Bristol: Winning driver interview

KYLE BUSCH , No. 51 Miccosukee Resort & Casino Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports Finishing Position: 1st What makes you so strong at Bristol Motor Speedway? "I love this place. It's fun for all of us drivers. It's a fun place to race...

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

What makes you so strong at Bristol Motor Speedway?

"I love this place. It's fun for all of us drivers. It's a fun place to race and for some reason I have really taken to the new surface. I love the old surface, I love the new one. I really have to thank Miccosukee, Toyota, NOS Energy Drink, the fans -- great fans for coming out on a Wednesday night. Luckily, we have a day off tomorrow. The fans don't -- they have to go over to Bristol Speed Street and have some fun over there. Thank Gillette, Marquis Jets and everybody else that makes this program possible. Billy Ballew for putting Richie (Wauters, crew chief) and I back together. We knew we were going to come here with a fast truck -- we've been fast every time we've been here. It was exciting to be able to capitalize like that tonight."

How will this win help you in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Bristol this weekend?

"It just gets the momentum going and tells you that you can do it. You finish second, fifth, 10th, whatever -- third in Nationwide and truck series races and you can't win on the Cup side. It's like, man, it's a downer, it's a downer and you don't feel very good about yourself. I'm my self's biggest critic. This definitely helps out and gets me back in the right mindset and gets me back in the right frame. I love coming to Bristol anyway in the fall. I always run well here. I'm looking forward to the Nationwide race -- we should have won five in a row on that side, but we've had pit issues or miscues by myself or whatever. We'll get back on it. I want to say congrats to Matt Crafton -- even though he finished second to me and (Ron) Hornaday was third it really didn't gain him any points. He's trying to get up there and get those guys -- we're trying to get the owner's deal, but unfortunately one-two-three in points were one-two-three tonight."

Were you confident that you had enough fuel to make it on only the one pit stop?

"We did this last year and we made it so I wasn't really concerned. Richie (Wauters, crew chief) and these guys do a good job at that and the Toyota guys get awesome fuel mileage for us. We've seen Dennis Setzer make it 200 laps at Mansfield one time and this place is bigger than that -- carries a lot more speed and a lot more throttle. We were just able to conserve what we needed and obviously there was enough for a burnout and everything. Hopefully, the fans enjoyed that and we'll be able to take this on and hopefully go out the rest of the year and win a few more. Hopefully we can sweep this weekend."

How special is your chemistry with this race team?

"I love Billy (Ballew, owner) to death and all these guys. Doug (George, 15 crew chief) and all the guys on the 15 (Aric Almirola) truck this weekend, all the guys that were with me earlier this year on the 51. It's just amazing -- the guys at the shop do a great job working on these things and building them and making them what we need them to be. Unfortunately, the 15 (Almirola) didn't have the night they were looking for, but we certainly did and we're proud of that. Of course, the 88 (Matt Crafton) and the 33 (Ron Hornaday) were battling for point and they finished right behind us. Matt (Crafton), he didn't gain any ground on the 33 (Hornaday) so unfortunately for those guys, they have to go another week. Hopefully we can too and we can get a couple more wins."

How was your race overall tonight?

"It was a good night for us. I'm really proud of the whole Miccosukee Toyota team, they did a great job. It's hard to come out here every week and race with minimal guys, but we try to do it and we do the best we can. Real proud of all the guys that we had today -- I worked them to death in practice. I didn't really think we had a great truck. It was close, it was about the same as what we had last year -- just a few minor differences so we just tried to improve on that a little bit. Throughout the race there in the first little bit, we started coming forward -- we started using the top and kind of snookered guys. We were the first ones up there and the first ones to make it work. I got up to the lead and then pitted -- we had to pass a couple more guys that didn't pit -- the 17 (Timothy Peters), the 16 (Brian Scott) and the 23 (Jason White) -- he was a battle and that was fun. Jason White, he's a close friend of Denny's (Hamlin) and a friend of mine and he was having a moment there so it was a battle for sure. He was tough and he had a good truck. I'm proud of those guys too -- they had a good truck. Jason (White) did a good job with what he had to do. Unfortunately, there he had to pit and he wasn't on quite the right pit strategy, but from there we made it work. I thought (Matt) Crafton was coming, but he couldn't get me on the long run. Our truck was good and it just kept ticking and kept going. I'm just real proud of how well it ran tonight."

From a point's perspective, how does tonight's race compare to what the Nationwide and Cup races will be like for you?

"You're 90 percent right over here, there's still another 10 percent that we are trying to chase in points to get the owner's deal. We can take risks a lot more here than we can anywhere else. Nationwide stuff -- we've got a good point lead, but you're never comfortable. You just have to keep ticking and keep plugging away. We've been fast every time we've been here the past few times in the Nationwide car -- we just haven't put it all together. We need a good, solid night on Friday night to put it all together to try to win this thing. We can be fast and we have the cars capable of winning, we just haven't been able to produce the result. On Saturday night we've been really good here in the Cup cars too. Again, we'll just try to work on the car to the best we can to make it good. I've never really qualified well here in that car so if we qualify in the back and then work our way up towards the front -- hopefully our car will be good on the long run -- that's what we need. Then we can capitalize on a strong run here -- we need a top-five. If we finish in the top-five these next three races then we'll make the 'Chase.' If we can do that then we'll be okay."

How does this win help you heading into the next three Cup races?

"I think the win does help because it just sets the tone for the weekend. It kind of gives myself a little momentum rolling back into this deal. I've been frustrated lately thinking it's been me that haven't been able to win races and when you can get a vehicle that's capable of winning and you win with it -- it shows that you still have it and you can still do it. I had a late model race after Indy that I won -- I had a good car. I had a late model race just this past week that I was running up front and we broke and then tonight we won. The past few weeks have been good -- we've been getting better on the Cup side. I feel like we have the opportunity to win these next three. Atlanta might be a little bit tough because the competition has really caught up to us here as of late. Last year we finished first and fifth there and this spring we ran 19th, three laps down. It definitely changed a lot this spring and we need to get back to a little bit more of something that we did last year and try to finish fifth. Just take a fifth and get out there and go to Richmond where we, for some reason, knock on wood, seem to run well there so I love going there."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Jason White , Timothy Peters , Brian Scott