Loudon: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q</I>: One for Rick and one for Kyle. First, Rick, are you worried about, you know, everybody's a foregone conclusion every time you go for the Chase, Jeff Gordon will be in it. Lately, it's one step forward, two...

Continued from part 1

Q</I>: One for Rick and one for Kyle. First, Rick, are you worried about, you know, everybody's a foregone conclusion every time you go for the Chase, Jeff Gordon will be in it. Lately, it's one step forward, two steps back, and he's on the edge. Kyle, are you feeling any pressure even though you have a bit of a safety net there, are you feeling pressure to make it?

RICK HENDRICK: As far as Jeff goes, Jeff Gordon, you know, about the only guy we feel like is locked is Jimmie. Two or three races, that could change. You look at what's happened to Tony. Jeff's running great. I mean, the car's been ?? he's been consistent. We've had things happen at tracks that normally things don't happen to him, Superspeedways and things like that. We've just got to keep digging.

There's a lot of good cars out there. Everybody's working hard, and we're doing everything we can do. I think we got a lot of good momentum. Going back to Pocono, he runs good there. It's going to be a dogfight, I'll tell you. This thing's going to be settled when we get to Richmond. We'll know when we get there.

KYLE BUSCH: The biggest thing for me is I don't really feel necessarily that we're solidified or we're in or anything like that. I mean, I kind of alluded to it just a little bit earlier, was that, you know, we moved from 8th to 4th today, but who's to say we can't move from 4th to 10th tomorrow or next week.

The thing for us to do is go to Pocono, try to work on our race car, make it better, try talking Alan into taking this car next week. We'll leave it at the shop, wait for this race, coming back here in the fall, or take it to Richmond or something like that. The car today, it was The Punisher, and it punished them. We're going to take it to wherever it runs good, which are usually flat miles.

Q</I>: Kyle, you talked a lot about patience, running your own race and all that. I think you did that to a large degree today. There was that time you got trapped back in traffic. Guys at the tail end of the lead lap, you're splitting Riggs and Mayfield. How hard is it when you know you've got The Punisher to stay patient and let that sort of play itself out when every fiber of your being must be wanting to say, I got to get back to the front?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, let me ask you a question. Are you alluding to when I was back in traffic on that restart or when I was behind Jeff and Riggs and Jeremy?

Q</I>: Just you were stuck. It might have been on the restart. One of the two times, I remember you slicing through the middle of somebody or something.

KYLE BUSCH: Okay. Well, the first ?? I'll go ahead and do both. The first time was we just came in for a green flag pit stop and then a caution came out and the guys in front of us that hadn't pitted yet came down Pit Road, pitted, gave us the lead back. There was a bunch of guys on the tail end of the lead lap. I kind of rode around there a little bit, watched the lap cars get sideways, and able to get by them. Made some moves on the 8 and the 14 and I think there was one other car I may have gotten by, I'm not sure.

The one that you may be more alluding to was the one with Jeff in front of me. Yes, you're correct. The thing with that, I knew we had a great race car. That was when we had just come in for fuel only and then Biffle was behind us. Then I think the 11 and the 99 and 41, whoever else. So I knew whoever was going to get to the front first was probably going to have the best shot at winning the race. You want to make sure that you bide your time, but you're patient enough that you don't get yourself in trouble, but you're aggressive enough to where you can get there first.

The biggest thing with that I was getting pressured by Biffle real hard when I had a hard time getting by Jeff. I had to make sure I set back in my rhythm a little bit, got back in my own race car and just put it on the outside of Jeff and cleared him and was able to get by the other two and the rest of them got stuck back there for a few more laps.

By then I was able to get out front in clean air. The first two guys had gone, took off. I kind of rode there, hoping there was going to be another caution, which there was.

Q</I>: Kyle, you talked about the confidence you had in this car. I think, if I'm not mistaken, I think there was about 30 to go where you radioed Alan and said, Can we bring this thing to Pocono.

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah.

Q</I>: Was it about that time that you started thinking, Hey, this car's going to get to the finish here?

KYLE BUSCH: I knew that it was ?? I knew once we got to the lead that we had a great shot of doing it. Whether or not something went wrong, I couldn't tell you.

But I just knew that it was going to be awfully tough for somebody to get by me because it was tough to pass out there. You could get it done, but it was tough. You had to slide into guys or you had to get a good run on them. You really had to position yourself. You had to think about it. It wasn't just get to them, pass them and go on, you know; it was you got to think about this and try to work on something.

For me, I wouldn't say that I ever really thought we had a great shot at winning, especially coming down in the end when we had a green white checker.

Q</I>: Just a follow?up. Again, when you left here in September, I think you might have been feeling a little bit sore about how things went for you that day.

KYLE BUSCH: Uh?hmm

Q</I>: Can you compare and contrast the feeling of that day versus this one.

KYLE BUSCH: Well, this car here that we ran today was a car we ran here last spring, and we finished ?? ran second all day to Stewart with it and we finished 4th.

We brought a different car back here in the fall because we were saving this one ?? no, we were at Richmond the week before, so we ran it at Richmond, couldn't get it turned around in enough time to bring it here one week after the next. That's why we had to bring a different car here and struggled with it. We couldn't get it the way we wanted it to be. So we decided this year we'd better build a twin to it, so the twin to The Punisher is The Twisted Sister, and it runs at Phoenix. So we're saving it for there. But those are the only two cars we have named just 'cause I don't know why. Don't ask me, ask Alan.

But the biggest thing is just to know that we have good race cars lined up this year that we're in position to ?? we've got our stable all lined out for the rest of the year.

Q</I>: I have one question for Rick and one for Kyle. Rick, you knew you got a good race car driver when you hired Kyle. As you see him becoming more patient, you have to be thinking and knowing you've got what in a driver with him?

KYLE BUSCH: Don't look at me.

RICK HENDRICK: He has done a great job. It's unbelievable, at his age, how he's matured, how quickly he's matured. He's always ?? we've known since the first time he drove in Nashville, the first time he sat down in Busch car, he ran second to Kenseth in Charlotte. He's always amazed us at the amount of talent he's had.

He's just learned in a hurry. We have to remind him sometimes, but he's done a super job. I'm real proud of him. I mean, you watch guys come along in a sport and you can race, but you got to know how to win, know how to win the race and not burn your stuff up and use your stuff up, be able to size people up and take care of it. I don't think I've ever seen anybody pick it up that quick. He's done a phenomenal job.

Q</I>: Not even Jeff Gordon?

RICK HENDRICK: Jeff Gordon picked it up real quick, in a hurry, too. But the competition today, with so many, so many teams sharing information and working together, you see so many different leaders out there. I look at Tim Richman and I remember how Tim had phenomenal car control, and Kyle did, too. Jeff was an extremely smart racer. I don't think ?? Jeff had more time in a stock body car because of the Busch Series and had run more races than when Kyle ?? when we moved him up. We moved him up in a hurry and a lot of people said I moved him up too quick in the Cup series.

But sometimes when you got a guy with talent and you got a seat open, if you don't move him then, you might have to wait a year later than you really want to.

I think we put a tremendous amount of pressure on him to just run one year Busch and then move up.

Q</I>: Kyle, I know last year your team was practicing being in the championship hunt. Some people might think that's silly, but it's starting to make a lot of sense right now. Can you talk about that.

KYLE BUSCH: Kind of funny how difference a year makes, isn't it? You know, I keep alluding to my team guys. Alan Gustafson is one of the smartest crew chiefs that I've ever known. We can make a car go fast. We can make some pit strategy calls. We can plan out our own ventures and he can figure out what kind of guys he needs to work on his team. He's all an all?around very smart crew chief and very smart leader. He knows what he's doing.

He came up with that theory last year and, you know, we tried it, we planned it out. We did what we needed to do. We had a couple bad races in there. But all in all, I thought that our practice run went fairly well, and that when it comes down to the real deal, that we're ready for it, you know. There's not going to be much ?? there will be pressure, don't get me wrong, but we're going to try to keep it down to a minimum, to where we can just go out there, keep running every week, doing our own deal.

RICK HENDRICK: I think, too, Alan, that was his first year as a crew chief. So you take a 20?year?old and a 24? or 25?year?old, a young engineer that's been on the team, make him the crew chief, and the young driver. Most of the time you want to put an experienced guy with a young driver, but this is really ?? in Lance and Brian it's worked the same way. So it's been good chemistry.

Q</I>: I want to get into your head for a second, Kyle. Race going 300 laps originally, then 303, then 308. As a driver behind the wheel, how do you rationalize that, when you think you have to win, go again, a little further, a little further? What goes through your mind?

KYLE BUSCH: The biggest thing, it's not over until the checkered flag. Really, you just keep digging along. We didn't quite know if we had enough fuel or not to make it to the end but we figured so. When you do those restarts, it's just like my ? where were we, Richmond, Busch Series? Caution after caution after caution trying to hold back Greg Biffle. That was probably more difficult than what today was.

Still, I think once you get your first and second win out of the way, it comes to you a little bit easier as far as taking some pressure off because you know that if you do it, great; if not, it's like, you know, what did I screw up on? You can go back and learn from it.

The biggest thing for today was just hold the belts tight and get after it there for the final restart again.

Q</I>: Were you thinking, Is this race ever going to get over with?

KYLE BUSCH: No, you never really sit there and say to yourself, Is the race ever going to get over with. You're just kind of like, Well, we need to get going green here, we need to get going green here. That's more what it is, instead of, Is it ever going to get over. We just need to go green. We'll find the checkered flag, we just need to go green. The hardest thing was looking for the green.

Q</I>: Kyle, when did you last get tires and what was the thought process behind the fuel only at 211?

KYLE BUSCH: When did we last get tires? I don't remember.

RICK HENDRICK: I don't either.

KYLE BUSCH: How many laps was today's race, 300? I think we stopped at 240 maybe, 250. No, actually 150. 150 or 180 was our last stop for fuel, if I'm correct ?? or for tires. Our last stop for fuel was 208. So tires went about 140 laps there at the end of the race.

He knows more than we do, ask him.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

-gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon