NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference August 16, 2005 Guest: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo This week's NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference featured Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet. After last weekend's...
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference
August 16, 2005
Guest: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo
This week's NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference featured Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet. After last weekend's race at Watkins Glen, Kyle is 20th in the 2005 point standings. As the series moves to Michigan, he has five top 5's, eight top 10's, and a pole. He is certainly the favorite to be the '05 Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Kyle finished 9th in the spring race at Michigan.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MICHIGAN TRACK AND HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM WILL DO THERE THIS WEEKEND?
"I enjoy going to Michigan. It's a fun facility with the two-mile radius and the way the corners are laid out with 18 degrees, I believe, of banking in them. It's somewhat similar to California Speedway where I was able to pick up my first pole of the season earlier this year. Going back to Michigan, I think we'll have a little better knowledge of what we need to do this time around regarding tire conservation and things like that. I know they're bringing a different right side tire for us. Goodyear has been doing a great job with the tires this year and so has the Kellogg's team as been awesome as far as giving me equipment that we can run up front with. It's just all about trying to put those pieces together and finishing out the race so we can end up, up front."
REGARDING YOUNG DRIVERS, ARE WE SIGNING DRIVERS AT TOO YOUNG AN AGE FOR THEM TO REALLY KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN BEFORE THEY EVEN GET INTO A NASCAR CAR OR TRUCK?
"I guess it depends on exactly what they're signing. Some kids nowadays who are 15 or 16 or 17 years old - underneath the 18th year age bracket - they have to have a parent or guardian sign too. When I was 16 and running in the Craftsman Truck Series, I never signed a document. We were doing it off a handshake deal. As soon as I got to Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series and the ARCA program they put me under, I was 18 years of age and old enough to sign for myself. But like you say, as far as if they're too young or not, it doesn't necessarily matter and what they're getting into, you're not really sure because it's all about what's written within that contract. If they're signing something that's written in there that says they're not exactly sure what they're going to be doing after two years, there is really not a point to be signing anything."
SHOULD THERE BE AN AGE LIMIT BEFORE A TEAM CAN SIGN A DRIVER?
"I'm not necessarily sure on that. As far as my opinion goes, I would say that it doesn't really matter. If a young kid 12 or 15 years old wants to sign with a big name team, more power to him. That just means that he's been recognized at a young age and that he's got the ability there that the team has been looking for. It just kind of secures his future, if you will. And he's able to just set his racing career more forward knowing that he has a direction that he's heading in. So it might be a little bit easier for someone that young."
IT SEEMS THAT THE WAY YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DID IT WAS THE PERFECT WAY.
"Well, I'm not necessarily sure if it was the perfect way. Circumstances just feel about the way that it did and it was able to be the right direction for myself at that time. I'm ecstatic how everything came about for myself and being able to run the races I did and of course being now with Hendrick Motorsports and the support that they have in the NEXTEL Cup Series. It's one of those dreams that came true. It wasn't necessarily a plan. It was just kind of how it all fell together."
WHAT HAS WORKING IN THE SAME SHOP WITH BRIAN VICKERS DONE FOR YOU?
"I think the leadership skills from Mr. Hendrick and Brian Whitesell have really brought together the No. 5 and the No. 25 teams. The No. 24 and No. 48 started that a few years ago in their building and were really successful with it. Of course Brian Whitesell was the main guy there as well too. And then the No. 5 and the No. 25 were in separate buildings down the hill a little bit next to the chassis shop. Just this year we were able to move into the new building that Mr. Hendrick built for us and it's just an amazing facility to be under. It does a lot for the guys. They have a better mindset going to work everyday that they're in such a top-notch facility. The team owner not only cares about the driver and the cars, but also the team in order to give all the guys a great place to work. All the leadership skills that Brian Whitesell brings into it - he just puts all the people in the right places and I think that's what the biggest deal is on why we've been so successful this year. We've moved some people around from the No. 25 to the No. 5 team and from the No. 5 to the No. 25 team as well as from the Busch team least year. So you just kind of go about all the personnel in the complex and try to fit them into the best place possible and that's how it kind of worked out."
IS IT EASY TO SHARE INFORMATION WHEN YOU GUYS ARE RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER?
"Oh, definitely. It's a heck of a lot easier now that everybody is in the same shop. All the engineers are in the same room throughout the whole day instead of having to run across the street into to other buildings. It's easier as far as everybody's workload goes and as far as everybody's mindset getting into everything. Also, the team engineers that we have between the two teams; there are a couple of guys there that just work strictly with the No. 25 and the No. 5 as well as another guy that works with all four - or when Terry (Labonte) runs, all five teams. So it's great to have all those personnel in place."
ARE THERE ANY UNEXPECTED LESSONS THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED DURING YOUR ROOKIE YEAR?
"There have been a few. I'm not necessarily sure how to name them or what exactly about certain situations they came from. But there's been a lot. Of course all the media time and stuff like that and things that you do off the race track, of course. But as far as on the race track, I've learned a little bit more patience and perseverance and things like that that you need to know as far as just being able to produce results throughout the longer races and things like that. But it's been great as far as being able to work with the team and Alan Gustafson, my crew chief, and of course Brian Whitesell, the team manager. The whole team has done an awesome job this year on getting cars put together and great equipment lined up. Everybody has just been trying to get those last results in the race. It's not necessarily anything that we do, it's just bad luck that keeps coming about for us and we're not exactly sure what we've got to do to change that around a little bit."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CREW CHIEF, ALAN GUSTAFSON, AND HOW YOU TWO HAVE MESHED THIS YEAR?
"Alan and myself, we were two young guys that are just eager to go out there and do well and do the best we can week in and week out. We want to win races, of course, but we know that takes a little bit of time and we'll get there sooner or later - hoping that sooner is quicker than later, of course. But it's been a great experience to be able to work with him. I've actually worked with a ton of crew chiefs throughout my racing career. The other greatest crew chief that I probably worked with is Brian Pattie a couple of years ago who is from Florida. Alan is from Florida, too, so I'm not sure what's going on down in Florida for crew chiefs, but they've been pretty good to me so far. It's been good. Alan and myself, we've worked well from the beginning part of the year. Daytona is just one of those races that you go into and just try to survive and get out of there. And then the first downforce race of the year we were able to sit on the pole at California and then finished second at Las Vegas. We've kind of moved on throughout the year trying different things and working on a set-up that will work for us. We've found a couple of things and nips and tricks that work for us, but not necessarily as quick as maybe the No. 20 has been lately. So we just need to find a little bit more of an edge that might just get us that much further up on the competition."
DOES GUSTASFSON SEEM OLDER THAN HIS AGE?
"Yes, definitely. We both are sometimes. But we both aren't other times, you know. When we're together playing video games or something in the coach, I'll act like I'm probably 15 and he'll act like he's 20 or something like that. We can definitely have a good time with each other and mess around and whatnot, but when it comes down to business we definitely know what has to be done and when either one of us does something wrong, we'll sit each other down the following day or within the next week or whatever just to kind of discuss some things that went on throughout the past weekend and whatnot kind of get it out of our hair."
ARE YOU NERVOUS THAT WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COMPOUND THAT THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE BRIAN WHITESELL AWAY FROM YOU GUYS?
"I'm not sure. That's a heck of a question for Mr. Hendrick, I'll tell you that. Throughout this whole year, I don't know what it's been, but all the Hendrick cars have run well in their races, it's just certain circumstances that keep taking us out of the running for wins or top fives or top 10's or whatever the situation may be. But as far as the No. 5 camp and what I've been concerned with is (that) we've been running up front. We can run within the top 10 and top five. It's just certain things that come about. Take this weekend at Watkins Glen for instance. I was running in the 13th position there late in the race probably for 20-some laps. With eight laps to go and the driver screws up and wheel-hops-it getting into the corner and spins out. That's just something that I did or it was bad luck or whatever else. I'm not sure exactly what happened there. But we weren't able to finish in the 13th position, which probably could have moved us up a couple of positions in the point standings. When you go back to Sonoma earlier in the year where we had a transmission brake on us coming out of pit road. So it's just one of those deals that just keeps happening to us."
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE BRIAN WHITESELL IS CAMERA-SHY AND HE MAY BE THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN RACING. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
"I would agree with that. Brian Whitesell is just one of those guys that is all about business. He comes to the race track thinking about race cars. He leaves the race track thinking about race cars. He goes home probably thinking about race cars and working on team personnel and what maybe he can do differently or better in order to help the team's situation and everybody's morale and all that kind of stuff. And then he comes back to the shop and puts all his thoughts into effect. He's just one of those guys who never stops working on what he needs to be concentrating on."
ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES WITH MULTI-CAR TEAMS?
"The only problems to multi-car teams is when you guys are all working so much together that everybody is running the same set-up pretty much and it comes down to the end of the race and you have to race that guy. That's the only bad part about it because when they have your same set-up, you know it's going to be hard to beat. Beyond that, everything has been great as far as being able to work with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers and Terry Labonte. It's been nice to have all those guys and all their experience levels in order to work from and with for my rookie year. It's made it easier on me than it would most rookies probably because we can go to them and kind of get some ideas as far as set-up and things like that. But Alan (Gustafson) has done an awesome job for me this year. He's actually come up with a lot of ideas that some of the other teams that are running. The No. 24 has been running somewhat similar to us. The No. 48 kind of always does their own deal and we go to them sometimes. But Alan has done a great job for me this year."
WHAT'S TERRY LABONTE'S DEAL BEEN WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS SINCE HE'S JUST RUNNING A LIMITED SCHEDULE?
"His role has actually been pretty important because he's actually able to go test some of the race tracks that we're not. We could go test at them, but they're not one of the necessary tracks that we'd like to go test at. We want to save our tests for the tracks that we most struggle with or whatnot. So, I think that's one of the biggest deals that Terry has been helping us with is he'll go test somewhere and he'll really come back with some great data and things like that and be able to put it to use for all the teams, of course. He goes and does motor tests as well as chassis and body tests and things like that. So we're able to learn quite a bit from the No. 44 team and what all they've been able to do."
WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT YOUR BROTHER, KURT BUSCH, SIGNING WITH PENSKE?
"I was just surprised as everybody else because I was actually nowhere in the loop. I never heard anything about it until actually the day it came out. I think Kurt is just looking for a change of pace. He was really fortunate to be able to sign with Roush Racing and he's had some great successes. I know he's not quitting one bit from what he's been able to do at that team. He's been able to work with Jimmy Fennig and been able to grow with Jimmy Fennig as far as being like a father / son relationship and even a brother relationship. And they're going out and trying to win the championship this year as well as next year. With his move over to Penske, it was definitely a shocker. I knew he was looking for a change but I wasn't necessarily sure exactly when it was going to be or where it was going to be too. I wish him all the success in the world in finishing out this year, next year, and on."
ON SIGNING FOR THE MONEY VS. SIGNING WITH SOMEBODY YOU CAN RELY ON AS A FATHER FIGURE
"Kurt was able to grow closely with his team and Jimmy Fennig, but he wasn't necessarily on the same page as Jack Roush. That might have been one of the reasons that he might be stepping over a little bit. Kurt and I aren't into this business for racing for money. We're in this business to race for pride and to put our name in record books and things like that. The money's all great and all, but that's not the whole point of being here. We raced spending all kinds of money going broke back in the day racing local short tracks and stuff like that just because we enjoyed it and we loved racing and we wanted to make it further up. Every time you want to make it further up, you're not thinking about money, you're thinking about pride and fame and trying to get your name set in record books and things like that. So as far as things have gone on, we just keep stepping back and looking as far as how we can grow a relationship with our owners and things like that and just kind of enjoy the time that we've been there and been able to spend there. I'm ecstatic that I've been able to be at Hendrick Motorsports. Rick (Hendrick) and I have been discussing a lot of things here lately and one of those is how long exactly do I want to be here. I'm not anywhere near leaving. I'm stuck here probably until I retire. I wouldn't imagine racing for anybody else but Rick. He's just one of those greatest guys that I've been able to work with and that I've learned from as well too."
WHY DON'T PEOPLE LEAVE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?
"It's Rick Hendrick and the way he runs his organization. It's just tremendous. The opportunity that he gives (to people) like myself and Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon when he was younger and Jimmie Johnson when he had only won one Busch race. He brings us all in here and knows that we have the talent in order to do it. And when he puts the equipment in front of it and says here, go out and have at it, we're able to go out and run and be successful and win races and stuff like that. So Rick knows, also, that when you tear up equipment or you wreck some thing and stuff like that, that's all about growing experiences. And when NASCAR makes all their rule changes from year to year, you have to learn a new driving style sometimes on how to exactly go about racing those cars. There are going to be those situations in the beginning or maybe the middle of the year that you're not exactly familiar with. So, being able to race here and not knowing of any driver that's ever left. I mean you've had your Jeff Bodines here, your Ricky Rudds --- the Joe Nemecheks and Jerry Nadeaus and everybody else like that. I bet you they would never have wanted to step out of the situation they were in unless they thought that they had a better situation elsewhere. So maybe that's why they went on with their own deal."
IS RICK HENDRICK ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE, LIKE A PLAYER'S OWNER?
"You can call him up, you can knock on his door, you can walk into his office anytime you want. He don't care. That's just one of the kind of guys he is. It's not necessarily that he's a driver's owner or we're stuck in our contracts or things like that. We want to be here. It's not necessarily that we want to go anywhere else."
SO DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE PART OF THE FAMILY VERSUS JUST WORKING FOR HIM?
"Oh, exactly that."
DO YOU THINK IT IS BECOMING A TREND FOR DRIVERS TO CHANGE TEAMS FOR WHATEVER REASON?
"I'm not necessarily sure on that. If you get into a deal where you're happy where you're at and you're set and you're doing the things you want to do and people are doing things for you that you want them to do, there's really no other thing or way or why or where you would want to go really. It's just all about getting those people into places and things like that. It's been great as far as my aspect of being here at Hendrick Motorsports. I've been able to work with a ton of people here - 500 and something people strong - that are trying to achieve one goal and that's to be number one and win races, which you have at any other team. But it's more of a close-knit team here at Hendrick Motorsports where everybody knows everybody's first name and it's all about trying to go up to them and discuss with them things on how to make it better."