Joe Gibbs Racing
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are your thoughts on the shorter distance at Pocono?
“I think that’s a positive change. You know, certainly sometimes I felt like it may be a bit long there or drawn out. Now it might add less of a lull during the middle part of the race. So, you’ll have the beginning and people trying to make moves and get themselves in position. Then you’ll have guys working it and getting themselves in position for the final pit stop and the final run, thereafter. Hopefully, we’ll finally get that win at Pocono with our M&M’s Camry.”
Until the last two seasons, Pocono seemed to be a place you struggled. What changed there to help you be in contention for wins the last two years?
“Pocono used to be a place I didn’t look forward to going to but, lately, I’ve been looking forward to it because of Dave Rogers (crew chief). I struggled there and Dave does a really good job of working with our teammates, with Denny (Hamlin) being so good there, we used some of the baseline stuff from the 11 car and tweaked it more to my liking. Denny is still way better than I am there, but Dave, along with everyone on the M&M’s team and JGR, have done a good job of giving me solid racecars and it’s given me more confidence. I have no idea how the repave will change things for us, but we do have some extra time on Wednesday and Thursday to hopefully get a good baseline and we can continue to be as competitive on the repaved track as we have been on the old surface over the last couple of years.
Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What’s the most difficult part of the track for you?
“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8 to 10 mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”
Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?
“Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can’t get the cars to turn down there because there’s so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a ‘buck-40’ (140). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you’ve got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it’s tight.”
Did anything change last August at Pocono with the addition of shifting?
“Nothing changed since we were there last time, for us, anyway. Everything was the same and we had a really good run and almost won the thing. We were real comfortable with it the last time we were there and things went really well for us with it. We seemed like we could gain a little bit of time in the areas we were shifting. On restarts, you do a couple things differently than you did there in the past.”
DAVE ROGERS, Crew Chief of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You had a teammate participate in the Pocono tire test back in April. What information did Joey Logano’s team share from the Pocono tire test?
“I think the relationships are in place where we’re going to be just as tight whether we’re testing or not testing but, obviously, relying on each other’s notebook. The good thing about the repaves is that NASCAR usually does have an open test, so we do get to read what the 20 (Joey Logano) worked on during the tire test, but we actually have quite a few hours of testing on our own prior to the event. Your teammates’ notebooks are great and it’s better than nothing, but every driver is a little bit different. They all want something just a little bit different, so we try to learn from each other, but we have to be careful not to carbon-copy our cars. We have to make our cars specific to our drivers and their needs.”