Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Pocono Raceway – June 1, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Pocono Raceway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Red White & Blue Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What kind of momentum does last weekend’s win afford you guys heading into Pocono?
“Overall, looking forward to the weekend. It’s certainly been pretty good last few races here at Pocono, being the defending winner of the fall race. You know, it certainly is pretty cool to come back here and try to do it again, especially after last week, and the momentum that we’ve kind of had on our side for the year, and especially from last week. Every week is a new week. Every week is different. We always just try to keep improving and continuing to build up our performance and keep it going for the rest of this regular season.”
Are you anticipating as the season goes along that you and Kevin Harvick are going to clash at some point this season?
“I mean, if you’re looking for the banging doors and fenders and things like that and running one another hard for a win, there’s too much to lose in car performance in doing that sort of stuff. Phoenix I thought we ran pretty hard with one another. We were kind of nose to tail for much of that race, and then I had a bad pit stop at the end and he kind of got out, and we weren’t able to battle it out to the finish like you mentioned. But yeah, Kansas we were off. I don’t even remember where else. We were second best, third best at California, and that’s when (Martin) Truex was lights out. Yeah, you haven’t had exciting one, two, three guys mixing it up back and forth for the lead, stuff like that, kind of going on. I’m not sure why, just kind of circumstances, the way it’s working out right now. Truex was pretty equal to what we were last week. We were certainly cruising there at the end, but Martin was just as fast as we were. You know, the 4 was pretty quick early, never got a chance to fully see what he had going on, but one of these times I’m sure throughout the season it’s going to be about coming down to racing the fastest car, and each of us are going to have our own way and being able to do that and having to figure out who’s going to win.”
Have you thought about your place in the history books with getting all the wins and all the tracks now, active tracks?
“I think it’s just special. It’s just something that has never been done, and it’s hard to find things that have never been done in this sport. It’s been around for a long, long time. So it’s very meaningful and special and something that I’ve kind of strived for. Whenever you’re able to achieve your goals, reach your goals, then it makes you feel better about what’s going on, and it’s a special thing for my team. There’s a lot that Adam Stevens puts into helping me continue to reach my goals, and he takes a lot of pride in that, as well as the rest of our team guys, as well. We’ve just got to keep doing our deal and executing and we’ll see where the wins come next.”
And also, big day, Sam’s (Busch, wife) birthday, so any special plans for her? You guys got anything going on?
“I can’t tell you everything. We’re in Pocono, by the way, so apparently this was what, like, the honeymoon capital of the world in the ’70s or something? I think they’re stuck in the ’70s. There’s a few nice restaurants around here. I’m sure we’ll find something to do. We just had birthday week, though, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, in New York City, so we were up there and kind of checking it all out and taking in the sights and doing some nice dinners and things around there. Had Brexton (Busch, son) with us, so good little family trip, quick trip.”
When you have a car like last week, is it evident early that you’re going to have a dominant performance like you did?
“Yes and no. I mean, there’s been times where I’ve thought we’ve had cars like that, and then we taper off and we’re not able to be a guy like that. We certainly have other guys come up and challenge us and take the lead and lead laps and whatnot. I can’t think of any examples. Erik Jones and I went back and forth a little bit last fall at Bristol where I thought we were really good, but he would take the lead and drive away, and then there’s other times, too, like earlier this year at Bristol again, (Kyle) Larson did the same thing. I thought we were really good, but Larson took the lead and kind of drove away. You know, it’s just all about continuing on throughout your race and executing and doing the right job, doing the right things, keeping up with the track changes and stuff, because you can’t just sit there and think that a race is going to fall into your lap. You’ve got to keep working for it.”
With the track sweep complete now, what’s next on your wish list?
“Icing on the cake. Just keep winning and keep adding to it. You know, obviously I think the first one that comes up would be everybody wants to make my life more difficult, so I’m sure that I won’t be credited for all the racetracks once the Roval gets here, so that would certainly be the next one that comes up. It’s in the same vicinity. Richard Petty has won 13 races at Richmond, right, but nobody characterizes the dirt track versus the pavement track being different. So whatever. It’s my life, so we’ll just keep going, keep trying to win in it, and the Roval is next, and then after that, it’s about the Daytona 500 and trying to get that one. It took another guy that’s very, very popular 20 years to get it done, so I’d like to think it won’t take me that long, although I’m creeping up on that number, so we’ll see how soon we can get that one accomplished.”
Do you have any thoughts on after practice with the new package that the Xfinity Series is using?
“It’s slow. It takes a long time to get around here. You know, it’s got a little bit of a reward for a draft or an opportunity to close up on a guy down the straightaway, but not as much as I was hoping for or expecting, and it has a lot of turbulence in the air when you get into Turn 1, when you get into Turn 3. It makes the cars all over the place, at least ours right now. We’ve got to work on that. We’re pretty fast, but the car doesn’t drive very good when we get in traffic. You know, if mine is really fast and doesn’t drive very good in traffic, I can’t imagine what everybody else’s is, so we’ll see what happens in the race this weekend. I’m not sure we’re going to get what we all expect to get.”
Do you feel like there’s a couple of the young guys who can come out here and grab their first career win soon?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s all about competition in this sport, whether you’re old, whether you’re young. You know, to be able to go out there and win races, you’ve just got to beat the best. And who’s the best of that day, of the season, it kind of seems like it’s the 4 and the 18 and some of the 78. I think the 78 is going to be fine. They’re going to get back to hopefully not as much normalcy as we saw out of them last year, but a bit more competitive. They seem to still have fast race cars, obviously. You know, I think the young guys are on the brink. They’re on the cusp. It’s just a matter of when that happens. If you asked me who, I would like to think that Erik Jones would be first of the young guys to win, but as we saw here last year, Ryan Blaney hit it right and he was able to go to Victory Lane, Chase Elliott has been fast more times than not I feel like over the last two years of the Hendrick (Motorsports) camp, even over the 48, so he could be a guy. And seems like the 88 is kind of getting the feel of things right now with (Alex) Bowman. It’s about being competitive and just getting everything right and having the stars kind of align, and eventually they’ll get there.”
What was it about this track when you initially encountered it?
“When I first got here for the first time in Cup, it was exciting for me because I thought I did pretty well on road courses and whatnot, and you kind of people talk about this place being like a road course. It’s just an oval. You make all left hand turns to get around it. But coming here the first time, I think I ran third or fourth or something, so it wasn’t bad. I actually was pretty excited, pretty pumped up about that, and then it didn’t go so well after that for a while. It certainly seems like anything that I knew or that I learned, it certainly didn’t last, and as this place has as we’ve gone through car changes, car iterations, Goodyear has gone through changes, the engines, we were here for a period without shifting at all, and then shifting has kind of come back. You know, also with the track repave and things like that. So there’s been a lot of just things that change here, and it seems like I finally kind of caught on to it three, four years ago maybe that we’ve been really fast here and have been able to knock down some top-fives every time we come here and have shots for the win.”
Is it (Pocono) real hard?
“It’s hard. It’s a challenging track. I don’t think it’s hard necessarily physically. They’ve got long straightaways and sweeping corners. What’s hard about it is making speed and making that speed last here for a long time. I’d always be fast for a lap or two and then I wouldn’t be fast anymore. So that’s kind of what a big deal is about this place because there’s such it’s such a big lap, and there’s a lot of lap time that can be either gained or lost in one little slip up.”
Do you kind of bring an ‘us against the world’ mentality to the race track?
“Absolutely, yeah. I would agree with that. I think when you come to the racetrack and you have a team like my 18 team, it is us collectively as a group, but we also have us as Joe Gibbs Racing, as well, that we work with and we try to help make each other better and stronger, and I feel like we have a strong team in doing that. I’ve pushed Denny (Hamlin) an awful lot over the years, and Denny has pushed me an awful lot over the years, and it’s made us a pretty good duo. But once you get on to the racetrack on Sunday and you strap your helmet on and you come down especially toward the end of the race, it’s every man for himself. It’s me against the world. It’s me against everybody else. Sometimes you’re against your critics, as well, too, that you have to deal with, and I think all of us have those, and it seems as though those voices have gotten louder over the last few years, just with reachability let’s call it with social media and things like that. I don’t think you necessarily saw those the ’90s, in the ’80s and in the ’70s but I could say the philosophy of us against the world has been around about forever in sports.”
How different is it racing here at Pocono from the 500 miles to the 400 and stages now?
“I’ll tell you what, for me from my vantage point, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Years ago with the 500 mile race and being stretched out, and when you don’t have a good car or even when you do have a good car sometimes, it’s just like, holy cow, like we’re halfway? That’s it? Where now it’s actually the stages kind of break it up a little bit, you get a little bit of a the strategy plays its way into the race because sometimes you’ll pit before the caution comes out and kind of do like a road course thing where you’ll jump the field, and stage points being important, the lead guys are going to stay out and try to get those stage points where some of the other people might pit, so then they have an opportunity to be ahead of the field when you go back green and vice versa. Every scenario is different. Sometimes you have to throw away a stage, if you will, if you’re leading and you’ve got to pit with a couple to go in order to set yourself up for that final stage to win the race. It’s all about where you’re at and kind of what’s going on. Definitely keeps the crew chiefs on their toes, and as a driver when you’re thinking about some of that as you’re racing around there, kind of keeps you on your toes, as well, too, about what you’ve got to do and how you can strategize the rest of your race from behind the wheel.”
What is it about Adam Stevens that you’re able to work so well with him and that you guys have such good chemistry?
“I don’t know. You know, when Adam and I were slated to work together on the Xfinity side, I was really excited to work with him. I knew that him and (Joey) Logano had kind of had this bit of chemistry that had really worked well for them, and I wasn’t sure that I would fit into the mold. I’m not sure who he gives credit to or whatnot on who kind of trained him or raised him, but he was Zippy’s (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) guy for a long time. He’s got a definite fire and drive to him, as well, too, and a passion like myself. There’s been a few pit boxes that have seen the wrath of Adam Stevens’ fist over the course of the years, so one of our teams, the Xfinity team years ago, actually got him a pair of boxing gloves to wear during the race. But you know, it’s just the amount of dedication and the amount of drive that he and I both share I think is what makes us so strong. A lot of different guys have a lot of different ways about going about their business. I think Rodney Childers is very unique in the way he goes about his business. It’s very chill, it’s very lax, and yet they get the job done very well, and Adam and myself, we tend to look pretty good sometimes at being able to do our job well, and I’ll be mad one day and he’ll be talking to me about why I’m mad, and then he’ll be mad another day and I’ll be asking him about why he’s mad. We kind of fit within each other a little bit and definitely feed off each other and push each other to continue to be stronger and be better.”