Texas II: Winning team interview

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Z-Line Design Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st How does this win feel? "I wanted to win this, not just get it, you know. They gave it to me, but I wanted to win it. We outwrestled all these guys with...

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

How does this win feel?

"I wanted to win this, not just get it, you know. They gave it to me, but I wanted to win it. We outwrestled all these guys with this 'Smackdown vs. Raw' Camry. I want to thank Z-Line Designs, NOS Energy Drink, Gillette, Direct TV, the fans of course and all the guys on this team. This track is fun. It's fun when you have good cars, of course. These guys do a phenomenal job for me. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) on the Cup side for tomorrow, they do a great job too working their butts off this weekend. I feel like we have a decent car right now. Maybe not a winning car now, but a decent car where we can contend and if things fall our way we can do it."

What do you think of the nice first-place prizes you take home from here?

"It is -- very nice mementos. Pretty awesome. We love coming out to Texas. This is for some reason one of my best race tracks. I seem to really like getting around here. This car was flawless again today. We've had cars that have been flawless like this for the past four races here. This is a testament to this team. They do such an awesome job preparing these cars with all the extra hours at the shop and all the guys that do a great job. There's one guy that's not here in victory lane right now that we really what to thank, which is Leo (Thorsen) -- he's the car chief on this car. He never comes to victory lane, we don't know why, but we're going to get him in victory lane for our championship celebration next week at Phoenix and at Homestead."

What's your biggest obstacle when you lead so many laps?

"Trying to pass the guys to get back up towards the front. It was a little treacherous today on the inside of Kevin Harvick early in the race. The car stuck well enough for me where I didn't spin out and wreck. I remember Vegas came straight to my mind when we were battling for the lead and I wrecked. That was a bad week for us. We've been running well all year long and we've been able to capitalize on good runs. This is one of the ones that we capitalized on. This is eighth on the year. Unfortunately, we missed out on 11 others -- those were second-place finishes. When you get to victory lane, it's cool that you can get your team to victory lane and really celebrate with them because those are the guys that deserve to be here."

What is it like to be so close to clinching the title?

"It's pretty cool. I wish I could have gotten it done as soon as possible but as soon as possible is going to come next week. It's going to be great, though because luckily NOS will be on the car next week and hopefully we'll get some championship with them after clinching and then Z-Line will get the big photo shoot at Homestead after the race is over and everything down there. It's an awesome opportunity and a great way to go out this year with two weekends and clinch the championship next week. It feels awesome. It's all in these guys and what they do and the hours they spend. Jason (Ratclif, crew chief) reading the books and the computer and going through all the notes. There's a lot of guys on this team that really deserve it. They work hard. The 20 team earned the owner's championship last year and now that the 18 car has got a championship, everybody in the whole Gibbs shop is championship worthy. It's pretty cool."

What has it been like to win 19 times across the top-three series in NASCAR?

"I wish we could have gotten a couple more Cup wins. I felt like there was some opportunity for those. It didn't work out. We've had a great year. All the Joe Gibbs Racing team drivers won in their hometown, which was pretty cool. Denny (Hamlin) won at Richmond (Va.), Joey (Logano) won up at Loudon (N.H.) and I won at Vegas. That's pretty cool, all in the Cup Series with Joey of course, his first win came there. It's been a great year for Joe Gibbs Racing overall. It's been a great year for myself in all three series. I've run the best I've ever run in the Truck Series and have had good trucks every week. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and these guys have done a good job with our Nationwide cars every week to come unload like that. Our Cup program has struggled a little bit, but unfortunately sometimes that happens. You look at Matt Kenseth. He won the first two races of the year and he's right there with us sitting 13th or 14th. It's disssappointing but on the other side of things, I think it was actually a little bit of a good thing that I was able to put more focus towards the Nationwide deal and get the championship wrapped up over here and not have to worry about both of them. Now the Nationwide deal is done with and we can go back to focusing more on the Cup effort there and try to get ourselves to championship caliber on that side. Somebody hast to beat that 48 (Jimmie Johnson)."

Can you win tomorrow?

"We qualified better than we expected -- fifth. That's cool. The car wasn't bad in practice today. There were some areas where we felt really good about it. There were some other times where we didn't feel so good about it. I like what's going on there. I think we've got about a fifth to 10th-place car right now. If we can just hang there throughout the day and make some changes to it, have Dave (Rogers, crew chief) learn some things that we can be contenders. If you're contenders at the end of the race, you never know. It can be a fuel mileage race, you can be on the right strategy. If you keep yourself in contention, you can come out with a win. If the luck is on our side, and we play it smart then we could come out of here three for three and that would be pretty special. The closest I've gotten is a first, first and third at California earlier this year. Maybe we can try to come two spots better tomorrow."

How much does your success in Nationwide Series help you get over missing the Chase?

"It makes it better when you've got the Cup guys that come over to race with you on the Nationwide Tour. If it was just me racing against the rest of the guys, then it would look kind of silly. I still have -- Casey Mears today ran a great race and finished second. But, we still have guys like Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer -- I can't even name them all -- Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, you know them. Since all those guys come over and race with us that's what makes it fun because you go out there and you can beat those guys and you know they're at Roush, RCR -- who dominated this thing a few years ago -- they are in good cars. You know that you're not an idiot and you know you can't drive -- at least it makes it a little easier when you look at things. Still you want to be the best of the best on the Cup tour and ultimately that's what Jimmie's (Johnson) been able to hit on and I always bring up his name probably in about every interview, but you have to idolize the guy. Who can win four straight titles in this type of era? Not even Jeff Gordon could do it. It's a big deal. Those guys have really got it together and one of these days, whoever beats them, can't imagine if they go five straight."

Do any of your statistics from the year impress you?

"The cool thing about it is I don't look for the records. I do pay attention when it comes up and when you guys bring it up and stuff. I kind of search around and look for some other things, to sort of impress myself upon. You know, I don't know if this year is the highest point total accumulated or not, but I feel like we're pretty darn close. I think that's pretty cool that we've been able to get that many points in a season and there have been so many areas where we can improve on. You know what would be impressive is if those 11 second-place finishes were wins -- that would be 19 wins. That's what's stupid. That's what's silly. If that could have been. The only thing worse than finishing second on a day is when you finish second and something to a pregnant woman and then you're third. That's what sucks."

JASON RATCLIF , crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Design Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your thoughts on today's victory?

"This was a new car for us. The car we raced the last two races here we weren't able to bring it back, unfortunately. Fontana. We built a new car and the guys in the fab shop did a great job trying to repeat the aero numbers of what we typically race here. I actually like it a little better. The car seemed to respond pretty good. We just went off our notes from what we had here in the past and it worked. In practice we were pretty good off the truck and we found a couple things there late in the practice that just took us to the next level. Like Kyle (Busch) said, all day the car was pretty good. We made some changes there that I think made it a little bit better. Of course, the competition was getting better all race long and we were able to maintain about a ten, two-tenths all race long. Another good day for us again in Texas. It's a fun place to win. Hopefully we can come back in the spring and do it again."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing