Charlotte: Pole winner interview

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 1st How was your car in qualifying? "We struggled a little bit here earlier today and felt like we made some gains there -- I like the car better, but it still wasn't...

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 1st

How was your car in qualifying?

"We struggled a little bit here earlier today and felt like we made some gains there -- I like the car better, but it still wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I think we should have run a 90 or something like that."

What is it about the success you've had at tracks where you have not had as much luck?

"It's been pretty fun. Here at Lowe's Motor Speedway I only have one top-three finish and that was last fall. Hopefully we can have another solid run in this race. I don't think I've ever finished 600 miles on the lead lap yet -- I might have only finished that race one time and I was three laps down. That was my first try here and hopefully better luck this time."

How important is your qualifying position in a 600-mile race?

"It doesn't mean much -- it's better to start up front so you don't have to race guys and you can just bide your time instead of having to rush to the front. You don't necessarily rush, but you don't want to go a lap down. This is a long race where you can probably get your lap back, but with the way these cars are we're not sure that we'll see many yellow flags. That's just a big part of it because you don't want to fall too far behind."

What's it like to be Kyle Busch?

"It's pretty cool, obviously. On the race track, it's pretty fun. We've got a great set of team guys here with JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and this M&M's team does such a great job for me. I'm fortunate to be teamed up with Toyota and all these guys -- it's fun. I can't say anything else than that -- we're just excited about this upcoming race on Sunday and I wasn't too pleased with the car in practice. We made some changes, (Steve) Addington and the guys made good calls for qualifying here."

How were you able to get the pole?

"First off, the guys on the team did an awesome job for me to work on it. I talked to Steve (Addington, crew chief) after practice and we kind of made some strategy moves that we might want to make some adjustments to and see what we could learn with the car and make some changes for qualifying. It was only two laps, so we knew that we had to learn something and try something. Whatever it was, it worked. Not sure exactly what he did -- they just put it up on scales and went back through it. Hopefully, they found something that was just a little bit off or changed something that we actually did learn something. I got to put it to the guys on this M&M's Toyota team with JGR that just did it for us."

Do you feel like if you had the 'normal' engine package last week you would have won? Did you push the envelope too far?

"If you look at the tracker back on qualifying here today, I was gaining through the corner on Kasey (Kahne) and once I hit the straightaway it started going back. I went from I think being up .06 coming off of (turn) two to being equal to or behind .008 going into turn three. And, then I gained .04 coming out of turn four -- that's when I was ahead of Kasey again -- and that came all the way back down to .021 ahead. There's definitely some areas of the straightaway that we need to improve on obviously. We felt like we had a great package here last weekend. That thing definitely 'hummed' down the straightaway, but just didn't make it the whole distance that we needed it to. Those guys are going to make some serious gains in the engine department because that's where we need to head -- that's the direction we need to be in and we just got to make it live, make it last. Hopefully, here soon we can come out with it."

"That was the speed-tracking deal that we saw on TV."

Do you get in the race car and say 'I'm the best guy out there'?

"There have been certain characters that have said that over recent years that you have to think that you're the best or there's no reason to be out there. To be honest with you, I'd like to think the same thing that I'm the best and that's the only reason that I should be out there because I am. There are plenty of other guys out there that are just as good, if not a little bit better, than I am. You've got Jeff Gordon, who's been here for a few years that's definitely been up top and running up front. You got Jimmie Johnson who's been that way. Tony Stewart's really good. Denny Hamlin, too. I can go on. Matt Kenseth I think is one of the most tried and true, most unrecognized talented guys out there. To think of all the other guys that you can name -- you got Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle -- I can go on. That's the reason we're all here, because we are the best of the best. We are the best stock car racers, or the best 43 that get to race every Sunday."

What will do with your day off after getting the pole tonight?

"I don't know. I was thinking about going into the shop and working on my late model stuff and get caught up on that stuff. Not sure. If the day's nice maybe I'll go out on the lake again. It seemed to work yesterday. Maybe that will work again here for Saturday or Sunday. All in all, it's definitely pretty cool to have a day off to relish and enjoy it a little bit. You can't do that too much because you have to stay humble in this deal and get back to work and get busy for Saturday because we're going to be working with the Cup car to get ready for the 600, but also for the Nationwide race where we have to qualify and race."

Are you going to be able to dominate on Sunday?

"I think the competition is probably going to be a little better because everyone has had more track time. I think Kasey (Kahne) is pretty good, I said that earlier where I wasn't expecting him to be as good as he was today in practice, but he was right up there, but then he qualified right up there too. I think he's second -- I feel like he will be pretty good. I think whoever gets out front, it seems as though you kind of get out there and guys get stuck behind you and you can't make a move -- you can't get past them and stuff. I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see how that plays out on Sunday. If it does look like the same thing as the All-Star race, the fortunately I'm the one that's starting up front and I can go out there and lead some laps and get some bonus points and have a good, solid 600."

How did you know about the 50-dollar superstition?

"Is it bad luck? Somebody told me that it wasn't bad luck, that it was the two-dollar bill. I thought the 50 was too, I guess they both are. I learned something from being a Vegas boy. He did give me 50 bucks technically because when we were here testing he took a 100-dollar bill out of his pocket, cut it in half and signed the half to me and then he kept the other half. He told me I get the other half when I win the 600. Today when he was out on pit road, he took a 50 out of his pocket and then he was signing it and I told him I didn't want that. He tried to give it to one of the crew guys and I put it back in his pocket. Now I want to know where it's at -- he left early. Humpy (Wheeler), I want my 50 bucks. First I'm going to go to the bank and make a 20, a 20 and a 10 out of it. Then it's fair. It was a real 50 and his 100 is a real 100. I need to tape that back up and see if I can cash that -- if I win the 600."

Are there any topics that we haven't asked you about this year?

"No. I'm trying to think of something and I can't think of it right now. To be honest with you, you guys have answered them all. All the fan stuff and then all the (Dale Earnhardt) Jr stuff and all the other stuff that has gone on in my racing life. Besides all that, it's pretty much been handled here. This is the perfect time to bring up a topic that hasn't been discussed and I just don't have one."

Have you noticed more guys improving dramatically after struggling in practice?

"The thing with this new car is that it's really particular. Just minute adjustments really take it here or there. You can be off a 16th or an eighth of an inch and just feel like your whole car changed. We were changing quarter pounds of air pressure at Richmond and guys have been doing half-pounds and quarter pounds in and out of the tires. I think I heard Casey Mears say that he changed a pound of air in the right front tire and went from plowing tight to wrecking loose at Darlington. This car is so finicky and so touchy that anything you do to it really throws you all off on balance. I think a lot of that just has to do with the technical procedure that NASCAR has you go through where every little thing -- there's such little tolerance now that if you've got a car that's perfect and fits all those parameters just right, your going to be the guy to beat and it's hard to make that happen every time you go out on the race track."

How does pit strategy from the All-Star race play into strategies for Sunday's race?

"It surprised me watching how strong (Greg) Biffle was throughout much of the race and leading the laps that he did after I fell out in the third segment. It surprised me because (Greg) Biffle is coming in and putting on two rights -- he will start far enough forward that he will be able to come back through here. It never transpired that way. Kasey (Kahne), who started up front, had to pass Denny (Hamlin), who had issues and then he inherited the lead and won the race. It looked like nobody could pass the leader and I hope that doesn't happen on Sunday, but if it's in the best interest for me then I do hope it happens that way because then I can start up front and just go. I was pretty surprised by that and I did go back and watch the last segment because I was surprised to hear that Kasey Kahne won. But when I watched it, I saw how he did it."

Are there tracks where you feel like you struggle more than others?

"Actually this is probably my favorite race track. Just growing up watching races on TV -- I loved watching the All-Star race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Nationwide Series has been good to me here, the truck series has been pretty good to me here and the Cup series has eluded me here. I finished third in the 500 here last fall, but besides that I don't think I've finished in the top-20. It's been kind of a struggle here for me. I think I've only finished one race here without having problems or without wrecking or something. In that race I was two or three laps down in 32nd or something like that. It's been a struggle here in the 600 for whatever reason. I can't ever get to where the lights turn on -- I always wreck when it's still day time and I do the same thing at Homestead. I need to change that around and try to fix that this weekend."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing