Kyle Busch - Atlanta Friday media visit

Toyota Motorsports press release

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Are you excited to race for three million dollars? “We’re obviously honored to be in the position to have the opportunity to go after the money, of course. And thanks Sprint for putting it on and the program that they’ve done for us here and with the Kyle Busch Foundation -- certainly that can affect a lot of lives across the Unites States of America with the five children’s homes that we currently represent, as well as the few more that we can probably pick up with these funds and be able to support and help out. Really looking forward to that and, of course, being able to win a million dollars for the fan who -- a young lady whose been unemployed for about six months unfortunately and her husband just got laid off recently, so certainly they’re looking for the most that they can in these recent troubled months that they’ve had. It certainly would be a fitting story to see them take home the opportunity to win the money along with us with the 18 car here this weekend.”

Will you take any late race risks to win the money? “Atlanta is pretty much a given -- take four (tires) no matter what. Certainly it may depend -- a few scenarios -- but if it’s a fuel run to the end of the race and you’re eight laps short or something like that, you might come in and just take two tires in order to get the jump on everyone else. But it would certainly have to be special circumstances for that to happen.”

Do you drive rough for the bonus or could that hurt you in the Chase? “I think there’s a line somewhere there in between. It does sort of have that All-Star feel. When do you ever get a chance to race after three million bucks, you know? It will certainly depend on a lot of things, but you look at the All-Star race and how it went down this year. I wasn’t able to catch the 99 (Carl Edwards). If I could have got there, who would have knows? But I couldn’t get there. But certainly you’ve got to think about the aspect of running these final 10 weeks and trying to chase after a championship with the thought of you’re going to be racing that guy for the next 10 weeks. Certainly there’s a little bit to each side of that and you got to mind your ‘Ps’ and ‘Qs’ and figure out what you want to do. Do you want three million bucks or do you want a championship?”

Do you remember similar bonus programs in previous years? “I remember a little bit about it -- the (Winston) No Bull 5 program which you’re alluding to. I remember Jeff Gordon winning it and taking home the million bonus when he won at Darlington. I think he had to pick up three of the four mostnotable races of the year and Jeff did that. I remember that one. I think it was (Dale) Earnhardt Sr. who won at Talladega, if I remember correctly, one of those races as well too when they had the special orange roof numbers and spoilers and stuff like that. There certainly was a lot of attention brought to it then and missing it for a few years. I applaud Sprint for making a unique opportunity for this program and bringing it back and giving a chance to the drivers and to the charities, as well as to the fans. That’s something that’s never been done before. I think that the Sprint guys should be applauded a lot for being able to bring in the aspect a lot more than to just the driver. Sure, it’s cool for anybody to have the opportunity to win a million bucks, like it would be in the All-Star race, but when it relates to a fan and a charity that’s certainly drives up the ante a little bit.”

Will you play dirty late to win the bonus? “I don’t know. Hopefully, if it’s against another guy who’s not eligible, they can put themselves in our shoes for a minute and think about the rewards of a fan and of the charity that certainly are going to be able to achieve that. I think you do what you got to do to win. If it’s a scenario where you come off turn four like Jeff Gordon and (Kevin) Harvick or Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards -- certainly we’ve seen those types of races end that way here in Atlanta. I think you do all you can to try to win the race. Maybe look a little bit like Logano and myself last week at Bristol -- try to use the guy up a little bit.”

How likely are you to be a contender Sunday night? “I think you look a lot at Bobby Labonte who has won here a number of times and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. who has always run well here too. It’s a matter of where you’re at -- where you’re teams and where you’re cars are at as an organization. I certainly feel like we’ve had some really good cars in the past few weeks. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to come back to Atlanta and run strong. We ran top-five here last year and years prior have always been top-10, top-12 contenders. Certainly, we’d like to be able to put all of those together to come out here this weekend with a strong run and have a chance and an opportunity towards mile number 499 and 500 to win this thing.”TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)

What do you like about racing at Richmond? “I enjoy going to Richmond. It’s been a fun place and a great place for me with results lately. For myself, the short track appeal to it -- I think it relates to a lot of fans and relates to a lot of us drivers. It’s kind of where we come from -- the Saturday night under the lights kind of local short track deal. To me, Richmond is a tough little place though. You’ve got to have good brakes and have to get it slowed down, have to be able to roll the center really well and get the power down, especially off turn two as well as turn four. With the way the track kind of is laid out, it lends itself to some good racing. Being able to get a run off the top side when the top is good and keeping the momentum through the inside lane as well too and not letting yourself get bogged down too much racing side by side with somebody. To me, it’s a fun place and we enjoy going there -- certainly, looking forward to getting back.”

Has the track surface changed at Atlanta over the last year? “It was pretty reminiscent of what we had here last year. Certainly, you get out there and it’s like, ‘Alright, same old Atlanta.’ Just can’t really find the feel that you’re looking for, but certainly just trying to do the best you can in putting a corner together. It was definitely pretty grippy to begin with and as the more it heated up, certainly the more it lost grip and you were out of the throttle. With a night race here, practicing during the day and then going into a night race, certainly that adds a different element to everything, but certainly we’d like to think we’ve got a good basis to think how that’s going to change running a night race here. I think it was 2008 maybe there was a truck night race here and go back to some of those notes and see how all that differed.”

What happened to you at Bristol? “Last week we struggled a little bit certainly with the Cup race. I think it stemmed off a little bit of the Truck race as well as the Nationwide race just as much as the vehicles change throughout the run -- I got really, really loose in both of them the more I ran. We overcompensated with that a little bit with our Cup car -- making some changes to it that we typically haven’t changed on it in the past and I think we dialed ourselves out of the box. We got up to as high as sixth or seventh there and was running decent -- certainly a track position race. Not a lot of guys passed a lot of guys unfortunately. We felt like if we could have the opportunity come down toward the end of the race and take two tires of have a good pit stop and get out with four up front then we’d have a shot at winning the thing. We definitely didn’t have our magic that we’ve had there in the past. We missed it a little there.”

What was it like trying to race your way into the Chase in 2009? “With the pressures that are added trying to make the Chase -- when the Chase starts or even through the Chase for the last three races or whatever it might be, you definitely put some pressure on yourself. I remember 2009 just trying to get through the last three weeks and we win at Bristol, we come to Atlanta and struggle a little bit -- I think Michigan was one of those too that we didn’t run very well at. When you’re in that position you’re thinking that anything that you can do to minimize your losses and just try to get a good day would be good. When you finish -- shoot, I think we finished 12th here and then eighth at Richmond -- those aren’t two bad finishes, but we missed the Chase. It can come down to the most and it means the most to your team and to your guys and to your sponsors and your manufacturer and everything that you are in the Chase because ultimately that’s what you set out for in the beginning of the year. There’s 28 or 30 great teams out there every week and there’s only a spot for 12 to make the Chase. It’s a very limited number of guys.”

How are you getting along with Brad Keselowski? “I’m good knowing that what I’ve got to do is on the race track and that is to win my own races. He’s (Brad Keselowski) got to do the same thing. It’s good enough for me.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing
Tags atlanta, busch, sprint cup, toyota