Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing - Q&A
25 March 2013
After a fallow season last year, Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch seems firmly back in a winning groove in 2013, with the second of two back-to-back victories in the Nationwide Series leading to Sprint Cup success on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California - breaking a 31-race winless streak stretching back to last April.
We have been joined by our winning team. Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota and crew chief Dave Rogers have joined us here in the infield media center. Kyle, what a wild finish to that race. Take us through the last couple laps there, that winning move, and what went down.
Well, those guys went to racing each other really hard, which is what this sport is all about and what's great about NASCAR. But unfortunately it got a little dirty there at the end, and it was just running - those guys were running each other really, really hard, especially down the straightaways, just side drafting one another and slowing each other down.
That was the easiest time for me to gain time, just being able for me to run my own race right there and to run around the top. I finally got my momentum going and got a little bit of the tight that was in the car out of it, and we ran those guys down, and then was able to pass them there in 3 and 4 before the big wreck ensued.
Just hope everybody is all right. Hope Denny is all right. I heard he had some issues there, but we don't know all the facts right now. That's all we can really say about that.
To get Joe Gibbs here in victory lane in California, that's special. To get TRD and Toyota in victory lane here in California, of course that's great, too. It's their home. They're not from too far from here. And for Dave and I. We've been working really hard, and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing has been working really hard. But to finally seal the deal here today feels good.
Didn't look like we were going to be able to seal the deal. But sometimes you've got to have a little luck on your side, and fortunately we had that today, and it worked in our favor, so that's good.
Dave, the 18 car was strong all day. Can you talk about the race from your point of view?
Yeah, the race was pretty good. Kyle did a fantastic job yesterday of predicting the direction the track was going to go, gave us really good feedback, sent me some texts last night, today I think the track is going to do this, this is where I need help. So great feedback, and the guys on the Interstate Batteries crew prepared a great race car. I just decided to make it interesting on Kyle there staying out and letting him go on those tires. We kept getting a lot of two laps, then four laps, and cautions kept coming out, and every time a few people would dip down on pit road and get tires. Before you know it the whole field had tires except for us and the 22. Kyle just did a great job of moving around and figuring out how to get the most out of his car with what he had and capitalize when the 22 and the 11 started racing hard.
Kyle, you said it got a little dirty there at the end. Can you elaborate on what you saw and how that all transpired that allowed you to take the lead?
Just side drafting each other. It's hard racing, but it's also dirty sometimes, but you are going for the win. So it's nothing I'm sure other people wouldn't do to me. It's just a product of -- I guess clean racing is when you're just running each other hard and you're separated down the straightaways, you're trying not to slow each other down and bring the third car back there into the fray. But it looked like there through 3 and 4 that Joey went to the bottom but didn't quite get all the way down there and knew that Denny was going to have the run on the outside and slid up a little bit. I'm not sure if he lost his front end or not, but they got together a little bit, and then it turned Denny sideways and then somehow Joey got into the fence, too. But that's just from the minimal replays I've seen.
I did win the race today, by the way, so that might be a story. But I'm sure it's not. (Laughter.)
To that effect, I mean, how big is this for Toyota? Toyota has wanted to win at their home track for -- since they got into the sport, and you came on the radio afterwards and talked about the teamwork that it took and how your guys have stood behind you and how you were happy now that you could do something for them. Can you talk about the magnitude of this win even though it's going to be overshadowed in the short-term by what happened?
Yeah, it's -- I mean, we just -- we worked so hard last year, and we missed the Chase by three points. And then it sort of defines your season as missing the Chase. And then we go off and rattle off great finishes throughout the Chase but we never win.
That weighed on both Dave and I's shoulders, and of course being able to realize or understand if we could do this together or not. And then again this year we started out the season and we were running well at Daytona, we had a little issue there, and then Phoenix we had to start in the back. I tried to carry the deal on my shoulders and I messed up. And then we go to Vegas and run up front, we lead some laps, we just didn't have a good long run car.
And then last week at Bristol we had a good car, we sped on pit road and got back in traffic, never really made our way back up to the front on good tires, and then here this weekend, again, we had the best car, we led the most laps, and felt like it was our race to win, but in reality it was our race to lose when all those guys kept pitting behind us and putting on tires. We felt like track position was the best for us, although tires were worth a lot of speed.
So it's just -- we finally had a little bit of luck on our side that we didn't have all last year and it seemed like we weren't quite having this year. But we've had some good runs and some strong runs, it's just you've got to keep working, you've got to keep digging in, and Dave and I talked a lot in the last few weeks about what we can do to try to help each other and put our program on the map where we're a bigger force to be reckoned with.
Dave, he was saying that you've worked hard on the car. Do you think the Gen-6 was helpful in getting you to be more successful again, run better? Has it been an asset? How much of an asset has it been this season?
I think like Kyle said we missed the Chase but we performed really well. We strung off a lot of top 5s, we contended for wins, we just didn't capitalize on them. But we picked up right where we left off. We're running top 5 week in, week out. Unfortunately we picked up right where we left off, were running top 5 and not capitalizing.
Today we finally capitalized on it due to some great driving by Kyle.
But to answer your question about the 2013 Camry, I think it's an advantage because you've got a lot of motivated and dedicated people at Joe Gibbs Racing, and I'm certain that there's no team in the business that works harder than the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. They worked really hard this winter. Our goal was to come out of the box really strong, show our fans what we're made of.
Every team in the business started from scratch. We all started from ground zero, so it was a design competition, who could build the Gen-6 or the 2013 Camry the fastest and the best, and right now as an organization JGR has two wins, so really proud of that. My hats off to all the guys back at the shop.
Kyle, with a Sprint Cup win and the win in Nationwide, it's obviously two different cars, two different championships. Nevertheless after you win in the Nationwide Series, did you have an idea what to do with the Sprint Cup car to be successful, as well?
Yeah, it certainly helps you. I feel like it helps me anyways, just being able to get that extra seat time, being able to get that feel of what the racetrack transitions like and what the car does throughout the run and everything and where you have to move around to.
You know, I did a lot of things today similar to what I did yesterday, but people can say, oh, well, it's just as easy to watch the race on TV and watch what the winner does. But I don't really want to sit there for three hours and watch it, I'd rather be out there feeling everything and participating in it, and of course it's always cool when you can win both races.
But we're trying to put everything together, and this year I feel like it's a little bit better bonus for me to race Joe Gibbs Racing cars on Saturday as it is on Sunday, and although my KBM guys work really, really hard and they do a good job over there, too, it's a different chassis. You can ask J.D. why he won't sell them to me. I'll put him on the spot on that one.
You know, it's great to be back with Joe, and this win is for Joe Gibbs and for everything that he's done for me and for everything that he's done for Dave and this whole organization, and you know, just being able to finally win here for him in the Cup Series and of course putting Toyota on the map, too, here in California.
Have either of you guys talked to Joe yet, and what did he say?
I have not. Did you get a call?
No, Joe actually stayed at home this weekend. J.D. was out here. I talked to J.D. briefly. He said he was going to go visit Denny in the hospital, but he didn't have any details to me.
I'm curious about the win.
No, no, I haven't. I'm sure I've got a message on my phone right now. I spoke to him in victory lane but it was through camera.
J.D. did walk through and congratulated everyone. This is a really big deal, it's Joe Gibbs Racing's first win at California, it's Toyota's first win at California. We have our founding sponsor Interstate Batteries on the car, so it's a really big deal to win, and J.D. was very excited about it.
You know, but obviously with a heavy heart with Denny. Denny is a great team mate and our thoughts and prayers are with him.
Kyle, you obviously had a great car all day. When you were running behind Denny and Joey, though, considering what went down last week, did you kind of keep in the back of your mind something may be going down here again and kind of have that at all subconsciously?
Yeah, I did, actually. I was rolling around under caution earlier in the race and I seen some highlights of them two getting together from earlier in the race. So I'm like, oh, okay, well, they don't get along this week again.
But man, I'm shocked for just everything that was going on there and how hard they were running. I mean, they both were trying to win the race, of course. But you know, all I kept thinking was, as I was commentating from the TV booth about the whole deal, I'm like, they're forgetting the third place car. They have no clue that I'm coming, they have no clue, they're just racing each other. I'm like, surely the spotter has got to say something. I mean, where are these guys? And saying, you know, hey, block the top, the 18 has got a run or something. But they were so focused in on one another that they just left the door open.
That does happen sometimes, and you know when else that happened was two years ago here with myself and Jimmie were running each other really, really hard towards the end of the race, and boom, Harvick snuck through and beat us both. That happens here sometimes in California. I mean, we put on some wild races. I mean, there are some maybe, quote-unquote, dull moments through the middles, but I'll tell you, there was some really hard racing today, some good racing. I felt like the 22 and I put on a great show for the lead most of the day. And of course there at the end there's one hell of a battle through 3 and 4 and then again on pit road another battle after the race.
But that's part of racing sometimes. That's what this sport was built on. Just ask Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison.
Kyle, at Daytona you talked about how you made a conscious effort to kind of maybe smooth the rough edges or maybe be a little bit more restrained. Is today kind of a reward or a reaffirmation in your mind about the good things come to people who wait or are patient or this type of thing?
Yeah, I mean, you always work hard, and certainly there's opportunities to do some bold moves, and sometimes they pay off for you and sometimes they don't. So you just got to work through that sometimes, and today there was a couple moments for some bold moves, but nothing too crazy, I guess. But all in all, it seemed to work well in our favour and not so much in somebody else's favour.