Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Richmond Raceway – April 20, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Richmond Raceway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How do you feel going into the Toyota Owners 400 race weekend?
“Well, we’ve got some practice sessions in there, so feel okay about it – not great, not exactly where we remember being here a few years ago when we had cars that were up front, leading laps and feeling pretty comfortable at being able to do that, you know? So just a little bit too much slipping and sliding for our liking, but we’ll see if ours is any less than anybody else out there that we can be one of the best cars for the race here on Saturday night.”
How different do you think the racing is from the Cup level compared to Xfinity?
“Yeah, the racing is definitely different from Xfinity to Cup and obviously that elevated experience level as well as just talent level is why the Cup Series is what it is – it’s not easy, you know? I remember going from running some ARCA Series races to Xfinity Series races and Truck races and each step is just kind of like a little bit more and then its like Xfinity to Cup is all three of those together in one – it’s a big, big deal, so he’s (Daniel Hemric) obviously ready for the opportunity I feel like. I think he’s done a really good job. Maybe not has scored as many wins as he would have wanted to in Truck of Xfinity competition, but I think talent pool wise, I’ve seen him race in late models and I’ve seen what he can do in those things and he’s made a name for himself in being able to come up through these ranks and hasn’t caused chaos while doing it, you know? He’s done it really, really clean. He’s raced his competitors as well as you can ask of anybody to race their competitors. I think the only thing lacking is just the win column, so I think Daniel is a great kid and look forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.”
Do you gain a different type of confidence when you’re on a roll like this?
“Not really. Maybe somewhat, yes. I mean, of course any time you’re running well and you’re in the top two, top three and you’re winning races then you know you know that things are kind of going your way and you can go to the race track with some optimism and some momentum that can keep you running up front like that. You know, when you have some finishes that kind of derail it – you go in finishing 14th or 10th or eighth or 14th or 10th or whatever – then you know you kind of get knocked back a little bit and you don’t quite have the wind in your sails that you want and so I would say that it’s obviously better showing up to the race track running top three each week.”
What do you think of the new garages here at Richmond Raceway?
“Yeah, the space is certainly nice. You know, definitely for the guys and the crew guys and the guys – everybody that works in the garage area. I remember one of my crew guys here a few years ago, when you jack a car up the cars were so tight together that you couldn’t really jack the car very well and the jack actually dropped while his arm was in between the tire and the fender and he pinched his arm really bad and had to go to the hospital, so the situations that we have with workable conditions is a heck of a lot more pleasing, but, you know, I think the cut throughs and the bathrooms and the walkarounds and stuff like that, we talked a few weeks ago like what’s the problem getting though inspections and whatnot, you now have to push all the way around in order to go through inspection here, so inspections here are going to take just as long as a Pocono or a Michigan or somewhere else because there’s so far to go.”
Did you cut Denny Hamlin some slack last night at the end and would you do the same tomorrow?
“I don’t know – no telling. The situations are different in any race, you know? Obviously, the way things kind of went down between him and I at the All Star Race years ago were pretty ugly and then the way myself and Carl (Edwards) – it happened here a few years ago – was certainly not the way I expected it in that situation, so I guess teammates, you want to have each other, race each other clean, race each other with respect and be able to pass each other clean, but when your cars are so equal like they were last night, I just didn’t see like I was going to have an opportunity to be able to do it unless we got through traffic and I got through traffic a little bit differently than he (Denny Hamlin) did and cut him some slack with some lap cars a couple times there and then I got into the fence a little bit and from there I just didn’t have enough to pass him anyway, so thought I had one more opportunity with a couple more lap cars ahead that we were going to catch and it just didn’t transprire, so, you know, that’s how I think you’re supposed to do it, so that’s why I did it that way.”
What is it about this track that has led to your success here?
“Well, the success is almost forgotten it’s been so long ago, so we certainly want to get back to our winning ways and doing a better job of being up front and winning here at Richmond. We’re just kind of missing a little bit. There were some rule changes years ago that had some things kind of taken away from our camp and things that we were doing that made us a little bit better than our competition and we haven’t quite figured out what was left in order to make ourselves better than the tools that we had at that time, so still some work to do.”
Do you think people were surprised by your podcast discussion with Dale Earnhardt Jr.?
“I would say it was just something funny that actually came to us by (Jeff) Gluck. He asked us to do kind of reenactment or a remembrance of that night and kind of what was going down, so we did the remembrance of that night, but Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and I wanted to take it a little bit farther and expand on why 2008 was kind of the blowup moment at Richmond I guess and so we kind of went back and we’ve been friends, acquaintances, friendly or competitors with one another over the course of the last three, four, five years – I guess it was probably 2012, 2013 when we started to talk a little bit more and kind of get over our difference some – and it seemed like the other night was just – the other morning, it was morning – was an opportunity for us to just put it all to bed and be done with it and maybe some of our fans, mine and his, could kind of put it to bed and be done with it and move on and live the rest of our lives in peace I guess, but I wouldn’t say it was therapeutic – it was just fun, you know? It was something to do. I don’t think many drivers have ever done that – not done it publically like that in that fashion. It was way, way, way, way, way long overdue and maybe the ’08 incident maybe never would have happened as we talked about in the podcast if some situations kind of were done a little bit differently between he and I back before that situation, so I think it was fun. It was good. We’ve already got another idea for another podcast here coming up maybe next year or two.”
Do you think you’re running better than Kevin Harvick right now?
“Man, I think we’re pretty equal honestly. I think I’ve got to give them the notch a little bit. I think they’re a little bit better than we are. I think (Kyle) Larson’s right there as well too. I think he may actually be in the mix as well, so the 42 was strong last week. I think the 42 is strong this week – he’s the fastest car certainly on the short run in practices thus far here at Richmond. It’s just going to be a fight to the end, you know? I think that we kind of saw the guys, the main players kind of come rise to the top last year through the end of the regular season and through the playoffs and I think those same guys are kind of the top guys right now with some few more mixed in. I think Denny’s (Hamlin) getting better. I think Kurt’s (Busch) getting better. I think a couple of the Hendrick cars will start showing their speed here probably in the next three months or so I would predict and we’ll see what happens with how it all goes down between now and then.”
Can you tell us about your helmet?
“Absolutely, so we did this last year. It’s Infertility Awareness Week and so Samantha (Busch, wife) and I obviously with what we did with the IVF journey that we had in order to conceive our son Brexton, we’ve kind of started this tradition thanks to the help and allowment of the Mars folks to wear this helmet with running their scheme on the race car. It’s the Bundle of Joey Fund from the Kyle and Samantha Busch Foundation that we’re going sell $18 raffle tickets – 3,000 of them – and we’re going to raffle this helmet away and last year the tickets were all sold out within 48 hours, so it went really, really quick and anybody can go to KyleBuschFoundation.org. There’s also a link on my website KyleBusch.com that will get you there in order to purchase tickets, but the cool thing about this helmet we kind of came up with the concept a little bit last year – we only did three photos last year – but obviously Brexton growing up and so many things that he’s into these days, this is a year’s worth of photos, so Brexton all over the place. Him playing doctor at the house to in victory lane being thrown up to getting his hair cut to anything you can imagine – being thrown up in victory lane and hanging out at the beach and hanging out in victory lane, so a lot of cool little things here. It’s just kind of a year’s worth of what Brexton’s been doing, so it’s pretty cool to be able to have that on the helmet and some lucky will get that by May 4.”
What was your reaction to getting the text from Kyle Larson saying his kid had asked for the Skittles?
“I asked (Kyle) Larson if they were going to be here this weekend, I’d bring them over a whole box and he said no that it’s time for Katelyn (Larson, wife) to stay home, so that was pretty funny. It’s cool that many of these drivers’ kids like the candy man, so they certainly know what’s up and whether it’s the paint scheme or it’s the personality – I’m not sure which – but certainly Cash (Bowyer) is one of those guys and Owen (Larson) is one of those guys, so pretty neat that that those guys were wondering where the Skittles were. I was wondering where the McDonalds was there during the rain delay to be honest with you, so we can certainly work out together on that front and maybe work some B2B deals, but it’s cool that these kids are interested in the candy aspect, so they know where to come. They know what bus to find. He’s (Brexton, son) kind of like – he does it in moderation. He’s good about it. He doesn’t have to have M&Ms all the time. He doesn’t have to have Skittles all the time, so he’s pretty good about it. Certainly we’ve got the Flavor Vote car. I know you guys – many of you have gotten some of the sample sizes, the fun sizes here of our different flavors of espresso, raspberry and mint. I’d have to go on the record and say that my favorite is mint. Kind of reminds me a little bit of our Doublemint car if you will and having some of those races and some of those victories in that car and my green machine – the crispy car. These are the crunchy now – they’re the crunchy M&M version with these flavors, so they’re pretty good. Give ‘em a shot. Give ‘em a try and also make sure everybody votes. Vote your favorite because this summer and this fall they’ll be – one of them – will be chosen in order to be in stores near you.”
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