Bristol Motor Speedway
March 20, 2011

An Interview with
Kyle Busch - Race winner
Dave Rogers - Crew chief
J.D. Gibbs - President, Joe Gibbs Racing

KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our race winner, Kyle Busch. Team president J.D. Gibbs is with us now. Crew chief Dave Rogers will be here momentarily.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Kyle, again, you come to Bristol, sweep Bristol. You must like Bristol.

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know where to begin. I guess first and foremost, it's cool to have the race title be after Jeff Byrd. We know what he's done for us at Bristol, what he's done for the sport in general, how much he meant for all of us. To win the Jeff Byrd 500 is especially special to me and to the Joe Gibbs Racing team. We're real pumped about that. Thanks to Food City and those guys for giving up their name in order to put Jeff's name on there.

All in all, today was a really good day for us. We played it patient a little bit. We played some aggressiveness sometimes. It was all worked together into a victory that we were able to prevail today.

Can't say enough about these guys on this team. Great pit stop on the last run down pit road. They gave me a great job so I could get out and have the track position that I wanted and have the lane I wanted to restart in. Kind of gave me a little bit easier job instead of having to pass some of those guys. It would have made it interesting for sure.

Carl tried to make it interesting. Gave me a little bit of a shot there. Kept it straight somehow this year. Didn't have any fall-back from 2008. All in all, it was really good. Again, great job by Dave and the guys for working all last night and coming in early this morning and working on putting the car back together. I got in the fence a little bit yesterday. They had to massage on it a little bit. Appreciate their work and hard work this weekend.

KERRY THARP: J.D., Kyle Busch has become the man here at Bristol Motor Speedway. Talk about his dominance at this great short track.

J.D. GIBBS: To me, Bristol is just nerve wracking from an owner's perspective. Kind of like Talladega and Daytona in a way, you have to survive it first, then you have to be in the right place at the right time, make the right decisions, good stops. Kyle took advantage of that. It was kind of fun to watch today, especially to get to kick off the whole extension with the M&M Mars team. It was real special for us. We're real appreciative.

KERRY THARP: Dave Rogers, crew chief, certainly you had to make some revisions and do some things with the new tire that you all got yesterday. Talk about some of the things that you did as a team and then also talk about the performance today of the team overall.

DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I'm real proud of the entire M&M team. This is a team win for sure. We came off the truck Friday really good. Kyle was extremely happy with the car. We knew the track was going to tighten up, it always does. We still got behind. Saturday we weren't very good at all. We were really tight. We put the new tire on and it was worse yet.

We made some stabs at it in practice. We got it better, but we were still a good 10th and a half, 2/10ths off. That's pretty far off at this racetrack. So we studied the notes, talked to Jason Ratcliff, talked to Kyle after the Nationwide race yesterday, studied the tire data, whatever Goodyear would give us. We came in this morning and made a number of changes, pretty significant changes. The road crew seemed to put together a sound racecar, then Kyle did his job on the racetrack as we expected it to. Comes down to a final pit stop. Our guys shined. Total team effort. Real happy with everybody.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.

Q. Kyle, it seemed like all day today from driver introductions to getting out of your car you made an effort to make friends with these Bristol fans. Do you think they might be wise at this point to try to take you up on it? Also, could you take us from that last restart when Carl was making some runs at you through the rest of the race.

KYLE BUSCH: I don't know about the fans. I don't know if it's that easy to change opinion sometimes. It's definitely fun to have a good attitude about things and to come into this weekend and have good results, good success out of it.

Last night after the Nationwide race, I had an appearance with some of my buddies and the Toyota guys out there at their station. There was a ton of people out there. So they all had a good time.

It's funny, there's like 250 or 300 M&M jackets like everywhere in a globble {sic}. You think, where are all these people when driver introductions take place? They're up against 160,000 people, I know.

It was fun. It's always cool to have that.

The last couple restarts there, the first one was like, I don't know, 70 to go or something like that. I got away from Carl. I'm like, Man, okay. He was with me for the first lap. The second and third lap I inched myself away. As soon as rubber gets down on the racetrack, I can run away from him. That will be easy. Seems like every time we had a longer caution period, my tires would cool more and we would get looser. I was sitting there at the mercy of being loose, not being able to hammer off the throttle and drive away off the corner from him.

Once we got through a few laps, I could kind of start inching my way away a little bit. When I would, then one time I slipped in the middle of turns three and four. I got in there and tried to carry a little bit more speed. Every time you're just like a little bit more, a little bit more. That little bit more was too much. Got loose on me. I had to back off and try not to hit the wall. Had to regather my stuff. That's when the car seemed to come to me and I could start driving away from there.

It was pretty good. Dave did a great job with the car all day. We started loose at the beginning of the race. The more we worked on it, the better we got. There were still some areas we can improve on for when we come back here next time.

Q. Last year or so, since you've gotten the truck team, you seem more thoughtful, more mellow.

KYLE BUSCH: What are you talking about (laughter)?

J.D. GIBBS: (Pointing to wedding ring.)

Q. There was one point in the race when you got held up by Ambrose and some other guys, Jimmie Johnson got by you briefly. If that would have happened a year or two ago, do you think you would have made a mistake in the car or tried to force the issue too much? It looked like it went on for a long time.

KYLE BUSCH: It did go on for a long time. I kept, Man, give me a little bit more room, hold your line. Do what you were doing when I caught you. One time I tried to go to his outside. That's when he moved all the way up to the far black of the racetrack. I'm like, All right. He's watching his mirror a little bit. I would try to get on his inside.

On the entry, you have to kind of go shallow a little bit. But he would really go shallow on my door, up the racetrack, diamond it, come back to my door again. It makes your car really loose when people do that. I just had to be patient, bide my time with what I had, what I could do.

There were a couple times last year, year before, same thing happened. I was leading. Jimmie was second. Jimmie said the same thing. He expected me to waffle somebody, spin them out or something. I told these guys at one point during the race, There's still time, got plenty of opportunities here to run these guys back down.

I let Jimmie go to see if he could do anything with them. He couldn't do anything. There were only three or four laps till we had another caution.

Essentially Marcos did everything he could do to not go another lap down. No fault to him. It's Bristol, what we have here. It was nerve-wracking there. Getting a little frustrated. You just kind of think about one more pit stop still left to go.

Q. Kyle, you were saying Carl tried to make it interesting, gave you a little bit of a shot. He was regretting that he didn't give you a harder shot. Given that it's the boys have at it, your recent history of what happened at Phoenix, what happened three years ago here, were you expecting a little bit more fireworks from him?

KYLE BUSCH: No. I was trying to drive away from him so he couldn't have the opportunity to get to me. When he got to me that one time, I'm like, Oh, man. That was your shot, so nice try. He didn't get it done. I thought, Man, if I could just get away from him, I wouldn't have to worry. Concentrate, get going.

I don't know. It didn't happen. Just basically 'cause you buckle in and you try to wrench down, get going, get gone. Fortunately I was able to do that. Sometimes you can't. Sometimes you get passed and you lose 'em late in the going. That would have been ultimately frustrating. Somehow I got back on the horse and rode it home.

Q. Kyle, Carl made mention in his press conference, same thing he said in Phoenix, he still owes you one. Where is that from, that you guys think he might owe you one from? When he did give you the shot going into one, did you have a momentary flashback to 2008 when that happened?

KYLE BUSCH: I have no idea what I'm owed from, so... You'll have to ask Carl. Normally when it's against you, you'll always remember it forever. I don't remember what I did that made him mad. Apparently he still thinks that.

Reminiscent of '08? A little bit. I thought when he did that, he got up alongside of me. Fortunately he didn't get by me. So I was still able to kind of control his lane a little bit and not let him overtake me.

But it's Bristol racing. It's tough racing. It's things that you do to try to get by another competitor. With the competition as close as it is here, especially two cars that fast at the end of the race running identical lap times, you have to do something to get by the guy. What are you going to do? You have to break his momentum or traction. Carl was doing his part to try to do that. Fortunately it wasn't me trying to do it.

Q. Kyle, do you think the key for your championship run this year is racing with a little more savvy like we've seen from you the first four races of this year more so than bravado?

KYLE BUSCH: I guess so. If you can keep it going all year long, that's the most important thing. When it gets hot and slick in the summertime, you get more frustrated that you're not going forward or you're kind of stuck running 15th somewhere. Those are the days that savvy really needs to show versus the days you're running up front, top five. It's a little easier.

You know, we just keep working on the things that we can do, what we can do better to improve our program and to make it to where we can run competitively in top fives week in and week out, be a championship contender in order to bring home not only the hardware but the points that will get us into the Chase, then the final stretch to Homestead.

Q. Kyle, you, Denny and Jimmie are the only drivers the last couple years to win a short track race. If the competition is so close, what is it or how are you able to kind of maintain that type of advantage at these type of tracks? You don't have a Martinsville win in that group. What makes Martinsville a little bit different from the others in that sense for you?

KYLE BUSCH: Hey, but I'm getting better at Martinsville, so watch out (smiling). I think Denny has that place pretty tapped in. He's going to be hard to beat there, that's for sure.

But, you know, with my success here at Bristol, it's been great. Richmond, same thing. Denny is really good there, too. Martinsville has been getting better for us. We're getting there.

Thanks to Dave here, we've really worked hard at that. We kind of feel like we have a baseline, a better baseline that we can unload with and be faster off the truck. That's a big benefit to us.

As far as what's your meaning by the same three guys have won all the short track races in the past, you know, just look at the competition today. I mean, last fall, the 00 was really good, was right there. Probably would have been good today if he didn't get caught up in trouble. The 48 was good today. The 99 was good today. The 56 showed a lot of strength today. There were some good cars that raced up front and battled up front at points in the race. They didn't quite have it when it mattered most to keep themselves up front and could keep themselves in position to win the race.

That's what we did and probably what you see from the three guys that do that every time, is that they're just a little bit better at being able to do that.

Q. Obviously the high line worked really well here today. What is it about the high line here at Bristol that is such an advantage?

KYLE BUSCH: It's just momentum. You're not having to hold the car so tight on the bottom of the racetrack, slow it down, get it to turn. Take an off-ramp or on-ramp from a freeway to a freeway, that it kind of circles around, goes back the other way, run on the inside real tight and see how much wheel you have to put in it, and then run on the outside and see how much less wheel you have to put in it. You can carry more momentum and speed up there.

When you get launched down a straightaway, I don't know what the degree of banking here is, 28, 30 degrees, you're running down that banking, it's momentum, instead of coming out of a hole uphill spinning your tires. That's basically what the differences are in the two lines, why the outside is better on restarts.

There were some times in the race when cars would get single filed out, there was a lot of rubber built up that the inside would come back to you and you could run down there a little bit. But the outside still seemed to prevail, especially down the straightaways. It's just a longer way around. If your car is struggling turning, you can put less wheel into it and make the corner versus scrubbing too much right front tire on the bottom.

Q. Kyle, the final couple of laps, you had a battle with your brother. Is there any special feeling when he's a competitor on the racetrack, what you can and can't do with him?

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, he was really fast on restarts for the first couple laps. Then it seemed like he'd get loose off the corners really fast. It was interesting there to have to race around him a little bit. But, you know, we didn't have to race around him a whole lot today. Made my job a little bit easier there not having to deal with the sibling rivalry or 'brotherly love' that we like to say.

It was cool to see him running up front. Did he still finish top 10 or something like that? Seemed like he had a pretty good car, something to have a good points day with.

KERRY THARP: He's still the points leader by one point.

KYLE BUSCH: That's cool.

Q. Your thoughts on the tires coming into today's race and then as the race wore on, what were your thoughts?

KYLE BUSCH: Last fall's tire?

DAVE ROGERS: Last year's California tire.

KYLE BUSCH: I thought the tire was pretty good. I thought it was pretty close. I didn't see a problem with last fall's tire. I did win all three races here. But I felt like a lot of guys were complaining about the rubber buildup, how it would change the racetrack after three laps after a restart, how we would really clean it off, how it would get laid down. Same thing happened today. If you don't have that, you're not going to have tires that last.

I think it was a good by-product to have here at Bristol. Same thing at Dover. You're going to need it at Dover, too. Concrete racetracks are so abrasive, they love to eat Goodyear tires up. Nothing Goodyear did wrong on bringing a new tire here. I thought what we had was a safe route to go. We didn't have any tire issues, didn't blow my tires, no heat issues. There was the basketball effect, feels like you're running on basketballs. Seems like it's a lot better than what it's been in the past.

Overall I think Goodyear and NASCAR did a good job finding a solution to the problem. We didn't see any issues, so I see it as a dead subject.

Q. When it got to the stage right there toward the end that it was cautions-breed-cautions, you kept beating Carl on the restarts, did you think, Let's keep doing it this way? Dave, what were your thoughts on that when that rash was breaking out like that?

DAVE ROGERS: I just wanted to go green. It's less stressful. When you have a restart, no matter what, you're side-by-side. I think Kyle has proven he's one of the best in the business at restarts. So you're always confident in a restart. But, still, you're side-by-side and there's potential trouble lurking.

Once we got a couple car length lead on Carl, my preference would have been to let the race play out. I guess the race did play out. But let it go green and finish under those conditions.

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, it's nerve-wracking under cautions. You're thinking, Is this guy going to get better on restarts, is he going to keep up with me, what's he going to do? Carl did that every time, he got better and better. First restart, I got away from him a little bit. This is good. I got a couple length lead, I can breathe a little bit, no problem. Then the caution came out. The next restart, he stayed with me a little bit better. The last restart, he stayed with me even more. It's like every time he had an opportunity to learn a little bit and get his-self better where my car was just getting looser.

So it was interesting there. Kept me on my toes, for sure.

Q. Kyle, Jimmie talked a little bit about how with the new surface maybe the fans don't like the racing as much but the drivers like the ability to pass and race. What is your take on that?

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I would agree a hundred percent with Jimmie's statement there. Unfortunately we didn't see a very packed house today. I hate that. The old Bristol was the old Bristol. We don't have that anymore. It made for some interesting moments with guys that would beat-and-bang a little bit more, rough each other up a little bit more maybe. But with the new Bristol, it's really cool for all the drivers because we have a racetrack that we can race on. We don't have to get into each other to pass each other. You can wait for the racetrack to come to you or you can make your car a little bit better in order to be better with that guy, you can race that guy. There's room here to breathe a little bit.

So I guess there's less drama, per se. I like less drama because I like less to deal with. To me it's a fun racetrack, it's a fun place to race. I don't know if the old Bristol with this car would be single file more, more bumper cars, which would essentially draw more attention or not. I feel like racing side-by-side is pretty cool. You can cheer a guy on to get by a guy for a couple laps, rather than watch him sit in a line and then go, Yeah, he got by the guy. The other guy is already a straightaway back. He's hung up on the outside. It's just opinion.

Q. Kyle, I hate to harp on this Carl thing, but he specifically said, I told him after Phoenix that I still owe him one. I'll save that. Is that not true? Do you not think in your mind that Carl may try something as payback from that?

KYLE BUSCH: Carl says what Carl says. I don't know. Apparently I have one coming. When and where it comes I do not know. I would say the same thing if I owed somebody else something, that I still owed him. When and where it comes is more to you than the other guy, so...

Jeff would have pinched you, by the way, if you were sitting next to him.

Q. Kyle, you've won four out of five on the so-called new Bristol. You won on the so-called old Bristol. Do you think the new Bristol favors you more than the way the track used to be?

KYLE BUSCH: I would say so a little bit. Like I said, the old racetrack was a little more single file, bump and grouge {sic} a little bit. I was running second in a Nationwide race one time, coming off of turn two, there was a lap car that got loose. We all kind of checked up a little bit. Oh, yeah, Carl Edwards spun me out. It's a product of being single file and not really having anywhere else to race besides one groove.

You're more to the other guys around you sometimes rather than now. You've got more room to race, you can give room to race each other a little bit. It's just kind of a by-product of the racing surface.

Q. At the end of the race, you did your victory bow toward your crew, they bowed back at you. Two years ago that may not have happened here. Could you talk about, where are you with your crew these days?

KYLE BUSCH: What happened two years ago?

Q. There was that little park your car and walk out of the track thing after the Nationwide race.

KYLE BUSCH: You're going back to that (smiling)? Ask NASCAR where they told us to park the car after the race was over. They'd tell you entry to turn three, kind of like they did yesterday, in order to take the tapered spacers off.

No, I've had a great relationship with my team for a long time. Those guys support me and put up with me through the thick and thin. It's fun to have the relationship that we have with each other. Samantha is probably another big part of that because she's great friends with the girlfriends and wives to all the guys on my team actually, the over-the-wall guys. We all work together for the same goal.

I've had some guys in the past that are different than what they are now. We've changed a few guys. But those guys, I still talk to them every once in a while. We text back and forth. I'm sure a couple of them left me texts today. I still keep in good graces with all the people I worked with. Even Alan Gustafson, I razzed him, told him and Jeff Gordon had one coming to them after the Phoenix race, because he doored me coming into turn one. But I was just kidding. He's still a good friend, too.

Q. With a win under your belt going forward as far as the championship for the season goes, are you more concerned about points going forward or wins?

DAVE ROGERS: We're probably most concerned just racing to our potential. I got to bring good racecars for Kyle to race and he's got to get the most out of them. If we do that, we think we'll have a shot at the end.

It's way too early in the season to start thinking about, Do we need (indiscernible), do we need to race for wins? Tell you a secret: we race for the win every time we unload. As long as we race to our potential, we'll capture a few wins along the way and have a good seed going into the Chase.

KYLE BUSCH: I agree with Dave. I think that racing to your potential on most days will get you a win, so you don't really have to worry about that. It seems like we're a lot better at a couple racetracks than maybe some others that we're working on and getting better at.

One of those coming up next week probably. We're always like a fifth- to ninth-place car. Hopefully we can get a little bit better than that at California. Michigan is another one. Some of those places we struggle at a little bit, we'd like to get better. Couple racetracks in the Chase maybe.

Like he said, every time we unload, we're racing for the win. If we can gather the wins up, the points will take care of themselves. If we can finish consistently, points will take care of them sells. It's a matter of keeping track of your bad days. Our only bad day so far has been due to an engine failure. I have the utmost respect for Mark and what his guys are doing, what those guys are doing in the engine shop. Last week is hopefully behind us. We can continue on our good run of strong finishes.

KERRY THARP: Thank you.

-source: nascar