NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&38M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) What are your chances to win the Daytona 500 this year? "I think we have a good shot at being able to run well again this time. We ran fourth there...
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&38M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)
What are your chances to win the Daytona 500 this year? "I think we have a good shot at being able to run well again this time. We ran fourth there in the spring last year, led the most laps, and should have won the race but got a little off there at the end with all the cautions the way it fell. Hopefully, the Budweiser Shootout will show us a little bit of what we can expect for the 500. Winning the July race there was pretty cool with being able to get a first win at Daytona like that."
Will you take the same car from a year ago back to Daytona? "I am not sure which car we're taking down there. It's pretty much going to be the same set-up package. We ran the same set-up package in February as we did in July -- it seemed to work great both times, finished fourth and finished first. So, I think we'll be just fine heading into Daytona with the same set-up. Whether or not it's the same car, hopefully, they improved on something body-wise that we can have a better car and a better shot this time."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, JGR
What are your chances to win the Daytona 500 this year? "We led tons of laps, especially in the early part of that race. We have been in contention to win every (Daytona) 500 since my rookie year (2006). It's just that things have never worked out. I don't think you'll see any difference this year than what you saw last year, especially coming back with the same tire and the same race car as we had last year. I think you'll see that caution with 10 to 15 (laps) to go like you always do, and then I think hell is going to break loose after that."
How focused are you heading into this season? "I can assure you that I'm more focused than I've ever been on the racing aspect of it. A lot of people say that, but I work my guts out in the gym to try and be better. Every time I think I'm working hard, I always picture someone else who's working a little bit harder than I am so I push myself a little bit more. Even when I go to a test session, if we need to work on something, I don't need to be up in the lounge when they're making changes -- taking a nap. I need to be underneath that car wondering what I can do, what better feedback I can give them, and give them all the feedback I can. I'm really trying everything I can to be better -- to be the best that I can be -- because I'm tired of hearing that I have potential. I want to show that I have results instead."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, JGR
What are your expectations for your rookie season in the Cup Series? "Rookie-of-the-Year would be big for us. We will go for that and then go along -- the same way I did last year in the Nationwide Series -- just kind of go with the flow, see where we are at and do the best we can every weekend."
How do you feel about your first Daytona 500 start? "I'm definitely excited about Daytona and joining the Home Depot team. Obviously, it's the biggest race that I've ever been in -- it's the Daytona 500 -- so it's going to be big. I'm looking forward to it and I'm really excited."
How is your relationship with crew chief Greg Zipadelli? "It will still probably take a couple of races, but I think we're getting to that point now where we are starting to gel a little bit, getting to know each other. There are a lot of different things that we're going to learn along the way, but I think that helped our communication. The way I describe a race car to the way he fixes it -- it takes time to get that chemistry going -- but I feel good about it."
What are your expectations for your rookie season in the Cup Series? "We definitely learned some stuff toward the end of the year. Miami was a big success for us. I think we improved on that. We've shown, definitely to ourselves, how far we've come with this test in Atlanta (in January) because Atlanta is one of the tracks that we struggled the most at. Jimmy (Elledge, No. 82 crew chief) and I were communicating, he definitely has a better feel for what I want and what I need and we're able to get it. That's really encouraging going into the year."
How beneficial will it be to compete in the Shootout? "It was really a pleasant surprise to hear that we were going to be in the Shootout. The experience of being able to race on Saturday night is honestly going to be so valuable for me and the entire 82 team. It's a great opportunity for us to test our stuff for the Daytona 500 and it's an opportunity for me to get some more track time, which is always a good thing for a rookie."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, RBRT
Do you think your team can contend for race wins this year? "I hope so. We obviously know how to run up front as a team. We just have to be able to finish like that. We led over 250 laps, just not the right one. One of those is all we needed, just at the right time. We've got to figure out how to be there at the end of the race. That's where we've struggled. We've got to be able to finish the race, not make mistakes, not have problems, not fall out of races, not blow engines and not have tires come off. Once we can accomplish that, then I think we have a shot at winning races and championships."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR)
Do you think your team can contend for race wins this year? "I think we just need to be more consistent with what we do. Last year, we had flashes of brilliance where we could run well and we could run in the top-10 and top-five and have good finishes, but we need to do it on a more consistent basis. If we can work on being more consistent and make our pit stops a little better and just do the things that we've been doing, but a little better. I think those gains will serve us well as the season progresses. Gains in this sport are made not by miles, but by inches. We will just keep inching up on it a little at a time and I feel like we'll be in contention to do what we need to do."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, MWR
What are the toughest challenges in being a driver/owner? "As I've matured as an owner I love being a driver because I'm in the car and I understand what my other guys are dealing with. I'm able to be very critical of our equipment. I'm able to say; 'How can we make it better' or 'What can we do to improve?' I think that experience helps our team as it grows. What I look back at it and wish I would've done differently is, I wish I would've knew more about being a car owner than I did when I started. It took a long time just to get to a point where we felt like we were starting to gain some momentum and to get our feet up under us. We are there now, but it's taken a whole bunch of changes of philosophy and a whole bunch of people that have come and gone and helped me to establish myself as an owner. I feel great today with where we are as a team."
TERRY LABONTE, No. 66 Window World Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
Are you looking forward to getting back into a race car at Daytona? "I ran some races last year for the Pettys and absolutely had a great time and it was a lot of fun. When Michael (Waltrip) and Phil (Parsons) called me about doing this I said; 'Yeah, we'll do -- we'll try it.' So, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to go to Daytona and hopefully we can make the race and have a good run down there. That is an unusual race and you've seen people go down there and really run a lot better then you would ever expect. This year without testing has made it unusual. Before you always had guys that went down there and tested for three days and when you went back you pretty much knew who was going to run good when you got down there. It's kind of wide open a little more this year than maybe in the past. This is a car that one of Michael's (Waltrip) teams ran there last year on the speedways so hopefully we can get it dialed in and have a good run."
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS)
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, JGR
How beneficial is it for you to run a full schedule in the Nationwide Series? "I like being out there on the race track -- I would rather be out on the race track. The only time when it gets hard on you a little bit is trying to jump back and forth between truck practice, Cup practice, Nationwide practice and qualifying, and all that stuff on the same day. Along with media obligations, sponsor obligations and all the stuff like that. To me though, when you're out on the race track you would rather be there than sitting in a motor home watching the race on TV."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
JOHNNY BENSON, No. 1 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
How do you approach the 2009 season as the defending NCWTS champion with a new race team? "I am looking forward to this season. It's something different obviously, with a new team, than I've done the last four years. It's going to be different and challenging like all new ventures but outside that I'm looking forward to it. I'm working with Trip (Bruce, crew chief) again and some of the guys that I've worked with in the past and then trying to build a new team around it is always exciting."
What challenges will you face this season switching to a new race team? "With the rule changes and all of that stuff, it's a whole new ballgame now. There's going to be a lot of different challenges ahead of us. If we're able to overcome those challenges quickly, I think we have a shot at defending the title. If we don't, then it will be a little long. I think anytime that you go to a new team and a new owner your expectations are to do good and your expectations are still to accomplish your goals, but it's always been a challenge anytime I've ever done that."
TODD BODINE, No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota Tundra, Germain Racing
Why have you been so successful racing at superspeedways? "As a team, we do all the technical things right, but we still have to have luck. If we do it right like we've been doing, and we're lucky enough, then we can continue to win at tracks like Daytona and Talladega. In order to be in a position to win, we have to have a good truck and we are confident that we have a great No. 30 Tundra prepared for Daytona."