Continued from part 1 Q: Steve, you're one of the calmest crew chiefs in the garage. What have you found in Kyle Busch? We talked when he got hired, you had the news conference. And, Kyle, is it not some redemption that Tony Stewart and...
Continued from part 1
Q: Steve, you're one of the calmest crew chiefs in the garage. What have you found in Kyle Busch? We talked when he got hired, you had the news conference. And, Kyle, is it not some redemption that Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are in here after what you went through raving about your driving talents in a serious manner?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I mean, I learned from him that he gives seems to me that he gives 125% in practice. He wants you to fix the car, fix it now, this is my problem. Just makes us work on the car, which makes us a better race team. And then he backs off of it a little bit in the race and does what it takes to run good. When he is in a crowd of cars and stuff, he can judge what he needs to do to beat 'em and does an awesome job at doing that.
In practice, I mean, I feel like he gives 125% and I think that helps us out as a race team.
KYLE BUSCH: The Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Stewart comments. Uhm, I answer this question every week. I don't know. I mean, I'm flattered and fortunate enough to have the abilities that I do, and everybody talk about it the way that they do. All I can do is just go out there and drive my best and do what I'm paid to do, and that's to win races and to contend for championships week in and week out and just be able to, you know, drive the way that I drive. And that's all I can pretty much speak for.
So for those guys to talk about it as highly as they do, I mean, it's nice and everything. But, I mean, they're the best in the world, too. They're here at this level, so they're just as good as I am and that's why they're here. But for me to be able to beat 'em, I've only done it once this year so far, so I've got plenty more times I need to.
Q: Kyle, after what you went through last year, the way you were dismissed from your former team, the emotional toughness of what that was to go through being dismissed so they could find a spot for Mr. Popularity, how badly did you really want to see this day today?
KYLE BUSCH: Pretty badly really. I mean, he's run strong so far this year, too. He finished second last week. I think he was third today or fourth or something like that.
But, you know, for me, it's just to go out there and to work with Steve and to work with these guys here at Joe Gibbs Racing and try to make our cars better. And I knew that I wasn't going to a team that didn't have enough equipment or didn't have good enough equipment to participate or to contend with Hendrick because I've seen it. I've seen Tony be able to contend for races. I've seen Denny be able to contend for championships even his first year out.
I knew the waves of it were going to be there. It's just all about trying to make yourself better on a weekly basis or on a daily basis. And, you know, to do as well as I've done so far for where I'm at, I'm pretty happy, you could say.
Q: Steve, if you just glance at the point standings right now, it looks like either you gobbled up a bunch of smart pills or you have a real good chemistry with your driver. I wondered if you and Kyle could talk about the working relationship you've had. You haven't worked together in the past I'm pretty sure.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Just eat a lot of M&M's. Brain food.
Working with him's great. I mean, like I said, he just pushes you to make the car better. I think that helps. That just helps us in the overall program to make our cars better for him. You know, a lot of people don't know him, to get to know him one on one, the personality, have a good time, cut up and joke and stuff like, that it's been awesome. He's fit right in here. The guys love him to death. I believe they'd walk through fire for him right now. You know, and it's real cool.
You know, I warned them. You know, I warned them. I said, He's going to go off on us at some point here. I said, But just let it roll off your back. He's just competitive, wants to win races. It's a cool deal.
Q: Kyle, I know at the beginning of the year you and Tony and Denny kind of wanted to be the first driver to get Toyota its first victory. How important is it for you to be the guy that got Toyota their first victory here?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's pretty special. But it wasn't all that important to me. To me, I'm fortunate to have Toyota on our side or we all are fortunate to have Toyota on our side, giving us the help that we need.
You know, for me to go out there and win, it doesn't matter what car I'm driving. I told you I'd drive a milk crate, which is pretty much what this thing drives like. We have fun doing it, doing it to the best of our ability, making it fast. Whatever it takes to go out there and win is what we need.
For me to win the first race for Toyota was fun. You know, it was great. Congratulations to those guys. They deserve it. You know, they've won in the Truck Series. They've won in the Nationwide Series. Now finally in the Cup Series for them.
It took them their fourth race I guess their second year, I'm sure they wanted it sooner, but glad I was able to do it for them.
Q: Steve, you've been through a lot of races and burned a lot of cigarettes to get to this point. It was obvious pretty early that lap times weren't going to be as strong in this race because of the tires. How did that change what you were going to try to do in the first part of the race and did you kind of play a role early on in talking with Kyle about what he was going to have to do with a different situation?
STEVE ADDINGTON: We just talked about there was going to be a lot of slipping and sliding out there today. I mean, we knew from practice there wasn't a whole lot of grip in the tire. You know, we knew it was a long race. So, you know, we were just going to try to adjust on it, try to make it right. You got to believe in what your driver's telling you and try to adjust to fix it.
We went too far at one point, you know, and we had to back off of it. Right there at the end we got it, you know, where we needed it to win the race. I mean, the 99 car was really good. Something happened to him. But, I mean, it's just working with your driver at certain points of the race and trying to get the balance of the car where you need it to be. I'm sitting there watching lap times compared to where we've taken off on restarts before and stuff like this. And, I mean, we slowed down at one point on a restart and then we started getting it back and we ran the fastest laps right there at the end on restarts.
It's just working with your driver and believing what he's telling you.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, congratulations. Enjoy this victory. Good luck next week.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with further questions.
Q: Kyle, just with the conditions, the tire, everything associated with it, how were you challenged today as a driver? What were the things you had to do to overcome that? Was this anything different than what you had to do in the past, how you've been challenged in any other form of racing this?
KYLE BUSCH: This race was a challenge. I'm telling you, it was tough. We're out there on such edge. I mean, it feels like literally you're driving on ice. I have no idea what it feels like. It was the worst I've ever felt in a racecar and I won the thing, so I can't imagine how those poor guys that were running for 30th, fighting for 30th, as hard as they were fighting felt.
My hands are sore. Literally, I can barely even make a fist right now just from gripping the wheel and everything. I think my pinky is probably about broke off from holding the steering wheel the way that I hold it. I tend to use it to push down on the left a little bit.
It was so hard to get the thing, you know, you're such on edge, you're holding the wheel and driving it for all it's worth and trying to get it to roll the bottom of the racetrack, to get it to slow down, to get it to stick to the bottom. When it doesn't stick, you're driving the heck out of it just to get it to calm back down, get the grip back in the tire. As soon as you slip, you lose 3/10ths at least a lap. When I was up behind Carl a couple times, I could get close to him, then I'd fall back off him four or five car lengths because I just lost the grip in the car that one corner. Then I'd go down to the next corner, he'd lose it, I'd have it.
It was just a mess. It was literally one of the toughest and hardest races I've ever had to drove.
Q: Joe or J.D., with Tony's talk about tires this weekend, were you guys concerned about tires? Were you concerned at all he was kind of mentally about his focus mentally?
J.D. GIBBS: I would say, hey, if you're mentally shot and finish second, I'll take that pretty often. I'm not too worried about that.
I do think, hey, you did have a concern there on the tires. I would just say from Joe Gibbs Racing standpoint, we've been here 17 years. More often than not we trust Goodyear to make good decisions and they do. Are we going to agree with everything? No, we're not. But I think for us, I think we kind of defer to those guys. And really is our job to kind of take what we're given and make the most out of it.
I think that's what both our guys did today. Even though it was frustrating I'm sure for Tony, you know, I think to come out of there 1 2, and Denny was really good, too, just had the issue there in his car. For us, I think, again, hey, we want to get in partnership with those guys. We respect what they do in the garage, and we appreciate that as well.
Q: Kyle, perhaps this is an impossible question for you to answer. How good are you? In the sense of what everybody is talking about, the FOX guys are like the presidents of your fan club now.
KYLE BUSCH: I'll pay 'em (laughter).
Q: You have the Kyle Busch admiration society. Not that it's not deserved, but do you feel you've reached a level, you've gotten to a point that you have a mastery of this going on right now?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. There's three of them up there, right?
KYLE BUSCH: I think you're right, J.D., I think that's 50 members.
I don't know. Honestly, it's great that you're asking me that question. But it's hard to answer, you're right. How good I am, I have no idea. I'm only as good as I perform. And the way that I'm performing is great. Whether that's me, the equipment, I think it's a mastery of both.
For me to go out there and to just run the best that I possibly can and try to get Addington to give me the best possible car that I can drive is all that we can do week in and week out. And, you know, if I would have unloaded that Cup car and went out there the first lap on the racetrack this weekend and just drove it like I did here in the test, I would have wadded it up. So that's why I drive in the Truck Series. That's why I drive (loss of audio). At least I'm a mini Jeff Gordon then (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Good luck next week.