KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your impressions of the changes made to the race track at Phoenix? “The new Phoenix (track) is definitely different. It’s something that we’ve all got to become accustomed to and kind of used to, how it’s going to change and what’s going to be different about it. It’s fun. We’ll see what happens when we get there."
What type of racing are you expecting in Phoenix? “Unfortunately, we are all expecting single file. It’s going to be a little tough to get two lanes going there. Certainly when it’s dirty, it’s really, really hard to run by yourself, let alone two-wide. Hopefully, they have widened it out there. They were supposed to do some ‘trickets’ while we’ve been gone about trying to get some rubber down and make it a little wider it for us."
Are you still concerned about Phoenix in the Chase? “Well, no. Apparently I need to be worried about all of them. All of them have been a problem. Phoenix is just another one of them."
How was practice today? “Practice was fine. Everything was good with the M&M’s Camry. Just working on a little bit of race trim stuff and got some qualifying laps in, so we’ll see how it turns out in a couple of hours."
What were you working on in practice? “Just trying to work on getting through turns three and four. It seems like we’re really good in one and two and figuring out why three and four is different for us."
What is the most difficult aspect of KBM moving to the Nationwide Series next year? “The biggest thing that Kyle Busch Motorsports is doing is just were looking for people to do a second deal. We’ve got most of them already picked out. Just got to wait for the season to get over in order to bring them all in house and get to work on building some cars."
Do you look forward to Champion’s Week? “No. The champion always looks forward to it. The rest of us just dread it. It’s just like another week of business that we have to do that we don’t get to go on vacation."
What Cup engines are you using now and what will KBM use in the NASCAR Nationwide Series? “In the (NASCAR Sprint) Cup Series right now, yeah (the No. 18 is still using Joe Gibbs Racing engines), but next year we’re all transitioning over to the TRD (U.S.A., Toyota Racing Development) engines for the Cup Series. TRD Costa Mesa (Calif.) does not supply Nationwide engines, at all. It’s either between Triad Racing Technologies or JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) on whose going to be Kyle Busch Motorsports engine supplier and right now we haven’t made that decision."
What is your most memorable moment from this season? “The coolest thing was us winning at Michigan. We’ve been going there a long time and never been very good there, at all, and kind of figured it out a little bit last year. We were really good there up there this spring and had a shot to win. Missed out on it. Finished third, I think, and then we went back there this fall and were really dominant and had a really great race car and finally won at Michigan. That was something we were looking forward to doing and finally got it down, especially now that they are tearing it up and putting fresh asphalt down there."
What non-Chase driver are you watching in 2012? “It will be curious to see how (Clint) Bowyer does in his new situation over at Michael Waltrip Racing. We kind of work with those guys. We really want to see him do well and elevate our program a little bit and kind of help us with what he knows and what they’ve all done over at RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and see if there is anything that will correlate for us."
Will it be difficult for Clint Bowyer to switch manufacturers? “No, not really. They’re all pretty close to the same cars. You’ve got to change the nose and hood, obviously, and the side window is a different shape and then the bumper cover and that’s it. Other than that and what’s under the hood bolted between the frame rails, it’s essentially the same. The engines do act a lot differently. When I went from the Chevrolet to Toyota, there was some differences there. Anytime that we’re able to continue to elevate our program and make it better, it seems like you then forget about what you used to have. For me, I haven’t been in a Chevrolet in so long I don’t remember what they feel like."
Has Jimmie Johnson championship streak changed how teams approach racing? “I don’t think it really changes anything on how you do things. Certainly, it’s important to get the right chemistry between a driver and crew chief and Jimmie (Johnson) and Chad (Knaus) have that. They’ve been phenomenal together over the years. It’s just a matter of being able to put it all together when it most matters and some teams are better at it than others. Obviously, we haven’t quite been able to get it all to go our way. We’ve run really, really well and if we could just take our average running position throughout the Chase, I think we’d be leading the points, but it doesn’t matter where you run, it matters where you finish."
What attribute sets Jimmie Johnson apart from the field? “To me, I don’t know exactly what it is that sets him (Jimmie Johnson) apart, but maybe the things that I’ve heard and seeing the things that I’ve seen before, he’s got a tremendous work ethic. He doesn’t have a bunch of extracurricular activities that he does. He might go out and golf every once and while, but he doesn’t race everything under the sun like I do and he concentrates on one thing and spends a lot of time with his crew chief. Just developing that notebook and being able to work all throughout the week, although people might think they really aren’t doing anything, Jimmie is probably doing something."