Atlanta: Winning driver interview

KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports Finishing Position: 1st How was your race truck today? "This was a great race today - I had a lot of fun and hopefully the fans had a great time. I want to thank...

KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st

How was your race truck today?

"This was a great race today - I had a lot of fun and hopefully the fans had a great time. I want to thank them for coming out. That was a battle there with all those guys on that restart. I thought I had second (gear), I applied power and then it snapped second so I had to go to fourth and just slugged it in fourth the whole start there. We fell back and luckily we had a great enough Toyota Tundra here and we were able to drive back up through there and pass those guys. Can't thank Doug George (crew chief) and all these guys on this team enough - Miccosukee, NOS Energy Drink, Toyota and everybody that makes this program possible. It's hard and everybody knows that in today's world, but we're getting it done or we're trying to."

How unhappy were you with your truck after the first pit stop?

"We made some changes there on that last pit stop with some air pressures and track bar, but the truck did not like it - it hated it. We fell back and just barely hung on and battled through that. Then we were able to come in and make another change and once we got it better we started heading in the right direction there. The final change we made a couple more changes and got out in front of all those guys, but unfortunately the transmission blew. Fortunately for the fans they saw a great race, but I would of much rather had second and third gear and made it a boring race there at the end instead of having to race those guys. It got my blood pressure too high."

How did you handle the final restart without second or third gear?

"I got out of the way so those guys could go and race - I didn't want to block them up. We fell back, I don't know how far, but it had to be eighth or 10th or something like that, but it felt like an eternity to get this thing up to speed and going. Once we got there I didn't lift in those final 12 laps - I just stayed in the gas wide open, ran the middle groove and it prevailed. That was pretty awesome to race those guys like that. I don't think we 'out-trucked' them today, but we out drove them at the end."

Is there any possibility of you buying into Billy Ballew Motorsports?

"Nope, basically it's just a rumor. There had been talks that Billy (Ballew, team owner) and I would merge and I would buy Billy's (Ballew) assets, unfortunately we tried working on that stuff this past off-season and nothing's materialized yet. Really if you don't have sponsorship in this day and age then there's no point in owning a race team because all you're going to do is just throw money down the drain. It could be for fun, but first you have to set yourself for retirement and then you can go play. For me, I own a late model team and I know what it's like to spend money - we spent way too much money on that last year. I told those guys that they need to start watching what they spend or else we're not going to have a late model program anymore. It's just not the right time right now with everything that is going on and it's hard to find sponsors. At this point it wouldn't be to my best interest."

How do you feel about Atlanta Motor Speedway?

"Atlanta is a great race track - it's fun, you can move around, it's enjoyable. When you get going on old tires, it is not that much fun. It looks like fun for a lot of us, but we were just barely hanging on. It is so technical and so finicky - that's what makes this track so good for all the drivers and shows what cars come out and what drivers come out. Atlanta is a great place to race - it's probably top-10 on my list, but it's not in the top-five yet."

How loose was your truck in today's race?

"It was loose the whole race. We kept battling it and the farther we went into the run, the looser it would get. We just kept having to make adjustments to it on every pit stop and we kept having to take air out, put air in here or there. We put some wedge in and we moved the track bar and that made it worse. A lot of the things that we did the first stop just hurt it so we went back and re-did some of that stuff the next time and took some of that back out and went another direction and that made it better. Finally there at the end of the race it was actually pretty good and it was really decent to drive and that made it a lot easier for me to drive back up through the field there and catch those guys."

Was this one of the more satisfying wins that you have had in this series? "Anytime that you can win one in that fashion is pretty cool. It's not as good as the one here in the fall of 2005 when I passed Jack Sprague and I brushed the wall and there was a big wreck off of turn four - that one was pretty cool. That was with five (laps) to go and we just came in and got tires and restarted about 13th and drove back up through there. We passed everybody and won that thing. That thing was probably a little more exciting than today's race, but for me, (Kevin) Harvick had a really, really fast race truck today. I could keep up with him through (turns) one and two, but he would just kill me in (turns) three and four. He was just so much faster than I was and had way more grip for some reason in (turns) three and four. I've got to work on something for tomorrow whether its my driving style or its just that truck or what. We've got some work to do there."

When did you lose third gear in the truck?

"There was a restart with maybe 50 (laps) to go - that's when third-gear broke. I went from second (gear) into third (gear) and it started grinding itself and then I went to fourth (gear) real quick. That was when third (gear) broke. On that second- to-last restart, I restarted in second (gear) and it made it through second (gear) okay and then I had to go to fourth (gear) and it just lugged and that's when the 25 (Terry Cook) got by me and the 6 (Colin Braun) wrecked off of turn two. Then on the last restart I stepped on it to go in second (gear) again and second gear broke just as soon as I stepped on it so I had to put it in fourth (gear) and pray that there was even a fourth gear and lug it as much as we could to get it up to speed through (turns) one and two - that was when we fell back to eighth or 10th- place and drove back up through the guys." Did any of Billy Ballew's problems from earlier this week impact your race today? "It certainly didn't look like it ruined any of the preparation - that's for sure. That was just what happened earlier in the week and that had nothing to do with the race team, nothing to do with Miccosukee or NOS Energy Drink or anybody on this race team. Unfortunately it was a personal issue with Billy (Ballew, team owner) and that's about all we got there."

Did you have a sealed engine in your truck?

"I don't think they're doing that yet. I think they're going to start it at either the fourth or fifth race of the year. It was not a sealed engine - since I didn't do a burnout, we might seal it because I couldn't do a burnout without second (gear) or third (gear) or anything. I don't know, to be honest, if a newer engine would get better or worse gas mileage than a used one. I would say because of my experience in my street Toyota Tundra that it would get better fuel mileage being a little more worn out because all the mechanics move just a little easier. The piston rings aren't as tight in the cylinders and stuff so the engine is more free-moving a little more. I would say they would get better gas mileage just by a tenth or two, I mean we're not talking a gallon."

Were you saving fuel at the end of the race?

"We were saving. As soon as a caution comes out I am always saving fuel. I was running on the apron just to be sure that I could run the shortest way around and I never shut it off or anything like that. I was just putting it in fourth gear and chugging along and trying not to touch the throttle pedal as much as I could stand to stay off of it. We knew whenever we came last for tires and fuel, which was with like 50-something to go that we could go the rest of the way. It was going to be close, but we could go the rest of the way if we had a caution. We had two cautions in there and so we knew we were going to be okay so we didn't bother coming back to pit road."

-credit: toyota motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Colin Braun , Terry Cook