KYLE BUSCH, DRIVER OF THE NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS, TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT CASEY MEARS JOINING HMS, ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW, AND NEXT STEPS FOR THE NO. 5 TEAM DO YOU WORRY ABOUT HAVING TO FURTHER ADJUST TO THE SERIES? "Not necessarily. I...
KYLE BUSCH, DRIVER OF THE NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS, TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT CASEY MEARS JOINING HMS, ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW, AND NEXT STEPS FOR THE NO. 5 TEAM
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT HAVING TO FURTHER ADJUST TO THE SERIES? "Not necessarily. I mean there are just kinds of things that go on and none of them have much affect on you or your priorities for the year. I guess they could take affect on what you've got going on like Toyota and how well they'll do and some of the rookies coming in. But as far as this being an extraordinarily different year, it's not going to be too much different in terms of the challenge as it has been in the past."
IS THE CAR OF TOMORROW GOING TO CHANGE THE BALANCE OF COMPETITION? "I think its teams adjusting to it more so than the driver. I think there's a lot of different technique on how to set it up and race the thing. From just racing the car standpoint and from the driver standpoint. There's definitely a lot of unknowns with the car because it hasn't been raced or wrecked that many times. We don't even really know what we're really looking for when we do crash. Like what are the instances of driver safety? It might work out on paper but you never know until you get it to the race track."
WHAT'S THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP IN YOUR PROGRESSION? "We're looking forward to getting out there and redo a little of what we did last year, have a little more consistency throughout the year and win a few more races instead of just one. Another big thing is to make the Chase like we did but be more successful within the Chase and make it worthwhile in being there."
IS CONSISTENCY THE KEY? "It depends on how many drivers get a win. If some guy goes out there and wins three or four Chase races then it's going to be tough to beat that guy. If they can spread it out between a couple guys getting a couple wins or if it's strictly top five or top 10s still. You never really know. It's hard to say what will really happen or what you'd have to pinpoint it on. Wins would be great because you get the extra points from that. Of course you want to be able to go out for wins and all that but would you rather take a win and jeopardize yourself and finish in third or fourth? If it was for second, maybe. you just don't know."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT CHASE FORMAT? "It's been pretty close for the past couple of years. It's pretty hard to make it any closer. I mean, you start off with guys differentiated by 50 points vs. years ago when it was the normal points way where the top two guys that could be separated by 220 points. I think with what you have here, it's plenty close already. But trying to make it close all the way up until the last race is anybody's shot, it kind of makes what you work for all season."
COMMENT ON HOW THINGS ARE WITH CASEY MEARS JOINING YOUR TEAM? "Everything's been going great. When we were here down here for testing, and I wasn't here with for the Cup stuff but the Busch stuff went pretty well. He was pretty worthwhile out there in Vegas with the Cup car and being able to try and learn stuff from him and talk to him and just get some information from him about what he thought about the race track and the car and stuff like that. Differences from our car to the Ganassi stuff and this past week they tried a lot of stuff and what he did with Ganassi last year, couldn't make it work with our stuff. So we've got a little bit of work to learn how to try to make their stuff work so we know what exactly they were doing and try to learn from that. That's kind of what he's brought over to us so far. This week's Busch test went pretty well with us. I believe he was second-fastest overall. I'm not sure if that was a qualifying lap or not; we left a little bit early because we were finished. He got in my car, as a matted of fact, and went out there for a few laps and drove it. He just wanted to feel the setup that we had in it; a couple of different little things that we were trying because they didn't have enough parts to build it for their car. So they wanted to see what it felt like."
WHAT DO YOU LOOK TO IMPROVE UPON THIS YEAR? "We want to do that again, we want to minimize some of the mistakes and some of the things that happened last year again. There were way too many pit-road speeding penalties and things like that that happened so if we can cut down on that stuff it would make it a more successful year. Trying to get five wins, 25 top 10s, 15 top fives, that seems to be what it takes to win championships nowadays. If we can establish those stats I think we'll be alright."
HAVE YOU REACHED A COMFORT LEVEL? "No, there's no comfort level. Even driving it at Vegas, we've been doing this for four, five years and the speeds definitely get you. The feeling of the car, sometimes if it's not quite there then you're a little bit on edge."
HAS YOUR DRIVING STYLE CHANGED? "I don't think my driving style has changed, I think I have as a person, really, myself. Just becoming smarter behind the wheel, more thoughtful and smarter person overall. Just trying to figure out what it takes to go 500 miles and to make friends, all that kind of stuff instead of going out there and just race and try to win. Being here hopefully for 15 or however many years, you want to come out of this deal with some friends."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF TOYOTA DURING TESTING? "I felt like they weren't extraordinary. They weren't terrible, they weren't extraordinary. I think they'll be alright. They'll get a couple cars in (the field). I don't see them all making it but hopefully getting a couple in there to get their feet wet."
WOULD IT SURPRISE YOU IF TOYOTA WON THE 500? "No, because Daytona is such a crap shoot race. You never know who can win a restrictor-plate race. You used to be able to say that Dale Jr. or a DEI car would win but now people have been putting it more towards a Gibbs or a Hendrick car or something like that. It just kind of depends on how the race goes. Last year we saw the two best, probably, Jimmie (Johnson) and Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) leading it and Brian (Vickers) took it at Talladega. It all depends. That same thing could happen on the back straightaway here coming in the finish of the 500."
WHAT ARE FACTORS THAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T CONTROL? "The thing you can control is your emotions. Last year I let that get the best of me down towards the end of the race. I was fighting for positions with some guys at the end of the race and got into it a little bit with Stewart. I got penalized for it. Instead of getting a top five or possibly a top three finish, we ended up getting at 23rd or something like that. So those are some of the things that you can try to control."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW CHASE FORMAT? "I think the emphasis on winning is great. I think it definitely pays a lot more dividends for drivers to win races instead of going for second or third if they don't want to pressure somebody or whatever. But the twelve guys in the Chase, does that mean there's going to be twelve guys in the banquet? Last year was pretty good but with twelve guys the banquet would be so long."
DO YOU THINK THE MISSING LINK WAS ADDED TO THE NO. 25 CAR THIS WEEK? "We all thought the missing link was added when Brian and Lance went to that deal. People say there's a curse with that car. People say they don't get the same equipment as all the other teams but none of that's true. It's all part of who you've got working for you, drivers, crew chiefs, and what kind of people are working with it. It's kind of tough to figure all that out and try to pinpoint a reason exactly why that car struggles but I'm looking forward to seeing Casey do well and Darian do well. There's no reason why that car shouldn't."
COULD THAT BE THE SLEEPER CAR OF 2007? "It very well could be. I think so, there's four cars at Hendrick Motorsports that should be just as fast as anybody else out there."
IS NASCAR AT THE POINT NOW WHERE AGE DOESN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? "It doesn't. The only thing. Rusty Wallace brought up a good point in a news show he was doing the other day is if they haven't been out there in these cars in the past couple years and the draft and things like that is it's real different than it used to be. So the only thing that they might be wanting to be more conscious of is how their cars handle in the draft and get out there and get some extra practice to make sure their stuff drives well."
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT TO WIN? "It's a pretty big race to win, definitely. But we'd like to win them all so we just have to play it by ear and see how we can do it."
ON JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: "I think he will do well; I hope he does well. He's got a lot of talent; I thin he's got great potential. I give him all the credit in the world. I look forward to seeing him out there on the track doing well. Hopefully he can and that media attention will pay dividends.
"I talked to him a little bit just last year at Homestead there at the finale and was just getting to know him a little bit better. I met him years ago when Jeff (Gordon) and him did the swap at Indy. I was there with that. He's always been one of my favorite open-wheel drivers from CART to the IRL to F1 so I'd always pull for him because I met him. He came over here and he's just like one of us. He's not stuck or uptight. he's just as cool as all the rest of us."
-credit: gm racing