Bristol: Winning team interview, part 1

KYLE BUSCH , NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS ALAN GUSTAFSTON,, CREW CHIEF RICK HENDRICK,, OWNER OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS ON THE WIN: RICK HENDRICK: "Any time you win at Bristol it's pretty special and we had a lot riding on the race today....

KYLE BUSCH , NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS
ALAN GUSTAFSTON,, CREW CHIEF
RICK HENDRICK,, OWNER OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

ON THE WIN:

RICK HENDRICK: "Any time you win at Bristol it's pretty special and we had a lot riding on the race today. It was the first race for the Impala, Chevrolet was looking for their 600th win and we were trying to get 200. I'm just real proud of the guys. Alan (Gustafsson) works hard and Kyle drove a smart race and a hard race. They adjusted the car all day long and we were pretty good. I don't think anyone had anything for Tony. But at the end of the day it was a good race. I'm real proud of the organization and I'm real proud of Kyle. He did a heck of a job."

ON THE PIT CALLS AND THE WIN TODAY:

ALAN GUSTAFSTON: "It's just such a huge accomplishment for Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Busch and the Car Quest Colors guys, the 5/25 car shop with the car coming out .it's been such a huge load on those guys. I'm real happy for them, I'm real happy they got this win and the 200th for Hendrick Motorsports and the 600th for Chevrolet, the first race for the Impala SS - a lot of good things. The pit calls: Bristol is pretty much a four-tire race track - that makes things a little easier on me. Kyle gave me a lot of good input today on adjustments, we made good adjustments all day. We were in the right place at the right time. The pit crew, we really struggled last week at Atlanta. We came back this week with a chip on our shoulder and won the race. So I'm proud of them too."

ON HIS WIN TODAY:

KYLE BUSCH: "I was a good race from my perspective. It wasn't all that great. We definitely have some work to do. We certainly weren't the class of the field. Tony Stewart was that. Denny Hamlin was awfully strong as well and the Evernham cars were really good too. They just had bad breaks and had trouble. It's a hard thing to try to come out with a new car and take the Impala SS and make it run right first time out. We kind of hard everything fall out right for us and to get to Victory Lane. But those other guys were definitely better than us, they just didn't have things fall the right way."

WHY FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE WASN'T IT A GOOD RACE?

KYLE BUSCH: "When I got up front and I was in the top six, Tony Stewart was gone, he was checked out. Second place was five car lengths ahead of third place, which was three car lengths ahead of fourth. We all got kind of strung out. I was 10th, 11th or 12th and I looked up and nothing was going on. I thought "this is a great race" and then the spotter came on and said there's a real logjam behind me. There's a log jam because people can't turn, they're sliding up the track and bumping into one another or whatever, trying to make way through traffic and stuff. But when you're out front, you know, you can't pass well. For me, I got tight in traffic and then when I got out front and when Denny (Hamlin) came up and passed me I was loose. So at Bristol that's not cool."

ON A DAY WHEN THE GIBBS CAR WERE CLEARLY THE CLASS OF THE FIELD BUT YOU WON AND TOOK A THIRD PLACE, DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD TO GET THE WIN OR NOT GOOD THAT YOU HAVE MORE WORK TO DO?

RICK HENDRICK: "We've been in positions like at Daytona and in the Busch car and several times where we've been in position to win and it didn't happen. We realize we have some work to do but I think that what you have to do in these situations is try to be there at the end, do the best you can, work on your car and adjust as the day goes on. Then if things happen to fall your way you take them and you go on. Every time we've been to the track. We'll go back home and work on the cars and we'll get better. It was a situation where we weren't just terrible but we were definitely not the class of the field but our guys adjusted on the car and had good input from the drivers and we had a real good finish with all of our cars. We'll take it at Bristol. I've been here and run all day long and then on the last lap get dumped. It's one of these tracks where you want to survive and come out of here with some points. We're going to learn every time we run this car. I'm not disappointed. I would have liked to have run better but I'll take the results and go home and let these guys work on the car and we'll be better the next time we come to town."

KYLE, TAKE US THROUGH THE GREEN/WHITE CHECKERED FLAG:

KYLE BUSCH: "I was definitely worried at the end of the race. Even so, on that second to last restart when Denny was behind me and Biffle was behind him, they were pleading to come down pit road and those other guys did I knew that if I could get far enough out, hopefully it would be far enough that they couldn't catch me. I got a great jump. I didn't look in my mirror for a lap and all of a sudden I did and thought "Is there a caution out? Where did everyone go?" I was a straightaway ahead. I just tried to hit my marks and run my line. The thing was so tight, I just couldn't get it to turn through the corner. I think I was trying too hard but those guys were really gaining on me pretty quick. I knew that if we got to the white flag and a caution came out we'd be okay. But I wasn't sure I could hold them to the checkered. I'm not glad that caution came out, but I am glad that we won the race.

"On that last restart, I knew that if I could get a good jump on those guys and beat them down into one and two I knew that my car would shoot out of the hole down the straightaway and I might have a bit of breathing room. But that wasn't the case. I spun my tires down the front straightaway just because they were so cold - I did so on the previous restart too - but it all sort of came together and having Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton, two class acts behind me, that raced me clean that gave me the sort of room I needed to race definitely helped out. They could have very easily made their way to Victory Lane and made our day harder."

KYLE, BEARING IN MIND HOW COMMONPLACE IT HAS BECOME TO USE THE BUMPER TO MOVE SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY AND WIN, WERE YOU SURPRISED IT DIDN'T COME AND WOULD YOU HAVE USED IT IF THE ROLES HAD BEEN REVERSED?

KYLE BUSCH: "I knew that Jeff (Gordon) would have got an earful if he had laid a fender on us. So I figured I had a little room there but I didn't know about Jeff Burton if he got clear of Gordon. So Burton got through there and was right on me and I knew that he could very easily do it. I wasn't necessarily expecting it as I know he's a better race driver than that. He gave me the room to race clean and I don't know if that was some sort of payback for Las Vegas; he didn't do anything wrong there but I lost the race and I raced him clean and gave him some room. I gave him some room here. I figured if I left some room down low, he could get his nose in there and body slam his way through. But I tried not to leave anything on the bottom open. And if the roles were reversed . I don't know . I would probably try a little harder but if I couldn't get under him without moving him out of the way I probably have done the same thing. It's not fair to race that way. If you had a better car or something like that for the race. But I knew I didn't have a better car and I knew I didn't have better tires so that's the way it worked out."

KYLE, DO YOU KNOW MUCH MORE ABOUT THE NEW RACE CAR NOW? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS?

KYLE BUSCH: "We do know a lot more about it. But it's the same as we already knew. It still doesn't turn. For me it's not a fun car, it's a hard car to race around the race track with other competitors as you don't have the maneuverability, you can't really pass all that well. With the old car if you were tight at least you could go up the race track and then come back down and then shoot out of the hole. But with this thing whenever you started to slide the front tires it continued to slide so it's almost like you're on skis out there. Another problem that perhaps nobody thought of is that if you have a front tire go down and there's no rubber on the race track you're just going to slide on that ski and into the fence. I think we saw that with a couple of competitors today. It's a hard car to set up and it's a hard car to drive. Maybe if we learn more about it it will become better but I don't really remember anyone complaining about the old one we had, so.. We'll just have to work hard on our Impala SS and see if we can make it better."

ALAN, TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU HAD TO DO TO THE CAR TO MAKE IT WIN THE RACE.

ALAN GUSTAFSTON: "We have to run a lot of different type configurations of car now at the 5/25 shop. We've got a speedway car that we've got to work on, we've got a downforce-intermediate car we've got to work on and co-develop and we've got an Impala SS we've got to work on and co-develop. We've also taken a Busch car in-house and those guys have really worked their tails off, a lot of hours, a lot of Saturdays, a lot of late nights to give us the best chance to win the race. And unfortunately, especially with that Busch car, we've had a lot of opportunities that haven't come through. We got the right result today and it's due to their hard work and it's due to Kyle Busch and it's due to the race cars, what Mr. Hendrick gives us to work with. I'm real happy for those guys and I'm real happy with the win. They got it and they deserve it. I'm really happy for them."

KYLE, CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE IRONY OF YOU NOT LIKING THE NEW CAR AND YET WINNING THE RACE?

KYLE BUSCH: "I told Alan as early as the test that I just can't stand to drive this thing. It's terrible and I hope we can just go out there and win the race and then tell everybody how terrible it is. I'm glad we were able to do it. I'm serious. I told him that (laughs). I don't know; I'm done talking about it. It's hard; it's terrible. With the Busch car, it's been fun; it's been great. Like Alan said, we took it in-house and we worked on it and we worked on that program and I think we turned it around. It's a lot better to run well on Saturday to learn things and to be able to transfer that on to Sunday. Even though the cars are different you can still learn a little bit about the race track. That's always going to be said. The more track time, the better even though the cars are different. That's why I run Truck Series races. The biggest thing for me to do on Saturday is to run as well as we can for our sponsors for Mr. H and for all those guys that work so hard at the shop and build those things."

RICK, AFTER THIS RACE WE HEAR ABOUT RACING CLEAN, ETC. BUT THIS IS BRISTOL WHICH IS NOT KNOWN FOR THAT. IS THIS A NEW ERA OF RACING?

RICK HENDRICK: "Well, I don't know. I guess we're going to have to wait until the next Bristol race. I think these guys have a lot of respect for each other, especially when you are teammates and you're working together. I was in Martinsville running one and two and took both of them out and it's hard to work in these shops together. I think everybody would like to race and have the best car win and finish the race. I think if it would have been two or three more laps it might have been different with the old tires. I think these guys work so hard and the field is so tight and I think I heard Jeff Burton say it in his last interview, if you've got a guy who races you clean you're going to race him clean. If you've got a guy who's always nudging you. I think you've seen a couple paybacks already this year and that doesn't help anybody. It knocks people out of points. Everybody wants to win the championship and you can make friends out here out here at Bristol or you can make a lot of enemies and then your payback might come in the last 10 races of the Chase. We've got to figure out a way to race two abreast and let the good car pass the other car without having to wreck people and I think everybody feels better about that when they go home. I hope that's the way it's going to be."

RICK, WHAT WAS THE COST OF THIS CAR, TO MAKE A WINNER OUT OF IT?

RICK HENDRICK: "I think that everybody is in the same boat. We're building intermediate cars and we've got to build these cars. When you're running parallel programs and you're working on different chassis and waiting for the chassis to be approved, it's a chore. We'll run a couple races and we'll go back to our intermediate cars. If we had a wreck, if somebody had a car that wasn't as good as it should be in Atlanta, we're getting a lot of work done to go to Texas. So it's hard to run these different cars but it's just part of the program. When the decision's been made that we're going to bring this car along, I think everybody's trying to work to make sure we do the best we can. I think definitely it was the right thing to do to bring it to the short tracks first because we're going to probably have some rule changes and some things are going to happen as we get to intermediates and probably to speedways too. It's going to be something that's going to develop over time and it's never easy when you've got. nobody would like to have to come out with a whole new fleet either so I think NASCAR did the best they could after the decision was made to race it to bring it to short tracks first. But these teams are working harder than they've ever worked. If we could come test more it would probably be a bit different. Having to go to places that you're not going to race to try to learn doesn't give you much time to really tune the car up."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports