KYLE BUSCH, No.18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your level of excitement heading into 2011?
"I feel pretty good about it. I'm pretty confident with the guys and with the team and with the cars and everything. Toyota has come a long ways and hopefully we can make up some more ground this year at being able to compete for the championship. With Denny (Hamlin) running the way he did last year was really great for Joe Gibbs Racing, and being able to be in contention until the last race there. Overall, we're all pumped up and ready to go. You sit around all winter long and you think about when the season's going to start and it turns around and it's here already. You're like, `I'm not ready.' We're excited, and with Daytona testing now in our rearview mirror we can look forward to getting to Daytona and it's going to be fun."
How much ground is there to make up for you this year?
"I think that anywhere that you don't capitalize on and any races you don't win, any championship you don't win -- there's obviously ground to be made up. There's ground to be made up somewhere. With us, we just need to put the total package together and be able to go out there to achieve our potential and to reach our potential and be able to win."
What benefit do you get from running NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series races?
"I think running the trucks and running the Nationwide Series gives you that extra experience on the race track, which I've been around for a while and is probably not necessary. You still have special traits with different tire compounds that Goodyear comes out with and with all the vehicles now having splitters and all having limited frontend travel -- all the concepts and ideas are sort of the same. The level of information that's being put in the cookie jar is a lot more than just running with one team. Your thought processes are a bit different and your experience level just gains a lot faster."
What are your thoughts on NASCAR's changes to the points system?
"I don't know that it would necessarily change much, as we have seen a few people put out some deals that Jimmie (Johnson) still would have won. It's all the same for everybody. We all play within the same rules and we all just have to maximize and think of the different ways we can make those rules to our benefit more than somebody else's. Now it's just basically based off of average finish, how well you do, how many races you win. If you're not in the top-10 and you have the most wins, do you just go after wins if you're kind of struggling to make it in there? Can you get those wins? Every week we go out there and we try to win the race so it's not that we're going to be able to try extra hard or find some secret setup that's going to put us in victory lane. That just doesn't happen."
How have you adapted to being married?
"Married life is excellent. Samantha (Busch, wife) and I -- we've had a great time thus far. It's been good. I've been testing and she's been away. We're back together again here this week and of course getting ready to go to the Super Bowl next week and start the season."
What do you think of the wild card situation in the new NASCAR points format?
"I think it's cool. It's better than a fan vote for sure. I think being able to have the opportunity to go after race wins and for somebody who is outside looking in to be able to make it. I think it was (Matt) Kenseth last year that won the first couple races and missed the Chase because the rest of the season didn't go quite the way he wanted it to.2009 that happened and for myself -- same thing. We had that happen -- we had three or four wins or something like that. It's a neat opportunity for somebody that's on the outside looking in that maybe hasn't made the Chase, but is a consistent winner."
What are your thoughts on only getting to run for one championship?
"The one championship deal -- that's no big deal, that's a no brainer. We're all here for one reason and that's Sunday. The guys that are upset or disappointed that they can't run for two championships are not looking at the big prize, which is what we're all here for, which is Sunday. Interstate Batteries and M&M's and those people pay a lot of money. Although Z-Line Designs and NOS Energy Drink do the same thing on the Nationwide side, it's just not the same level. The level of competition is obviously different and the level of capabilities between drivers is a bit different. Still, you're out there racing against the best of the best trying to become a Sprint Cup champion."
Is it important for you to try to give Toyota its first Sprint Cup title?
"Sure. I think that all of Joe Gibbs Racing does myself, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin -- we all do. Denny was awfully close last year, but to bring home a Sprint Cup Series championship for Toyota and for Joe Gibbs Racing in our 20th season would be awfully cool. We look forward to the opportunity at chasing it."
Have you pinpointed areas where you and your team can improve for 2011?
"I think we need to be better at preventing some things. Whether it's car problems or myself losing my temper or maybe just working with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) a little better and having more consistent times that we are able to spend together. Communication and being able to talk goes a long way in this sport now. It seems like it's more than ever, it used to just be laid on the crew chief, `Bring me a good car and I'll win the race.' Now you have to work on making a good car. The competition is so close. We've got probably too many rules that we have to follow through."
Is this the season that someone other than Jimmie Johnson wins the championship?
"You would certainly like to think so. We all thought it was last year. You don't know how long the streak can go. Sometime it's got to come to an end. Of course, we all here at Joe Gibbs Racing hope to put an end to that and bring the title back to Joe Gibbs Racing where it was before Jimmie (Johnson) went on his streak with Tony Stewart being the last champion before Jimmie so we feel pretty good about that."
Do you feel like you are able to win a Sprint Cup championship?
"I would certainly like to hope so. I feel like there's a lot of ways that people try to razz you or try to get into you, but you have to forget about that stuff and know what's important. What's important first and foremost of course is right here, which is family with what's at home and then of course you look at your career and your business and what happens here at Joe Gibbs Racing -- making the most of the effort for Toyota and Interstate Batteries and M&M's. With that we try to look forward at making the most of this year and try to bring home a championship for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) in their 20th year."
Are you happy with three bonus points for race wins under the new system?
"I felt like two was the same and I feel like three is a little bit more, which is what we were all pushing for. We were all looking for three. We don't want a guy that gets too far out there that then you can't catch. If he rattles off four wins in the Chase like Jimmie (Johnson) did that one year and he's too far out there for any of us to gather back up then you don't want somebody that's too far out there, but yet if you are that guy that's winning -- you want to be able to separate yourselves a little bit. I think there's a good match there. You have to play both sides of it. If you're that guy winning the races, you wish it was more. If you're that guy that's finishing second to the guy that's winning races every week you're like, `Man, those bonus points would sure be nice.' It's going to come down to consistency. Whoever has the best average finish at the end of the 36 races is going to win the points."
What type of goals do you have for race wins in your career?
"I haven't achieved any of my race win goals that I've wanted to achieve since I've come here. I've achieved everything else under the sun that I've never thought about achieving. The ones that I really want like the (Daytona) 500, like the (Brickyard) 400, like the (Coca-Cola) 600, a Charlotte Cup win at all, an All-Star race, the championship -- all that stuff. I haven't gotten any of that. Hoping one of these days it won't necessarily fall in my lap, but I'll have the opportunity to win those. I don't think it's at the point yet where you're worried about it, but when you get to be probably about 35 then you're like, `Man, I only have five more chances to get some of these because they only come once a year.' Hopefully by then I can have some of that knocked out."
How is your relationship with Dave Rogers heading into your second season with him?
"We both did learn an awful lot about last year and we've both talked a lot this winter. We spent some time together and we've had some good talks and some good opportunities to think about what we want to do and kind of develop our plan and our strategy for moving forward into this year. We've gone over most of that and hopefully we can put it all into effect here at the beginning of the year and get our momentum rolling and stay strong all throughout the year."
Is your Truck team working with your Nationwide and Cup teams on pit stops with six crew members?
"Actually we've been working a lot together. The guys with the fuel cans and stuff too, they've been coming over to the truck shop and we've been doing a lot of talking with that and a lot of diagnosing and learning with each other. We spent a whole year with it so we knew a lot. We gave them all our information, they found out some and gave us some more back. There's some smart people over here (Joe Gibbs Racing). It works both ways and that's kind of the reason that we're over there. I've had two guys from my truck team actually went to the Nationwide team and they work over there now so they're kind of on their way up - - they're moving through. We've got Brian Scott some of his Nationwide pit crew guys are doing my truck stuff. We're teaching them to be able to get to the Cup level. It works both ways. We've got some R&D stuff that are in my trucks for the Nationwide and the Cup car. All that works together and same thing about the pit crews. The pit stops, the way we correlate all that. The pit crew coaches that actually coached, we had them coach my guys last year to get used to the fuel can and the way you do adjustments and the way the pit road rules are because they knew that we were going to go to this fuel neck and stuff like that so they got ready over here. It's been seamless. They've already been practicing it since the end of last year."
-source: toyota motorsports