Winning team interview


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

Were you okay taking two tires on the last pit stop?

“I was good with it man. I thought that was a great way to win the race. These guys do such a great job. I can’t thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough -- he won the race today. We stole this one -- it wasn’t ours. We were a third, fourthplace car -- fourth-place on the shorter runs and a third-place car on the long runs. I don’t know why we had such a problem today getting going. This Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry really came to life there late in the runs. I can’t thank Toyota enough, NOS Energy Drink, Nationwide Insurance, Gillette, and the fans. It’s cool to come out here. I love California -- I love the west coast. This is a cool win for us.”

What happened on the final lap?

“I just got loose. I kept trying to run as high as I could because as high as I could get it the car would gain grip up there. I got up in the marbles too high off of turn two and got my right rear in the stuff. I got loose and got in the fence a little bit. It was a good thing it wasn’t one more lap because that’s all we needed right there. I can’t thank these guys enough. We didn’t have a winning car -- we worked all day yesterday trying to get ready and do what we needed to do. I told them don’t worry and then we qualified seventh and I thought maybe we should worry a little bit. Today the 33 (Kevin Harvick) and the 60 (Carl Edwards) were gone -- they were so fast. It took us a bit to get there, but we had a good enough car that we could keep with them at least where we could make that call and get two tires in order to win the deal.”

How does it feel to win today’s race?

“This is so cool. You know why? It’s because we stole this one. We didn’t really deserve it. The guys made some great race calls. The car didn’t deserve it, but these guys worked hard and gave me a great race car today where I could keep pace and see the leaders. When we came down for that final pit stop, we were going to take four (tires) and we thought, ‘We’re not going to win this thing taking four tires, so we ought to gamble here and get two.’ That’s what we did. I can’t thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough. He made a great race call there. It’s cool to come out here and win in California -- win in front of the west coast fans. Being from Vegas it’s extra special on this side.”

How did you run the final race laps?

“I was running the middle and the bottom trying to keep the shortest way around and then my lap times fell off too bad so I had to go back to the top where I’d been running and making up most of my speed in the long runs. My lap times came back and then that last lap I got too high off of turn two and got in the marbles a little bit and got a little loose, barely tapped the fence there a little bit off of turn two. I had enough where I could give a little bit of space and still win the race. It was a good call -- my guys did a great job on pit road. Having the amount of lead that we had, we knew we had enough to give up. Those guys were coming, it wasn’t going to be much longer before they got there. It doesn’t matter -- the race was 150 (laps).”

Was taking two tires on the final pit stop the race-winning move?

“It was, it was a really good race. I thought it was pretty exciting from my vantage point watching the 33 (Kevin Harvick) and the 60 (Carl Edwards) duke it out all day. I wish we could have been a little bit closer to give them a run for their money. We kept them in our sites at least. I felt like we had a car that was better on the long run than the short run. We just struggled with the short run today, we couldn’t get the car to turn the way I needed it to there. We were making adjustments all day long, kind of gaining on it a little bit to keep up better than where we were in the beginning of the race. Never got to where it was a winning car by any means. The guys gave me a great race car that I could at least keep pace with those guys and there towards the end of the race, we didn’t really talk about it much. I thought four tires was going to be a consistent call and give us a third-place run today. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) surprised all of us and pulled one out of the hat with two tires on pit road and did an awesome job making the call and committing to it. The guys did a good job being able to change the tires quick and get us out there. We had just enough room that was all that mattered.”

Is it satisfying to not have the strongest car and still win the race?

“I think it’s pretty satisfying when you can win one like that. It’s great to go out there and kick everybody’s butt and win the race and come to the media center and go home. But, today it’s a little bit more fun. I don’t know why. You’re working your butt off all day long and you think it’s going to be a third today, that kind of stinks but it’s still decent. Then, you end up making a pit call like that where nobody else does it and you’re like, ‘Damn, we’re going to win this thing.’ You just get jacked up. I almost threw it away a couple times, but we kept it together just enough and I beat him to the line.”

Does winning on Saturday help you Sunday?

“Well it’s not necessarily winning, I think it’s just more about getting the track time and understanding the race the way it went on and the way the car handled. We did a lot of different things today that we can work on our Cup car with and kind of do tomorrow. With Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief), the changes he made from practice to qualifying, we went too far. I know what those are and I’m sure Jason sent the run log to Dave (Rogers, Cup crew chief) and we can let Dave know what we did so we don’t go that far with the Cup car. Also, just getting the race under my belt with running the low line, the middle line and the high line, just kind of understanding what it takes to run those different lines around the race track. This is the first time I’ve ever run that good here in the lane right up on the wall -- I’ve never done that before. It was cool to see that today and to have a good satisfaction of running right up there and not getting into it too many times.”

Is coming up on win number 50 in the Nationwide Series something you think about?

“It’s not really something worth think about to be honest with you. We just know that if we run well and if we do what we know how to do to be competitive and to reach our potential and do what we need to do on race day, then the wins will come. The only reason all the stats are what they are is not because I was out there to say, ‘I’m going to reach 10,000 laps one day, watch this.’ It’s just about going out there and running as hard as you can and running every lap the best you can do. Of course working with the crew chiefs and the engineers and all the guys that work on your team that pour a lot of good blood, sweat and tears into your cars and make them fast. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of fast race cars in the Nationwide Series and have been really good at bringing them to victory lane sometimes too. That’s meant the most.”

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What made you decide to gamble on the final pit stop where you took two tires?

“Actually, I still can’t believe it finally worked out. You think about things like that and you’re like, ‘Okay.’ When you’re sitting on the couch and thinking if I was that guy I’d do this. It was a good opportunity for us. We weren’t going to win it by taking four tires. I’m really surprised that we were the only ones to do the right side (tires) like that. We were waiting too many laps where it wasn’t going to work, but we had to wait and see what the 60 (Carl Edwards) and 33 (Kevin Harvick) were going to do. The 60 pitted early and took four and the 33, I wasn’t real sure what they were going to do. If they would have taken two, then we would have just put four on and hope for a caution late in the race. It worked out. Our Toyota Camry was good, but we couldn’t find speed in it. We worked in one area yesterday and then I think today the track may have changed on us a little bit and it was more than we could fix with air pressure. We learned a lot today and learned a lot about these big race tracks. I think we’ll do better coming back. It’s fun to win one like that. We were doing the math and thought it was going to be close, it’s going to be really close. It worked out.”

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing
Tags fontana, kyle busch, nascar, nationwide, toyota