Kyle Busch - Kentucky 400 Friday Media Visit

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Kentucky Speedway

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

How is your preparation going for this weekend? “The weekend has gone pretty well. We unloaded here pretty well last night with the M&Ms Camry and did a good job with the Cup Series being able to get some laps down and have a fast race car right off the truck. Made some changes to it just trying to make it better and just trying to learn the place a little bit and what kind of characteristics we might see here this weekend that are different from those I’ve experienced in the Truck or Nationwide Series. But, from there we’re trying to get some laps today in the Nationwide car for practice and then qualifying. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to get there. I might not even see the track with the Cup car. That wouldn’t hurt my feelings to bad. We’ve had some pretty fast laps this weekend, so we’ll just try to go with the best knowledge we can at how to set up the car and kind of pinpoint some ideas to put a fast race car out there on the race track for tonight’s Nationwide and tomorrow’s Cup race.”

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Should NASCAR race at more new tracks? “I don’t know how many more there are. What other ones are there we don’t go to that we should go to? Maybe a couple of road course events or something like that -- there's a couple of cool road courses around. Every big speedway that I know we pretty much go to. Texas World (Speedway) is still there, but it’s out in the middle of nowhere so you probably won’t get too many people there. All in all, I do feel like -- I've always said the season can be shortened up a couple of races by going to a couple places only once, but that’s not my decision. That’s NASCAR and network TV, I believe.”

What do you think of the Nationwide Series moving next year’s race from ORP to the Brickyard? “I really like ORP. I feel like that’s a really cool place. There’s a lot of people that go to ORP that like going to ORP because it’s a short track race, because it’s been on the Nationwide -- was Busch Series -- schedule since ’82 or whatever. A lot of history there. A lot of people that have won races there along with the Sprint Car days and everything. Moving it to the Brickyard, you’re obviously moving it into more mainstream with the Cup cars being there the same weekend. More attention is going to be around it probably. You won’t have to travel between two different venues. I guarantee you since it’s going to be at the same venue, I’ll probably be running it. So, you’ll see some Cup guys doing it rather than not so many traveling back and forth from the short track. I think it’s good and I think it’s bad. There’s certainly two sides to every story, I guess, and sometimes more. There’s a lot of people that only go to the short track and wouldn’t really care to go the big track and now that the race is at the big track you might lose some of those fans, but you might gain more fans because they like the big track, so who knows.”

Why are there fewer dominant teams/drivers this season? “I think it’s because everyone’s so equal -- competition is so tight. Everybody has a really good sense of this car now. There’s not much room for leeway in the rule book for us to get creative and get our cars faster than anybody else’s. You notice it more come down to the end of the race and strategy and how pit strategy plays out, fuel mileage plays out and how all of that comes down to who you see in victory lane, rather than somebody coming off pit road eighth or 10th and then being able to pass everybody and get up to the lead. The cars are all so equal, they run the same time that anytime you can get out front and not have to race the guys behind you, it just seems like a better opportunity to put yourself in victory lane.”

What do you think of the Nationwide Series championship point standings? “I think that it’s great that it’s just the Nationwide Series regulars are the guys that I guess you would say, ‘checked the box,’ racing for the championship over there. I think that with the way (Ricky) Stenhouse and (Reed) Sorenson and (Justin) Algaier and those guys -- they deserve the opportunity to go after a championship and race for a championship. It’s been cool to see and kind of watching that back and forth and seeing who might win the deal. I’ve kind of got a couple favorites that I’m pulling for, but it’s a matter of getting their own identity in the Nationwide Series rather than having somebody like myself or Carl (Edwards) or even Kevin (Harvick) stealing the spotlight.”

Has ‘checking the box’ for the series championship you wish to compete for worked? “I feel like I said, it’s brought its own identity to the series, so I think it’s certainly better. We’ve all known that it probably should have been this way for a while, but NASCAR didn’t make the change until just this year. I feel like it’s a positive.” What would you think about participating in the Grand-Am race at Indianapolis next year? “I won’t drive the road course, I would get confused coming through turn one backwards. That won’t be too good. I think those guys being there is going to be cool. I’m actually kind of wondering how they’re going to plan the weekend, you know. We always use that center road and that center road is part of the race track. How else are we going to get around the course when those cars are running whether it’s practice, whether it’s qualifying or whether it’s the race. That’s going to be interesting and all the motorhomes that are parked down in turn four and the Miller Lite party deck and everything that’s down there too. They’re going to have to move all that. They can’t leave it there. It’s going to be different, that’s for sure. I won’t run that race. Those cars are hot too. They’re too hot. Need to be able to roll down the window or something.”

What do you think of adding ‘the boot’ to the Watkins Glen race? “You know, if you run the boot then you have to run less laps. Either way, to me it doesn’t make a difference. Whatever we decide to do, we do. I think before NASCAR heads in that direction, just off a spur of the moment, we may need to do some testing just to see how gear ratios would work out and stuff like that. From what I remember, I think the boot is a little bit narrower than the regular course, track width wise. Say the track’s 30 feet wide, I think the boot-area of the track is only 20 feet wide. I could be wrong, but from just watching the races on TV, it looks a little narrower. It may produce more passing zones, but it may not. Our cars are certainly different than Indy cars or Grand-Am cars.”

What are some of your favorite NASCAR wins? “That’s a tough question. I probably can’t even remember 10 of them, to be honest with you. I think Vegas, winning there in my hometown was probably the biggest win of my Sprint Cup Series career. I’ve not won the Coke 600 or the Brickyard or the Daytona 500. Vegas is right up there on the top of my list. I’d say the Bristol night race. Guys always talk about how important that one is and how much that one feels like. There was a Nationwide win earlier this year at Phoenix, I led all the laps and (at) ORP I almost did the same thing, but I didn’t get it done. I missed like three. The Truck series, I’ve won so many there that I think the best one that I remember was the finish at Atlanta with I think it was Jack Sprague and Johnny Benson or a couple other guys, where we were racing coming to the stripe and we all wrecked out of turn four and I made it to the line. Those guys weren’t so successful at it. Those are a couple -- just the ones off the top of my head right now. Certainly, hopefully there’s plenty more.”

Is this a long weekend? “Yeah, it’s certainly a longer weekend this year because of all the testing and everything that they’ve allowed us and the extra track time and all that. It’s certainly hot. It was hot yesterday and just muggy. Today’s cooler so if we get to get on the race track it will be better and if we get to run the race tonight, it might be cooler tonight. That will all be fine. Sure, there’s plenty of opportunity to get tired, especially since we were supposed to have morning practice at nine AM and we got out there for a little bit. Now the rest of the day is going to kind of be down and rainy. Might just relax a little bit, take it easy, put your feet up. Like tomorrow, we’ve got all morning. I don’t have anything to do until like four in the afternoon so you’ve got plenty of time. There’s no reason why you can’t get enough rest. Plus, I’ve got the awesome NOS Energy Drink sponsor that keeps me going. Plenty of flavors to choose from -- help yourselves. M&M’s hauler, Z-Line Designs, NOS Energy Drink hauler and pick yourself up one. New charge citrus flavor tastes just like Mello Yello. It’s a southern thing, right?”

What would it mean to get the victory in the inaugural Kentucky NSCS race? “That would be cool. I’ve never done that before. Certainly, a lot of guys are really upping the stakes or upping the ante if you will that they want to win this thing. It’s not going to come easy, that’s for sure. I know Jeff’s (Gordon) probably been the most successful driver at doing it. We started out the weekend pretty good last night, we’d like to be able to carry that on into tonight and try to win the Nationwide Series race and then have a good shot for it on Saturday night. We’ve had good times posted so far with our Cup car. It’s been fast. It drives okay, so keep it out of trouble and keep it up front and try to win.”

How can you be successful at Indianapolis? “You know, that’s probably one of the trickiest places we go to on the schedule. Pocono being one, Darlington being one, Indy being another. It’s so hard to find a particular line that really, really works for you or really works for your car because the groove is so narrow. It’s plenty wide for one or one-and-a-half cars, but the line that you run around there, you vary six inches and it feels so different. You really have to be particular in hitting your marks and getting your car setup. The way that it changes throughout the weekend going from practice, not much rubber on the race track and then to the race with a lot of rubber on the race track -- the trajectory of the corners changes. How wide do you enter the corner? How long do you stay out? How sharp do you turn down? Indy’s definitely a particular race track and it’s exciting for us all to go there, especially with the history there and the prestige of winning that event. I’d love nothing more than to win there. It would be something cool. Been close a couple times, but like to get a little closer.”

Do they bumps here add character to the track or create problems? “I call it both, to be honest with you. It’s certain bumps add character to any particular race track. I remember Charlotte when it was as bumpy as it was down the backstretch. It’s definitely really bumpy. We have to develop a package that will work around here and go through the bumps that will create our cars speed and still be able to maintain that speed, so it’s not easy. It’s a balancing act for sure. Like last night, I felt like my truck was too rough. My Nationwide car is pretty good and my Cup car is pretty good. There are shock packages you work on. Different things you do with the springs to try and help it out. It’s a fine tune adjustment. You just have to work on it. From what I heard, they’re re-doing the infield here after this event and I certainly hope they are taking into consideration doing the race track. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it needs a good look at.”

How do you feel about the Kansas paving project and the Kentucky safer barrier? “Yeah, I heard that last night. I didn’t know that it needed repaving. I guess they’re saying they’re having problems with the seams or something like that. I don’t know. I haven’t been there when it has rained a lot. Us not being there while it rains a lot -- if there’s weepers or something like that -- they’re scared maybe there’s a problem. If it comes down to a weekend where you get a lot of rain and you have problems -- that could be a reason. I think the guys that have repaved Daytona, and Homestead and I think they’re doing Phoenix now and Talladega -- I don’t know if it’s the same group that has done all those. I believe it is or one of the same engineers that did all those -- but so far they’ve done a really nice job. They’ve been able -- the paving, the asphalt they use is really good and everything else too. I feel like they’re getting a system that really, really works well. So, it’s making it easier for all of us when we get to a racetrack to have grip. Vegas -- they didn’t use -- we didn’t use those guys at Vegas and Vegas didn’t turn out very good. I think people can certainly take notice from the group that’s doing all these repaving jobs. And, you asked me about the safer barriers, but yeah -- I don’t know whose dumb idea that was to put the wall out in turns one and two -- six feet away from the racetrack -- but that’s not right. That was wrong.”

Do you have a developing rivalry with Joey Coulter in the NCWTS? “Joey Coulter? Alright, I didn’t know there was one, but if there is one developing I’m now well aware of it. Last night, he was going to win the race if that caution didn’t come out. He was way faster than we were. I don’t know if I could have held him off. It’s just a matter of being in the right position at the right time. He’s certainly getting better and getting good equipment under him where he’s able to run up front and be in contention to win races, so that was cool for him I’m sure. I’m sure he’ll learn a little bit off what happened in that last restart and try to get better for next time.”

What will it take to beat Joey Logano at Kentucky Speedway? “Yeah, I don’t know. If we were here in the old car, I’d certainly say he is the favorite. Being the new car that we are in this year, it’s definitely different. The Ford has been really fast. Carl (Edwards) has been good. The (Kevin) Harvick team seems strong. We’re decent. We’re definitely not slouches by any means. It throws a different curve into the game, so we’ll see how it plays out tonight. I’m looking forward to it and I hope we’re the ones that can take it away it from him. I’d hate it that I did it, but I need a win tonight to keep it going for tomorrow night.”

When do you start thinking about a weekend sweep? “It becomes five (laps) to go in the Cup race, if you’re close. If you’re running 20th, it’s pretty much out the window. If you’re running second, chasing the leader down and catching him, there’s certainly an option there. If you’re leading and somebody’s catching you, you’re going to do everything you can to win the thing. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. You’re not worried about it yet. We would love to win tonight and if we can, we can. If not, then we’ll try to win tomorrow night anyway and we come up short by one.”

What would you think about the Nationwide Series running the Indianapolis road course? “Yeah, that wouldn’t be bad. I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. Trying to think of how the course goes. There’s going to be some tight sections through the ‘esses,’ I guess you would call it when you come down that access road and then you turn in and then you kind of go u-turn, u-turn and then back out onto the big track. You’ll see some congestion there, but otherwise it would probably be a good event. If they did that, I probably wouldn’t run it by the way.”

Is this the most laps you have run in a race weekend? “This will be pretty close to that. I’m trying to think back to Bristol maybe. Lap count wise, you could probably run more at Bristol, but mileage-wise, it’s probably more miles here, for sure. It definitely wears on you a little bit, but I’m going to Slinger (Speedway -- Slinger, Wisconsin) on Sunday as long as the schedule allows and we can get out of here tonight with a Nationwide race and then tomorrow with the Cup race. I don’t know if they’ll run us tomorrow morning in Nationwide or if they’ll wait until Sunday. If they do that, that will hinder my plans to go to Slinger. Plan is to stay on schedule.”

By: toyota motorsports

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags kentucky, kyle busch, nascar, nscs, sprint cup, toyota