KYLE BUSCH , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: "We had a great race car all day. It was definitely one of the best cars I've had here at Vegas. We came up one spot short here from last year. But that might have just been been a tribute...
KYLE BUSCH , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"We had a great race car all day. It was definitely one of the best cars I've had here at Vegas. We came up one spot short here from last year. But that might have just been been a tribute to being too loose there at the end of the race. My team did a great job giving me great pit stops and keeping me up front pretty much most of the day. I think the lowest we fell might have been 8th or 10th or something. So to have a good run like that in my hometown is definitely means a lot. It gives me a lot of pride. Being able to come out of here with another top three finish, we can go on to Atlanta and hopefully have a strong run there."
ON THE BATTLE WITH TONY STEWART:
"The first time we really got going after each other was with about 40 (laps) to go -- maybe about 45 to go or something like that. That's the perfect amount of laps to go where it's time to dig in deep and get after it and get on top of the wheel and start going. There is no more rolling over and playing dead and letting guys go and stuff like that -- Mark Martin style -- it's time to race and it's time to get after it and that's what I was doing. If I might have aggravated Stewart a little bit, then I apologize to him for that. But if I give up one spot to him, then I get aero-tight behind him and then I'm going back five, eight, or ten spots like I did. I think I gave up third spot to either him or Kahne or somebody. And then I fell all the way back to 8th and then the pit stop got me all the way back up to 5th. It was definitely one of those deals where when you get stuck back in traffic, it's hard to get clean air and pick your way back through, especially for my car today for some reason."
ON THE LARGE NUMBER OF GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHES LATELY:
"I don't know. But I had the best seat in the house for today's finish. It was definitely pretty cool. I was hoping they (Kenseth and Johnson) were going to wreck each other, but I knew they weren't going to. That would have given me a pretty good shot to get on by. But Kenseth and Johnson are two of the best racers out there, so it was going to be one of those deals where if I could get close enough, I would have a chance at making it three-wide at the finish. But my car was just so loose in the last run of the day I could barely hang onto it. I changed my line a little when Kahne got by Stewart and he was catching me and I was able to pick up about two tenths and I was running those guys down just a little bit, but it wasn't going to be enough time for me to catch up to them. I knew as soon as that caution came out, I was actually kind of frustrated.
I was like, man, couldn't we just finish this thing? I don't know where I'm going to finish now, but I was able to come out with a 3rd place finish."
TONY STEWART IS UPSET WITH YOU. DO YOU THINK HE'S PICKING ON YOU?
"No, I wouldn't say he is picking on my. I would just have to say that maybe there was something that I did that I couldn't tell. I'm inside my race car and I can't see what I'm doing outside of it. If I slipped up and slid in front of him one time, and whatever, then it was just my mistake on that part. We need to have another sit-down I guess and try to figure out exactly what I did wrong so I can try to change it and fix it."
ON THE LAST 15 LAPS OF THE RACE, YOU TURNED THE FASTEST LAP SEVERAL TIMES. WERE YOU HOLDING TONY STEWART UP, OR WAS YOUR CAR REALLY
"When I had Tony behind me, he was always charging into the corners real far and getting up underneath my spoiler and getting me loose. That was one of the problems why I was holding him up. If I could actually get some clean air on my spoiler and get away from him a little bit, I could drive away which is what I did. I kept having to run a line that would keep my car stable getting into the corners which was making it slower for me because I couldn't arc it in as much as I wanted to. Otherwise, I'd spin out and back it into the fence. It was just one of those deals where being able to try to get a little bit of clean air surrounding my car was going to be better for me and that was what happened."
AT CALIFORNIA, TONY STEWART SAID HE WELCOMED YOUNG DRIVERS SEEKING HIM OUT AND TALKING. WILL YOU GO SEARCH FOR HIM NOW AND HAVE ANOTHER CONVERSATION?
"Yeah, definitely. I'm sure he's already left the race track here. If I can't catch him at the airport, I'll try to find his phone number during the week or go find him in Atlanta before practice starts to try to clear the air and get it over with and get it behind us."
MANY DRIVERS HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF AGGRESSIVE DRIVING. HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM DRIVING ON EGGSHELLS?
"I just go out there and do my best. All I can do is go out there and drive my own race car to the best of my ability and the best it is capable of doing. That's what happened today. I was probably if not a 3rd place car, a 4th place car. Kahne was strong until I changed up my line. I was stronger than probably the front two runners, but just track position hurt us. It wasn't too bad today, but being able to keep it up front definitely meant a lot to us."
WHY ARE YOU ACCEPTING ALL THE BLAME?
"I don't know if it's because I'm 20 years old and I'll accept all the blame, or whatever. But I can't see what I'm doing from inside my race car outside. You have to go back and look at the film. But I don't remember running into his door at all today or getting under his rear bumper at all today, but I tached out a little bit down the back straightaway one time from him. So, I'll have to go back and figure out what I did."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, OR THAT ANYTHING THAT GOES A LITTLE WRONG, IS GOING TO BE ATTRIBUTED TO YOU BECAUSE THAT'S THE MODE RIGHT NOW?
"It seems as though that's happened so far this year -- ever since the Bud Shootout. But I don't know. The Bud Shootout was a tough spot there because I was waving for a lap and a half trying to come to pit road and Denny Hamlin passes me down the back straightaway and then I tried to get down in front of Stewart and he was there and there wasn't enough room. We rubbed fenders there and then I was racing with Mark Martin and stuck my nose in a little bit too far where it shouldn't have been. I thought he was going to pass for the lead and I wasn't going to go with him because I knew he wasn't going to be able to get it done. I was just going to stay on the bottom and he tried coming back down and we touched. But then in the 500, Stewart and I got together with four laps to go. When there are four laps to go in the Daytona 500, what are you going to do? You're going to try to block somebody or are you just going to get him go and get freight-trained all the way back to 30th or whatever? The race track is not only theirs, but it's mine too. That's the only thing that I'd like to try to gain a little respect on. I race fine with (drivers like) Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne today -- everybody I was ever around. For some reason, it's 40 laps to go and I'm digging in deep and getting on top of my steering wheel and not letting Tony Stewart pass me and for some reason, I've got a problem. So I don't know."
ON THE RIVALRY BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BROTHER, KURT, WHEN HE WASN'T RUNNING WELL TODAY, WAS THAT ON YOUR MIND?
"I was watching a little bit today under caution to see where he was running. I wish he was running better today. It's not something like yeah, I beat him and I'm the hometown hero today. I wish he could have been battling with the best of us up there today, but I guess his car wasn't meant to be."
WHAT DOES A THIRD PLACE FINISH MEAN TO YOU TODAY?
"It means a lot. At Daytona, I think we had the 5th highest running average of the whole race. At California, we struggled a little bit. For some reason I struggle there in the daytime. I run better there at night. Today we were able to get a third place finish. It just shows my guys have been really working hard in the winter time to come up somewhat like the Roush cars are running and we've been really working on our front ends and trying to get them to handle better."
ON THE TRACK TEMPERATURE CHANGES, HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOUR DRIVING?
"I was going to come over the radio and ask if the weather had changed because I started getting a little looser. We kept loosening up my car all day and finally it got so loose that I was barely hanging on. We had to come back off those changes in the last pit stop. But we didn't come back off enough because I was still too loose at the end. Last night in the Busch race, it was hot and then it got cold and I just kept getting looser. It wasn't too bad out there, but the little bit that it changes, seems to change your car."