An interview with: Kyle Busch
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. Today's guest is Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kyle enters the Chase as the top seed with four wins on the season. This is the fifth time that Kyle has made the Chase. His career best finish in the points standings is fifth in 2007.
Kyle has had success at Chicagoland Speedway winning the 2008 race from the Coors Light pole, in six races at the tracks has two top five finishes and a driver rating of 98.3.
Kyle, thanks for joining us today. We'll open up with a fan question from Twitter: What do you think your chances are of winning the championship this year now that you start the Chase number one in points?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I certainly like to think our chances are pretty good to win the championship after being the top seed and winning the most races in the first 26. We start out with great momentum on our side. Really looking forward to these final 10 races, starting this week in Chicago. Hope it goes well and after Homestead we're the guy on top hoisting that trophy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to media questions for Kyle Busch.
Q. Kyle, social media has changed communications globally. Some drivers embrace it, some don't. Both you and your wife use Twitter. What do you like best about it and do you have any thoughts about the future of social media with NASCAR?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly social media has come a long ways in our sport. NASCAR has their own Twitter account. A lot of drivers do. Some sponsors actually do promotions through it and everything else.
It's about hitting the masses, just being able to give your side, have kind of a speech that you may not have or may not have the opportunity to have. The fans love it. They're able to interact with you. It's not quite like having your cell phone number, but almost is. They're still able to get ahold of you.
Sometimes we do times where we give question and answer sessions via Twitter as well as Facebook, being able to get and connect with our fans that love us and pull for us so passionately.
Q. Do you think the fans, it's a good thing to build a bigger fan base by being able to use it and connect with more?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly anytime that you're able to have people retweet you or anything, it hits their audience, then those people retweet, it hits their audience. It expands, blows up like a spider web. It's beneficial to us all. We try to use it the best we can, of course, getting people interested and back into the seats, grandstands, coming out to enjoy our races, what we can do out on the racetrack.
Q. Has there been anything that you'd point to in past Chases that you say, Okay, I can't do that in this one?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, certainly we look at 2008 as being a really good year that we had. We won eight races, we were the top seed going into the Chase. First three races right out of the gate we faltered. We had a sway bar bolt come loose, we blew up at Dover, then we got I think a fuel pickup problem or something at Kansas.
Those are issues that we have as a team that we need to make sure that we don't have this time around. Also last year's Chase, with myself and David Reutimann getting into each other at Kansas, that certainly didn't help anything either.
Those are things that I can do as well as the team can do that can make us better and stronger, to not let ourselves give it away. Certainly there's a great chance for us to win it. It's going to come down to the man with the least mistakes.
Q. Is there any part of you that's like, Man, I've come into the Chase in the past doing so well, why won't this happen during these last 10 weeks?
KYLE BUSCH: No. Sometimes you just don't understand the way the world works. But it can certainly spin off in some weird ways. There's things that you can do to help prevent some of those. We can be smart about it. But sometimes it comes down to how you make your own luck.
Q. Kyle, is there more stress on you as a driver when you're in the Chase as compared to driving in the regular season?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly there is. When you go through the regular season, you're striving to make the Chase. When you feel like you're in a good position, all the stress is off you. Whether you're number one in points or whether you have the most wins in the season, you're a lock for the Chase, it certainly makes your life a lot easier.
Guys like Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, those guys that were further back, that didn't have wins, fighting for their way to be in the Chase, it can certainly be stressful for the first 26 races. Then it's almost a relief once you get to the Race for the Chase.
For us, though, there's going to be an added pressure. But right now we just want to keep going with how we've been doing all year, keep the consistency going, hopefully run strong at these first few Chase races to get a good foundation built up and see who the players are going to be, then race a little harder when we get down to the final four or five.
Q. Fans ask how Kyle does it, he runs in the Nationwide races, Truck races, now the Chase. Can you explain to the people how you do it?
KYLE BUSCH: Racing in all three series is something that I've done for a long time, and I love doing it. It gives me the added time on the racetrack. It gives me a feel that I can be looking for, whether it's racing the Truck or the Nationwide car or the Cup car, having that time to see how the tire changes throughout a run, to feel the different things about the racetrack that you might feel. Maybe there's a seam that I run over in the truck that I've never felt in the Cup car. It reacts a certain way.
Those things are always nuances that you pick up on. By running so many races throughout the year, sometimes you forget about those. How we ran at Kansas earlier this year might not quite be indicative of how we can run at Kansas later this year. Getting that added experience, those times on the racetrack, that can certainly help us.
People say, “You're not spending enough time with your crew chief, you're running back and forth between garage areas.” There's plenty of time. When the garage is closed, doesn't mean you can't talk to your crew chief. You can go to his motorhome, he can come to yours, or you can talk to each other on the phone.
Q. Kyle, several drivers are talking about the fact that one bad finish in the Chase this year can really put you in big trouble. How do you balance trying to run in the top 10 but also kind of be careful not to goof up and be overaggressive and put yourself out early? Where is the balance there?
KYLE BUSCH: I think the balance lies within just making sure that you do what you're used to doing all year long, not worrying about everybody else. If you do a bad race, you can't put pressure on yourself to make it back up right there. If you have a bad race, let's say you're leading the points going into Phoenix, you have a bad race, it knocks you back to eighth, eliminates your chance for a championship, there's nothing you can do about it. It certainly stinks. You're not going to change anything. It's over and done with. You're going to be mad and dwell on it and say, There goes another year, another waster opportunity.
But certainly there's value to making sure you're consistent in trying to do what you can do, protect yourself. If you make some stupid mistake or dumb mistake, you can only put it back on yourself. There's an added pressure there that certainly one race can kill it. But you've got to go along if it happens it happens.
Q. How are you approaching the Chase mentally this year? It seems like you're much more subdued and a little bit calmer about going into the NASCAR playoffs.
KYLE BUSCH: I think you just approach the Chase as you have the beginning of the year. Everybody's kind of calm and relaxed, ready to go, ready to get started with the year when we get to Daytona. The media day that we have down there is always kind of easy, stuff like that.
There's no reason to treat this any differently. Certainly you want to come out with an even head, a clean head, a clean slate, per se, to be able to go out there and race for a championship because you know there are these 10 weeks that will make it or break it. You put too much pressure on yourself, you start making mistakes. You think too much, you start making mistakes.
We've played this year really well, have been consistent. So you do that all off of your talent and your feel. To me it's just trying to keep it the same. Don't overthink it.
Q. Is there a certainly aggravation among the top drivers that Jimmie just keeps winning championship after championship? You've got talent, equipment, resources. The last five years he just keeps winning the thing.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, certainly it's great for our sport, but it could also be hurtful to our sport, too. Jimmie has been really good at what he's been able to accomplish obviously. He's one of the best out there, him and Chad both. They're really good at what they do.
There's no slouching. You can't take anything away from them being able to win five championships in a row. Nobody has been able to step up and beat them or they've eliminated themselves.
We have to make sure we can make it all the way to Homestead with a chance, give it our all, try to do the best we can there and come out with a victory.
Q. Give me a name among the 12 that people maybe aren't aware of or don't think of being a championship contender that really is.
KYLE BUSCH: I think people have pinpointed Brad as that kind of guy. He's made the Chase, has been strong the past few weeks, has really turned it up through the summer. He can be a guy that certainly surprises us all, competes for the championship.
Whether or not he wins it, that's not for anybody to debate, it's for after the points total come Homestead time for us to figure out who's the champion.
Q. I was wondering if the dynamic for your team has changed at all with Denny in the sense of last year he won six races coming in, everybody looked at him, and this year he has one win and made it at the last minute.
KYLE BUSCH: I think Denny certainly has struggled for what we were expecting to see this year. But not due to him or the team or anybody doing anything differently. It's just been a matter of luck that hasn't quite found their side. Some dumb mistakes have bit him, whether it's been other people's messes he's gotten caught up into, what have you.
I think Denny is certainly ready for the Chase. He should have a relaxed feeling now that he's made it in. It's the final 10 races. Just kind of hit the reset button and get ready, try to come out with a vengeance.
He could win the first week out here in Chicago and be right up there, probably in the top five in points. Everybody running back like, Now Denny Hamlin is a championship contender. That can certainly be anybody's boat here in the first two or three races.
Q. Did winning the regular season mean anything for you?
KYLE BUSCH: It does. Certainly I wish there was an added bonus to being the winner of the regular season. It doesn't give us anything besides the wins that we had and how we're now the top seed.
I think it makes a little bit more sense for us winning the regular season, having the most wins, being the top seed. If you look at it on the flipside, if we didn't have any wins but won the regular season, we'd be last, which would make people rethink, Why is the points leader of the regular season last because he doesn't have any wins. That's just the way it works out sometimes.
Q. This weekend headed into Chicagoland, you had wins there, you've had one win in the Cup Series, win in the Nationwide and Truck Series. Is there one thing you can put your finger on to head back to Victory Lane in the Cup Series?
KYLE BUSCH: I think the biggest thing for us to go back to Victory Lane in Chicago in the Cup Series is having a good car. When you unload off the hauler, you're fastest off the truck, it makes life a heck of a lot easier for the weekend.
We know that we've got to be a strong contender. We weren't very good at Kansas, but we were really good at Las Vegas, at Kentucky, at Michigan, at California. Those are intermediate tracks that play well into our hands.
For us to pinpoint one exact thing that's going to fix our cars for Chicagoland, it's just speed. You got to be able to come off the truck with a good feel, a good-handling racecar, something that you can make speed in.
Q. Kyle, looking ahead to the 10 races of the Chase, are there any that you are not really looking forward to going to that you circled on your calendar as, I just want to get in here, get the best finish I have, hopefully move on?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly I think a lot of guys would put that as Talladega. It's such a wild card race that anything can happen there. For us it's a place that we've got to win at. It's such a luck track.
For me, it's an opportunity to go out there and try to make the most of the event. But your fortunes are riding on so many people's shoulders that it's not quite what you do during that race, it's what everybody else does during that race.
Talladega is a place where we'd like to get in and get out with a decent finish. I think something in the top 15 would be all right, top 10 would be great. We certainly think we can go in there and win. There's certainly no sense in saying we can't. There's a lot of things that have to factor in that go right.
Q. You are known for your driving style and your personality. You've been called a lot of nicknames over the years. Are there any that you particularly like or any that you can't stand?
KYLE BUSCH: No. To me it doesn't matter. I've had a lot of nicknames over the years. Whatever they've been or wherever they've come from, certainly they're all indicative to something.
Chad Ochocinco is calling me 'Unocinco'. It's kind of funny to have that relationship there. Darrell Waltrip has called me Superman, or maybe that was Mike Joy, I don't remember which, some other nickname. Certainly there's a lot out there.
'Rowdy' seems to be one that kind of fits. We want to make sure that that one keeps up with what we're trying to do throughout this Chase, making sure we can bring home a championship.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, congratulations on another Chase berth. Thanks for your time today. Good luck over the next 10 weeks.
KYLE BUSCH: We appreciate it. Thanks for joining in with us.
THE MODERATOR: Special thanks to the media today. Thank you for your interest in NASCAR.