Kyle Busch media dinner at Dover International Speedway August 4, 2009 Q. You struggled with the results of last weekend. Does a week of testing like this give you a chance to regroup with your crew and get focused for the upcoming race? Kyle...
Kyle Busch media dinner at Dover International Speedway
August 4, 2009
Q. You struggled with the results of last weekend. Does a week of testing like this give you a chance to regroup with your crew and get focused for the upcoming race?
Kyle Busch: "Yeah were looking forward to this weekend in trying to get back. We won here last year, so it's something familiar here with the setup. It's been a struggle because we haven't hit it this year. We've really missed on something. Our teammate Denny has really been running strong. Joey's been doing better too. We're not sure what's going on but were trying to learn here this week. It's a good chance to get back to the race track at a track we race at and try and learn some things here. Hopefully we can have a good test here tomorrow. We did do pretty well today."
Q. Have you enjoyed anything about this season because it seems like no matter what you do, with the fantastic finishes in the Nationwide Series, it was no consolation?
Kyle Busch: "No it's not. I mean when you finish second a couple times in the year it's fine and when you win a couple times it's good too, but when you have eight second place finishes and there's only one more guy you got to beat that day and you didn't get it done you know you didn't beat that guy and ultimately you finish second. Your team wants to win, you want to win. We tied a record for the most first or second place finishes for nine weeks in a row but if we could have won those races then we would have broke another record which is the most wins in a season, so its been a fun year, we've had a lot of success on the Nationwide side, that sides been fun. The Cup side we won in Vegas, we had a great shot to win both Daytona races this year. My birthday in Richmond, you know those are some real special memories this year on the Cup side and just lately we just can't seem to hit it. You know we just seem to fall apart."
Q. What if you don't make the Chase?
Kyle Busch: "I mean I've thought about it. You know if you don't make the Chase then ultimately you run the rest of the year for nothing. I guess it's a building block for next year but that's about it because you go to Loudon and you're not as good as you can be there. And then I come here and I feel like this a great place to. We tested at Loudon last year and we ran seventh or eighth this time and that was better than what we were last year. Last year we had a sway bar break where we ran in the back and in Dover we had an engine failure. But testing at both of these places has been good for us to try and get ahead of the game and be ready for when the Chase starts so ultimately man we got to be in it."
Q. A couple of weeks ago it was talked about how you needed to be a better leader and teammate.
Kyle Busch: "Well I mean Rome wasn't built in a day, but we're working on making progress and making some changes, but the biggest thing is and I think a lot of it is I fight myself throughout a race instead of more so fighting the car. When you explain things to the crew chief instead of just saying, 'Man this thing is junk,' well they don't know how to fix junk. You know they can fix loose and tighten it in the center, you know they can fix whatever you explain, so it's progress of not getting frustrated on the radio or whatever because it's so easy for me to do. Because we always like to be the guy going forward and lately me'm the guy going backwards, man it's not much fun. So it's a struggle for me and ultimately me becoming a better leader to help take the team to the next level. So there's a struggle in the rest of the day to try and work towards something and gather a better day out of a bad day."
Q. How do you feel about the double file restarts at Dover being up front? Would you choose the outside or inside from the start?
Kyle Busch: "I'd probably choose the outside at Dover because you can get such a run around the top side of one and two on the outside that you can clear the guy down the back even if that guy got a good restart. Typically you know who ever takes off first can almost beat the guy to the next corner so which ever row the leader picks you hope you're in that row because it seems to move along at least one car better than the opposite row. Double file restarts; it's a challenge. Once you get about five to eight laps into a run then they start switching back off and its really a challenge and a pain in the neck when you're the guys going backwards cause you know how hard those guys are going to be to pass when you go back by them. And so you got to really have a car that handles well on the short run and the long run so you don't have to get mixed up in that mess."
Q. Follow up on getting down to the nitty gritty. Everything requires so much stress and focus any other sport there is no reason to be in that position. They focus on that and nothing else. Talk about how maybe it would be good to just focus on one series and instead just the Chase?
Kyle Busch: "You could, but then you sort of lose out on getting at least one NASCAR championship. I don't think it would be worth giving up a Nationwide championship to just walk yourself into the Chase. I mean for M&M's and the sponsors on the Cup car, yeah they would certainly say it would be beneficial to be in the Chase rather than gain a Nationwide championship. But when you look at the sponsors that are funding the Nationwide side, you've already committed too, you can't just fall out of the deal so it's a tough balancing act and you know I don't feel like our Cup effort has diminished any because of my Nationwide Series stuff. You can battle that all day long. Denny's running decent. Joey runs better when he's not doing it, but to me I've learned so much more when I'm out there on the race track then just sitting in the motor home not doing anything. I'd rather be out there and working hard and trying to win races and learning about different things. The only thing that lacks is my time to communicate with Steve (Addington) after practice. You know to just sit there and digest and cut apart practice you know just look at what we did what changes we made you know we text all the time when I'm on the planes and traveling back and forth and anyway. I call him race morning sometimes to see what he's up to and to see what our changes are going to be. Other than that I don't really see how we can make our Cup cars better at the race track. I mean a lot of the work has just got to come out of the shop."
Q. How about flying at two in the morning with your schedule like that. Are you tired? Is that a problem or is that an issue?
Kyle Busch: "No, not really. The worst time we got back was at around 1 or 1:30 in the morning. It was Pocono, first race from Nashville, that's the latest I've gotten back. Typically the sponsors have been gracious enough to allow me a little sleep in time so I don't have to get up so early. I can sleep in until like 10:30. So I'm getting plenty of rest, so it might be at the right schedule but I get plenty."
Q. Do you expect too much of yourself?
Kyle Busch: "Sometimes I joke around with other team guys that I've worked with in the past and they're like, 'Man why are you so down on yourself?' or 'Why are you always so upset after the race?' And I'm like you know, I'm Kyle Busch, I'm supposed to win races, that's what I'm here to do. I'm supposed to be the guy that's that hardest to beat out there. But you know essentially you got to have a good handle on race cars too. You know the cars are a big part of the game. You have to have good leadership skills within yourself, good leadership skills within your crew chief and good race cars and everything. For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and be the best. I want to be the guy that everyone says, 'We got to beat Kyle Busch,' and that's the guy we got to beat week in, and week out, whatever series it is. I had that this year but I haven't quite lived up to that name you know in the Cup Series as much as I have on the Nationwide Series and were trying to turn that around."
Q. How is the relationship between you and your brother Kurt? Are you closer this year than in years prior?
Kyle Busch: "It might just seem that way. I get a lot of questions about him because he's running well this year. You know last year he ran like me this year and I know he had a win here and there but he really struggled and struggled painfully. Their cars setup well and handling well, but this year they've done a great job at turning their program around. They're running in the top-four in points. You know with him becoming more recognizable on the radar people ask about him more and he's able to talk more cause he's got the media availability every week and everything so that's about it really."
Q. He seems to talk very highly about you and is very supportive.
Kyle Busch: "Yeah, we both want to see each other run well and ultimately we race and contend for championships. It's cool to have him on your side. You know it doesn't make life easier but it makes situations easier when you can go to a guy like that for help."
Q. Will you be in the championship race this season?
Kyle Busch: "I'm hoping so. I'm not going to say we are but we are really working hard to be in the Chase. If we turn things around and start running better then yeah were going to be in the Chase. If we keep running the way we have been this year then no we will not be there. It all comes down to performance and how you finish on Sunday and the points you get. So when you look at who's in the Chase and who's going to fall out, man it's hard too look at someone's whose going to fall out. (Greg) Biffle and Kenseth, I mean (Matt) Kenseth has been in it every year so you can't count on him even though he's 12th or 11th now. You know Biffle, he runs strong in these next tracks that we go to. One of his best ones is Michigan and I think he runs well in Atlanta, but Bristol and Richmond you know those other two those are our tracks. You know we run really well at those tracks. Bristol you never know what can come out of that place so it's a hard one too."
Q. After the race is over how soon do you say, 'Ok. Where we are in points?'
Kyle Busch: "I mean we sort of figure it out, on my phone I can't seem to find the website that updates it quickly enough. Typically we find out Sunday night or Monday. We just wait and see where it's at. You know this week we gained a spot in points but we lost some ground, so that's the most frustrating thing because when you look at the guys we're racing, Mark (Martin), Kenseth, Biffle, (Brian) Vickers, David Reuitimann. You know those are the guys we're racing. So when you look at who finished in front of you there was six of those seven that finished in front of us on Sunday."
Q. What means more to you, winning races or solid points finishes?
Kyle Busch: "If you can trade a winning season for a championship season anybody would always say you want a championship season. The thing for me would just to be a champion. If you can get a winless season and become a champion then you've got it. Then go win all the races you've lost. You've solidified yourself, you've made it in the sport, and you are a champion. You might be ridiculed for having a winless season. If you go one year winning ten races a year everybody's going to be like man you're the greatest thing since ... Joey Logano (laughter). It'll work itself out eventually."
Q. Are you going to have to cool your jets down in order to make it into the Chase?
Kyle Busch: "Well we haven't been going for a win since Charlotte. We've been trying to just get our program back in the right direction so the biggest thing for us is to run solidly and on Sunday man I got through the mess of one of those last restarts and I got up to I think eighth or ninth something like that and I'm like 'Whoa, ok I've cleared the mess, I'm settled in, let's go.' I got down to Turn 3 and winded it up and I don't even know what I did. I just got in the corner and I had no grip and I just lost it. You know that took us probably from a seventh to an eleventh place finish back to a sixteenth place finish and I had to fight for that. It could have been a lot worse but it could have certainly been a lot better. We got what we got and now we got to look into going to Watkins Glen this weekend where hopefully you know if it comes down to me running second on the last lap and making a ballsy move into Turn 1 and taking a chance at wrecking myself, I can't do it. If I was at the point situation I was last year sure I'd wreck the leader, who cares. But I can't do it this year, I just have to ride it out and finish second."
Q. How is that when your instinct tells you to go for it and then you've got to pull back?
Kyle Busch: "That's what happens when you try to become a smart points racer. You just got to do it and to mentality do that isn't necessarily the old Kyle Busch, but it has to be in the new. We've got to make a good finish."
Q. Did the new pit road configuration make a difference this year in Dover?
Kyle Busch: "Yeah, Dover was cool last time I came here. I don't know why I finished 23rd. I qualified better than that. The race was a decent race. I remember we got off on strategy one time but you know coming to pit road on the green flag stops on the yellow flag stops, pit road was definitely pretty nice. The new asphalt is all there and the concrete and everything. It's a tad bit wider which is always nice and the pit stalls are longer so we can get out a little easier. Denis (McGlynn) asked me if it'd be better to make it wider yet and I'm like it doesn't really need to be any wider. You know we go to Indy which is narrower than Dover so because now it's a little wider and a little longer it's good."
Q. Where's your monster trophy from your Dover win?
Kyle Busch: "Sitting in my trophy room. It's there with the rest of them. I've got all three trophies, one from each race. I won the truck one before it became the Monster trophy. And I do have a small monster and a big monster. Whether you want to call it big brother, little brother or father and son. They're sitting next too each other. That trophy is a pretty cool trophy. It's really neat to win that thing. The hand can hold a real die cast and you know that's pretty cool. I got the die cast with the car that I won here with in it."
Q. How big is that trophy room?
Kyle Busch: "Probably about as big as this room. You know the bad thing is that when I built it I had a ton of empty shelves and I'm like 'Man, how am I ever going to fill this up?' I filled it up and realistically there is no more room for any trophies in there. Now they're just starting to line up on the floor and at home I tell myself I need to build a bigger one, but when you do that you have expectations to fill it, so I guess since its been full I haven't won that much since I filled it so maybe then I need to build a 10,000 square foot warehouse to see if I can't fill that baby up."
Q. What are your thoughts about how some have said that you need to focus on the Cup side?
Kyle Busch: "The plan was last year when we were winning all the Nationwide races and running really well. The plan was initially to go full season and then I felt like our Cup stuff sort of stalled. We cut it back. I didn't go to Milwaukee. I didn't go to Nashville, and I didn't go to a couple others. I missed five races and if I could have just stayed at the same average finish that I had the first 19 to 20 races I would have won the championship, by 16 points over Clint Bowyer. So when you see that and I wrecked a lot those first 19 races and I still had a pretty good window there. We thought about it and how our cars are really good and Joe and J.D. (Gibbs) said man wouldn't it be cool to have a Nationwide championship solely JGR owner and driver points, and so I said I want to do it. I want to win a Nationwide championship. Anybody would so our cars have been strong enough and that's why we have done it. We won six races this year. It's been good and maybe it's taken a little bit away from the Cup effort. I don't think it has but were already talking about next year and cutting it back and getting our Cup efforts back up to where they need to be. Hopefully we can get it down to about 22 or 24 Nationwide Series races, just companion stuff not flying all over the place."
Q. With the season you and Kurt had last year, did he come to you for advice?
Kyle Busch: "Well yeah a little bit. He asked about our cars. Like what does yours feel like or what is different here or there depending on whatever track we were at. I'd tell him a little bit. They hired some people to get them turned around in the offseason. You know this year we have sort of flip-flopped. I have not gone to him for advice because I know what I need in a car. I haven't had it this year. Last year the cars were doing things that were pretty good. We had good driving cars. You know we just haven't been fast enough this year in order to take those cars to the front. It's funny in some of the truck races I've been in they are the best handling trucks I have ever had and I'm running fifth. I don't know if it's me that's taking it out of our cars or what. But were definitely trying to figure it all out."
Q. How you rate the COT now from before?
Kyle Busch: "It's not bad, it's not what I would have designed, it's not what I would want to race but it's what we got. We make the most of the effort and try and fix it and try to make it better. I think there are some things that NASCAR can do to help with. Whether that is fixing some aerodynamics, take some weight out of the right of the car to make it a little bit lighter. You know all the safety advances with the car are great but ultimately it comes down to competition. I feel like that's how fans feel and have seen it in what the grandstands look like. If they get bored and they don't come back to the race track you have a problem. It's not like all of us are riding around not doing anything. So it gets pretty crazy on restarts and when you see Mark Martin blocking on restarts to try and hold position you know that you got a hard time with something. With everybody now fully concentrating on this car to make it better, not like two years ago when we were back and forth between the two cars, man that was the worst thing ever. We would drive the old car and be like man this is so great it drives like a Cadillac and we would get in that new thing and it would drive like an 18 wheeler going down the highway. It was hard to correlate between the two and now that we are in one which most of the Cup drivers are driving that one. I still drive the Nationwide so I get a taste of the old car. It's good that everybody's had a chance to work on that car and its gotten better. We've really crushed the car to make it do the things we want it to do with setup and stuff. You know now we're just in this little box. Before you could work on things and make it better and now you're just stuck in this little box and you've filled so many crutches. We have the tow, the rear-end housing, split track arms, rear ends pulled back. We're doing everything possible with the back of the car to get the car to turn in the corner. So much that the front of the car really isn't doing anything. That's why sometimes some of the guys have a real problem with handling because the cars are so finicky. You know one corner you might roll this much and the next corner you might not roll as much. It changes the handling of the car so there's a lot going on with these cars now that they wouldn't let the old cars work."
Q. If you could be (NASCAR President) Mike Helton for one day what would you change about NASCAR?
Kyle Busch: "I would work on the car a little bit. Like I said I think there are some aerodynamic things we can work on and change with the front end of the cars. The wing ok, I mean it doesn't bother me. They had good intentions with it. What they wanted instead of a spoiler was that the air would hit the spoiler and go up which doesn't allow any of the air on the car to go behind it. Which now with the wing the air has to go under it in order for a wing to work. I mean its air plane technology. They had good intentions with air going under the car to get on the nose of the car behind. But the noses of the cars are so dead because actually when you travel more you affectively lose down force. So it's a catch 22. How much do you want to get the nose down and sealed and when you don't get it sealed it feels worse. So you don't know where to go that's why a lot of people have been confused with these things so wind tunnel tells you one thing but the drivers on the race track tell you another and when you're in traffic that tells you another thing. So I think less right side weight, you can just get some weight out of the cars, so that Goodyear has an easier times building tires. That's not a blow to Goodyear; it's just these cars are tough to work on for anybody. And fix the noses a little bit to add some character. A little more manufactured differences and a little more aerodynamics."
-credit: dover international speedway