Atlanta: Winning team press conference, part 1

An interview with: KYLE BUSCH JOE GIBBS J.D. GIBBS STEVE ADDINGTON THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Busch. Congratulations, Kyle. A great performance out there today. Talk about it. KYLE BUSCH: Well, it was a battle out there, that's for...

An interview with:
KYLE BUSCH
JOE GIBBS
J.D. GIBBS
STEVE ADDINGTON

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Busch. Congratulations, Kyle. A great performance out there today. Talk about it.

KYLE BUSCH: Well, it was a battle out there, that's for sure. You know, those cars were pretty tough to drive. But overall we had a pretty good car in practice yesterday where we felt okay about it today. And then the track seemed to warm up just a little bit, and that gave us a little less grip for today.

But overall we just kept working on it, kept trying to make it better. We battled a little bit tight, a little bit loose, then a little bit loose, a little bit tight. Kind of all over the board there somewhat. Scraped the wall getting into one one time. Ended up bending the rear end or twisting the rear end just a little bit.

You know, that definitely didn't help the handling of the racecar any, and actually hurt us a little bit. Just made me so loose getting in and so loose up off the corner, we had to tighten it up. When we did that it tightened up the center of the corner, too. Couldn't ever get the center of the corner to cooperate with us.

Just babying it around the bottom of the racetrack was what I had to do all day. If I missed it, it just slowed us down so much that those guys behind us would close up. I just had to make sure I hit my marks, was smooth and slow and ran around the bottom.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for our winning driver Kyle Busch.

Q: You won the first Car of Tomorrow race last year. You won the first Toyota race. We have the Car of Tomorrow. You've been called the driver of tomorrow before. You're the driver of now. Can you talk about the impact of being the first to accomplish these two milestones?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, it means a lot to be able to go out and win any race anytime, but especially here at Atlanta. This place has been such a struggle for me. I haven't had a top 10 finish here. I remember the years of watching Bobby Labonte race around this place, kicking everybody's butt. Sort of reminded me a little bit about it today to be able to race like that, run like that, bring that 18 car back up front, run here the way it used to and the way it should.

As far as all that goes, just being able to work with all these guys, that's what helps me run up front like the way I have. It's not necessarily the car or the Car of Tomorrow or whatever it is, you know, it's just about being be comfortable, you know, for me being able to drive anything at the pace that I need to be able to drive it at. And having Steve, the engineer, all these guys being able to give me what I need in order to drive it faster is all I care about.

Q: Kyle, I don't think it's going too far to say that the way you started off the season and the attention to the way you've been driving is changing the game for other drivers. There's a lot of talk about how you're up on the wheel and maybe some other guys are going to have to match that effort. Do you feel that or are you just doing your deal?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, I'm just doing my deal. I mean, everybody's always said that I've been the aggressive driver, you know, used to cause wrecks, used to be out of control, this and that. I don't feel I'm driving any different than what I used to. I've sort of tamed my style, per se. Now it looks like I'm a professional at it or something.

But, you know, it seems to be working to my advantage right now, so that's all that matters, and being able to go out there and win races. But, you know, for other drivers to have to ante up or step up, I'm not so sure that it's them. I think it's a lot with the car. You know, Carl Edwards had the best car here today by far again. And whatever those guys have got over there that's figured out is really scaring us 'cause, you know, the 16 doesn't show it, the 17 doesn't show it, the 26 doesn't show it, but for some reason that 99 does. Whether it's him driving that thing or whether is the car, it's definitely something that we've got to work on.

THE MODERATOR: Let's also now hear from winning crew chief Steve Addington. I believe this is your first career victory as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief.

STEVE ADDINGTON: Yes, it is.

THE MODERATOR: How does it feel?

STEVE ADDINGTON: It feels great. I'm excited for my guys. I mean, they've went through a lot the past three years. Getting Kyle on board, give those guys their first win, that was an awesome feeling today.

THE MODERATOR: We're also going to call up team president J.D. Gibbs and Joe Gibbs. Congratulations.

KYLE BUSCH: Come on, owner, let's go.

THE MODERATOR: Let's here from Coach Gibbs, then we'll hear from J.D. Your thoughts about the win out there, Toyota's first in the Sprint Cup Series? You got to feel great about that?

JOE GIBBS: There were a lot of firsts there. For us, you know, we started out the year, there were so many changes, so many things, so many firsts. First of all, just really appreciate Kyle.

I wanted to say, Kyle, the decision, we all talked it over, we always do things together. We go to Tony and Tony said, I'd go get Kyle. We went to Denny, Denny said, I'd go get Kyle. As we talked it over, Jimmy and everybody else, we decided we better go get Kyle. We appreciate that. We appreciate him. That was the first course with us. Really appreciate everything he's done there for Mars and M&M's and Snickers. I think that's going to be a great relationship. So that was a first.

First for Kyle, first for Mars, and then of course first for Toyota. So for all of us, I think we were all apprehensive. We started the year, there was a huge amount of change, everything we had to go through. So we really appreciate the way everybody worked and hunkered up.

The other thing I want to say, Steve Addington, that 18 car, they've been through some, you know, real tough hard couple of years. I really appreciate those guys hanging tough, too.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach. J.D. your thoughts?

J.D. GIBBS: What's special about this for us, the 18 car, that's our first car we've ever had, that's our baby, 17 years racing the 18 car. We had so much success a few years ago. To come back now after a few down years, to come back and be this strong consistently week in, week out, I think Steve was joking, he didn't know whether to hug me or punch me, it took me so long to get Kyle on board. I said, it came out of your bonus to pay for Kyle's, so don't get too excited about it (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.

JOE GIBBS: Can I say one thing about Norm. Norm Miller is not here, our buddy. He's the founding sponsor for our race team. We wouldn't be in racing if it wasn't for him. He's the 18 guy. We really appreciate him. We miss him here today.

But we appreciate him getting us started in racing. I always said, Norm got dumb enough. We had no car, no driver, no nothing, and Norm said, I want to do this.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for this championship team.

Q: Kyle, given how you started this season and other series and everything, is what happened today pretty much when you thought it would happen, even with your record here at the track, the way the car was running, things like that? Did you pretty much figure you could win today?

KYLE BUSCH: No, you never know for sure if you can win a race.

You know, yesterday we were pretty decent. Here today, I've run well here in the past and have been able to run up front and lead laps and be competitive. Then you come down pit road and you have a pit road issue or you make an adjustment on the car and the car completely goes the opposite way and stuff like that.

You're never sure if you're going to be able to win the thing until the last lap falls and you cross the start/finish line with the checkered.

Q: Just talk about your feel in this car. Tony was saying you like the car kind of loose. How have you adapted to it?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, it was plowing today. We kept trying to make changes, kept trying to make it better. But, you know, I scraped the fence in turn one, like I said. That sort of towed the rear end out, did something to it weird, where it made it really loose in, really loose off. Steve had to make some adjustments to it in order to fix those, which made it tight again in the center. It is just a car you're getting to go around the racetrack the fastest. Whoever can make it go through the corner the best is going to be the guy that's going to be able to win the race.

We didn't have the car that was able to go through the corner the best, but we had the longevity in the car that was able to make it 500 miles.

Q: Kyle, we all kind of gasped second or third to last lap when you were under Dale Jarrett there making that dicey move on a lapped car. What went into planning to make the move on the bottom?

KYLE BUSCH: He was holding the bottom pretty well, was slowing me down a tremendous amount because I needed some clean air on the nose of my car to help it turn. I was getting a little bit tight. He was holding the bottom so good, I just couldn't get a good run through the corner to ever get underneath him on the straightaway or anything.

So finally I just drove up there into the corner underneath him and tried to make him get loose and get out of the way. I mean, I don't know how many laps down at that point, but I know he wasn't on a lead lap. We're fighting for the win. I didn't know how close those guys were behind me. I hadn't looked in my rearview mirror. I was focused up front trying to get as many positions as I could. I couldn't go around the topside of him. I tried going to the top and got so loose I about spun out one corner. So I said, I'm not going to do that again and risk it.

I just had to stay glued to the bottom of the racetrack. I was either going to move him out of the way or he was going to get out of the way.

Q: Your teammate was very outspoken about how bad the tires were out there today. He said you kind of used that to your advantage because you can handle a very loose car. Can you talk about the tires, whether you liked them, didn't like it, how it made the car handle?

KYLE BUSCH: I'm going to say that I didn't like them. But, you know, I just went out there and we all had the same tire. They're going to pay somebody to win the race. And so that's what I focused on, was just trying to go out there and be the one that they were going to pay to win the race. I just drove the thing to the best my ability.

And Steve, he worked on it with me trying to make it better all day long, make the thing where it would get some grip out of it. In the beginning of the runs, I mean, we had some great grip in the thing. You can go the first four or five laps and really haul the mail maybe the first two anyway. But then from there, I mean, you were just skating, sliding all over the place. You just had to be patient with it and slow it down, get it on the bottom and just pretty much keep that left front right on that line and keep the thing turning in order to make it through the corner the quickest.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Busch