Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Auto Club Speedway – March 15, 2019
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Auto Club Speedway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is the qualifying format like when you’re just waiting on pit road to go out for a run?
“Well, it’s stressful. You don’t want to be the first guy because you’re towing the line that will be faster than you behind you. So, you’re always trying to figure out how to make it. Everyone is trying to figure out how to be the last guy to make it across the start-finish line with zero seconds left on the clock to not having their time disallowed to be able to go out there draft their way to a faster lap time. It’s stressful. You’re trying to get up to speed and how fast you get up to speed. Guys jumping guys at the end of the line. Obviously, there is a bigger apron at Las Vegas with what we saw there versus here. You’re not going to be able to make many moves once you get to the grass and the center of the corner. Tune in. It’s going to be exciting.”
How many of your 199 wins can you remember vividly?
“I don’t know. I’d like to think probably at least 80 to 85 percent of them. I can probably remember what all went down and happened that day. There’s even losses you can remember and think I ran seventh that day or whatever it might be. There’s definitely particular events that stay in your mind. I have 996 of them or whatever it is. There’s going to be a few I forget. Forgive me.”
Did you practice pit road speed in practice this morning and what do you think of the rule in qualifying?
“When we all leave our pit stall and go down the end of pit road. I don’t understand the need for it there. There’s nobody down there. I don’t see any safety issues. Obviously someone did. That’s probably why we have a pit road speed. I can get it on entry and on the way in. But at that point, you’re not racing anyone anymore. You’re just coming in and cruising in, and trying to slow down and cruise back to your box. We’re all going to go down there and sit at the end anyways. Then we’re all going to launch. Whether or not we speed on the way out because the guys in the further back are going to try to hustle. That’s where you will get busted if you’re not careful.”
How is the wind impacting you today at the track?
“It’s windy, yeah. Yeah. That’s why I wear a hat. Otherwise, my lack of hair will blow away. It’s interesting. Turn 1 and 2, you’re pretty good. It doesn’t really bother you much down there. It’s actually okay. Then when you get down to Turn 3 and 4, especially off of 4, the wind blows you away towards the outside wall. It’s aggressive. Like if it catches you off guard, like it did me the first lap in the Xfinity Series car, you can almost knock the wall down. It’s kind of what we got. It will be about the same tomorrow.”
What is it like going slower into turn one here versus previous years?
“Yeah, the characteristics before was that the car before was up on top of the track and you were sliding around trying to control that grip level, and you keeping the tire under you. Keeping the car under you. And figuring out where that threshold was of enough slip and not enough slip. Where now, the cars are pretty stuck and gripped up. Not a whole lot of slip. You’re wide open through Turns 1 and 2, and just turning the steering wheel. It’s kind of what you got.”
There’s been a lot of talk around 200 wins, does all that talk motivate you?
“It doesn’t change anything. Just come out here and we’re entered in both races. We come out here and try to do the best we can to win. If we win on Saturday and that’s win 200, then so be it. It is what it is. I am certainly not going to sandbag a race or throw a race away to try to win 200 in a Cup race. That’s not my way of going about things. If it happens, it happens on Saturday, maybe a hat or something in Victory Lane. Other than that, we go onto the next one. There’s not going to be much celebration around it because it’s just going to be focused on the next race which is going to be the next day.”
Are you feeling a lot of people are talking about this?
“Certainly, I have had a few of my friends and stuff send me some links of things they saw this week of some articles and things. I read what Richard (Petty) said the other day which was cool. He talked about how if I was thrown back in their era, with (David) Pearson and Petty, I could compete with those guys. That’s very respectful and I appreciate that. I am honored he said that. I feel I’d like to think the same way that I could do it. It doesn’t matter. It’s a different time and place. Overall, excited to just continue on and keep winning.”
Does last fall’s race at Martinsville change how racing at Martinsville will be in the future?
“In the fall race for sure. I don’t think the spring race will see much difference. I think the fall race will for sure. It’s kind – I wouldn’t say it was Joey’s (Logano) last ditch effort, it was certainly one of those kind of moments that if he didn’t do what he did, would he have made it to Homestead? We won’t ever know. Obviously, it can take those situations sometimes where you can move a guy out of the way or pile drive a guy out of the way in order to make your way into the final four and then you get to Homestead and everybody races fine. It kind of all worked out I guess.”
Does it get any easier for you with all the pressure and responsibility on you as a driver?
“Ain’t nothing in life easy man. There’s bigger challenges than others and there’s certainly better days than others, but right now it’s a good time to be associated with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and M&M’s and Interstate Batteries and everybody that helps me. For my guys, I like to think that they would say it’s a good time to be associated with me nd the way that things are kind of rolling right now. We just have to keep that going. You never know how long it will all go, but you continue to just work hard and do your job and continue to work at everything to continue to get better and evolve. This sport, things we were doing six months ago is not what we’re doing today. You just have to keep rolling and keep going.”