NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coca-Cola 600
Topics: Coca-Cola 600
May 27, 2012
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post race press conference for tonight's Coca‑Cola 600. Our third‑place finisher Kyle Busch.
Kyle, certainly had an up‑front car all night, 600 miles. Talk about how things went for you from your perspective.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I felt like we were really good. Certain small adjustments can mean so much in this game these days. The M&M guys, Dave Rogers, did an awesome job giving me a really good racecar. Didn't quite have enough near the end.
Got behind in one of the pit stops tonight, and there when we took two tires, got a little bit behind with our adjustment and tightening up the car too much for the two tires. We fell back, got ourselves too separated from the front guys.
That last pit stop, the guys were on it. They put out a really good stop, got us all the way up to fourth, then I passed Biffle for third.
Overall, strong night, continues our running of good, strong finishes. To solidify yourself in the Chase, it's easier to get wins. We'd certainly love that.
We'll take this. It's a learning day. Good car for notes that we can transfer into the fall here.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Kyle Busch.
Q. You know what it's like when you go to another organization, get that first win, how much you want to do that for the new team owner. What do you think this means to Kasey?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm sure it means a lot because anytime you go to a new organization, the pressure's always on that you need to perform and you need to win.
It's awesome that it came in this race. The Coca‑Cola 600 is such a cool race. Rick has won this race plenty of times, he has plenty of rings, doesn't need anymore. It's cool that Kasey was able to do a nice job for him.
I wish Denny or I could have gotten the win. If there's anybody else to beat us, Kasey deserves it. Pressure is off at Hendrick Motorsports. Might be tougher to get out there and rattle off some good finishes.
Q. Kyle, if you look at the full 400 laps, was your car much better, better prepared, for the time during the day than it was for later in the evening or were you pretty consistent all the way through?
KYLE BUSCH: I felt like we were pretty consistent all the way through. If I had to better judge it or say if we were better day or night, I'd say day. Our car was pretty fast and did have enough grip in it during the sunshine that we were coming up through there pretty well.
First three runs of the race, we kept picking it off on the racetrack and pit road. We got all the way up to fourth with no help after starting 21st. Pretty good. Pretty good car and pit stops during the day. That was really a good effort for us.
Having ourselves in contention early enough in the race, we were just trying to keep up with the racetrack on what changes needed to be made there.
KERRY THARP: We'll hear from Denny Hamlin. Second‑place finish tonight for Denny, his best showing in his career here.
Denny, outstanding showing out there this evening. Continue to move up in the points standings. Talk about your run out there.
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a solid car. During the day when Kyle was leading, our car wasn't as good. We just hung around 8th to 10th, fought a really tight condition. I don't know how many string rubbers we adjusted on the car during the race, but it was a ton.
As the track cooled off, it freed up for us, the car got better. Ultimately, it gave us a shot to win.
When we didn't take tires, we stayed out right there, Kasey got around us with tires. I knew I had to stay close to him, then try to short pit to minimize the distance for the last run. But ultimately we were going to short pit them, but they short pitted us.
The first 10 laps of the last run, we got to them, but we wore our front tires trying to get around them.
Proud day for our FedEx team. Everything was executed great today, the pit calls, getting on and off pit road, the pit crew themselves. We had a very, very solid day.
KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.
Q. Denny, you just made a statement that infers that the driving style between you and your teammate are significantly different because you talked about how much change you had to make for your team. How close are you as to how you race and how your cars are set up?
DENNY HAMLIN: It really depends on the racetrack. On the racetracks I'm really bad at, where Kyle is good, Dover, places like Charlotte, I'll rely on his data quite a bit.
But I have a different style than what he does. He makes what he does work and I make what I do work. We adjust our cars around that style.
So in essence, our cars are close. Really we could get in each other's cars and be competitive. But each driver grows up racing a certain way and driving a certain way. It's hard to break those habits.
Q. This was the fastest Coca‑Cola 600 in 51 runnings of the race. Does it feel any faster from inside the car when that happens? Fewer number of cautions also. Remarkably clean race. Any reason why that seems to be occurring?
DENNY HAMLIN: Everybody is trying to make last call (laughter).
Q. Can I get any more insight than that?
KYLE BUSCH: That's pretty good, but is there any more to that (laughter)?
I mean, it's due to you got the best drivers in the world out there each and every weekend. We all feel like we know what we're doing. We don't have to run over each other anymore to pass. That's why it's a good, clean race.
Typically these cars have to be a little bit tighter. It's not as easy to go into the corner and back one in like it used to be with the old car, aerodynamics, stuff like that.
It's a good, clean race. You have 43 of the best guys out there doing it every single weekend. You know, I think that's just a matter of it. But also it's nice to get out of here early, I guess, like Denny said.
DENNY HAMLIN: I think everyone is so used to these cars now. I think at the beginning, these cars were a tremendous handful to drive. Obviously we saw some wrecks because of it, especially on restarts.
Bottom line, I think everyone is so concerned with points nowadays, you know if you wreck and you finish in the 30s, you're going to take 10 races to get that back. I think everyone's just a little bit more patient on restarts, as crazy as that sounds. It's just not as wild on restarts as it used to be a couple years ago. Everyone is minding their Ps and Qs, trying to get the best finish out of their day, knowing the one thing you can't overcome in a race is a crash.
Q. Denny, there seemed to be a while, maybe it was 30, 40 laps, where you seemed to be able to close the gap, then he started increasing the lead. At what point did you say, No matter what I do, this is a lost cause?
DENNY HAMLIN: When we got about 15 to go, I told the guys, I gave it all I had. I knew I wore the front tires out trying to get to him. You try to do the best with tire management that you have.
Our only shot, because we had gone really tight at the end of every run, was to just use it all up at the beginning, try to get around him, then hold him off with track position at the end.
I don't think I could have executed it any differently with any other outcome. I had to take advantage of the one advantage I did have all day, that was five, six laps after a restart.
Q. When this race first started, the two drivers for Richard Petty Motorsports looked extremely strong in what they were doing. When you see something like that, does that add two more guys into your mind that are becoming more and more competitive?
DENNY HAMLIN: It depends. You could put a lot of cars up front and they'll run there for quite a long time. Track position means so much in our sport now, you run around the pace of the guys around you. That's all you can do. Once they held their track position, they honestly made some good moves. Qualifying really well helps your cause. When you don't have a great car, if you qualify well, you can hold the front for a while. Eventually the better setup cars, things like that, will come to the front.
So those two in particular have taken strides. Marcos has really in the last two years turned himself into a good oval track racer, and Aric with Mike coming on, we've seen they're going to be successful.
They don't change the way we execute a weekend. When we look at speeds every weekend, see what we need to win, we're concerned about getting the speed out of our cars and not worrying about competition.
Q. Denny, you won Kansas. Now you both finish second and third here on a mile‑and‑a‑half track. Looking ahead, these type of tracks are part of the big picture. Does this give you confidence that Gibbs Racing is on it?
KYLE BUSCH: I think for Charlotte it is pretty good. Texas is in the Chase, Kansas is going to be completely redone. Denny runs really good at Homestead. He likes that place. We've got some work to do.
I don't think it's necessarily a fact that we're going to run good at the mile‑and‑a‑half's. We have some work to do and have to keep ourselves in position each and every week.
Q. Denny, I know you talk about the points being an issue, you get in a wreck, it takes you a long time to get back. Why is it such a bigger deal this year? It's the same points system as last year. Why are people talking about this now when I don't really recall this being as much of an issue last year?
DENNY HAMLIN: I think that some people got hurt by crashes early on in the year last year and they weren't able to recover simply because these races are going green, there's not as many wrecks.
It used to be that in the Chase, you knew you always had a mulligan, everyone was going to have a bad race. I don't know if you can do that nowadays. There aren't any wrecks, you have to count on someone really blowing up to have a bad day. That's really the only thing that can take someone out of the running.
I don't know. I think everyone just recognizes the points system and sees how it works. Second year on it. We know you finish in the 30s, it's almost like not even showing up. Five points, that's not much.
Q. Do you agree with that, Kyle?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I agree with it. I think it's what he said. We may not have seen it as much because we've grown into recognizing it more and more as weeks have gone on. But also as racecar drivers, you see what Denny is saying about the points. You get caught up in a wreck or something happens to you, it can take you 10 weeks to make it back up, if you make it back up.
Q. The three of you at Joe Gibbs are dominant in the Nationwide Series. When you come over to Cup, Joey doesn't seem to be able to keep up. What is holding him back in the Cup Series? Do you have any idea, any advice for him?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, we work awful hard together, Denny, myself and Joey in team meetings every single week. Joey asks a lot of questions. He's a very bright individual and a good racecar driver. Can do it on the Nationwide side. Showed potential a couple years ago on the Cup side, had some strong runs, but hasn't been able to put it together.
I think he lost a little bit of confidence last year, crew chief, what have you. I think Jason being onboard now has helped that a little bit. Maybe Jason is still learning the cars a little bit.
Joey and Jason may be learning each other a little bit. I talked to Jason at the shop. He's like, Man, his feedback is so much different than yours. Jason and I, we worked really well together. It was seamless, the time it took for us to get working together well. He's trying to figure out exactly what Joey means when he says stuff.
KERRY THARP: Kyle, Denny, thank you for a great effort here at Charlotte.
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