BEHIND THE HAULER CHAGE WITH KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS COMING IN AS A YOUNG DRIVER, DID YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO DO WELL RIGHT AWAY? "Well, it wasn't necessarily any added pressure from the sponsors or the team or anything like that.
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAGE WITH KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO SS
COMING IN AS A YOUNG DRIVER, DID YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO DO WELL RIGHT AWAY? "Well, it wasn't necessarily any added pressure from the sponsors or the team or anything like that. It's just that you want to go out there and do the best job you possibly can week in and week out. For me, that's to go our there and win races. That's what you're accustomed to anyway when you're coming up through the ranks racing in Las Vegas or Texas or wherever you may be from or wherever you're racing. You want to win races and all that. When you come to the next level, you want to win races and do the best you can in order to keep moving up. But once you move to Cup, you want to solidify yourself as a contender and then you want to become a winner. Once you become a winner, then you need to become a person that can go after championships. So for myself, I always felt like I was a contender, but sometimes finishes would elude me but a little bit last year I was able to win. And then late last year I was able to win. And then this year we've gotten one as well."
WHAT DID LAST WEEKEND'S WIN DO FOR YOU? WERE THEY REALLY HAPPY BACK AT THE SHOP? "The mood hasn't really changed. We've all been fortunate enough to have good cars this year and be fast enough at places where we haven't been down on ourselves at all. We may have a few bad runs here or there, but it's something we can rebound back with. We're fortunate to be able to have that circumstance. And of course we just have to go to every race every week thinking the same thing. And that's to try and do our best."
SINCE YOU'RE FOURTH IN THE POINTS, DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ON THE CURRENT RACES INSTEAD OF THE LAST 10? "The biggest thing is in order to concentrate on the last 10, first you've got to get there. Right now is right now and we've got to concentrate on this rather than what's coming up."
DO YOU RUN WELL HERE AT POCONO? "We run well here. I finished fourth here last year. We ran in the top five all day. In the fall race last year we ran fifth to 10th all day and then we had a right front wheel bearing fail and we wrecked. This spring we ran about eighth to 12th and came in for two tires and just couldn't have the handle there at the end of the race. We finished 22nd. So it wasn't a very good day, but hopefully we can turn that around."
ON THE POINTS, IF YOU HAVE A BAD COUPLE OF OUTINGS IT SEEMS REALLY EASY TO FALL FROM 3RD TO 12TH "Shoot, you can third to 10th this week if you have a bad day. You can go out there and blow up on lap two or three and be 43rd and you can fall out. So that's a big deal. For someone to come in and run the caliber the way everybody's been running - just look at Tony Stewart. He's had a few bad weeks and he knocked himself out. It's tough to try to exactly position yourself the way you want to, but you just have to go about doing different things week in and week out."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUNE AND JULY HERE AT POCONO? "Probably the heat's a little bit more; but not much besides that. They didn't really do anything to the race track I don't believe to change any characteristics. I think you'll see that same guys that ran well here before run well again."
ON THE BRICKYARD TEST "I'm not too excited about getting to Indy. It's kind of a shame. Alan (Gustafson) really loves that place and wants to win there. We went in there and we did some things that we knew we needed to learn on. We can do all the springs and geometry and all that back at the shop. We can work through that kind of simulation stuff. For us, we were just trying some weird things like different front shocks and things like that. So we didn't come out of there with the car we quite wanted to come out of there with. As a matter of fact, we ended up getting loose there at the end and smacking the fence. So they've got a lot of work to do."
DO YOU THINK IT'S FAIR THAT YOUR AGE IS CONSISTENTLY BEING BROUGHT UP? "It is what it is. I'm 21 years old and I'm doing only what people can imagine or try to do themselves. So I'm fortunate to be in the seat that I'm in. For myself, I love going out there and racing every Sunday and that's the funnest part about it. But for younger drivers coming in, more power to them. I was in their shoes a couple of years ago. I think it's a lot more difficult now than it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago - just because the competition is so stiff. All the teams are running so close together; running the same set-ups, that any given one of them can win every weekend. So that's the biggest deal about it."
IS THERE A SENSE OF URGENCY BECAUSE THE POINTS ARE SO CLOSE? "No, there's not a sense of urgency. For guys that are out, yeah, it is. For us, we just need to go out there and keep doing what we've been doing week in and week out, and that's running the best our cars will allow us to do; and trying to make sure our set-ups are capable of running up front and competing with those guys. So that's the biggest deal."
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE THE TENSION AT RICHMOND WITH WHAT HOPEFULLY YOU'LL FEEL AT HOMESTEAD? "I don't know. I've never been in that shoe. I can't honestly answer that question completely for you. But if you're in, you've got security on your side and you're not worried about it. But coming down to Homestead, if you know you've got a chance for the championship, then yeah, there's going to be a sense of pressure there. But otherwise, if you don't have a shot for it, you're just out there making laps trying to finish where you can in the standings."
WHY DO YOU THINK POCONO HAS BEEN SO GOOD TO NEWCOMERS LIKE CARL EDWARDS AND DENNY HAMLIN? "I'm not sure. It's a place that when I came here everyone said it's tough and it takes veterans a long time to get used to it. But for me, I have the all time track record here, I believe, with an ARCA car here. I was fast in that race and led the majority of it and came back from a pit stop and got wrecked coming down the front straighaway by an ARCA competitor. For me, you try to learn every track as best as you can and as quickly as you can. That's what makes us racers at the level we are today. To come in to here in Carl's or Denny's shoe, if you have a good car or a good handling car with a good team, you can do just fine."
COULD YOU TRY TOO HARD NOW AND SCREW THINGS UP? "Oh, like I keep saying, you just go in every week just thinking that you can try to do the best you can and that's all you can do and that's all you can do. So, we'll do what we can this weekend and hopefully it's not a 22nd place finish like I had here the first time around and we can go on to next week."
YOU SEEM CALM ABOUT ALL THIS EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A LOT OF FOCUS ON WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS "That's just part of the game. It's part of nature I guess. It's all about how you perceive everything and how you put your talents to work."
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE OLD ADAGE THAT YOU'VE GOT TO PAY YOUR DUES? "I figure everybody who is here somehow, some way, did pay their dues. That's just the way you have to look at it. For me, I won Legend's car races, I won Late Model races, I won any kind of race I've ever been in. I don't think there's a car I haven't won in besides maybe an ASA car. I never won in ASA. But that's what I look at. It's paying your dues. If you're just here off of daddy's money or something like that, that's maybe a little bit different than being able to win races and make your way up the ladder through different people funding your way."
YOU'VE WON AT EVERY LEVEL. AFTER WINNING LAST WEEK, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN BE UP FRONT WITH THESE GUYS FOR THE ENTIRE RACE ON SUNDAY? "I think so. I think that we had a pretty good car here last time. It wasn't the best of cars. But it was a good enough car that we probably should have finished about fifth or sixth with it. We had that speeding penalty, but we were able to rebound from that. We were running eighth at the time of that caution with like 12 (laps) to go and some of those guys decided to come down and we were one of those guys. We put right side tires on it and went from being a little bit loose to incredibly tight. So that's what ruined our day right there was not having the right handling car at the end of the race."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO BE ALIGNED WITH A STRONG TEAM LIKE HMS? "It's pretty important - especially for me. I'm such a young driver and I've only been here a couple of years. To have that strong foundation under me makes it a lot easier for me to go out every week and concentrate on what I need to do instead of where I need to go."
ARE YOU RUNNING GATEWAY NEXT WEEKEND? "Yes."
HOW DO Y0U FEEL ABOUT SPENDING THE LAST OFF-WEEKEND OF THE YEAR RACING? "It's kind of tough. I can see how it's tough to run both schedules. I don't know if I'll do it again next year or not. I'm not sure yet. But I like Gateway. I finished fifth there a couple of years ago when I was running full time. It's a cool place for me with long straightaways; it's somewhat like Loudon, but with flat corners. Turns 3 and 4 are significantly different than (Turns) 1 and 2. But as far as spending your last off-weekend, I'm not even done after Saturday night's race. I'm getting up at 2 a.m. to fly over to Oxford, Maine to run in the Oxford 250. So hopefully I can come out of there with some hardware and make the weekend worth while; out of both places with some hardware."