KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST MONTE CARLO SS, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. HE DISCUSSED HIS RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WILL DEPART HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR IN A NEW TEAM, IF HE HAS A...
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST MONTE CARLO SS, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. HE DISCUSSED HIS RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WILL DEPART HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR IN A NEW TEAM, IF HE HAS A TIMELINE TO MAKE A DECISION, WHAT DALE EARNHARDT, JR. CAN EXPECT AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND OTHER TOPICS.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON YOUR IMPENDING DEPARTURE FROM HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? WAS IT A MUTUAL DECISION OR DID THEY TELL YOU THEY HAD DALE EARNHARDT, JR. IN THE FOLD AND THAT IT WOULDN'T WORK OUT?: "It's been said by not only myself but Hendrick Motorsports that it was a mutual agreement and that's exactly what it was. We decided it and sat down, talked about things and decided that it would be in both of our best interests to try to get a fresh start. I feel like it's a time where I can step away from where I've been for a few years and try to get a fresh start and see what else out there."
ON WHEN THIS ALL CAME TOGETHER: "It was a series of events. It was all throughout our negotiations and everything like that. When the negotiations weren't going well, then they were going well and then we had some stumbles in the road and whatever whatever. The final essence was mutually decided and agreed and sat down and talked about Monday."
ON TEAMS HE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO OR IS MOST INTERESTED IN: "Not at this time, no. Actually I'm just kind of flattered and excited about all the interest and phone calls that we've gotten. I haven't talked to any representatives from any teams. I've got people that stand behind me that do that stuff for me so when it comes down to the point where I feel like there's some people I need to talk to, we'll definitely sit down."
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN YOUR NEXT TEAM? ARE YOU MARRIED TO CHEVROLET? ARE THERE CERTAIN THINGS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR? "I'm not married to Chevrolet but I've got a lot of great friends there and a lot great respect for those guys and they do as well me too. You know I'd love to stay in a Chevy but we're just going to keep all our options open right now and play the field and see exactly what's out there."
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TALKED TO YOU ALREADY? WHAT'S YOUR DEADLINE? DO YOU HAVE A NEW AGENT? "Yes, that's correct (about having a new agent). It's MMI, Motorsports Management International. The only thing Ray (Evernham) and I talked about was yesterday at the dirt track. I flew home with him so obviously we're going to have something I'm sure and I was looking forward to that but he just informed me that he'd like to talk, like to sit down and get more in-depth about things and stuff like that but that was all he said. He just said he'd like to sit down and go further. You know we had other drivers on the plane and stuff like that so it wasn't the time or place."
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU TALKED TO? "Actually they haven't even told me how many have called and who all has called but they said that the phone lines have been good so that's all I need to know."
SHOULD WE BE REPORTING THAT YOU WERE BLINDSIGHTED AND THAT IT WAS A SHOCK OR WERE YOU KEPT INFORMED ALONG THE WAY? DID YOU KNOW THIS WAS COMING THIS WEEK? "You know I had previous representation by someone else and it wasn't discussed to me some of the things that probably should have been so I was out of the loop on most of it so I'm very ignorant when it comes to that kind of stuff because I wasn't informed. To me just from what I know is that the negotiations were going well, then they weren't going well, then we started getting back on track and then Junior announced availability and then that's where we kind of stalled out again and so, you know, I'm not stupid. You guys aren't stupid so it's kind of common sense I guess."
ON HAVING FOUR WINS AND BEING 22 YEARS OLD AND HIM BEING THE KIND OF GUY PEOPLE WOULD WANT TO KEEP AROUND AND IF HE'S SURPRISED THE WAY THIS HAS ALL COME DOWN? "Sort of, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would leave Hendrick Motorsports or go a different venture but neither did Kurt Busch when he joined Roush Racing so it's matter of where people grow up into somebody different and times change and people change and stuff like that. I was 17 when I first talking with Mr. Hendrick and signed my deal with Mr. Hendrick. I've had the greatest time and utmost respect for him and everything around his organization that he's put me with and I look forward to being able to go out and see what I can accomplish somewhere else."
TO CLARIFY, YOU NEVER ASKED FOR YOUR RELEASE FROM HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "It was a mutual decision."
WOULD YOU SAY THAT ONCE JUNIOR CAME INTO THE MIX AND WAS AVAILABLE, YOU WERE SHOVED ASIDE? "I wouldn't say that. I would say that we talked, we sat down, we had conversations. You know it was like 'What do you see happening here?' Blah, blah, blah, blah. 'What do you see happening this way?' I feel like I would like to keep that confidential. Rick can elaborate on it if he'd like to but coming from me it's not going to come from me."
DO YOU HAVE A TIME TABLE TO GET THINGS SETTLED? "No, I don't have a time table. I'm just kind of going to play it out by ear and see exactly what's out there, see what's available and just kind of chill."
IS IT BETTER TO BE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND BE NUMBER THREE THAN IT IS TO BE AT A LESSER ORGANIZATION AND BE NUMBER ONE? "It kind of depends on what organization it would be. To me racing at Hendrick Motorsports is obviously a great organization as well as there's other great organizations out there too - Gibbs is great, RCR is great, DEI has got a great organization over there too - so everybody that has good race teams and stuff like, they've got the people around them. It's just about trying to build a new relationship with not only a different owner but building people around myself."
HOW HAS THE DYNAMIC OF THE TEAM BEEN AFFECTED BY THIS NEWS? "I'm not going to speak for them so you'd have to ask those guys. To me I'm still 100 percent focused to that team and I love those guys. Those guys are my friends and have been. I've grown in a strong relationship with those guys so I'm going to go out there and do what I do every week and that's to drive that car to the limits and try to win races."
ON LEAVING THE BEST TEAM IN NASCAR RIGHT NOW AND IF THERE IS ANY TEAM HE CAN GO TO AND NOT FEEL AS IF HE IS TAKING A LITTLE BIT OF A STEP BACK. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GIVING UP A LITTLE BIT NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO IN THE SHORT TERM? : "I don't think so. I think there's teams out there from the standpoints that I hear that they're as equal to, they have the resources, they have the money, they have everything that they need in order to be a Hendrick Motorsports. Whether it's the technology or whether it's the car or the people or whoever, I don't know that because I'm not there so if I get there and see where there's an area that we can improve on or grow on then I'm certainly going to go to the team owner or the respective person that I need to and try to grow it."
CAN CLARIFY THAT YOU HAVE CHANGED REPRESENTATION? SO THE PERSON NEGOTIATING THE CONTRACT WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS IS NO LONGER WITH YOU? "Correct."
WHY IS THAT? IS THAT BECAUSE THE DEAL FELL THROUGH? "No, no it has nothing to do with the deal falling through. I just felt like I needed to make a change. Again, I had been with him since I was 16 years old. He worked with Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, those guys. He's the same guy for those guys too so he's got a great reputation and is a great guy but I just felt like (it was) in my best interest to try to further along negotiate some different offers. I'd like to move."
BRIAN VICKERS WAS NOT ALLOWED IN CERTAIN TEAM MEETINGS WHEN HE ANNOUNCED HE WAS LEAVING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES COULD IT PRESENT IF YOU AREN'T IN TEAM MEETINGS? "It's a very good possibility. I hope it doesn't come to that but you know, given the circumstances it probably will. To me I think I'm close enough to the notebook where I know what's going on and I know what's in the car. I can look at stuff and see exactly what it is. I'm not retarded. I know pretty much a race car from the ground up. I've worked on them for years. I've built my own race cars. I can look at certain aspects of it and know the measurements of it are and stuff. I hope it doesn't come to that but I can still look at it. I drive the thing."
AT THE AGE OF 22 DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE THE CREDENTIALS TO GO AND FIND THE KIND OF OPPORTUNITY THAT JUNIOR ACTS LIKE HE'S FOUND, ONE THAT WILL SOLIDIFY HIS CAREER TO WIN AND SUCCEED? "I like the credentials I've built. I think they're good. They could be better of course. There's a bunch of races out there that we could have won but anybody else could say that too so those races could have been taken away but I feel like it's a solid resume and I think that's pretty much what it takes. It's not excellence but as long as you're solid you can make it work."
CAN YOU CLARIFY ON RICK HENDRICK'S COMMENTS THAT YOU HAD SOME FABULOUS OFFERS AND YOU SAYING YOU HADN'T BEEN TALKING TO ANYONE? DID MR. HENDRICK MEAN YOUR AGENTS OR REPRESENTATION THAT HAD FABULOUS OFFERS? WAS IT A MISCOMMUNICATION? "Yes."
DO YOU FEEL BETRAYED BY HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "You're correct in your statement there that my previous representation didn't inform me of the calls, he did inform me he was getting calls, then I guess that was opened up to Hendrick Motorsports and then that's where they sort of got upset. Do I feel like I got pushed out? No, I don't feel like I got pushed out. For the way the negotiations were going, it wasn't going well, then it was, then it wasn't again so I think that I can do better somewhere else. That's the way we kind of felt it."
DID YOUR PREVIOUS AGENT COST YOU YOUR RIDE? "I don't think so. It was a tough decision to let him go to be honest with you and I really didn't want to do it. But I feel like I've got a better background now where I'm at that I can work really hard to not only become a better racer but a better driver. You know I wasn't in that much contact with him and that's what I want. I want to have contact with people where I can be more informed, more involved with everything."
ARE YOU BITTER OVER THIS? "No, no I'm not bitter. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to next year and the years after that. There's a fresh opportunity. There's a fresh start somewhere else so why not be excited about that? Why be bitter over something that was a mutual decision and an agreement upon?"
DO YOU THINK THE INCIDENT AT TEXAS WAS A START OF THIS? CAN YOU DEFINE WHAT ROLE THAT MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT HAVE PLAYED? "No, there's no connection there. It was a miscommunication between myself and the team. I messed up and we messed up all together and we've admitted that. You know everybody wants to say that was a try-out period. He ran eight laps in a destroyed race car, you know? There was nothing to learn there. It just happened and like it's been said, one of the team members was a good friend of Dale's and went over there and asked him to try to finish out the race to try to get a spot for points."
DID THAT INCIDENT GET YOU OUT? "I don't think it's just necessarily one incident or anything like that. Like I said, it was back to the contract negotiations and stuff like that and it just didn't happen."
WILL YOUR NEW NEGOTIATIONS BE A DISTRACTION FOR YOU? HOW WILL YOU HANDLE THIS? "I'm looking forward to just being able to I guess sit down and talk with some people and stuff like that and see what's out there. Right now I'm down because I want to be with my guys, you know? And now having to work with those guys for the rest of the year is going to be a little bit difficult but I'm still committed to them. On the other side of the coin, I'm excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and I'm looking forward to being able to try to solidify something. I don't have a time table. I really don't care as guess as long as I can get something."
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN TALKING ABOUT THE RIDE JUNIOR IS LEAVING? WHAT CAN JUNIOR EXPECT WHEN HE JOINS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "I'm interested in talking to anybody who wants to talk so whether it's DEI, whether it's Gibbs, RCR, Evernham, Yates, whoever's got an open seat. Whatever, lets go, let's sit down. Let's have dinner.
"As far as what Junior can expect, great equipment, great race cars, pretty solid backing and the research development team that they have over there is pretty good too so he's got the world lying ahead of him."
-credit: gm racing