Aaron's 499 - Talladega Superspeedway
Behind the Hauler Chat with Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS
WILL SOFT BUMPERS DETER BUMP DRAFTING HERE? "It's going to have to play out. We're all going to have to see how it ends up. It's softer bumpers, I wouldn't call them soft because there still is some stability there where we'll be able to bump draft a little bit. I think a lot of the guys are going to show more patience all the way up until the last 30 or 40 laps or so but you'll definitely get it toward the end of the event."
ARE SOFT BUMPERS THE WAY TO GO? "I definitely think it's a step in the right direction. Anything that we ever try to do as far as safety advancements, we're trying to make an impact in the sport in doing what we think is right. Hindsight is always 20-20, so you can only figure what your thoughts and what your experiments have been and only put it to the test on the race track itself."
IS IT UP TO THE DRIVER AS TO HOW SAFE THE SOFT BUMPERS WILL BE? "It's a part of restrictor plate racing and that's what it's been. There's been a lot of bump drafting over the years. The Truck Series does it, the Busch Series does it, the Cup Series does it. It's inevitable really. It's a fact of restrictor plate racing. It's a tough scenario. You have to learn how to do it right and where to do it and where not to do it. It's in the driver's hands and we just have to make sure we're showing enough respect for each other that you can be able to use it to the right advantage instead of the wrong way."
HOW CAN YOU TEST THE SOFT BUMPERS IN PRACTICE TO SEE HOW FAR YOU CAN PUSH IT? "You can test it out in practice if you really want to. You can go up behind somebody and if you get a good run on them and you just want to ram them to see how bad it's going to bend, you might as well do it in practice so you can come back in the garage area and look at it and see how bad it's going to be. You can judge off of how hard you hit that guy to how bad your damage is to what you can do during the race. You're guys will have to fix it before you get out there to race of course, but it's all whether or not you want to do that and have your guys go through all that hard work to put a new front bumper on the car. It's all about who has what mentality and how they're going to go about trying to determine how they use it."
ON TYPICAL RACE COURTESY GOING OUT THE WINDOW AT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES: "I think the biggest reason for seeing not a whole of respect at restrictor plate races is because it's hard to get that. If you let one guy go, you can end up going from third to 30th. It's so tough to try to fight for positions and what you can gain is a lot harder to get than what you can lose. You can give up one spot and end up giving 30 spots. Restrictor plate racing is a chess game on how you can stay up front. If you can stay up front then you have a better shot of staying out of trouble than you do fighting further back in the pack and dealing with more cars tighter together back there."
WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND IN PHOENIX AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN? "The biggest deal from last week was it was hard racing between myself and (Casey) Mears. I came down on him a little bit and we ended up cutting my left rear tire and I ended up spinning out. Before looking at the tape or realizing anything that had happened and totally taking the full incident into account, I took it under my own ambitions to retaliate which is the wrong thing to do. I let my emotions get the best of me at that point and it was the wrong thing to do. I owe Casey and Chip Ganassi an apology for all that and NASCAR too for not respecting the red flag and the safety of all the other competitors out there as well too. You take lessons that you learn by doing them. It's hard to teach somebody something without them having to go through that specific ordeal themselves."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO CASEY? "I have not talked to Casey. I've tried to talk to Casey. I left a message with Brian Vickers, who is a very close friend of his and mine, to give him my phone number and I haven't heard back from him."
WHY NOT CALL HIM? "I don't have his phone number and I don't like getting people's phone numbers from somebody to call them. I'd rather give my number out because I think that's the more civil way of doing it."
WAS THERE ANY FALL OUT WITH MR. HENDRICK AFTER THIS? "There was a talk between Mr. Hendrick, myself and Alan Gustafson and all went well. We tried to re-elaborate on the subject a little more. He wanted to know exactly what was going through my head which I elaborated on (for Mr. Hendrick) to further understand and try to help me out on certain circumstances that may come up in the future."
HOW WILL YOU DO HERE ON SUNDAY? "I hope Sunday goes pretty well. We haven't had much very much luck here in Talladega. I finished third in one Busch Series race. All the other races I've had here I've gotten caught up in mishaps. I've got a very good car and I'm confident with our guys and the Kellogg Chevrolet that we'll have a strong showing here this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting the race started."
WHAT'S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT CONTROLLING YOUR EMOTIONS? "The hardest part for me is probably my age. I'm used to being able to win races and things like that at the local short track ranks. Now you've got so many tough competitors out there that it's so difficult to win and the respect you want to gain from fellow competitors. There's a fine line there as well too. I had my pit road speeding penalty early in the race and I was trying to come back and fight from that. I was still a little irritated at that and myself for speeding on pit road while leading the race. It was kind of shameless. I got into Casey (Mears) there and wrecked a very good race car that was capable of winning the race. All those things put together inside the race car more or less and you just get sent over the top."
SINCE YOU WON A LOT PREVOUSLY, IS IT HARDER FOR YOU TO TAKE IT WHEN YOU DON'T WIN? "I wouldn't say that. When you have a car that is capable of winning and you finish 36th with it, you're very disappointed. At other race tracks when you have a car that you've run 15th with, it's because they couldn't get you to run 10th with it. Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle have show it this year that it's not very hard to get a good race car but for us we still have a little bit of work to do. I'm not here to finish 15th or 20th but there are those weekends that you're going to have to have that come about so I just need to learn that."
ARE YOU FEELING THE PRESSURE TO WIN? "There's no pressure to win. I talked to Rick (Hendrick) this weekend. I was telling him about different things and that I'm not here to run 20th. I'm not here to run 30th. I want to win and finish in the top five every week. I want to be capable of going after a championship. He said there are times that you're going to have to step back and run 30th and that you're not going to have a car that can run top 10 every week. You're not going to have a car that will be able to dominate every race. There are those times and I just need to get in my mind that that will happen sometimes."
DO YOU THINK YOU'RE A PERSON THAT LEARNS FROM YOUR MISTAKES? "I try to, yes. There have been some things that have reoccurred. I think the second time is my best lesson to learn on. I hate having to go through it a second time so I hope that now I try to figure it out the first time and learn from my emotions and keep them in check."
IS IT BETTER TO ADDRESS DRIVERS FACE-TO-FACE WITH ISSUES DURING A RACE RATHER THAN A PHONE CALL? "Yes, that's very much true. It's better to do it in person and maybe that's why Casey hasn't called me back. I'm looking to get up with him here this weekend. Whether that's his reason (for not calling back), I'm not sure. I'm going to try to get up with him as soon as I possibly can whenever I see him over by his car in the garage. I don't want to walk up in his hauler and disturb his guys. You never know when somebody is talking about car set-ups or something like that. It's difficult to do that. I'd like to get this issue done with."
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT KEEPS YOU FROM DOING THAT LIKE WITH TONY STEWART AT DAYTONA OR CASEY MEARS AT PHOENIX? "The biggest thing about doing it right after the race is something that Matt Kenseth probably learned at Bristol. Emotions are very high at that time and you don't want to get caught in that situation. You want to make sure you have time for people to settle down and take each driver's point of view from it and understand what that driver was thinking and understand what you were thinking and understand the situation as a whole and be able to discuss it at a later time."
AFTER YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH TONY STEWART IN DAYTONA, ARE YOU GOING TO RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY HERE IN TERMS OF AGGRESSION OR BUMP DRAFTING? "The only aggression that really came out was with about 10 laps to go. We were running in the fourth position and I tried blocking Tony Stewart and he was already alongside me. There's a deception in your mirror that you can't really pinpoint. My left side mirror, yeah I have it and yeah I try to learn where somebody is alongside of me but sometimes you miss. I wasn't sure if Stewart was there or not. I tried blocking him and he was there. I gave him the room and they posted for me for aggressive driving. We'll just have to try to keep that in check this weekend and hopefully we can be leading the race coming down with five to go so we don't have that problem."
ON THE PERCEPTION THAT HE WAS DRIVING AGRESSIVELY IN DAYTONA AND IF THAT'S FAIR: "There were a lot of incidents out there. I never ran with Tony Stewart for the majority of the race there in Daytona. I only ran with him at lap 10 to go or five to go. That was the only time I ever ran around him. I guess if I did so many things wrong in that amount of time, then I have a problem."
DID YOU GET AN UNFAIR REPUTATION AFTER DAYTONA? "I feel as though but the only way to set that straight is to prove yourself the following weekend or the following restrictor plate race such as today."
YOU SAID BUMP DRAFTING WAS A LEARNED THING. HAVE YOU MASTERED IT YET OR IS THERE STILL MORE FOR YOU TO LEARN? "I definitely don't have drafting mastered but as far as bump drafting, I feel as though I'm capable of doing it in the right areas with the right respect to the other drivers. The thing that was with me was that I had people that were bump drafting me through the tri-oval and there's pictures to show that. I never lay a bumper on somebody through the tri-oval or through the corners or anything because I know that the significance can be huge. The biggest part about all that is there could be cars in the stands so that's not very good. When you use it on the straightaways and you use it in the right effectiveness, it can be very effective."
WHAT'S LEFT FOR YOU TO LEARN TO MASTER THE DRAFT? "A lot of it is talking with people that have very good success in the draft. My brother has very good success with it, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson as well. To be able to talk with those guys and try to understand more about it from their vantage point can help me learn more about how to use it and its effectiveness on the race track. For me to be able to learn more of it is not only true witnessing it on the race track but to talk to the guys and try to get a little more out of it that way. Maybe after practice today I can sit down and ask Jeff (Gordon) some of the questions I saw from the race track."
CAN DRIVERS HAVE A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH DRIVERS AFTER TALKING THROUGH PROBLEMS THEY ONCE HAD ON THE RACE TRACK? "I have one relationship that has happened with and it's with (Martin) Truex. Him and I were running for the Busch Series championship and things were kind of getting hot and heavy between him and myself through that year. It came down to Charlotte where we finally had a pushing match on pit road and I got under his spoiler off of (Turn) two and got him loose. Then after the race we were mad at each other. Then the following week we talked and laughed about it and it's over and we've had the best relationship since. There are times when that can happen. Stewart and I talked that following week after Vegas. We've talked a little bit since then but not really as a close knit friend relationship but I'm sure it will grow over time."
DO YOU AND YOUR BROTHER SUFFER FROM EACH OTHER'S INCIDENTS? "I have that feeling sometimes that it's difficult to show your differences between each other but on the other hand there are some similar mistakes that both of you make and you try to learn from them. It's like we make the same mistake one week after the other with other. It's hard to put that into your mind. It is what it is. We're going to try and go on and make do with what we can in this sport."
ARE YOU TRYING TO GET BACK UNDER THE RADAR TO GET LESS NEGATIVE ATTENTION? "It's very difficult to be in the news and yet to try and be in the good news. What I've noticed here lately is that any little thing that I do that is out of the ordinary, I get shamed on. I did something that I thought was very positive last year. When I won my race at California, it wasn't something that anybody else would probably do, but I gave all my winnings away to the hurricane relief fund. That wasn't made much of. I was very disappointed in how that came out throughout the lime light. Anything that you do under the microscope is blown up so big and it's very difficult to get the amount of respect that you wish you could get in the right way."
WOULD THAT BE DIFFERENT IF YOU WEREN'T KURT'S BROTHER? "I can't answer that. I honestly don't know. Who's to say that I could be just as great as Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon if I wasn't Kurt Busch's brother. I don't know."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR YOUR 21ST BIRTHDAY NEXT WEEK? "As soon as testing is over, the guys and I are going to hang out and have a good time. I'm not sure where yet. I don't know if they're going to come over to my house or if we're going to crash Alan's house. We'll have to figure that out but no exact plans yet."