Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media at Phoenix International Raceway:
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Core Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your confidence level going into Sunday?
“We just need to try to make sure that we can finish ahead of those that we’re racing essentially. It’s kind of what our mindset is and what our goals are. We’ve just got to make sure that we have good enough stuff to be able to go out and achieve those things, so we’ll keep working on what we’ve got.”
Do you want to know your points position is as you’re running during the race?
“I’ll pretty much be able to know what it is just based off of what’s ahead of me and what’s not, you know? We’re all so tight that it just boils down to finishing ahead of those that we’re around, you know? We’ve got to beat the 20 (Matt Kenseth), we’ve got to beat the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and we’ve got to beat the 22 (Joey Logano). If we do those things then we’ll be fine.”
What are you looking for when you are scouting new talent as a team owner?
“You’re looking for results. Guys got to be able to go out there and perform. They’ve got to be able to do a good job, you know? A lot of the kids that we’ve had, they’ve been successful – they’ve won races. Erik Jones won races in late models all the time and then Christopher Bell, he’s a standout in the dirt series stuff. That’s kind of where I put myself at because I’ve sort of put myself in that same situation that I never really moved up in a series until I was able to win in it or run competitive each week. I think there’s only been one series of race cars back when I was 14 that I never won in that we I guess didn’t either care about or whatever, but I’ve won in everything else and done really well to be able to move myself on farther up the ranks.”
Do you think Alex Bowman has shown that he deserves an opportunity?
“I think (Alex) Bowman has been doing a pretty good job. That’s – I mean, whether or not he deserves it or not, that’s up to Rick Hendrick. Not my problem.”
Is there an advantage to having more teammates competing for the final Chase spot?
“Yes, of course it does, you know? Right now, we’ve got three sets of data points that we can look at versus somebody that’s on a single-car team only has themselves, so of course it’s going to favor the guys that have four teams. That’s pretty much why there’s a maximum at four teams. If there wasn’t, there’d be guys that have more cars, more teams”
Is there an advantage to having won a championship before and what are restarts like at Phoenix?
“I think that when you do have a championship, yes, you don’t have the same amount of pressure in tense moments and things like that. You don’t necessarily let it get to you as much. You can just kind of more so float through the process and kind of let what comes to you come to you, so you know that’s what we did last year. We essentially played with house money. Didn’t think we really – a lot of people said we didn’t deserve to be there. We didn’t feel that way, but we just, you know, did what we needed to do in order to make it through each round and contend for the championship and we won the thing, so, you know, the rules are what the rules are. We won it fair and square and now this year we’re doing the same sort of thing. We’re just trying to make sure that we do all the right things in order to have a good solid day here on Sunday to make sure that we’re eligible going into next week. And restarts here at Phoenix, yeah, they’re crazy sometimes because it’s such a flat race track and it’s kind of dirty. It takes a while – it takes at least half way through the race before you really get to see two grooves kind of work in and the restarts become less treacherous, but restarts at the end can always be crazy when you’ve got guys that stay out and guys that don’t stay out that comes in and get tires like we saw here in the spring, so there’s certainly some tense moments, especially with the cars being as ill handling as they are on colder tires and lower air pressure. They just kind of slide around for a few laps until you get going.”
How did Noah Gragson look today and have you talked to him?
“I’ve just been watching the television coverage, but other than that, I didn’t talk to him (Noah Gragson) a whole lot. I’ve never raced here in a truck since the repave, so wouldn’t be worth calling me and talking to me about it, so I did tell him to call Erik Jones and get some feedback from Erik. Obviously, he’s been really good here. He’s I think won a couple times, so, you know, our stuff is always pretty good here, which is good. Gives those guts a better chance of having a good run. We’ve got four of them in the field tonight, but we certainly want to see the two of them (William Byron and Christopher Bell) be able to move on and go race for a championship next week in Homestead, but it’s going to be a good, solid night – we just need a good, solid night from Noah to be able to have some laps here to complete the race, same thing at Homestead, complete the race to just get his eligibility for Daytona next year. That’s all this exercise is all about.”
Were you impressed with what you saw from Noah?
“I don’t – if you look at the board, yeah, that’s pretty good. That’s nice to see. I haven’t talked to anybody, so I don’t know anything about how any of the communications and stuff were.”
Would you move a teammate on the last lap to get a ‘Championship 4’ spot?
What’s your assessment of the aero package after the year has progressed?
“The beginning of the season was a few unknowns for teams and drivers and things like that and we all kind of had to get used to it, but as in the case of everything else we all figure out what’s going on and how to make our cars better for what our situations are and what the aero package is and everything like that and it just seems like kind of die off, so, yes, I would agree with we had better racing in the beginning of the season because the engineers didn’t have all that amount of time to figure it out. Since, they’ve figured it out and it’s kind of dulled it a little bit. What do I look forward into next year? It’s – the thing that keeps us all alive, is the same thing that’s going to kill racing – it’s air. I mean, that’s what it is. If you look at Formula 1, they’re not doing anything special. It’s more than splitters and spoilers that’s going to fix racing. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not for me to figure out, but that’s where I’m at.”