An interview with: KYLE BUSCH STEVE ADDINGTON JOE GIBBS THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's winner of the Best Buy 400, Benefitting Student Clubs For Autism Speaks. Driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota, Kyle...
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's winner of the Best Buy 400, Benefitting Student Clubs For Autism Speaks. Driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota, Kyle Busch. Also note that this is the first time that Toyota has swept a three race weekend.
Kyle, tell us about your run.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good run for us. Definitely we had a great racecar here today with the Combos Toyota. Steve Addington made some great race calls there, adjusting air pressures, some wedge and stuff like, that just trying to make the thing a little bit better. We were able to get to the right place at the right time when it mattered most.
Got to give a lot of credit to the pit crew today. They did such a good job on pit road. They were pretty phenomenal. Can't say enough about the guys at the shop. But, you know, I still have to say that Carl and Greg definitely had a car to beat today. We were just able to capitalize on pit road a little bit better than they were, get out front, you know, kind of keep our momentum going, keep it up front.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined also by today's winning crew chief, Steve Addington. Steve, tell us a little bit about today's strategy and your view from on top of the box.
STEVE ADDINGTON: When the race started, I didn't think we had a very good racecar. Neither did he. The Roush cars, they drove away from us. Just kept tuning on the racecar, working on it, trying to make it better, make him happy with it.
The way we got ahead was just great pit stops, green flag stops. I think those guys busted off 12 second stops every time we were on pit road. I think that gave us a big advantage.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by today's winning team owner, Coach Joe Gibbs. Joe, tell us a little bit about your view of the race today from where you were sitting.
JOE GIBBS: Well, I really appreciate these two guys. They did a great job today for us, Combos and Mars. It was great for them to come on board with us this year. It's been fantastic. I was kidding around with a couple of guys. Felt so bad for Home Depot and FedEx and Denny and Tony, in a race like this where you wreck two cars.
But these guys did a great job all day. I agree with Steve and the guys, I thought it was a total team effort. I think Kyle will be the first one to tell that. I'm watching those guys on pit road, they were jacked. Those things were about 12.6, 12.7, all of our pit stops. That's a young group we've got. We're really proud of them. I think that gave us some spacing. Like Kyle said, Biffle was awesome, and so was Carl at different parts in there.
We just got our stuff going at the right time.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now open it up to questions from the media.
Kyle, how critical was it today to be out front and not be behind guys where you couldn't really catch up to them?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think it was pretty critical, definitely. There on that last pit stop, we come out of the pits behind Truex there, couldn't pass him. I rode behind the sixth place car for 60 or 70 laps there. Couldn't get by him.
I just had to run my own line, run my own pace, keep it glued to the bottom as best as I could, just keep going through the corners and not get too loose, wearing out the tires or anything like that.
Fortunately for me, it was all the pit crew that was able to gain us stuff.
Carl and Greg talked about getting behind guys with this car, especially at this track. Almost like hitting a wall. Did you experience that same situation when you were running behind them?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah. I did experience it a little bit behind Greg there when we were running fast lap times up front at the beginning of the race. He would pull away because he had fresh air. Myself, I couldn't really hold onto it. I think I was overdriving a little bit. Then Carl got by me, I'd fall back by Carl a little bit just to get, you know, probably 7/10ths of a second back is where my car felt comfortable.
Once you get up into their wake, their buffer, the car doesn't feel as secure, doesn't feel as comfortable without having the air going over it, the little amount of air that does go over it.
So, you know, it's kind of frustrating when you can't gain on somebody. You couldn't go to the top and try to pick up any time, lap time, around the top, because it's just too long around and the cars are too tight.
Steve, what do you do when that situation happens? Is there something you can do?
STEVE ADDINGTON: No. You battle for track position. That's the big plan, is just try to keep your track position during the whole race. We freed the car up. We'd get too loose off. There's a fine line you've got to walk there. You've got to just try to think your strategy out on keeping your track position all day long. You know, two tires or four tires, you got to make the right call there.
Kyle, you've been fast from the drop of the green flag for the whole season. Seems like you're so excited you want to overdrive the car. How do you keep yourself composed? Is it that easy to drive when you're out front? And, Steve, how do you keep him calmed down? Coach, for you, how were you able to get a rein in on all these Toyotas because you have three fast ones in the field every week?
KYLE BUSCH: For me, I believe there's a way that you drive the trucks, there's a way you drive the Nationwide cars. That's full out, as fast as you can go. The harder you go, the faster you can go. These cars here, you have to pace yourself a little bit. You have to slow them down. You can drive them hard for the first three or four laps, then you have to start backing off, start slowing down, slowing up your entry, slowing down the center, just kind of moseying around the corner, trying to make the thing stick in one particular groove.
I've found something that's worked for me here recently in the past few weeks. I found it at Darlington. I won there. Then I finished third at Lowe's. Then we won here again today.
You know, we're gaining on the car as well, too. But I think a lot of it is a little bit of driver. You got to stay calm when you can. You got to get going when the time's right and when you can get riled up.
STEVE ADDINGTON: I just let him go (laughter). I just let him go. He learns for his self on having to slow the car down. You know, I mean, he wants me to fix it to go wide open. It's just you can't do it. We work on it, and he puts it to the point of where it works. That's where it works so well.
JOE GIBBS: You're talking about fast Toyotas. I think our drivers I think the world of our drivers. To get Kyle, see the way he's hit it off with Steve, that is great chemistry.
Also, as we mentioned, there are some very young guys on our pit crew there with that group. I'm so excited about that. I think you got Tony and Denny that are good teammates. Obviously they can win any race, too. We've been blessed with good drivers. I think our crew chiefs have just done a fantastic job. And the thing I like about this, it's a team sport. It's everybody back home working on everything. Mark and everybody flogging the motors. Everybody in every aspect of our race shop deserves a lot of the credit. Certainly, Toyota and TRD have been great partners for us.
I think up here in pro sports, it's little by little, it's everything. Certainly our drivers have a major, major deal in making it happen.
Kyle, I heard maybe something happened with your helmet over the weekend. It got taken. You got it back. Can you explain what happened. Did it matter to you? Do you have a lucky helmet? If it was gone, would you have put another one on and gone?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I guess was it yesterday? Saturday night or Friday night? Friday night. Friday night somebody snuck in the garage area with the cleanup crew and rattled the back doors of the trailer open, dumped their beer and ice and everything in the trailer, went up into the lounge, stole my helmet. There had been I don't know, somebody saw it happen, I guess, they told security guards outside. They were checking everybody that was leaving the racecar. They found him, confiscated him, brought the helmet back. That's all I know pretty much.
Did it matter?
KYLE BUSCH: It didn't matter. It's not a lucky helmet. It's not any of that, no. It's the helmet I believe we used it was a Snickers one, wasn't it? We used it at Atlanta. Used it again here today because it was orange. We didn't have an orange Combos helmet so we had to deal with what we had.
JOE GIBBS: On second thought, it might be a lucky helmet.
KYLE BUSCH: Might be now, I guess.
JOE GIBBS: Let's get it back.
KYLE BUSCH: We got it. We're going to be putting the reins on that puppy. Probably the one Steve wants after the year is over.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Oh, yeah (laughter).
Steve, can you take us through the weekend going back and forth to Boiling Springs, what that was like, your daughter's graduation?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Got to hand it to Joe and J.D. having the plane stay over. We flew up here on Thursday. Talked to J.D. about a month ago and told him we had a problem. My daughter was going to graduate on Friday night. He said, Let me see what I can work out. He left the plane up here with the crew. They flew the Saab back with me Friday night after we got through qualifying, I left before qualifying was over with. When I left, we were on the pole. I thought this was going to be a good night. Came back and we were third.
But I got there. She kept calling me. She said it was going to be all right for me to miss it. But she kept calling. I kept ignoring her calls. I called her mom, made sure everything was all right. After the ceremony, got to walk out on the field, she saw me, and that was cool.
Got back up, flew back up here on Saturday.
Steve, you've put up with your share of criticisms over the last couple years. How gratifying is it to prove to people you can set up a car that can go fast and win races?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It's awesome. Bottom line, it's awesome (laughter). There's a lot of opportunities out there, guys that are really good guys, work hard. It's the people you put yourself around, you have around you that work hard for you. You put the right driver in the mix, it all works.
Oh, it's an awesome feeling. You go to a racetrack. It's fun to get up and go to work in the mornings. It's fun to go to the racetrack, know you got a shot to win every race you go to.
When there's a race like this, Kyle, and anyone suggests that maybe it wasn't the most exciting in history, invariably drivers say, From where I was sitting, it was exciting. We whisper, I guess so, you're doing 180 miles and hour. But this is a spectator sport. From where you were sitting, was this one exciting?
KYLE BUSCH: Turning as much right as I did today, yeah. It's kind of like next Wednesday, you turn right to go left. But I wasn't trying to turn right, it just was what I had to do.
It wasn't I guess all that exciting. You know, that's a product of what we've got going on here. We're working on trying to make our cars go as fast as they can. The faster we make them go, the more aero dependent they're going to be. The more you put out on the racetrack, the more the air is going to get screwed up. You know, we're all fighting for space. We're all fighting for air. We're all fighting for everything.
Sorry it wasn't exciting.
Joe, as you know, some of the fans consider Kyle a villain now in the sport. Do you talk to him about handling that role or you just figure he's a young guy and he'll work it out himself?
JOE GIBBS: I couldn't quite hear it, but I think it was about Kyle.
From the very first time we talked to Kyle, he came over, we sat down and talked, J.D. and everybody there. We never make a decision at Joe Gibbs Racing unless everybody agrees and is in on it. Denny and Tony both said to us, Go get him. Jimmy, Kyle met with everybody, met with our engineering group, met with everybody.
Kyle is very smart, knows a lot about the racecar, had a lot of questions. So basically for us, the most telling question I felt like in the whole time that I talked to him, something that came up about, Hey, what happened the year before where he was... He said, Hey, I'm young, I'm going to make some mistakes, you know. I thought he was very honest. I thought he was humbled in that. Had a good, humble statement there.
We know he's a great talent. I just think he fit mainly because everybody in our group, when we met with him, said, We need to get him.
I don't know if that got the whole question or not.
Kyle, you mentioned in Victory Lane it was a busy weekend, you had a chance in the truck race, had a problem in the Nationwide race. Have you ever felt this greedy before with the situation you're in?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, when you feel like you've got the dominant truck or the dominant car, then you feel like you missed out on something. I feel like we missed out at the All Star Race. I feel like we missed out in the truck race at Charlotte. So four wins in the past two, three weeks that I feel like more we could have gotten.
That's a good question. I mean, is it greed? I just want to win everything, man. That's all I'm here for, is to win as many races as I possibly can. Whether it's the truck, Nationwide car, or the Cup car... Joe wants me to win in the Cup cars. I think he wants me to win in his Nationwide cars, too. Unfortunately I kept him out of Victory Lane last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He probably wasn't happy about that.
JOE GIBBS: We haven't talked about that.
KYLE BUSCH: Tried to pay him back today a little bit, get him back into the Victory Lane, when he was here and J.D. wasn't, so at least we could have one of the Gibbs in Victory Lane with us.
Kyle, you also alluded you had the opportunity this weekend to win all three races. You led I think 90 some laps in the truck race, 60 some laps in the Nationwide race. Do you feel a little bit like you missed out on what could have been a sweep this weekend? With the incidents that took place in the last two days, were you concerned as the race was winding down?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, normally when I have a dominant car, something happens, unfortunately. But it happened in the truck race. It happened in the Nationwide race. It happened late enough in the Nationwide race where I just didn't have time to come back from it. It happened on pit road there. That's kind of what brought us back to pit road and got us back in traffic and stuff.
Overall, I mean, yeah, I feel like we missed out on the triple this weekend definitely. You have everything go right, you have the dominant car, dominant truck, everything goes right, then ultimately you'll probably make it to Victory Lane if you don't screw up.
Atlanta was the same way. We had a great truck there. We won the truck race. We had a great Nationwide car. The right front shock or A arm or something broke. Then we won the Cup race the next day. Felt like we had the same scenario here this weekend that we felt we could have capitalized on pretty well. I'm proud of the fact that Denny was able to win yesterday for JGR. I'm proud of the fact that Scott Speed, I wasn't able to say it because I haven't been in here, I really have to congratulate him. I thought he probably had the second or third best truck. He made the most of it and was able to win the thing. That was pretty cool.
After losing the transmission on Friday, getting dumped in the wall by your teammate on Saturday, was it a little difficult sleeping Saturday night, anxious to get in the car today?
KYLE BUSCH: It wasn't difficult sleeping, no. Had a great dinner. It was my girlfriend's birthday. Celebrated that last night. Happy birthday to her today. I won for her. I blame it on her that we won, which is good.
But I woke up this morning, I was pretty disappointed. I wasn't in a very good mood this morning. Kind of all hit me that it was like we qualified third in all three, we start third again today, let's see if I can make it 28th or 27th again. I mean, it was like, What's going to happen? If we have the dominant car again today, what's going to happen? I've gone through a bunch of different scenarios this year and in my career, but fortunately it all worked out today. Even though I was kind of Denny Downer this morning, I was able to make it through the day and was able to win. So proud of myself and yet proud of the whole team and everybody sticking with me.
Speaking of Scott Speed, I spoke with him on Friday and he said this is not that hard, I'm not finding it real hard, there's only two corners to figure out every week. Alluded to the fact he might be over going for a Toyota test, Danica would be getting a Honda test. He said they better forget it, they should get a proper test in one day because there's nobody from here that could get their place in Formula One. What was your take on that?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it hurts my feelings, Scott. I'm sorry. I'm just kidding (laughter).
I think it's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to doing it. It's just going to be something to do. Just going to have some fun, go over there, take a vacation part of it.
You know, he's got a rude awakening when he gets going a little bit further. Just because he won in his fifth start doesn't mean that it comes all that often. People around the sport go years without winning. Sometimes they go 50, 80, however many races between wins. I mean, it's a hard sport.
He's probably pretty gratified that he won and yet he probably doesn't know when his next one's going to come. We'll see. It's not as easy as it looks here, that's for sure. You have 43 of the best competitors in the whole world every weekend that are racing together. It's obviously hard for a lot of them to make two corners and to figure out two different corners at a racetrack.
But, you know, hopefully I can have some fun and see what it's like, see what he experienced over there when he was there.
This combination between you and Addington, he talks about how he just lets you go. Is there sort of a hands off quality to the way he manages things that you thrive in? Why does this relationship work so well?
KYLE BUSCH: Joe, it just works.
JOE GIBBS: It just works.
KYLE BUSCH: I think it just works. We're proud of the fact it just works. There's some times where the reins have to be pulled back on me. I'll admit it. I think Addington does a good job at that, you know, and Jeff Dickerson does a good job at that, too. I have two guys that are my eyes that see a lot of things that I don't that can pull me back when they need to.
The other thing is, I think he's got a good aura with the team. All the guys on the whole team respect him, for all that he knows, for all he's done in this sport for as many years as he's been around. That's the same goes for me, too, I respect what he accomplished in this sport. Even though it doesn't look like much on paper, I feel like he's done a tremendous job and obviously he's still doing it here this year.
Kyle, the last part of the race, you were behind the 15. It was smoking a little bit. Did that worry you at all, seeing that white smoke coming out?
KYLE BUSCH: The smoke didn't really worry me. It was just the fact that maybe it would blow up. That worried me.
I was just trying to get by him as quickly as I could so then at least he was behind me so when he laid the oil down, I wasn't going to be in it.
I remembered Kasey Kahne here I think it was two or three years ago when somebody blew up, laid oil through three or four, there were like 8 or 15 cars that piled up down there. That kind of came to mind.
It didn't worry me too much. Was just hoping I could get by him before things really let go.
You just race everything you can get behind the wheel of. I'm wondering if you're becoming rich, your financial status has changed. What's changed in your life regarding money now that you're winning, racing in all these series?
JOE GIBBS: I can answer that one. He's getting rich. The owner's going broke.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm a car owner, too, so I spend it. I'm putting it back into my short track stuff, the short track ranks, trying to give an up and comer a start, getting him going.
It's not that I just pocket it. It's not that I go out and buy all the cool toys and everything. I put it back in the late model racing. I like going back and doing that stuff, too. I've got some cars for myself and him that we all go back and race.
It's cool that it makes life easier, I guess, and you don't have to worry about going to the gas pumps. But, man, I can feel for the economy, that's for sure. Just looking back at where I was back in high school, thinking about what my living status was to what it is now, you know, it's very easy to become lost in that. Giving back to some of the guys, and the foundation stuff that I do, too, a lot of work there, opens my eyes up. I'm trying to stay grounded with everything I do there.
No silk suits, airplanes?
KYLE BUSCH: No airplane, no silk suits. No silk underwear for that matter. I'm still on the, what is it, three bucks for five or something like that. No, I'm not showing (laughter). Most of my clothes I'm trying to get for free anyway, too (laughter).
JOE GIBBS: Two weeks ago, Kyle had a bunch of kids, probably 50 of them, NASCAR theme park, underprivileged kids. It was a great afternoon. Everybody was over there. I really appreciate him. Tony does a bunch of stuff. Denny, too. But, Kyle, I thought that was an awesome day, where these little guys were following him around. He got a great influence. These guys, too. I think that's a huge part of what we do in sports. That's a huge thing to live up to. I appreciated that. So I'll just share that.
KYLE BUSCH: We were at NASCAR Speed Park. Joe was with us. He was probably getting more g forces on the ride he was on than the rest of us. It was this little twirly do thing, motorized mechanically, like a train, swinging him around the corner. We were all watching his hair.
JOE GIBBS: Actually, Taylor was driving me crazy. Our three year old. There's nothing he could ride. He wasn't big enough. I took him over there. I asked the guy to start the thing up. He's flinging me around. I was actually getting sick. Every time we were ready to get him off, he was screaming his brains off again.
Anyway, I had a rough day. It was a rough day for the coach.
Q: Coach Gibbs, when Steve was here, he said, We just let him go and it works. Can you relate for us, linebackers, runningbacks, quarterbacks, guys that were that way?
JOE GIBBS: I think what I would say there is Steve's personality, it's interesting the way they match up, the guys do. Crew chief, that's a tough thing. We look inside in the pit crew, how often the guys stay together very long. They have an unusual relationship because Steve is very laid back, very even. Kyle obviously at times will sound off. So that's a great combination.
Now, having said that, Zippy and Tony, you know, sometimes they're after each other as hard as you can. Sometimes I'm more worried about Zippy getting on Tony. So it's interesting how that develops. Mike, again, is very thoughtful. Denny is kind of laid back a little bit.
To your point, athletes are very different, have very different personalities. But the competitive nature is what some have. Some are gifted and have that competitive nature. I've seen all different kinds of personalities in there, you know. Football guys, I coached Art Monk, he wouldn't say a word. Very, very competitive. Other guys, Gary Clark, come off the field, call you a bunch of names. So it's interesting.
It's personalities, how you deal with 'em. Everybody's different. Human nature. You learn everybody's different. What's the hot button? How do you get 'em to do it? How do you push that right button to get the guy to do it?
Q: Kyle, when Greg was in here earlier, it was obvious he wasn't going to have a chance of catching you. Does a driver start admiring what the frontrunner is doing? When a guy says he admires you for the way you win a race, what does that mean to you?
KYLE BUSCH: Greg said that? That's pretty cool 'cause Greg there was pretty good in the beginning. He was awesome really. I was following him. Really couldn't keep up with them him. He wouldn't step out. He'd clear the wall by three feet coming off the corners about every time I'd hit it. Wondered how he was doing that. I had my admiration for him there in the beginning.
Fortunately there at the end, we just I think had a little bit better car maybe. We adjusted it right, got it better. We were able to capitalize on track position, just got up there.
You know, doing what you got to do, hitting your marks, doing all that stuff. It's pretty hard nosed I'm trying to think of the right word. You got to stay focused. You got to keep your eyes ahead, keep your eyes on the same marks every time you're going around the track. The car changes. It's not just that you hit the same marks every time. You got to start backing off earlier, you got to start using a little bit more brake, trying to let the car roll around and do all that stuff. So it changes constantly. What you have to think of is, Ooh, that corner was a little bit too much brake, I can let it roll a little bit further next time. You just start changing everything the next time around and you just got to keep judging off the cars around you and what your car is doing and stuff. It's pretty hard to do.
It's pretty cool for Greg saying that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations.
KYLE BUSCH: Appreciate it. Have a good night.