Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed Hendrick Motorsports' success at Impala SS races, how he's doing after the wreck at Talladega last weekend, what kind of...
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed Hendrick Motorsports' success at Impala SS races, how he's doing after the wreck at Talladega last weekend, what kind of race he anticipates tomorrow and more.
ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS' DOMINANCE AT IMPALA SS RACES: "I don't have it. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson seem to have it. They've got it figured out pretty well. We're never very pleased with our car in practice but when the race comes around we seem to move our way forward. We don't qualify very well either so we'll just have to see what we can do here this weekend but everybody as a company and as an organization have worked really hard on the car. We were one of the first ones to build the chassis for NASCAR and stuff like that. Maybe we're just a couple steps ahead."
ON WHERE HIS TEAM IS ON THE LEARNING CURVE WITH THE IMPALA SS: "I don't know. I think Jeff's driving style seems to fit it a little bit better than mine. For some reason I'm further behind than the rest of us but like I said when the race turns around we seem to be right there anyway."
DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR DRIVING STYLE? "Better learn how."
ON HOW HE'S FEELING AFTER TALLADEGA: "I'm alright. I'm pretty good. I was a little sore Sunday getting back in the car but on Monday I was back at the gym just as normal."
ON JEFF'S DRIVING STYLE AND WHAT MAKES HIS STYLE DIFFERENT: "He likes to use more brake getting into the corner, slowing the car down more initially, slowing the center up a little bit, getting the car turned and then just hammering the gas to drive up off the corner straighter better. For me I tend to let the car try to free wheel and roll faster through the corner and just finesse it more up off the corner but these things they don't like to turn so you're waiting on it further along through the corner instead of just being able to get back to the gas like Jeff does."
DOES IT WORRY YOU ABOUT THE CRACK IN YOUR HANS DEVICE AFTER TALLADEGA? HOW DEEP IS THAT INVESTIGATION GOING? "I have no idea on that. I'm not a part of it. NASCAR took it from us and they sent it back to HANS. That's all I know. I didn't see it. I don't know what the crack looks like. I don't know where the crack was. I've got full faith in them things because they've saved how many lives already. I'll keep wearing it of course. It's mandated but I'd keep wearing it anyway."
WERE YOU CONCERNED WHEN YOU HEARD IT CRACKED? "No. It did it's job of course. That's the first one that they've seen like that. I don't know. I don't know why it did. If there was a stress fracture, I don't know if it was something that the bondings of the materials weren't bonded right or whatever but they haven't had it yet so hopefully that will be the last one."
ON WHAT MAKES DARLINGTON A GREAT TRACK: "The asphalt. There isn't any there. You're running on top of rocks so it's almost like an old dirt track. You're sitting there sideways all the time trying to finesse and trying to keep it straight as much as you can. It's going to be tough especially with this Car of Tomorrow. I'm not sure what to expect there. It's going to be really, really different so I'm not going to run the Busch race there so I'm going to have my full attention on this COT and try to see if we can't get our Impala SS running pretty well there at Darlington."
ARE YOU EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RACE HERE TOMORROW WITH THE IMPALA SS? "Oh yeah, follow the leader single file. It's going to be great."
ON IF HE'D SWITCH TO THE NEW HUTCHINS HYBRID WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE IN JULY: "Is that the one that goes down your back? Yeah, there's been a few different ones made - the Hutchins device, there's the straps that were on your body, then that one that goes down your back that the drag racers wear, I've seen a few wear it anyway, and the HANS. They're all relatively the same. No, I'm not going to switch just because of something that had happened like that. I'd like them to try to see what they could do to figure out why it did what it did but until they figure it out and do some more research on it we'll never know."
DID YOU SHAVE YOUR GOATEE FOR LUCK? "I went and got a haircut so I decided to cut everything."
HOW MUCH OF YOUR FRUSTRATION IS JUST SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH IN THE GROWTH PROCESS? "For me the biggest thing is I guess I've never gone through this much of it at once. I've had a weekend here or there throughout the year but nothing where it's been four weekends in a row so we've lost a lot of ground here the past few weeks and we need to try to turn it around sometime and hopefully this weekend we can and try to rebound and get back going to where we can try to make up some points again. But this seems to be a place where we've run well in the past and we haven't finished worse than fourth I believe so I think we'll be alright."
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SEEN THE REPLAY OF YOUR WRECK: "Actually I hadn't seen much of it besides on the Tevo from the motorhome last week. I went in and watched it after the wreck and just kind of analyzed it a little bit and what had happened and what had initiated it so that was about all I really watched, about three times."
ON HOW HE GRABBED HIS HELMET DURING THE WRECK: "I cracked my visor and grabbed a hold of where the visor comes down right around the chin strap so my fingers were inside, my palms were out."
IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE TAUGHT TO DO? "No, I just prepared for the worst. I was actually preparing for guys just hitting me and luckily everybody was on top of their game and they made some evasive moves to get away from and not hit me and spin me like a top. I was preparing for getting hit but then I figured also the grass, if I got to the grass it'd be a pretty ugly thing. I was planning for it going over."
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN IT WAS OVER? "I didn't know it was over yet, that's why it took me longer to get out of the car than it probably should have. I had my eyes closed so I wasn't watching what was going on so when it was over, I wasn't sure if it was so I kind of cracked my eye open and said 'OK, the world is right side up and there's a fire so let's go ahead and get out.'"
HAVE YOU SAID THAT IF YOU GET UPSIDE DOWN THEN IT'S YOUR GAME PLAN TO CRACK YOUR VISOR: "No, it was just spur of the moment. I wanted to grab a hold of my head and I wasn't just going to put my hands like this and hold on to it. There's nothing to grip so I had to crack my visor in order to get my fingers in there."
WHERE YOU SCARED WHEN YOU WERE SITTING THERE THINKING OTHER DRIVERS MIGHT HIT YOU? "I mean you're just sitting there kind of tensed up almost holding your breath and everything and all your muscles are pretty much trying to tuck in as close as you can to your body and pull tight so in case you get hit and beat around. My seats are real tight anyway. Junior told me 'Man, if I would have scrubbed the wall I would have broke my hip in that thing because it's so tight.' That's the way it is so you're not sliding around in your seat going to hit something. You're already tight, you're just already there."
DID THINGS GO INTO SLOW MOTION: "Pretty much. When I was sliding upside down on my roof I was like I don't know when this thing is going to stop but I hope it stops before it wears through the roll bars. The other thing about it was I didn't know that I traction rolled. There's so much grip at Talladega now that when I got turned sideways I traction rolled over. I though the air picked me up and flipped me over but I traction rolled. If it was the old surface I think I would have slid along and nosed it into the fence and probably had four flat tires or whatever. It traction rolled so it was just that quick."
ON WHAT HE ANTICIPATES TOMORROW: "It's a fun short track. It's kind of fast. It'll spread out and you'll get a lot of grooves. Whether or not the Car of Tomorrow will be able to pass, we have yet to find out. It wasn't very good in passing in Phoenix for me anyway, for some of the guys back in the pack, but I guess up front maybe it was a better show."
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL MOTHER'S DAY WISHES? "Not yet, it's not Mother's Day (laughs). I don't plan ahead. When I plan ahead I'm in worse condition than when I don't. I'm waiting until it comes around."
DID THE VIDEO OF THE FLIP DO IT JUSTICE? "It did but it was a rough ride. Your head bouncing around between the headrests and stuff like that anyway. From even holding on as much as you could you still got it bounced around and tossed around so it was a rough ride. It went along a lot faster on the video than it did in real life."
WHERE DOES RANK IN TERMS OF YOUR HARDEST HIT? WAS THAT THE HARDEST HIT YOU'VE HAD? "Probably the multiple hits is the most that I've ever had but as far the hardest impact that I've ever had, it's not the hardest. I think when I wrecked at Texas in my 84 car years ago, that was my hardest. For as many as it was, it'd probably match that but as far as one impact, no it wasn't as hard."
DOES THAT SHAKE YOU UP FOR A WEEK OR TWO? "Not really, I had to get back in the car the next day so I didn't have much time to think about it or anything. I was even asked that question by (Mike) Massaro. He said 'What's your thoughts going into tomorrow?' (I said) 'I'm going to be there. I'm going to get back into that car.' There's not much I can do about it. You just have to put it behind you and keep going."
HOW MANY RACES DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD HAVE WON OR COULD HAVE BEEN CONTENDING FOR THE WIN? "In the Busch Series, probably every single one of them. In the Cup Series, probably Daytona. We had a good shot there. Vegas wasn't that good. Atlanta wasn't that good. Vegas was probably a top five. I didn't get that, I think we were ninth. Bristol I didn't think we could contend for a win there. We were just kind of riding along and then we got it. Martinsville we weren't as fast as Jeff and Jimmie up there and Denny. We finished about where we should have there. I think the only other place is probably Texas. We were running really good there. We had our backup car. We came from 43rd on the starting grid and marched our way up to third and there were still about 50 laps to go or something like that where we had one more pit stop in there to make some changes and get a little bit better so that's probably our last legitimate shot to win the race. And Talladega was a good one for us too."
HOW DO YOU NOT LET THAT WEIGH ON YOUR MIND OF HAVING ONE SLIP AWAY? "It's tough especially on me. All I want to do is win races and solidify myself for being here and being a contender every week. But there's other guys out there that have had legitimate shots at winning too. Kurt had a shot at Texas to win the race. Denny Hamlin had a shot at Phoenix to win the race. It changes every week. There's probably 10 guys that will tell you I could have won that race. Ten guys can't win the race so it's always pretty tough."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN ABOUT SOLIDIFYING YOURSELF? "When you win one race a year, that's not good enough especially for me.
IN THIS DAY AND AGE CAN YOU IMAGINE ANYONE ELSE GETTING TO THE NUMBER OF WINS JEFF GORDON HAS WON? "I don't think it will happen. I really don't. Jimmie is probably the closest guy that could do it. He's won the most races over the past three or four years but I don't think you'll see Jimmie Johnson by the time he retires that he'll have 70 wins. I don't you'll see another driver get to 70."
WHY DO YOU THINK OTHER DRIVERS WON'T BE ABLE TO GET TO 70 WINS? "Guys won't drive as long and guys can't win 13 races in a year. Jeff had three years there where he won 13, 11, 10 (races), he was just a dominant force and was winning week in and week out. The most you'll put together now a year is about five."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE NASCAR HAS DONE EVERYTHING IT CAN TO MAKE THIS SPORT AS SAFE AS THEY CAN? "They've done a great job on safety and everything that they've been working towards. They want to make sure that there's nothing on the race track. That's why they throw their debris cautions, making sure it's all cleaned up so we don't cut our tires and run into the wall. And they've done a good job inside the cars. There's a girl named Jamie who works for NASCAR. She's running around with every car that crashed taking pictures. Today she came by and took pictures of me and my seat with my seat belts to make sure that there wasn't anything that looked out of the ordinary with the way it was going over my HANS device because they were trying to look into that to research it. They do everything that they can possibly think of and until they come around where there is anything that looks abnormal they don't really learn anything. So they try to prepare for the worse if you can."
DO YOU THINK WE'RE PAST THE POINT OF HAVING ANOTHER EARNHARDT SITUATION? "No, you very easily could. You could see it here. What was it, three or four years ago, Jerry Nadeau had his hard lick. There could be another Jerry Nadeau. There could be another Earnhardt situation any day at a restrictor plate track or even at California. Luckily David Reutimann got out of his crash from California and his crash that he had at I think Texas two years with him and Bill Lester when they crashed off our turn four. There's a legimate shot anywhere around any corner that somebody can get really hurt."
ON IF SEEING HIS CAR AFTERWARD GAVE HIM CONFIDENCE: "I haven't seen it yet. They have it at shop but I didn't go by the shop this week. They actually told them to leave it alone. I think they're going to put it in the museum next to Schrader's car because there's only been two Hendrick cars that have been on their lid and Schrader and I are the two."
-credit: gm racing