BEHIND THE HAULER TALK WITH KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: TALK ABOUT YOUR CAR: "I'm hoping it's going to be a good car. We ran here both times last year and we were able to salvage a 12th place finish out of it. Hopefully...
BEHIND THE HAULER TALK WITH KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
TALK ABOUT YOUR CAR: "I'm hoping it's going to be a good car. We ran here both times last year and we were able to salvage a 12th place finish out of it. Hopefully this year we can have a better run and see if we can be a little stronger than we were last year."
WHAT'S THE SITUATION BETWEEN YOU AND TONY STEWART RIGHT NOW? "I called him this week. We talked a little bit on the phone. It was a good conversation. A civil one. We just both talked about what I aggravated him with last week at Las Vegas and we both decided to elect on moving along and coming here to Atlanta and seeing how we can race out the rest of the year."
WELL, WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM? "It's like he said. It wasn't quite 80 laps to go. It was more like 65. But I was holding him up a little bit. I was trying to preserve my race car and my position on the race track for the last pit stop. A lot of these guys say you don't race until after the last pit stop, but you'd rather come into the pits third for the last pit stop and have a chance to get out leading than come in eighth and only be able to get out third. So I was trying to preserve my position a little bit and try to get a better spot for my guys to have an easier job on pit road."
DID TONY STEWART GIVE YOU ANY ADVICE THAT WAS HELPFUL? "Oh, just trying to discuss how to race and how you race the race track. You'll see this weekend that this place definitely won't be anywhere near what Las Vegas was. At this place, you've got so many different grooves. You can run all over this place. The race track is old and aged. You have to race the race track here. It's worse than Darlington almost. It's a pretty bad place where you're not going to see a whole lot of side-by-side and bumper-tagging."
DOES TONY STEWART UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU'RE COMING FROM? "He did and he didn't. He had a sense of yeah, okay that makes sense. But still, I don't care. He's in his race car trying to run his race and I'm in my race car trying to run my race. Sometimes, conflicts connect and you have that."
DID YOU COME AROUND TO HIS WAY OF THINKING OR DO YOU STILL BELIEVE THAT YOU WERE IN THE RIGHT? "There are a bunch of different scenerios. If you look at a 400 lap say at Dover, you're going to let people go for probably 300 laps or so and then in the last 100, you're not because you've got to plan yourself for your last pit stop. And then you've got to get out of the last pit stop and race to the end. It's different situations everywhere you go. I saw his point, but I also saw my point as well."
WHAT'S IT LIKE FOR A GUY LIKE YOU WHO IS RELATIVELY NEW TO THE SERIES, HAVE A TWO-TIME CHAMPION LIKE TONY STEWART RATTLE YOUR CAGE DURING A RACE LIKE LAS VEGAS? "It's not too bad. It's just like I've raced anywhere else. I've had run-ins with Late Model racers at Late Model tracks and stuff like that. But for Tony, he's had his battles with Greg Biffle last year and Matt Kenseth in the past and Jeff Gordon even last year. So it's not just that he's singling me out or picking on me. It's that he's got a different way of racing I guess than some of us other think."
REGARDING HIS RADIO REMARK TO NASCAR THAT "HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME" DURING THE LAS VEGAS "What I meant by what I said was him (Tony Stewart) driving underneath the back of me into Turn 1 trying to turn me sideways so he could get a position from me. Maybe he wasn't trying to wreck me, but he was definitely trying to loosen me up to get a spot.
"But you're in the heat of the moment and you're battling back and forth and trying to race your race and you're coming down to the end. There are so many things running through your head. You're not only trying to race your own race car, which is mainly what I try to focus on, and that was just one of my frustrations just letting it out."
DO YOU LIKE BEING OUT ON THE EDGE AT A TRACK LIKE ATLANTA? "It is white knuckle. It's definitely hard to race at this race track. I like it, yeah. But sometimes I don't like it too when you're running around here on 40-lap old tires and sliding and hanging on for dear life, you really don't like it.
"You never really have a sense of when a tire can go down or anything like that because you're all over the place and so out of control here anyway that you can't get a good sense or a good feel for your race car so it does get a little edgy at the end of runs."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANY VETERAN DRIVERS ABOUT THIS TONY STEWART ISSUE? "I haven't had any discussions with anybody besides Tony Stewart and my brother (Kurt Busch). I talked a lot with Rick Hendrick. I sat down with him on Wednesday for a couple of hours. And then I also talked to him on the phone again the day after that for about another hour. We've gone through some things. He's on my side and backing me 100 percent. He says I didn't do anything wrong and that I was out there doing some hard racing and that's what this sport is about. It's about digging in deep and getting after the steering wheel. I've heard that a lot of people would rather see us race hard every lap every day, but sometimes it does get hard and sometimes you do run into people when you get that aggressive."
DO YOU THINK YOU DID ANYTHING WRONG? "To answer your question in the fullest extent, I didn't do anything wrong. I was just racing my own race; racing my own race car."
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TONY STEWART RIGHT NOW..ON THE TRACK? "On the track? Probably not very good. But as far as off the race track, once he takes his helmet off, he's a completely different person. You're able to talk to him and be receptive of him. It's good to be able to have that relationship off the race track, I guess."
NEITHER OF YOU WILL PROBABLY CHANGE SINCE YOU'RE BOTH AGGRESSIVE RACERS "Well, we're out there doing a job, you know. We're out here being paid by our owners to race our race cars. We've got sponsors who want to win races and be in victory lane. You've got fans out there who are cheering you on and of course your team guys never want to watch you rollover and let people go sometimes at the end of a race, especially. They want you to do exactly what I did and get on top of the steering wheel and go get them."
HOW HAS THE ETIQUETTE CHANGE BETWEEN ATLANTA AND LAS VEGAS AND BRISTOL? HOW DO YOU GIVE AND TAKE AT THOSE DIFFERENT PLACES? "That's a very good question. You tell me how to answer that. I've got no idea. When you get to Bristol, it's so hard to let people go there or try to play the right etiquette because when you're running bumper-to-bumper 20 cars deep, it you let one guy go you're going back to 25th place. So if there is a hole there, and somebody is legitimately faster than you, then you're got to let them go. Last spring, I had Jamie McMurray all over my bumper and I was a half a car length off the car in front of me and he wants to pass. All he wanted to do was pass me and get a spot. And we're running 80 laps into the race and where are you going to go? All you're going to do is get to the next guy in front of me and then you're going to rattle him up and get him ticked off and then you're going to get to the next guy and do the same thing. So Bristol is one of those races where if you're not going a lap down within five car lengths of the leader, you might as well just ride. There's no point in racing at Bristol."
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY OR NOT ENJOY ABOUT BRISTOL? "That's probably what you don't enjoy about Bristol. You can't ever get anybody off you. You can't just run around there and race your own race. It's the same with Martinsville. It's going to be the same situation. Those are the biggest race tracks where a lot of people say, 'Bring your patience and leave your feelings outside'. That's exactly what you've got to do. You're going to have patience with your own self but somebody behind you may not have that patience."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET THROUGH BRISTOL WITH EITHER YOU NOT GETTING MAD AT SOMEBODY OR SOMEBODY NOT GETTING MAD AT YOU? "No. It ain't going to happen. "Here at Atlanta, you come here and you know you can just race. You've got wide-open spaces to run. You can take your car into any groove. You can work with it. At Bristol, you've got one specific groove. You've got to get in there and do everything right. Somebody rattles you from behind and then you're all over the steering wheel trying to figure out what you need to do in order to get straight and keep it in line and try to get away from the guys behind you. And you want to have patience there too."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHING SYSTEM? "I love it. I think it's great for the fans -- especially when you have a shot to win the race and you can drive your car hard enough to get it. Jimmie Johnson did a spectacular job last week as did Matt Kenseth. Both of them did exactly what they needed to do. I was actually surprised at how clean Matt Kenseth really raced. I can't commend him enough for doing that because he could have run Jimmie straight up into the marbles in Turns 3 and 4 and won the race for himself, but he wanted to make it a good clean race because that's the way he is."
WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND DURING A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH? "The first thing is to get a good restart. And if you can get a good restart, then it's about where you're going to pass the guy and you have to remember where that guy has been running all day. Matt Kenseth had always been running on the bottom. My situation, I knew Jimmie Johnson was going to go to the top because that's just Jimmie Johnson. He's going to go around the guy. If I could have even gotten inside of Jimmie Johnson, I don't know how I would have gotten by Matt Kenseth because he was running the bottom so I would have gotten stuck behind him."
HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED SYSTEM? "I wouldn't. I think it's pretty good. It's the same for everybody. There's no real wrong or right way to do it. It's just what it is."