Kyle Busch discusses preparation for the Daytona 500

Toyota Motorsports press release

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Brown Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How has Daytona been going for you? "Things went real well Saturday night -- we had a lot of fun -- made some exciting moves. Then yesterday we had a little bit of an issue with the car. It didn't seem to handle quite as I was expecting it to. Didn't quite get good enough practice time with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys in big enough packs to expect the buffering of the air and how the car was driving through traffic and stuff. Didn't quite get a good enough setup yesterday. All in all we had a solid run and ended up seventh so we start 14th -- an improvement from where we actually qualified. We will try to get to the track today and make some more changes -- get our car driving a little bit better and something a little more comfortable."

Did the warm weather yesterday affect the handling of the car? "That doesn't have any effect on the handling of the race car. The cooling certainly is a factor. It seemed like yesterday the bottom lane would be a little more powerful than the top lane would be. Just because the top lane -- you need to be able to push a little bit down the straightaways or get to the guy in front of you a little bit easier without overheating to make the outside lane move. It just seemed so difficult to make the outside lane sustainable with the amount of temperature we were running yesterday. Our car -- we just didn't quite have what we needed with the handling. We were just missing something in the front end. We're working on a bunch of different things today to see if we can't zone in on what it was."

How does Daytona this year compare to previous years for you? "Hard to remember exactly, but there's been a lot of good times that I've had down here in Daytona that I've run really, really strong. There's been some Bud Shootouts that we've been really, really fast in. There's been some Gatorade Duels -- matter of fact in 2009 or '10 I think it was I won a Gatorade Duel. Just in general with the way -- since I've been coming here -- the way the cars have changed and everything, it's a lot different. Back in 2005, 2006 and 2007 with the old cars -- it was a little bit harder to get to guys. You sort of ran single file, you could get the outside lane to move and it seemed like there were times when you could get three, four, five cars hooked up in a lane and it would actually move. With the new car yesterday we saw guys in the outside with five or six of us -- we couldn't ever make the outside lane go forward without pushing each other. We just can't push each other because our temperatures are so high. You can't take a chance of hurting the engine, especially in the (Daytona) 500. You've got to save that thing for everything its worth until you get down towards the end of the race. We've seen too when you get above 270 (degrees) or 280 degrees in temperature that you start losing horsepower. You can definitely feel the car kind of slowing down a little bit on you."

What can you transfer from the Shootout to the Daytona 500? "You can't really transfer much over. Certainly, the circumstances just given the way it all played out kind of happened the way it did -- we certainly saw yesterday different circumstances play out in the first race versus the second race on why the races were won. I think (Greg) Biffle -- when he went up to block and (Matt) Kenseth went down through the middle -- I thought that was pretty cool. It was neat to see. Jimmie (Johnson) blowing water out and everything else. Then coming out of (turn) four or I guess it was down the back some guys got together and kind of bottled up the field a little bit. Then some other guys came around the top so anything can happen. It can be any circumstance coming down to the end of the (Daytona) 500 -- that's what's going to be so exciting about it is that you're not going to know how the race is going to be won. It can be won by single file action, it can be won by a sling shot move like the Budweiser Shootout, it can be won like a Truck race -- three-wide with guys side-drafting off each other coming to the line. You just never know. That's what makes this sport so intriguing and so exciting to all of us. There's no way to predict it."

What was the best comment you received following your performance at the Shootout? "Tough to answer -- so many of them that just were really positive reinforcement to my driving. It's hard to remember all of them exactly. Just a lot of encouragement that it's one of the best they've ever seen, it's something that they've never seen -- some would say that there's few that can do it, but they know that I may be the only one that's ever done it. Just stuff like that. After the race in the Budweiser Shootout, my phone was blowing up with over 100 text messages and 25 emails. I had a long next day getting back to everybody and answering everybody. When you start answering everybody then they start shooting you back other text messages so then you're talking about other stuff so you're stuck on the phone for about four hours. That's the positive of winning."

Is there any way to know how the race might end Sunday? "No, not really. Like I said, it's so unpredictable that you don't know what's going to happen. If I knew what was coming I would certainly plan for it and try to figure out how to make sure that I was the one that made it to the start-finish line first. The thing that you do is you just have to be patient. You have to be patient in the last five laps. You just have to let the race come to you. If you're going to be the one that's granted the satisfaction of winning the race, it's going to come to you. You just have to let it come to you. Sometimes it's your race or your year or whatever and other times it's not. I think that's the biggest thing that some people struggle with -- getting too antsy or getting caught up in accidents. Certainly, we see some of that stuff happen 30 laps out, 25 laps out -- whatever it might be from the end of the race. The reason it happens that far out is that people are trying to position themselves up front and get themselves the track position in case a caution does come out or whatever that you are up front and you do have, I wouldn't say an easier chance of winning, but a more realistic chance of winning. Anything can happen certainly."

Do you notice the cheers and boos from the fans? "A little bit -- you hear it. It's a lot easier to hear it when you don't have your helmet on. I keep my helmet on when I get out of the car in case of unidentified flying objects. I've learned from my past experiences. It's always fun that you get to be able to get out of the car and hear the rants of the crowd whether they be cheers or boos or applause or what have you and get to do your victory bow. That's the greatest satisfaction of winning a race is getting out there and getting that checkered flag."

Do you have a special post-race planned if you win the Daytona 500? "No, I don't. To me, you don't try to plan for something like that because you could end up being like Dale Earnhardt or Darrell Waltrip -- I know it was Dale who went 20 years before he won it. Anybody else, I can't tell you. I know Mark Martin hasn't won it. You don't want to plan for anything thinking that you have a chance to win or thinking that you are going to win. To never be able to use it -- you just have to let it come to you."

What did you think of Matt Kenseth's move in the Duel qualifying race? "That was a total Kyle Busch move for sure -- I take full credit for it. No, he (Matt Kenseth) did great. That's exactly what you expect coming down toward the end of a race and making it exciting. You watch his hands -- you go back and watch the film and watch his hands -- how little his hands moved, but how much his car moved because you knew being pushed by Jimmie (Johnson), he couldn't just crank on the wheel and turn down and go underneath (Greg) Biffle. He was like really trying to guide it and the way he slipped through there -- just barely missing the back of Biffle's car and having Jimmie follow right through there and having Jimmie's car barely miss the front of whoever was back there. I don't remember who it was. It was cool. It was like a hot knife through butter -- it just looked smooth, it looked good."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags joe gibbs, kyle busch, toyota