Kyle Busch - Infineon Friday Media Visit

By Toyota Motorsports

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

What’s your mindset to this weekend’s race? “It’s exciting to get back to the road courses here in 2011. Looking forward to a good weekend for us. We’ve run well here in the past. We won this race in 2008. No reason why we don’t expect to run well here. We had a good test a few weeks ago with our road course cars trying to get our program back on course. Last year it seemed like we struggled a little bit. It’s just a matter of getting the right brake package setup with the right car and determining how aggressive you get with your setup and the heat with the way the track temp. is and stuff like that during the weekend. It seems like it will be a particularly nice weekend here in Sonoma. We look forward to the challenge here.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Are we going to see short pitting this weekend? “I think the biggest thing that we’ll see here this weekend in regards to short pitting is how far guys can go on fuel. With the new fuel this year, we’re all lower on our fuel mileage. Determining how far that will put us in our window will determine all the pit stop strategy. We’re trying to make it on two (stops), we’re not sure that we can yet, we’ll find out after our first couple runs in practice and seeing what our fuel mileage is. We may end up seeing a few guys having to pit three times on Sunday. That’ll throw it all for a loop.”

Can you talk about being in your fourth season with Joe Gibbs Racing? “As far as my fourth year with Joe Gibbs Racing, where our strengths are and everything. I feel like there’s a lot of strengths at Joe Gibbs Racing, there’s also a couple weaknesses as well, too. I think just being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together throughout the whole year may be a bit of a weakness and you can argue that all the teams sort of have that. Jimmie (Johnson) may have that, the 99 (Carl Edwards) may have that sometimes, but when it comes to pressure time, whether it’s the team, whether it’s the driver -- that seems to be our main challenge. You can look back at 2008 and say that it was all team and driver as to why we failed there. Our strengths are being able to build really good race cars. The chassis guys and the body guys do a great job at Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m looking towards the summer months here where we can bring out a couple new cars again and try to run strong, get them figured out before we get to the Chase and run real hard there.”

What is your strategy for this weekend and how important is qualifying? “There tends to be a little bit of a problem sometimes with us on restarts and everything -- with the double-file restarts and everything for as tight as the racing gets here. Certainly, there will be some bumping and banging on restarts and what have you. I would say qualifying will definitely be a bigger help. In helping you stay away from some of those instances. If you can start up top-four or top-six, you tend to have a pretty clean day. But, if you’re any farther back than that, it seems like it gets a little hairy. Especially towards the end of the race -- everybody is trying to get everything they can. They don’t give any room, they don’t care who they’re racing with and they’ll push you off course and do whatever they have to do for themselves and it can really hurt your day. You just have to be conscientious of all of that.”

Where did you road test and what is your goal when you go test prior to road course races? “Road Atlanta. Well, when you go test at places, you try to find a place that really helps you at a track that you’re going to. The biggest thing that I found was, we went to somewhere in South Carolina the year before and I didn’t like it at all. It didn’t teach us anything. Anything that we learned there, did nothing here. I went to Road Atlanta a couple years ago. I think it was in 2008 and that’s when we came here and won the race. Hopefully that’s our biggest help. I feel like that place is closer to Watkins Glen than it is Sonoma, but knowing what we run here at Sonoma versus what we run at Watkins Glen or what the difference is it takes in setup, you learn what you can to make your car better at Road Atlanta for Watkins Glen and then you make the changes that you know to make for Sonoma. That’s kind of how we play it.”

Did you know you were the most frequently name discussed during the first 12 telecasts of the season? “I couldn’t tell you. The announcers must really like me, I don’t know. Or, I’m just good at what I do and I get TV time. I think it was through the first 12 or 13 and that was the Fox broadcast. We have run really well, we’ve been fast. When you run up front and you run in contention to win the races, you typically are able to get TV time as well as just getting a lot of mentions and stuff like that due to running well or due to other circumstances. To us, we’ve done a good job this year at getting a lot of coverage. M&M’s is all happy with that. We’ll just try to keep it going and get them the best coverage we can through the final 10 races and win this championship.”

What does it mean to this sport when a sponsor like Red Bull announces they are leaving at the end of the year? “Well, to us right now it means two less Toyota teams, which kind of hurts us a little bit. It hurts R&D work, hurts a little bit of what we like to work on throughout the year. It hurts the sport a little bit just because it keeps falling back into that demographic that we seem to not be able to hit -- which is the 18-34. It’s challenging, it’s challenging for anybody out there. Ticket sales for major league baseball games are down and football games were down a little bit last year and stuff like that, too. You can argue it all you want, but it’s just the way it is.”

Can you describe the passion you have for winning? “Well, I think your passion for winning stems from anything. To me, it was whenever I was playing games as a family – Monopoly -- I always wanted to win. I was always a race car and felt like I could be the fastest one. I always wanted to win. When you get into the race weekend and you get into the race car and stuff like that, you’re just working towards making your car as fast as you can, hitting the marks and making some good moves on the race track and just trying to keep your car in one piece. That’s going to be the first thing to get you to the checkered flag and then hopefully you can get their first. To me, it’s just a passion that is like any other and you work as hard as you can to get it and there is no satisfaction like winning.”

Is winning an obsession? “Yeah, you could say you’re obsessed with it, sure. I’d like to see us be able to win more often in the Cup Series. People aren’t quite complimentary about all that and how I can win Nationwide and Truck Series races all day long, but Cup it seems like I don’t win as often. Three or four or five wins in the Cup Series is a pretty good year for anybody. So, I feel like that’s pretty close.”

Do you focus on setting up your car for a specific part of the Infineon Raceway track? “You definitely have to be a lot more forgiving in different corners. You’re going to have to give up this corner in order to make your car better in that corner, or something like that. A lot of the guys really look towards making their car good through turn four, through and off turn seven, and then again getting in and off turn 11. Those are the passing zones. So, you try to make your car as best as you can right there. The rest of the track, you’re going to run it as best you can, but you might give up a little bit here or there. Like for us, you tend to give up a little bit through the ‘esses,’ if it makes for better handling somewhere else because you can’t pass in the ‘esses.’ You’re not going to get someone who drives up around your outside and passes you through there if you are going to slow. Certainly, it’s an area where those guys can catch up to you and cut a little bit of time off, but if you’re exceptionally better than them in the other areas you’ll be able to drive back away from them. So, there’s a little bit of give and take out there certainly in different areas and on particular points on the race track.”

What’s the best advice you received from your brother Kurt about racing? “That’s been a long time ago. I haven’t gotten much lately. He kind of told me, ‘You’re getting this on your own now, so you’re pretty much all set. Don’t worry about asking me any more questions.’ That was a couple years ago. We talk a little bit here and there. I think the best advice he ever gave me was just always about different race tracks. Not necessarily about particular things about racing, but more about helping me get around the race track. We’re both different people and he lets me do my thing and I let him do his thing, but we try to help each other out on the race track to make each other go faster.”

Do you have any advice for your brother Kurt? “No. I actually need to ask him a couple questions about qualifying because he seems to have figured that out here the last three weeks. So, that would help me out, especially coming to Sonoma. We’d like to qualify well like I said earlier and try to stay up front and out of trouble.”

Are you happy with the Chase playoff format? “I think the end of the year -- the final 10 races -- may be a little bit short. It seems like you get yourself in trouble in a race or something like that where you know you have a bad race and you’re pretty much eliminated almost. With this new points format, it seems like that’s even more the case than it was before. It’s a challenge. There’s other sports that want to have shorter pre-seasons and longer seasons, or whatever. I think our season is already pretty long -- we go from the Super Bowl to Thanksgiving. Some of the other drivers might agree with me that we’re on the road quite a bit. But, we love to do it and that’s what we’re here to do.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing
Tags gibbs racing, sonoma, sprint cup, toyota