Kyle Busch - Pocono Friday Media Visit

Pocono Raceway

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

What is your strategy coming into Pocono? “This week always a little bit challenging for us. Not the typical Bristol or Richmond or Charlotte or something where we know how to run there or expect to run there. This kind of place throws us a little bit for a loop every time we get here -- whether we run up front or whether we struggle a little bit. Last spring was really good for us -- we sat on the pole and led a lot of laps and ran real well. Then towards the end we finished second to Denny (Hamlin) I believe. Then the fall race, just kind of meandered back about 12th or 15th all day. Didn’t quite get everything we wanted. We’ll see if we can’t turn the tables again this time and try to run up front and get a good finish this weekend for all our M&M’s guys.”

Do you look forward to getting in the race car during difficult situations? “It’s different for every driver, but it my particular case I feel like once you get out onto the race track or once you get in the car and put your helmet on and then out on the race track -- that’s where your priorities lie and that’s where your focus is. To me, it doesn’t seem that challenging.”

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Do you feel you have a respect issue in the garage and do you need respect in the garage to be successful? “Can’t answer the first part for you -- you would have to ask everybody else. As far as needing respect in the garage area -- certainly. It makes your day a little bit easier. Makes your job a little bit easier. I’ve been able to have good conversations and talk to people outside the race car or at driver intros or stuff like that. Whether it’s the case that they’re not being true to my face -- I don’t know, I can’t read that. I’m not in people’s minds. If you’re mad at me, you’ll have to tell me.”

What are your thoughts on the new qualifying procedure at Pocono? “To me, the whole schedule is a little weird. You come in today and you get the first practice and the first practice is going to base your time for qualifying. Then you go into the second practice, which is later in the day -- about when the race is going to end. Then there’s going to be a lot of grip probably when the track starts cooling off just a little bit around the 4:30 or 5:00 time frame. We’ll see how it pans out. You come in on Saturday and you run one lap and then you have nothing else to do and then you wait until the race on Sunday. That to me is a little weird. I like the old schedule a lot better -- just personal preference, if I had an opinion I would say that you come in and you run some race laps to get yourself acclimated to the track, you switch over, you go to qualifying trim, you make some laps, you qualifying that afternoon or evening or whatever it may be. Then the next day you have two practice sessions solely devoted to your race car and what you might need to work on for Sunday. To me, that’s a more productive schedule.”

Do you feel like you are wearing the black hat rather than the white hat lately? “I’m not sure that there’s really any hats to be worn here. The black hat deal -- the villain type thing, I’m not sure that I really did a whole lot to bring that back upon myself. I feel like I’ve acted in the utmost respect to every case that’s come up my way and has been thrown in front of me. I’ve tried to do it with dignity and class and I feel like that comes from people wearing white hats -- not black.”

Do you understand why Richard Childress was mad last week? “Me giving a congratulatory bump to Joey Coulter is what tipped him (Richard Childress) over the edge there. I don’t recall anytime -- face-to-face conversation where Richard did tell me that, ‘If you touch another one of my cars I’m going to come find you.’ I don’t know if it was ever said in the media, but it was never relayed to me.”

Would it be good if drivers paid for damage they cause to other cars? “If he came to me and was so upset about it, I would have offered him money to fix it. I’m an owner in this sport -- I know there’s going to be torn up equipment here and there sometimes, whatever. I will say that if I didn’t roll out of the throttle, we both would have crashed off of turn four. The kid did what he was supposed to do on the last lap there. We raced each other for 18 laps and I was having fun with him trying to keep him back and I thought I had it done and then he got on my inside down the backstretch there and pulled a slide job through three and four and kind of squeezed me up there. I had two options -- lift and let him beat me, which is fine, no problem. We’re racing for fifth in the Truck Series -- wasn’t for a win. Or crash the both of us. It wasn’t necessary for any of that.”

Have you received any secret fines in the last seven days? “No.”

How should NASCAR handle penalties if someone is threatening a lawsuit? “I don’t know. That’s not to my discretion to be honest with you. It’s further to NASCAR to depose. That’s a great question for the, but for myself, I need an instance of what you’re explaining. Besides all the information you’ve just given me and the question you’ve asked, I can’t really comment further.”

Did you know how much damage there was on Joey Coulter’s truck at Kansas? “No, I didn’t feel like I hit him all that hard. I just thought I rubbed him a little bit. Typically when you rub a guy, you don’t see much damage from it. The trucks are so different too. I forgot about how the left-front fender on a truck -- the nose is so much wider than the tire is so it kind of sticks out a little further so maybe there was more damage than I thought I would have caused. That’s entirely my fault -- I’m the one that instigated it there or initiated it. As far as him having to fly out body hangers and all that stuff -- if it’s something they didn’t feel that they could hammer and dolly out, sorry it came to that.”

Did the media interpret malicious intent toward Joey Coulter? “There can be an easy way to interpret things sometimes and it seems like maybe I might be on the wrong end of interpretation a lot of those times. There was no malicious intent to be involved in hurting or damaging a RCR (Richard Childress Racing) vehicle.”

As far as there being support on my end ...

Kyle Busch

Was anything said to you by Richard Childress prior to last week’s incident? “No. We were in that NASCAR hauler from Darlington after the race and he (Richard Childress) never said a word in there.”

How are M&M’s handling the recent situations? “M&M’s is handling things the best that they can handle it and going through things day by day. There’s a lot of support there. We just had a NASCAR day at Hackettstown, New Jersey yesterday and people were awesome. They had a lot of great questions about racing, about the sponsorship, about the partnership that we have and how things have really been working well for them over the past few seasons and how we can continue to grow the brand. They’re doing everything they can in their power to make sure that we continue to carry on the presence of M&M’s in NASCAR and with Kyle Busch.”

How much have you talked with your brother in recent weeks? “I’ve talked to my brother (Kurt Busch) a little bit. He’s had some good things to say and some good advice to give as well. You mentioned that he had been through something like this before -- little bit different case. We discussed some things. As far as there being support on my end -- sure, there’s been a lot of support. I’ve got a lot of friends that I talk to in the garage area. Whether they’re crew chiefs or team members from other teams -- even team members from the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) camp that are my friends. I’ve had an outreach of support as well as after the incident in Darlington, it’s not something new for race fans, for as passionate and devoted as they are to this sport or to a particular driver that the outcry of a penalty -- they want to pitch in and help. I didn’t boast about it, but I had the same amount of fans that wanted to help pay my fine from Darlington in which we just put the money toward the Kyle Busch Foundation. It’s cool to have that support when times get tough and it is cool that you can have something better come out of a situation like that.”

How many cars can win each week and how many are championship contenders? “Good question. It is early. To be honest with you, it changes every single lap or every single fuel stop or pit stop. For instance, last weekend I thought Carl (Edwards) was going to win the race. He drove up through green flag conditions, took the lead and didn’t take it off pit road and then two runs later I’m passing Carl and I’m running sixth and he’s eighth or ninth or something like that and I’m like, ‘I just thought this guy was going to win the race.’ Now you’ve got somebody else out there and Jeff Gordon started coming. Then at the end of the race there was the fuel strategy playing out and all of the sudden Brad Keselowski is leading. It changes every lap. Somebody asked me last week or the week before -- do you feel like you’re a safe bet going into the Chase riding on two wins? Brad Keselowski just won a race -- if he wins one more, he’s got two wins and he’s going to be, if I fall out, I’m going to be a guy and he’s going to be a guy and Jeff Gordon with one win is going to be out. Things can change awfully quick.”

Is tire management or fuel management more difficult? “If you had to just go into fuel management mode -- that’s the hardest thing for me to do -- I can’t understand how to do that. I’ve done it in the past and I feel like I’m doing a really good job at it. Then I end up being a half-a-lap short or maybe a lap short or something like that. Carl (Edwards), for instance, I feel like he’s probably one of the best -- Brad (Keselowski) might be pretty good at it too, obviously from last weekend. Tony (Stewart) won here last year on a fuel mileage race or the year before. Those guys do a great job at being able to maximize the amount of fuel in their cell and I’ve tried doing the same techniques they have -- I just haven’t been as successful as they are. You have a crew chief tell you, ‘Hey man, we’re eight laps short to the end of the race, we are going to have to save some.’ And they make it. It’s like, where do you find all that? I remember Carl at Homestead, I think it was 2008 and he was like eight laps short and were are like, ‘There is no way these guys are going to make it.’ They ended up making it. To me, tire management is a lot easier. Richmond, for instance there, the last run of the race, we went 100 laps there at the end. You were in a little bit of a tire saving mode and a little bit of a fuel saving mode so with both of those together, it actually helped me. I feel like that was probably the best fuel savings that I have been able to accomplish.”

-source: toyota motorsports

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

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