An interview with: KYLE BUSCH - Winner STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief JOE GIBBS - Owner KERRY THARP: We're going to roll right into our race winning team here at the Food City 500. We're pleased to be joined up at the podium now by our race ...
An interview with:
KYLE BUSCH - Winner
STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief
JOE GIBBS - Owner
KERRY THARP: We're going to roll right into our race winning team here at the Food City 500. We're pleased to be joined up at the podium now by our race winner, Kyle Busch, his crew chief Steve Addington. Joe Gibbs is making his way up here. Congratulations.
Kyle, that 18 car you had running out there was very strong throughout the course of the day. Your pit stops looked flawless. Your thoughts about your performance today.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good day for us. The Snickers Toyota was really fast. We knew it was fast. We knew it was going to be a good racecar coming here from our performance last fall. We fine tuned on it a little bit here and there. We need to work on the qualifying package a little bit.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter where you start here. You have to bide your time, take it easy when you have a car that's good. It was a very satisfying day today. We had a great run there. We really enjoyed it. So hopefully all the Mars family is happy today. Bringing home the Snickers brand to Victory Lane was cool.
KERRY THARP: Steve, how did things look up top the pit box today?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It was really nerve wracking. The 11 car and the 48 car, they had really good racecars. I knew it was going to come down to it. We got behind on that one pit stop there. Made me a little nervous because if you're out front, you can get going. I takes a lot to pass somebody.
But had a good enough racecar to go up there and pass Denny back for second and get back by Jimmie there and get the lead back.
KERRY THARP: Coach Gibbs, got to feel good about the performance of this 18 team and your 11 team, all your other teams. But certainly that 18 team today, very strong.
JOE GIBBS: I was thinking back to we've been pretty strong here for a number of races, but I'm not so sure we even finished in the top 10. Maybe Denny got a sixth or something. We had such a struggle here. This is a tough place to win a race. It's long, a lot of laps, a lot of things can happen. We really appreciate today. I tell you, I guess it gives you a better appreciation for things when it's so hard to win one.
It was a great day for Snickers. Denny was sitting there with FedEx in second. I love that. But it shows you the whole range of emotions. Joey blows up there with eight to go and I was sick. He caused a caution. Now we bunch everything up. Everything's running through your mind. I was extremely nervous there. I feel horrible for Joey, for Home Depot. Wound up being a great day for Kyle, Snickers, and Denny finishing second was great. It was a big day for us.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Coach Gibbs, Kyle and Steve.
Q: Kyle, your phenomenal success in the last two years winning a lot of races, people are starting to compare you to Earnhardt the Elder, your style, the way you drive, very aggressive, very up front. Have you noticed as you continue to win more you're picking up more fans? Is it reflected in your souvenir sales, the reactions you get? How important is that to you?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I haven't really paid attention a whole lot to the souvenir sales and stuff. I really don't care about that stuff. I'm not out there to be No. 1. We all know who No. 1 is and forever will be.
To me, I go out there to win races, to be No. 1 on the racetrack. That's where I feel like I win, where my benefit is. You know, to go out there and to have Steve Addington and Joe Gibbs, Mars Company, everybody that works so hard to make this program happen is what it all boils down to.
For me, I don't think I would enjoy having the most fans out there. I actually like the way I am, the role I portray. And I think that there's probably too much pressure on one guy's shoulders who doesn't seem to win very often. But for us, it's a blast to go out there and do what we do. Today the Snickers Toyota was good enough.
Q: Kyle, with what happened here last August, with you having a dominant racecar, then what happened yesterday, what was going through your mind with 50 laps to go? Any thought that anything could happen?
KYLE BUSCH: There definitely is. Especially when we were gaining on all those lap cars with like 30 to go. You never know if a lap car's gonna turn another lap car and spin in front of you and you're going to T bone the guy or whatever. You never know what's gonna happen. That's what so tricky about this racetrack. That's what makes it so fun when you do win here, you know all the things that can happen.
We had a good racecar today. When we got behind on pit road there, we drove back up through, like Steve said, we passed Denny after a few laps, then we passed Jimmie when he got in traffic a little bit. Traffic was just real tough. Everyone runs equal side by side, it's so hard to get by guys.
Yesterday was yesterday. We put that behind us. Yeah, it was very frustrating. It's one you'll never get back. It's lost, gone. The trophy is not at my house. It's at Harvick's. We looked forward to today. Everybody put their job from yesterday behind them but thought about how to make today better and not have those same mistakes happen again.
Q: Steve, is there any carryover from yesterday's guys to today's guys, the crew guys?
STEVE ADDINGTON: The tire changers and one carrier. I think that's it.
KYLE BUSCH: I think the jack man and the rear carrier are different. The fuel guys are different.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Fuel guys are different. It's just the tire changers and one tire carrier that works on the Nationwide side.
Q: Jimmie and Denny were saying first guy off pit road is probably the guy who is going to win off that last pit stop. Any irony in yesterday you lost it on pit road, today you win it?
KYLE BUSCH: I told the guys, they knew about it. The second to last stop when we went from second to Denny, we went from second to third, I told the ladies to man up, get the job done on the last stop, which they did. I'm proud of 'em for doing that. When the time mattered most, they got the job done.
You'll have those days. You'll have some days where the guys on pit road just have an off day. I have off days. I wrecked in Vegas for no reason 25 laps into the Nationwide race. Yesterday was one of those days and it cost us a chance at a win. Today was a good day today where everybody did their job and the last stop was smooth. It's what made it happen.
Q: (Question regarding the problems in last year's race.)
KYLE BUSCH: It was a teammate behind me, so I was hoping he was going to be good, not get into me anything like that, what happened last year.
I've got full belief in Denny, trust him. So it was a great race for us. If it came down to it the reverse way, if I couldn't get by him clean, I wouldn't try too hard to make it worse for the both of us.
So that's how it always was at Hendrick. That's how it always should be with teammates. Fortunately he let us have this one today. He'll have many more down the road hopefully. I feel like next week he's probably better than we are at Martinsville. We did a lot of work to try to work on that package to make Martinsville better for us. Hopefully we look a little smarter when we get there this time around.
Q: Kyle, I hear what you're saying telling them to man up about yesterday, coming to today. Do you have to smooth things over with them at all after the way yesterday ended, a lot of frustration? Do you have to go back to them before the race and say, It's cool, let's move on?
KYLE BUSCH: No, we don't talk about that. If they don't know that, they don't need to be working for me. These guys are great. They appreciate what I do behind the wheel. I appreciate what they do on pit road. That's a given in any team. Those guys should hang their head for that night, but then wake up the next morning rejuvenated and ready to go and should have thought about all the stuff that happened yesterday yesterday and not worry about that today and let it get to them today.
There's ways to get better in this sport, and the only way to do that is to jump back out there. It's basically, you know, reviewing your fear. You just get back out there and do it over again.
Q: Steve, can I get your take on the brashness there that Kyle is saying. Typically when a driver is that critical, that can cause trouble. It seems like your team feeds off of it a little bit. Does your crew just want to win for Kyle no matter what he says because they know he's so talented?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Yeah, I mean, I talk to them. I get frustrated for the car not handling good. You have to have tough skin in this business or you need to be doing something else. You have to take constructive criticism and work hard at it. He does an awesome job in that racecar. I know that he's out there trying to win. And he just wants us to be that way. That's the way we all look at it.
I talked to them this morning. Everything was fine. They understood it. They weren't happy about it either. I mean, they want to win just as bad as Kyle does and as much as I do.
I think for the organization, you know, they wanted to win yesterday just like they wanted to win today. So they had a mistake on pit road. It was on the last stop, and it cost them. Today they stepped up to the plate and made it happen on the last stop. So they understand that. They understand what's going on. That's why it works with this 18 car.
JOE GIBBS: I'll jump in there to say that Kyle does a great job around the shop at different times coming by, buying lunch, things like that. I think our guys really appreciate him. They appreciate the way he races. I think he also realizes we have a very talented pit crew there. These guys are pretty dad gum good. It's a total team thing. I think Kyle does a good job of picking the guys up at times, too. Hey, I think that's his personality and I think Steve's used to dealing with it. I think that's the way he is.
Q: Kyle, two years ago when you won here your quote was, regarding the COT, They suck. How has your opinion changed since you've won so many races since then?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's the racecar of today and we're racing it. It's come a long ways. It's better. But it's still not one of my favorite cars to drive.
So, you know, I still would rather enjoy racing the Nationwide cars or the trucks or something like that. They seem to drive better. They're a little easier to drive, they're more forgiving. These things, I think they're more on edge sometimes. So it makes it a little bit harder. That's what I mean, yeah, my comments then were pretty harsh. I made a deal with my crew chief if we won the race, I'd say those things. Unfortunately, I did. I got the wrath of it. He didn't get any.
You know, that was then, this is now. Glad we could win again at Bristol. I think it's three years in a row I've won here, which is pretty cool. I think maybe four. 2006, I don't think I won here. Not sure about that. But anyways, good day.
Q: Steve and Coach, there's a lot of good racecar drivers in Cup. You have people comparing him to Earnhardt. That's crazy. No offense, but that's Earnhardt. What separates him from everybody else?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Young and a ton of talent. I mean, that's it. Kyle Busch is not Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Kyle Busch is Kyle Busch. He gets along with his race team. He takes cares of his guys. He does a lot for this race team that you guys don't see all the time. He's just got a ton of talent. He communicates well back to what the car's doing, what it needs. There's times when he gives his opinion on things, and it just helps us as a race team.
So, I mean, I don't like the comparison. I think that he's his own person in his own time and winning races. So I think we should all just enjoy it.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think it's extremely hard to compare. I have athletes, they used to walk up to me in football, This guy is better than his brother. I really think that Kyle is his own man. And I think what's always separated guys, the great athletes, for me anyway, a lot of guys want to do this, they work very hard, they get to a certain point, but then a few are gifted. And I think Kyle's gifted.
Now, as far as the comparisons and stuff, I think that's extremely hard to make. I don't think that's really fair to even be comparing him to some of those guys. I think he's his own man, own talent.
I would say this. For me personally, it's very humbling for me to be in a sport like this, realizing that it takes a total team effort. And I think Kyle would be the first to say this. I can definitely tell you, this is a team sport. We talked about our guys going over the wall. We talked about Steve. We talked about the hours of hard work. Our motor room, everybody back at the shop. For me personally, I know how hard this is. It took us nine years in this sport to win a championship. It's extremely hard. I think that's the reason why I know we cherish each one of these.
Kyle's been on fire here the last two years. It's extremely hard to win one of these races. It's a humbling experience for me. I want to say it's a total team effort for us.
The one thing about pro sports I've kind of found is as soon as you start thinking you kind of got it made, you're going to get a knuckle sandwich. That's pretty much the way I look at it. I like to stay humble and hungry. I just say I really appreciate a victory like this. This is a hard place to win one.
Continued in part 2