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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Aaron's 499

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499

Steve Addington
Kyle Busch
JD Gibbs
Joe Gibbs
April 27, 2008

THE MODERATOR: Good racing today, appreciate it. See you in Richmond. We are pleased to be joined by our championship team, No. 18 M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing goes to victory lane winning the Dream's Come True at Aaron's 499 at Talladega, driver is Kyle Busch, team owner is Job Gibbs, JD Gibbs, and the crew chief is Steve Addington.
Congratulations, and you put on a great, great show out there today and super race for everyone.
Kyle, take us through the race, your thoughts now, you've won on a Super Speedway and last week you won at a road course, intermediate track, short track; you're hitting them all now.
Congratulations, and your thoughts on winning at Talladega.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you, good win for us today. Proud of the fact we were able to win with Joe Gibbs Racing and M&M's and Snickers and Home Depot and Interstate, Toyota, all helped support this race team.
And for us there in the beginning part of the race, we were running along and trying to come out pit road there and having guys on the inside and behind me so this is my fifth stall and had come back around the next time and get the pit stop done there, and so had to walk a lap. Fortunately we were in the right position at the right time and got the lucky draw and were able to come in from there and get back on the lead lap and come back to the field.
About ten to go, things got crazy so really my memory is a little scratchy, but getting through there was problematic -- speaker system -- I was running fourth or fifth and got a bump draft and got a huge line, shot me on the line and got into McMurray there. And I don't know what happened with that scenario and we were able to straighten up and get going, 42 was myself, pushed me all the way to the front. Montoya, gave me a great shock, got us both up to the front two spots and rode up there and stayed together.
And then 55 and 48 did the same thing, had a caution come out, and on that restart we shifted the 55 out and I think Gordon got in behind me somehow, and Jeff was pushing me and we bump-drafted Jimmie out of the way off of 4, and I got out underneath him and Jeff pushed me past the 48, and that was cool and we got the 24 shut out of line by the 42 again and it was the 18 and 42 there at the end and the 11 and so that was pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, what did you see you up on the pit box today? You called a great race. Your thoughts?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I'm really proud of him being patient, you know, when we got the last -- we got behind Tony, we were a lap down, if we could just hang in there, we had a good enough car there, if we could get our caution -- and he was so patient when we got there in the back of the pack it and took his time coming up through there. So it wasn't that bad -- (indiscernible) -- between him and the spotter when the car is on the racetrack. So let them do their thing and try to just let -- stay off the radio and keep the clear channels in between.
THE MODERATOR: Your thoughts going into victory lane with the 18 team?
JOE GIBBS: When you have a race team like that you have three cars, and it's almost like the emotions are all over the place.
First, you're down there and you're upset because Kyle and everything that happened on pit road and he winds up a lap down; and you have Tony leading the race and all of a sudden Tony cuts a tire down and you've got Denny looks real strong and all of a sudden he gets shuffled all over the place. And so for me, it's just emotions are all over the place and of course at that point, now mid race, you figure there's no way Kyle is going to have a chance to win it and so I was really proud of our whole team, as Kyle said it was a total team effort. Steve did a great job. Everybody on pit road did a great job. Staying that calm and cool and find a way to fight his way back just got to say it was a great day for us and I'm really proud of the guys.
THE MODERATOR: JD, anything to add?
JD GIBBS: For us, we people don't really how much time and effort goes into preparing speed way cars and there's so many times like Daytona we had great equipment, great cars you don't windup winning -- and to be able to capitalize yesterday and then today I think was really encouraging for everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and our who whole team.
THE MODERATOR: Something of note, this is Kyle's 7th NASCAR victory this season, spread over three series. And in the Truck Series he's won in California and Atlanta, the Nationwide Series he's won at Texas Phoenix, Mexico City, and in the Sprint Cup Series he's won in Atlanta, Talladega. So he's touched them all for intermediate short track Super Speedway road course.

Q. This has been a track where everything possibly that could go wrong for you has gone wrong and today in many ways -- after that everything went right -- is that a product that everything is going right for you all season or is it all of the above?
KYLE BUSCH: I'd like to say I'm smarter than I look but that's certainly not the case.
You know today was just due to having a great car, Mark and all those guys at the shop did an awesome job building a great Toyota engine today and in order to power us up through there through the field when we were getting bumped and banged all over the place; but getting a lap down, yeah, that was like typical Talladega there, and I didn't wreck today, so I am ultimately happy about that.
Greatly appreciative that I was able to win today because it's just been a struggle here at this place for certainly a couple years, and I don't think I've ever finished one here yet without having some sort of damage.
Today we still had damage but it wasn't enough to keep us from victory lane.

Q. The ability to push around, was that something you discovered this weekend; or the fact that the bumpers match and the new surface, and also, Steve, did it make the cars so much faster at times, I know the cars had chips in them, was there concern over motor or engine damage?
KYLE BUSCH: For the drafting around here we figured that out with the new asphalt when it was laid, when the old cars we could bump draft each other through the corners, the old cars we lined up on in the restrictor plate tracks the high ends were (indiscernible) -- with the bodies on those cars. And with these cars, they are the same way, the rear bumpers are high and front bumpers are low, and so we are able to bump-draft all the way through the corner, built so much speed all the way around this place, and NASCAR doesn't like it. But when you have two guys that know what they are doing and keep their car straight and you don't hit somebody too hard and just sit on them nicely, it really works and you can use it to your advantage really well.
Denny was doing it a lot today and I felt comfortable with it.

Q. When you guys went after Kyle, you knew he was a good driver but this start to the season is pretty unbelievable why some drivers when they come in it takes them time to get up to speed; what's going on here that he's just so red hot?
JOE GIBBS: There's no pat answer for it. For us the first time -- (indiscernible) -- so when we tested Atlanta in the fall you realize we had something really personal there.
You could see if in Steve's eyes and those guys and each of our teams has a really good group of guys. The A Team has not shown the last few years, but now Kyle filling that hole there and having Steve and those guys working together and Mark on the motor side, I just think there's a lot of things that really fit in that package. And first and foremost, you have to have that guy behind the wheel, and he just has a natural talent for it.
So I think we're blessed to be a part of that and see it. And the thing is you forget how young he is and how many years we have left to grow together and winning races at championships, really is encouraging. He's got at least five before he retires to an island.

Q. Can you talk about how you did save it when you got into it with McMurray and Hamlin is talking how great the package is with his new car, wondering if you like it now?
KYLE BUSCH: The save, I mean, I didn't know what was happening.
All I remember was I got knocked out of line first to begin with and then looked up in my mirror to see who I had behind me then. And I think it was Juan, a couple car lengths back, and I don't know if McMurray was looking at his car trying to get in front of the 42, but we made contact and I thought I was going out of the park.
I thought I was getting hooked right rear and going great up on the fence and luckily somehow we got off each other and we kept it straight and we were able to continue on and Montoya got behind me and forced up the lead and so that was cool.
As far as the package of this car, I think it's just the product of the car.
I wouldn't say it's great, but when the cars get side-by-side they get stuck, so it takes a lot more help and a lot more bump-drafting to get through people and to get more racing going on, because I don't know if it's because they punched us a big hole in the air or what, but you know when you pull out on someone, you just stall, like you crept up alongside of them at least get half the length going and at least get somebody behind you to get that length past like the old car. But it's just a product of the way this car is so everybody has to learn what to do and how to race it and how to use it to their advantage.

Q. People have to be envious of your position -- after last year --
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I am fortunate to be hooked up with this bunch, with Joe and JD and Steve Addington leading the calls on the box did a great job today as always and luckily we were able to get up in the lap back there.
But it's special to have the results so far this year. And the amount of crew chiefs I've worked with this year and over the years, I think just becoming more in tune with everybody and telling them what's in my race car. When we unloaded this weekend and the car was good and wasn't great, and I told Addington what I wanted and what we needed to try to work on to make it better and we did it. I think we made it better and wasn't as good as it needed to be and it wasn't as good as the 20 but it was a good enough car that when you put it in the right position today, we were able to win with it.

Q. Not trying to get you to brag on yourself but a little bit, you're having the kind of season that basically people have on video games; this is not what people do in the real world --
KYLE BUSCH: I do better on video games than I do in real life.

Q. That's hard to believe. Have you stopped and caught a breath during all of this?
KYLE BUSCH: I haven't because JD won't give me a weekend off. I won't be catching many breaths going on here.
It's good times, just I don't know what to put it all on exactly.
But you know, I guess I'm a decent enough driver that when you give me a good enough car, we can do something with it and you know put in the right position and we're able to run up front and do well, and -- I think it's raining outside.

Q. Everyone is talking about how your driver is such a sensation but anyone who has been working hell like you for ten years, did you ever worry that maybe over the last couple of years you would --
STEVE ADDINGTON: You look at the last three years, they haven't been really good.
I'm just thankful to be with an organization that knew what was going on and I have two great chiefs to work with every day, and you know, he probably had meetings with them to see what we were doing on the 18 car.
We've just been very, very fortunate that Kyle has come in and he's fit in and with time he's getting better. We were able to provide him with decent race cars and we're working towards that and that's good. Yeah, I'm very thankful for the position I'm in with this year with organization.
JOE GIBBS: I will say last week there was an article rating the crew chiefs, Steve was No. 1, and I said: "Don't hit me up for a bonus."

Q. Coach, you've obviously got in Kyle and Denny Hamlin, two franchise players and I'm sure if there's anybody who knows about franchise players, you've certainly got to be the guy. And I know you've addressed a lot of the issues earlier today, but is that make it twice as difficult knowing you have a couple franchise players now, and when you know it's time to make a decision to have guys move on or have gives stay when you have some young franchise players sitting there next to you?
JOE GIBBS: No. I think for us, each one of the cars, I think back, you think about the 18 car and the way we struggled and Norm Miller (ph) and Interstate have stuck with us all that time and Kyle has a great relationship with Norm and to see that car come back to life; and I know everybody here at Joe Gibbs Racing, we have a huge responsibility to FedEx, Home Depot, Mars, Interstate, and all the other sponsors; I mention those, but each car and each situation is separate.
Tony, the thing about Tony is we have been together for ten years, and it's been a great ride and that's why we don't want it to stop. We would love to have that work out pretty much the way it did last time.
So we'll just have to go through, this but the way I'm looking at it is, you know, we definitely feel like only certain people are good enough to try these things and we're so fortunate to have the two young guys and we think Tony is in the same boat as the proven winner and so I want to try to keep everything together.

Q. Is there any extra satisfaction with the way the year is going, given how things went down last year with Hendrick?
KYLE BUSCH: I left there on some pretty good terms with all the guys. I've got a lot of great friends over there in that organization with the guys that are on the team, and guys that are in resources and everything like that. And so even Rick, you know, he came over to the car here today before the race and he wished me good luck. So there's no hard feelings there or no shoving it in their face saying I'm better than you or anything like that. It's just to go out there and do the best I possibly can for myself and for these guys with Job Gibbs Racing that's who I'm driving for now. We're going to take the initiative in order to try to do that week-in and week-out.

Q. There seems to be so much more talk about how much more patient you are; is that something you consciously recognize, or was there a point that you realize that if you throttled back with the aggression you would have a better finish?
KYLE BUSCH: I am going to thank Robert Pimmerton (ph) for that one. We had a conversation I think after Martinsville and instead of trying to finish third and coming back to the checkered flag in one piece, I aimed for second and that was a bad idea. So I had a little talk and things have been better since. You know, still it's just about trying to finish these races.
I learned years ago that first you must finish to finish first and I let that slip my mind for a little while and became an idiot for a bit and sort of remembered someone telling me that again and it's sort of worked here the past three or four weeks.
Whatever that's been, it's been good and maybe even told my driver racing for me last night in Georgia, we were running second, I told him that before the race and we were doing fine minding our own business and got run over and nothing he could have done differently. So just that saying goes a long way.

Q. Your job is to be calm in the car but it's so crazy out there; were there moments where you had to force yourself, moments in which you could feel your heart jump at the closeness of what was about to happen?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, at that point where we missed pit road coming down, I was mad as hell but we straightened it up and got better and we made it to the -- (indiscernible) -- we came down the next time and got our stuff and got a lap down.
You know these races are so long, I looked at the scoreboard and saw there's a hundred laps to go. And I figure there's got to be another caution at some point and keep ourselves in the position of the lucky draw, and fortunately I was fast enough to be within the lead group of cars and keep myself going by those guys. And when the caution did fall, we were a couple spots ahead and I think at that time it was my brother, so we were able to get back on the lead lap there.

Q. Early in the race you seemed unhappy with Denny in the draft, could you explain that and also how has the team chemistry been affected?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't like that guy. He's trying to start something that shouldn't be started. (Laughter)
I was a little upset when Denny, we were running one, two, three there and Tony was leading and I was second and Denny was third and bump-drafting being a little aggressive and knocked me out of the way and went on to get behind Tony and I had to fall back a few spots.
Luckily I only fell back to 7th or 8th but as far as that went Tony and whatever he does, that's between these guys here and Tony and you know, he's had good offers over the years and he's always stayed.
So I'm great friends with Tony, I'm a great teammate with him and you know I can remain great friends with him if he moves on and I can remain great friends and a teammate with him if he stays here.
You know, fortunately for me I'm in a good spot and where I want to be driving the 18 M&M's Toyota and what the driver of the 11 does or what the driver of the 20 does sometimes out there during the race, sometimes you're not going to be happy with the moves they make but you go on with it, you salvage it and guess what, that's all that matters.

Q. Denny said if you're not a race fan, you don't know what racing is about; he called it the best race of the year; would you agree?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. I'd have to go back and rewatch it. From where I was sitting there was some times where when I was running in a three-car draft, I was bored as hell and I got over that. I got back on the lucky dog, got back on a lead lap -- it was an exciting race. There was times where it got pretty impatient and guys were making bold moves and bump drafting and it got a little crazy but it all worked out. You know, Denny could be right but like I said, I haven't seen it from the fans perspective. I've only seen it from where I was sitting.

Q. Early in the week, you were not excited to be here --
KYLE BUSCH: I wasn't. I wreck every time I come here; so what's there to be excited about except a tore-up race car? But I am now and that's pretty cool.
We were able to bring M&M's their first win of the year; the other one was Snickers, to M&M's their first win of the year and bring Toyota another win to the series and here to Talladega, I think that's pretty cool.
So now they have won on a mile-and-a-half, a short track with Denny and myself and here at Talladega, so they are doing pretty good.

Q. Denny said that you guys probably wouldn't have been too happy with him if he pushed Montoya past the 18, so what is he expected to do here?
JOE GIBBS: I think Kyle will tell you this, we never tell our drivers other than, hey, you've got teammates and we'd like to treat each other as teammates. But certainly towards the end of races, it's every man for himself. And obviously the restrictor plate race, you'd like to be close enough, and I actually felt like Denny was coming hard trying to get there.
I think he would have helped Kyle had it been the case.
The other thing I want to say, big thanks to Abe and Lee and all the guys at Toyota, particularly TRD. I want to make a point to tell all those guys that their hard work out there in a short period of time, it's been a great relationship and we really appreciate it.

Q. At the beginning of the year, everybody is hopeful, and you have a brand new team; what were your expectations? Did you have any idea at all it would work that well at the beginning?
KYLE BUSCH: I hoped that it was going to. I knew that I was getting with a great organization who had been in contention to win championships in all of their years pretty much in racing and with Tony being as good as he is, and with contending for the championships for the past however many years.
And with Denny only being two years in the series, we have only been able to contend and I think with my ability and the cars that these guys have, hopefully it will all work out and the chemistry would be there and it would click and so far it has.
That's just been the greatest satisfaction, being able to come over here to Joe Gibbs Racing, it's just been the chemistry has worked, all the guys, they are great to work with, guys on the team, guys in the shop are very cool and everybody is out for one thing and that's to make Joe Gibbs Racing be No. 1.
Right now so far this year, I'd have to say that we are pretty close. The 99 has been great on the mile-and-a-half stuff, and Hendrick has always had the short track stuff, so we've been right there with them the about a willing it out on the mile-and-a-half stuff and we've been fortunate enough to win one of those so I feel like we're close.

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