Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Bristol Motor Speedway – August 17, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s White Chocolate Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you feel being the driver to beat each week and have that serious chance?
“It’s been a long time, I guess, in being with different teams and different crew chiefs and different people that I’ve felt this strong. I’ve had this sort of thing on the Xfinity side with many a crew chiefs, whether it’s been (Jason) Ratcliffe, or Adam (Stevens) or Chris Gayle – a few of them on the Xfinity side. Dave (Rogers) – we felt like we had that going for a couple years on the Cup side with Dave, but there is just something maybe a little bit more about myself and Adam and the team that we have. Many of the team guys – couple of them are the same as what they were back with Dave many years ago and a few of them are from the Xfinity team when I felt so good with Adam on the Xfinity side. We brought some of the those guys over and we’ve kind of mixed and blended some other guys over the years here and there. It’s certainly been very rewarding to all of them, I’m sure, as well as me to have this group right now and hopefully we can keep it together for a long time.”
Seeing so many drivers retiring at earlier ages – are you going to be more like them or more like Kevin Harvick and some of these other guys racing into the 40s?
“I’ve asked my accountant that question and he says I’m screwed. I’ve got to keep going. I’ve got way too much debt, so unfortunately, I don’t think I can retire as soon as the rest of those guys are currently at the moment, but we’ll see how things go in the future with what I’ve got going on. We’ve gone through a lot of change over the years with packages and cars and things like that in the Cup Series and I’ve been around for a few of them, maybe not as many as some other guys like Jimmie (Johnson), most notably, and Kurt (Busch). It still feels like there’s some opportunity to excel and you hope that you can excel. Obviously, the better drivers, the more talented drivers should always shine and come to the top and maybe we can still have that opportunity with whatever new package is coming – if it is coming. We’ll see what happens in that regard.”
What are your thought on Kasey Kahne as a competitor and his legacy.
“Referring back to Kasey (Kahne) – I don’t know why the timing seems right for him, but that’s his decision. He has to make that. None of us can ever question someone else’s decisions that they make and I’m all for a guy, if they say that they just don’t feel it anymore, that they step away. I’m perfectly okay with that. Kasey was a fierce competitor in the (Ray) Evernham days. I remember the 9 Dodges every week going on the race track and being fast and all of us chasing them and wondering what they had going on, so it kind of goes in cycles in what all happens and things. Kasey was on top of the cycle once upon a time and certainly racing with him over the years has been good. I’m sure we’ve battled for wins here and there on both the Xfinity side and the Cup side. We’ve also battled for 15th-place finishes and ended up crashing each other a few times, so that’s always been out there, but he’s always been a respected competitor and one that everybody respects out there on the race track. You tend to try to not get into him, but you know you do make mistakes – we’ve all done that and I’ve done with Kasey. Most notable a couple years ago when I think it was three times we ran into him and crashed every time. Certainly, I’m sure he probably feels like he’s still behind on that of getting me back, but overall, it’s been fun over the years and I wish him the best in finishing out this year strong and maybe even contending here before it’s over.”
Have you put any more emphasis on winning the regular-season championship?
“Yeah, the last couple of weeks certainly. We’re trying to make sure that we can close the regular season with that championship and get those bonus points. That’s what’s most meaningful is those bonus points to carry you on through each round of the Chase. You get those at every start, so that’s going to be important. As far as what we can do to make sure that we still achieve that is just run strong. Points are going to take care of themselves if you’re running up front and doing all the right things. Certainly last week (Kevin) Harvick won both stages – we finished second in both stages and then he won the race and we finished third, so I mean that was as close as we could be the whole day and not lose too much ground to him. He’s the closest competitor even though they’re still kind of a ways back, but if you have a bad week here in the next couple weeks and erase that deficit, it’s going to be a close battle all the way to the finish of the regular season.”
How did your throwback scheme for Darlington come about?
“Just talked with our partners at M&Ms and Skittles and Snickers and trying to decide who wanted to take the Darlington race knowing that it’s always the throwback scheme. Mars hasn’t participate in that yet and last year gave up that race for Interstate (Batteries) to participate in that race. This year, it was a Mars race, a chocolate race, but then they traded it to Skittles and we ended up being able to do the throwback scheme with Ernie Irvan there. We knew as soon as we could get Skittles on, we knew which one – it was pretty simple which one to go back to. Having Ernie being involved in the whole unveil – it was pretty special having him being there and being able to talk with him and kind of reminisce some of the stories of that car and what they were able to do in that year. I think it was the year before he ended up retiring that he ran that scheme, so it was pretty late in his career. It’ll be nice to have him there and have the opportunity to have his name on the car and to be able to go out there and hopefully put it in victory lane.”
Do you ever think or worry about things that you miss with your son, Brexton, because of the schedule?
“Absolutely. Probably not right now with Brexton being three, but I’m sure when he’s five, six, seven – in a couple of years it’s going to be tough because if he’s interested in this racing thing and wants to take on that, there’s going to be times where he’s racing during the week or even on the weekends that I’m not going to be able to go. It’s going to be him and his grandfather and his other grandfather and some other help that are going to be taking him and racing around and doing the things that other drivers have done to get themselves to the point where they’re at now. I don’t think you have to start young. You don’t have to start at five. You’ve seen myself – I was 13 when I started. My brother was 15 when he started. William Byron was 13 and a bunch of other guys were sixes and sevens and eights and things like that, so I don’t know that it’s all that important or necessary to start young, but if that’s what he wants to do then we’ll help him out and do that. It does worry you a little bit and stress you a little bit that you won’t be there and seeing some of those experiences and growing up, but with technology today, at least that’s an added benefit then what it was years ago – Facetime and videos and people being at the race track and filming races and broadcasting them online and things, that certainly will help.”
You were concerned with NASCAR making telemetry data available to everyone at the beginning of the year, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has really been able to catch you. Was that concern overplayed and how has that evolved as the season has gone on throughout the garage?
“I’m still not a fan of it. It’s just free. I mean it’s out there. From what I understand, I do hear some of the backmarker teams don’t get it. I don’t know why they don’t get it. That’s kind of interesting to me, how all it does is strengthen the top teams again and not do anything for the bottom teams. I could be wrong, but from what I understand that’s the truth. I don’t like it because it’s free information. At least when you’re in a team and you share within your own organization, I think that that’s fine and that’s okay because we all agree to that when we sign up to be with our teams. As far as being able to just give out your information to every other single driver out there, that certainly doesn’t – I’m just not a fan.”
Has your telemetry data helped other drivers?
“I wouldn’t say that it hasn’t helped them. You know the areas in which you have to – okay so back in the day when you won races in the 90s, whatever, you could be sloppy and win a race, right? Now, we’re down to the cars. We’re talking about thousandths of an inch making our cars faster or not. I mean back in the day it was lick your thumb, look at it, ‘yep, looks good, alright let’s go.” Then a tape measure became an important tool and they were measuring in inches. Then they were measuring in sixteenths of an inch and now we’re measuring in thousandths of inches. Same can be said for drivers. Back in the day, drivers were probably just watching each other, standing on top of the hauler figuring it all out. Then comes Dartfish. Then comes telemetry. Then comes data sharing within your team and now it becomes sharing within the whole garage area. Everything is becoming smaller smaller smaller smaller smaller to try to find an advantage and you’ve got to be able to utilize those tools the best you can when you’re at the top.”
What do you know about what Ernie Irvan was at his prime and what you thought of his racing?
“From what I do know, he was a bit rough around the edges a little bit sometimes and drove really really hard and sometimes a bit over himself or over his equipment at times and caused some chaos and even once had to stand up in the drivers meeting and apologize to everybody for being not so smart sometimes. I take a lot of – I guess we can say that we’re a lot the same or a little the same, I’m not sure. Overall, he’s been pretty cool to be around and talk about and some of those things and him talking about me and kind of what he’s seen and so it’ll be neat to get to Darlington and to be able to run that scheme. I’m looking forward to it.”