KYLE BUSCH, No.18 Combos Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your outlook for this weekend at Phoenix after winning the Truck Series race last night? "Everything went real well for us last night with our Dollar General Tundra. Had a great truck race, had a lot of fun and really cool to bring home a win this early in the season for our guys over there with our new chassis that was the first time out with yesterday. So that was good. I'm looking forward to the Nationwide race today with Interstate Batteries and the guys -- Norm Miller and the group that wanted to be on the race car this weekend. So, we appreciate those guys. And, then I'm looking forward to the Cup race as well too. The Combos folks are here this weekend so it will be a good ordeal to get some good exposure for those guys and hopefully have a strong run. We feel that we've always run really well in a Combos car. I think it's actually undefeated in the Cup Series, so I don't know. For me, it's undefeated -- I think Elliott Sadler drove it before. It's been fun to race that car so hopefully we can have a good run with it this weekend. Being as though it's the last race on the old surface here this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway I'm kind of sad to see it go, but excited to see what new changes are in store for us when we come back in November."
How do you like your chances of sweeping the races this weekend? "I like my chances. I feel they're pretty good. We ran pretty good times yesterday in the Nationwide car and then in the Cup Series car -- granted it's never over until it's over so we'll see how that goes today. The Nationwide car seems to be really good. It seems like there's a couple guys that run the same times as us so it will be a good show there. And, then the Cup race is always the hardest one, the best one, the last one so we'll see how that goes. Obviously, the competition is so high there and everybody that's so good. We actually feel that we had some good times yesterday, but the 4 of Kasey Kahne was really good too. He seems to be probably one of the best cars as well so we'll see how it all plays out. Overall, chances if I had to say I'd say we're definitely top-five in all of them so we'll see if we can't knock a win out."
Did you observe other drivers trying to drive slowly in the final practice because of their qualifying spot? "If they would read the rules correctly then they would understand that's the wrong thing to do. As Kerry (Tharp, NASCAR) mentioned, Kurt (Busch) and I -- Kurt was a little bit faster than my time in the first practice to my time in the second practice. So, we go out last of the cars that are in the show -- the guaranteed starters. Then, after us the final 10 or 12 cars that go out are the go or go-homers. We're the last of the guys that are locked into the show to go so it's more beneficial to us. Places like Indy, when Indy is at 10 o'clock in the morning, you want to go out first. You would run your whole lap, you would actually have somebody stand at the beginning of pit road -- the pit wall there with a stopwatch and clock you from there and then you'll shut the motor off before you get to the start-finish line so then you back up your time. We're all smart, we all know how this show runs down. As Kerry mentioned, they'll change that hopefully so it will make it more interesting that qualifying will be later in the afternoon."
Why do you think other drivers were driving slower in the final practice? "I don't know why you would. Qualifying is at 1:40 -- it's going to be hot. The track temp will not change five, at most 10 degrees between the start and the end of qualifying. So, it means nothing. We just ran 40 trucks and there's probably 45 Nationwide cars and there's probably 45 Cup cars so you're talking 130 vehicles ran for nine hours yesterday. If it ain't rubbered in by now, I don't know when it's going to be rubbered in in qualifying. Track temp is not going to change a whole lot, the track is rubbered in and it's good to go. Everybody who thought they were sandbagging for some big ol' shindig reason, they'll be far unimpressed."
Is it early enough in the season where bad finishes hurt you more than in the past with the new points system? "It's definitely early enough in the year and through the models that NASCAR said that they did and everything it's still relative. It's definitely different, but it's still relative. I think it's a little bit easier to kind of figure out where you need to be if you're 20 points behind a guy -- that's 20 spots. Besides leading a lap and or leading the most laps or winning and stuff like that. So, you can close the gap up faster by being able to do those things. To me, right now in the season the points doesn't mean anything. You'll start worrying about points probably Charlotte time. That's when you need to start structuring where you're at and where you want to be when it comes down to Richmond."
Will getting married during the offseason be a factor in how you run races? "No, no change at all. I'm pretty well wired that it's strictly go as fast as you can everytime you're out there on the race track. That doesn't bother me one bit. She (Samantha Busch, wife) knows that and Samantha is all about it. She enjoys the time that we have going everywhere and doing all of the things that we do and of course the races that I run. Sometimes there's some off-weekends there so that's always good. Everything else is all about trying to win races and bring home the trophies."
Will it be shocking to get only one point if you go out of the race early and finish last? "Yeah, that's definitely going to hurt your feelings a little bit. It's kind of weird when you're -- now with the truck points and Nationwide points you see zero and it's like, `Well, what the hell? I just ran a race.' You do get the owner's points out of it. It's all relative somehow. For the points the way it is, it's definitely going to take a little bit of time for everybody to get used to. It's going to be weird to see how we're only separated by four points or we're tied or we're separated by two points -- really how far apart or how close together that is, we all don't know yet."
Can you take us through the final two restarts at Daytona last weekend? "I'm trying to remember what all happened. We just barely missed that wreck that was on the backstretch there and I clipped Tony Stewart a little bit. Dented the left front fender and so the left front tire started rubbing the fender. We stayed out thinking that it would make it because it was only a green-white checkered. But, then once we went through the first green-white checkered and then there was another caution I started smelling more tire rubber and I was like, `Man, it's not going to make it. There's no way.' So, we came down pit road and we pulled a fender out. We made sure it wasn't going to rub the tire anymore, and then from there it was just trying to find somebody to get hooked up with and never lift. Just keep pushing them to the end. Really, there was no strategy involved. There was no -- the order was going to be Kurt (Busch) and I to try to work together as best as we could. We got hooked up on that first green-white checkered and started pushing and then the caution came out so essentially we never got going. And, then I had to come to pit road so I had to start further back. People asked me, `Why didn't you pit the first time by because if you made up eight spots on the last green-white checkered would you have been able to make up eight spots and then another eight spots?' Well yes, but who is to say that if we didn't pit when I did for the dent in the left front fender that I wouldn't have got caught up in the other wreck that happened right after that. Your hindsight is 20-20 so I think we did fine with what we did. We got out of there relatively unscathed considering what happened on lap four or five -- whatever it was -- when I was spinning around backwards in front of the whole field. An eighth place finish for what all went on that day wasn't bad."
How does a repave equalize the driving field? "It brings the field a lot closer together because it seems like there's more room for error in a setup. For instance, we're at Daytona, you can really see the cars that have a good setup, drivers that are good, drivers that talk to their crew chiefs well. All of that kind of stuff comes into play versus a Daytona that's repaved -- handling is not an issue, speed and just how fast can you make your car go. Same thing with Richmond. I think the reason we see Richmond as so close and so tight and same with Martinsville is because it's all -- the asphalt is really fresh or the concrete or whatever it might be in its own case. All of the times are so close, like the field at Richmond is probably four-tenths of a second from the beginning to the end of the field and the asphalt is relatively new. Bristol, the same thing. Fresh concrete there. I think in relation to this place, you'll see the field will still be pretty tight, but you'll probably see it a lot tighter when we come back with the fresh pavement because the tires and the way that they adhere to asphalt, there's a lot more room for error in setups and chassis stuff."
How do you feel about your cars this weekend at Phoenix? "The race track is fun because it's old and the asphalt here is really neat. The layout here is really cool, too, because I liked the differences between turns one and two and three and four with the dog-leg down the backstretch. Our car drives really good. The truck was fast last night, the Interstate Batteries Camry for today's race in the Nationwide Series is good and same with the Combos Camry for Sunday. All in all, the car seems to run well around here. There's a couple tendencies that we battle actually across all three series that I've been working on to either get myself better or the vehicles acclimated to some of those problems with a little bit of a loose feel here, a little bit of a tight feel there. It seems like you hear it from everybody so it's probably not just you, but more of what the track has in it then what your cars are handling like."
Is there any new talent you saw in last night's Camping World Truck Series race? "I was just trying to pay attention to the 51 truck (Justin Johnson) last night and what was going on with him. I've known Justin for a long time, I actually grew up racing with him a little bit out in Las Vegas, that's where he's from. He's actually married to a long time family friend's daughter of the Busch family. I was kind of paying attention to him. I saw he got up as high as fourth at one point, I think he finished eighth. He had a good run and the Vision Airline team, they buy a lot of stuff from us -- we do their chassis, we do their bodies and what not. It seemed like they had a good run. Other than that, I didn't get a chance to see the Thursday night race here. There's some good talent there as well, too -- seeing some of the guys coming up through the ranks in the K&N Pro Series. Greg Pursley, I've known him for a while. Coming out to the west coast is more my stomping grounds and I know a lot of names and kind of know a lot of people out here. It's good to see how people are doing and making sure they are getting what they want out of what they're doing."
Is there any adrenaline rush activities you'd like to do? "I'm not really an adrenaline junkie. I think I get enough of my share thanks. I have three races this weekend I'm good, I'm plenty set. I don't need my hair or finger nails to grow any faster. I don't know. Sky diving is not me, I've never done skiing or snowboarding or anything like that. I don't know if I'm not a fan of cold or too lazy to go get skis and go to a lift or whatever. Sand cars, there you go -- that's the closest thing. Going out to the desert, having fun out in the sand and jumping across areas of the sand dunes. Robby Gordon he's nuts. I can't keep up with Robby Gordon, he's crazy. For me, compared to Robby Gordon, I'll go to the kid hills and I'll have my fun there and have plenty of scares, I'm sure and hopefully not tear up too much stuff or not get hurt. I like going out to the sand dunes and hanging out with some friends and just spending a couple days out there, kind of relaxing and forgetting about some things and having a good time."
What do you think about the Vegas presence in NASCAR with Dusty Davis and Justin Johnson joining the NCWTS? "I think it's great. There's all the presence from anywhere is great in NASCAR. The more people that we have that come up and step up and want to do this and feel a need to do this or have a presence that gets their name out there a little bit more is always great for everybody. To have 40-plus trucks here last night, that's really good for the Truck Series and there was some really good competition in Daytona and Phoenix for the first two races of the year. Same with the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series. The competition seems to get stronger and stronger as we get going through here and hopefully it stays that way through the season. It's cool to see people that I've known get a chance and make it somewhere from Vegas. I've known Justin (Johnson) for a while. I helped out another guy, Alex Haas from Vegas and he won a Super Late Model championship for me out in North Carolina. Really nothing materialized from that. There was no attention drawn to it or sponsorship of it or something. It didn't go anywhere for him, unfortunately. Justin got hooked up with the right group of guys with Vision Airlines. We'll see how it all plays out, I wish them the best of luck and the most success."
-source: toyota motorsports