Texas: Winning team interview

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st How does it feel to get your first victory at Texas? "This means so much. I've finished second here twice before, but I've never won here. I proved that because I...

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st

How does it feel to get your first victory at Texas?

"This means so much. I've finished second here twice before, but I've never won here. I proved that because I didn't know where victory lane was at. I got lost on the way here. This feels so good. This place is just so hard to win at. For me, it's extra- special to bring DLP their first NASCAR victory and to bring Toyota here to Victory Lane at Texas. All of these guys work so, so hard on these things and I've torn a couple of them up. I also want to thank my fans for sticking with me. It's been tough time in this Nationwide Series. Finally, we were able to get somewhere today and win one. Now, if we could just keep it going like this would be great."

How hard was the decision to stay out on the last caution?

"It was tough. I just wasn't sure why we wanted to come in and pit. I knew four tires were going to be fast, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to get through traffic. This place is pretty aero-sensitive. It always has been since the beginning, and still is. For us, it was a late move. Jeff (Burton) has beat me a few times on it, and luckily, he didn't fake me too bad today, and I was able to get back out and prevail and win this thing."

Can you talk about another trip for you to Victory Lane?

"It's the fourth win of the year, but first in the Nationwide car. It's been so tough this year. We've been snake bitten. I have to thank my fans for helping me get through it. This is for them, us being here in Victory Lane. Great job by all these guys on Joe Gibbs Racing team. Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) made some great calls today. We just adjusted some air pressure stuff. The car was awesome."

Tell us about your run?

"It was a pretty good run for us. We had a great race car there and knew it from the beginning. I called Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) last night and we talked about some things and freed it up from where we were in practice. We were pretty good, we felt like but we knew starting back in traffic with the hotter day it would get slick and probably get pretty tight off the corner. We wanted to free it up some. The car was awesome from the start and we were able to pick our way through the field there and come towards the front. There was a long green stretch there and before it was over we had the lead. It's pretty cool. I have to thank Jason and all these guys from Joe Gibbs Racing and DLP HDTV and of course Toyota to be able to give us such great stuff to go out and win this thing."

What was going through your mind as you took the lead and then again at the final caution?

"When I was driving through the field there and Jason was rattling off lap times, I thought there was no way that we're three tenths or four tenths quicker than the leader. It's pretty cool and we were still in traffic, so I can't imagine what it was going to be like when we got out in the front. When we finally did take the lead and were leading for quite a bit I thought this was too good to be true and be one of those days. I was about to tell the guys not to get too high on their horse and to expect the unexpected. Other than that, the last restart with the caution that came out. Whether or not to come in and pit was pretty confusing to me. I've seen races be won by pitting and I've seen them lost by pitting. When I came off the corner I got low to see what was going to happen behind me and I saw (Jeff) Burton thinking about it. Luckily for me he made a move to not come early enough to where I could go out and stay in front of him. We were the two best cars for most of the day. For him to race the No. 2 as hard as he did, I probably owe the race to him. To be able to keep our car out front and in clean air was ultimately the best scenario for us."

Can you talk about how it feels to have won in this series and now won in all three of NASCAR's top series?

"The relief is to win here at Texas Motor Speedway to be honest with you. I've gotten a second-place finish in trucks and Nationwide cars like three times and two fourths here in a Cup car. This place is one of those places that scare me to death. Back when I was in the No. 84 car I came here and just about killed myself twice. Fortunately now I have a little bit more experience and am that much smarter. That means a lot. We were able to win here today -- that's pretty special. To win in all three four years in a row or something like that -- I just want to race. I just go out there and drive what I can. To win is the ultimate goal and to go after points is second."

Can you talk about your fans and how you've said you're glad they didn't give up on you?

"There's a lot of great reasons to probably give up on me. These guys, especially my own guys, they're probably my biggest supporters. The guys on the No. 20 team patted me on my back and said they wouldn't want anyone else in the car but me. That means a lot. Being able to come back out here and the fans that have given support and stick with me is pretty cool. It's hard enough for me to gain them, hopefully we don't lose them. It was a good day for us and them."

Do you want to be the guy that makes the final pit stop call?

"I've been in that position before and I think last year we had a few of those times when I think Alan (Gustafson) were trying to figure out whether or not to come down pit road. I would leave it up to him and I think a couple times it panned out and a couple times it didn't. It's a tough call. You're either going to blame yourself when it doesn't work out or your going to blame someone else when they make the call that doesn't work out. Fortunately for today, I decided when I saw the No. 29 (Jeff Burton) stay out that I would stay out and it worked out for us. Normally you do what the No. 29 does, you're going to win or at least finish right there with them. He's awfully good anywhere he goes and knows what he's doing and I need to learn a little bit more from Jeff and figure stuff out."

Can you talk about how safe this sport is?

"Obviously you want it to be as safe as it can and know that you can go out there and race without any sense of thought that you're going to get injured, but that's not going to happen. You're going to go out there and that thought is still in the back of your head that you can get hurt. From all the safety advancements that NASCAR has done and the drivers have helped with -- Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon have really stepped up with that. All of that with and the neck restraint from Hans and the other companies that have come out with theirs. Then there's the SAFER Barrier is a great tool that we've been able to use quite often. It's safer than running into a plain concrete wall. Luckily for the wall is why we see Michael McDowell here today. It was a pretty scary incident there but fortunately he was able to walk away and practice today without any injury."

Will you do some of the stand alones in June?

"I think we're running six or seven in a row right now. I'll go out there to say, if we win them all -- then, yeah, I'll keep going. If we have some struggles -- it's a race by race thing. We can say late enough that if we want to run a race we can figure it out some how, some way and make it happen. (J.D. Gibbs) wants some notice. I gave him three weeks notice for Mexico and it was two soon. I wish I would have only given a two week notice that I was going. We'll see, no committal yet."

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How was your view of the race today?

"Qualifying had me a little worried when it rained out. We started back there. Like Kyle said, he called me last night and we made some adjustments to the car. I was worried about being too tight. The Cup cars are pretty tight after listening to those guys in practice. We practiced on Thursday, which was two days ago and wasn't sure where the track was going to be. We made some air pressure adjustments to start the race off. From that point on, I think we changed a half a pound of air in the left rear all day. It's history."

Do you want Kyle to be the guy that makes the final pit stop call?

"I think he knew something that we didn't know. He knew what he had in the race car and he's been in that position a lot more than I have. I knew tires were going to be worth something and I knew the majority of them were going to pit. It's a tough call. When you're leading the race that is the toughest call -- the rest of them are going to follow the leader because they have nothing to lose. Kyle knew what he had and we took off and the first lap was four-tenths faster than the guys behind him. As soon as he did that I knew we were clean sailing."

JD GIBBS, president, No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Please share your thoughts on today's race?

"At the beginning of the day I get nervous when Kyle (Busch) starts from the back because it's going to be an entertaining ride to the front. I say, 'Pace yourself, pace yourself.' He did a great job. Jason (Ratcliff) is breathing a great sigh of relief because he chose to stay out (on the last pit stop) and we've had that work the other way for us a few times. That was a big deal for Jason and the whole No. 18 car for us. That was a long time coming, right there. Hats off to Jason, the guys and Kyle -- it was fun to enjoy it with that group of guys."

Can you talk about how safe this sport is?

"From an owner's standpoint, safe is a relative term. You're going so fast in a car. I told these guys, 'I tried to race -- I couldn't do it.' I tore up way too much stuff. My dad finally fired me. When you're going that fast with the other cars around you and you hit stuff, there's a big chance something is going to happen. I think NASCAR has done a great job in the last six years to really step it up. They're doing a lot of things that really make sense from a safety standpoint and I think the drivers do a lot better job where they have their seats and cockpits, Hans and helmets -- all that stuff is advanced. It's still not a safe sport, but it's much safer than it was. The soft walls are a huge deal. A lot of stuff might cost the teams more, but it's a great investment."

What have you learned about Kyle Busch since the start of the season that you didn't know before?

"Originally I didn't know Kyle that well when we started the conversation of him coming over and possibly drive for us. I think from day one, what really struck me was our guys, Denny (Hamlin) and Tony (Stewart) said that's the guy you need to get. He has a really good relationship with those guys and I think what he's done from a team standpoint - - that No. 18 car is our baby as our first team. The way he's interacted with those guys made them feel special and communicates because he's real passionate about what he does. I'm excited and forget how young he really is. You're going to go through ups and downs but I expect a lot of great years to come with Kyle."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Michael McDowell , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing