Charlotte: Winner interview

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st How were you able to come from two laps down to win this race? "We don't like to make them too easy I guess. What a race car this was - this Joe Gibbs...

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st

How were you able to come from two laps down to win this race?

"We don't like to make them too easy I guess. What a race car this was - this Joe Gibbs Racing Camry was awesome. Can't thank NOS enough, Z-Line Designs, Nationwide, Gillette, Marquis Jets and Combos for all the guys that support this Nationwide program for us. It was really an awesome time. We had a great race car. In the beginning there we were really, really tight, then we made some changes and got really loose. I was just trying to fight it and find out what I needed. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made some great calls there at the end in making that car handle right and of course, staying out, not coming down pit road. I also want to thank all the fans too - it's cool."

What does it say about this race team to come back from two laps down to win?

"It's a testament to this team and these guys and Jason Ratcliff (crew chief), the race car he prepared for me and all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing - engine, chassis shop. They gave me a good piece here today. We've been fast in this car and this NOS Energy Drink Camry was fast again today. We had a good car. We messed around some there in the beginning and I thought I was really tight and just blowing the right front tire off of it. I came down pit road to make sure we stayed on the safe side of it and we were able to battle back."

Did you expect to have to restart as many times as you did at the end of this race?

"Sometimes when it comes down to the end of the races here, there's a bunch of cautions and we saw it here today. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) played it exactly right and we got fortunate with that. I still think we had a fast enough race car that we could hold those guys off. The 22 (Brad Keselowski) did a nice job of holding off the 20 (Joey Logano). It would have been nice to get a JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) one-two, but the 22 was really fast today. We were good on those longs runs and we were fast on the get-go and then they would kind of catch us in the middle and then we would take back off through the end. I guess that's what you need, you need the beginning and the end of these deals."

Did you feel that you had a dominant race car?

"It wasn't very dominant there in the beginning, we started out really, really tight and just felt like I was over-pushing the right front tire. I wasn't sure what I was feeling over the seams and running high, it kind of felt soft. Down the front straightaway a couple times it felt weird so I just wanted to be on the safe side and bring it down. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with it. We then got a speeding penalty for exiting too fast because I was paying attention to the cars going by and trying to figure out where I was going to fall in line instead of watching my pit road speed so my fault there. The guys battled back hard and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made some good race calls to get the car handling a lot better. Real proud of the NOS Energy Drink team, they did a great job on pit road. We came in fourth or fifth one time and came out with the lead so that was a pivotal stop there and I think led the rest of the way. Have to thank those guys and what they did for giving us a good race car."

Will you miss the Nationwide Series the rest of this season?

"I thought we had a great year last year in winning the championship, setting a lot of records and doing what we did then. We knew that we could do the same thing with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) coming back and all the guys staying the same. I felt like we had a really good race team. I'd like to do it, but you have to win a Cup championship, I think, well, I know. For us, I feel like we're in the best position that we can be this year. How JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) has been running lately, it's pretty exciting. I'm real excited about the summer months and am going to miss Jason and the guys running the Nationwide car, but yet, pretty pumped about Dave (Rogers, Cup crew chief) and what we can have. Hopefully, have some good runs in the Cup car and get up there, lead the points and maybe get some more wins so we have some more bonus points going into the Chase."

How does this win feel?

"Any win feels good, but it doesn't matter when it is. Last week is last week and that's in the past. We are concentrating on tomorrow now and what we can do to win this Coca-Cola 600. Today's race was today and that's what I was focusing on early this morning was what I could get my Cup car doing to try to handle better for tomorrow and then how to win this race here. Worked through the adversity and some of the things today to get a win. Hopefully now we can try to make it a little easier on J.D. (Gibbs, president JGR) and win one tomorrow."

Why did you switch running the bottom and the top of the track during the race?

"The going back and forth from the bottom to the top, I can really run well for about 10 laps on the bottom and then I'm like, 'Okay, I'm not gaining on those guys anymore.' So I start searching around and I really fall back because I'm spending too much time searching instead of running a line and concentrating on how to make that better. So I ran the bottom for a wee bit more and finally when I got to the 10 (Jason Leffler), the top kind of came back to my car and I started running the top again. It's back and forth. The long run stuff, my car really liked the top, but it took it about 30 laps before I could get up there. I'd seem to lose a little bit for the first 30 and then we could really start coming on for about the final 25 before pit stops. I felt like if we would have raced to the checkered, I was on the top there at the end of the race feeling really good about it and pulling away from the 22 (Brad Keselowski) again. You always have to keep your open mind and keep trying to find something."

How hard is it to have patience when you're down earlier in the race?

"There wasn't much patience when the 38 (Kasey Kahne) was on my tail. I was like, 'Man, I gotta go. I gotta find something here and try get away from him.' I didn't want to go a lap down. I had to search around and try to find something there so there was a sense of urgency right there. I don't know if he had issues or what happened, but once he fell off, then I just started running consistently and trying to run some good lap times. Because up at the top, I'm very good at finding the fence when I run the top lane, so I always gotta be a little bit conscious of that. Try to under drive the car, rather than overdrive it, so we can keep the right side on it and try to make it to the end of the race."

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How did you come from two laps down to win this race?

"We were actually about two-and-a-half behind the leader at that time. The flags went our way and it stayed green so all those guys had to pit under green, which got us one lap back and then Kyle (Busch) was coming up through there really fast and the 15-lap newer tires we had, we were able to make up a lot of track position. Thankfully, we were right on the tail end of the lead lap when it all cycled out and Kyle did a great job there finding some speed, searching around and staying on the lead lap. From that point, it was just a matter of getting our car handling a lot better. Then to put the exclamation point on it, I think the pit crew, coming in fourth and putting us out front gave us an opportunity to win the race. Some more drama that I haven't even told Kyle is that we were really, really close on gas there because it didn't take all the fuel on the last stop. The stop was so good that we didn't get it full. We were good till about lap 201. If it went green, it was going to be really close. We were going to have to be getting as good of fuel mileage as we had been getting all day. Then with all the green-white-checkereds, it was pushing it."

Were you confident in the call to stay out on the final caution flags?

"Scanning the 22 (Brad Keselowski), I knew that they were going to do whatever we did. After watching the All-Star race last week, I knew or I felt like that if it came to that and we were leading the race, if the car was handling okay that was going to be the call. When it came out, I was pretty confident that was what we needed to do and then when I heard the 22 say that they were going to do whatever the 18 did, that just kind of solidified our decision. I was surprised that many came behind him. Even with new tires after every pit stop, it would take five or six laps for the car to really get going and I knew that we were going to have maybe eight laps."

What would've been the point where you would have come to pit road?

"I think if it would've been over 20 laps, yes. Like I said, you were going to need six or seven green laps, consecutive, for the tires to come up and you really start taking advantage of those tires. That's enough laps where if you're the leader and you come, they're all gonna come with you. But if it gets down to the last 10 laps, and we saw that, every restart you get a caution, caution, caution. There were 10 laps during that caution you were talking about, but we only ran maybe four green when it was all said and done. All we had to do was beat them for four laps and Kyle is so good on restarts that I felt like we could do it."

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Drivers Jason Leffler , Kasey Kahne , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing