NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Budweiser Shootout
Topics: Budweiser Shootout
February 18, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We're joined by Kyle Busch. He's joined by team president J.D. Gibbs and Dave Rogers. This is Kyle's first Budweiser Shootout victory. This is also a big moment for Toyota. It's their first Budweiser Shootout victory. Congratulations to those folks.
This is the closest margin of victory in Budweiser Shootout history .013 seconds.
Kyle, tell us about not only the win but a couple of those saves you made out there tonight that were just incredible. Talk about your race out there tonight.
KYLE BUSCH: Man, it was exciting from where I was at a few times certainly. Can't say enough about all these guys, bringing out a backup car like that making another fast M&M Camry out of Joe Gibbs Racing, come out here and winning the thing.
First time might have been luck. I'm going to say the second time was all skill (smiling). It was interesting from my seat. I was steering, stabbing, braking, gassing, everything in between, trying to keep the thing straight, get it back under control.
Man, it was a fun race. I thought a lot about how the pack was back. There's certainly some moments when we were all pushing each other. It's a tense pack. It's not like 2000 to 2005 pack where you couldn't really bump each other, you couldn't really get to each other, you were racing around and made holes whenever you could make holes, whatever.
It was intense. Guys pushing all the time, them pushing on you, pushing five rows deep, everybody squirrelly, the back end of the cars being real light.
It was a great race from my seat, hopefully it was from everybody else's.
KERRY THARP: Dave Rogers, talk about the performance of the 18 team out there tonight. Car got beat on, banged on, spun on. Just talk about everything y'all were able to accomplish.
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I'm real proud of this race team. Everybody on the team, spotter up top, all the way to the crew guys on pit road fixing it, and obviously Kyle Busch. We always give each other credit. Tonight I think we eliminated who deserves credit. The thing was wrecked twice and he saved it and still drove it to Victory Lane.
All the guys on this M&M team worked really hard. This was a backup car, never saw the racetrack until the start of the race. Started at the very back. Kyle drove to the front. Like I said, two amazing saves, some damage at the end. The guys kept working on it. They never gave it up. Put TRD in Victory Lane for the first fuel injection race in NASCAR history, so that's a good night for us.
KYLE BUSCH: Good plug for EFI, Dave.
KERRY THARP: First victory ever with electronic fuel injection. Thanks for noting that.
J.D., talk about the win.
J.D. GIBBS: Three times with Kyle in particular, We're done, that's it, pack it up. You come back and say, Hey, we're still alive. I'm going to have to go back and watch that on tape again because you have to evaluate it and realize what it was.
I would say whoever the driver was that could do that, you just need to appreciate it. I think having it be Kyle and our guy was really impressive. I think it means a lot for the whole M&M team and our guys, it was special.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions from the floor.
Q. Kyle, we're going to talk about the saves. First off, did you impress yourself with the saves? Second, considering everything that happened, where does this stack up in all your wins in your NASCAR career?
KYLE BUSCH: Hard to say whether you impressed yourself. Never thought about that. It was certainly cool. I enjoyed it. I wouldn't recommend everybody do it every day. But certainly it got my attention.
I was just glad that I was able to pull through it, to be honest with you, to be able to straighten it back out, keep going. Checked my mirror. Everybody ways stabbing the brakes, trying to slow down, thinking I'm going to wreck. We get back going, they're like, huh, all right.
You know, this win certainly ranks up there. Being knocked around and beat around, almost spun out a couple times, being able to prevail through all that, still come through. Obviously there were 10 cars at the end of the race, we didn't have much to pass. It's not like the 500 where there still might be 22 are them or something.
It was certainly cool because I was trying to push Newman and hook up with him, then he was hooked up with whoever was in front of him. I'm like, All right, fine. The hole opened up behind Stewart. I ducked in behind there knowing he had a fast car, pushed him. We got up through there. He made the way to the outside and everything. Coming to the line, I've been in that situation reverse before with Tony. Hadn't ended up so well. This time it turned out all right. We made it past him and beat him to the line, so it was cool.
Q. Kyle, what did it feel like, trying to save it like that? Even Tony Stewart said it was one of the coolest things he's seen.
KYLE BUSCH: Probably because there was a shower of sparks over his windshield. I don't know. Like I said, I was grabbing plenty of steering wheel, throttle, some brake, trying to get the thing calmed back down, not overcorrect it and go back in front of traffic or spin on the apron and back up across the racetrack.
Like I said, I mean, it was a lot going on. It's so hard to explain everything you do, but you're doing it all at the same time. That's just the way it is. Certainly I was like, Man, that was pretty lucky the first time. It happened the second time. I'm like, Well, I guess I'm lucky again. We'll see where we end up when the checkered flag flies.
Q. How many people in NASCAR could have done that?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. Probably a few out there that could do it. Do you want me to show you (laughter)? We talking about that Speedo again? Another story, don't worry.
J.D. GIBBS: Thank you.
Q. I have a question about the save, as well. What prepares you how to do that? It's obviously instinct. What kind of vehicles or situations makes that instinctual that you're able to react that way?
KYLE BUSCH: That's a good question. I don't know exactly what teaches you that. Certainly running on dirt I think is a lot of that. How crooked you get cars, whether you're still driving through the looseness or whether you do have to lift and let the car straighten itself out. Dirt, late models, modifieds. Certainly the way I run cars loose, sometimes I get myself in a bad spot and catch it, and sometimes I don't catch it. Sometimes I have messed up, gotten too crooked, haven't been able to hold on.
But stuff like that, like you said, it happened so fast, it's just instinct that you start grabbing everything you can grab and hoping that the timing is right. Like I said, if you overcorrect just a little bit, man, you could hook right back to the right and go right up the racetrack.
Q. First race out of the box, winning, it's got to give you a little bit of a feeling of redemption. How do you use tonight as a learning experience for next Thursday and next Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it is great that we were able to come out first race back in the M&M car and get back in Victory Lane. It means a lot to myself and this team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Can't say enough about all the support around, M&M being back, us being able to get to Victory Lane like we did, carry that Toyota right through to Victory Lane like we did.
Certainly there's situations and stuff like that that got really tense out there and really hectic. You're not sure how you're going to come out of it sometimes. You just do the best you can with what you got going on at that particular moment, try to come through it.
Like I said, sometimes we were pushing three rows deep, I was in the middle, I thought I could spin out on the straightaway.
There's going to be moments like that in the 500. There's going to be more cars. It's going to be 50 times more pressure packed at the end of the race like that and more intense because it is the Daytona 500. There's going to be guys going for everything that it's worth.
Q. Kyle, the wrecks tonight all seemed to be caused by the guy in the back, the guy in the front, the left. Is there any adjustment that NASCAR can make in the shark fin or is it all up to you?
KYLE BUSCH: No, it's all up to us. I don't know what caused all of them. I know what caused both of mine. I wasn't clear of Jimmie. I was trying to get back down the racetrack and clipped him a little bit. That was one and two. Three and four with Jeff Gordon behind me, I got him pushing on me through one and two making me really loose. I'm glad the straightaway came when it did because otherwise I was going to spin out. He got back on me a few more times on the straightaway moving me around, I think trying to move me out of the way. Getting into three, hit me again, hit me on the left rear corner, spun me out. I don't know what the deal was there.
Obviously we're trying to win the race, coming down to the end, trying to move me out of the way. It caused a heck of a melee behind us, and also for himself. Hopefully everybody is all right through that, through that crash evidently. It's a product of what us drivers need to be better at. We've got to fix that.
Q. Kyle, obviously it's going to be hard to sustain this kind of racing for 500 miles. What needs to happen? Is it going to be more riding around for a while in the 500?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it will be a little bit calmer. It's all in the drivers' hands, how boring or how exciting we want to make the race. I think tonight's was pretty exciting, the reason being because it's a non‑points race.
When you get to the Daytona 500, there's going to be some moments there where you're pushing, trying to see what your car is going to do, whatnot. You have to keep your water temperatures in check, the front and back bumpers on your car, you got to keep the sides on your car, you have to be there at the end. When it comes down to the last 50 miles, 25 miles, 10 miles, it's going to get hectic. We're probably going to be spinning each other out and hopefully being able to miss it all.
Q. A lot of drivers said the closing rate was a little bit different tonight. You also had virtually taken a year off from this style of racing. With the increased closing rate, being in packs again, was there an adjustment period tonight? Do you think the mistakes were drivers getting acclimated to pack racing again?
KYLE BUSCH: Possibly, sure. But the closing rate is higher. Like was mentioned before with the old style pack drafting from 2000 to 2005, whatever it was, the closing rate was really slow. Sometimes you never even got to the car in front of you. You couldn't blow through that space of air.
Now you can't stay off the car in front of you. You got somebody pushing up your butt, you're running in the car in front of you. There was a moment through three and four, I think Montoya was in front of me, somebody in front of him. Somebody was pushing me, I'm trying to hold on the brakes so I don't run into the guy in front of me, cause them to get loose.
It's a product of what the drivers are all faced with and how we can all work through it better.
Q. Kyle, you went through the anatomy of that save, especially the one off of four. Can you describe what your field of vision is like when you go into the spin cycle like that.
KYLE BUSCH: Vision is a big key, too. It kind of tells you how crooked you are. Whether you're 45 degrees, 60 degrees, where you are. Your field of vision, you're trying to pay attention out your windshield, out the right side obviously. Kind of like a dirt car. When you're sideways in a dirt car, you're looking at the right side A post because that's where you're going. You're not watching the steering wheel, looking at any of that stuff, you're doing it all by feel.
Where I run my hands on my steering wheel, I can tell, I can put it back straight. I try not to overcorrect sometimes by doing that. Just kind of helps that way, too.
Q. Did you grab the steering wheel tight?
KYLE BUSCH: No. Like when you're wrecking, you're grabbing a lot of wheel real quick. When you're trying to bring it back quick, there's two spokes where I set my hands. I know when I set my hands like that, that's straight. A lot of guys use the white tape on the steering wheel. I don't have that on there. Just did it by feel.
Q. Dave, based on everything that you saw tonight and with the car, I know there were some people talking about temps and so forth, if you had to guess, do you expect to see this package change at all between now and when Kyle gets back to racing on Thursday?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I don't have any expectations. I'm sure NASCAR is going to look at it, talk to crew chiefs and drivers, make a good decision for the Thursday races and the 500.
I think NASCAR did a really good job with the rules package. The goal was to get pack racing back. We had a more exciting pack than ever tonight. The temperatures are a concern. When you're three‑wide, four or five rows deep, we're running 240 degrees, it's a night race, it's cool out. If the ambient conditions go up during the day, 1:00 race, water temp starts to go up, we could have some engine failures in the 500. We have to look at that. If they open up the grill too much, we will go back to the tandem racing.
They did a good job for tonight. I'm sure they're going to do a good job for Thursday and Sunday.
Q. Kyle, aside that it was driver error that caused a lot of the accidents, some people suggested more spoiler would make a difference. How do you feel about that?
KYLE BUSCH: Hmm. I don't know. I got to think about that for a minute.
Yeah, spoiler is obviously going to add stability back to the cars a little bit.
DAVE ROGERS: They can raise the back of the car. That's legal.
KYLE BUSCH: What he means is we run the car minimum height all the way down. You can raise the back of the car, raise the spoiler to get more downforce.
Adding a bigger spoiler, you're going to punch a bigger hole in the air, cars will have more drag, you'll have more grip in the back of the car. It will make us feel safer to push, which I almost think is the wrong way to go. Make it so unbearable we can't touch each other. That's more fun. But they won't do it.
Q. Kyle, other than running you up to the wall, was there anything Tony could have done to keep you from passing him coming through here?
KYLE BUSCH: No. He knew he was a sitting duck as soon as we got clear of everybody. It was over. He knew who the winner was. I'm trying to think of a better way to explain it. That's what it was.
If I would have been in his spot, I would have known, too. The car behind has the momentum because you're pushing the car in front. You can use the side draft and get by him. The only thing I could have screwed up on is if I would have gone low, and Stewart forced me below the yellow line, I could have gotten posted for that, so it's a good thing I went high.
Q. Kyle, with what you saw for 78 laps, did you expect the finish of the race to come down to a two‑car tandem as it did?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes.
Q. Do you have any idea what your water temperature was on the last lap?
KYLE BUSCH: Can I tell them?
DAVE ROGERS: I don't know what you're going to tell them (laughter).
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, with a green‑white‑checkered, it's going to come down to a tandem. Same thing for the 500. If we have a green‑white‑checkered, it's going to be a tandem finish. I predict whoever is in the first two rows is going to win. I'm lying to you. First four rows. There's going to be eight cars racing for the win, four two‑car packs.
Water temp at the end, roughly 300 degrees.
DAVE ROGERS: Oops.
KERRY THARP: He said 'roughly.
Q. Until that last big wreck, there was a pretty good chance that your Nationwide Series driver might be in a position to work with you at the end of the race. How aware were you of how good a job he was doing out there tonight?
KYLE BUSCH: I was aware. I was actually trying to figure out where he was on the final restart to see if we couldn't get hooked up and do something. Let him do his own deal. He was too far ahead essentially.
Like I said, when Newman got going on that restart, pushing whoever was in front of me, the 11 got into the 15, got him a little crooked, backed up the inside lane, Stewart was out there on an island. I was like, Man, I need to get behind Stewart and just push. Every time I got pushed, seemed like I got pushed the wrong way. I didn't want to be the pushee, I wanted to be the pusher.
Q. Kyle, every year at Daytona we have teams that test the limit of the templates. This week apparently had one that went over that limit. You win the race tonight with a car that had a gash in the front end and who knows what other problems. Does that kind of stuff just not matter in the long run?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, essentially I think most everybody here, including us, we're all trying to get as much as we can for qualifying. We all want to qualify on the front row for the Daytona 500. It guarantees you a spot in the field. Even though the top 35 in owners points are locked in as well, it's prestige, it's honor. You come out beating your chest at the start of the year, you sat on the pole for the Daytona 500.
Everybody is looking for as much as they can get. Some teams want to push it as hard as they can push it. Sometimes you don't quite get through the room of doom.
Q. A couple years ago the roles were reversed in July, you were in front of Tony, didn't end up so well for you. Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to beat him?
KYLE BUSCH: No, it's no sense of satisfaction or redemption or anything like that. It's us getting in Victory Lane. That's what it's all about. Whether it was the 22 or the 2 or the 51 or anybody in front of me, I was going to do the same thing to anybody.
Being it was Tony, no. I mean, he's one of the best here, always has been. He probably learned a lot from Sr. He puts it to use every year. He's all but won everything but the Daytona 500.
Hopefully if it comes down to that same thing again, we'll see what happens.
KERRY THARP: Kyle, Dave, J.D., congratulations. Nice show out there tonight.
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