Kyle Busch Charlotte 500 Thursday media visit

Toyota Motorsports press release

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

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

What is your outlook for the Charlotte race weekend? “Charlotte is one of my favorite tracks, so we’re always excited about being able to get back here. It’s kind of the ‘home race feel’ with everybody being from the area and being able to sleep in their own beds and come to the race track. So, it’s a good opportunity for us to have a good weekend this weekend. The M&M’s Camry has been really good here in the past and I look forward to that again this weekend and being able to get back in the Nationwide car as well, too. So, it will be a good weekend for us.”

Have you accomplished what you had hoped you would in the first for races of the Chase? “Certainly not, no. I’d admit that we feel we’re definitely further behind than we would have wanted to be at this point. You know, I’d say that we definitely gave up a lot of points at Chicago. We gave up a couple points at Dover and a few points at Kansas. You know Loudon was about what we expected, so certainly we wish we would have had some better runs and if we could have had some of those points back, we’d be a lot closer. But other guys would probably say the same thing. Jimmie (Johnson) for instance, if they had a better day at Loudon, they’d be a lot closer too. It’s all relative, it’s just a matter of where we are right now. We just have to make sure that we keep fighting and keep fighting hard and not allowing discouraging runs like we’ve had get us down. We’ve just got to concentrate on what comes next week and be able to attack it and get what we can get out of that week.”

How frustrating is it to struggle after being the top seed at the beginning of the Chase for the second time? “It’s not the second time, it’s every time. Trust me if I knew, I’d love to fix it. I have no idea. You know, years past we may have had wrecks or mechanical failures or something to that respect. This year it’s not anything in particular, it’s just we’re not finishing where we’ve been running. Fuel issue obviously at Chicago. Not being the best, me not being the best and the car not being the best at Loudon. Dover we kind of missed it on the last run and Kansas we kind of got back in traffic a little bit when we came for two tires and some other guys stayed because they could make it the rest of the way. So, it’s just been little things, but certainly little things can take you out of the running. It has been every single season I’ve been in the Chase that this stuff has happened. It’s just that we’re still able to fight and come back from where we are. Years past we would have been knocked out by now. At least we still have a fighting shot.”

How has your pit crew performed since the start of the Chase? “You know, we did have some pit stop issues at Chicago, but we haven’t -- knock on wood -- we haven’t had any here the past few races. So yeah, the guys have really worked hard and dug in deep and they’ve been able to pump out some pretty good stops recently. So, we’ve been fine the last three races.”

Are you still trying to find the right balance with the Joe Gibbs Racing cars? “Certainly, there was a point earlier this year about summertime with Kentucky and Michigan -- we were class of the field those days, certainly really good. We haven’t had cars like that the last few weeks and whether that’s me not giving the right information to Dave (Rogers, crew chief) or us not being able to have the perfect setup. It takes so much to get everything exactly right. Jimmie Johnson last week was a class of his own -- I mean he was gone. It looked like the rest of us were Nationwide cars. That’s the car that you look for, that’s what you try to hit on when you’re in the Chase. We’re working on it. There’s not really one particular area that you can pinpoint and say that’s the reason why we’re not running the way we want to be running. It’s just a few things. Whether it’s bodies or engines or not having the right setup, pit strategy, having the guys on pit road have their head in the game -- you know all that stuff -- the driver having his head in the game. You know, it’s certainly you have to hit it all on a perfect day and we haven’t had that yet. I’m not saying we couldn’t have it here in Charlotte. I’d certainly love to have it the next four weeks and all of a sudden be the one everyone is worried about. We’ll play it one week by a time.”

How important is qualifying at Charlotte? “Qualifying is important. It is 500 miles here and there are strategies. There’s sometimes two tires, no tires and all that so it can always change up. But, you still like to get good pit selection, you like to be able to pick where you want to and try to pick somewhere that you might get a guy that you know will go a lap down if they pick around you so then you have a clean in or a clean out, or both. You’d like to qualify up front, you’d like to think it would keep you out of trouble. Obviously 500 miles is still a long day, so it’s not the end of the world.”

Do you think changing to TRD engines next year has affected the quality of engines you’re currently getting from JGR? “You know that’s a fair question, but honestly I can’t answer that -- I don’t know. I don’t know whether JGR has changed anything, I don’t believe they have. I would still assume that they still pour in the same amount of resources and energy into the finishing out this year and winning a championship, having the shot that we do. I don’t think that has any correlation. Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) and his guys are all still there, everybody is still in the same spots, there’s nothing different. Just next year we’ll be transitioning over to Costa Mesa stuff, but Costa Mesa is doing all the research and development for the EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection). Essentially it’s making our jobs easier because we have an in-house engine shop where we’re still working on this year’s stuff and not worried about EFI that somebody else is taking care of that where other teams they’re doing both. I don’t feel like anything has changed.”

Do you expect the changes at Talladega next weekend to provide different racing? “No, I don’t expect anything much different. They’ve changed some of the cooling things again. They’ve changed the popoff valve again, the radiator size I think, too, or that’s next year’s change, I don’t know. With the restrictor plate, they’ve changed as well, too. There’s certainly some things they’re trying to do to separate us and get us apart from each other, which is fine. I don’t have a problem with that one bit. I actually like it. As far as next week goes, are we going to see much different of a race? Probably not. Maybe just a little bit more swapping in between cars, that’s it.”

Is there anything that can be done to separate the field at Talladega? “To get rid of the push-draft? Yeah, you can get rid of the push-draft, you can misalign the noses like we were before we went to the new car. You know it’s almost a step back in history again. That’s all I can think of. Certainly there’s aspects of why we have the cars the way we have them now and with the grip level we have on the tires and everything and the track just being resurfaced, it gives us the opportunity to push. Unless they misalign the noses where we can’t push, I don’t see it changing.”

Does it appear Jimmie Johnson is poised to win the championship? “He’s (Jimmie Johnson) not leading it yet, but he’s right up there with in contention -- he’s in striking distance. We’re not striking distance, but we need to be by Homestead. If we can have a shot at it come Homestead then obviously we’ll have a shot. We’ve definitely just got to make sure that we can continue to have good runs, strong runs and get ourselves in position to get finishes we deserve and finishes where we’re running during the event. That will help us come Homestead.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, gibbs, toyota