KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

How does it feel to start the Chase as the points leader? “Chicago has been a fun place to race for us here in the past -- certainly 2008 winning the race. Last couple years it’s been a little rough, but we’ve won Truck races here and Nationwide Series races here. Looking forward to this weekend and running in the Doublemint Camry -- excited about their opportunity to get back out on the race track for the final time this year and being able to put in a good. Solid effort this weekend with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys and see what we can work on here in practice and of course make sure our car is driving well and has a good feel to it so we can try to be quick here come Sunday.”

What would it mean to you to be the guy that ends Jimmie Johnson’s championship dynasty? “It certainly means everything -- you’re finally the guy that was good enough to put it all together to beat a guy that has won five in a row. Jimmie (Johnson) and those guys, certainly the reason why they’re five time champions and five times in a row, they’re good at what they do and they know what to do and when to do it. They’ve built that notebook and they just have a great repertoire that they can work well together and they can get themselves -- they don’t tend to put too much pressure on themselves throughout the Chase and they do a really good job at that. For us, we’d love to be able to beat him and if we were, ultimately it means the most to win a Sprint Cup Series championship and I don’t think it would say that you unseat Jimmie Johnson, but more so, you beat 11 of the best that were in the Chase this year.”

Do you think there’s a favorite driver in the Chase right now? “Certainly not, no. I don’t think there’s a clear cut favorite. There’s guys that run well week in and week out and then maybe at a couple places they might stumble a little bit. It’s just about trying to minimize your damages in those kinds of days. For us and the 18 team with the M&M’s guys, we feel confident that there’s certainly some strengths for us throughout the Chase and there’s certainly some weaknesses too, and knowing those weaknesses, we have to make sure we can come out with the best possible day we can in those situations.”

Why did you choose Eric Phillips to be the crew chief at Kyle Busch Motorsports? “Eric (Phillips, crew chief)) has been a great employee and a great guy that I’ve known for a long time. I’ve known him when we worked together at Nemco motorsports back in 2003 with Brian Pattie and Joe Nemechek and those guys. Eric’s leadership skills and his work ethic and everything goes a lot into play in why we hired him. He was one of the best crew chiefs out there in the Truck Series in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and again in 2009. He certainly has a long standing there and ran really well with Mike Skinner, also hiring on Rick Ren. The relationship that he and Rick Ren share from their time at Bang Racing in the early 2000’s and then getting back together -- they’re working relationship was most crucial having Rick Ren as the director of competition and Eric as crew chief. To have those guys, you feel like they’re the two strongest guys in the garage area.”

Are you concerned with team orders affecting you during the Chase? “I don’t know what happened or what has transpired over the last few days with the Menard incident. All we can rely on is NASCAR and what NASCAR can do in governing their sport. Certainly there may be some tactics that aren’t necessarily fair or what have you. But certainly NASCAR needs to govern them and make it that way. It’s not fair to the rest of the competition to play tricks like that, I don’t feel like you know. I don’t know whether they were or they weren’t, I’m not saying there was -- my point is that if it’s something that NASCAR can investigate and police, then they need to. That’s not the way we race.”