the way across the board. I don't think you can say anybody kind of programs to go with younger guys. As a matter of fact, right now, with no testing, we're seeing it with Joey, that's extremely tough to overcome that. That's the reason why I was thanking Kyle. I think it kind of depends on the guy and the driver. I think everybody out there, you see different people obviously. We were thrilled when we got a chance to get Kyle. Denny, the way that took place, that's one of the great stories in sports. He was late-model racing about a year before we put him in the Cup car. Then to have Joey there.
You can see all different kinds of ways. You're on the outlook for somebody that you think is really special. But it's hard to find because there's very few people are gifted that can drive these things. That's what you're looking for.
Q. Kyle, you gave a good promotion previewing Richmond. Do you think your enthusiasm as far as wanting to come here and race well and also your youth attributes to your success this week?
KYLE BUSCH: The promo leading up to this week was big? Was that because of Junior and myself? I give more credit to Junior than me (smiling).
You know, it's cool to come here to Richmond and race. For some reason my first race here I struggled terribly. That was in the Truck Series back in 2001. I ran 22nd. I think I knocked the wall down off of turn two about five times in that race. Somehow when I came back in 2004 with the Nationwide car and that 5 car, I started on the pole and won the race. From there I've just learned this place. Really have taken to it and have been fast here every time in Nationwide cars and Cup cars. Fortunately this was our first win in the Cup Series. We've been close a few times. Seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths. Right there I think I have one or two finishes outside the top 10 here because of either a wreck or just running terribly.
But this is a fun racetrack. The fans love it. It's exciting. We saw that tonight. There was a lot of beating and banging, some smoke flying, some tempers flaring. It's the action track. That's why people love it.
Q. The last four races notwithstanding, you've won three of the first 10 this year. You started off real well last year. How do you build on what's happened this year to have Chase results different this year than they were last year?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I'm hoping the past four weeks of us running badly is gonna pay us back in the Chase. You know, that's ultimately what you look forward to, what you think about. Hopefully we gave up enough races in the beginning now that the Chase will go well, which last year we didn't give up any in the beginning of the year and we had to give them all up at the end.
There's a point where sometimes it just doesn't all go your way. There's a season where everybody has had issues, beginning, middle or end. I'm hoping I'm right on that. We'll have to let time tell and let it all play out.
Q. Why was the last month so long? Not winning for four or five weeks is almost an eternity. Coach, any idea what happened with Denny there?
KYLE BUSCH: Four or five weeks does feel like an eternity, and that was bad. We didn't like it at all. At least just not finishing well. I don't think the fact of not winning, you know, that wasn't what made us so down. It was just the fact of not finishing.
Texas, we didn't start the race that great. I made a dumb call, got into it with the 34 car, cut my own tire, then had to fight for two laps back. Finally got him back at the end of the race, too late to make anything out of it.
Phoenix we won really well. Probably could have won that race but I sped off pit road by .005. That was just a killer. Talladega is a crapshoot anyway. You never know what's going to happen. I'm just glad I wasn't the one in the guardrail.
Here this weekend, it was just meant to be. I kept telling myself before the race and during the race, it's either meant to be or it's not meant to be, it's either going to happen or it's not. Fortunately the Lord was with us tonight and we pulled it out.
STEVE ADDINGTON: I don't think that we've ran that bad. We just didn't get the finishes that I thought we should have got the past three or four weeks. You have issues. They pop up at different times. He was trying to get all he could at Phoenix. We had a shot at racing with Mark and Tony there for the win. Then at Texas, we passed the leader and drove off from him with two laps down. We're trying to be better and trying different things to get better as the season goes on. I think that we're headed in a good direction. We got to give up something. After last year's deal, it was just unacceptable, so we got to get better all year long and that's what we're working on.
JOE GIBBS: I think with Denny, we had a horrible pit stop. We dropped two lugnuts, I think, and it really cost us there, shuffling in the back. Then I think on a restart, when everybody kind of accordioned up there, I think he hit the front pretty good. Car started running a little bit hot. I think we also got the left fender in it. I haven't had a chance to talk to him, but I think that's probably what cost us.
Q. Kyle and Steve, I think on that last caution about 40 to go, you were asked why they canceled the race in Nashville tomorrow.
KYLE BUSCH: He did.
Q. Do you care whether you're talking what's going to happen on Sunday with 40 laps to race?
STEVE ADDINGTON: They're talking about In-N-Out Burger, doing dinners and stuff like that. Doesn't bother me. Keeps the pressure off me. He's not screaming at me (laughter).
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's a little nice sometimes to alleviate the pressure of racing and stuff. During the middle of the race after I got it into with the 83, nobody said nothing for a while. I'm like, damn, they all must be mad at me or something. Sorry, you know, we'll be okay, we're coming back up through here, everything is good. It all worked out. We're smiling now and happy where we're at.
Like Steve said, I think we're all heading in the right direction. We've got some work to do still at some places we feel like. Hopefully the way that we ran at Phoenix will help us out at Loudon. We can run well there. That's obviously a part of the Chase that we need to work on. Of course, looking forward to Darlington next week and the All-Star Race following.
Q. (No microphone.)
KYLE BUSCH: I wasn't happy with that. We have to sit down and discuss what happened there. That wasn't cool.
Q. To touch on something that coach had talked about with Kyle. While you obviously wouldn't want to see Denny get a win at your expense, how much does your heart go out knowing what this place means to him and how close he's come and how good a car he's had here in the past and tonight?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think it went out more last year because he was so close. I mean, what, we were only 30 laps from the end of the race, he had a flat right front. This year he was good. I saw that the 2 car was really good. Kurt was really good tonight on long runs. I felt like he was fast. The 5 was fast. The 2 was fast. The 11 was fast. We were fast.
Denny, like you said, he ran good again. But he wasn't in the right position towards the end of the race. They took two tires and got up in front of us, then we passed them with our four tires. So he wasn't quite in the right position at the end of the race. Yeah, he had issues and stuff, didn't quite end up his way, which stinks, he didn't get a good finish. Like I said, he wasn't quite a winner towards the end of the race, wasn't in position yet. Like I said, last year I felt for him last year.
Q. Kyle, you seem to handle pretty well the villain role when you have to wear it. If people are cheering for you when you're taking the lead, any chance that's going to make you soft?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't foresee that happening (smiling).
You know, as long as they're making noise, that's what matters most. They're coming out here and spending their hard-earned money to watch us all race, us 43 hooligans. That's up to them. It's cool they come out here and support and are so passionate about this sport the way they are. Whether they wear Combos colors, M&M's colors or Interstate colors, that's what it's all about. That's why it's so colorful, why the action is so great, why the sponsors are here. You know, whether it's one-finger salutes or thumbs up or whatever, you know, it's all good.
Q. Kyle and Steve, we hear a lot about drivers saying they like to get into a rhythm when they race. There was no rhythm tonight with so many cautions. Does that make it harder for you guys and is it harder for the driver or harder for the crew chief because you have so many more decisions to make, potential pit stops?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It's tough on me. I don't know what it's like for him. The cautions and trying to keep your track position and making those decisions, it is very nerve-wracking.
But, I mean, you just got to go with your gut and make the call. That's just part of the job.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, there in the beginning of the race, we had a real long run. I got into a good rhythm there. Felt like we were doing all right. Then I felt like I was in a rhythm there when Kurt was on my inside, we were running down Denny a little bit before the caution came out. After that caution, I started falling back. I lost whatever I had and couldn't find it again. Fortunately a caution came out. We were able to adjust on the car, make it better for me.
You know, it's funny, for me, I just need to go find la-la land. I need to go out there, put my mind to nothing. The more I don't think about what I'm doing, just think about whatever things, it seems to come to me a lot easier than trying to focus too much on hitting your marks and this and that. When Jeff tells you that, you tell him to shut up and not listen, start talking about In-N-Out Burger or something.
Q. Kyle, on the occasion of your 24th birthday, there aren't very many 24-year-old racecar drivers who have the courage to be themselves. Young people always worry about appearances. I wondered if you thought that growing up in Las Vegas had an imprint on you, a place where entertainment is so popular, if it made it easier for you to be the way you are?
KYLE BUSCH: To be an idiot times (smiling)? I don't know.
Q. Those are your words, not mine.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm trying to understand what you're asking, but I think I know what you're asking. I'm here to be myself, man. I am who I am. Everybody is who they are, for whatever reason. I don't think it's necessarily the way you're raised or where you're raised or whatever. I just think what you believe in, what your beliefs are, what all happens around you as you grow up and stuff.
For me it's fun to come out here and I guess play the villain role sometimes and yet be liked other times. It's always cool to have that aspect in this sport. Even if I wasn't in this sport, you know, doing something else, you got to be happy with the way you're living life and doing what you're doing, otherwise it's not worth living or not worth doing what you're doing.
Q. Kyle, aside from the obvious win tonight, what did you get for your birthday?
KYLE BUSCH: A bunch of cake, man. Everybody was giving me cake. What are y'all trying to do, make me fat? I already gained 20 pounds in the last year. Shoot, quit it. There was a lot of cake, which was good. The Combos Fan Zone thing today was fun. All the fans were out there. They sang happy birthday to me. That was cool. I haven't gotten my birthday gifts yet from the girlfriend. She left them there at home. She didn't want to bring them with. She left them at home. I got my cards. My brother gave me a 12-pack of Miller Lite. All he said he wanted in return was some M&M's (laughter). That's pretty easy for me. He's a big spender for sure. What do you get a guy that has everything or buys anything he wants? The big thing now is RC cars. I got some gift certificates to the RC place so I can buy some parts because I seem to break some stuff. Other than that, man, it was a good birthday for sure. This is the best present. It's cool.
Q. Addington, was something smoking on the car at one point? Sounded like you weren't sure what it was. Did you bet dinner on it and if so who won?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I'm going to win that bet. No, with our cars, the decel in the center of the corner, they smoke out the exhaust pipes on the short tracks. That was going on. Everybody was freaking out over brakes smoking. I was trying to figure out what they were talking about. They had it on the TV monitor and saw it, so we weren't really concerned, it wasn't a big concern for us.
KYLE BUSCH: The brakes weren't even glowing, were they? Brakes weren't hot.
Q. Kyle, it seems like you're pretty much the class of the field when it comes to restarts. How did you become that way?
KYLE BUSCH: Growing up in Vegas, I had a good racetrack to learn on. I didn't grow up on a tight quarter-mile bullring where you couldn't go to the guy's outside. I grew up on the three-eighths mile. You could restart and jump to a guy's outside. For me to learn that, for me to learn that, and these guys here at Gibbs Racing, they give me good transmissions with ratios and stuff that really seem to come to my style. Sometimes if they're not that great, I try to work around it. I'll either short-shift or long-shift or whatever.
Tonight I had two good restarts. I jumped to the outside early in the race and got by two guys before we even got to turn one. Then Jeff Gordon slowed us down, I jumped to Carl's outside and got him on that restart. It's just trying to work towards being ready for it. You got to plan ahead. You got to watch what the guys do on restarts. You got to know who's restarting and learn what they do over time. I restarted twice behind Ryan new. I think one time I was leading actually the last restart, I spun my tires bad, I blocked the outside so Jeff Gordon couldn't pass me. He pushed me all the way down the front straightaway. He held back and started creeping forward on me. Man, I got to go. I went. I spun my tires. About once in every 10 times I'll screw up, but most of the time it works out.
Q. On your wins, when you do that, do you like it better when you beat everybody by about half a lap or do you like races tonight where you have a lot of rooting and tooting and action? Also, protein burger or animal style?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I like winning, period. Doesn't matter how you beat 'em. It's more fun when it's easier on you. If it was me having to race somebody down towards the end of the race, we all saw what happened last year. You tend to wreck sometimes. This year was a lot better where you could just get out there and you can go around a guy, not have to battle with anybody towards the end. That makes it more fun.
For me, In-N-Out Burger, it's always two singles. One double doesn't do it, so I got to get two singles.
KYLE BUSCH: No, I don't do animal style or protein burger. Just regular. Extra pickle, that's it.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations.
KYLE BUSCH: Thanks, everybody.
KERRY THARP: Enjoy your victory.
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