Kyle Busch - Kansas Friday Media Visit

Kansas Speedway

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

What is your outlook this weekend in Kansas? “Kansas is one of those, as we call it, typical cookie cutter-type race tracks. Looking forward to coming out here and having a good weekend. Unfortunately, I’ve struggled here at this place for some reason. We’ve run well in the past, just have never been able to get the finishes that we need to here. With the hot temperatures this weekend, with the slick racing conditions probably -- with the Truck race this weekend hopefully we can learn some stuff there that will help me. Take it into Sunday and try to get a good M&M’s Camry for this weekend that we can have a shot to run upfront with. It’s not that I don’t like this place, I just haven’t quite figured it out and what it takes to finish well here yet.”

What’s your favorite Camping World Truck Series memory? “There’s an awful lot of memories in the Truck Series that stick out. I remember watching the guys -- (Mike) Skinner, (Joe) Ruttman -- those guys running at Bakersfield, running at Tucson Raceway Park and places like that. Watching the many races that I’ve watched over the years from the Truck Series -- it has kind of been a really cool series to follow. It’s been a lot of fun to see the Toyota people come in and get involved in NASCAR -- that was their first step. And, winning their first race at Michigan with Travis (Kvapil). Then, being as successful as I have been in the series along with (Ron) Hornaday having the most wins and Jack Sprague and those guys too. Definitely a lot of memorable moments, but none that really stick out off the top of my head.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Will the racing be different in the summer race at Kansas compared to the new fall race? “It’s different than what we’ve had here in the past. We’ve never come here this early in the year. The trucks do -- this is about the same time they’ve come here. The Truck Series deal shouldn’t be any different on that side. Those guys know what they’ve got going on. Cup side, though, we haven’t been here this early. We’ve never been here when it’s this hot. We expect times to be a little bit slower. We expect the track to get slick. We expect to have to use all the race track from the bottom all of the way to the top once we get into the race to try to find some grip. Overall, it’s just going to be a learning experience for us. It’s marked on our calendars past events here for the fall race, but nothing for the spring race. We treat this as a new event even though it’s not a new race track. We just treat it as a new event. We don’t really know what to expect, but all we can do is go back to some of the past history of the Truck weekends here.”

Why don’t you like racing at Kansas? “It’s not that you might not like a track or might not like a race or something like that, it’s just a matter of trying to figure it out. Once you kind of get it figured out or get the right situations kind of lined up you can have a shot.”

Are you safely in the Chase now with two wins? “Not really. There’s an awful lot of good guys that are scattered through 11th to 20th. There’s a few good teams that are there, and you don’t know. They can rattle off some wins right in a row -- for instance, I think Juan (Pablo Montoya) is one of those guys. He can win Sonoma and win Watkins Glen and boom, there’s a guy that’s already seated himself. He could even win at an oval-type track. I know Kansas -- I think -- has been good for him and Chicago has been good for him, even though Chicago is the first Chase race. These are those typical race tracks. (David) Reutimann -- same thing. Reutimann can really rattle off a win here. He won Chicago and he won Charlotte so he knows how to do these places. Like I said, because of the good cars that are in 11th through 20th in points, it won’t be surprising to see a few of those guys get some wins.”

How many wins do driver’s need to be secure in the Chase? “I think two (wins) is okay, three is safe. Yeah, that’s what I said before. I said three is definitely going to be safe and four is going to be safe.”

How did everything go with Kimi Raikkonen racing with your Truck Series program? “I’m pretty disappointed that a lot of my quotes from last week got taken out of context and misinterpreted. As I did mention, Kimi Raikkonen’s people have paid in full. The contract terms did change. All we did was change -- they were going to run three to five Truck races. Well, they paid for the Truck races, but then he said, ‘Okay, let’s do a Nationwide race.’ So, we took those funds from the end of the year and put them to that Nationwide race. So, they are paid in full for the races they’ve run. We have not had any discussions on further on down the road what he wants to do. As he mentioned, he’s got Rally and other stuff that he’s worried about. We’re not mad whatsoever. We knew things would change so that’s why contracts are always kind of weirded-out anyway. If they want to come and run a few more Truck races, we’ve got the opportunity to do a couple more Nationwide races, and I’m sure myself and Joe Nemechek can put something together. It’s all up to those guys, really.”

What did Kimi Raikkonen think of his NASCAR experience at Charlotte? “Kimi (Raikkonen) is a hard guy to read sometimes, but that is just kind of his personality. That’s alright, nothing wrong with that. I like Kimi. I liked working with him and talking with him and developing a little bit of a relationship there. I feel like he had a good time while here and working with us and working on the Truck and Nationwide side. As Juan (Pablo Montoya) said, it’s quite a challenging race track to pick as your first race track to go racing at -- Charlotte is. If he wants to come back and run some other venues like an Atlanta or a Martinsville or a Homestead or whatever, those are definitely some options that are open and we’re open to discussions.”

Do you have to change your approach late in a race with fewer cautions being thrown? “No. Everything in this sport is circumstantial anyway. If there’s a caution, there’s a caution. If there’s no caution, you just keep racing. From what I understand, I wasn’t there and I didn’t see it -- there was a bunch up on the restart and there were a few cars that kind of got banged up and one spun or something like that and they didn’t throw a caution. From what I understand, all of the cars kept rolling. They never really stopped. They didn’t hit anything. There wasn’t a big wreck or nothing like that. To me, I thought NASCAR did fine in what they did.”

... just trying to keep my focus as much as I can ...

Kyle Busch

How much do issues outside of the race track affect a driver’s performance on the race track? “To me, being able to get out there on the race track, put a helmet on -- that’s when everything else is forgotten about. You’re just worried about one thing and that’s trying to go fast, trying to figure out why your car isn’t going fast if it’s not or how do you keep it going fast. How do you keep up with the race track and the changes that are happening lap by lap. To me, people will debate all day long whether Nationwide and Truck, running those two will take away your focus, but (Kevin) Harvick for instance this weekend is going to run the Nationwide race in Chicagoland. I don’t know if Carl (Edwards) is too. I’m not doing that. I’m staying here and just trying to keep my focus as much as I can on the Cup stuff and do what I need to do to run well there and to try and win this championship.”

Do you lose focus on the Cup side with having to worry about your Truck Series team? “Not at all. Last year, I was doing a lot of thinking and a lot of work behind the scenes with the truck stuff and this year I’ve gotten enough people over there now where I’ve kind of put that off on them and have delegated a little bit. I’ve got a lot more people that are being able to do their job and just me let them do their job seems to be working.”

What changes have you seen over the years at Kansas Speedway? “Kansas is a typical cookie-cutter-type race track that we always call a mile-and-a-halfs that have this layout. It’s got older asphalt now. Like you said, it’s maturing a little bit. It’s a race track where you can move all over the place. You can go from the bottom all the way to the top. Typically, when we repave these places you’re always stuck to the bottom. It’s the fastest way around. The shortest way around. Sometimes there’s not a lot of grip. But as far as Goodyear’s come along with tires with as far as race tracks have come along with the paving procedures and everything now -- there’s no sense in repaving this place. It’s got good age to it. It’s got some character. There’s definitely some things about it that are different than other race tracks that we go to. And that’s what we like -- that’s what the drivers like. We don’t want to see a Charlotte, a Texas and an Atlanta all the same. They’re all so different. But, yet from the naked eye looking above, they’re all laid out the same. So, you would think that they drive the same. But, they’re completely different.”

Do you understand NASCAR’s ‘wave around’ rule? “You’re probably getting at asking me, ‘How do you play that game a little bit better?’ I don’t know. The wave around rule is the wave around rule. I think it’s a great rule. I think it’s good that we have it that if a leader pits and there’s cars that are between him and the pace car now it’s just too confusing. Just let them come around and tail back up to the end of the field which sometimes on the next caution alleviates yourself from being in the front again if you’ve got to pit. It is confusing to some, but to many others it’s just a way of the race. It stunk for me getting back in traffic (last week), because I got caught back in traffic there and I think it was like 90 to go and we pitted and I’m back in 22nd or 23rd and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to make something happen. I’ve got 90 laps to get back up to the front or I’m not going to be able to make anything. So, then I started driving over my head a little bit and spun out once and figured well that wasn’t good enough so let me do it again, and then wrecked my car. Those situations that come about, you’ve got to be a little bit smarter than that sometimes and let the race play out. I didn’t do that. Carl (Edwards) was right behind me and I think he finished 11th or 10th or 16th. (Matt) Kenseth was running pretty good and I think he had to pit again at the end. It’s a matter of some races. Some days it’s your day and all of the stars align and some days it’s no t. It wasn’t (my day) and I was trying to make it. You just can’t do that.”

-source: toyota motorsports

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags joe gibbs racing, sprint cup, toyota