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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sharpie 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Sharpie 500

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sharpie 500

Steve Addington
Kyle Busch
Joe Gibbs
August 22, 2009


BRISTOL, TENNESSEE

KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race press conference. Kyle Busch, 16th victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His fourth win in 2009. Kyle, your third win here at Bristol. Certainly a big win for you tonight as we have two to go before the Chase.
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly was. The whole M&Ms team did a phenomenal job this weekend. They really worked hard. We tried making the car better in practice, made a lot of changes to it and everything. Again, the guys made some smart calls there during the race, Steve and Chris and everybody.
We worked on it all night. We never gave up on it. We never had the best car I didn't feel like. We just kept plugging away at it, making some adjustments, trying to make the car faster, make it better in the short run, better in the long run, where it was capable enough of keeping up with the 5 in general. Man, that thing was just flawless tonight. That thing was so fast. We did what we needed to do.
We got track position when it mattered most there on the last stop. Got by the 55 and the 39 when it mattered. Wish we could have set sail from there. But we had some cautions there late and the red flag and everything.
Really set up a tight battle between myself and Mark Martin, who is the best car all night. Man, what an honorable racecar driver Mark Martin is. Such an honor to race with him. To give him the room that he needed, for him to give me the room I needed was awesome. I can't thank him enough. He didn't let me win the race, but he certainly didn't take it from us. Man, I love those guys on that team.
I know how bad Alan wants to win and how bad Mark wants to win. We had what mattered most when it mattered most and we were able to get the victory tonight. Real proud of M&M, Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all those people that make it possible for us.
KERRY THARP: Coach Gibbs, a big win tonight for that 18 team, particularly as we look with the Chase only a couple races out.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I echo what Kyle said about Mark. I mean, I thought that was a heck of a race. Classy guy. Obviously he could have chose to go at it a little differently there at the end. I think everybody was giving everything they have had. I thought it was a great race. Appreciate Steve and the whole team. Everybody fought hard all day long. Certainly for all of us, M&M, Mars. J.D. and I went up and had a great day at Mars. Really appreciate them, really appreciate Kyle the way he fought tonight.
I'll say this, too. That crowd may be one of the great sporting crowds I've ever been around. 165,000 people, that thing was electric out there. Before the race, and during the race, we really appreciate 'em.
KERRY THARP: Thank you, coach.
Crew chief, Steve Addington, what was your view like atop the pit box tonight with the No. 18 car?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It was nerve-wracking. Made some adjustments there, and it didn't respond like we thought it would. Just kind of trying to figure out what it was going to take to make the right adjustments to get him to beat the 5 car and the 48. That was the biggest thing, just trying to figure out what he needed to get going there.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for either Kyle, Steve or Coach Gibbs.

Q. Kyle, Mark was in here and complimented you for racing him honorably and clean. What does that mean to you? If you can contrast what the firestorm of a week earlier with Vickers?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's fun when you're able to race around the guys that respect you and that you respect back. So Mark is one of those guys. I mean, you know, I go up to Mark all the time and I talk to him all the time. I look up to him a lot. He wasn't the guy that I always looked up to when I was growing up at a kid. But since I've gotten here, he's been one of the closest drivers I've been able to spend time with. Him along with Jeff Burton. Besides the young ones like Speed and Hamlin, the veteran guys, those are the two most guys I probably go to.
It was a blast. I mean, I can't say enough about Mark. I tried giving him enough room so we could try to race side-by-side and have a good strong run for the fans there. Like coach said, they were electric tonight. When the red flag came out, they didn't stop. Heck, you would have thought the racing was still going on. They were doing the wave and everything. They were fired up tonight for sure.

Q. Kyle, a year ago, for the regular season, you were the champion. You did everything that a champion does. Do you think the Chase affords the opportunity and can you have that consistency that evaded you during the regular season?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, Steve and I talked this week at the shop just trying to come up with some things as to why. We're trying to find the answers, too. We come to Bristol pretty much with the same setup every time, and everywhere else we've sort of changed and gone in a different direction. Maybe that direction isn't the direction we needed to go.
We're thinking about going back more of what we ran setup-wise like last year at some of the places, see if it works. We got to try something. We've fallen behind a little bit this year for some reason. I don't know that we've fallen behind as much as everybody else has just gotten better. The Hendrick cars, man, they are just so strong. They were really, really good in 2007, I think they won half the races, especially with the new COT. Last year it looked like we had things going our way, we were really good with it. This year they've been back on top. The 14, the 48 has been good, the 5 has been really, really good.
It's tough. Competition changes all the time, there's waves that go up and down. This year we've been in one of those downs. We're trying to make the Chase. If we barely make it in, we've been clawing at it for the past five weeks just trying to get back up there and make it in. We had a respectable run at Pocono. We lost ground at Michigan on the last run. We had a part that hit our car and ended up bending another piece on our car that caused it to get tight. Just unfortunate circumstances sometimes bite you. You can't do anything about it.
This year has just been a lot of bad luck, too, on my part just being dumb, and getting in the wrong position at the wrong time, and yet just some other failures that we might have had.

Q. (No microphone.)
STEVE ADDINGTON: He walked in my office, I wasn't expecting him to come in. He walked in my office and we sat there for two and a half hours just talking about stuff that we changed our setups, getting our cars back to a consistent feel. We've changed. We talked about why we changed, the reason we made the changes.
I think we're headed in the right direction. We're on the same page. We need to get our cars back to feeling consistent, what we have to do with the setups to get him back to have consistent cars to run fast. That's what we're gonna work on. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you exactly what we've changed. But, yeah, we're gonna get back to that and try to get his cars more consistent so we can just have a building block.

Q. Kyle, you mentioned long green-flag runs and a bunch of short runs at the end. What are the chances when you're giving feedback on what the car is doing, you pretty much take yourself out of contention when you have all the short runs at the end, you go the wrong way with the setups?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm trying to piece together what you mean.
You know, we kept trying to work on the short run and the long run tonight. We weren't the best on the short run. We felt like we were a little bit sluggish on the get-go compared to the 5 and 48. They would just take off and go. Even the 2 was maybe a little bit better than us on restarts.
It seemed like, you know, lap 20 to 50 we could start running them back down and then we'd kind of level out for another 10 or 15 laps or so, then I might find something we could chug along with again. By the time you get that deep into a run, it's hard to make ground up. It's hard to get by those guys.
I remember here last year I drove right to the front, took the lead. Man, it was easy. This year was way harder. There was a lot more good cars. The 42 was a good car. The 00 was very good in the beginning. The 47 ran really strong A lot of good cars tonight, a lot of different cars that were up there tonight that were good. So it was just something that we had to keep working on both short run and long run to make our car capable of keeping up with the 5.

Q. Kyle and Steve, the last couple weeks the finishes have thrown certain people into looking kind of bleak for the Chase while other people are hanging on by a thread. The last couple races, those people have changed. From your perspective, Kyle, does that pressure, when we look at the stats, it looks kind of crazy, is it more crazy from your perspective and the team's perspective going through that? For instance, last week things didn't look so good, this week winning.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it is. Everybody is like, Oh, you're only a hundred points out or 70 points out or whatever, however many, now 30 something points out. When you look at it, there might be three guys that run strong one week and then a different three guys that are further up in points that struggle the next.
It separates itself. It's not like we were just fighting the 17 and 16 to get in. There's a gaggle of nine guys that are trying to fight this battle to get in the Chase. Tonight it didn't look like the 83 had a good night. I don't know who else. But I was trying to pay somewhat of attention. But the 47 ran good. He's further behind us. The 39 was decent there.
It's so hard to figure out all the time. Okay, we're going to chase the 17 and 16 this week. They run good. Let's say the 42 and the 39 run poorly. So now we're chasing the 39 and 42. The next week they run good again, the 17 and 16, they run poorly again. So it's back and forth.
It's not a gaggle of guys that you're chasing. You're almost chasing a point total. That point total is 3160. That's what I heard as a round number this week from a source. If you can total 3160 in points, you'll make it in the Chase.
I did the math from 3160, minus what we were, and figured that out, divided it by three, we needed a 147-point average in these next three races, which is sixth.
JOE GIBBS: I'm up a creek as a PE major. I dropped math. We're in trouble.
KYLE BUSCH: It's better today 'cause we got 190 instead of 147. Maybe next week we only need 138, I don't know (laughter). I look a lot smarter than I am. All you need is a calculator. Trust me, you can figure it out. We're just chasing that number. If we can get that number, I think we'll be okay.
STEVE ADDINGTON: He's my boss. I play his game. Go out, do your job, work hard as a race team. You cannot control what the 16, the 17, 39, whoever it may be. You cannot control what they do. You can control what happens to you.
Listening to Joe, work hard, you guys go out and do your job, what you're capable of doing, and all that stuff will fall into place. Our deal is to go out and win races. That's the big thing. If I need to back him down or if we need to be third, finish third at Richmond instead of putting ourself in a bad position to go for a win, I'm going to tell him we're good to go. We'll know where everybody is. We need to go to Atlanta and have a solid run and we'll go to Richmond and see how it plays out.

Q. Kyle, it seems to a lot of people like you've been really unhappy the past many weeks, to the point where another driver has made many comments about how miserable it must be to be you and live your life. A lot of people have sort of started to wonder if your waves of emotions have affected your performance on the track. Can you verbalize to us why winning means so much to you that it sort of has become to us maybe the end all for you. When you don't win, you are absolutely miserable. Do you know why it is that it affects you that much?
KYLE BUSCH: To me, I grew up racing in Vegas. I think I won 35 plus races a year. To me, when you come up into another series, you want to win races. The next year I won 10 out of 15 late model races one year. I'm a guy that loves to win. There's nothing else to me but the feeling of winning.
It's frustrating finishing second or third sometimes. But when you look at the big picture, the big scheme of things, I'm cool back off after the plane ride home. It's just the heat of the moment. It's the 20 minutes from getting out of the car back to the motorhome. But, you know, that's going to be my strong suit coming up.
Unfortunately, there are a lot better ways for me to handle it. I can certainly do a better job at that. But like today, I mean, you see all the faces of the guys in the pits that work so hard, now in Victory Lane, I mean, they're jubilated, they're excited. They know that they've accomplished what they were set out to do. I accomplished what I was set out to do. Steve accomplished what he set out to do. That's to win races.
For us to win races as a team together, I feel like sometimes I let the team down when I don't win a race. That's what I'm most upset about. It's like, it's not that I want to win, it's us as a team that's gonna win. Sometimes I feel like I let them down. Sometimes they feel like they let me down. But we all love each other and dig in for each other as much as we possibly can and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. Some days it's not meant to be. There's better ways for me to recognize and understand that.

Q. Whoever was on the outside today on the restarts clearly had the advantage. You've been at enough tracks now, is there one clear lane at pretty much every track that's advantageous? How big a factor do you think that's going to play down the stretch when people are going for a championship?
KYLE BUSCH: It's gonna play a lot. I tell you, there's going to be one place where everybody is going to choose the bottom, that's Martinsville. I guarantee you that. I think it's going to be the bottom there.
I could be wrong there. You know, the outside might be able to pinch the inside guy down enough where they can get a shot off of turn two. Seems everywhere has been the outside. Even Indy, Jimmie made it look simple on the outside there. Passed Mark on the last restart, went on to win the race. Michigan was last week. It seemed like every time I was down on the inside, three out of the five restarts, I'd get shuffled if I couldn't get to the top and get into the top lane and go on the outside. It seems like it's the outside. These cars, they're built on momentum now because they don't turn in the center. When you get down into the corner, you can't turn the thing, you go the to slow down, then you got to accelerate more. The outside, they're still going. They're keeping it going. They're keeping it wound up. They just get down the next straightaway faster.
You could see some differences in the Nationwide Series sometimes because of the different car. I tried both sides of the restart order at Watkins Glen. I tried the inside. Stewart out-powered me on the outside. I tried the outside. Stewart out-powered me on the inside. I didn't have the car I needed to have that day with what Stewart had. To me it seems, I don't know the ratio, it's about 95% of the time it's the outside.

Q. Are you miserable and angry a lot or is that not true? You guys know him the best. How do you see his personality?
KYLE BUSCH: Maybe till I land in Moorseville, then it's back to life as normal. The racetrack is the racetrack. It's a lot different here than what it is at home. I got a lot of friends and family that I work with, friends that I work with, a lot of family that I live with. They're all trying to cheer me up during the week. I'm like, You know, it is what it is. I wish it was different. I wish it was better. But unfortunately that's all we had this weekend. So back during the week, it's all fine.
JOE GIBBS: I would say that it's the spur of the moment. You know what I mean? I think Kyle is extremely competitive. You deal with athletes that some react different ways. I think for him, you know, it's that spur of the moment, just getting out of the car. We used to say in kicking field goals, we used to tell the field goal kicker in football, don't look over for the first 10 seconds if you miss it because everybody over there is calling you everything you can think of.
I think with Kyle, it's that first emotion, right when he gets out of the car. I think that's something that as he goes forward, maybe something he reacts differently to. I think right now, that's when I see it. Just like he said, an hour later, call him on the phone, whatever, seems to be totally relaxed. But I think it's that emotion and competitiveness that lots of times great athletes have.
STEVE ADDINGTON: I'm more aggravated when I get to the truck, he's gone, they come and ask me all the questions. What's wrong with him?
I know the next week when we talk it will be ask a few questions about the past weekend, then it's focused on the neck week. So it's the frustration in the heat of the battle right then. When you fought all day long, didn't get the result you wanted... He gets out of there and goes and chills out, gets on the plane, then he talks about it after we get back home. That's fine with me. He just leaves me here to answer all the questions when that happens.
KYLE BUSCH: He's a lot more experienced (laughter).

Q. Kyle, when you thanked the crew, sounded like a tired voice at the moment. Was that from the intensity of the last four laps or a relief to win?
KYLE BUSCH: It was both. It was the intensity of the last 50 laps really. I mean, I was driving that thing for everything it had. And then the relief of getting it over with. Then the unbelief of being able to do it.
You know, sometimes when you win races, it's like, yeah, we should have won. It's like, yeah, all right, we got it. You know, but this one was like, really? That's great. I can't believe it. It was pretty cool. Pretty phenomenal we beat the 5. The 5 was very, very strong today. Mark was a very good racecar. Those guys really did their homework and came out with the best possible thing they could have. Man, they're going to be strong here again next year. We're going to have to fight those guys.
The raw emotion of winning here. Those guys are what worked tonight for us. We had a couple bad stops, but we were making changes, we were making adjustments, we were pulling spring rubbers, doing rounds in the back window. Then on that last stop, they threw it all together in one stop and, man, we clicked it off. We almost beat the 5 off pit road, but didn't. Real proud of everybody there. Wanted to give them the opportunity to recognize them and what they did there on the backstretch, pit road.

Q. Basically what is the game plan for the next couple of weeks?
KYLE BUSCH: Win (laughter). You know, Atlanta, we have a little bit of work to do. We weren't as good as we needed to be there this spring. We'll just try to be better. We'll try to work as hard as we can to make the car what it needs to do. You know, there's not going to be any time for me to sit with Steve at all next week, or two weeks in Atlanta. It's all a one-day show for Nationwide. I'm going to be running back and forth all over the place. That's not going to be much fun for Steve and I trying to communicate. We'll just have to get together Saturday night after Nationwide or Sunday morning. Talk about what we got, see what we can do to make it better.
Richmond, we feel like we can go there and run strong. That's a place where I don't qualify well, sort of like here, but when the race turns around, we seem to run well. We can work our way steadily up towards the front. We'll do what we need to do. Hopefully at the end of the race, if we have a shot to go after it, we'll go after it.
I think my biggest concern is going to be Atlanta, just trying to get through Atlanta with a solid top-10 finish. If we can do that, I think we'll be okay.
STEVE ADDINGTON: I mean, I struggle with trying to figure out a game plan. You go to the racetrack every week prepared the best you can. We'll try to do that the next two weeks to get into the Chase. Be prepared, try to give him a racecar he can run up front with and get a solid finish from both racetracks. We feel like if we get a solid finish at Atlanta, we can go to Richmond and win the race.

Q. Kyle, has it been kind of a struggle this season adapting to when you're better than the car? Seems like the car hasn't been up to snuff as much. Is that kind of a first for you, where it's really not up to your standards and you have to adapt and take what it gives you?
KYLE BUSCH: No. I was with the 5 team where we didn't have the best cars some days and I wasn't the best driver some days. Like last year, the car met me. We worked together and we won races. We were fast and competitive at a lot of different racetracks. This year, like I said, the competition is better. I think our cars are driving the same or maybe even driving better. We don't quite have the speed that it needs. Sometimes when I'm trying to make up for it, I get myself into precarious situations. That's what happened at Sonoma. I was running seventh or whatever. I should have been biding my time, waiting for the next round of stops. I was trying to get back up towards the front. I got into a corner too hard and ran over Sam Hornish. That was me trying to make up for what the car didn't have right there.
I can be the problem sometimes. Sometimes the car can really be a fit for me. Steve and I are trying to work at that to try to make it the best week in and week out that we can.
Last year, like I said, just seemed easy, seemed to come together easier. This year we're working for it. We're trying to work as hard as we can.

Q. Joe, as a football coach and a team owner, would you rather have a young Kyle Busch or young Tony Stewart?
JOE GIBBS: You're not going to lure me into that (laughter).
I think as a coach, I've always wanted to be the guy that was the good athlete. I wasn't, so I wound up being a coach. But I think you work with all different kinds of athletes. We talked about football. The thing that in the end that you really want from your players or drivers or crew members or crew chiefs is a real passion for what they do. I think that if you got that in your players and you obviously can deal with the different personalities, and everybody is a little different, you know. You go back to Tony when he was first here, he wore everything on his sleeve. If you remember, some of the same statements we made about Kyle we were making about Tony. It was that first 10 minutes when he got out of the car when we had a few problems, and then the next day he was great.
I do wish this. I've said to people, I wish they could see Kyle the way we see him, away from the racetrack, just sitting around talking, having fun, or maybe over at NASCAR theme park where he's bought the night out for some kids.
KYLE BUSCH: Or maybe in New York the night before the M&M announcement.
JOE GIBBS: Something like that (laughter).
One thing I was going to mention, we were thinking about our year, that Daytona race. We were 400 yards. That series of circumstances, the point I'm trying to make here is this. We wound up within 400 yards. We could see the flag. We wind up in a huge wreck and lose a lot of points. That's how tough this sport is. It's the best people in the world doing this. That's how when it's that close, it can come down to this, where you are. One thing happens to you, you wind up losing a lot of points. I think everybody would probably be saying, Hey, you got five wins, that was great if that hadn't happened. But it did happen.
This is very close, very competitive sport. I think that's the reason why we all like it. I think that's why the fans like it. I think it's the thrill of it.

Q. Kyle, who did you give the flag to? Last night you were pretty gracious towards Chase Austin who made a pretty bad mistake on the track. Why did you cut him so much slack when you don't like to cut others that much slack?
KYLE BUSCH: I tried giving it to a young Kyle Busch fan who was in tears. I don't know if it was of me winning or what. But a young lady in the stands had a Kyle Busch shirt on, she was tearing. There was another guy behind her with an M&M jacket on, too. I don't know if it was husband and wife or father and daughter or what, but I tried giving it to her. Some Tony Stewart fan came in and tried to wrangle it away. Hopefully she got it. That was pretty cool. I saw a couple others along the fence line, but she was the one in tears. That was neat to give to her.
Then last night, Chase, he's young, trying to learn. Inexperienced. This was one of his first races in the Nationwide Series. It's not worth it to blast a young guy coming in trying to learn. I've been that guy making mistakes coming in, been battling for race wins and wrecking or trying to come back through the field after missing a lug on a pit stop or something or speeding on pit road and have wrecked. So I've made my share of mistakes.
I don't tend to cut the experienced guys much slack, you know, because we all should know better essentially. But Chase, he thought he was doing the right thing. He's coming from late models, which is what you do at late model races. If you have a problem, you get down out of the way, put your hand out the window, everybody knows that. Here, when you're going so fast, 3400-pound stock cars, wherever you are, you just got to stay up against the wall. Hopefully he's learned that. Next time we won't have that scenario.

Q. What is it like racing as the villain, especially at a place where it seems everyone wanted Mark to win this race?
KYLE BUSCH: Really it's no different if I was the hero or the villain. I just love to race. That's solely what I'm built to do, be a racecar driver (end of audio).



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