Chicagoland: Winning team interview

KYLE BUSCH , No. 18 Z-Line Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st What does it feel like to be Kyle Busch right now? "It feels really, really good, I can tell you that. To be associated with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and all the...

KYLE BUSCH , No. 18 Z-Line Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finished: 1st

What does it feel like to be Kyle Busch right now?

"It feels really, really good, I can tell you that. To be associated with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and all the folks here -- Z- Line Designs and Office Max, for being on-board tonight -- just unbelievable. I got to thank the fans that were here tonight and saw a pretty good show. These Nationwide drivers drove smart tonight and they didn't have a caution in the final -- I don't know how many laps, but it was forever. That was definitely really, really cool. Obviously it's a great series to be involved in. Happy to be here and happy to be in 'Victory Lane' again -- this is awesome."

How was your race today?

"It was a good run for us. In the beginning it wasn't looking so great. We were fighting a tight race car and then we made some adjustments on it there. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made some good calls on some air pressures and track bar. I don't know if we did any wedge or anything, but there in the beginning we were kind of stuck around fourth, fifth, sixth place and learned the line from Brad Keselowski and that got me going a little bit better. When we made those adjustments on the car there I think it was lap 90, a little bit before half way and did that pit stop and really got the thing woken up. We took the lead. Great race by all the guys in the Nationwide Series, being able to run that many laps green, I was waiting for a caution at some point, whether it was going to be guys getting together and debris flying or somebody spinning or what not, but great job by everybody to be able to run those last 100 or so laps green."

Are the complaints from other competitors about your engine advantage taking away from JGR being as strong as it is?

"I think so. A lot of it is, it's everything. You can make an engine look exceptional if you've got a car that goes through the corners as well as it does and I blew by a lot of guys in the corners and not necessarily just down the straight away tonight. We've got good bodies and great chassis. We've got front end stuff that's working well and rear end springs that just work and track bar heights. It's everything - a whole package and that's what you have to have in these series in order to run well. You have to have the whole package. Jason (Ratcliff) and all the guys did their homework this winter and just made everything a lot better. Toyota coming on board, they've already had a motor taken away from them. They had the old truck motor that was better than what this motor is taken away, so we're already down one notch and I think if Chevy gets help and gets the RO7, then that's great and just more competition for us and something that we've got to go out and work harder for and to do."

What did you learn from the track from day to night?

"It means plenty for tomorrow, that's for sure. The biggest thing I did learn tonight was the track didn't change much to be honest with you. It just got cooler and gained grip. The balance didn't change a lot. That was pretty cool to see. Charlotte we go there and it's probably the most temperamental track on temperature, it's so hot during the day and you're sideways loose busting your butt and then all of a sudden you get to night and you're knocking every wall down with the right front corner. Here at Chicago it didn't change much and the track was well lit by the lights and everything went good. I felt pretty happy with everything, so hopefully tomorrow we can stay on the bottom like we did tonight and get our car handling as well as it did tonight and be able to do somewhat of the same thing."

What does it feel like being on this type of 'roll'? Does it feel like you will always 'get it done'?

"Not really. You go to the race track every weekend thinking that you're going to be a contender -- you've got to at least think that you've got a shot at winning. Then you get in your car and you practice the car and you just keep making it better. You keep talking with your crew chief and you keep coming up with some ideas. You've got ideas. The crew chief has ideas. And, you all sit together and work on the stuff and get it to where the car is getting to where you want it to drive. From there, you go into the race and try to make what you can out of the race. In the beginning, we didn't have a good start. We were running fourth, fifth, sixth -- and just kind of stuck there. Then, we made some good calls on adjustments on pit road and the thing came to life. You've always got to keep communicating is what (Jason) Ratcliff (crew chief) communicated to me. Earlier this year, we just weren't staying on the same page the whole race. I had my thoughts in the race car and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had his on pit road and we just weren't the same. And, now that we are working on that -- and making it better -- and being able to get to 'Victory Lane' more."

Were you taking it easy over the last laps? Were you keeping track of where Denny (Hamlin) was on the track?

"Yes. I was taking it easy, just saving my stuff. Biding my time and making sure I still had a right front tire to go after it in case we had a caution that came out -- we were able to go on back out there and run some fast lap times and get the car to turn and stuff. I was just taking it easy and biding my time getting through traffic and working the traffic pretty easily. Making sure guys were straight and good before I passed them, and what not. And, not getting too loose or anything. Pretty much just saving it. I was aware of the gap. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) kept talking to me about what the gap was -- when it was nine, eight, seven, six, five, four and whatever it ended up being. We just wanted to make sure -- if it came to a three second gap then I was going to start going."

Did you feel like the race was over when you get the lead?

"It's good when that happens. I wish I could get the lead more often -- or quicker. It's not necessarily that you get to the lead, when I do get to the lead I've got a pretty good race car and I know how it's balanced and stuff. I wasn't sure if we were going to get tight in that run that I did get the lead, and then those guys were going to catch back up to us. But, our car just stayed the same and just stayed out front and stayed turning well. We were able to keep it in the lead running some good lap times. It's not every week that you get out to the lead and it's just over, by any standards. There have been times when we've been passed for the lead and there's times where we're going to get passed for the lead here through the rest of the year. Any time we have good car near the front you can always try that little bit more -- you can make something more of it which I can always try to do. Sometimes, you go over that line and other times you run well and you're not sure how it happened."

JASON RATCLIFF , Crew Chief, No. 18 Z-Line Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What was your strategy in tonight's race?

"Like Kyle (Busch) said, we just communicated well tonight, which is something we've been working on. I felt like we've given a few races away this year just because at the end of the race I'm not on the same page as him and I don't make the right adjustments. It went our way tonight and like he said it went green, which is what we needed it to do. It was a good day."

Do you think if NASCAR checks your engine you'll lose some kind of advantage you have?

"They've been doing this all year, this is not the first time. This is maybe the third or fourth time and I'm sure the numbers are out there, but I have yet to see them. I saw Rusty (Wallace) talk about it on TV before the race how he's got this sheet, so called sheet, that maybe Rusty got a new printer and he just wanted to make a sheet, I don't know. I haven't seen this sheet and I don't know what the numbers are. Everybody I talk to doesn't know what the numbers are. When you say do we have an advantage, we have an advantage - is it all under the hood, I don't think so. We've got a great group of guys with Mark (Cronquist, JGR head engine builder) and all his guys in the engine shop and I think they take parts and pieces and do an exceptional job of making them better. I think we have a bunch of people complaining so normally when you're getting beat, it's engine. Maybe it is, but I think if they decide to take a little bit away from us, I think we'll find some other areas to pick it up. We continue to work hard to build our program week in and week out. We'll see."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Drivers Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing