TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Kyle Busch – Notes & Quotes
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – July 22, 2016
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How does it feel to return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the defending race winner?
“It’s pretty cool. I get a good chance to come out here and hopefully have an opportunity to defend our Brickyard 400 victory of last year and look forward to being able to do that again in the Skittles colors and hopefully take Toyota to victory lane here for the second time. But you know, overall we’ve had a good season. We’ve had good speed in our race cars. Joe Gibbs Racing has been really fast, so there’s a good opportunity for any of our teammates to win. It’s just a matter of being able to put all the pieces together for our car and make sure the 18 is as fast as we can make it.”
Are you taking any extra precautions for the heat this weekend?
“No, nothing different than what I’ve been able to do in the past. Last year, it was certainly very, very hot and it was hot again at Michigan earlier this year and I requested that the XFINITY Series look at adding some NACAs – getting some air into the cockpit for the drivers and they did that for us, so we’ll see how that turns out. Hopefully, it’s better and at least it will kind of start moving some air around a little bit. It’s not going to be air conditioning by any means, so we’ll take the best of what we can get and go from there. The Cup race wasn’t too bad on Sunday. They already had those precautions in place on the Cup cars, but felt like that the steps could be taken to better suit us for Saturday and they’ve already done that.”
How does this track compare to the rest of the Cup Series tracks?
“This track here is one of the most-challenging ones I’d say. Certainly, there’s a lot of challenging ones, but Indy being as fast as it is for as flat as it is it makes it hard for these stock cars to go around here at the speeds that we do, so going down these straightaways – they’re kind of narrow getting into the corners, which are kind of narrow. They’re one groove corners and being able to really work the draft or the aerodynamic of the cars down the straightaways and being able to get yourself positioned through the corners well enough to make a pass on somebody is a huge task and is a huge ordeal, so it’s not always easy, but some guys are certainly better at doing that than others and this place is a tough place to pass at, so you’ve got to be good in all respects.”
How do you compare to your competitors at this track in that regard?
“I don’t know. I feel like I’ve kind of figured this place out over the last few years and have gotten a lot better than what I was in years past. Year past, I’d struggle finishing eighth to 15th each time here and the last few years I feel like we’ve definitely been either the class of the field or if not definitely top-five in each time.”
How difficult is it to get re-acclimated to the race car after being out?
“I just think the weekend-ers – the guys that have done it each and every-single weekend for this year already – it takes you a few weeks to get back into the rhythm of things and into the game of things. It did for me. I missed 11 weeks last year and it took probably about four or five weeks to kind of get back into the rhythm of things and figuring it all out and just getting focused on becoming a – being a race car driver again. The heat is certainly going to be a huge thing probably for Jeff (Gordon). Again, just not being conditioned for the heat and used to the heat of what it’s been and we’ve had couple of hot races already this year, so it feels – we definitely get more experience at that and more opportunities to feel that each week that we’re in it.”
Does simulator time help you?
“I don’t think the simulator does anything. I’ve spent over the last five years, I’ve probably spent six hours on that thing. It doesn’t do much for me. Him (Jeff Gordon) being able to win a sim race, I doubt that – Joey Logano is the biggest cheater on the sim there is. And the reason why I don’t do sim stuff anymore is Joey Logano. We went and did a test at Sonoma and he was one second faster than I was on the simulator at Sonoma and then we showed up to go to the race and I was three quarters of a second faster than him in real life, so to me that’s a second and three quarters difference that means absolutely nothing, so I do not do sim.”
What are reasonable expectations for Jeff Gordon on Sunday and could he win?
“He could. He could surprise us all. He could win, but realistically I feel like top-10 for sure. I feel like he’s – he could be pretty good enough to just kind of jump back in and be ready to finish to top-10 right away. I feel like top-five is probably what’s expected maybe, but getting a win, that’s high expectations.”
Does it surprise you that Hendrick Motorsports has failed to have a top-10 in the last three races?
“That is surprising. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but certainly there’s been some good speed out of those cars this year. They have run well. They’ve had good finishes. Chase Elliott is most representative of the Hendrick (Motorsports) group I feel like this year for whatever reason, but he’s done a really good job. He had a crash at Kentucky after being really fast, but I don’t think there’s any reason to be worried yet. Those guys certainly do know how to turn it on when they need to turn it on and that’s probably going to be here in a couple weeks.
Can Pocono Raceway help you prepare for Indy and vice-versa?
“A little bit – not too much though. This place here has the diamond grind and then obviously Indy was old asphalt years ago – now it’s new asphalt relatively from just a few years ago being paved. It does have that sense of it’s a two-and-a-half-mile, flat oval that you have some of the same characteristics, but honestly we’ve kind of learned a little bit over the years that what does work at Indy does not work at Pocono and vice-versa, so you can’t really take some of those same things back and forth.”
How much planning would it take for you to run the Indy 500?
“Yeah, you definitely can’t do it a month before for sure. There’s got to be planning involved and you’ve got to be ahead of the curve and probably this is about the start time in which you need to get some things started planning and definitely have all those plans solidified probably by the end of the NASCAR season in November. By saying that, would I do it? Sure, I’d give it a shot and see what it’s all about, but obviously you’ve got to have funding to go run that race. It’s a big race for all those teams that come here to run that race and putting on a good effort for myself means that you want to get with a top-tier team that has success here and that you know can run well and you can have good stops on pit road because it seems as though pit road is a big deal in those car here at Indy and just being able to learn as much as you can, so trying to get a little bit of track time in the times that we’re not busy doing what we’re doing is awfully hard to do. I won’t go to the simulator for those things either. I tend to try to learn all my things in real life and make sure that I am as best prepared as I can be and we’ll see if any of that comes to fruition.”
Is it difficult for a driver to watch someone else pilot their car?
“Well, I certainly don’t want to put any words in Dale (Earnhardt) Jr.’s mouth about what he’s feeling right now, but for myself it was hard for me to handle. You definitely don’t want to see someone else driving your race car, but on the other hand you want to help as much as you can. When David Ragan was in there, he’d call me each week and we’d talk about different things to expect and things to talk with Adam (Stevens, crew chief) about or to make sure you were focusing on in practice to make sure you were better for the race and all that sort of stuff. He came over to my house a couple times during my recovery and whatnot and we talked about it in person too, so it’s – mine was a little bit more in depth I guess because I knew I was going to be out for a longer time where Jr. – I don’t know when his return will be, but I suspect it will be sooner than 11 weeks. I just hope that he’s doing the best that he can do and obviously I heard a little bit of news of what he said earlier today, so that’s good and hope he’s back sooner than later.”
Did you use your 2014 notes as a reference for this rules package??
“Yeah, I remember a little bit of that. I didn’t go back to last year’s notes yet. I typically do that more so for the race and seeing how the race kind of played out, but I remember a lot of it. I think that last year’s package will be somewhat similar to this year’s package. I just think don’t you’ll see the variance in how loose you got behind cars. I still think you’re going to have the tendencies in which the car’s not going to be as good as you’d like it to be in traffic, but I feel like the separation between by yourself and in traffic will be less than last year’s, so should be a little bit easier for the drivers to tackle. The lower downforce package should make it – and the heat – should make it were the speeds are lower than what they were last year or relatively the same maybe, but I think the greatest difference will be how much speed we’ll have down the straightaway with the lower spoilers and then how much slowing down we will have to do for the corner, so there’s going to be a bit more brake usage for sure.”
Was winning the 2015 Brickyard 400 a relief?
“Yeah, last year’s win here was huge. It was a big relief, you know? It felt good to finally get one of the big three sort of out of the way and being able to win the Brickyard 400 was awesome. I’d love to be able to – now that you taste it once, you know you want to be able to do it again, but there’s a lot of other guys out there that certainly want to be able to do it as well and again my teammates all are really strong. None of them have won the Brickyard 400 yet, so I’m sure that they’re going to be just as hungry as I am to repeat and it’s going to be fun to see, but really right now I probably look at it as there’s 12 maybe 15 guys that legitimately have a good chance of winning here on Sunday.”