Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 2, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media a Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was yesterday’s practice?
“It was pretty windy yesterday and it’s only going to get windier. It’s certainly kind of the topic of the day I think for many of us and what the on-track conditions are going to be like. Other than that, pretty good to be here in Vegas and good to have an opportunity to get back at the home track and run the triple here this weekend. We’ve talked about it for a long time, ever since the announcement last summer of the chances of coming out here and being able to run for two triple weekends in Las Vegas in 2018. I’m looking forward to being able to have the opportunity to run the first triple here this weekend. Hopefully be able to go out there and get it accomplished and set that to the side and get a good weekend for us and get some good notes built up for when we come back here for Chase time.”
What’s changed to make Las Vegas grow into a real sports town?
“I think it’s definitely grown into that more and more over the years. When I was a kid here, I always kind of wondered why we didn’t have a professional team of any kind. You know, whether it would be hockey or basketball or baseball or football, but it’s becoming more and more which is good. There’s a lot of stars in all kinds of sports that are coming from the town with (Bryce) Harper, myself and Kurt (Busch), some other younger up-and-coming drivers as well too like Noah (Gragson) and such. It’s nice to have an opportunity to have that, that place to be able to go play if you can make it to the hometown team and be a star in that series, that league.”
Is there a number of NCWTS wins you’d get to and stop running?
“No, there’s nothing about hitting 50 that makes it special. Fifty-two would be special. As far as how many truck races would I continue to run or wins would I like to hit, no because it’s my own team and I’d like to always get out there and have the opportunity to race with my own team. Everybody thinks I just like to go out there and pad my stats and everything else. It’s not like that. It’s entirely to work with the people and try to educate the people. We’ve got three new engineers – two new engineers on our team this year and other new crew members and things like that and so you try to work out the bugs with those guys. I feel like every year we go into the season with new guys and I’m kind of regurgitating the same information sometimes. You have great leadership with the crew chiefs and stuff, but this is (Mike) Hillman’s (Jr.) first full season with us. Las year was Marcus (Richmond)’s first full season with us, so you know it’s hard for Rudy (Fugle) to be able to catch those guys up on exactly everything and so when I’m there with the team meetings and stuff like that, we always go over stuff to make sure that we’re a professional organization and we do our job and we hit all of our Ps and Qs and Is and Ts and everything else to make sure that we’re going out there and doing a really good job as if it was a Cup team. That’s what the professionalism of our team is trying to be.”
Will we know who is good this season after the race here this weekend or will it take longer?
“I think you’ll have a sense of who’s good, but I don’t think it’ll tell you everything that you need to know. I mean, obviously (Martin) Truex (Jr.) was really good here, but he was good throughout the entire season. I think (Kyle) Larson was good here, Brad (Keselowski) was good here, but they kind of tallied or fell off a little bit through mid-part of the season. I didn’t think we were that great here. We ran sixth or seventh all day last year if my memory serves me right and then had a shot to finish third or fourth and didn’t, but we came on halfway through the season and really got hot there towards the end. I don’t think it’s a huge telltale, but it’ll obviously give you an idea of who’s going to be tough, I’d say up through Charlotte, up through May.”
What is your take on the final pit stop in Atlanta during the truck race?
“It’s been played out already man. I came down pit road. The guy struggled on the right front. I was so focused on the right front, I never heard the guy hit the left-rear lugs. I don’t think Marcus (Richmond) did either, so when the jack was dropped on the right side he said, “go, go, go,” and that was going to be my thought anyways. When he said, “go, go, go,” that gave me clarification that the left rear didn’t get hit and so I took off and then he said, “stop, stop, stop,” or “whoa, whoa, whoa,” and I was in the middle of pit road and there were going to be guys exiting their pits on my left and guys rolling on my right, so I couldn’t stop exactly right there. I didn’t know how many lugs were on there at all, so I asked the question, “How many are on there, is it none” and he goes, “Yes, none,” and so that’s when I came to a stop. It takes that amount of time and that amount of distance to figure all that sort of stuff out. There’s a lot going on and a lot of things that kind of happen through your mind and so, you know it sucks. It was frustrating. The jackman couldn’t hang the right-front tire. They took too much time over there and messed up the pit stop and cost us the race.”
How will the wind affect qualifying and your races?
“Yeah this is really strong wind. Last year I remember the wind being really, really bad in the race and you kind of used it to your advantage a little bit in some portions of the race track, but in others it was a mess, it was a handful. It just, it blows the cars around. You’re going at 200 miles an hour and just a forty mile an hour gust of wind is a big mile an hour change and it just blows the cars around. It changes the trajectory of where you’re going. We’re going in a circle, so we’re hitting the wind in different directions every single moment on the race track. You just never know where that gust is going to be – if the wind changes directions or if a gust changes directions, it’s just very, very complicated to keep up with. It makes you have to be on your toes. I think the Cup cars will be the worst because they have the least amount of downforce and they go the fastest. The Xfinity will be second worst and the Trucks will be third just because Trucks you can run around here wide open. They punch a pretty big hole in the air already.”
Can you adapt to it as a driver?
“Yeah, I mean you can adapt to it. I think more times than not you’re guessing anyways, so it’s just a matter of being ready for anything and just kind of driving through it.”
What are your thoughts heading to California?
“I love California. I enjoy going out there. I always thought it was really, really fun to race out there, especially you can run all over that racetrack – low, middle, high. More times than not the highline kind of becomes the preferred groove throughout the day of the race and throughout the long runs of the race, so that was kind of enjoyable. With this new car, with the flared sides and stuff that we’ve had the last four or five years, it’s kind of made that outside groove less important so you have a little bit better chance of being able to move around, but not much. Just seems for me any time I get closer to the wall, I seem to get looser and if you tighten up the car in order to be able to handle that situation then you’re just so tight you can’t run the bottom at all, so you really get mired to having to run the top all day. That’s what makes (Kyle) Larson so good there. That’s what makes us pretty good there. (Kevin) Harvick was really, really good there for years. It’s a place that is worn out. It’s like Atlanta. Atlanta, people have figured out how to line wrap and make the line really work – Harvick especially. I haven’t seen anybody really be able to make that work at California. We just keep going farther under the yellow line in Turn 3 and 4 and running the apron, so it’s now six lanes wide down there in 3 and 4. It’s just a fun track and bumpy and edgy. I don’t think the surface is as abrasive as Atlanta, but it certainly lends itself that way. Hopefully it isn’t up for – due for a repave anytime soon.”
How important is 100 combines NASCAR wins as a milestone?
“This day and age is different than the old day and age. People will have that argument forever. I don’t think there is a comparison to that. I think for what (Kevin) Harvick and myself have been able to do with the amount of wins that we have in all three series is cool. I think if you reach 100 – I mean that’s a big number to reach in this sport, in this – in how difficult it is to win races these days, whether it’s Cup, Xfinity or Truck. You look at it last weekend, it seems to be easy and you have a pit stop problem and you don’t win. Harvick has – I think he’s got just three or four or five less Cup wins than me and he’s a few behind on the Xfinity side. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve been really good at racking them up over there and the Truck side too, but he’s obviously reaching that 100 mark and I think that that should be something to be proud of. I know I’m focused on me and being able to continue my climb and getting to the next wins that I can for me.”
What would it mean to you to take a couple of checkered flags home this weekend?
“It would certainly be special to win here. I love coming out to Las Vegas. You want to win any weekend, but especially when it’s in your hometown and you remember this track being built from the ground up and the hole being dug in which we’re sitting in right now. I haven’t run a Truck Series race here since 2001 I believe it was. I would love to be able to have that opportunity to come out here and win in just my second start on this speedway in the trucks and of course, when Xfinity and win Cup. I’ve been close to a lot of Xfinity wins here and I’ve only been able to close out one and Cup wins we haven’t quite been as great. I’ve just never been on the newer surface. On the old surface, I’d finish second or third every time I came here. It would certainly be special to close it out and to win a triple in your hometown. That would be pretty awesome. As far as anybody else knowing it’s our hometown, I don’t think they care. I think that we all race each other as hard as we can race each other every single race anyways, no matter where we go. Guys are always chomping at the bit in order to see themselves get to victory lane, so that’s going to be their main reason in trying to keep you out of victory lane.”
How much does your body go through running a triple-race weekend?
“It’s going to be a tough 10 days. I ran the Truck Series race – we had practice on Friday in Atlanta, then I ran the Truck Series race on Saturday, ran the Cup Series race Sunday. I had a test session on Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t have anything on Wednesday. Thursday, yesterday, I was in the truck. Today is all the practices, truck race. Tomorrow, Xfinity race. Sunday, Cup race. There’s been one day in the last 10 days that I’ll be out of the vehicle, so that’s kind of hard on you. At least I’m getting it all out of the way early in the season when your body’s a little bit fresher. Certainly, you’ve got to take care of it. This week would be nice to kind of chill out and relax a little bit and take it easy, but you eat good and try to get some workouts in when you can. Not too hard. Obviously, you’ve got to let your body recuperate and stuff like that, so that’s kind of what my strategy is.”
Were you trying to teach Noah how to exit the turns better yesterday in the trucks?
“No, nothing to that. We were working together trying to see what our trucks would run single truck speed and then in a draft of a couple, just him and I, and then we had some bigger packs as well too. There was five, six, seven of us at one point. Just kind of figuring out the handling of all of that. With the wind blowing and the wind changing directions, it could have been a little bit of that. I was working on my truck making sure that I was keep my wrap around the corner longer, lower, and they were kind of working on that as well too. They got it kind of tuned up. The second practice they got a lot better with it, so found some adjustments that helped that so hopefully it works for us in that race tonight.”