Toyota NSCS Las Vegas Notes & Quotes — Kyle Busch

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Kyle Busch — Notes & Quotes Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 9, 2012

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Brown Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Is it fun to be back in your hometown? “It’s always great to get back to Las Vegas. Just growing up right outside Turn one here at the ‘Bullring’, but to come back to the big track is always an exciting part of our year. For the 18 team, we look forward to this race and trying to see how well we can run and of course we always try to put as much emphasis on every race as much as we can, but we certainly like running well here and trying to win this one as well. We’ll see how the weekend plays out, but expecting good things and hoping for continued momentum after our pretty good run there in Phoenix. Led some laps, ran up front, got mired back in traffic after a pit stop miscue and was able to come back up through there for a sixth-place finish. So that wasn’t too bad, but wish we had more and just continue it here.”

Why are teams having issues with the electronic fuel injection? “So far, we’ve been lucky on the 18 team where we haven’t seen any issues. There were a few issues in Daytona with I guess (Joey) Logano’s car. He did the same thing — he shut his car off under yellow and he tried to save fuel and couldn’t get it re- fired — so that was one of the things. I’m not sure if it was circuit breaker related or not and then after the race last week in Phoenix, Denny (Hamlin) di d a burnout, shut the car off — didn’t want to re-fire, so we’re seeing some problems there across the board. I don’t think its necessarily related to a manufacturer, but I think it’s more so related to the EFI (electronic fuel injection), the computer, the ECU (engine control unit) and just trying to make sure we get through all the nuances that that thing creates.”

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Are teams going to be unwilling to shut the car off to save fuel now? “Well, I’m sure that all the computer technicians that we all have on our teams now are working through the diagnostics of how to fix that and what to do. It’s certainly an issue that has arisen that we’re all aware of and we all have to work through it as best we can and figure out the solution to the problem. Whether that solution is this week or whether its not ’til May or not ’til the end of the year — I don’t know, but certainly those guys are working through all the different scenarios as best they can. This week they did a dyno test, apparently , and failed a few things, so they’re trying to learn as much as they can as quick as they can.”

Is there anything a driver can do to prevent this issue? “No. The only thing that you can really do is — I mean, Vegas very easily can come down to a fuel mileage race. Any of these races could. I think the best case scenario obviously is to try to keep your car running the best you can. Whether you’re pushing the clutch in getting it into the corners and just letting the thing idle or what have you, so we’ll see how all that plays out. It’s definitely something that you can’t just shut the car off and let the clutch out and have it re-fire itself — you’ve got to use the starter switch.”

Are you surprised by the early season success for Joe Gibbs Racing and Denny Hamlin? “No, not at all. Like I told you, I thought that there would be big things that could come out of JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) this year and we’re already seeing some of the fruits from that with Denny’s (Hamlin) win at Phoenix last week. That was pretty cool. We ran strong and actually all the Joe Gibbs Racing cars finished in the top-10, including two MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) cars, which made five Toyotas in the top-10, so we were proud of that effort. Look forward to much of that success and continued success like that throughout the year with working with Jason Ratcliff (No. 20 crew chief) and Darian Grubb (No. 11 crew chief) and Dave Rodgers (crew chief) — those three guys working together as closely as they do, I think it’s only beneficial for all of us. I congratulate Denny and it’s funny because we were in our team debrief on Friday and he was just complaining about how slow he was, he didn’t have any speed and this and that and everything else and I said, ‘Just shut up. You’ll be fine. You’ll make it work.’ So, obviously, he did and he was fine. It seems like when you get around cars it’s a lot easier to figure out what kind of car you have. They did make a lot of adjustments and wholesale changes to it, so certainly we look at some of those things that they did and we’ll learn from those and try to understand how it makes the car better so then it just makes all of us better.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Brown Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) Could you have identified these fuel injection issues during testing? “I think it’s relative to race conditions. When we go test, we’ll run five laps, 10 laps, maybe a 20-lap run. That’s the longest we’ll run. You won’t quite get the same vibrations or the same heat or the same cycles on everything on everything as you would in a 500, 300-mile race — whatever it may be. With the instance that happened at Phoenix with some of these deals, obviously so far it seems like 85 percent of them come from the driver shutting the car off and not being able to re-fire. Again, those guys are working on all that stuff trying to make it where we can do what we need to do the same as what we did with a carburetor, but so far it’s showing me that the mechanics of a carburetor seem to be smarter than a computer. We’ll learn through it all. The computer is essentially what the human brain puts into it, so we’ve got to learn through all those instances.”

Has Darian Grubb brought any insight to the shop from Hendrick Motorsports? “I’m unfamiliar with the talks and things that they have, so I’m not exactly sure what kind of Hendrick Motorsports things that he’s brought over, but certainly I knew that that was one of the benefits of getting Darian (Grubb, No. 11 crew chief) is that he’s kind of an outsider. He’s been on the outside from different organizations that have both won multiple championships — him being with Hendrick Motorsports on the 48 team (Jimmie Johnson) winning championships and also winning with Tony Stewart — so he’s pretty familiar with that and pretty experience in be able to be competitive year in and year out. It’s going to be great that we have him on our side that he can do his best he can to help make Denny (Hamlin) successful, but of course all of Joe Gibbs Racing.”

Did you drive the sand dunes this week? “I did go to the sand dunes and nothing crazy happened — oh well, actually something crazy did happen. So my dad just rebuilt my whole second car and he wouldn’t let me drive it first. He had to drive it first because he rebuilt it. So he’s driving it around and he can’t — he’s not a dune guy, so he’s putting around, whatever. Low and behold, he throws the turbos out of it before I even get a chance to drive it, so he broke it so now he’s got to fix it again. No, I doubt he’ll pay for it. I’m sure I’m paying for it.”

What’s your best and worse gambling performance in Vegas? “I’m not quite a gambler. I grew up here and kind of — we always stayed away from the casinos and we didn’t really do much. If anything, my mom would drop a 20 in a machine and see how long it would last, but that’s about what you do if you’re from out here. I don’t gamble much. I have gambled before when I was 21 because I thought it was cool now that I could do it. I was of age, you know? I think the best I’ve come out of Vegas was probably a thousand bucks ahead and the worst I’ve come out of Vegas was eight hundred bucks behind, so I’m a small gambler. I’m not on Denny Hamlin’s scale. You’ll have to ask him that question. I think he gets free hotel rooms every time he comes out here — that’s how well he does.”

How different is racing at Vegas since the reconfiguration? “It’s very different. From what it was with the flat surface, I always enjoyed running on the flat surface. When we brought these new cars out, that’s kind of when they changed the track over too and we were looking to make it a multi-grooved race track and you can run two, three-wide around the place — which you can do — just the first time here the tires were so hard, the track was so slick and now that we’ve kind of seasoned the asphalt a little bit, the tires are able to get a little bit better and we’re able to make those last. The racing’s been getting a little bit better. It has been kind of a crapshoot race, if you will a little bit. Just with stats of guys, it seemed like the guys who were really good on the old asphalt kind of have a harder time getting used to the new one and now Jimmie’s (Johnson) pretty good. Carl’s (Edwards) pretty good. We’re pretty decent — a few other guys. It’s certainly made for an interesting race track once it was all said and done because, for me , I was used to the old surface, so I come out here thinking, ‘Okay, we’re going to Vegas.’ Well, it’s not Vegas anymore. It’s essentially somewhere different, so you’ve just got to get used to all that.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Brown Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) How can you tell how you stack up against other teams? “You know, I’ve been asking that same question to myself a little bit and it’s so hard to tell where you stack up anymore because the field is so close — it’s so tight. The thing that interests me is we’re leading the race, running really good and then we get off cycle. We took left sides (tires) last week to get up front at Phoenix and then we took four and then we’re tight. Now we’re falling back, other cars are coming forward so it’s kind of a cycle that you go through throughout a race. Jimmie (Johnson) was really good. He led a lot of laps and then he was back fighting with us for fifth at the end of the race. It’s almost anybody’s race nowadays. You have to hit it at the right time — the second-to-last pit stop and the last pit stop. I remember California last year — we led the most laps, we ran up front all day long and then the last run of the race we missed a little bit of something, Jimmie caught me, passed me and then Kevin (Harvick) came out of nowhere and passed Jimmie too. You have to be able to hit it right through the end of the race in order to win these things. It seems harder to do that.”

How big was last week’s win for Denny Hamlin? “I would say it was pretty big. Certainly, I think last year was pretty deflating if you will. Just running so well the year before, finishing second in the championship. They were all pumped up, ready to go and try to repeat the following season. Just could never get going. I even remember through the first five, eight, 10 races, I’m like, ‘Man, once they turn it around, they’re going to be okay.’ It just seemed like they never turned it around. We got to Pocono in June, Pocono in July, we got to Indy, we got to Michigan and it’s like, ‘Man, what are these guys doing?’ It was real unfortunate to see and it kind of hurt us a little bit too. I think this win definitely will set their sails a little bit and allow them to concentrate on moving forward and keep developing their stuff and keep their heads up, allow Denny (Hamlin) to be more excited, if he can be, getting to the next week and working with Darian (Grubb, No. 11 crew chief) and being able to move forward.”

What is it about Bristol that makes you successful there? “We kind of upset the apple cart last fall — we just didn’t have a very good weekend there. With the Truck race, we kind of got crashed out there. The Nationwide race — I barely beat Joey (Logano), which was good — we won. Then the Cup race, just made so many changes to the car based off how the Nationwide car ran that it threw us out for a loop. I like going to Bristol — it’s always fun. What set in there to allow me to run as well as I do? I’ve got no idea. It just kind of clicked. I think I missed a little bit of some of that stuff last fall. Just not having the car setup right and trying too many different things that we’re not quite used to. We ventured from the path a little bit and it seems like when you can get a good setup somewhere you ought to stick with it and try to just fine tune on it a little bit instead of saying, ‘This isn’t working this time or it’s not working on this tire.’ The track most of the time will influence how your setup should be, not the tire.”

Will drivers think about the loss of Dan Wheldon at this track last year? “I never thought of that until you brought it up. Certainly, there was a tragedy here last time this race track was open for business, but I’d like to think that we all don’t think about that, although Dan (Wheldon) and his family are in our thoughts. We’ve done a lot of things over the past few months to help his family out and his kids and stuff. This is NASCAR weekend and we’d like to have a great spirit going into this weekend and have a lot of good thoughts that we can come out here and put on a good show in front of the fans and have everybody realize how great this facility is and how much fun it is to race on and what kind of show it produces. With all that said, I wouldn’t say our cars are perfectly safe, but certainly they do give you a false sense maybe sometimes, but anything can certainly happen. Like I’ve said before, whether you’re walking across the street, playing out in the sand dunes or racing around a race track — there’s something that can happen around every turn.”

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