KYLE BUSCH, No.18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are you looking forward to heading into Sunday's race? "It's definitely a unique week and a unique offseason of what we've been working on and what we've been trying to concentrate on in getting ready for Daytona. That was all about how long could we push and how long could we do this and what could we do to this. NASCAR has kind of made some rule changes -- I think for the better. I think we want to see the packs of cars rather than just two cars or four cars or something like that coming to the end of the race. Not putting on a good finish or a great finish. To me, it's more about the fans and seeing the cars all packed up -- stacked up all on top of each other. It's more nerve-wracking for us drivers sometimes, but it's also a better race when we can do that stuff too. It's more of a chess match rather than more of trying to find somebody's car that your car works well with or vice versa."
Are you planning to run in today's practice session? "Today we're sitting out today's practice completely. We're working on the car and doing our engine change and making sure everything it up to spec and tuned up for the 500. We'll probably just go out for practice a little bit tomorrow just to make sure the engine runs -- it runs on all eight cylinders and the spark plugs are good. That's about it. We'll get out there probably with one of our teammates most likely and push them around for a few laps and call it a day. It is what it is. There's nothing you're going to learn or be gained. We've already done this now for a few weeks. I don't see the need in running laps on your motors and stuff like that."
What is the auction taking place for the Kyle Busch Foundation? "Things have really been going well there this year. So far, we're not that far into the year, but we're doing some auction items right now on the KyleBuschFoudation.org and we're giving away suite passes to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for all three days -- Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We also did the truck raffle at the end of last year that did really well for us. We gave away a Tundra and a nice man, Jonathon out of Ohio won that and he was pretty pumped about it. He got to drive his Tundra home. We've got some other cool things coming up this year that we're going to work on doing with maybe some country singers, maybe some comedians or something like that at one of the race tracks or maybe a flag football event or something like that around Charlotte time. We'll see how it goes -- some good ideas that are coming out. Samantha (Busch, wife) and Becky (Hopkins, vice president of the Kyle Busch Foundation) -- one lady you know and the other that works for me and works for the foundation and she's got a lot of good ideas so it's pretty cool."
What about the drafting has met your expectations or surprised you this week? "I think the biggest surprise has just been how committed we all are to just pushing each other all around the race track. I figured, yeah, we might push each other for a few laps or whatever, but then those front two cars will separate and they'll come back to the pack. We're all pushing each other to get out there and to essentially get away from the pack, which we did for a little bit yesterday. It's kind of the same old Daytona, just in a different form I guess. That kind of surprised me a little bit. The way that we could push and for as long as we could push, that surprised me a lot too. With the way that we're making some changes now -- NASCAR made the grill opening size and the restrictor plate change and some other stuff. It still surprised me to see how long guys could push yesterday, to be honest with you. I think it's just a product of what we've got and we'll see how it plays out on Sunday. In the Budweiser Shootout, we had 24 cars or something like that and then in each Duel we had about 24 or 28 cars. Now you're going to be having all of those good cars, like Clint (Bowyer) was saying, in the 500. Now you're going to have a whole gaggle of them that are going to know how to do it, they are going to have a lot faster cars that are going to be all together. There might be -- we saw a little bit of separation in the Duels where now we might see a group of really good cars and then we might see a group of guys that either hang back a little bit or don't get teamed up with somebody who has a really fast car."
What could NASCAR have doneover the past months to prevent the changes taking place this week? "I don't know, to be honest with you. There's so many different things that you could say that would probably be pretty stupid. I'd rather keep those to myself I guess. To me, I don't know how everybody says they expected this to happen, but yet NASCAR didn't expect it to happen. They are the ones that can kind of see where we are going and what we're doing. I think it's just been a product of what we all learned out of Talladega. We didn't do this in Talladega even though we could because they have the no bump-drafting zones in the corners, which now they kind of let that go last year and `boys have at it.' I love that song, it reminds me every time -- that Robin Pemberton song that's on YouTube -- it's funny. Just limiting us to bump-drafting in the corners, but I wouldn't do that. I would just leave it at what it is and we'll play it out. We'll see how it ends up and what kind of race we get Sunday with a gaggle of cars that there's going to be 20 or 25 strong cars that will be all packed up."
Is there anything uncomfortable about the two-car draft all the way around the race track? "It's kind of funny that you ask that because yesterday (Jamie) McMurray and I or Denny (Hamlin) and I were locked up for 10 straight laps or something and I'm like, `Man, something good is always about to end so when are we going to wad our stuff up.' You get that far into it and it's like it starts making you more nervous and more nervous and more nervous and you're like, `When is it going to happen, when's it going to happen.' Then you start tensing up more and you're doing less moving. By then you just ought to forget about it and be like, `Okay, just forget it, never mind, relax.' You would think that eventually it would come to an end and sometimes it does. Denny and I -- we had our little mix up off of turn two when we caught that pack of cars in front of us. I checked up to try to get off of him a little bit because I saw us gaining so fast and then he got a little loose I think and then kind of got to the apron and made him lose it even more. You just try to keep your focus on what you're doing and hold the wheel straight and not make too many subtle movements."
How is the evolution of getting air on the nose of the car without losing the two-car tandem going? "A lot of guys, they're really off-setting themselves from the car they're pushing to the right and getting that air that they need to keep their engines cool. That's been basically the only thing you can do. You have to become comfortable with that person that you're pushing in order to do that. I haven't been able to do that yet. I've been scared to push somebody. I don't mind getting pushed -- anytime anybody is pushing me and they are really off-set like (Jamie) McMurray and Denny (Hamlin) -- they were way over. It was fine for me. But, whenever I'm doing that and I'm moving over on somebody and pushing them, it seems like I'm turning them sideways down the straightaway. I don't know if it's something with my car or the way I'm doing it, but I haven't found a comfort in pushing somebody yet, but I don't mind being pushed all day long. The only thing that it causes you when you do off-set that much is your speed -- your overall speed is slower because you're not in such a streamline that essentially you are adding more drag to your cars again. It's still faster than being separate from each other obviously. It's not as fast as you would want it to be if you were just locked in streamline."
Will that give you more time to run tandem rather than having to make the switch? "Yes. By off-setting it definitely helps you or the rear guy keep their engine at least to a moderate temperature that they could stay there for a lot longer time. Like I said, for me, I can only go about three laps and then I start to overheat or get my temperature to where it's too hot and I have to switch. I don't know how them guys are doing it, but they're a lot better at it than I am."
Do you think there are more engine changes coming before Sunday's race? "You never know, but from what I've heard so far in discussions around the garage area is they're fine with what they've got now. They've done all that they feel that they can do at least here before having teams go back to the shop and work on something else. I think the biggest reason why you see the Fords being able to push is that was one of their biggest, biggest reasons for coming out with this FR9 engine was the cooling package that's in the engine and making sure that it would run cooler or they could run more tape on the grill of their cars. I would give you -- that's probably 90 percent why they can run a long time is they have really good cooling. The Chevrolets also -- they're really good at it too, because they're all confident enough in running their engines to a higher temperature. They'll run it to 270 or 280 -- no problem. Unfortunately, the Toyotas, ours, if you believe this, Toyota came into the sport in 2004 and now we're old technology. Our engines maybe need a revamp on the cooling system and stuff. We can only go to 240 and once we get to 240, stuff starts moving. You start warping heads and all kinds of other stuff. They've told us you can go to 250, but then after 250 you're going to lose power so I've just always gone to 240. I haven't pushed the issue. If it comes down to the last six laps and you don't have to run that motor again, it's going to be 300 degrees, there's no doubt about it."
Will you get to 240 degrees and back off in the race? "Like I said, I can push for three laps. I'll start pushing at whatever degree it is when I start pushing and then I'll get up to 240 and once I get there I have to swap. Then if those guys behind me can push more or longer or whatever -- have at it. Denny (Hamlin) actually did a really good job because he got so far off-set that he kept his engine at a moderate temperature that he could run there when he was pushing me yesterday. He's doing a really good job at keeping the water temp cool. I haven't found that I've been that good yet at getting that far off-set and feeling comfortable doing that -- watching the car in front of me and keeping my engine cool. I haven't found that yet."
Can you go below the yellow line as an escape route to avoid a crash? "Yeah, I don't see that as a problem. That's not against NASCAR's rules either. The only rule is you can't advance your position. Certainly you can go down there and run up alongside of them and then kind of drag your brake and back off and get back in line to stay hooked up. We caught them in the corner so it was an odd situation. It seemed like -- I don't know how it was, but the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and Roush cars -- I think it was the 16 (Greg Biffle) and 99 (Carl Edwards) -- they were really good at blocking the hole. I don't know if they all figured that out together or if they knew that they would just do that or if it was by accident. I don't know, but I might be giving them a lot more credit than they deserve, but they seemed pretty good at blocking the hold anytime somebody came up there and they were side-by-side and we couldn't make it three-wide. It is also hard when you are the third tandem to come in there, you can't just blow right through there sometimes. Denny (Hamlin) and I -- we tried it and we got separated. I tried it with somebody else later in the race and we got separated again. It seems a lot harder to stay hooked up when you get that many cars that close together."
-source: toyota motorsports