Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Richmond Raceway – September 21, 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
Is it weird that somebody who hasn’t won during much of the year and made the playoffs is now in the position to potentially win the championship?
“It’s kind of what the playoff format is all about, right? You come into this with guys who have a dominant regular season and then you reset the board and whoever is good in the final 10 (races) or three by three by three to one, obviously has a great shot to win the championship. I think everybody kind of plays their season a little differently given the circumstances that we all have and the way the rules are set. Some guys may actually not bring their best stuff to the race track for a given period of time and then when it’s time to really show up and win races, they do that. Who knows. That’s certainly not our mentality and the way that we handle things at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and at Toyota. We just try to make sure that we’re doing what we can to win and try to win each and every week.”
You have yet to win a race at Richmond in the fall. How will you carry over the momentum from the spring win into this weekend?
“I have no clue. Certainly, the fall time is the more important time to be good here, but we just haven’t quite been able to pinpoint that and put our finger on that. Overall, we certainly have had good results here at Richmond. We’ve been good here in the fall. We’ve had good runs, we just haven’t been able to close the deal. Certainly, would like to be able to do that here this weekend and not have to worry about next week at all, but with everything we’ve had going on so far this year, we’ve been contenders and we’ve been strong each and every week and through this entire season, so we just need to get our strength back and be ready for every week.”
Were you and Denny Hamlin expecting to come out faster in Vegas?
“Certainly you would expect to come out better than what we did. I’m not sure why or what. I wouldn’t call Vegas one of our better race tracks. For me, I finished second there in the spring, but we kind of ran I don’t know, sixth, eighth, 10th all day long and then the last couple of runs at the end of the race we were able to work our way up towards the front and that’s kind of the same thing that happened this time around. We were up front, we kind of got back in traffic. We had a loose wheel. We tried to come back from that and then we had the spin with the dirty race track and just issues kind of evolved, but at least we were able to come back for a salvageable seventh. We weren’t a dominant force of leading laps and being fast, but name a time that Las Vegas that either of us have been.”
Will the crazy race at Vegas and now the Roval get into the minds of the drivers much?
“Yeah. I mean obviously every team is going to have their own way of how they set the tone for themselves and how they need to go about this weekend, right? You kind of have a win or nothing kind of with the guys who are in the bottom, obviously. Brad’s (Keselowski) just in la la land for the next two weeks and can go for broke and try to score more wins and (Martin) Truex (Jr.) and myself and (Kevin) Harvick – Harvick’s, he’s not hurting too bad, but he definitely can’t have another one – but overall, for us we just have to come out here and have a solid night. We’d love to go for the win. Get a win and knock ourselves through and not have to worry about next week, but if that doesn’t happen then you finish top five, even top 10 will probably garner you enough points that you shouldn’t have to worry about next week.”
Does the Roval coming next week affect your mentality for this race then?
“No, not really. You don’t want to come out here any different than what I just said. Again, I think that you want to – any race that you can have an opportunity to go into with nothing to worry about, then that’s how you’re going to set yourself up for the previous race, right. Like I said, the guys want to have nothing to worry about that are down in the bottom, so they want win. Win and move yourself on. If they don’t win here, whoever is in the bottom is always going to be worried and they’re going to have the most pressure on them.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway replaced grass with turf on the track. What will that do to a car and is it a solution that other tracks can look at?
“I’m not sure. Let’s not us be the ones that try it out and see somebody else do it. The best line – we used it last week too in our team meeting after Denny’s (Hamlin) deal. I was like “grass should be taller and more”. Like what did I say a couple of years ago? I used that in an interview, right? We need more of it and it should be taller. That’s sarcasm people. The solution is to pave it entirely and if you really want the aesthetics of green, paint it green. Otherwise, we’ll see what this Astroturf has to do and if it changes the game or not. I don’t know.”
Any thoughts on the leadership change in NASCAR?
“Not as far as I’m concerned. Just hoping that things either a) continue to flatten out or b) turn in the right direction. Obviously, you’d not want to have something that continues a negative downturn. I think that change isn’t always necessary, but in the case of this, obviously somebody felt it was. Steve’s (Phelps) now kind of the leader of the group, if you will, and we’ll see what happens.”
As a team owner do you look at things in two different ways? What benefits you from an ownership standpoint and what benefits you from a driver’s standpoint?
“Yea, I mean I definitely would take both sides of the fence on that. I would take both sides of the fence on that with me being a driver at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and if I was an owner at JGR and then me being the owner at Kyle Busch Motorsports and me being a driver at Kyle Busch Motorsports. I’d take it both sides on both sides of that fence and even in the Xfinity Series to an extent. Obviously, not as much anymore as much as I’ve been held out of that stuff. With some things that have been changes made and changes coming down the pipeline and things like that, they’re not a positive for me or for my team or for JGR. I don’t think anybody is listening or caring about what we have to say.”
Can you give an overview on how the crate engines went this year with the Truck Series?
“It’s not been terrible, but it’s not been great either. We did finally have our first issue this past weekend at Las Vegas. One of our truck broke a rocker arm and before causing more damage, you know they were done with the race. They had to pit and go to the garage. I don’t think we’ve kind of seen that failure. Because I won in that engine in Pocono, by the time it gets to NASCAR and gets torn down, that’s about 10 days. By the time it gets back to Michigan and gets torn down even farther, that’s another 10 days, so we won’t know an answer for about another three weeks or so, so that’s kind of frustrating because we’ve got another couple of races coming up that we’re going to be using those things.”
A lot of chatter in the Truck Series that a lot of teams will want the OEM motor on their side in the Final Four at Homestead, is that something you guys would entertain?
“As long as there is an engine provider that will provide us an engine for that race, sure. If the 16 (Ryan Truex) makes the final four and we go ask Mark Cronquist for an engine, I don’t’ think he’s going to give us one because we haven’t been a partner of his for the entire season. He’s going to take priority with the 16. No different than what he did with us with Kyle Busch Motorsports last year and ThorSport – they wanted an engine last year at Homestead for the 88 truck and he said no, you guys haven’t been a customer of mine, so I’m not giving you a motor. I don’t think we’ll have an opportunity to have one. There’s no other engine supplier for Toyota out there besides Mark Cronquist. Sounds fair doesn’t it?”
What are you going to talk to your crew chief about for race trim tomorrow?
“That’s all we worked on in race trim – in practice was race trim. Hopefully being able to be fast and have the speed that we needed in the race, which I felt like was what we did here in the spring and we didn’t qualify good. We started in the back, but we marched our way up through the field and we had a good race, so this time around, hopefully we can qualify better and get ourselves up front and not have to pass as many cars. Overall, would like to think that so far with the speed that we’ve shown and the feel that I have in the race car that we’re okay for the race tomorrow. I’d say we’re – top 10’s kind of hard to judge. There’s two guys that are kind of good and then there’s about seven that are in a group and I’m one of those seven. We’ll see what happens.”
What has it been like watching Brad Keselowski catching fire at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs?
“It sucks for us, it’s good for him. Certainly, we had that success earlier in the season, but it’s better to have it now and to go on that tear. We saw Joey (Logano) do it I think in one of the rounds a couple of years ago. He won all three races. Obviously, this is the time of year to be doing that sort of stuff, so hopefully we can get to that point where we can go out here and win some races. You see your competition being fast and you kind of wonder what they’ve got going on or what they’re doing, but I think Martin (Truex Jr.) kind of summed it up last week, which was he’s (Brad Keselowski) not been the best car. Certainly they’ve been good, they’ve just been able to maximize their opportunities and get in the right spot at the right time and get to victory lane. They’ve been doing all the right things.”
What are your thoughts about racing in rain on the Roval?
“I hope to have a 60-point advantage on the bottom four so I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t know if that’s going to be too much fun. You talk about why don’t we race ovals with Cup cars with rain tires and stuff like that – I thought the highest speed corners we’re having at next week’s race are the ovals, so watch this.”
As NASCAR reviews the 2019 rules, are you hoping that the 2018 rules seem to be on a pretty good run as of late?
“I mean I would like to think so, but I doubt it. Has the racing really been better or has the people covering it done a better job covering the racing? That might be kind of where the question lies in my opinion. Sometimes when we get to the 1.5-mile like last week, I still had trouble kind of passing guys in front of me. I still had aero-tight issues. None of that just automatically disappeared. You still have some of the same issues that you’ve always had and the front guy out front kind of gets away, but there has been action on restarts and later stages of the race, but is it because the tv guys are doing a better job of being able to authenticate that to the viewer and be able to put themselves in the couch sitting with the race fan at home?”