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: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Do you enter New Hampshire looking to make up ground in the Chase? “We’ll see how it goes. This isn’t quite the place that we always look to try to turn things around, but we need to. We’ll see how it goes. Certainly this is a place where track position means everything -- just difficult to pass and hard to pass sometimes. You can get some ground on guys and really push your car to the limits and we kind of found that out here in the spring that pushing it too hard will bite you. We blew a bead and overheated the front brakes just using too much and pushing too hard. You definitely have to be conscious of all of that and where you’re at in traffic and kind of let the race play to you. There’s definitely a lot of strategy here. The spring race -- a lot of two tires, a lot of no tires. Sometimes guys staying out. You can be all over the board.”

How significant is it that Kevin Harvick stayed atop the points and you fell following Chicago? “I don’t know if it’s significant yet or not. It’s a long Chase -- there’s still nine more races to go. We won’t know until the end. There’s been periods of time this year where we come into the race as the points leader, have a bad week and fall back to fifth in points -- 20 something points behind the leader. In three or four races we make it back up. Certainly there’s the opportunity for us to make it back up -- that’s what we’re trying to do and that’s what we want to do. Starting here at Loudon and then going to Dover -- a good place for us and certainly some others. We know it’s definitely going to be a tough Chase and poor finishes definitely make it a lot tougher.”

Do you feel you need to take chances to win races in the Chase? “I think we’re going to play it out as we have all year. We haven’t changed anything. We’re just going out there to do the best we can to run the hardest we can, the smartest we can and let the results take care of themselves. If we finish enough times in the top-five or the top-10 or win a couple then the results will take care of themselves. For us, we’re not pressured. We’re 20 points back or whatever it is and there’s another guy that’s right in front of us that’s the same amount back. We just have to know that there’s still nine more weeks, there’s still a lot more miles left in racing and wherever it falls, we’ll let the good Lord tell us where it’s at.”

How do you think fuel mileage will play into the Chase? “Your strategy is to get better fuel mileage than anybody else out there. How you do that -- I couldn’t tell you. Certainly there’s other guys that get better mileage than us, but we get better mileage than others. We’ll see how it all plays out. Here at Loudon it can always be that kind of way and kind of depends. If there’s a caution at lap 200 -- you can’t stretch it from there. If there’s a caution at 225 then you might try to stretch it from there if there’s a caution at 250, it’s easy for everybody. It’s just a matter of what you’re strategy has been all day and where you’ve been on pit road and what kind of tires you’ve been taking. Whether it’s been two or whether it’s been four. It doesn’t necessarily just play into fuel strategy, it plays into tires and everything.”

How much impact did the debris have on your car at Chicago? “It did have a little bit of an effect on the car -- it made the car looser towards the end of the race so the last run of the race we were looser. We did calculate that with me being looser that we had slower lap times so we did calculate the slower lap times and taking into consideration with that throughout the run on how much to save exactly. Certainly the damage could have caused more drag to the car and essentially gave us a false read and kind of tricked us. We ended up running out. Maybe we weren’t conservative enough on our numbers or maybe it was the damage to the car. We’re not exactly sure. Fact of the matter is that we ran out.”

What would be the impact of not practicing this weekend due to weather? “I think the guys that ran really good here the last time probably benefit a little bit more and just unload with the same thing. We went and did a test and we would like to be able to back up some of those results here this weekend and see if we can’t learn something and get a little bit better than what we’ve been here in the past. We will not race without practice -- I know that for a fact. We’ve never done that. We’ll get on the track whether it’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes -- they would like to at least get all the cars on the race track for some sort of laps before we go into a race.”

What was the debris you hit last week? “I have no idea. It was heavy, but I have no idea. It’s too hard to tell going 200 miles per hour exactly what it is. It looked like a crush panel, but it was definitely not a crush panel because it was way heavier than that. I couldn’t tell you. If it’s in the debris truck, they’ll be able to tell you -- I couldn’t tell you.”

How does the Chase change with New Hampshire being the second race? “It doesn’t change a whole lot. There’s 10 races in the Chase -- you know those 10 races going in so it doesn’t change much. Certainly with Chicago being first and being a mile and a half, there’s four or five other tracks like that in the Chase. I don’t think it gives you a great indication on the rest of the season, but if it does, good for us. We ran really good. We were running third-fourth and had some issues on pit road and would fall back to 15th or 16th and make our way all the way back up to seventh. We could pass, we could move up through the field so that was good. There was other guys that finished well in front of us that maybe ran 10th to 15th all day, but got a good finish at the end. Loudon, it’s the second race of the Chase and it’s a place that has been tricky for some and mostly because of the track position fight. You battle that all day long and at a place like Chicago, you can move around the race track and get some different grooves going and try to pass people. Here, you have one or one and a half lanes that you can race in and when you have to pass somebody, you have to move them out of the way or slide job them or push them up into the third lane or something like that. It’s a lot harder to make moves here than other places.”

What is the mood of your team? “It was a disappointing finish and guys were upset. It’s not indicative of how we ran, but we went back to the shop and we just tried to work on everything that caused us problems. Being able to fix those things and get ready for this weekend and put it all behind us. Guys have done a nice job. We worked on some refueling procedures and some other stuff just to kind of bide our time through the week, but other than that just ready to get back at it. With the test that we had at Milwaukee, hoping that those results can translate here.”

How can fuel mileage race finishes be prevented? “I don’t know. These cars are not easier to drive, they’re just harder to spin out. The old cars were a lot easier to spin out sometimes or get underneath the back of somebody and jack them up. These cars, the bumpers line up. Unless you want to see more debris cautions at the end of races then really there’s no way to fix it. It is what it is. It’s just a product of what you’ve got. It’s a product of racing sometimes. You go to local short tracks and they can run 125 laps under green the whole way. People say that is a boring race just because there was no wrecks. What do you want to see? Do you want to see wrecking or do you want to see racing?”

Would it help to go back to the 22 gallon fuel cell? “I don’t know. Certainly Goodyear has done a lot better with the tire that it takes to run on this car. I think that was our concern in the beginning was that these tires wouldn’t go enough laps. Some places they will and some places they won’t still. It kind of depends. I don’t know that 22 gallons is going to make much different over 17. To me, it’s a lot more interesting because actually you do get to pit road more times and you get to benefit off your pit crew a little bit more so those guys are on their game and you are looking forward to coming down and utilizing their skills and being able to have fun with it of course. Otherwise you would just be out on the race track running more laps.”