Fontana II: Winning team race interview, part 1

RICK HENDRICK, ALAN GUSTAFSON, KYLE BUSCH THE MODERATOR: We have Alan Gustafson and the winning team owner, Rick Hendrick and the youngest NEXTEL Cup winner ever, Kyle Busch. Q</I>: Can you talk about your recollections of when you...


THE MODERATOR: We have Alan Gustafson and the winning team owner, Rick Hendrick and the youngest NEXTEL Cup winner ever, Kyle Busch.

Q</I>: Can you talk about your recollections of when you were a little younger, the Truck race, your problems, what year was that, and I remember seeing you in that trailer when all of that was going on.

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, that wasn't one of the funnest days of my career, must have been November of 2001. Running here in the NASCAR Truck Series, fastest guy in practice, and basically got sent out and wasn't able to run the race, but that's also what led me here to Hendrick Motorsports. It was a very devastating day but also a very enjoyable day as well and what led me to the future as far as where I was able to go. It just means a lot and a tremendous amount to be here and sitting here talking to you right now.

Q</I>: Can you review for a minute on how important this win is for each of you in very different ways.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it's huge. I mean, it's the biggest win of my life. It's just great to win it for Kelloggs who supported us for so long, for Mr. Hendrick who gives us everything in the world. We really wanted to win the race for Kyle to get the youngest winner award, that all came together at the last minute. We got our first pole and now our first win, it's unbelievable.

RICK HENDRICK: I think that Ricky had so much confidence in Kyle and the structure of the 25 and the 5 and to see the two cars run like that tonight and Kyle to win the race and become the youngest guy, the teams worked really hard, Alex has done a super job and Kyle has done a super job and got a lot of criticism early on that he was too young, but just really proud of the team and the effort they put forth.

Q</I>: Two-tire call there at the end?

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, that certainly was -- we came down pit road not even wanting to come down pit road there at the end. I was going to fake everybody but everybody followed so I just decided to stick to it and decided to go for two tires because we were not going to be able to get the jacket that quick on the left side. That was the racing move right there, that was the call that was able to provide us the great track position in order to keep us up there in the first part off pit road so that was awesome on his part.

Q</I>: Alan, you saw the car was in bad position?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: He got into the a bit shot and we were close to the inside wall. Little bit slow getting around and then we just switched off the two, we were prepared, we knew we were going to watch the guys around, 17 was in eyes' view of us and we're paying attention so all of the guys were ready to go. The guys did a very good job. I'm screaming in their ear and they are trying to do a great pit stop without any mistakes so it's huge on their part.

Q</I>: As Kyle became increasingly dominant, did you adjust the car to the track or did the track come to you?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: We were pretty good to start there. We got up front there and we were saying maybe around lap 80 or 100, that was the first time we led, I thought we were looking pretty good. We went in, came out fourth or so and our competitors left us and we made a small adjustment there after that which was a little bit too much and came back a little bit off it and probably the last three stops got the car.

Q</I>: Was it infectious for this young kid to fight off the Roush army? Last time we talked, he wanted to drive for you and you were talking forever about that.

RICK HENDRICK: I guess the first part of the question was the Roush army. I was -- we were thinking about who was going to run fifth, and looking back tonight, they looked so strong last night in the Busch race and the qualifying, we knew we had our work cut out for us.

But Alan and Kyle were very confident when I got out here that they were -- they didn't like the qualifying lap, but they really felt good about the race, I think the second part was after Kyle led it, to watch Kyle at Milwaukee run out of gas -- I think we lost the championship that day, he was half a second before anybody out in the truck, and so, yeah, it's fun to watch him race, and just happy we got him in the stable.

Q</I>: Kyle if you could take us through the final restart?

KYLE BUSCH: The final restart is one of those deals where I mean there is about three of us, three too many, and you know after that pit stop there, I figured we were in pretty good shape, I'll go back to the second to last restart first, where I was running third behind Robbie Gordon in the 43 and I wanted to make sure I got a good enough restart where I was able to get rid of both of these guys in 1 and 2. 43 was generous enough to point me whatever way I wanted to go before the green flag and Jeff Green did an awesome job for me on that one and Gordon got real loose where I was able to drive on the outside and everybody racing toward the rear-view mirror and you're thinking, set, we'll be all right now and then that caution came out, threw my nerves so far out the window I could not believe it. I was able to keep myself a little bit more composed than maybe some other persons would.

I thought back to Richmond actually and racing over the Richmond told me I beat Greg Biffle for my first Busch Series and I wanted to do the same thing today. And we were able to just not spin the tires, get a good enough jump on those guys and get a good enough run through 1 and 2 where I was able to put a little distance on them where I was able to conserve there for the last three corners and wanted to make it.

Q</I>: Earlier you were talking about when Kyle might get his first win and he had said that Michigan and California were really good places for him, why was that?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I think we got a little bit of jump in California here, we were able to test here in the winter. That made a big difference. And Kyle, he's just unbelievably good. He's good everywhere but he's really unbelievably good at these momentum tracks. He's willing to drive the car with the setups we need to get the speed on them and he's willing to go out and do that stuff.

I thought Michigan would be a good place, everyone knows how dominant he was there in his Busch car. I think we could have potentially done the same thing, but the traction on the grill overheated.

Q</I>: Earlier this year at Vegas, Kurt said that he predicted your first win this year and he said when you got that first one you were going to take off; what does this do for your confidence now?

KYLE BUSCH: The confidence has always been up. The confidence has been up with the race scene, with the equipment that we had with my team owner Rick Hendrick, with the setups we've an able to run with Alan.

Last week I kind of blew up and over-evaporated everything as far as what we've all built throughout the year as far as an overwhelming situation but came back this week and talked to the guys in the shop for at least a few hours and then came out here this weekend trying to put everything behind us.

The cars are fast week-in and week-out. At Charlotte we were fast, Darlington we were fast, Michigan and here this weekend. There's just numerous places. Bristol we had a really good race car and it just all -- we tried to make it come together but it's one of those deals where the final piece of the puzzle was so hard to find. Every once in awhile, it's a blind -- today we were just able to get there and do it. It's unbelievable as far as how the team has just kept composure on everything.

-gm racing

Continued in part 1

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports