KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST MONTE CARLO SS, TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT HIS PERFORMANCE AT SPEEDWEEKS SO FAR IN LEADING THE MOST LAPS AND HIS CHANCES FOR A WIN IN SUNDAY'S DAYTONA 500: HOW DO YOU FEEL FOR SUNDAY? "I feel pretty good for the...
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST MONTE CARLO SS, TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT HIS PERFORMANCE AT SPEEDWEEKS SO FAR IN LEADING THE MOST LAPS AND HIS CHANCES FOR A WIN IN SUNDAY'S DAYTONA 500:
HOW DO YOU FEEL FOR SUNDAY? "I feel pretty good for the way we've run so far down here in Speedweeks, we've been the class of the field, I feel like. And the guys haven't got enough recognition for being able to bring me the best car down here, leading the most laps both times round in the Shootout and in the Duels.
"So a lot of praise should go to those guys for bringing me a well-prepared car. We just haven't been able to close the deal out and we need to turn that around Sunday."
A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING YOU'RE THE CAR TO BEAT. WHAT DO YOU REALLY HAVE FOR (THE RACE)? "I think we've got a lot of form. The biggest thing is getting out there and getting the respect of the competitors and that we've got a good race car, that it's good enough to draft with.
That it's a good race car that can run up front, hopefully for the full 500 miles. If we can stay up there, it'll definitely help our chances of staying out of a wreck."
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEKEND, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD IN CALIFORNIA? "The biggest thing about going to California is getting out of Daytona and restrictor-plate racing. It's not that that's a terrible thing but it's not one of my specialties. You're more in control in California - there's more on the hands of the driver, the crew chiefs and the setup and everything else that goes on there to enable you to have a fast race car."
PEOPLE SAY THAT CALIFORNIA IS THE FIRST REAL RACE OF THE YEAR. WITH ALL THE DRAMA THAT'S GONE ONE HERE IS THAT STILL TRUE? "There's enough that's gone on that probably everyone's ready to get out of here and go on to California. But (Daytona) is the first race of the year, it's a points race so you have to go about it as if it's the same as any race and do the best you can."
YOU WERE RIGHT BEHIND MONTOYA. HOW WAS HE DOING? "He was doing just fine. He was leading the race and we were just biding our time riding behind him. The handling on his car started to go away on him and he started sliding up the racetrack a little bit. Then as soon as we were able to get past him - by him - it looked like he had a right front wheel bearing problem. I saw a little bit of smoke from the right front corner a couple of laps before he had the problem and we got by him. So all in all, it was a tough break for him and he needed the laps to get the experience and finish the race and get accustomed to what happens out there and what it comes down to at the end of the race."
IF HE'D FINISHED HOW DO YOU THINK HE WOULD HAVE DONE? "I don't know. It's hard to go back and predict what could or should have happened. I feel like we should have won the race. I think that David Stremme had a very fast race car and (Montoya's) teammates' cars are pretty good so I would predict him for at least a top-five finish."
YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT A GOOD CAR FOR SUNDAY? "Yes. I think we've got a good shot for Sunday. We've led the most laps down here in Speedweeks and (the team) guys haven't got the recognition I think they deserve."
ARE YOU CONCERNED EVERY TIME YOUR CAR GOES INTO INSPECTION? "No."
WHAT HAVE YOU GUYS DONE TO ADJUST TO THE NEW, HARDER TIRES? "Well it's hard to do anything really. All the stuff in the rear is given to you: the shocks are given to you, the springs are given to you, you can mess with track-bar heights but there's a limit on how high and how much split you can go on that. You can mess with the front end but anything you do in the front pretty much helps the grip in the front not the back. So far in Speedweeks, people have been complaining of tight but if you get the tight out of it then you're loose and you can't really do much to fix that. The tires just don't have the grip that we need in order to go through the corners as comfortable as we'd like. We can start going as fast as you want to but that's all until the tires start to slip and you have to start lifting."
HOW WILL WEATHER AFFECT THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "If it's warm and sunny then it's going to be a single-file, follow-the-leader kind of race. Everyone's going to get spread out, the cars that really handle will get to the front and it will look more like a July race, with the leaders sliding around and everyone all over the place. Hopefully there won't be too many wrecks, but there are a lot of people complaining about their cars, that they can't get them to do what they'd lie to do and follow in line and stuff. It's definitely going to be a wild race, I think."
WHAT DO YOU THINK NASCAR CAN DO TO GET CONSISTENCY IN THE PENALTIES HANDED DOWN? "There's not much that can be done. If you look at it, every scenario's different. The Jeff Gordon scenario whether that was on purpose or on accident. It was on accident to me because it was something that just happened. If you misalign those little teeth and it will slip and it's very easy to do. As a matter of fact, I've done that a couple of times on the rear end. We have the same mounting setup on the shocks as we do on the rear end side of it. So it's happened before there but it doesn't hurt you or help you as much anywhere else as much as it does here at Daytona. Jeff Gordon's situation was different from Michael Waltrip's situation, which was different from Chad Knaus's situation last year, which was different from the 9, the 19, the 10 and the 17 from this year. It's all in NASCAR's hands and they have to do what they feel is right. What comes of that is what comes of it and it's difficult to pinpoint all the reasonings for what goes on."
WHAT'S GOING TO STAND OUT MOST FOR YOU ABOUT SPEEDWEEKS THIS YEAR? "Probably in everyone's minds it's all the scrutiny and all the stuff that's happened to Michael Waltrip Racing."
BUT YOU'VE LED THE MOST LAPS OF EVERYONE. WHY ISN'T ANYONE TALKING ABOUT THAT? "You're right. It's not necessarily a big story to me, but it is for my guys. They're the ones that gave me top-notch race cars, the equipment to come out here and race as well as we have. They deserve more of the recognition than I do. It's a shame they haven't got that and that I haven't had even one post-race interview on TV. I guess I'm not worthy enough."
LAST YEAR YOU LEFT HERE AND SAID "I HATE THIS PLACE." STILL FEEL THE SAME? "I've gotten over that from last year. The biggest thing is that last year we didn't have a very good car for the Shootout and I was so frustrated to go up there and lead some of the race and then get back in traffic and not finish very well. This year I'm frustrated again as the same thing happened in the Shootout - I led the most laps and then I got shuffled to the back and then couldn't quite make it back up to the front at the end. The same thing happened in the 150s but it's just a part of racing. I've become more accustomed to it and you can't expect the best all the time. You just have to accept what comes with it."
BUT DO YOU STILL FEEL THE SAME ABOUT DAYTONA? "It's restrictor-plate racing. I'm not a very big fan of it but I'm getting used to it. I know I'm getting better at it - I'm understanding more about it. To tell you the truth I like being down here, I like the way everything goes on with it being the biggest race and so on. The whole program is a little drawn out I think. If it was a four day event I think everyone would be more happy than having to be down here for a week and a half."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN THE PRACTICE SESSIONS TODAY? "We need to get our car to handle better. Because yesterday, even leading, our car was getting a little tight out front and when I got back in traffic I was out of the racetrack - the car wouldn't get planted into the racetrack into the corners. You can't make the car as good on old tires and others on new tires - that's just the situation - but if I can make it handle better we can have a better shot at winning."
THE WEATHER FORECAST CALLS FOR A WINDY DAY ON SUNDAY. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE CARS IN THE RACE? "The wind is going to be terrible. For as bad as the cars are already driving it's going to make it worse. Two days ago we had the wind blowing behind us down the back straightaway into Turn 3 and we were all driving up the racetrack and having to lift and fight a terrible push. If the wind is the same you'll see that again. If the wind reverses and blows up the back straightaway, you're going to see terrible conditions for our cars coming off Turn 2 and pushing up off 2."
WHO ARE THE DARK HORSES IN THIS RACE? "People that will surprise include Junior - he can always surprise you - he doesn't have the car, it looks like, to be excellent but it looks like he'll be pretty good.
WHO WILL BE REALLY GOOD? "Tony Stewart. Jeff (Gordon). Jimmy (Johnson) may be a dark horse as he hasn't run as well as he'd like yet. Kurt (Busch) has had some pretty good race cars and Matt Kenseth is pretty good too."
WHO'S THE TOUGHEST GUY TO PASS WITH FIVE TO GO? "Pretty sure it would be Tony Stewart. I haven't had that opportunity yet. But it looks like he can make the moves and get by anybody any time he needs to - so he'd be the toughest to pass."
YOU NEED A DRAFTING BUDDY OUT THERE. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE ONE? "You don't necessarily choose one. You try to get behind whoever's good and do what you can. Guys will do the same to you. They'll get behind you if they think you're good and they'll help you out as much as they need to, to get themselves out front. It's not necessarily who you have to choose it's who you can run well with.
-credit: gm racing