Bristol: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 KYLE, WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOU MIND DURING YOUR PASS OF HAMLIN FOR THE LEAD? KYLE BUSCH: "Coming out of turn four down the front straightaway there I saw the in the middle of turns one and two, the No. 48 car was having...

Continued from part 1

KYLE, WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOU MIND DURING YOUR PASS OF HAMLIN FOR THE LEAD?

KYLE BUSCH: "Coming out of turn four down the front straightaway there I saw the in the middle of turns one and two, the No. 48 car was having a little bit of trouble there. I don't know what happened to him; I'm not sure if it was a flat tire or what. I knew that there was going to be some jumbling up going down the back straightaway so I just kept looking out my windshield as far as I could see. I saw Denny looking low off of turn two and I saw that Jimmie was trying to get down low and I saw some other slow cars down there so I just stuck it on the top and kept my foot in it. I was able to clear him and get by him and got through turns three and four and then the caution came out. Just being on top of the wheel as well as looking far enough ahead just made me get through there. That probably gave us the win, of course, being able to get up front like that."

KYLE, YOU SAID THIS CAR IS HARDER TO DRIVE. HOW MIGHT THIS FORCE YOU TO CHANGE AS A DRIVER?

KYLE BUSCH: "It's harder to tune which makes it harder to drive. Because you're telling the crew chief this and you're telling him that and we can't fix it. We've tried everything. And any time you try to help the center you kill the entry and exit. You want to get the car to turn through the center of the corner then it's spinning out getting in and coming off the corners. Any time we fix the entry and the exit now I'm plowing through the center again. It's just so hard to tune. That's what made it hard to drive. Because you're searching all over the place and you can't find anything - nothing works. So you're just sitting there struggling with the thing. I just go off into the corner today, when I had it good on entry, I just go off into the corner and full-lock left the thing and judge my turning ability by how fast I needed to go through the corner. If it was turning good then I'd speed up a little bit. If it wasn't I'd slow down a little bit. You just hold the wheel full-lock. It's not very fun. There's no maneuverability with the thing. That's my take."

ALAN, HOW HARD WAS IT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE CAR WANTED SINCE YOU HADN'T YET GONE THROUGH A RACE WITH IT?

ALAN GUSTAFSTON: "I think to answer that question correctly you've got to step back a little bit. We don't have the ability to get these cars into the race track like we used to. They don't make as much downforce, the suspension configurations limit us, the spring rules, the splitter travel limit us as to what we can do so what happens is drivers, by nature, want to drive their cars very hard. That's what they're paid to do. They want to go fast. With this car, that's not the way it is. You have to be smooth and very consistent to be fast. I think that's where Kyle's frustration comes and as for me tuning it, it will change. You can definitely over-drive the car and things will happen. We all want that pie in the sky - we want it to handle perfect. I want it to be perfect for Kyle when he's driving 100%. Unfortunately we weren't able to achieve that so that makes it tough to tune. As far as the adjustments in tire pressures, wedge, track bars; that's all physics. It still works the same way, it just works to a lesser extent because these cars don't have the same grip."

KYLE, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW LOOK?

KYLE BUSCH: "Whatever (laughs). Rick hasn't told me to cut it off yet so I'm alright, I guess - so far. As long as I keep acting nice and doing the right thing."

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR ON HOW TO RACE OTHER DRIVERS?

KYLE BUSCH: "It's just getting time and spending time with everybody. There in New York when we did the top 10 stuff in September, I got to get around those guys a little bit more and we all have some of the same interests. You're so busy all the time that you just want to go home and sit on the couch. So you don't really get together much. You race these guys every week. When I raced growing up, I'd race it for a year and then jump to the next division. So I got to the Busch Series and I won races and then I left. I got to the Cup Series and that's where you stay. This is it. You're done. You're at the top. You're done moving up. So I came in trying to win races and roughing people up and moving them out of the way. And I thought about it and I thought, I've got to race these guys for the next 15 or 20 years. It's going to be a while. So, I decided to step back a little and try to make some friends and try to gain some ground on being allies with everybody and not having many enemies."

ON THE COMEBACK OF THE NO. 24 TEAM TODAY AND WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR DRIVERS WHEN THEY ARE RUNNING ONE-TWO

RICK HENDRICK: "I'm really proud of Stevie (Letarte, crew chief) and Jeff (Gordon) because t one point, Jeff (Gordon) was probably the worst car on the track and really struggling. You see a guy that's so good here have that problem, you know there is some kind of problem. You know there is something wrong. But they didn't give up. I was really proud of their effort. Anymore when you have multi-car team, you have a lot of information. I was proud all three drivers came to victory lane today. If Kyle and Jeff had had a problem at the end of the race and crashed, it would be a real problem for Stevie and Alan to work together next week. We want to beat the other 40 cars that are out there. It's hard. You've got smart guys that work together. I've been in a situation where my two teams are fighting on pit road and trying to drive back to the airport in a van and trying to keep from getting hit in the middle. I don't enjoy that. But I don't expect the guys not to race, either. There is a way to race them clean. I mentioned to Kyle and to Jeff on the radio to think about the big picture and they did and there wasn't any problem."

IF NASCAR CAN TURN THE NEW CAR INTO ONE THAT CAN RUN ON EVERY STYLE OF TRACK ON THE CIRCUIT, WHAT FINANCIAL RELIEF WILL THAT PROVIDE?

RICK HENDRICK: "We'll see how that turns out. I know NASCAR is concerned. They want a good show. The fans want a good show. They want people to race. We've been doing this a long time and we've adapted. We added rear windows to Monte Carlos when they didn't have downforce. NASCAR would come up with rules changes to make the cars more competitive. And they work with the crew chiefs to try to find the fix for things. So I'm confident that NASCAR is not going to let the car be a problem with the show. There are a lot of smart people with all these teams. NASCAR is going to keep working with these guys. Once you say you're going to run it, now we've got to fix it. We've got to make it what it needs to be. You're not going to do that the first race out of the box. They're going to try to stick to the plan to keep the costs down and the car safe. It's also got to be competitive. Everybody will work together. We're all in this together and we've got a lot of work to do. But I think we'll get it done."

WAS THERE ANY TIME THIS WEEKEND WHERE YOU WERE ABLE TO ADJUST OR FIX A PROBLEM WITH THIS CAR THAT YOU WEREN'T ABLE TO DO IN THE PAST? IF NASCAR TAKES YOUR CAR BACK TO THE R&D CENTER, WHAT WILL THAT DO TO YOUR FLEET?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: "Our fleet is two cars and they're both in our trailer. So I hope they don't take this car or we're going to be one short at Martinsville. We need this for our back-up. As everybody has done, we've struggled learning this race car. We have less tools to work on and less tools to adjust with. During the history of Hendrick Motorsports and the eight years I've been there were all the engines and tools we've used to go fast. They've kind of gone away a little bit and we've got to reevaluate what we do. During the course of the weekend, we were constantly learning. I felt like I was in school there for a while - just trying to figure out what we need. Kyle did a great job in adjusting his driving style in what he has to do in those cars. Our engineering staff at Hendrick Motorsports did a great job to give us the tools, but it's harder because there is not as much you can do. You're more boxed in the corner and we're still paid by Mr. Hendrick to get an advantage so we've got to work that much harder to get an advantage. Our guys at Hendrick Motorsports and all the guys on the No. 5 Carquest/Kellogg's Chevrolet deserve the credit because after 500 laps, we were the best. We were the team who adapted to the new car the best. Kyle adapted to the race track and the new car the best. We got the trophy and I'm real proud of that."

IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR CAR THAT THE NEW RACE CAR REMINDS YOU OF?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: "No, I haven't ever driven anything that I haven't been able to work on or fix or anything like that. Legends cars you can fix -- Late Models, Dirt Modifieds, Pavement Modifieds - everything I've been able to work on. You're in a box. The tools you have are limited. There are rules, but you can get around some stuff. With this thing, they want everybody to be equal. They want parity. They want the Michael Waltrips to be able to win races. It's going to take time to develop it and research it."

YOU SEEM LIKE A MOST UNHAPPY WINNER. IS THERE ANY PRIDE TO BEING THE FIRST WINNER OF A COT RACE?

KYLE BUSCH: "I'm very proud of out whole team and that we were able to pull through and get the job done. But it wasn't easy for us or for anybody else. Everybody has had to build these things. Everybody has worked their hearts out but we were able to prevail today. I'm glad we were able to get the victory today. Hey, I'm a happy winner. I'm the happiest I've been in a while because of all my Busch Series races and being so close and having stuff happen. It wasn't a fun day. Yesterday was a fun day. I had fun racing those cars. But I just didn't have fun racing this thing today."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BRISTOL THAT WORKS FOR YOU?

KYLE BUSCH: "It's a fun place to race. It's a great place. It's hard to get a ticket here. It's sold out for years. I don't know what it is about this place that makes Kurt (Busch) or I run good here. I've had three third place finishes in the Busch Series. One second-place finish in the Cup Series and I won here today, so I've had some more recent success than I've had in the past just getting accustomed to everything. But that's all out the window now because they're tearing this place up as soon as everybody leaves."

ON THE 200 WINS FOR RICK HENDRICK AND 600 WINS FOR CHEVROLET:

ALAN GUSTAFSON: "On the Hendrick wins, all that goes to Rick Hendrick. He's a great individual - not only a great boss. He's the best owner. He's the best person to work for. When you work for a guy like him who gives you all the tools and all the opportunities. It's great. He believed in me when I was nobody. He deserves all the credit for the 150 wins and for the 200 wins.

And Chevrolet is obviously a great partner of ours. They've supported us through thick and thin. They supported us in 2000 when we were pretty bad and won maybe two or three races that year. They've always been there. For them to get 600 means a lot. We're real proud of the fact that we were able to give that to Chevrolet in the new Impala SS, which is great. I know that's important to them because they need to sell cars on Monday. I'm real happy and proud to be affiliated with them."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip
Teams Hendrick Motorsports