Kyle Busch - Watkins Glen Friday media visit

Toyota Motorsports

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

What is your strategy at Watkins Glen this weekend? “This was a really good track for me in 2008 and has been in recent years. We’ve run well here and have won a race, but I’d like to be able to win every time we come here. Have the opportunity to win and I feel like we do in the Nationwide Series so I’m looking forward to the Z-Line Designs Camry here later on this afternoon and tomorrow’s race, but most importantly the M&M’s Camry for this weekend and on Sunday. I feel pretty good about things. I like coming to road courses. We run well at Sonoma, we had a fast car there and got kind of tangled up towards the end of the race, but still had a strong day and would like to be able to do the same thing here again.”

Is it fun watching two other drivers get into it on the track? “It’s a part of what we’ve got sometimes whether it’s me and somebody else or Jimmie (Johnson) or Kurt (Busch). Heck, Ryan Newman or Juan (Pablo) Montoya. It’s a part of the sport. Certainly, there’s going to be times where guys are looking for the same real estate at the same time and that’s just kind of a part of what racing breeds sometimes. It’s exciting for the fans to have that and to have a little bit of jarring back and forth. They get something to get all up in arms about and get excited about. Hopefully it carries over for those guys all throughout the last 15 races of the year. It wouldn’t bother me a bit. I certainly wouldn’t want any a part of it. Hopefully we can keep our nose clean.”

Do you think you can break the tie with Mark Martin for career wins in the Nationwide Series this weekend? “Certainly. I’ve run well here in the past few years in the Nationwide Series and enjoy racing this race track. I think I finished second here two or three years in a row now -- whatever it has been. Trying to get to victory lane would be nice and being able to win. Our Z-Line Designs teammate, Michael McDowell, in the Pizza Ranch car at Road America was super fast up there so I’m excited about getting behind the wheel of our road course stuff and seeing if we’re not just as fast here again this weekend.”

What do you make of Jimmie Johnson getting angry at Kurt Busch last weekend at Pocono? “I don’t know. I’m not Jimmie Johnson. I can only do what I know how to do and that’s try to control myself. It’s just a part of -- I guess at certain times you finally get fed up with somebody or something and something sparks off in you. It’s something that they kind of had going on for the past few years I guess. Whatever it is, it’s not my beef. It’s not my problem. Those guys can settle it amongst themselves. I’ve got enough issues as it goes on.”

How do you assess your team at this point as we get closer to the Chase compared to winning eight races in 2008? “Certainly 2008 was a special year and it was the first year that we’d gone to this new car full time. People didn’t know these cars completely and I feel like there was a lot more -- I don’t know, I could be blowing myself up a little bit here, but I felt like there was a lot more driver involved then when we didn’t know so much about these cars. Now that we know so much, we’ve come such a long ways that certainly a lot more car is involved. I feel like we’re a lot better than we’ve ever been. Dave Rogers (crew chief) and Chris Gayle (team engineer) and Ron Denton (team engineer) and all of the guys on my team have done a tremendous job at being able to put together great cars on and off the race track. From back at the shop, stemming from the guys that work on it to the guys that do everything here at the race track -- the ‘A Team’ we call them. We feel like we’ve been better prepared this year and certainly we don’t have the tally of eight wins, but we’re a lot more consistent I feel like. From pit stop to pit stop we’re a lot more consistent. From race to race we’re a lot more consistent where before we’d have a bad race and not be able to rebound from it to where we had a bad race and we rebounded in that race at Indy to come back with a 10th place finish. And, then last weekend had a shot to win at Pocono -- one of my probably notable least favorite race tracks -- and get a strong run there. I’m looking forward to the Chase. I feel like we’re in a good position to make it. Certainly we’d like to have a few more wins, but if we don’t get them before the Chase starts hopefully we can get them throughout the Chase and get ourselves some of those extra three bonus points that come with winning throughout the final 10.”

Is some of that your own development as a driver? “Is some of that my own development as a driver from then until now? You can say a little bit of that certainly, but I’d stem a lot of it on the team guys and them preparing great race cars. It’s good when you can have that consistency between pit stop to pit stop, race to race. It makes yourself a lot more confident within the team instead of blowing up about it and getting all up in arms about it. For me, it makes my job a lot easier than having to worry about coming down pit road and whether or not we’re going to make the right change to move ourselves forward. I feel confident when I come down pit road that Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys will make a good change for me and we can move ourselves forward.”

Where does Watkins Glen rank on your list of race tracks? “Watkins Glen and the road courses in general are pretty fun for me. I enjoy those. Certainly they’re not down at the bottom, they are more up towards the top. I like going to the road course events and like I said we had a good race in Sonoma earlier this year. We had a pretty fast car. We didn’t qualify as good as we wanted to, but had a good car when it mattered there throughout the race and drove up through there pretty well. Watkins Glen is a fun one for me. Hopefully we can get it in. I hear weather is bad. Looking forward to getting on the track today and getting some practice in and seeing how we stack up and then of course getting to the race on Sunday.”

Have you tested for Watkins Glen this year to prepare for this weekend? “The best place to test for a particular race track is at that race track, but with NASCAR’s rules we’re not allowed to do that. So, the best place that we know of is Road Atlanta, where some of the guys were last week and most notably Brad (Keselowski) got hurt at. It’s a track that we went to earlier this year. We kind of learned some things and we did some testing that we felt like benefited us. We were going to try to go back, but my schedule is so hectic that I didn’t have a day open in order to go and get some testing done. That just goes to show you how valuable it can be to get to the race track and trying to do that with somebody’s schedule like myself is difficult.”

What was your reaction to the races at Pocono being shortened for next year? “I think all of us have been asking for that the past few years and certainly a lot of the fans have too and they’ve listened to it. I think it’s good. I think that 500 miles is a bit of a long race, but certainly we might be able to add a little bit more excitement into a 400 mile race. That certainly changes the dynamic. It changes the amount of pit stops. It doesn’t change the amount of how far you can go in a fuel run at all, but you will play your strategy a little bit different knowing that it’s 100 miles shorter.”

Is running two races in a weekend an advantage? “I like being able to run in two races every weekend just because it gives me that extra track time. It gives me that extra incentive to go out and learn the track, learn some breaking points, learn some shifting points and just kind of fine tune your line. When you come out to these places and, for instance, like Indy, we had about eight laps of practice and then we went into qualifying trim and had about three runs, so that’s probably nine total laps -- I’m sorry -- 11 total laps before we got into qualifying, which I didn’t qualify very well. And, then we had happy hour practices and stuff, so it’s different. To me, to be able to run more laps on a track, I feel like it’s always beneficial. I enjoy that and here at Watkins Glen I think that helps a little bit too. And being able to hone your skills a little bit more, especially at a road course -- turning right in, turning left, you don’t do it a whole lot -- it’s more beneficial to get more laps.”

Is the Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development partnership a positive? “To me, I think it could be beneficial with what we’ve had go on this year. I think Mark (Cronquist, JGR engine builder) and the guys have done a great job for us. Over the past three years they’ve done a great job for us. We came out of the box in Daytona in 2008 with the strongest engine package out of anybody and we were really fast. I think all three of our cars qualified in the top-11. And Tony Stewart, myself and Denny (Hamlin), we led most of the races in the restrictor plate races and over the years we’ve kind of tapered off a little bit, but I feel that more is Toyota as whole. But, I think this will really help us all to be able to put all our resources into one basket rather than run down two paths like J.D. (Gibbs, JGR president) has said. We’re doing one thing and those guys are doing one thing and anytime you try to combine them, it’s so hard to do that because you’re so different that everybody is going to have to change something. I think it’s going to be beneficial for all of us. I’m looking forward to when that comes about next year. This year everything is going to stay the same all the way throughout Homestead (Homestead-Miami Speedway) for the 18 team, at least. I love the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing in the engine shop and everybody. I know it’s important to the Gibbs family to recognize the fact that everybody has a job. They’re still going to continue on with Joe Gibbs racing engines. We are going to have those in house. I’d love more than anything to be able to purchase those engines from Joe Gibbs Racing for my truck team (Kyle Busch Motorsports), but J.D. won’t let me. Not that he won’t let me, but his price is too high. I tell him that all the time. It’s certainly funny. We joke about it all the time. Also, we’ve got a contract already with Triad Racing Technologies, which is not TRD. They’re Triad Racing Technologies which is in Mooresville (N.C.). We’ve got a contract with those guys for engines, so we’re still using them.”

How do more inexperienced road course drivers compete in these events? “It’s a tricky question, I guess. For what I feel, there’s certainly guys that are really, really good at this game. Most notably I’d say Marcos Ambrose, Juan (Pablo) Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart. Those guys have been really good at it for a long time. They’re just natural ability being fast at a road course. My first year I struggled at it. I looked like a fish out of water. Certainly with just getting adjusted to these cars, getting accustomed to these tires and being able to learn what you can do with them at the road courses, they’re certainly beneficial and have been for me. I’ve won road course races before and we’ve been competitive at most of them recently, so that’s always a bonus. Denny’s (Hamlin) been really good since he’s come out of the box at road racing too, so I’ve learned from him as well. Testing is obviously the biggest thing that allows you to learn what you can do with a car and get in some road course ringers to come test with you. I know Brian Scott got Marcos Ambrose to help him. I’ve had Max Papis go with myself, as well as Joey Logano, and help us at some road course stuff and just picking up technique. I think a lot of it has to do -- you can drive into a corner so far, but what do you do once you get there is a lot of it. And being able to exit the corner, tie corners together -- most important thing here at Watkins Glen, is being able to tie turn one, turn two, three, four up to the backstretch all together. There’s not a time when you’re straight. You’re always doing something, so you’ve got to be able to put those all together. And then, of course, the Bus Stop is important too. There’s always a trick to some road courses and be able to get those guys to help you helps a tremendous amount.”

Did you hear Jimmie Johnson wants to win more NNS races? “I don’t know what Jimmie’s (Johnson) -- does he want to win more road course races or more Nationwide? Run more races, Jimmie. Do it. Give that a shot. I do plenty. Certainly wouldn’t bother me a bit, but he’s the one that always said it takes away from your program. I’ve got 49 now. I’m tied with Mark (Martin). Certainly, we’d like to be able to get 50 and break that. That would be something that’s pretty awesome to me and the Nationwide Series, so we look forward to that if we get it done this weekend. We’ll see. As far as the thing going on between Jimmie and Kurt (Busch), (Greg) Biffle made a smart alecy remark about what they needed to do around myself and Kevin (Harvick) and I feel like, you know, you race with integrity and you race with purpose and your purpose is to go out there and try to win, not to screw up anybody else’s day. That’s not my mentality. That’s not been my mentality. If I race hard and I get into somebody, that’s just a product of me racing hard. That’s not malicious intent or anything like that. For me, it’s just a matter of going out there, racing hard and if those guys are racing together, you know their history, so if you can get by them, get by them. Otherwise, we’ll see if they can’t just wreck each other. So you’re obviously aware of it, that’s all.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Max Papis , Jimmie Johnson , Michael McDowell , Marcos Ambrose , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing , Toyota Racing , Kyle Busch Motorsports
Tags busch, nascar, sprint, toyota, watkins glen