Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Talladega Superspeedway – April 27, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Talladega Superspeedway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Flavor Vote Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about your momentum coming into Talladega after three consecutive wins?
“It’s obviously a great opportunity to try to go race for four in a row, but definitely a different circumstance that we’re coming to Talladega. I’ve kind of heard some of the rumblings through the week about some of the guys that have been on streaks of three in a row or four in a row, whatever they’ve been on, they’ve never gone through a plate race to the best of my knowledge. It makes for a more challenging time to be able to get that fourth in a row, but also we’ll know how much more rewarding it is when we do get it.”
Do you expect the racing here to be similar to Daytona with the new rules or like old Talladega races?
“I would say that you’ve got to blend a little bit of it, certainly with the rules package you have to look back at Daytona as being the most refreshed race with this rules package that we all raced upon and there’s going to be guys that improved on their car setups and things like that from that race and yet it is Talladega so it is a bit wider, the race track here does race differently than Daytona does. I think that you just have to be ready for anything, I don’t know that there’s much that you can kind of work on or study towards or try to figure out that I’m exactly going to do this and it’s going to reward me with something, I think it’s just so much of an unknown.”
Is there anything that can be done to make the left rear quarter panel less sensitive in pack racing?
“I think that’s still going to be a key area, I don’t think there’s anything you can really do as a team to help that. It is what it is and it’s just based off the air that’s on the nose of these cars and the buffer zone where the air is and then it gets packed up on that big rear quarter panel of the car in front of you and also that shark fin that’s right there on the deck lid and it just sort of pushes that car out a little bit and takes some side force away from the right side. It’s an aero thing and its certainly a situation you have to be ready for when you’re in competition when guys are looking at that area of your car or doing that to you.”
Did it become more pronounced at Daytona this year?
“It’s been there, I think it’s more pronounced now because the cars are lower, they’re lower to the ground now with the no ride height rule than they did before so now instead of the air gap being say eight or six inches between the quarter panel and the ground, now it’s two inches between the ground so now that area that I’m talking about is very much more exaggerated.”
Can you describe the differences between Dover and Bristol?
“Definitely Dover is an interesting track, it’s definitely fun and challenging. You should ask Jimmie Johnson about how to get around there, he’s pretty good there I heard. We’ve won there a couple times so it’s nice to have a little collection of monster trophies going. Between Bristol and between Dover, there’s no similarities between race tracks, it’s so hard with Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas – you think that by looking at them from above they look the same and they’re nothing close. Bristol and Dover being concrete, they’re both fast around the bottom of the race track. When Bristol got the grind, it then became fast around the top and it kind of changed things. Dover, it’s still always been around the bottom and it kind of changes throughout the race too as the rubber goes down there and the way that place has worn over the years, it’s definitely got a lot bumpier. You can feel Bristol getting to that fashion too. A lot of guys commenting on just how bumpy this time at Bristol was and how the cars and the tires were really bouncing on the race track. You get that at Dover for sure, I think Dover is maybe worse or feels worse because the amount of speed that you’re carrying there that you feel all that stuff a lot more.”
Are you a believer in the concept of momentum and do you throw that out when you come to Talladega?
“Certainly you can be a believer in momentum and you can also be a believer in confidence in yourself and your team and when you’re on a roll sometimes, it feels like you can do no wrong and then some things kind of start going bad or vice versa, you can be on a roll where you feel you can do no right so I’ve certainly been on those as well too. You never know when you’re next win is going to be so you cherish them all. Fortunately for us, we’ve had them the last three weeks in a row. It’s been a great start to the season and we’re having some fun and we just want to keep that going. We know this is a place that can derail things so you try not to let that mess up your mindset for the rest of the year or even next week going to Dover and after that.”
What can a driver still control at Talladega?
“You kind of look at what Denny (Hamlin) does and what Brad (Keselowski) does, the guys that are good plate racers and the guys that are fast right now, Denny makes the most out of what he’s got for equipment and I’ve got the same stuff and I’m not quite as forceful in situations as he is and he makes that work for him. I know the Penske cars are really fast at the plate races lately and the Hendrick cars were really fast years ago at the plate stuff. I just play with the equipment that I have and just kind of feel like I give it everything that I’ve got. I won’t try to put myself in a bad spot to cause something, but it’s always a challenge and it’s always different. I feel like every time you go to a plate race, it’s the same, but it’s different and you just don’t know what to expect. A lot of new drivers that are out there that don’t have wins yet in our series that are going to be hungry and looking for wins so they’re going to be trying to punch their tickets to the Playoffs and being very aggressive. You’ve got to be mindful of that too.”
Can you look back before you started winning this season and see where you could have made an adjustment to get additional wins?
“I can look back at Phoenix, that’s the most memorable to me right now, we had a jack issue on pit road. We were close, we were fast and we were there, I think we led the most laps and we were the main contender to (Kevin) Harvick that day and we just faltered on our last pit stop and then California, same thing we faltered on our last pit stop. We went the wrong way on an adjustment. I don’t think we were going to win that race, but we were certainly going to be second I felt like. There’s some instances in which we needed to clean up and I mentioned that in the time, but since then I think we’ve really done a good job with that. Now, frankly I praised my pit crew last week for scoring us the win at Richmond. I had a good car and I was keeping up with the race track, but the pit crew really came through at the time that we needed it there with those final pit stops and being able to have the opportunity to control those restarts, that was key for us and being able to get away. There’s some things probably still, even at Richmond that we can clean up and make better. Even the wins that we’ve had, there’s things we can clean up and make better. Bristol, I think (Kyle) Larson probably had a little more of a dominant car than we did and was better in the long run than we were so we have to work on that and make sure we’re better the next time we go back there. There’s always room for constant improvement.”
How strong have the cars been from Joe Gibbs Racing?
“As far as our cars and stuff like that, our equipment, yeah, we’ve got good stuff, there’s no question that we’ve got good stuff. I think Joe (Gibbs) instills that in a lot of his operations in the company and we do as drivers too in our weekly meetings. The whole company has done a phenomenal job and I can’t say enough about what they do and how they do it each and every week and each and every year. We’ve been competitive for a long streak whether we’ve been the best team or the second best team or the third best team, I think we’ve been there for a long time so I knock on wood that we can keep that and not fall lower than that. I think there’s still room for us to gain and room for us to improve, I stay on my guys all the time that this is not the time of the year to be peaking if you will and we know other teams are going to catch up and other teams are going to find things so we have to continue to work in areas that we haven’t been working right now in order to keep our advantage through the rest of the year.”
Are you thinking about going into the stands more and was than an ‘in the moment’ reaction?
“That was spur of the moment baby. That was a really good to a really bad idea in a really short period of time.”
What was the bad side of going into the stands and did you have a positive response on social media?
“The bad of it, I don’t think we saw the bad of it. I think anything can turn into a bad situation. It was fine, there was nothing terrible. It was good, it was fun. I enjoyed that moment and being able to high-five a few fans that were right there and it was pretty cool. As far as the engagement on social, there was probably way more engagement just on the podcast than there were the experience postrace and going up into the stands. I would say there was a heck of a lot more with the podcast.”
Do stars of the sport need to make more of an outreach to the fans?
“No matter what we do, there can always be more done. I think that’s the same thing to be said about race tracks, the same thing to be said about other sports and other athletes. Why do football stadiums still get crowds all the time? Football stadiums haven’t really been changing a whole lot over the years, there are some different amenities with the mid-level section and stuff like that with a covered area and whatever. Race tracks have kind of stayed the same for a long time, but I think people are looking for a little different experiences, we all have to wake up to that some. As far as what the athletes can do, I’m not seeing – besides some Lambeau leaps, I’m not seeing very many of the football players jumping into the stands or doing any of that or signing autographs or having people on the sidelines right up in their team all day long. When it’s pre-race and there’s thousands of people on pit road roaming around and asking for autographs or whatever and you cater to many of those, you don’t see that in any other sports. Our sport is very unique in that aspect and I think it’s a very fan- friendly sport and that there’s still some things we can all probably do better. I think we’re topping many of the other sports right now.”
“I got my lottery ticket by the way so my bad luck is out the window with my lottery ticket, all my good luck is right here at Talladega. That’s one bullet point and my second bullet point is that I still have some tickets left available for the Bundle of Joy helmet, that’s a unique piece not just because there’s pictures of the family on it with Brexton, myself and Samantha, but now it’s a winning race helmet. Somebody is going to want to take that thing home so make sure you go to KyleBusch.com or KyleBuschFoundation.org to get your tickets for our charity raffle with our helmet.”
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